Hope

Consumed

I turned 29 about a week ago. Leading into this birthday, I started focusing on the future, I felt like a switch had been flipped, I needed what has been my life over the last “few” years to change. Then I started counting the years it has actually been, it wasn’t just a few… it has been 9 years, 9 years since I had a nervous breakdown and since that fateful day I have been consumed. Consumed with the horror of what happened, the fear of it happening again, terror of the unknown, panic attacks, and an inability to move forward.

I need this to change. I need positivity, I need hope, faith, strength, endurance, happiness, life. I made a decision on the morning of my birthday to no longer keep focusing on the past, being consumed by it. That has to end, I don’t live there anymore.

I wish I could write about happy things, but what I know, what I have lived, is dark and ugly.

So, final post on the dark truth before I start to shape my writings into something more positive.

I don’t remember my exact age when I was molested, but I was very young, and he had been a trusted family friend who was morbidly obese and could barely move. I never went near him again after the first time he touched me, he did end up going to prison (for touching/raping other girls) and he died there as well.

11, the summer that I stayed with my Grandmother and in those fateful months I lost all of my trust and faith in extended members of family. My cousin accused me of stealing her things, even after proven innocent, I carried the stigma of thief with *most of my extended family. I was a verbal whipping post for my Grandmother and cousin that summer. My sister was taken 75 miles away and I was left alone with them. Slapped every time I objected to being called names, I started to spend all of my time hiding in a room in the attic or outside in my Grandfather’s barn. Years later, I was still the one to blame if something wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

15, when I was raped by someone I met only hours earlier. My best friends and peers shunned me. He threatened to kill me and my entire family if I ever spoke out about it. So I didn’t.

19, when I broke up with a boyfriend who would go on to attack me physically, punching a hole in the wall when I ducked, breaking into the bathroom while I was showering to grab me by the hair and slam my head into the wall, raping me for leaving him.

20, when I moved in with a man who was so emotionally abusive that I would start my day by throwing up from stress, choked me and threw me into furniture when he was drunk and angry, and cheated on me with other men.

20, when I had a nervous breakdown. Which is ultimately what saved my life.

My life today is completely opposite of what happened over these years. My life is amazing, but I am only just starting to heal. That seems to unreal but at 22 I was safe and as each year has progressed I have made healthier choices for my life because I’m learning ….that I’m worth it.

Freshly 29, I see a future and I plan to focus on being the healthiest I can be for it, not on living in my past. Working through what happened instead of letting it consume me.

And removing my makeup every night. After all, it’s time I start behaving like an adult.

See no evil

The eyes are the window to the soul. – English Proverb 

Last Sunday, the Seahawks went to play the Broncos. Diehard 12’s, my husband, my family, and I were amped. At one point I really took notice of my husband’s face and he looked like a kid at Christmas, his whole face was lit up and his eyes sparkled. I took a close look at my mom when she came over and saw that her eyes sparkle too. These two people are the happiest and healthiest people in my life. They have a joy that they just wake up with every day, a great attitude, and a zest for life and you can see it in their eyes.

When I look into my eyes, I see pain, I see a vacant look on my face, and it feels so bleak. I don’t want this. I see bruises that aren’t there anymore and I see memories that I wish I could forget.

I want the sparkle, I want the inner happiness, and I am willing to fight for it, I just don’t know exactly what I am fighting. Fighting ghosts is what we call it, depression, PTSD, night terrors, an inner feeling of dread that something bad is going to happen weighs on me and there is a part of me that is trapped inside, screaming to get out.

Sidebyside

 

Matthew 6:22  “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

I don’t remember what day it was that the light left my eyes, but I know it was many years ago and I’m only just getting to a place where I’m fighting to get it back. I know what it has been like for me, but I am having an even harder time watching it happen to my sister. My heart hurts remembering that I saw the light and sparkle in my sister’s eyes leave on the day of her wedding. She carries the vacant look that goes along with the phrase “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Abuse sucks the life and the light out of us. With every fist and kick, the breath that is knocked out of you from a physical abuser can take away the sparkle and light that once was a part of us. With every tear that comes shaking out of us from the unkind words, slanderous speech, vindictive behavior, and negativity of an emotional abuser, our eyes cease to glow.

 

Insomnia

I can’t sleep. Again. It seems like this is a constant.

My husband and I have a night time “routine”, if you will. We snuggle, he falls asleep, we flip over to the other side and my tossing and turning begins.

I’ve tried countless things to lull myself to sleep. Counting sheep, counting to 100, meditating (difficult when the sweet man beside you snores..), thought movement (the imaginative process of putting stresses into bins to organize and remove jumbled thoughts), etc. etc. I’ve tried tapes to listen to, rushing shores, jungle, rain, all of that makes me have to use the bathroom, inducing more stress on top of not being able to sleep. Melatonin, natural remedies, sleepy time tea, xanax, alcohol. Sigh. Why. Am. I. Awake.

I know that a part of me doesn’t want to fall asleep because of the nightmares I have. Sometimes in my dreams I relive things from my past and I wake up terrified and screaming. Other times the nightmares can be something worse than what I’ve been through.

