Leaving A Legacy…

I’ve been sharing a little with my therapist about my feelings of wanting to end my life. I’ve been feeling this way for months. We argue about it, he tries to switch my thinking and paint a darker picture of what the end result of this would look like rather than what I will face in moving forward with my life. His points are valid, and though I try, not really arguable, so I shut down and stop talking because I don’t know how to explain what I need to say. I love my children. I would hate to hurt them and abandon them. It would be messy. On a logical level, I get that. But for some reason, that doesn’t motivate me as much to want to stay anymore. Sometimes, the thought of me leaving them seems more attractive to them (from my perspective) than being here in the state that I’m in right now.

The last time we talked about this he asked me what I wanted my legacy to be. He probably asked me this to distract me from my negative thoughts. It didn’t work. I immediately started thinking of what I perceive my legacy currently to be, and that just became greater justification to act upon my current state of mind…to get out, and end it all. The pressure building up inside of me is so intense. I can’t figure out what it is. Or how to release it. It’s becoming unbearable. It’s the heaviest of weights. I feel trapped with no way out. It’s getting darker and scarier and more and more confusing. I think I’ve actually really lost my mind. I haven’t ever felt this before. I feel like I have no control and no where to go to escape the torture I feel. I’m completely frozen yet completely on fire all at the same time. I’m afraid of myself and who I’m becoming.

My therapist talks a lot about dissociation when he tries to explain why I feel or remember things the way I do when I can’t find any understanding of it on my own. I still don’t grasp the concept of this or how it works so I’ve been reading a lot about trauma to try and find answers to help me understand myself better. I was reading the other day and came across some things that resonated with me. One author was discussing the impact of our inner critical voice and stated that it causes us to contemplate suicide. She also states that the critical voice is also hope-phobic. It doesn’t want us to hope because disappointment is so excruciatingly painful and it’s very good at predicting the worst possible outcome. She goes on to say that having no hope, the critical voice doesn’t want change. It doesn’t believe change is possible. I feel that sometimes. Another author I was reading touched on suicidal tendencies as well. She states, in reference to past childhood abuse and resulting dissociation, “Fight and flight driven aspects of the self that are suicidal or self-harming developed as a way of increasing the child’s sense of having some control (“If it gets too bad, I can die—I can leave—I can go to sleep and never wake up”) and may continue to have strong self-destructive impulses in the context of loss or vulnerability.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple days and I wondered if this feeling of wanting to escape, to end my life, is not necessarily because I can’t endure or cope with the “whatever it is I’m experiencing feeling” as much as it is a symptom of what I have experienced. In a way, that perspective shifted my thoughts around my desires. They’re there because something happened to me. It was a way I tried to cope and have control when I physically didn’t and I’m using this strategy again now as an adult as I relive some of what happened to me as a child. I felt a small twinge of freedom from the stronghold this desire to end my life has had on me. Maybe this quote about another woman I read about experiencing something similar can explain better what I’m trying to say. “…As she began to label the panic symptoms as “memories” and refrained from either “believing” them or exploring them (just noting that they were not a reflection of her present), she found that she was less overwhelmed by them and more able to reassure her traumatized child parts (and thus, herself) that “it’s not happening now—you are just remembering how afraid you were…” (source). 

So as I translate this information into my own experience, I’ve begun to wonder if these suicidal thoughts are actually “memories” of past distress as I sift through the ones that are continually surfacing from the depths of my mind. Even if they’re not, and I am truly feeling all hope is lost for me, which I genuinely feel sometimes, it releases some of the pressure somehow and frees me from the desire to act on these thoughts to a certain extent. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else, but it clicked with me on some level.

I’ve been in a very low emotional state for some time now with a very strong “flight” desire burning within me. With this new thought process digesting, I realized I need to take whatever steps I can to prevent myself from unknowingly trying to reenact these suicide attempts I made as a child while dealing with my seemingly very traumatic past and the emotions and thoughts that are coming with that process. I don’t really trust myself right now. I think it’s because I don’t have a conscious awareness of ever feeling this low or lost or confused. Without explanation, I asked my husband to remove all the medications from their normal places in our home and put them away somewhere. He did it without asking questions and I appreciated that so much. I think he’s smart enough to understand why but he didn’t make me tell him.

