Tag Archives: Suicide

Being human…

Human
I started 2016 with high hopes. I was feeling good and felt strong. Then I spent over 2 months fighting off infections one after the next. I am normally quite healthy so to have 7 infections of various sorts in a row was very shocking. It finally ended and now I am back to my usual self. πŸ™‚

Once I finally got better and stayed well, I decided it would be a good time to my art studio and a spare room painted. This endeavour is the only thing that really turned out since the beginning of 2016. Thank goodness for this!!!

And then April arrived.
My husband works seasonally at the only workplace available to people in our area. We live on the east coast of Newfoundland Canada and the only business here on the “north shore” is fishing. My husband worked on the wharf and the months that he spends at work are the ones that get us through the whole year. Of his 5 siblings that live here, 2 couples are retired and the other 3 all depend on the plant for their yearly income.
We were all ready to get back in to the swing of things and the crab plant was ready to run at full tilt… until it burnt down the day before everything was to really go wild for the summer. This means no work (or scrounging up a few hours wherever he can). It will devastate us financially until the plant is rebuilt in a year (best) or two (reasonable).

That alone was enough but then I found out that my hubby was sneaking smokes. I will not say a lot except to say that he has severe health issues that will only see him deteriorate with the smoking coming back in to his life. This causes me a great deal of stress because I love him and do not want to watch him to decline as he did before he quit. He almost died twice last year… it is scary.

Due to my therapist becoming a grandmother again, I did not see her for what should have been 3 weeks. It is now 4 weeks because the car broke down while trying to go see her this past Tuesday. IF next week works out, I will see her then. A full month of no therapy… seriously not at all good for my head space. 😦

The biggest issue this past week was even bigger to me because I was already so depleted and psychologically tired but that aside, I had a HUGE trigger this week that has just knocked me right over.
You may recall me speaking about my son Marcus and his death. I have not given a ton of details regarding his actual last moments except to say that they were horrific and caused by someone who should have loved him.
This week in my area (very rural – everyone knows everyone). A 5 year old girl was murdered by her father and then he set his house on fire to cover the crime. It is damn close to exactly what happened to Marcus and I have found this whole week triggering in a way that I have rarely been tested before.
The father had been charged with domestic violence 3 times yet the court dismissed the charges each time. Due to the fact that he had no record, he was given shared custody.
The mom did what she could to be heard but no one would listen.
And now her child is dead.
Trigger, trigger, trigger…

To add to those triggers, I was privately discussing the loss of Marcus when one of my Monster/mother’s friends interrupted to call me a liar. That just pi$$ed me right off and being seen as a liar is probably my biggest trigger. I know she is misinformed but it still sent me spiralling downhill at an even quicker speed.

These are the reasons why I was so quiet last week. I was just feeling so anxious, depressed, and triggered. I wanted to drink or just be done with this world and although I did neither one, the thoughts alone scare me plenty. I do not like it when these options begin to look like reasonable responses to the issues in my life.

I have also been feeling so very alone. In reality, I am not alone. I have my blog which is always a source of comfort in hard times, I have wonderful friends, I know good coping strategies now and life when I am more stable, looks really good.
Sadly none of this seems to be enough when things get really bad. I just feel terribly alone. I feel unlikable, unlovable, unworthy, and untrustworthy. I feel terribly unimportant. I do realize that my mind is playing tricks on me but it doesn’t seem to really matter in the moment.

Now the rebuilding begins. Self care, self-care and more self-care.Β  I have the skills to find my way out of this and I have supports to turn to but it is the actual action of doing it when my energy is so depleted.

I don’t write this to make you worry or feel badly for me. I write it because I can so often come across like I have everything together, that I am calm, capable and have my biggest storms behind me.
The truth? I have weathered many storms, I have managed to make huge changes in my life and I am proud of my accomplishments.
Some days really just “bite the big one” though and I am quickly reminded that I am human. Fallible, occasionally weak, messed up, and confused. So totally human.

My story.

Girl

It was suggested to me by a long time reader that allowing my story to be told might help reach others. I have hesitated doing this is the past because I just felt the details were not really important. That said? I do agree with this reader and have decided to share some of my story (minus the nitty-gritty) with you today. I do hope it helps you understand me better and I hope it reaches some of you so that you know that you are not alone in this fight for your survival.
I am going to leave my siblings out of this story because I do not feel it is fair to assume how they felt or what they went through personally. If there is a day that the ones still living wish to share with you? I’d happily post it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a princess.
Scratch that. This is no fairy tale. πŸ˜‰

I was born at the beginning of 1970 in a winter storm. A fitting beginning for the life that would follow. A winter storm of sorts that lasted decades.
I was born to a family that was quite wealthy and had every available support to raise a child as easily as possible. From other family members, I have been told about how my father was thrilled by my birth but my mother hated me from day one. Probably long before day one in reality. I am sure she viewed her pregnancy as a real inconvenience.

My beginning could have been a good one but right from the very start of my life here on this earth, my mother would begin making choices that would seal my fate and my father would not do anything to stop her.
Their first decision? My name.
Heather was the name of a girl whom my father and mother hated. She’d chased my father around and my mother hated her for it. This is the person whom I was named after. Someone they hated.

I have a few memories of my early childhood but none are good. From 0-4, all I recall is being afraid. Many years ago my grandmothers both told me stories of how I was left in filth and ignored while my father was at work. I was also told that I would scream and beg others to take me with them as they left our house or begged babysitters to keep me. That is just not normal behaviour for a young child. Wanting to leave with anyone rather than staying home with their mother.

Starting at age 4, I was given a gift of new underwear for my birthday. Not the best gift for a 4-year-old but they were a tiny hint as to what that birthday would mean. I would be sold to men who liked little girls and my hair was cut so short that I also looked like a boy and could satisfy men who liked boys as well. This was not a rare occurrence. It was done as often as there was demand and there was ALWAYS a demand.

