Healing Obstruction…

Over a year ago, last spring, I realized I was seriously struggling with an eating disorder. I had discovered and learned enough about my self that I could finally, clearly see the patterns of triggers I was experiencing and my reactions to them. I struggled with how I wanted to handle it, but I knew it needed to be addressed and sought additional therapy outside of the current therapist I was/continue to work with.

I researched extensively options in my city for programs/therapy that specifically addressed and treated only eating disorders. I knew I had potential to be a complicated situation with my abuse background and the current patterns I was seeing in myself. It wasn’t textbook behavior where one could look at my patterns and say “oh yes…you are struggling with bulimia, food avoidance, or binge eating…here is the perfect treatment program for you,” at least not from what I could discern from my own research into eating disorders. It turns out, my hunch was correct.

I mustered the courage to seek an evaluation. This was hard for me. I felt like a complete failure. I went to the appointment and spent three hours filling out questionnaire’s, answering question after question, and telling my story of abuse from my childhood and also currently in my marriage. The intake therapist seemed overwhelmed. She even said “you have so much you are dealing with…wow…” which was validating, but also overwhelmed me again. She admitted she didn’t know how to diagnose me on a clinical level, as I fall into many categories of disorders, but she settled on Anorexia Nervosa, not because I am underweight, because I’m not, but mostly because of my exercise patterns at the time…which she considered excessive and of a “purging” nature. This only created more confusion inside of me, as I thought this was the one thing I was doing well for myself and my healing, an attempt to take care of myself.

I agreed to continue in the program and meet her recommended therapists for me. Yes, I said therapists…plural. So now I had three therapists I would be working with…and a full time group therapy recommendation as well (which would add another therapist, or more) that I could do as inpatient or outpatient. She was recommending inpatient. I immediately said no. This frustrated her, which frustrated me, but I stood my ground so she put me on the waiting list for the outpatient group program and told me we could continue to discuss the inpatient option as we got started and I would probably begin to see the value in it. I thought I already said no…??? I began to feel like maybe this wasn’t what I needed in the moment, it felt too controlling, but I told myself to keep going and give it a chance, I’m not the professional, so I did.

I met my first therapist. She seemed ok. She asked about my story and my past. I told her what I could without losing my composure. She asked for a lot of details in her follow up questions that were very hard to answer to someone I had just met and had no idea if she could be trusted or not. I left the appointment triggered, upset, and with no plan or treatment goals or idea of what was coming next. But I trusted the process and went back the next week. When I arrived, she picked right back up where we left off…asking more questions and again pushing the inpatient program, which I declined again. The session was about to end and she then told me she is referring me to a new therapist (what?!) because she is starting a new job somewhere else.

This news was frustrating to say the least. I was angry they assigned me to a therapist that they knew would be leaving. And I considered leaving the program at that point because the thought of having to share my story again was just too much. But I felt like I needed the help, and hadn’t really connected with or fully trusted her so I went back the next week to meet the next therapist taking me over.

I went through the same routine with this new therapist. Told my story, received the same “wow…that’s a lot” reaction, and uncertainty of how to “handle” me since I refused to go through the inpatient programming…again. But I know it takes time to settle into therapy and build trust so I continued to see her. But things quickly fell apart again. I would show up for appointments and she would not. I would reschedule and then they would get cancelled. I would finally see her and she would change the programming, adding in new diagnoses to my my file for depression and anxiety (duh…I thought that was basically a given at this point in my life) that then complicated my treatment plan, somehow, which seemed weird to me since these issues often accompany eating disorders. After weeks of missed/cancelled/inconsistent appointments, I was internalizing the chaos and beginning to feel like a burden. I expressed frustration and was told again, she was transitioning to a new position within the organization and they would be recommending me to yet another new therapist.

At that point I asked for an appointment with the program director, which they obliged. I met with her and told her how maddening my experience had been and how negatively it had impacted me. She asked me again for my background and I found myself divulging my abuse story again…which I hate telling and talking about, or thinking about, for that matter, and was wondering why this was something she needed to know. Having reached the end of myself, I tearfully told her that if I was going to move forward with the programming, I needed a therapist that could handle the complexities of my situation. Someone who was well versed in the abuse I had experienced in my childhood and marriage and how that was contributing to my current struggles and my desire to not be assigned to a “new/baby” therapist. I needed someone with solid therapeutic experience. I was no longer willing to be a “this will be great learning experience for a new therapist” case. She said that my request was completely fair and that there was a new therapist coming on board in a few weeks that would be a good fit for me if I was willing to wait…but in the meantime, I could work with another new therapist joining the program as well and in the end I could choose which one I wanted to stick with. This seemed like a lot of work for me…and more storytelling, which I was not interested in. But I agreed anyway and she set up my appointments.