There is something else to this though. As I was laying in bed tonight I listened to my body, I cleared my mind and focused on what my body was feeling and what became apparent has startled me to an even more conscious state at…. 1:08 am.

I have a hard time breathing. My lungs feel like they are shaking and each breath is small. Taking a deep breath hurts.

My stomach an inner organs feel like they are quivering in fear, which is a sensation I usually only get during a panic attack.

My face has areas that feel like they are throbbing and swelling.

My neck feels like someone has it in a vice and it just will not relax.

My heart hurts, the racing, the panic, the dread, the hope, the pain, excitement…. it feels so tired.

I know this part of the cycle is what can make the next day harder. Good sleep, any sleep, is so very important to our health and state of mind. I just can’t fall asleep.

 

I need to get to know you

It’s been a while. I stopped writing because I felt like I was feeding anger instead of moving forward with hope and I needed to get my head straight on that point.

The husband and I moved to a new apartment, it’s newer, spacious, and peaceful. I’ve been running myself ragged the last two weeks for this move and trying to do more than I think my body could undertake. I started having massive panic attacks again this last week and yesterday I couldn’t get my heart to steady after one panic attack in the morning. I spent the whole day trying to breathe but labored with each breath, I could feel my lungs aching from the strain.

Because panic attacks are what they are, I of course think that I must be dying. This sounds like it’s funny, but it isn’t. It’s terrifying. This impending sense of dread and death is a stealthy stalker and when you’re having a panic attack, it can be crippling.

Before we went to bed last night, I told my husband what I was feeling and he did his utmost to comfort me and assuage my fears. As he rubbed my back in this steady motion that he’s learned calms me, I wondered how he knows just what to do.  It was at that moment that I realized how I am literally uncomfortable with myself. I wrote myself a quick email last night detailing all that I am uncomfortable with, like my appearance, my smile, the way I talk, the way I walk… the list was endless.

I went to sleep, trying to relax and breathe, thinking to myself and telling myself “I need to get to know you.” I need to listen to my body and take care of it, not hate it for what happened. I need to look at my face in the mirror and not imagine the bruises that aren’t there anymore. I need to let myself start to feel happy again without guilt. Neither my body or my mind has relaxed in the last seven years and in the last six months I’ve known that this needs to change, I can’t live like this anymore.

I have this recurring dream where I see myself, barely in my 20’s and the shower can’t clean enough off. I’m mute, paralyzed, and scared. There’s a party going on outside the bathroom and I just see the dirt trails going down the drain. Every time I have this dream I feel like fighting. Fighting for life, fighting for myself, fighting for happiness, fighting for this to end. All of it.

I need to get to know myself again.

Sigh.

Short and quick. Today is rough.

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you, what you are about and what you value. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

A changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value. I feel a little shell shocked thinking about this.

I really lost who I was/am through a series of bad relationships.

What am I about? I know I used to be about being happy, doing something, moving along in life, going somewhere, having goals for my career… but I’ve lost that too.

I threw my values away because I couldn’t stay in an abusive relationship if I kept them. If I had valued myself even, I could not have stayed, but for whatever reason I traded my values of caring.. compassion… dedication… devotion… honesty… hope… integrity… optimism… respect… unity… and love for a man who valued only himself. The default of giving up your core values for a person who won’t share them, is that the only thing left to value is that person and if their core values are me, myself, and I, there isn’t any room for you.

So, who the hell am I?

We need to think of ourselves as gifts to be given and to think of others as gifts offered to us. – John Powell

My twinsie and I both have a problem of considering ourselves a burden. It happened because of emotionally destructive people in our lives, as in, the man I dated, and the man she married. If we take these two destructive people out of the picture and focus instead on say, the family we know, we would see ourselves as loved, precious, and in no way a burden, but a blessing.

I try to focus on that in therapy and I’m getting a lot closer, but once someone has made you feel and enforced in your mind that you are a burden, it is a 25′ grave that you are struggling to get out of, if you struggle at all.

Today is hard. It is worse to watch someone you love be disrespected and disappear in front of you from the constant haranguing of the emotionally destructive spouse than to be the one it happens to.

It is like screaming to an empty room.

Why can’t they see it?

Why couldn’t I see it when I was in it?

Practically Single

It’s been wholly uneventful this last week as both the husband and I were sick. So I really have nothing to blather on about.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

My husband tells me this all.the.time. I tend to devote my schedule to things that are just busy work instead of devoting time to things that would make me successful as a writer and healthy as a person. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s like housework, there is always something that I could be doing to maintain our house, to keep it clean, clutter-free, but I could, and have, lost days, weeks, and months to that activity and it resulted in not spending time writing, working out, and I was left feeling like I hadn’t gotten any further in life.

This quote also translates to bad relationships, those are very much the wrong wall that the ladder is leaning against. There is no ultimate goal in working your ass off for a bad relationship, but we keep doing it, why? For one thing, if you’re in a relationship with someone that has a destructive personality, is narcissistic, abusive, or is simply not into you – all of what you do to try and make it a success is just a way of not focusing on the truth of the matter.