When I was 12 years old, and my parents were out at the bar, I sat on the floor at 2am in my bedroom closet and methodically swallowed over 100 aspirin. I was horrifically sick and violently vomited for days and my parents did not take me to the hospital or my primary doctor. They left me alone at home during the day while they continued on with their lives and went to work. I don’t remember what I was feeling or thinking, but it must not have been good as I went on to repeat the process again only a couple weeks later. Again, my parents neglected to care for me and this time around even barked at me for vomiting in my bed and cracked jokes that I was “still sick.” They never knew why I was and I never told them or tried swallowing pills again.

When I think about what I want my legacy to be, what I leave behind for my children to treasure and what others would remember me for, it doesn’t look at all like my parents do to me now. My inner critical voice speaks loudly to me that I am a failure in so many ways. Because of the neglect and abuse in my past, and the emotions (or complete lack of them) that I experience, I too have neglected my children unknowingly on some levels. As I realize more and more why I live the way I do, as a reaction to my past, I feel more and more damaged and inadequate. Compound this with the feelings of abandonment by my husband and his lack of love and faithfulness, it makes for an impossible situation to feel anything but inadequate and like a failure sometimes. But on a different level, I have this information now, and I can use it to change for the better in ways I didn’t know I needed to change before. I don’t know if I can articulate yet what I would like my legacy to be when the end comes and that’s all that’s left of me here on earth, but I hope that my children and others would see me as authentic and bold and brave and learn that one way to honor God is to continually strive to be real, balanced, healthy, and the best we can be. I genuinely want to keep fighting to see what God might have in store for me. I want my children to see my faith and watch how God can work bad situations out for our good. I believe He can.

It’s hard sometimes to cling to that hope offered from God. I don’t always do it or find comfort in my faith or His promises in my circumstances, obviously. I’m easily overwhelmed and anxious and scared and skeptical that God actually cares at all about me. It’s hard for me to trust. And I think God requires full trust in Him. I haven’t learned how to do that yet. But I can’t leave that journey of discovery behind if I cut myself off from fighting and trying. So I guess I’m still trying to fight for control and my freedom, just in a different way than my mind has been trying to convince me to do. I hope I can stabilize in this place for awhile and as I get overwhelmed with doubt or become distressed, because I know I will, I can remember that maybe the feelings aren’t real in my current moment, but are a memory from my past and old ways of coping and surviving. And I hope I can also remember that if I made it through then, I can do it again now.

Burdens…

I’m losing all ability to stay in control. My mind is racing and I’m questioning everything about myself. I used to like who I was. Completely in control and confident in myself and my roles. I was an amazing wife who kept a beautiful home. I was told I was a great mother over and over, that I ran a tight ship and my kids were so well behaved and polite and smart. I wasn’t afraid of paving my own path and doing my own thing and bucking the system here or there to prove I could be different from where I came from. I was proud of who I was.

I didn’t know what was lurking inside of me. I didn’t know I was a fraud and a fake. I didn’t know I was a shell around a ticking time bomb of dysfunction. I didn’t know that really, I was just like them. I have made mistakes. I have done horrible things. I think I have destroyed people’s lives for the sake of trying to save my own. I didn’t know my actions were because I so desperately needed to be seen and be loved. No one stopped me and told me they cared. I was told to just conform and let it all go. They looked the other way. And now, they don’t even look at me at all.

I didn’t know I would become the greatest burden I never wanted to be. I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to keep it together. I didn’t know I wasn’t fit to be a good mother. I didn’t know I wasn’t good enough to keep my husband faithful. I didn’t know I wasn’t worth the time or effort to be loved and honored and cared for. I didn’t know feelings weren’t acceptable. I didn’t know I would be so rejected. I didn’t know my brain would fail me and deceive me. I didn’t know my heart would either. I didn’t know!