The transition therapist was completely new to the profession. Not even licensed yet. She had no clue what to say or do. She did not read any of my file before meeting me. The exact opposite of what I requested. I left the appointment completely defeated and never returned back to the center. The damage that was done to me emotionally during those three months of trying to seek help was huge. I know I still haven’t recovered from it and as I continue to struggle and process I’m beginning to wonder if there was more to it than I was previously realizing.

Something I recently remembered was a persistent request by all of the therapists I saw (five total, plus the program director) to have access to my current therapist. Something inside told me not to disclose this information, so I did not, and said I was not interested in coordinating therapy between them and him and that I would handle communicating any information I thought he needed to know, was recommended to disclose, or I thought was important to my process with him.  Immediately with the first therapist there was a lack of respect for my decision…just as there was for not wanting to be admitted to a hospital for treatment long term. And each subsequent therapist also asked for the same access and told me that they would need to coordinate treatment with him. I refused each time they asked for any information they could try to get out of me about who he was.

Why was this so necessary? I get the concept of it…which is not what they presented when asking for the information…that all therapists treating me could be aware of what was happening and coordinate and share information. But that wasn’t their stated goals. They “needed” to speak with him and know who he was and direct him in treatment on his end that would compliment theirs. I’m wondering now what exactly this was all about.

I have read in my research about trauma and abuse, and have heard many personal accounts, that victims beginning to remember and exposing their abuse publicly are targeted to intimidate and silence them. I am beginning to realize that many things that have happened, and I have experienced, is opposition to my disclosures. I have been belittled, threatened, and abandoned by family. I am followed. I am called on the phone. I am texted. Strange and triggering items just happen to appear in environments that have no previous connection to my experiences. I have been approached on the street. My home has been broken into. I have been assaulted. My email has been hacked and YEARS of email communications have been deleted and removed from my account. My blog was deleted and temporarily shut down and it took a tremendous amount of work to get it restored. My husband constantly needs to know where I am and will full on stalk me if I do not respond to his calls or texts until he hears from me. I feel like I am watched 24/7 and have just completely accepted this as normal…this is my life.

It does not seem out of the realm of possibility that my seeking help to heal and break abuse programming gets obstructed. I literally get followed by a car that matches my therapist’s…sometimes by a man who looks like my therapist. This probably means something that I haven’t figured out yet. Or maybe I have. Maybe I am supposed to be afraid of him too? I have thought of that. And I have panicked MANY times about my time with him, the information I have shared, and if he is trustworthy. What if he is obstructing my healing as well? What if he keeps me stuck? What if our sessions are monitored? So many questions…

After years of weird experiences, I could be putting two and two together…or continuing to be crazy and paranoid…

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Stranger in the Dark…

I feel like I’m being controlled. I don’t feel like myself. I cannot fall asleep even though my body is desperate for it. And if I do fall asleep, I do not stay there. When I was a child, I was purposefully sleep deprived. I have wondered if this has affected my sleep now as an adult. But this feels different. Like I’m once again being deprived of the rest and sleep I need as some sort of punishment.

My brain wants to do certain things to bring my body back to a place of health. But another part of my brain prevents me from action. It’s instructive and serious in tone. I am not “allowed” to pursue good for myself. I crave healthy food. But when I reach for it, I immediately switch to rejecting it. So now I rarely eat. I try, but it doesn’t go down. But foods that will go down are components of past abuse…foods used to lure, persuade, and traumatize. I don’t even want them. But sometimes, they are all my body will accept.

I crave movement and nature. But fear keeps me inside. Exhaustion keeps me still. If I push against the resistance and go out and move, my body aches for days afterwards, a punishment for trying to forge my own way. It’s little incentive to keep pushing. But my body needs the strength. It’s deteriorating.

My ears are ringing and swooshing constantly. My head pulses in pain for days and my eyes itch. I have had these symptoms before…long ago. Why are they back now? What do they mean? My muscles ache. My joints hurt. My energy is non existent. I try to find things to help. Nothing works. My body resists good.

