The Things I Should Have Said

 

writing

 

I survived childhood domestic abuse. My mom did not. She may not have died directly from the abuse, but I believe that her spirit and body were so broken over the years, that when the cancer came, there was just not enough fight left. I had a few years before she passed to say what I needed to say, and at least 100 times I had it all planned out. I would tell her everything, and not hold anything back this time. I had decided I would accept the guilt that would come after dumping such tremendous weights on a dying woman. I waited for the “right” time which in reality, never happens, and before I knew it, she was gone. It was too late and these burdens I carry would be left unsaid and unheard….until now.

It is often quite difficult to say anything bad about the dead, almost as if we feel it an unfair fight, as they have no voice to defend themselves. This ideology can often lead to the deceased person being put “on a pedestal”, and their positive qualities being highlighted, which is alright, however it usually involves us either minimizing or completely disregarding the negative. I did this when my mom passed, spending years trying to erase the negative, and remember only the positive, however, the mind does not work like that. We have to embrace the bad as well, in order to heal and move on, and although my Mom was an involved, loving and caring parent, she failed to protect me.

The arguing and fighting was the normalcy I knew and a constant around my house when I was growing up. The beatings were a little less frequent, a lot more intense and the images are seared in my head like grill marks on a steak.  When the violence finally stopped I was told to get over it, to be like my mom and “just move on”. After all, most of the time it wasn’t me being beat directly so why was I still stewing over it? The topic was closed, a part of the past and it was time to grow up and live in the present….words that played over and over in my head for years to come.

I did what I was told, and pretended to move past the first 13 years of my life. I repressed as much as I could, trying to convince myself and everyone else that I had been unaffected, that there were no long term effects on my life.

I lied…to myself and everyone around me, especially my Mom.

It didn’t just affect me; it traumatized me, scarred me and destroyed a great portion of my childhood. I should not have had to become an adult at age five. I should have been playing and exploring the wonders of childhood, not getting ice packs and Kleenex, making coffees and listening to and consoling my Mom. I should not have had to sleep unsoundly, and be on high alert at night with her in my bed, holding on to me tightly, out of pure fear, and the hope that he wouldn’t start the beating in front of me. I became a safety net for her and tried to step up as the protector. It was me moving the furniture in front of the door and sitting outside her bedroom door crying, pretending to be sick as a distraction. It was me who walked in the room in the middle of a rape and it was me always begging not to move back home again.

These are not things children forget. These are not things that children can just “move on” from; in fact I don’t believe adults can either. My mom certainly did a good job acting like it never happened which may have been easier given most of her thoughts were understandably consumed with her cancer, but she never truly moved on either.

I should have told her how much it hurt me, how much it took from me. I should have told her I turned my lamp back on every night in case I had to get up quickly to help. I should have let her know that I became hyper vigilant and didn’t (and still don’t) sleep soundly through any night because I was too afraid I would miss her cries and screams. I wish she had known that showing me the bruises and telling me the details was the wrong thing to do, that I was a child, not a confidante. I could have told her how angry I was inside every time we left home and returned shortly thereafter because it would be better this time and that he was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again. I wish she had known how much it added to my  fear and distrust of adults, and my “unnecessary and dramatic” outbursts of anger, and that how  I was reacting was learned, and not me being a bad kid. I should have let her know  how badly I just wanted to be a kid and experience life with some semblance of innocence and joy.

I should have, I could have, but I did not.

 

 

I Have Never Learned to Love Myself

3 words

 

 

They are only three words. Apart they can be used in so many ways, yet together they make an imprint on your heart and your mind. Together they can take you from smiles to tears; from bliss to blackness or from being yourself to doubting yourself. They can bond people or rip them apart. They can be said with passion and desire, or said with no meaning, in a habitual manner. They can be spoken among loved ones, families and friends. Words don’t discriminate and these three are worldwide, barring no culture, race or religion. They are needed to be heard and felt by all living beings.

Three simple words…I Love You.

People always say if you don’t love yourself you can’t love anyone else. Is that a truth or just one of those things “they” say? For me those words could not be more untrue.