It was also around this time that I learned to mistrust what people said vs. what they actually did. My mother could be the sweetest, kindest, most gregarious person to anyone on the outside but then a monster behind closed doors. It was her perfect “outside face” that allowed others to believe that she was trying her best but that I was a child with some real issues. She convinced therapists, social workers, a child psychiatrist, doctors, teachers and strangers that the problem was set squarely on my own shoulders. I was the one who hurt myself and then lied with crazy stories to cover it all up. This lasted for my entire life with her. It still goes on to this day! She is perfect while I have mental illnesses.

There was a lot of sexual and physical abuse but even worse than that was the sadistic nature of the emotional abuse. I was made to believe that I was only sold to men (and some women) because I liked it and caused it to happen. If there were bruises or broken bones? I had obviously done something to deserve that. If I got ill. that was my fault too. That woman (my mother) made sure that my self-esteem was now only low but non-existent. I felt less than human and not truly worthy of any kindness. This is the part of her abuse that is the hardest to get over or heal from. I feel like I am worthy and then someone talks about me or doesn’t like me and I am plunged deeply right back in to feeling absolutely worthless. My brain knows that I am a good person, that I give a lot of myself to helping others, that I am smart, and have a lot going for me but my heart still says “You don’t deserve any of it and you are just as worthless as you always were”.

I did try to speak out and I tried to reach for help but these efforts were always met with my mothers wrath. I recall being made to eat a “poop” hot-dog in a bun. If I was going to spread “filthy lies”, I was going to eat filth as well. After a certain number of times where I reached out to ask for help and having that come back at me with a vengeance, I gave up. I still find it hard today to speak up about it because my automatic feeling that accompanies this openness is fear.

There are so many details and situations that I could discuss but I am sure you get the idea by now? It wasn’t just a hard life. It was a life filled with monsters that never hid under my bed. They just stayed out in the open and did as they wished with me as often as they wished it. I many ways this abuse started before I was born and still continues today. 46 years of situations and stories that would make your blood curdle.
If you read my list of Helpers from last week, there are a few more details of which Helpers came in to being and when/why.

I wish I could say that I grew up, moved away and never had to deal with my mother again but I moved 3,500kms to get away from her and 2 months later, she was living 1km down the street from me in her newly purchased home.
I have not spoken to her in over 11 years yet she still speaks about me in public to anyone who will lend her an ear. She tells them lies and makes me look horrible. We live in a very small community and there are many people who have never even met me whom hate me with passion. I’ve been called a liar, a bitch, a whore, a selfish daughter and worse by these people who just believe the words my mother shares. Supposed grownups and mostly “church friends” of my mothers. I really try hard not to let it bother me but she has even gotten to my own children and 2 of my husbands extended family members. The words said under hushed breaths make me want to just run away again and never look back… or just give up and leave this world altogether. It is hard not to taint the good that I have created in my life with that poison. I am only human. It is hard to be hated and even harder to be hated for something you never were.

Sadly it is not only my monster/mother that drags me down like this. My father takes part as well. He is quieter about it but when discussions of how my brother abused me surfaced, it was his voice on the other end of the phone calling me a sociopath. In my heart I know that he believes every word and knows the truth but he is unwilling to face it and it seems that hurting me instead is acceptable to him. I recently cut off all contact with him and I know it was necessary for my future mental health but I feel like a 46 years old orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mom or dad.

I’ve felt very lonely lately. I miss those whom have loved and seen die by suicide due to their PTSD. I ache for my murdered son. My heart has cement poured all over it while my living children find their way home. I really miss the nurse I felt close to while in hospital and the doctor whom I got to know before his sabbatical. Now my current therapist is retiring in a couple of months and I must say goodbye to her as well. I know these supports are not meant to be lifelong friendships and I am good with that but it doesn’t make missing them any easier. These people got me, they understood me, They believed me and truly heard me. They made me a better person. I am just tired and I am trying to find and keep my spark. I will find it again. I have faith in that.

I’ve had some comments about how I do not share negative stories on my blog but I feel that my intentions are perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do not keep things positive because I want people to think life is just all great and I am flying high. I keep it positive because I have dealt with and still deal with more negative in the run of a day that some people experience in a lifetime. By remaining positive myself, I feel like I am adding to the good in the world and that somehow negates some of the bad. It takes a lot of effort on a daily basis to live a good and positive life but I almost always feel that it is worth the effort.

This blog is very important to me. YOU are important to me. When someone says that they heard what they needed to hear or got what they needed to get because of a blog I wrote, it helps me add to the balance of positive in my life. Thank you for that.

If there is more you wish to know, just ask. If it is too personal to be on the blog, I will respond with a private email.
All the best to each of you. ❀

Kind Words CopyHand drawn by Heather. For sale. $20
Buy an 8×10 “Be Gentle”

Schools lack…

School

Schools try their very best to teach children all the skills they need to learn in order to lead full and successful lives. I really believe that for the most part, educators really do care.

That said, I think there is one area that schools and society lacks attention that is absolutely critical and would change the way that our society worked as a whole. We all went to school and now we are all “society”. One day these kids will be taking our places.Will they be as prepared as we were? Were we prepared?

Bullying is a HUGE issue that receives a ton of attention but the education about it isn’t working. I’ve sat in school auditoriums, listened to very passionate speakers on the effects of bullying and then as we leave, I hear kids calling each other names, pushing each other, basically ignoring every lesson they just learned. I would hate to even fathom a guess at the hours a principal spends dealing with bullies, bullied children and their parents. Yet it is only getting worse.
And much worse than bullying? Having no respect for your own self, beating yourself up for finding life challenging, feeling like you are less than or not worthy of better, harming yourself in ANY way because you just don’t have the skills to cope.

I am not usually one for coming up with ideas that basically throw what weΒ  are already doing out the window but in this case? I think we need to strongly consider it.
What do I think we should teach instead?
I think we could do wonders for our youth and our society as a whole if we taught about good mental health.