I don’t know exactly when, but I switched. Like a light switch on the wall flipped off. Everything is dark again. No matter how much I want to do and be different, I cant. The force against me is strong. Maybe it’s depression rearing it’s ugly head in a way I have not yet experienced. But it feels different. It doesn’t feel like me…not even depressed me. I know me. Right now, this is not me. I don’t know who I am or who is in control.

Stop the Train…

Depression is ugly and invasive. It robs you of your sense of self. It makes you feel like a failure. It prevents you from growing and moving forward in your life. It creates feelings of distress and overwhelm. It steals your energy and motivation, leaving you exhausted and unable to move. It scrambles your thoughts, causing confusion. It tells you you are worthless, meaningless, unlovable, and unworthy of anything good. It keeps you stuck in a fog, feeling forever lost and with no hope for  escape or freedom from it’s feelings of oppression and shame.

This is me, stuck in depression. I have fought SO unbelievably hard not to get to this place. I have been here before and I never wanted to return. I have done everything I know and have learned to keep me from landing here again. But depression’s grip is STRONG. It pulls me back whenever I make a move forward. It holds me tight and will not let go of it’s grip. I can’t get free.

I sat curled up in my bathroom this morning sobbing into my knees. My daughter was 10 feet away from me on the other side of the closed door and in that moment I loathed her and her presence because I had to hide what was happening to me. I felt frantic and trapped because today I didn’t have the time or the space to feel this way. I felt confused because ten seconds earlier I was fine. I woke up to her sweet voice say “I woke up Mommy.” I smiled at her and said “Good morning! What should we do today?” I got up to get dressed and everything fell apart in an instant. I don’t know why.

A feeling of heaviness has been culminating inside of me for weeks. I’ve been inundated and flooded with memories from my childhood. I don’t even know what many of them mean or what they are. It’s just a reel of pictures and flashes, feelings and anxiety come and go and pictures of situations that are horrific, ugly, and frightening. I find them unbelievable and have fought hard to ignore and dismiss everything as an overreactive imagination.

But the fog sticks. Then anxiety joins in. And insomnia also decides to hop onto this emotionally distressing train. Full speed ahead, they barrel down the tracks of my life, tossing and turning me, scraping and mauling me as I’m dragged along, bumping and bouncing on the tracks from behind. I don’t want to be in this place anymore. But I can’t keep up, the train is too fast. I’m too tired to run and try to get ahead. I’m too damaged and bruised to move anymore. It’s like quicksand, swallowing me up. I wish the grip would release me. I feel likeI have lost control. I feel like I can’t be helped. I feel like I will never be free from this nightmare.

A Slow Suicide…

The self harm game is strong right now. It’s fighting a fierce battle to take me down. I’m spiraling. It was a subtle swirl that started a few months ago. I didn’t notice or recognize it at first. But in hindsight, I see it rearing it’s ugly head. Tightening it’s grip. And somehow, just like that, it’s programming has taken over and I am it’s prisoner trying fiercely to get free.

I had gained a lot of headway in my life last fall. I had taken control of my health. I had reversed illness that had plagued me for years almost to the point of complete body failure. My anxiety was under control. My body was the strongest it has ever been. Emotionally, I was steady and grounded. Therapy was productive and introspective, hard, but tolerable and progressively helpful. I was taking steps forward. So I thought. But somewhere in that process of healing, things went awry. My healthy habits of eating well and exercising turned compulsive and into an eating disorder with a frightening diagnosis of atypical anorexia nervosa. Exercise turned into an addictive drug and eating became a punitive practice, a means to relive past trauma in a covert way.

Feelings that had been stuffed and buried under the guise of my new leaf on life began leaking. My body is trying desperately to purge the memories, to make sense of them, to bring them to my awareness. I don’t want to see them. I’m scared of what I see. I don’t understand. I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel in control. And the more I try to “be in control” the more out of control I become.

In therapy a couple months ago, I began moving my fingernails back and forth on the top of my hand. Digging deeper as the distress and memory erupting from inside intensified. I was completely shut down as I recounted what happened with my therapist and after I got into bed later that night my husband pointed out the cuts across the top of my hand. Like a perfect four lane track…bloody and raw. I had no idea I had done that. I didn’t feel it. I was still numb. And then it happened again in therapy a few weeks later. This time, my therapist caught it, but not before I had dug so deep into my skin I now have a scar to remind me daily of the turmoil that brews inside of me.

