Father’s Day

I went to the card shop the other day to pick out a card for my father for Father’s Day. I did the same thing on Mother’s Day, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do it again.

After a few minutes of reading the fronts of several cards, I picked up one that instantly made me cry. There were so many people around and I couldn’t stop crying, so I bolted out of the store empty-handed.

I sat with my thoughts outside for a bit, gathered up my strength, and went back into the store to buy that card.

Over the next two days, I wrote everything I had wanted to say to my father in that card. It was more difficult writing to him than it was to my mother. With my mother, I have consistently held the same feelings towards her for a long time. It’s been different for my father. For a long time, I held on to hope that he was better, and only recently did I lose that in him.

As I was writing, I went from feeling confusion, to sadness, to anger. I filled up the card until there was no space left to write. I didn’t read it over again; I was afraid of being emotionally overwhelmed. So I put the card back in its envelope and it sat in my backpack until therapy this morning.

I told my therapist about the card. She asked if it would be helpful to talk about it. I didn’t want to at first, because I didn’t want to go through the emotions again. I didn’t want to cry. But my therapist reassured me that crying was okay, and that crying can be helpful.

My therapist asked if there was a reason I chose that particular card. I read what it said on the cover: No matter how small you were – when Dad said, “I love you, kid,” you’d feel bigger than the sky. I started crying as I read it. They were tears of grief, the loss of something I never had. I never had that experience of feeling bigger than the sky. I never had that experience of a loving father. I wanted it so desperately; I wanted to be the kid on the cover of this card.

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After I composed myself, I read the card out loud.

Daddy,

I don’t know where I went wrong. I don’t know what I ever did for you not to love me. You never once said those words to me. You never once showed that you cared about me. I should have been daddy’s little girl, and instead I was your big mistake.

Why didn’t you protect me? Fathers are supposed to protect their children, and keep them from harm. But you didn’t. You threw me right into the fire, and left me to burn.

You knew what mom was doing and you did nothing to stop it. I understand that she is your wife, but I was your child. I didn’t have a say. I couldn’t stop her. But you could have, so many times you could have. You didn’t. You let her destroy my childhood, you let her hurt me day in and day out. And you helped her do it.

I grew up thinking that all feathers hit their children, that was just normal. I held on to hope that you were just doing what fathers do. Then I realized that’s not what being a father is, that’s not what loving your child is. Were you ever a father?

I know you worked hard, and maybe you didn’t know what she was doing while you were gone. But that’s just the lie that I told myself because I wanted to believe you had a shred of decency inside you somewhere. I think you knew everything. You knew all along. But I guess you just didn’t care about me enough for it to matter.

I can forgive you for hurting me with your fists. I can forgive you horrible things you told me my whole life. I can’t forgive you for not protecting me from my mother.

I was relieved when you got sick. As horrible as that sounds, you lost your strength to hurt me. I watched you slowly lose your strength, your heart, and your will to live. You wanted to give up because you couldn’t tolerate being in pain. Yet you made me live in pain every day of my life. You appeared strong all that time, but you were always weak. You preyed on your own children because they were the only ones weaker than you.

I watched you wither away. I stood aside as your wife abandoned you, as she put her own son in your place. You were no longer of use to her, so she put you off to the side and treated you like garbage…treated you the same way you both treated me. I thought for once you would see how it felt to be unwanted, to be told you were a burden, to be treated like you were worthless. But it didn’t seem to affect you at all.

Unlike my mother, I cared for you. I made sure you had what you needed. I made sure you had money because your wife continued to take everything from you and you were too weak to stand against her. I watched as she hit you in her fits of rage, exactly like you used to do to me. And you sat there and took it without fighting back. You always let her win.

I felt horrible leaving you behind. I didn’t know what was going to happen to you. And then I found out that you didn’t even care that I left. Your only concern was moving all of my stuff out so you could have my room. You replaced me, without a thought, you replaced me. I was just there taking up space, and now you had your space back. My existence didn’t matter to you. Now you don’t even speak of me. You go about your last days of life as if you didn’t have a daughter. You erased me.

But you know what? I can’t erase you. I can’t erase the shit you did to me. I can’t erase the memories. I can’t erase the fear you instilled in me. I can’t erase the feel of my head hitting the wall that night you broke me forever. The bruises are gone, but the marks you’ve left behind on my heart and mind will never fade away. I can’t erase any of that. I have to live with it all, every hour of every day.

You’re lucky you get to die soon. Your pain will end. You get it easy. I’m here, left on earth, to pick up the pieces of the shattered mess you and your wife left behind.

You were never a father. Fathers don’t do what you’ve done. You’re a weak man, and a pitiful excuse for a human being. I can’t love you anymore.

I had to stop twice while reading to wipe away the tears. By the time I finished reading, I completely broke down. It was the first time I had processed everything I was feeling all at once. And I just let it all out.