  • Teach and do projects on self-esteem, help kids figure out what they really love to do and how to be proud of it.
  • Teach lessons on being resilient. You CAN teach someone how to gain skills that will make the ups and downs of life easier to manage.
  • Explain to our youth that they are worthy of love, attention, and support. If they are not getting that at home, parents can be led towards parenting classes that are not done to be punitive but rather done to make all of their lives better. It is very obvious to me that the parents needs as much consideration as the child.
  • We need to teach children about self-care and self nurture. I was 43 before I even knew what this meant. I assumed if I showered and brushed my teeth? I was all good. I had no idea that I needed to also nurture myself, treat myself well, do things that I enjoy like being creative or spending time writing.
  • Teach some behaviour therapy. How to see the world with realistic but not dirtied glasses. Help them see the good that surrounds them and actively push further away from the bad.
  • Teach these children about mental health issues. Let them know what is “normal” and what is not. Help them learn the signs of anxiety or depression so that they can be proactive far earlier. Many youth and many adults graduate from anxiety and/or depression to more serious concerns such as self harm, suicidal ideation, and eating disorders. Give them the local support numbers to call if they ever feel the need to reach out for help. Don’t make them (or anyone) have to go searching for it when they are at their lowest.

My personal belief (and that is all this is although I would LOVE to change the world with it) is that youth who are taught and helped to mature with a good self-esteem, an ability to be more resilient, know that they are worthy and important people in this world, take an active role in doing things that make themselves happy and feel fulfilled, youth who are taught about mental health and have no fear or stigma attached to it will reach out sooner, get help quicker and not fall so far before trying to catch themselves.

Mentally healthy children, youth and eventually members of our adult society will require less interventions, they will become happier workers, more positive people, they will be resilient and good at taking care of their own needs.
I think it is worth taking the time to make this a part of the curriculum and if they don’t? We parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, caregivers, friends, doctors, nurses, etc. need to start teaching it if we can.
I also firmly believe that these stronger, more self-assured youth won’t need as much help with bullies because a bully will be far less likely to upset them as easily AND we will have fewer bullies in the first place. Mentally healthy people do not feel the need to stomp on the feelings of those around them.

Why stay?

I have a wonderful friend who almost died on this day last year. I am so happy to be able to say “almost”. I can’t imagine life without her.
This blog is for her but also for everyone else who feels like they are alone and no one else really “gets it”.
There are quite a few “almosts” that I know about and when I look at these people, I can not help but think what a horrible shame that would have been. How important they are to this world and those who love them. Myself included.

I have also lost so many people in my life to suicide and I’ve had to live my life without them. The pain that death by suicide leaves is a unique pain. It has a unique edge to it. Not only do I grieve their loss but I also grieve for how horrible they must have felt at that time. To take your own life goes completely opposite to all of our ingrained biology. Our body does everything that it can, day in and day out, to keep us alive. To feel so horrible that you can override that is beyond imagination… unless you’ve been there.
Quite often, the people left behind are overwhelmed by several conflicting emotions. Extreme sadness, unbearable grief, anger, confusion, guilt, and sadly shame as well. Society as a whole is not very understanding when it comes to suicide so most families try to hide this fact. This only isolates those left behind even more. 😦

The last 2 suicides that I heard about both brought public reaction to the centre of my life. Comments such as how “selfish” these people were or confusion as to how they could leave a young child behind (also viewed as selfish) only compounded the grief felt by the families. My very quiet husband actually got angry with a group of co-workers as they discussed the “weak” nature of the last person whom we had lost. He told them how his wife (sweet little ol’ me) had been suicidal for years and to stay for even one extra hour in a day made me the strongest and least selfish person he ever met. At least there is one group of men a little more educated now.

I’ve seen suicide from almost every angle. I’ve been extremely suicidal for years of my life. I’ve witnessed suicides and bore witness to the disfigurement of a suicide gone very wrong. I’ve lost loved ones, friends and community members to suicide. I’ve had suicidal children 😦 and I have tried to complete suicide myself many times. (And no… not for attention just in case there are any doctors reading this. They ask that every time.)

Discussing this topic can freak a lot of people out so I am sorry if that is you but NOT discussing it leaves people feeling alone in their pain. I can’t sit by and just pretend it doesn’t exist.

So why discuss it now? Well… I have been going through a really hard time lately with many physical issues but also many emotional ones.
Christmas was just horrible. I stand there and look at families… my heart is so broken not to have my own. I watch mothers with their young children… the hugs, the kisses, the toys, a visit from Santa… and the loss I feel is almost unbearable. I try to look at what I actually have in my life and I do so successfully but the losses somehow always win out.
I’ve had illness after illness since just before Christmas culmination in how I am now with being on a strong antibiotic for one infection, penicillin for 2 others, horrible dizziness caused by pressure in my inner ear and now a reaction to one of the medications. One illness is not nice at all. 5? (I’ve lost count) in a row is so wearing. Add in regular daily pain? Seriously yuck.
Then my birthday last week… well… I miss my “friend till the end” Julie on that day terribly. Worse than any other day.
And then to top it all off? An unexpected HUGE blow yesterday. Mountain sized blows.
I just fell over the edge.
I became seriously suicidal again for the first time in over 2 years.

All of those skills that I had collected, practiced, and integrated in to my life just seemed senseless again.
My accomplishments paled.
The people who I am able to help and are always such a huge boost for me but in this state? Even that was not enough.
I felt alone. I felt like nothing would ever be right again. I felt that I just could not go on even one more day. Why even bother?

I don’t say this to scare anyone, get you worried, or garner sympathy.
I tell you because if/when you feel this way yourself? You need to know that others feel it too. That horrible, lonely, nothing matters anyway place is not nearly as empty as you may think. Strong people with great skills can be there too. Weakness is never to blame. You just don’t hear about it. No one wants to admit it.