When I was growing up my Mom told me she loved me all the time. I fully believed her and I repeated them back with truth and feeling. My father on the other hand hardly uttered the words. My extended family said them on all the appropriate occasions, and dutifully I replied. At that time in my life, with the exception of my Mom I held little truth to their words, or the words of any adults for that matter. I always felt “surface loved”; like they loved me because that is what “family” is supposed to do. I wondered if it was because I was adopted and not their blood, that they would never love me like they loved each other. It is an awful feeling for a child to feel so unloved; the only saving grace being my Mom.

This feeling not only continued in my pre-teen years, but actually got worse. With my Mom dealing with domestic abuse and depression, the belief that it was somehow my fault started to sink in and the feeling of being unlovable deepened. Maybe it was something I did, or didn’t do that made him so angry, or maybe I wasn’t a good kid and that is why she was so depressed. My self-blame turned into self-hatred, which directly correlates to the feeling that I cannot be loved. Was Let me clarify, it is more than me thinking I don’t deserve love, although that is a huge part of it, but that I actually can’t be loved. It is something I have felt as long as I have memories, and although it has wavered in degrees over the years, it never left and still hasn’t to this day.

My teenage years were mostly consumed with taking care of my Mom, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and although the bond between us was deep was also full of my teen angst. I could not get the love I needed from my mom, and because of the years of sexual abuse which had recently ended, I looked anywhere I could find for some love and attention. I went through a promiscuous stage, as do many survivors, where the only physical affection I was repeatedly shown aside from my Mom, was in a sexual manner. Even though you realize seeking love this way is wrong you do what you know, repeatedly and still never feel loved.

When my Mom died, I lost the only person who I felt loved me, and the only one I could love.

As an adult, I have learned to love other people, and not just on a surface level, but to the fullest extent that I know, however, I have not learned to love myself or accept true and lasting love. I have allowed two people to really love me, as they have stuck with me during the dark times, but those three words from anyone else, I question. After all, if I can’t be loved or love myself, how can anyone else possibly do so? I require a lot of trust before I can believe those words, and quite frankly, most people do not stick around long enough for me to accept them as truths.

Fast forward to now and the “Twitterverse”, where I have made some very good friends who have stuck with my through the hard times. I don’t have as much difficulty telling them I love them as I do accepting their words. Please don’t misunderstand; I certainly believe that they are truly meant by whoever spoke them; however the fear of accepting and believing them means I will have to learn to love myself, which I have no idea how to do. How do I change something ingrained in me since I was put up for adoption? I have been to therapists, read countless books and articles. I know exactly why I feel like this, yet I still can’t fix it, learn it or unlearn the ingrained thought.

So, if I tell you I love you, know that I mean it to the full extent that my being allows, which will likely be different than yours. If you tell me you love me, please know I do believe you as much as my heart will allow.  As the saying goes, “I’m listening but I can’t hear you”. How I wish that was not true.

The Tyrannical Voice of My Anxiety

 

Anxiety is depression’s evil twin; where one can be found, the other lurks nearby. They work as a team, pairing up to make your path of healing follow longer, unpaved roads.  Imagine yourself sinking in sand; the depression is the sand that is holding you down, the anxiety is piling more on top to make sure you stay there. There is nothing to grab onto to pull you up, and no matter how hard you fight you end up buried.

Anxiety is an emotion that most people will feel at least once in their lives. For some, this anxiety is situational and when the trauma or loss has healed, the anxiety is either lessened or gone.  For me and many other people, that same anxiety is not only heightened but prolonged, and does not always need a “situation” for it to occur.

Anxiety has its own unique voice in my head which causes added stress and worry. It makes me overthink every moment of every day. It makes me question not only all the things I have done in the past but all the things I am doing now, and plan to do in the future.  Anxiety causes me to doubt the simplest of decisions, and often prevents me from making any in the first place. It takes a normal situation like a resolved argument with a friend or family member, and forces me to question if it is really resolved or not. Something like a text not being answered in an “appropriate” time frame can blow my feelings disproportionately out of control. Imagine walking by a group of strangers that are laughing and your first instinct is not that someone must have said something funny, but that they must be laughing at you. That is what anxiety can do

The scale of anxiety ranges from a rapid heartbeat and tightness in your chest to a full blown, debilitating panic attack. I would like to say mine is somewhere in the middle, however it is exacerbated by my BPD which slides me up the scale a bit. There is no chilling out, or relaxing or even calming down, and telling me to do so is definitely an unwelcome idea.