My father will never read my card, because I will never send it. My words will never matter to him; they never did before. But I will hold on to this, just as I have held on to the card I wrote to my mother last month. They are reminders of where I came from, and where I’ve ended up.

When pain becomes your normal

When you’ve been hurt repeatedly for so long, that hurt becomes normal, almost natural, to you.

Wake up, feel pain. Breathe air, feel pain.

You learn to anticipate it. You wake up every day as a child and know that you’re going to be hurt in some way; you just don’t know exactly how and when. But you find a sick sort of comfort in knowing that it’s coming. The familiarity with routine makes you feel more secure. You’re unsure of yourself, you’re unsure of the people around you, but you are sure you’re going to be hurt.

The hurt becomes so much your normal that when you go so long without it, you start to panic. They let me off easy today. Something isn’t right. It’s as if you’re hoping for that pain just to feel yourself again. And sure enough, the pain comes, and everything is back to normal.

Then you become desensitized. You get to a point where you become an expert at hiding the pain from the world. You smile and laugh to cover your crying. You wear clothes to cover the marks left behind. No evidence of pain. They can’t see it, so it must not be there.

But the pain has always been there, like a best friend that never leaves your side. It knows everything that goes on. It holds all of your secrets. You hold on to it, because you need it to survive. It’s the only constant in your life, the only stability in your unstable world. Pain becomes as much a part of your life as food and water.

Then your life changes. You finally get away from those who were causing you pain. You are free. But you can’t be  free from the pain. The emotional damage is still there, deeply rooted in your heart and soul, still killing you from the inside.

Pain has always been your normal. It has become a part of you so strongly that you need it to survive. So you become your own abuser. You find a sense of comfort and release in feeling normal again. You become so blinded with feeling the pain, that you don’t even realize what’s happening. You are perpetuating the cycle of your own abuse.

You can’t run away from yourself. Now you’ve become your own worst enemy.

Spurs, spurs, everywhere

I went to the podiatrist today.

It’s very hard for me to actively seek medical care. I think there are a lot of factors involved in that. I don’t have normal pain experiences. There are times when I am able to block out the pain completely, which does no good because the damage is still being done regardless of whether or not I can feel it. When I do feel pain, I have trouble admitting it. Pain usually leads to more pain.

My mother was never big on doctors, and I think some of her attitudes have carried on in me. There is also an underlying connection between doctors and the abuse my mother inflicted on me. She would use doctors and my illnesses as a cover for abusing me. Because of that, I did (and sometimes still do) associate doctors directly with the abuse. It’s a hard connection to deconstruct, but we’ve been working on it for a while now.

Regardless, I made the appointment and went.

The appointment wasn’t without problems. When I got there, I learned that my PCP never sent the referral. I called three times last week. I called Tuesday and left a message on the referral line. I checked with the podiatrist on Wednesday and they hadn’t received anything, so I called my PCP again and left another message. Still nothing. I called Friday and waited to speak to an actual person. I told them that I already called twice and they hadn’t done anything. The office person took all of the information again and insisted that she was sending it right out.

It turns out she didn’t send anything out. It was ten or so minutes before my appointment, I had taken two buses just to get there, and now I didn’t know if I would even be able to be seen. I had to sit there and seethe a little. The podiatrist’s office was able to get through to my PCP and was told they would fax over the referral right away. Like I haven’t heard that before.

The fax came through as I was being prepped to be seen, thankfully. I was still a little angry but I was able to keep myself calm. The doctor seemed really nice, and I felt comfortable right away. He asked about my pain concerns, and about my previous surgery. I had also noted on my forms about my foot fracture last summer, and he asked about that. He asked how I managed to fracture my cuneiform, as it’s a rare bone to break. Story of my life. Rare, weird shit always happens to me.

The range of motion in my left foot is considerably minimized. It is extremely painful for me to pull my foot forward towards my leg, enough so that I can’t even put my foot in a normal regular 90 degree angle position. The doctor pressed on some different areas of my foot; most were okay except for the spot on the bottom of my heel.

He didn’t want to address my right foot just yet. He acknowledged the visible growth on the top of my foot, but said a lot of the pain I am experiencing in that foot may be because I am compensating for the debilitating pain in my left foot. So we are going to focus treating the left and see if there is any improvement in the right.

I had a few x-rays taken of my left foot, each taken in a different position. I waited as the doctor pulled the images up on the screen. I noticed something off right away. I had so many x-rays and MRIs done on my feet in prior years that I knew what to look for. As clear as day was a large bone spur, resembling a claw, growing out from the back of my lower ankle. As he scrolled further down, there was another spur, growing out from the bottom of the heel of my foot. It’s not nearly as large as the one on my ankle, but the location of it makes it all the more painful. There is also regrowth on the top of my foot, where two of the spurs were removed just over two years ago.