I will be honest here. Last night I was lower than I have been in years. If not for my husband and a few friends who were able to read my near silence? I do not know what would have happened. I still feel that way today but I am refusing to allow myself to sink in to total silence and hide away like I always did pre-hospitalization. I will use this moment in time to let others know that even I, the one with all the ideas and advice, can fall back there too. Plus, if I tell you that you are not alone then that means neither am I.

I have much better skills now and finding my way out of this will not be easy but as a very wise nurse once repeated to me consistently, “I know this feels horrible right now but eventually it will pass. I promise”. I now know that she is right. It did back then. It has since then and it will again now. It just takes time (way too much f**cking time if I am to be honest) and it takes a few other things too…

  • You need to take really good care of yourself and keep a decent schedule.
  • Eat well.
  • Drink water. Not alcohol.
  • Sleep at night, not during the day.
  • Make plans for the future. Today I decided that on July 10th 2020, I am going to have a 50th birthday party (well 50 and a half – I refuse to bring friends here in January). I need something to look forward to for the future. Perhaps next week would be good to plan too? πŸ˜‰
  • If you have medications that you are supposed to take? TAKE THEM. As directed. Self medication of any form is of no help at all.
  • Speak up. It is REALLY hard to admit you feel this way but if I can tell thousands of people? You can tell one or two. Fair?
  • Last but not least? Be gentle with yourself. You already feel totally crappy. Do not add beating yourself up to the schedule.

I do not promise to be all happy today, tomorrow or next week. I need to feel how I need to feel and right now that is really sad. I feel lonely because I miss all the people who I have lost in my life. I am back to wondering why my mother and father could not love me. There is no answer other than it was a fault inside of them… but that feels empty to me right now. I want to know why a lot of things had to happen. Once again, there are no answers really. Just acceptance to be found. Again.
I will find it. I will ask for and get help finding it.
I just want you to know that if you feel this way today, or yesterday or it hits you one day next year, you are never, ever alone and you need to stay here. One minute at a time if that is all you can manage.

And to my beautiful friend who celebrates another year of being alive on this day? You are strong. Oh so strong. You are brave. You’ve faced demons that no one should ever have to face. You’ve been kicked down (figuratively) many times over this past year yet you get back up every time. Then you have those days that are filled with tears and feeling like life just isn’t fair at all… and you live through them with coffee, books, emailing a friend and knowing that you are never alone. Thank you for staying. ❀

Exsist

Listen.

Listen

I read this quote and a flood of memories came rushing back to me of the moment when I realized I was actually being heard for the very first time. I’d grown so tired of not being heard, not being believed, having my words twisted and used against me, and just dealing with all the hurdles most childhood abuse sufferers deal with even in today’s society. I’d grown so tired of it that I had given up. Completely given up. I no longer even bothered to talk about what happened. Even as an adult I expected to be treated how I always had been and sadly my family still did exactly that. My silence was bought, paid for, wrapped with a big bow and delivered. Free shipping!

Then I landed in a hospital program for people with severe trauma and after a lot of talking, teaching, building trust and truly caring about my well-being, I realized that for the very first time in my life, I was really being heard.

I began to open up and allow little snippets to escape only to be met with compassion and the feeling that they actually believed what they heard from me.

To try to explain just how much of a liar I’d been made to feel I was, one nurse actually had to explain to me why I was not a sociopath. I’d been called that so many times in my life that I believed it with my whole heart. I told them I was a sociopath as part of my intake interview. This nurse had to explain why that wasn’t true and that everything I said added up. Everything.

Then he told me I’d been brainwashed in to believing that to ensure my silence. In the end he was right but I was MAD at him saying I was brainwashed. NOT ME! I though being brainwashed was for people who were not very smart or easily led. Apparently I was very wrong. I had been brainwashed in to believing that I was many things that I was not. A sociopath was only one of them.

Back to the topic at hand. πŸ™‚
The experience of being heard and being believed fully was exactly where healing began. It was the pivotal moment when my life began to turn from what it was (a horribly sad, depressed, suicidal life) to what it is today. A huge change that all started because someone not only believed in me and heard what I had to say but he made sure that I knew he believed me. Other nurses offered this as well which was so greatly appreciated and it cemented what I’d already been told. In groups as I began to open up, they believed me too and showed compassion towards me. It was all VERY healing but the beginning of that healing was the because of the simplest thing we can do. Just listen.

I think quite often we get in the habit of wanting to find a solution or share a solution with the person who needs to get something off their chest. In my experience, this is really not what is needed the most. I think that most people sharing their truth just need to know you are listening and that you believe them wholeheartedly.

I know there are liars out there but as I detailed in another blog, 97% of reported abuse cases were in fact the truth. 2% stretched it a bit and only 1% lied. I think we need to worry less about finding the 1% who lie or the 2% who stretch the truth a bit and open our ears and our hearts to the 97% that are telling you something that is incredibly difficult for them to admit.

It is good to be involved in the conversation asking how something affected them or made them feel is a gift.Β  Asking for details or expecting a timeline that makes sense is asking for too much. Trauma memories are stored more like raffle tickets (tossed in a bag and shaken). They are retrieved much the same way. A little (one name) at a time. “Heather” might be on 25 tickets but you only pull one little part. That is just how trauma works.

This sadly is another reason why people who are traumatized are so scared or unwilling to speak up. When we do, people want to know when, where, who, what, why and they want it to all make sense. Since we can not do that without guessing, people assume it is not the truth. Surely you would remember all that if it was true right? Actually no. Not true. We get raffle ticket memories instead.

If you are ever so blessed to be in a place where you are trusted enough for someone to share their life with you (trauma or not)? Do them a favour and hear them. Just listen. You might be the first person that ever does.

Gas-lighting.

I’m quite honestly unsure of how to even begin describing this. As soon as I even think about it, my anxiety creeps up my throat and begins to strangle me.