I haven’t cut myself since I was a teen…over 25 yrs ago. Now, I have to fight the automatic response to do so when I feel overwhelmed and go numb. Is it a way to try and ground myself? To feel something? A punishment I inflict on myself for telling secrets I’m not supposed to reveal? I don’t know. But I want to stop doing it.

When I was a child, food was both restricted and tightly controlled. It was also offered as a reward for compliance. Eating became a confusing practice. I was punished and food was withheld if I did not obey or if a lesson needed to be learned. But I was rewarded with food of I did obey or my training was successful. It was used as bribery to do things I did not want to do. It was used as bait to lure me into vulnerable situations where I became trapped and used. When I realized my eating was becoming an issue I sought out help and the anorexia diagnosis followed. I agreed to more therapy. And I started. But then something weird happened. I did a full 180 and self-sabotaged/self-harmed again. I stopped exercising. I stopped all self care. I stopped eating well. I stopped every “good habit” I had put in to place and went backwards. I stopped restricting and ate everything. I ate all the foods given to me to lure me into abuse. Ice cream, candy, fast food…whatever it was…things I have long avoided and refuse to even look at, I eat and relive my trauma. I also suspect now as I contemplate this, I was trying to regain control. Trying to prove there was no eating disorder, I got this, I’m not wasting away, I’m not restricting on purpose, I’m not punishing myself…

I’ve made myself sick again. I’ve spiraled down fast and furious, after I swore I would never go back to feeling that way. Every day I subconsciously look for something to do to hurt and punish myself for being so awful, for failing, for remembering, for telling my secrets. I don’t know why I do it and I don’t even know I do it sometimes. It happens automatically. Like a different person has taken over my body. I don’t feel like me anymore. I’ve lost myself. I feel so much shame and guilt. I feel like a failure. I feel small and vulnerable and afraid. I’m afraid of myself and what this might escalate to next. I’m alone in a darkness I haven’t seen in a very long time.

One Stormy Night…

Thunder is rumbling and lighting flashing outside. As a little girl, I was afraid of storms. My father came into my room one night and sat me on his lap as the winds howled and the sky flashed it’s smile of wrath. We looked out the window together as he told me an elaborate story about God and the angels bowling in the sky. As the story unfolded and the storm raged he began to rub my back to try to console my fear. His hand moved down and over onto my legs. As my heart began to pound and a lump formed in my throat, it moved back up my back and landed, cradled, around the base of my neck…the touch that I know means business…no more sound or movement.

He placed my small body back onto my bed. He kissed my forehead and moved his hand up under my nightgown. My eyes drifted up and I stared up at the corner where the pink checked wallpaper met the ceiling…I drifted away to a world of darkness where I no longer see or feel when the pain settles into my body. It’s my escape, my secret hiding place, where I become nothing.

I’ve been returning to that dark hiding place in my head often lately. My husband turns over and touches me in the middle of the night, pursuing his own release…I shut down and hide in my darkness until he’s done. Nightmares harass me and I see the horror of my life in flashes. I curl up and cover my head and think about that corner I would hide in, the safe dark place that became my refuge. I re-enter it’s familiar walls. As I remember…I sat in the chair, wrists bound, needles and wires piercing and prodding my body, I would look up to the long windows near the ceiling and drift away into the dark world of my mind. When he hits me and pins me down and threatens me for daring to try to speak up against his cruelty, the pain in my face and the warmth of the blood dripping from my nose lures me back to the dark and numb, just like the little girl in the past, who stared into the corner of the ceiling to enter the darkness and hide.

I look into the mirror and I see a stranger. It can’t be me. Who is she? She looks strange. Empty. It must be the woman who lives in the darkness of my mind…she’s been in there a long time. Hiding. Silenced. Hurting. Afraid of the storms all around her in her darkness. Nowhere is safe anymore. The storms rage everywhere. There is no escape. She shatters the mirror in shame and fear. She shuts down and slips back into the darkness of her mind, her secret hiding place, hoping the storms blow over so she can remain hidden, isolated, and silent…unbothered and free of pain…the only safety she knows.