If you’re taking count, that’s four spurs. On one foot. I’m sort of thankful the doctor didn’t really look at my right foot. I don’t know if I could have handled knowing anything more.

The first goal of treatment is pain relief. The doctor gave me a shot of cortisone into my heel. He also wrote me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. I go back in two weeks for another injection. There is not much the doctor can do right now in terms of physical therapy and other treatments until he can determine how bad it is. Right now, the pain and inflammation is too great for me to even move my foot properly. Once some of that is relieved, I will have to do some physical therapy, stretching, etc. and wear a boot (for those that missed out on the early posts of my blog, I hate boots. I ended up taking my knee-level boot off one day out of frustration and throwing it in a dumpster, just one month after I had fractured my foot). So yea, I’m not thrilled about that at all. At least I have two weeks before I have to deal with that shit. Oh, and the doctor is also going to set me up with orthotics. Yay.

I made it through the entire appointment. I’m not sure that it was all me, but I’ll explain that later in another post. For now, I’m just exhausted and need to sleep. Hopefully the cortisone will kick in soon and I can walk on my feel again.

Tears on a Thursday

I cried a lot today.

I cried at six o’clock in the morning. I had just woken up and I already wanted to go back to sleep. The amount of effort and energy it takes for me to get out of bed and go to the bathroom is draining.

The pain in my foot is excruciating in the morning, to the point that I cannot put any weight on it. I cannot even balance myself without holding on to something; as soon as my foot touches the floor, I am hit with enough pain to topple me over. One morning, I fell over and managed to at least fall into the wall, so I was able to push myself back to a standing position.

Since then, I’ve managed to slide out of bed and onto my desk chair every morning, roll myself all of the way over to the door, open said door, and take about three or four minutes to pull myself up and slide myself into the bathroom and onto the toilet. Sometimes I don’t even make it to the bathroom on time. That is how pathetic I am right now. I am 30 years old and can’t even manage to walk to the bathroom on time.

I couldn’t tolerate the pain anymore this morning. As I rolled myself back from the bathroom to the bed, I just started crying. I couldn’t stop. I just wanted the pain to go away, but I knew it wasn’t going to. I just have to deal with the pain. It’s what I’ve been doing all of my life.

After a while, I managed to calm myself down and stop crying. Then my mind started going into anxiety overdrive. What if I go to the doctor and it’s not a simple fix? What if I’m not able to work? I’m really fucked. Then I started crying again. I called several doctors in the last week trying to get an appointment. Every doctor I was calling had the earliest appointments at over a month out, until I finally found someone who would take me next week. But I am still so afraid to go.

I feel that this isn’t going to be an easy fix. I’ve had some really fucked up foot issues, including massive multiple bone spurs at the top of my foot. This, however, is by far the worst foot pain I have had in my life. That worries me. I needed surgery for something that was far less painful than this is, so what does that mean? Another surgery? How am I going to live if I can’t work? Disability takes (in the shortest) a month to get. I can’t financially handle not working. So I just kept crying, imagining all of the possibilities, imagining all of the horrible shit that could come from this.

I actually cried myself to exhaustion. I tried to distract myself from the anxious thoughts and I ended up falling asleep, which was probably a good thing anyway. I woke up and still didn’t want to do anything, but I knew I had therapy in the afternoon and had to get moving. I took some more pain relievers, wrapped up my foot, told myself I wasn’t going to cry anymore, and hobbled my way to the bus stop.

My therapy session started out alright. I knew the focus was going to be on my graduate school conundrum. I told my therapist before that I was likely going to drop out, as much for financial reasons as for the drama surrounding the anonymous reporting. I told her again that I just didn’t think it was going to work. I didn’t think through all of the financial shit before I jumped into starting this grad school. It’s not cheap, and there are less expensive options out there, although the quality is likely lower as well. But I really don’t have any other options.

I don’t remember exactly what set it off, but I felt the tears coming. I tried holding them in and that lasted for about thirty seconds; then I just started crying. My therapist noticed and asked me what was going on, and how I was feeling right then. All I could say was “nothing”.

My go-to answer, as usual. I don’t have feelings. I’m okay. Nothing is wrong. Why can’t my therapist just go along with that? Why must she insist that I connect with these feelings?

Then it all came out. “I made a huge mistake coming here. Why did I think I could make it by myself? I should have stayed. I wouldn’t be in this mess if I had just stayed.”

“You’re not being physically and sexually abused here. If you had stayed…”

By that point I just started drifting in my own head. I know what I escaped. But that was my normal. When you’ve been abused for so long, it just becomes your normal. I’m not sure the damage could have gotten any worse had I continued to endure it. When faced with overwhelming challenges, we go back to what we know. And that home is what I know.

