“The most common form of despair is not being who you are” – Soren Kierkegaard
Spring is cautiously making an entrance in our corner of the world – with childlike hopefulness we cross our fingers that the snow is finished for the year and that the heat is coming soon. Leaves are budding, the squirrels are doing their mating dances and birds are returning to our skies. Days are warmer and there isn’t a pile of snow or ice to be seen – even the mounds that were once snowmen in schoolyards have made their exit.
It is hard not to feel inspired and hopeful. There is a certain way about Spring that practically begs for joy. Sitting on patios with a cold drink and good friends, considering cleaning up the yard exciting instead of a chore, feeling motivated to walk because it is pleasant outside – the shift of attitude is unmistakable. I am thankful for the hope, for the calming birdsong and warm winds. The anticipation of flowers and greenery brings peace to my mind. For me, this cannot come at a better time in my life – I am in the throws of dealing with a mental health crisis.
Mental Health Crisis. That is such an ugly combination of words. I am not surprised to be here, embarrassed and ashamed, but not surprised. I have been putting off dealing with my “shit” for a long time now, and I knew it was only a matter of time before it caught up with me. Previously in this blog I have touched on a few of the traumas and less desirable life events I’ve lived through, and I apologize for the overlap now, but I feel listing them out will be helpful for me as I process. As I have said, I am not sure if anyone even reads this but this blog is a way for me to express and sort out my life and mind. It isn’t always going to be sunshine and rainbows, I am trying to be more vulnerable (ahh! Scary!) and raw and open and honest.
(Disclaimer: trigger warning for trauma)
My big life events as I can recall them, likely out of order: adopted at a few days old, mom lost her hearing when I was 2, mom had lupus and complications as a result, adopted older brother dealt with addictions most of his teen years, never feeling accepted by dad’s very religious family (as a result of being adopted), being compared to cousins on dad’s very religious side of the family, very close family friends going through a horrible and traumatic divorce that was the result of an affair which affected multiple families in our tight knit friends group, dad getting a brain tumor when I was 17 and passing away 10 months later, moving out in a panic at age 18, being assaulted by a roommate and not disclosing to anyone except two people (one of whom was my boyfriend at the time), breaking up with boyfriend at the time (my choice, I was unable to handle the events of my life at the time and now realize I was self sabotaging), entering into a period of life where I was drinking too much and taking risks with my life, throwing myself into an unhealthy relationship and moving to a new town with a new boyfriend, being in another unhealthy relationship with a roommate (it didn’t get to assault but could have easily gone that way had I not smartened up and left), breaking up with boyfriend, continuing to abuse alcohol, getting engaged to someone after just a few months, becoming pregnant, getting sober, breaking off engagement, surrendering the baby boy for adoption, back to drinking heavily, meeting my ex husband and entering a very rocky and unhealthy (for both of us) relationship and marriage, having my beautiful daughter, meeting my birth mother and her family (we have a wonderful relationship), loosing my mom (adoptive) suddenly, being taken out of my paternal grandmothers will, being lied to and harassed by his side of the family in the wake of my mothers passing, cutting ties with them, deciding to leave my husband, reconnecting with my now partner (who is the same man that I was seeing during my assault), buying a home together, having to put my dog down at 13 years (she was like a trauma dog for me), loosing our jobs, starting a business, getting engaged, dealing with Covid for 2 years….PHEW! It is no wonder that I am a mess, as I have not actually DEALT with any of this.
I can only describe what I am experiencing as treading water, with every passing day my mouth and nose get closer and closer to dipping under the surface of the water. Black, thick water that clings to me and tries to pull me under. it has taken a toll on my relationship with my fiance, the way I parent my beautiful daughter and my friendships. I feel myself shutting down and taking space, even when I want nothing more than to be with friends. I am unsure and timid, and I feel like my brain is everywhere.
At the gentle insistence of my partner I went back into therapy and have been making good progress. I am working to “rewrite the toxic and untrue narratives” that I adopted while growing up. Imagine my surprise to learn that: confidence is not arrogance, pride was not gloating, curiosity was not bothering, joy was not being hyper, questions are not disrespectful… this is life changing stuff for me. I also am now working with a second counselor with my fiance to address our stressors and inter-relational issues.
I am also, finally, addressing the sexual trauma I’ve experienced in my life. Slowly, and very cautiously, I am unpacking that mess and finding my worth exists still and I have much to offer. I am learning how my mind and body work together, and sometimes against each other, as a result of that. I am learning how to express this to my fiance and am actually starting to believe him when he expresses that he desires me as I am (even with some extra Covid weight).
I got a decal for my mirror that says “You’re Beautiful” and it greets me every morning. I am learning to love who I am, where I am, as I am. Because other people love me just as I am! My daughter told me I am the most beautiful person in the world – “Because you’re my mother and you are my whole heart”. And I love that, and it makes me so happy.
Emotional breaks make space to explore and dive deep into oneself. There is an opportunity to heal and grow and learn. And I hope I am doing that. I hope I am making positive steps forward. All I can say for certain today is: I am climbing out of the pit of despair one tiny step at a time and it feels glorious.
I look forward to the day when I look at the “you’re beautiful” decal and say, “I know, right?!”
(If anyone actually reads this, Thanks for sticking with this blog. It’s all over the place!)