If you’ve never heard the term “gas-lighting”, the best way I can explain it is to say that this is when a manipulative person needles their way in to the “victims” life in some way and will literally make them so angry or anxious that the victim ends up losing it and reacting to what is being done to them.
The manipulator now pulls back, puts their perfect person face back on for the world to see and now will use the victim “acting crazy” as proof that they are in fact unstable or crazy. This only raises the manipulator up higher in most people’s eyes and “proves” that their target is a nut-job that can’t be trusted.

I look back at my life and see that my mother did this my whole life and still continues to do it to this day. Even though it has been 11 years since we last spoke, she is still able to tell others about how crazy I am, what a liar I can be, how uncaring and thoughtless I can be and how fake I am. She tells so many people that eventually her words get back to me, I react without even meaning to (I am human and can only keep a stone face for so many years before losing it) and then she has me in her trap. I end up looking like an awful person while she sits back and enjoys the show.

I know for certain that I have many readers who have this happen now and in their pasts. It is incredibly painful when anyone does this to you but it is beyond painful when it is a parent or loved one. These people who should be loving and caring towards us are the people that do us the most harm and it is very hard to wrap our minds around it. I think I have said “Why can’t she just leave me alone?” at least a thousand times in therapy and there is no answer other than she is enjoying the “game”.

Trust me… I have the ability to ignore and refuse her baiting me for YEARS. I don’t react to anything she says, I don’t give her the pleasure of watching me trying to defend myself or continue her stories but then she does something like talking my children in to thinking I am horrible to them (pliable, young adult (18/20) year old minds who already have the normal love/hate relationship with their parents that most upper teens that age have going on). She got them to the point where they won’t even speak to me and they moved out immediately after a visit with her…
Needless to say? I lost it! I actually wanted to go down and kill her. I became a homicidal, suicidal freak with nothing but revenge and hatred on my mind.
Anyone who knows me knows that this is NOT who I am.

I’ve watched the news before and seen people say “I just snapped”. I will be honest and felt that was bullcrap. No one “just snaps”. Then I did. I found out first hand that you can push normally kind and loving people to the brink of insanity and they will do things that they would NEVER even think of before then.

Side note… I am beyond blessed with friends and family who kept me safe during that time and made sure I was never out of their sight or contact (phone calls, emails, text messages, craft days) until my fury subsided and was replaced with less life altering thoughts.

I felt terrified for a long time after that happened. I felt that I could no longer trust myself not to do something crazy. If I am fair to myself? She has already “killed” me (my mind) a thousand times over. It isn’t like most people wouldn’t understand why I had done it BUT I am not that person. I am not dangerous, hate-filled, homicidal, cruel or a vengeful person and I do not wish to ever be that person. It scared me for a LONG time that I could “go there” even when pushed right over the edge.

I trust myself again now. Months have passed and I have discussed this at length in therapy. I also trust my husband and my friends to come to my aid if anything like this was to happen again.

That said? This isΒ  the best example of gas-lighting I have to share. Maybe others haven’t become murderous with rage but I am sure many have felt it.
Then it is us that look like the crazy ones.

My mother never went to therapy to work through this. She did not become homicidal or suicidal during it. She sat at her home and trimmed her perfectly manicured gardens, had tea and went on with her life while gleefully watching me explode.

Perhaps the lesson I can share here is that people can be “gas-lit” at any time by husbands, siblings, parents, teachers or any other person who has a manipulative mind and a mean spirit.
When we see someone totally over-reacting to a supposedly “simple” situation, perhaps we can take a step back and wonder what else has gone on before this seemingly “crazy” over-reaction.

Even the strongest human mind can be broken or shattered at times and these people need compassion and care far more than they need to be judged. I hope to never judge.

If you can relate to this blog? I am so very sorry for the pain it caused. I know there is almost nothing worse.

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Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is something I’ve been told that I don’t have many, many times by many caring and considerate professionals. They mean no harm by it. They have actually been trying to bring my attention to it so that I am able to work on it.
The trouble is that I could never see what they saw.
When I thought about self-esteem, I saw myself as having plenty. Sure I had my down days but so does everyone right? I had no idea that self-esteem or the causes for a lack of it can be rather elusive at times.

When I looked at myself I saw a woman who felt quite good about herself. I felt strong, smart and resilient. All good qualities for sure. So why did these professionals say my self-esteem was low? A few actually said “non-existent`” but let’s not be dramatic eh?

After discussing it AGAIN during a therapy session, I tried to see what she meant but couldn’t.
Then last Saturday happened.
It was my very first craft fair and I was both excited and nervous. I felt I was ready but being totally new to it, I had doubts as well. All perfectly normal in my opinion.
I got there and got all set up in good time. My table looked professional and I was ready to go.
Then who should walk in but one of my monster-mothers best friends. This is someone who’s spoken very badly about me and to me over the years. She knows NOTHING about me personally but she takes my mothers word and feels it necessary to turn the knife whenever she gets a chance.
And where is HER table? Beside mine of course. 3 feet away and certainly close enough to allow her to do a running commentary for hours (7 to be exact) about what she thinks about me andΒ  my every move.

I handled it like a pro. No matter what she did or said, I remained calm and polite with her. I have a mantra that I live by that says “How other people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”. That day my karma should have been bloating itself with pride. πŸ˜‰ I refused to sink to her level or take part in being hate-filled. It just isn’t going to happen. That is not who I am. That is NOT saying that I didn’t want to punch her in the face or sew her lips shut but no one including her would have ever known my frustration.