If I had known, I would have never brought children into this world. I would have never gotten married. I would have never adopted another child. I would have never tried to confront those who have hurt me. I would have never attempted to heal. I would have never become the burden that I am right now. I would have never allowed myself to lose control.

I didn’t know I was weak. I didn’t know I wasn’t worth anything. I didn’t know I didn’t matter. I didn’t know I couldn’t be different. I didn’t know I couldn’t be better. I didn’t know I was invisible. I didn’t know I couldn’t endure. I didn’t know I couldn’t be me and everything else they wanted me to be. I didn’t know I would need to be known. I didn’t know I needed to be listened to. I didn’t know I needed to be loved. I just didn’t know…and now that I know, I feel like the burden I never wanted to be.

Stuck…

I had a conversation today that left me feeling weird. Unsettled. Like I was more stuck than I actually felt I was to begin with. I can’t pinpoint exactly what spun me out of control. In my world of chaos nothing seems to make sense. I try to process and address the issues that come up. But then something else barrels in that throws me off balance that I wasn’t expecting and I need to reprocess everything again. To make sense of it or try to understand, even if there is no way to do that. This sounds very vague, I know, but I want to believe there is someone out there that understands exactly what I’m saying.

Why is this a bad thing?? Trying to understand trauma and process it is hard. Especially when you don’t always believe yourself or have confidence in your own memories or experiences, past or present. When I have been taught over and over and over that my reality isn’t true, perceived correctly, or am manipulated to think my life is normal and nothing is out of sorts, why should I just assume when you tell me it’s not, or something that happens “was totally expected,” that your voice is the right one?

Because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know it was going to happen or that it follows the pattern of abuse because I don’t always connect it as quickly and I don’t want to believe this is happening to me. I’m still learning this, remember? Why does it feel wrong for me to want to be sure about something before believing what you tell me? Why downplay my feelings in the moment and say something dismissive like I just need to “move on” or “focus on me?” Aren’t I doing that by trying to gain understanding? Is it really that hard to listen to me process out loud or revisit something again?

Maybe I just need to hear over and over and over that I’m not crazy. Maybe I need to hear more than 5 times (or 100) what the pattern of abuse is and that’s what was happening again. Maybe I need to hear it like it was the first time hearing it. Isn’t that how I learned to conform before all of this chaos began to emerge? Maybe it will take me 5 years of hearing this to really believe it when that information competes with 40 years of learning and hearing something different. Maybe I need to stay in this spot a little longer before “the next step” in my healing so I really understand what has happened and can begin to accept it because I feel really confused and unsure right now about everything. So why would I move to the next thing when I’m not even sure where I am in this moment?

Maybe after having a brain scan that verifies and validates I have trauma markers from the past and present was really a lot to absorb when all along I’ve been trying to find ways that I was wrong that this all existed. Maybe I need more answers to my questions about that because a ten minute explanation wasn’t really enough. Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that I feel like I was hit by a truck two times this week, even though what happened in the first incident and what I learned in the second were both “expected.” But it doesn’t mean that it is as easy for me to move forward and move on as it is for you.

I still have voices in my head that yell at me from the past. And they still yell at me in the present to try and maintain control of me. I’ve just learned to recognize these voices. I’m still learning that maybe those voices are not what I’m supposed to be listening to or following. It’s a process. It’s my process. Sometimes I just need to revisit and reprocess and think about it again. Not because I’m trying to spin my wheels and stay stuck. But because I’m trying to spin them out of the mud, and sometimes that means moving backwards to reposition the wheels so the treads can grip something new to pull me out.