I started having short flashes of memories from the recent past, reminders of how I made myself numb to what my mother was doing to me. Then I started to cry even more. What is wrong with me? I know what I went through and yet I still ask myself why I left, I still want to go back in time and forget I ever left.

My therapist told me that if I had stayed, it would have killed my spirit. “My spirit is already dead. That wouldn’t matter.”

“I don’t think that’s true. I still see the spirit in you.”

That’s not spirit. I don’t know what that is. After all of the shit I have been through, how could I have any spirit left? Shit, I don’t even know how I’m still living.

I think I cried for most of the session. By the end, I had a hand full of used tissues, neatly folded into little squares. I’m not sure why I kept on crying. I really try to keep that under control.

Perhaps it’s the physical pain I’m in. Perhaps it’s the sense of hopelessness once again creeping up on me. I don’t know for sure, but I do think I’m dehydrated now.

It’s time to reassess

It’s been a hectic two weeks. I have a lot of decision-making to do in a short amount of time.

I’m not feeling well. I’ve been working all week, which is good for distraction, but bad for leaving me any extra energy to apply to my life outside of work. Pain is also draining me, and I cannot get an appointment to get cortisone injections earlier than the middle of June. By then, I may just amputate my own feet (I’m kidding – I don’t have the energy for self-amputation).

Recently, my abilities were questioned. Now I have to deal with more shit on top of the shit I already manage on a daily basis to fight for something I shouldn’t have to fight for. It’s not that I can’t manage more shit; I feel I shouldn’t have to. I have never given anyone any reason to doubt me, or any reason to question my ability to do anything. I have never and will never put anyone in harm’s way.

Regardless, I am now questioning my life’s path. Maybe I am not where I am supposed to be. I have sort of, unfortunately, lost the motivation to continue where I am at. Part of me wants to stay so I can prove to these people that I can do anything I want to do, but part of me doesn’t want to be around people that feel the need to bring other people down.

I’ve been looking at other educational options. Perhaps entering a new program at a different school. Perhaps pursuing a doctorate instead of a masters. I’m not questioning my pursuit of psychology and counseling. That will never change. It is actually something I will need in order to be taken seriously, especially as I continue to grow PAFPAC. I want to be a counselor. I have had so many shitty experiences with counselors and I know that something needs to change. There are cracks in the system that need to be fixed. And I believe I can do that.

There’s just so much to consider. I wish I was more financially comfortable so I could take time to consider everything. I considered asking my grandmother for a loan – that is how desperate I’ve become. My grandmother seems oblivious to everything (as you can read here) and I’d be putting myself at risk of interacting with my abusers if she tells them about the whole thing. I’m still considering it, I just don’t know either way at this point.

I wish I could work more jobs, but it’s physically impossible at this time. I fear I will need surgery again to repair the damage in my foot. I never had the surgery I was supposed to have last summer because that was the time I ran away, and my feet are significantly worse now than they were back then. If surgery happens, I’m really screwed. I can’t afford to be out of work. Hell, I can’t even afford to be working.

It sucks right now. Everything just sucks. But I keep on keepin’ on.

Falling

For the last couple of months, I have had this terrible fear of falling.

I know it could be connected to many things. I have also read enough symbol psychology to know that there are meanings behind feeling like you are falling.

I know that it was a fall last summer that caused me to break my foot, a foot that I am still experiencing pain in nearly nine months later.

I know that I’ve fallen down (and up) enough stairs that it would be understandable to be afraid I am going to fall.

Sometimes I feel so weak that the wind could knock me over. There actually has been times that it has. My body and mind give in against the pressure. Instead of fighting back, I let it overtake me. I let the wind push me down, just like I let the people in my life push me down.

Feet are the roots that hold you down. They support the rest of your body. They keep you connected to the ground.

If my feet are my roots, I am fucked. They are so damaged. They have been damaged for a while, and they are only getting worse. Spurs, bone cysts, poorly healed fractures, arthritis, tendonitis…all afflicting the very things that are supposed to be my support and my foundation.

I’ve been trying to block out the pain for some time. I ignored the cracking of my foot every time I took a step. If a part of my foot hurt, I just put more weight on a different part. But then that part would hurt. And now I am at a point where it doesn’t matter where I put my weight; the pain is always there.

And now I spend my days walking so carefully, not just because of the pain, but because I am so scared I am going to fall. Sometimes while I’m walking, I imagine myself in a sort of fast-forwarded scene, taking a step and falling flat on my face, and being unable to pick myself back up. So I stay on the ground, and people just keep moving forward, not bothered by my obvious need for help.

Writing that all out, I can see the symbolism. My fear of falling is not about the pain in my feet. It’s about my fear of failing, about feeling unsupported.

I need to know that it’s okay if I fall.