Back to self-esteem. This is where it kicks in.
I went home, told my husband and friends about my day. The good and the noisy.
I tried to just drop it there and forget about it.
In is honestly not one bit important what this person thinks, feels or says about me. She does not know me and her feelings are 100% based on lies she’s been told by my monster-mother.
So then why did I begin to unravel?
Why did I begin to feel as though I was not worthy of people thinking good things about me?
Why did I accept that things would never change because I didn’t deserve them to?
Why did every nasty, unloving, hurtful, hate-filled word that I was called as a child by the monster suddenly feel like that was my truth of who I really am?
Why did the pain my family has caused me over the years suddenly feel like the words from the gospel? Irrefutable.
Why did I immediately go back to thoughts of severe depression and suicide with the thought in my head that life would never be any better?
Why did I feel that there was only one (illegal) way to handle this situation to just make it all stop?
And the very worst thoughts? What if it is me? What if I am the problem and truly have been all along?
Why did I feel unworthy, uncared for, smaller than small, hopeless, and completely unable to see the good in myself when dealt this blow?
Self-esteem.
Well actually? The lack of it.

I could finally see why these professionals have tried so hard to make me work on my self-esteem when I was incapable of knowing what the heck they were talking about. They were right. My self-esteem was horrid. I should not speak in the past tense here. That is misleading. My self-esteem is horrid.

At least now I know what it is and I know what I really feel about myself when the chips are down and life is not filled with rainbows. My view of myself is not at all what it should be and so much of what I believe to be true is bullcrap. I wrote a list of all the words I used to describe myself and when reading the list back to myself, I thought about how devastated I would be if any of my friends or blog followers felt that way about themselves.Β  I would spend every breath trying to make you see how untrue it all was. I’d be grief stricken if I was unsuccessful. NO ONE in this world is worthy of such disdain. Such hate. Such venom.

So why is it acceptable for me?
It isn’t.
It is what I was raised to believe and it is what I was taught to be my truth. Those lessons sank in to the core of who I am and what I’ve become.

I am fairly sure many of you are reading this and thinking it is true for you as well so you know me. I can’t end on a negative. There HAS to be a way out of this crap.
There is and it’s possible but it will not be easy. It will mean digging up what you actually say to yourself when you are feeling badly or having a tough day. It is found in the names we call ourselves… fat, stupid, clumsy, clueless…

I decided to write down all the words that I use to describe myself when my world is not a happy place. I looked deep inside myself and admitted that the way I see myself is sad and absolutely not okay. I accept it all though. That is what I believe and saying I don’t as though some magic trick has suddenly evaporated all my negative self talk is once again… a bunch of bullcrap.

But now that my words are written down and I have accepted this is how I see myself, I need to start looking at what is actually mine to own and what is not. Rather than seeing myself through the eyes of neglectful parents, teachers, doctors or anyone else that failed me as a child, I need to see myself through the eyes of the people in my life now. I actually asked some people to tell me what they think of or feel when they think of me and the replies were beautiful. They were honest and didn’t pretend that life with me is 100% rosy at all times but they showed me beyond a doubt that many of them see me in a very positive light and feel that I am worthy of their time and energy.
I need to work on allowing this to sink in. Allowing the good words to seep in to my soul in the same way the negative ones did.

It will be a process and I doubt it is something that you just change at the snap of a finger but I have started and I am “dedicated to whatever I put my mind to” (one of the comments about me that is absolutely correct). I will get there and I hope you will too.
We are worthy of healing.
We are worthy of a better life.
All that crap that runs around in our heads? You got it! Bullcrap!

Self Care vs. Being Selfish

Change is hard for everyone. Change can make other people around you uncomfortable especially as you get stronger. When you are changing the relationship that you once had and it takes time for other to adjust.

Going in to hospital for 4 months and learning how to care for myself changed my life forever. It took that sad, depressed, anxious, suicidal, confused, world hating girl that I was and showed me a way out. It has been almost 3 years of daily work (I’ve worked my arse off!), setbacks, therapy, plus unending support from my wonderful friends, my amazing husband and his terrific family.
It hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it.

The adults in my life have watched me work and watched me change. They’ve seen my progress and have encouraged me to continue moving forwards. They are also there when I go backwards and when it is needed, they are ever willing to give me a good kick in the arse to get going in the right direction again. πŸ™‚
I appreciate that more than they all know even though I do try to express it.

Then there is the fallout and it is big.
My 3 children and I had great relationships before I went away and now they want nothing to do with me at all. This is heartbreaking for both my husband and I. They were loved, cared for, never harmed, and always the apples of my eye. For 2 decades, I lived almost solely for them.
I do understand why they are pulling away though (even though it sucks). 3 years ago, I agreed to everything they ever said without question. I had no opinions of my own, I just adopted theirs. Even the big things. If they believed in God, so did I. If they didn’t, I didn’t either. I didn’t have a clue about who I was. Keeping them happy and willing to share themselves with me was all I cared about. I constantly feared that they woudl leave me or feel I was unworthy… Now it has happened. 😦

It is not my childrens fault that they did not see that I was basically a doormat for the family. I was the cook, taxi, nurse, counsellor and I took them to countless appointments, listened for hours to their thoughts and I tried to accommodate their wishes. They came first ALL the time.Β  This is good to a point especially when they are very little but I really taught them that my needs, wants, hopes and wishes were either nonexistent or unimportant. This wasn’t even noticeable to them, it was just how things always were because I didn’t know any better and I did not value myself at all. It is said that you teach people how to treat you and it is most certainty the truth. I taught them to think as little of me as I thought of myself. It made them very selfish in many ways.

Then I went away and started to get help. I began to learn who I was by doing countless silly quizzes that I found online. When I started, I didn’t even have a favourite colour. I always said “rainbow” because I really didn’t have a clue what I liked. Whatever you liked was fine with me. Now I know my favourite colour is indigo blue. My favourite type of music is very expansive but I do not like jazz or rap at all. My passion is to create. Writing is my true love but finding others ways to be creative is very important to me too. These are areas where I excel. I am no good at all with math or anything that requires attention to small details but that is okay. Someone else can be good at that. I have a fear of horses but I love dogs. I am a good friend but I am not always an easy friend to have. I challenge people to think differently or to try to do something differently. This is not always easy to deal with. One friend recently told me how peeved she was with me for asking her to make a change in her marriage but at the end of the week, she was grateful because it helped. I’ve also learned that I don’t care if I am hated for a little while if someone needs to be angry so long as they use that energy for their benefit.
Of course there is so much more but I know who I am now. I learn a little more each and every day but this new knowledge has also led me to a new place…
I’ve finally realized that I am important.