And the truth of the matter is that the relationship is:

A. Simply a bad relationship.

B. An abusive relationship.

C. A Narcissistic relationship. Which is a one-sided relationship where you meet all of their needs and they meet none of yours.

I call all of the above on my last relationship and definitely on the one my twinsie is in. Where a narcissistic personality is combined with tendencies to be emotionally destructive, you are left feeling like everything is your fault, so you try harder. The truth lies in the fact that when your significant other is consistently indifferent to your needs, and instead focuses on themselves, they neglect you. When they neglect you, what they are absolutely saying is ….

I really don’t care about you and you don’t mean enough to me that I will spend my time on what you want, or what you would like to do.

They also won’t want to spend money on things that you want or like. Birthdays? Mother’s Day? Christmas? The least expensive of gifts, if any, and the least amount of effort on their part. If kids are involved you probably feel like you cannot depend on your significant other, being with the children is a chore for them and you are left holding the bag, carrying the weight, and truthfully, you are what I like to call “practically single.”

I know this well, I went through it myself and I see my twinsie going through it now. With the help of my therapist I learned that even with years and years of therapy that there are just people who will not change to care about you. So strong is their conviction that their needs, their wants, their life is not meant to be shared, but to be focused on themselves and them only. Sure they’ll say they want to change, they will apologize for neglecting you and they seem sincere, but it will happen again, and again, and again. The day that you stop listening to their words and start watching their actions, that is the day that you see the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

Strange isn’t it, each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? – Clarence the Angel “It’s a wonderful life”

I think that this is true in two opposite ways. The good versus the bad.

1. The good man’s life touches so many other lives positively. Like my Dad, he loved life and the people in it intensely and they loved him back. When he passed away, thanks to Facebook, people from all his journey’s in life, all around the world felt a hole, mourned, and missed him.

2. The bad man’s life touches people so negatively that even after he has walked out the door, left the relationship, or even passed away, the hole that is left is painful, not poignant. The hole that a bad person leaves is like an open wound, jagged around the edges, inflamed, and still bleeding.

The future never just happened. It was created. – Will and Ariel Durant – To Your Success

You cannot take charge of the present if you are busy reliving the setbacks of the past. – Newman & Berkowitz – To Your Success

I struggled with leaving a bad relationship because I was busy focusing on and regretting the decision to be in it in the first place. I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to leave because I had worked so hard to make it work. If I had not fastened my bootstraps and climbed onto my horse of freedom :it was actually a Chevy Tahoe:: I might still be with someone who would never care about me more than himself, who would continue to cheat on me, neglect me, and abuse me. So forget what bad decisions we’ve made, everyone makes them at some time or another, there shouldn’t be any shame in it, there should be freedom.

Live it

Limitations.

This weekend was pretty rough. I have issues with bulging discs in my neck and when there are flare ups, inflammation, and pinched nerves I get a lot of sensory nerve pain. Everywhere. It wages a strong war against my motivation to go, go, go, and I find myself feeling limited in every way. limitations

If I take a second to really think about it though, it is pain, depression, and fear that make me feel limited. It is the exhaustion from pain that makes me unmotivated and when these go together I have always crumbled. I felt a shift happen today though, I realized that I have been limited, I let myself be limited by the fear and the pain. No more though. Swapping “What do I have to do….” with “What do I get to do.”

You can decide within yourself how circumstances will affect you. Between what happens to you, or the stimulus, and your response to it, is your freedom or power to choose that response. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

One thing I know to be true about myself is that in when hard times strike in life, I rally. Which is really strange considering how much a panic attack devastates me. The difference to me is that when tragedy strikes, or times are hard for people that I care about, I can put the war paint on and push as hard as is needed.

When Aeron abused me I didn’t think ::wow, I should leave him, what an asshole:: I would instead take the worst of what he said to me and about me and I would make a plan to be better, to be what he wanted, to be skinnier, prettier. This was the wrong type of rallying. I was fighting the wrong battle. I should have been fighting for myself.

Aeron was cheating on me, not only was he physically abusive, but the emotional destructiveness he wreaked was overwhelming. Every single time I found emails, chats, photos, and video’s of him cheating, I would try to breathe deeply and suck it up. I would go to the gym the next morning that much harder, I stopped eating, I started throwing up. ::not on purpose, but from the stress:: I stopped paying attention to what my body was telling me and I shut off my heart. I wasn’t even able to cry anymore. I thought I had to keep pushing to be better, that if I became what he wanted he wouldn’t do this. One day though, my body couldn’t take it anymore and I had a nervous breakdown. I fought the wrong battle. I should have been fighting for myself.

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live. – Irish Proverb

Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. – James Allen

The future is of our own making – and the most striking characteristic of this century is just that development. – Joseph Conrad

What I never saw when I was in a bad relationship was that I was fighting the wrong battle. I haven’t fought for myself until now. My future depends on the decisions that I make today and if the decisions that I make are for someone that treats me badly, even if I win, I lose.

Fight