Breathless…

I can’t breathe. All life in me is gone. My heart feels nothing. Not joy or sadness or hurt. My body is numb. It can’t even feel pain. I’m completely shut down. I can’t react. I can’t fight. I can’t cry. How can I feel my heart beat again? I can’t breathe…

I look in the mirror and gasp at the stranger staring back at me. Who is she? Confusion and fear fills my soul. I don’t know what’s happening. I want to smash the mirror into millions of pieces so she disappears. Forever. I’m broken. I’m shattered. I’m not ok. How can I be ok? I can’t breathe…

I can’t breathe. Please, give me a place to run to, to escape from this place I’m in. This prison. This cage. This asylum. Everything is dark. Everything feels cold. I don’t know where I am. I am so lost and afraid. How can I find a way out of this place? I can’t breathe…

My head is filled with evil. Paintings of trauma. Pictures of death. Images of the unthinkable. My eyes stare at each in shock. My voice is stolen. No words can describe the carnage that sits inside of me. I can’t move. It’s impossible to think logically anymore. How will I ever regain consciousness? I just can’t breathe…

I can’t breathe. The weight, the heaviness, it sits on me…the heaps and piles of terror. I’m suffocating. I can’t catch my breath. There is no air left in my lungs. They have won. I have no control. I’m too weak to get back up. I can no longer breathe…

Zombie Apocalypse…

I don’t feel like myself. At all. But when I try to identify what’s off and what’s “me” I have no idea either so how can I even feel this way? It’s like I’m floating in an unknown world in my head. Super slow motion. Watching things slowly spin around me as I watch and wonder where I am. Nothing looks familiar but at the same time I know it’s not a place I want to go back to.

Today I was sitting with my therapist and my mind went down a path it has been avoiding for a very long time. I knew it as soon as the images entered my mind and I tried furiously to push it back away. I have been here briefly before. I was screaming and fighting three men who had me restrained. I was kicking and battling, trying to get away. I charged forward, they grabbed me. I dropped my body down and went limp like a toddler throwing a tantrum, they held on, their grip was so tight. I kicked my legs and flailed my body. They growled in my ears and held me tighter as I bucked like a wild bull trapped in a pen. I was trying with everything I could to not go through the doors they were leading me to. They commanded my obedience. I don’t remember what happened after that. It ends with the chaos of this incident.

My mind went from there to solemnly following a woman down a long hallway. I don’t remember what she looked like and there were no words exchanged until we reached our destination. She opened the door and pointed to a pile of neatly folded clothes laying on a bed with a metal frame. The sheet and the clothing were white. There was nothing else in the room except for a metal chair. I was instructed to put them on and sit in the chair next to the bed. I was left alone and went through this routine I feel I am very familiar with. I sat and waited, frozen, not daring to move a muscle. The woman returned and she sat in front of me. She asked me question after question and I had to answer them correctly or else I knew something horrible would happen. She left me alone again.

When she returned she opened the door and motioned me out to the hallway. I followed her to an elevator with a silver door and we went up several floors. I followed her out, turning right down another long hallway. It was brighter than the one below. She stood at a doorway and motioned me in to sit. In front of me were three men. Their faces were very stern and serious. I know these men but I can’t make out their faces in my head. They wore dark suits with white shirts and dark ties. They stared at me as I sat frozen in front of them. The door closed behind me and I was left alone with them. There were two large windows with black frames. One behind the men and one to my left side. The sky was white and there were trees in the distance. I felt very cold.

The man in the middle spoke firmly in what seems like a language I don’t understand but somehow I know exactly what is being said. I am given my instructions and asked more questions. I am to work with the babies. When the mothers give birth the babies are put into a nursery where they are tortured and deprived and trained. I don’t know how I know this or why I just wrote that. My instinct is to delete because I don’t understand it.

Tears are falling as I write but I feel nothing but confusion inside so I don’t understand their purpose. I don’t know what this is. I fear I have a mental illness. All feeling is gone inside of me. Something else has taken over. Something is horribly wrong.

I did tell some of this to my therapist this morning. His reaction was strong and it felt as if he was angry and irritated with me. I felt immense shame for saying anything and an incredible amount of fear for speaking any of it out loud, like something awful was going to happen to me. I haven’t processed this enough to know what it even is. I feel like I don’t have any context for it, yet at the same time, other things fit into it that have never made sense to me before. I don’t know how these things could have even happened. I don’t know how I get to these places with these people. I don’t know who they are. I have no answers other than I am wrong. Something like this just feels like it can’t be real…I would remember. Wouldn’t I? What has taken over my brain? What is happening to me?  Is it even real? Am I sick? Like, literally, have zombies taken over my body and made me into some creature of hate who loves making up stories that isolate and bring me down to my knees or curl me up in a ball in fear? I feel dead. I know no other way to describe it. I am scared. I am worried I’ve lost it and am unfit to parent my children. I am so confused and lonely. I am living in a place in my mind that feels foreign and fuzzy. I’m trying to figure it out. I need help.