Please Rescue Me…

Dear God, today I’m not so sure we’re ok. I don’t understand what’s going on in my life or what it is you want me to do. Love my enemies. Surrender. Trust. Have faith. Develop a personal relationship? How can I? These buzz words and phrases I get tired of hearing. Tired of trying to achieve. I’m afraid I don’t measure up. I haven’t been praying as I usually do…does that offend you? Is my faith too weak and scattered? How can I be what you want if your standards are impossible to reach? I’m human. I don’t have the strength to handle what you’ve dealt me. It’s too much. My plate is full. It’s overflowing actually…it’s been dropped all over the floor and I’m crying over the mess of gunk I now have to clean up as well. I don’t know how to stand tall and reflect what you need me to because I feel like I am the epitome of darkness. My life is a mess. It wasn’t my plan. I tried to stop it but I failed. I tried to cover it but my blanket is too small. I’m trying to hide but exposure screams and beckons me like a fire does a moth but then it burns me up. Memories are flashing again and dreams are haunting and terrorizing me in my sleep. I don’t know what they mean. Why are they here again? What do I do? Where do I go from here? I have a million choices to make and I can’t hear your voice or know what you want me to do. I’m stuck. I’m lost. And I’m scared.

Run Wild, Live Free…

I cower in fear in the corner of my mind. I’ve been beaten and battered and twisted and tattered so many times this is my safe place. Stay back. Stay quiet. Don’t feel. Don’t move. It’s too dangerous. I feel trapped…even though I’m not.

Freedom is an elusive thought for me. I don’t even know what it means or what it looks like. How can I know if I even want it? At least here in this corner I know what to expect and I know how it feels and I know how to self soothe. Go out into the world? Run? What are you even talking about?? That’s “crazy talk.” That’s for brave people. Not me. I don’t belong out there. I don’t deserve that.

I’m like a caged animal. I’m not under anyone’s control anymore and my door is open to go out but I can’t. I’m too scared. I’m afraid I’ll be alone…even though I’ve never felt more isolated and as lonely as I do now. I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’m afraid to tell my story and live out in the world free of the pain I’ve been in. It’s terrifying. But I want it SO badly. But I can’t. No one would understand why I walked away. Would anyone even believe me? Everyone else has been trained to see the facade he’s built as well. I would be the crazy one. But no one knows, that right now, I’m already crazy inside my head. Maybe the freedom takes the crazy away. But what if I’m hurt again? I can’t take anymore. I just can’t.

I’m numb. I can’t move. I can’t even get the words so desperately needing release out of that corner of my mind. I pray to God to help me. But does He even hear me?

God? Are you there? HELP! Give me strength to endure my own emotions. Understanding and wisdom to see how you will use this for good. Patience to be still and learn. And love…help me understand your love…your perfect and pure love. I don’t know how to receive it. Father, take my hand. I’m too afraid. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go or what I’m supposed to do. My hurt is deep. My fear is strong. You know this. I need you…

Gasping For Air…

It’s been three weeks since I set this space up. I want to use it to get things out of my head and in to the open. But ironically, the secrets stay stuck inside of me. And even more ironic, this doesn’t reveal the real me…it’s just disclosure in secret. Secrets. Everywhere. I hate secrets. They represent darkness, isolation, hurt, and fear to me. All things I want so desperately to gain freedom from.

I’ve lived in a world too painful to ever tell. I’ve lived with relationships too hurtful and humiliating and shameful to ever show their reality. I’ve lived in darkness for as long as I can remember and sometimes not even knowing that the darkness was even there. I’ve been lied to, betrayed, abused, rejected, and misled. I’ve been taught that my worth and ability to be loved lies within earning it, being controlled, manipulated, agreeable, or looking a certain way.

The person I thought I was has crumbled all around me into a big messy heap and exposed more of who I feel I really am sometimes. I’ve been hiding…wearing a mask of strength, steadiness, perfection, and order. But underneath I really just feel weak, damaged, used, insecure, uncertain, and like a failure.

I need freedom from the hurt. I need life returned to me. I need air in my lungs. I want to believe that I’m ok. But I feel like I can’t breathe.

God? Where are You?? Why so much ugliness? Why so much pain? Why so much confusion? Why so much loneliness? Why so much fear inside of me that even You don’t love me like You say You do? I’m fighting to follow You and bask in Your grace and glory but the darkness sits inside and holds on to me like a prisoner held in place by chains…