I am important. Not more important than anyone else but not less either. I always put myself at the bottom of the heap. Kids first, husband second, friends and in-laws followed. Then the house pets, acquaintances or just someone walking down the street. Then me. I didn’t even know that I was doing that to be honest. I just always put everyone else above me. I would plan some time alone then answer phone calls all through it. I would set a time to get together with someone then the kids would call and ask to be picked up after school. I’d immediately cancel my plans. I had my own mental health issues but never took any time to take care of them because my children had needs too.

I know now that I need to be at the top of that “food chain”. If I do not care for myself first, I have nothing to give to anyone else. By taking care of myself first, I am actually being even more giving to others because now I actually have something to share with them. I am no longer that empty shell.

Sadly this change is not seen by many as a good thing. Most adults? yes. My children? No. This change has been viewed as me becoming selfish. I know others have dealt with this too from husbands, their own children, friends or family members. It is not that these other people are necessarily bad people. They are just having a hard time adjusting to the new you or the new me. When we get healthier, we change all the rules that we’ve lived by for most or all of our lives. This is uncomfortable for almost everyone. They need time to adjust.

The fact that my children refuse to speak to me absolutely breaks me heart. While other people in my life cheer me on, my children just don’t like the new me.
I dearly hope that one day they will take a new look at me and see that I have become a whole person. I am no longer that suicidal empty shell that I was 3 years ago. I hope they will learn to appreciate who I am and accept me for just being myself.

Taking care of yourself first can really throw some people off but you need to do it anyways. YOU are important. YOU matter. YOU deserve all the same things that you give to others. You may lose some people along the way and I hope they come back to you like I hope my children come back to me but if they don’t? You are still a healthier and happier person when you take care of #1. YOU.

We all need people in our lives that offer us support, encouragement and take joy in our successes. Those who wish you to go backwards or be someone other than who you really are do not deserve to be in your life. Don’t accept less from anyone in your life than what you would offer them.

Taking care of yourself is self-care and not self-ish.

Self

The Last 2 Years

There are times when I really like to stop and think of where I was and where I am now. It is far too easy to always look at where I am now and how far I still have to go that it is so easy to lose sight of all I have accomplished. I think this is really important for everyone to do on a regular basis.
My husband has been very unhealthy due to his smoking for the past 44 years. Hospitalizations, new medications and a big lifestyle change are all hitting him now. His new reality. That said, he smoked a pack a day (he says – I think it was far more than that) for 44 years and now he is down to 3 a day and has been able to stick with that. He was getting down on himself because he just can’t seem to give up those last 3 even though its been weeks now since he got down to that level. I told him to be proud of himself for the 17 he doesn’t smoke any longer rather than the 3 he still does. He will get to zero but it might take a long time. That is okay though so long as he continues to hold on to the progress he has made.
While supporting him and telling him to look at what he’s done rather than what he still must do, I took that advice to heart and promised myself that I would take some time to look at where I have come rather than where I still need to go.

I went back to where I was in January of 2013. Oh my goodness. I can’t even honestly say I really even remember “that girl”. It feels like it was someone else completely… and not in a DID way. πŸ˜‰
I was so depressed, anxious, suicidal, self harming, self hating… my head was such a sad place to be. I didn’t know that I had DID yet and that only made my life even more confusing, upsetting and made me think I was truly crazy. I had not yet told anyone about my life and the secrets were killing me. I was shame filled, felt guilty and unworthy, I was positive that if anyone knew what my childhood had been like, they would never speak to me again. My idea of self-care was to eat, sleep and have a shower before the neighbours complained about the smell. I thought I was doing everything possible but none of it was working. Of course this translated in to “I am not doing enough”. I smiled all the time but felt happy none of it. My mask was a constant companion and I wasn’t hiding behind it. I didn’t know who the person behind it even was. I didn’t even have a favourite colour. I was like an empty shell.

Then I went away and got real help for the first time in my life. I learned how to take better care of myself. I learned I was not at fault for things that happened to me as a child. That seems so obvious to me now but it wasn’t back then. I found out that I had DID and suddenly life made so much sense. It was like the best and worst day of my life when I was diagnosed. Looking back it was all good but it was overwhelming back then.
I was shown care like I’d never known care before. My husband and his family tried to show that to me but I couldn’t trust it. I wasn’t ready or able with them and they didn’t know my secrets. I knew that when they found out, they’d run like everyone else always had. Gratefully, I was very wrong about this.
Being surrounded by a large group of people just like me (with Complex PTSD) was a healing agent of its own. I found out that it was not just me that felt this constant fear, this need to wear a mask, this inability to even know who I was or to truly trust a single soul… they all felt it too.

Things didn’t get better quickly. It took me months of really hard work and dedication. I even went back to redo the 8 week hospital program because I wasn’t able to do everything the first time.

I still work at healing every single day. I can guarantee you that I don’t do everything that I should but I do try. I get back up on the horse every single day and try to do better than the day before. When I mess up? So what! It doesn’t matter. I just try again the next day.

Here I am 2 years later. I have a blog that I am very proud of. I feel like everything I was given to teach me how to heal can now be shared with all of you. I know how blessed I was to get that help. Not everyone has a chance like that so sharing everything I learned is my way of passing it along. That makes me feel good so thank you for reading and for learning. You make me feel like I have a real place in this world now. I actually know who I am now.