Anxiety makes me think poorly of myself. It makes me think I am unwanted and unloved and reminds me constantly of the life I had “before” my illness. It makes me wonder if I am good enough to have friends and what they and everyone else thinks of me. It makes me afraid and nervous to attempt anything out of my comfort zone, with the dreaded fear of failure looming. It sometimes feels like the world is closing in on me, and there is nowhere for me to escape. It can be emotionally draining, frustrating and exhausting.

The stigma surrounding anxiety is not conducive to healing. The comments… “Just cheer up”, “it’s all in your head” or “life’s too short to be sad and afraid”, all may be said with good intentions, but are the last things I want to hear. Do you not think that if I, or anyone for that matter, could “just cheer up”, we would do so as there is no enjoyment in anxiety? There is no pleasure in keeping quiet in a conversation because I am afraid my words will be judged. There is no fun in the fear that is felt when I am put in the spotlight or made the center of attention. The worst part about this relentless source of negativity and doubt is that rationally you know it is lying but you just can’t quell the voice.

 

I Want You to Want to Live

 

 

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SUICIDE….Catch your attention yet? It’s a shame if it didn’t because the actions most certainly will.

The rate of suicide is on the rise worldwide in all age categories. It affects all ethnicities, cultures and religions.

 It is bias free.

It is a last resort, a desperate attempt to quell the never ending and relentless pain that monopolizes your mind. It has become the only feasible way to rid yourself of the burdensome weight that has dragged you to this level of despair.

That is how I feel anyway, the countless number of times I have and do fall into the darkness, and because I can empathize, take a minute to read this letter to you.

Dear You.

If you are reading this there is a small piece of you that wants to hold on.

I am so proud of you for reaching out, even if you have done so without words. You have kindly given me a few minutes of your time, and I do appreciate that.

I want you to live.

I want you to want to live.

I won’t feed you some bullshit like it’s all going to be ok with time because it may not be, and it may not turn out as you wish, but you will never know if you don’t stick around to find out. I will instead tell you I am here with you and let’s take this a minute at a time.

I will remind you that although I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I will be by your side to find out.

You are so important.

I won’t make you feel selfish by telling you to stick around for your family or friends, because I know you feel that leaving would not only end your burden, but theirs as well.

I will tell you that someone loves you despite how you feel inside. I will remind you that you are not and never will be a burden. You may not see or even hear it, but your life is valued by someone out there; it is valued by me. I don’t know you, but I do care because I can empathize with your pain; I feel it myself.

You are incredibly strong.

I won’t ever tell you that you are being dramatic and don’t really want to die.

I will instead be here to listen and validate your feelings because they are as significant as you are.

I am so proud of you for still staying with me.

I won’t ever tell you things could be worse, or that other people have it worse than you and don’t want to die.

I will acknowledge your despair and lack of hope. I will never compare your pain to another’s. It would be like observing two gunshot wounds, one in the chest and one in the leg. Yes, it is worse to get shot in the chest, but it does not take away the pain of being shot in the leg.

You are beautiful.

I won’t use the old adage “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

I will say that your problems might not be temporary but I will be with you and help you to find a coping mechanism that works for you. I will tell you that suicide is simply not a solution.

I won’t shove the ideas of therapy or medication down your throat as that will not help at the moment.

I will ask some of the most important words of all “how can I help?” I will provide you with a suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255 or text the word “start” to 741-741.)

You are a warrior.

You are a survivor. Your track record of making it through trauma, heartbreak and devastation is 100%.  Despite the rocks life has thrown at you, you have emerged with scars and grit. You have proven those wrong who expected you not to make it, those who gave up on you long before you gave up on yourself.

You are amazing.

You have a purpose in this life, whether you realize it at this point or not. Your book has so many chapters to be written. You are needed, your voice and your story are essential for someone, be it a stranger or a friend.

You are your own hero. You have done what you think you cannot do. You have looked death in the face, stared it down and walked away having won another battle in your war.

If you are still reading this, I am incredibly proud of you for stopping what you were doing, and giving me a few moments of your precious time. Just reading this is the beginning…you have extended your arm, you just have to unclench your fist. I implore you to keep this conversation going, be it with a hotline, a friend or family member, or even me (@onelastkick71). You have taken the first step; let’s make it to the second together.

You are loved.