My original purpose of writing was to help others. If someone who was struggling and wandering around the interwebs came across something I wrote, I wanted them to recognize that there was someone else out there just like them. I don’t have answers, but I want them to see that I’m still pushing forward despite the demons trying to convince me to do otherwise.
I stopped because I found myself unable to publish anything for fear of upsetting friends and family. They know most of what I’ve been through, and perhaps my daughters intuit what goes through my head, but still I’m concerned about them actually reading in black and white the reality of what has never really gone away. But the people that care about me will still have concerns whether or not I’m blatantly honest. My history doesn’t allow my loved ones a worry-free life. I know this because even though she is doing well, I will never forget seeing my daughter in the ER swaddled in bandages, or drinking charcoal. So I will write again. As always, there are no trigger warnings at the beginning of each post, it’s there on the page, and that should be enough.
I’m not a big proponent of awareness months, weeks, or days. I do understand their importance, but it always concerns me that being bludgeoned by awareness posts will have the opposite effect of what is intended. It’s tiring to be reminded of mental illness, domestic violence, cancer, or any other of the horrors of the world. Pretty soon people stop paying attention and move on to the next cat video. The events that are the most relevant to my history are often difficult for me. The first blast of suicide prevention posts this month reminded me that it’s something that seems to have taken residence in my brain. There is rarely a day that I don’t think about ending my fight. My god, I’m 60 now, and I’ve had decades in this battle with no end in sight. I’m tired, I’m frustrated, I’m scared.
However, as always, I will keep going. There will be a hummingbird flitting by my window in the morning. There will be an unexpected hug from a belligerent grandchild. There will be spiderwebs sparkling with morning dew. There will be a kiss on the back of my neck while I wash the dishes. There will be a warm, purring cat curled up in my lap. There will be that one person who says “Thank you for writing that, I feel the same way.”
There are no delusions that what I write will win awards, make me famous, or change lives. I just want you to know you’re not alone.
Almost 20 years ago, I filled a few suitcases full of my daughters’ clothes and comfort items – toys, blankets, etc. Threw a few of my own essentials into a bag, and escaped to safety. Once the dust settled, memories of baby books and other special items would fill my heart with sadness. I would find myself thinking “Where did I put that?” then remember that I would never again have what I was looking for. A program about a family that had lost everything in a fire gave me an idea for how to deal with my missing treasures. “It was lost in the fire,” became my coping metaphor. And of course, my children and I were safe. That was, by far, of utmost importance.
Then the most ridiculous thing happened, I thought of my beautiful Kelly green grosgrain pumps that had a bow on the heel. My heart broke and I began to cry. “Are you kidding me?” my brain screamed at me. For days I lamented those shoes, not the Steiff bear, not the girls’ pictures, not my books, or anything else of sentimental value. Those damn shoes haunted me. The reasoning behind this never did become clear, but I can only imagine that it was easier for me to deal with a silly pair of shoes instead of the heartache of leaving behind important mementos.
The following are not my words, but they struck deep into my soul. After escaping the prison of abuse, anxiety and fear may govern the survivor’s life for a while. This plea for understanding exemplifies these overwhelming feelings. The simple fact that we feel we need to explain ourselves is evidence of the trauma we have experienced. We should know that the people who love and care about us do so unconditionally; but unfortunately that is a concept we’ve never been able to grasp.
I feel like I need to explain something to my friends. So listen: I love you all and I want to hang out with all of you. But on top of my kid schedule, my work schedule, my finances, and I’m trying to get back into school right now, I have my dumb mental health to deal with. Understand that most of my life, out of circumstance or not being allowed out, I have not ever had very close friends that I see in person very often. It’s a thing I have never ever experienced. So I love people, I love having friends, but sometimes they really really scare me and I run away. I’m like a skittish cat. I want to be pet, I want to connect with you, but it can take a while to coax me out from under the bed. And sometimes I can come out and then I need to run back under the bed again. You can lay there and stick your hand under the bed and talk to me, but who knows when I’ll come out again. I’m unreliable. And I hate that about myself. And eventually you just have to walk away from the coaxing, and I’m so sorry and I understand. And sometimes trying to coax me out makes me go deeper under the bed, away from you. And sometimes I come out. It’s impossible, I know. Talking to me through text helps me though, and eventually, sometimes I can make it out. It’s just going to take me a long time. Sometimes I’ll only see you twice a year when I really want to see you more often. And I’m so sorry. But I do love you, I’m still here under the bed, trying to figure out how to get out of here and be the kind of cat that loves all the guests and greets them and sits on all the laps and purrs. But I’m just not that kind of cat yet, and I’m so sorry that it’s so disappointing. That’s all. Hang in there for me, or don’t. Just know it isn’t you.