I held all my truths deep inside of me for 4 decades.
I was 43 and living in a “mental health facility” for an 8 week program before I even allowed one tiny tidbit to escape. No one knew my story or my secrets. No one was ever able to see the depth of the pain I was in. Most people (okay… everyone) in my life knew so little that they really had no understanding as to why I even needed an in-patient program. I hadn’t even told my psychiatrist or therapist.
I liked to think it was because I was strong and able to hold it all in but that has become so clearly a lie I told myself to try to ease the pain I felt.
When I finally began to open up, it was thanks to 2 nurses who were very different (Mike and Jo-Anne) but each one cared and each one had lessons to teach that made me begin to feel safe and they helped me understand why I felt the way I did. I wasn’t just bat shit crazy as I had assumed.
I slowly began to realize that I could start to tell them little bits but my fear was overwhelming. I was fearful mostly of starting to open up and then never be able to close back up. I would just crack open like an egg and never be whole again.
I was given the suggestion (more than a few times) to write a letter to my mother and that is where the words finally spilled out. Still just the surface of it all but it told my story and gave everyone a clearer idea of what I had gone through.
It felt good for about 10 minutes and then I became very suicidal. I’d always been suicidal. For YEARS I had a date planned. I was just waiting for my children to become adults and move on with their lives and then I was going to let myself off the hook. This world was just too painful of a place. This level of feeling suicidal was new for me. It was more like “I can not live one more second” rather than planning a date in the future. Thanks to two good friends I’d made in the hospital, I was “forced” to tell my nurse and it was Jo-Anne that helped me make it through that day and the others that would follow. I was on suicide watch for weeks from what I recall although exactly how long escapes me.
I could blame opening up for causing this breakdown but really it wasn’t that at all. It was my silence that caused it. Pushing my feelings away, stuffing them down with food, self harming or drinking them away with almost any sort of hard liqueur. Trying to actually break my silence caused an initial spiral downwards but this is also where my healing began.
Silence for me wasn’t strength at all. It was fear. I just “knew” that people would find me disgusting, gross, unworthy, broken, crazy or the worst? Say I was lying.
That is not what happened though. Thanks to my 2 nurses, I was heard, shown compassion, allowed to share bit by bit, piece by piece the fabric that was my life and they didn’t see me as anything other than resilient and worthy of having a better life.
My feelings of guilt began to fade slowly and my fears took on a new form. My fears had made me a victim for so long but breaking my silence turned me in to a survivor. There is a HUGE difference.
I will admit that I still need to fight that fear on a daily basis. I only told my husband my story last week and I will probably never really tell too many people outside of my inner circle. Truthfully they don’t need to know the details but I do need to open up and let people know that I have some special needs.
I need to become unafraid of showing that I have weaknesses.
I’d like to be strong enough to tell people about my triggers and not just sit there frozen when someone begins to discuss stories from the news that shake me to my core.
I need to use my voice for others but also for myself. This blog is a beginning.
Silence is fear.
Breaking that silence is strength.
I want to be strong.