 

Push And Pull…

I’m in a great place of struggle right now. Trauma memories are flooding and they overwhelm me. I don’t understand them and I need someone to talk to…on a daily…hourly…minute to minute basis…not just the three hours a week I have with my therapist. I can’t get it all out even in that amount of time. I shut down. My brain goes wild but my lips become paralyzed. I’m unable to speak what needs to be let out…so many secrets. So much shame. So much guilt. So much regret. So much humiliation. So much hurt. I backs up inside of me.  Some has come out but a lot of it is stuck. I’m afraid to say it out loud. I’m not safe.

My marriage is in trouble. That’s not really a secret. Well, actually it is. No one in my real world life knows of the things my husband has done to me, and with others, except my therapist and a few women in my bible study, who are only somewhat aware and likely now think we have “worked it out” since I’ve stopped talking it about it. I’ve hidden it back away. My husband probably thinks the same thing, since I don’t really fight him much anymore. I don’t really know what he thinks, though. We don’t ever talk about it either. How do you work out the fact that someone betrayed you and rejected you and humiliated you so deeply? How do you?? I don’t know how. So I guess it’s been put away to be ignored. Swept under the rug. The pull I feel to just let it go and go back to what used to be with him is so strong. But when I get close I push him back away, refusing at the last minute to allow him access to my heart…he will never hurt me again. But I need someone to talk to. But I can’t talk to him…there’s no safety with him.

I don’t trust him. I can’t. I try to sometimes. I want to tell him everything that is happening in my head. Everything I have remembered from my past, everything that haunts me, everything that I know for sure happened to me. I want to show him my writings. I want to show him the pictures I have drawn of the images of abuse in my head. I want to every single day. He’s supposed to be the one I can tell. I need his support. I need his love. Yet, I cannot even get myself to love him anymore…and honestly, I refuse to accept any attempt of love on his part…genuine, or not. It’s too dangerous. He’s completely unsafe. I am afraid of him and how he will react…or not react, which makes me feel crazy. He sees me crying sometimes and asks what’s wrong. When I can’t answer he just walks away or changes the subject or leaves me alone. He doesn’t sit it in it with me. He doesn’t wait for me to get the words out. He has no compassion or empathy for me. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t understand and he doesn’t try to. I am a burden to him. He doesn’t have time for me or this process I am in. It’s too uncomfortable for him because it forces him to look at himself and his role in it all.

Sometimes I don’t know if what I am feeling is triggered from childhood trauma or the trauma experienced in my marriage. I sometimes can’t separate it out from each other. That makes me feel crazy, overreactive, and out of control.  It’s all so messed up. I’m messed up. Used. Abused. Traumatized. Worthless. This has been my entire life. Chaotic. Terrifying. Overwhelming. I need to get out. I want to get out. But I don’t know how. I don’t even know what to move towards. I don’t trust my judgement to make good choices. I have no idea where to go or who to trust. The pull to go is strong. I dream about it. I’m doing things to prepare for it. But when I try to put a picture in my head of what it could all look like I shrink into a crumpled up child who’s curled up in a corner afraid to look and see, to hope for better than this. I turn my head and close my eyes and push the images away. I negotiate with myself that life is not so bad. I don’t want to hurt my children and wreck our family. At least I know what I’m in the middle of. At least I know this. I know how to survive this.

But I’m dying. But I can’t go. I don’t know how.

Enough…

I am not good enough.

I am not beautiful enough.

I am not smart enough.

I am not healthy enough.

I am not calm enough.

I am not sexy enough.

I am not skinny enough.

I am not brave enough.

I am not intentional enough.

I am not educated enough.

I am not engaging enough.

I am not happy enough.

I am not conforming enough.

I am not liberal enough.

I am not social enough.

I am not fun enough.

I am not wise enough.

I am not old enough.

I am not respectful enough.

I am not playful enough.

I am not helpful enough.

I am not experienced enough.

I am not kind enough.

I am not generous enough.

I am not compliant enough.

I am not steady enough.

I am not obedient enough.

I am not relaxed enough.

I am not quiet enough.

I am not bold enough.

I am not skilled enough.