My life is still not easy. I struggle more in a day than many people do in a month between nightmares, flashbacks, dissociations, memories and heartache. I still grieve for the family and the love that I never had and the loved ones I’ve lost. I grieve for my innocence, my childhood and the life I feel I was meant to have.
This is all okay though. My struggles are what drive me to keep blogging, to keep doing my artwork, to speak out and speak up for those of us that can’t. My struggle is not who I am nor is the abuse I suffered really me. They are great teachers though. I see this world in a unique way as most trauma survivors do. It allows me to relate to people in a way they are not accustomed to and that makes me feel good too.

I know that so many of you still struggle and I know that while some of you are further ahead in your healing, that some are further behind as well. We all improve though. Each and every day that we wake up and choose to try to make our lives better, we accomplish at least a part of that quest to heal.

If you can, take a look at where you were or who you were 2 years ago and forget how far you still have to go even if only for today. Look at how far you have come. Make a list of all that you have accomplished and list everything! Even “I shower more often” or “I joined a support group”. ANYTHING that you have done to help in your healing journey. I dearly hope that when you look back, you will see that you really have come a ways from where you were.
This is not only good for those who are healing. I believe every human is on a journey and I am sure you have all changed over time.

If you do not feel this way? Do me a favour and listen to the words of someone who felt that life would never get better. To the point where death was the only option. I promise you that if you keep trying, keep learning, and keep reaching out, you can feel your healing begin as well. I do not make promises lightly. I truly believe you can do this.

Thank you all for being a part of my journey and I hope you will continue to join me as I move further along that healing pathway. Sharing it will all of you has made my life far richer and more full. I appreciate each and every one of you.

If the staff at Homewood ever reads this and have sound on your computer, I hope you will let the staff listen to this song and tell them that I am here today because of each of you. You cracked my cocoon. Thank you.

Wanting to live.

This is a weird post for me to begin. I am really hoping that the words come together well today since my head still feels unsure of how to express this concept that is new to me.

For decades I teetered on the edge between silently contemplating suicide and being actively suicidal. The best days I could have at that point in my life were a day or two where I actually didn’t think about suicide for a whole day. It didn’t happen very often but I truly enjoyed the days when it just seemed to go away and leave me alone. Suicide was a very constant thought though. How would I do it? Who would find me? Did I have everything in place? Rewind and then play it all again.

Then came a stage where I began to view suicide as a negative choice. It wasn’t before but I was beginning to see it as an unnecessary end to my life. Suicide always made perfect sense to me but now it was beginning to show itself for what it really was. I began to be able to see that I would hurt people in my life and they would not be better off without me as I had truly believed before.
Thoughts of how to do it became fewer and further apart for which I was truly grateful. I felt like I was finally at the best space that I could get and I was pleased to be there.

I did not realize that not being suicidal was good but there is an even better stage beyond that. It is “wanting to live”. More than just not thinking about death any longer, this place is about actively wanting to live. To have reasons to want to stay alive for. To make plans for more than the next day but to think about where you might like to be in 6 months or a year. I NEVER planned ahead before. Now I am. πŸ™‚

Wanting to live is a novel place for me. I’ve never really been here before. Not in my memory. As a child, I almost never thought that I would live to see the next day let alone the next year or become an adult. Why bother making plans for days you think will never be there to greet you? I often paid more attention to whom had died than who lived because it was those who died that I expected to more likely see sooner. This was not a depressive or suicidal state, this was reality in my world.

As I lived through each age and each stage, I still never developed the ability to really look or plan ahead. There was just always this block in my mind that said “don’t even bother”. Geesh that is sad to say.

Eventually when my life was no longer in danger at other people’s hands, it became in danger of my own. I am sure this sounds horrible but I didn’t really know how to live. I’d only ever contemplated being gone. The idea of living was an out of reach concept.

So here I am.
What do you do in this space?
How do you live?
Really live?

For me it has been a few things that have begun to change. Writing this blog, gaining new readers and feeling responsible to maintain it. I love doing it and I feel as though I have more to say so I need to still be here in this world for a while. I feel that I have taken on a longer term goal that has allowed me to see a world beyond today.
Now my art. To think that people actually like it and are willing to pay for it? I don’t charge much at all ($20-25) but each comment about it makes me feel as though I have something else to offer the world. Something that is unique to me.
I am also starting to put ideas of a vacation in to place. Not this year and likely not the next but to actually be thinking about something that won’t likely happen for 2 or 3 years yet still think about it and plan for it as though I am quite sure that I will still be here then? Amazing!

I am well aware that anything can happen at any time to any person but that doesn’t seem to stop others from making plans. Now it doesn’t stop me either. πŸ™‚

If you are out there and you are suicidal at all times or some of the time, I hope you will find a way to hold on and continue to work towards a better life. It is not only possible to get past the suicidal feelings and get past the idea of only planning for today, it is possible to get to a place where you can look a month or two down the road and actually see yourself being there. You can get to a place where buying green bananas is not a daring statement of your will to live long enough to see them ripen. You can get to a place where you can buy a small fruit tree and plan to still be around long enough to enjoy its eventual harvests.

It was not easy to get here and I could not have done it alone. It is possible though and I think I can safely say that I was as low as you can possibly get for decades. If I can find my way from wanting to die to actually wanting to live? So can you. I promise you that.

Some helpful tips that I would love to pass along would be to:

  • Start trying new things until you find something you REALLY enjoy. That project or hobby can help you want to stay in this world.
  • Try to talk about your suicidal feelings or how you feel “flat”. Good friends, a good therapist, even if it is only you in the room, putting actual words to the feelings and then hearing how they sound can help you make more sense of them. Monsters hide in the unlocked corners of your mind and seem to die a quick death when exposed to light and reason.
  • Think about what your purpose is in this world. It might be to be a good parent or spouse. Perhaps you want to change the world in some small way. You could be an awesome friend that would be very missed if gone. Your purpose doesn’t need to be as big as the earth or as bright as the sun. Our purpose can be to make a difference in just one persons world.

I hope you will always keep striving for better. I am THRILLED to be at this point of actually wanting to live but now I am almost wondering, what if there is even better than this? πŸ˜‰

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