I am not loving enough.

I am not important enough.

My voice isn’t enough.

I am never enough…

My “not enoughs.” I have lived with these shadows over me all of my life. One person, after another, placed these umbrellas of darkness over me, one by one, and I’ve believed them all. I’ve made decisions about my future and the paths I would and wouldn’t take in my life based on these “not enoughs.” This is the place where I have sat…and still sometimes sit.

I received an email from my sister this past week. It was horrible. It was mean. It was frustrating. I was told I’m the reason for all our family conflict. I opened up a Pandora’s Box and called out the abuse of my past for what it was. My parents have rallied the whole family together to rise up against me and shut me out. I’m an outcast. Standing isolated and alone. I’ve tainted the picture of perfection they try to maintain. I’ve crushed and ruined their lives.

I’ve received several emails like hers from my parents over the last year. I’ve been called a liar, a fake Christian, controlling, crazy, a terrorist, insane, ugly, troubled, that I’m not liked and don’t like them, I should be ashamed of myself, a seeker of a drama, horrific, a perfectionist living in a bubble of perfectionism, that I have no compassion or empathy, I’m hurtful, I don’t care….and on and on…

What do I do with this? How do I even respond? Should I even attempt to defend myself again?? Would they even listen to anything I have and want to say? Does it even matter? Why do I care???

I care because of my “enoughs.” I care because I don’t want to be those things anymore. I’m tired of others dictating who I am and am not. When do I get a say? When do I get to define myself? Who even gave them permission to speak over my life and dictate its direction?

These “enoughs” can not be my truths. They cannot be who I am. They’re someone else’s opinions I’ve held onto as my truths. I didn’t know any different. Not anymore. I want to be enough.

Running Away…

I’ve remembered something from when I was a little girl. In my memory I’m standing very still in the woods. My father is standing next to me with his strong, thick hand wrapped around the back of my neck. The canopy of the trees cover us and in the distance I see a girl. She is lifeless, hanging from a tree. Her arms and legs dangle and her neck has fallen to the side causing her long, wavy dark hair to fall over her face. This image is burned into my brain. It never changes, it visits me frequently. There are also men standing around in the woods in the distance. She was all alone. No one was looking at her. No one was helping her. I don’t understand why no one was helping her. The grip of my father’s hand tightens around my neck and I feel an incredible amount of confusion inside of me. I also remember running. Running like crazy through the woods. I don’t know if the two memories are connected or not. I ran so furiously my heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my ears. Sheer panic. Footsteps thunder behind me as I try to get away from something. Someone. Yelling and commotion, like a stampede, closing in behind me as my little body tries to escape. I was out of control and I crashed down to the ground. Everything goes black.

I ran away two weeks ago. I am overwhelmed, scared, panicked, desperate…to get away from the stampede of emotions that engulf me. My heart pounds through my ears. Sleep evades me. I feel sick. I am sick. My body is distressed. My heart is stressed. I’m exhausted and devoid of any life. My emotions and feelings terrify me. I don’t understand how to feel and not be afraid. Afraid of being hurt, assaulted, beaten, thrown, dragged, tortured…ignored.

So here I sit, stunned, two thousand miles away from my reality, trying to understand what’s happened to me. Why? Why me? WHY?? What now? Who am I? Where do I even belong? Does anyone even care?

There are people here who have rallied around me. They’ve scooped me up and said “Let us help you. You matter. We’re proud of you.” They’ve asked me to talk and they’ve listened to the tiniest fraction of my story and they have cried, cried, and said “This is too much. You have dealt with too much.” They don’t even know. But I don’t cry with them. I sit there and wonder why they do.

It feels so awkward and foreign to experience what I am. I feel guilt when anything I say upsets someone. I shut down. I can’t accept their emotion or sadness for me. I don’t understand it. This is my normal. I live in fear every single day. I’m constantly scouring my horizon for danger and disruption. It seems as though my job is to only please others. My body to be used. My emotions to be criticized and discarded and silenced, buried deep where they can no longer be accessed. They mean nothing. I mean nothing. Tossed aside until I’m useful again. This is my normal. This is the way it’s always been. No arguments. No protesting. No resistance by me. To be loved was to accept the way it is and to live is to not deviate from the routine. So I push away the kindness and try not to make a mistake and trust…it seems very, very dangerous…and I continue to run away, looking for peace and solitude. And I wonder. I wonder how far I will have to go to be able to stop running.