Letter to a friend

I recently talked about an issue I was having with a friend who was (quite literally, as my therapist put it) playing devil’s advocate with my mother.  I decided to write her a letter, since I couldn’t seem to find the words when texting her or talking with her on the phone.  I mentioned the letter to my therapist in our usual e-mail updates this past weekend and she told me I could bring the letter with me to our session today if I hadn’t already sent it.  So I did.

The letter:

(Name),

Hello.  I hope you are doing well.  You haven’t really text or spoke to me much and I’m not sure if it’s because you’re busy or because of the things I said about my parents a couple of weeks ago.

I need you to know that what my mother tells you is not the truth.  It never has been; it never will be.  She is using you to get to me.  She is a dangerous person.  Please be aware of that if you choose to continue to engage with her.

I spent 29 years of my life trapped in a family that treated me in ways no person should ever be treated.  It took me years to gather the courage, the financial resources, and the strength to leave that prison.  I have escaped.  When you escape from a burning building, you don’t go back in; you’ll get burned.  If I go back home, I’m going to be hurt again.  I don’t deserve it.

I’m building a new life for myself now.  I’m no longer under my mother’s control.  I don’t have to worry about being attacked in my own home.  I am free.  I still live in fear, but hopefully that will change one day.

I need a lot of therapy and a lot of time to undo the damage that my family has done.  Talking to them, seeing them, or visiting them will only set my recovery back.  I don’t owe my family anything.  They are dead to me.  In fact, the only time I want to hear about them is when they die, so I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I just need you to understand why cutting my family out of my life is what’s best for me.  I need you to support my decision and stop advocating for my mother.  It hurts me when you do that because I feel like you are on her side.  I can’t involve myself with anyone who supports her.  I need you to feel what is in my heart.

I didn’t want to read it out loud.  I told my therapist it was horrible.  She asked me why it was horrible.  I told her “It just is.”  Then I took the letter from my bag and handed it to her.  She took her time and read it through.  She told me the letter wasn’t horrible at all.  She said it was honest and real and everything I needed to say to her.  She even got goosebumps reading one part of it.  I still insisted that it was horrible.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because everything I do is horrible.”

It was such a raw response from me.  I didn’t even think about it.  I still have it programmed in my head that everything I do ends up being wrong.  Sometimes I am able to override the programming; most times, I’m just too exhausted to bother and let the original programming run its course.  It’s also extremely unnatural for me to assert my needs in any way, and this letter was doing that.  I’ve lived my life for the last 29 years believing my needs were unimportant, because even my most basic needs were neglected.  It’s difficult for me.  People don’t realize just how hard it is to reprogram yourself when you’ve lived a certain way for so long.

We talked about what would happen once I sent the letter.  I said I didn’t think it would matter; I still don’t think my friend would understand.  I’m not emotionally ready to handle that reality yet.  I’m not ready to grieve another loss.  This woman was like a mother to me.  I told my therapist I couldn’t go through losing a mother again.  I already lost my real one (who was never there to begin with), and here I am about to lose the one I replaced her with.  What is so wrong with me that I can’t even have a mother to love me?

My therapist and I both agreed that I wasn’t ready to send the letter yet.  I don’t know when I’ll be ready.  It’s going to have to be soon, because I know the issue is going to come up again.  I can’t keep putting out fires.  It’s exhausting.  I’m not a firefighter.  I’m just a girl trying to get by.

Eight Weeks

It’s been eight weeks now.  I’m still free.  I’m still alive.

I have bad days.  I have okay days.  I never really have good days, but that’s okay; there’s still time for those.

Physically, I could be better.  I’ve lost over 30 pounds.  I know it’s from a combination of not eating enough and being sick.  It’s not that I can’t afford to lose it, because I can, but that’s a lot to lose in a short period of time.  I’m trying to make a conscious effort to eat, but it’s difficult.  My roommate does her best to try to get me to eat.  She’s even tried to memorize the foods I eat and the foods I absolutely will not touch.  The other night, my roommate’s boyfriend asked if I wanted a garlic knot.  I reluctantly obliged.  He was so genuinely happy that I wanted to eat something that he shouted out in celebration.  Small steps.  I also made a promise to my therapist that I would at least start taking vitamins.  She actually found a vitamin for me that was chewable and non-fruit-flavored, so I have no excuses not to take it.

My foot is feeling a little better.  I’ve been upgraded to a space boot that goes up to my calf.  I’m supposed to wear the boot for at least two more weeks until I go back to the orthopedist again.  I’m also supposed to use crutches, but I was a little rebellious today and decided at the last second to go without.  I did fine.  I walked a lot slower than I would have if I used the crutches, but that’s okay.  But I didn’t fall.  I’m still standing.  The orthopedist mentioned I had quite a few old fractures show on x-ray.  All I could think was yea, I’m sure there are old fractures all over my body.  It’s probably why I have so many issues with bone pain now, and why I have random bone spurs throughout my body.  I guess my body wants to remind me of that pain again.

I had a bit of a meltdown last night.  I had this weekend off of work (which never happens, and will likely never happen again for a long time), so I was planning to go back and visit my very good friends back home (Is it really home?  I don’t know what to call it.).  I had mentioned it to my therapist in yesterday’s session and told her that I worked out all the possible scenarios in my head and it still seemed like it would be more of a positive thing for me.  I miss them more than anything.  Aside from my therapist and my roommate, I am alone here.  I told my friend and he seemed happy.  Then I text my other friend about it.  She said that was great, then she said “so are you visiting your parents?”  My heart sank and I became overwhelmed with emotions.  Why would I visit the very people I ran away from?  It’s not like my friend is not aware of the situation; she knows, though not in detail, what my mother has done to me.  Is that not enough of a reason for me to leave?  Does she not believe me?  I don’t understand it.  I shouldn’t have to justify why I want nothing to do with them.  I feel like she is on their side and not on mine.  I also felt, at that point, that by visiting her, I could be risking my own safety if she told my mother I was coming.

I had so much running through my head last night and couldn’t get myself together, so I e-mailed my therapist.  That in itself is a big step for me, because I rarely if ever reach out when I need it.  She e-mailed me back in the middle of the night.  I checked my e-mail around 3 AM and read her thorough response, and I knew that going back wasn’t the right thing to do.  Ultimately, she said if I had any doubt in my mind about my ability to trust these friends, that it is most important to protect myself and my new life here.  Unfortunately, when I hear/read comments like I did from my friend, my ability to trust that friend becomes damaged.  There is a disconnect somewhere and I don’t know how to fix it.  I can’t make someone understand something they are choosing not to accept.  My therapist told me I need to advocate for myself if this friend continues to play devil’s advocate; if that doesn’t work, the relationship may just not be worth the effort.  I have to put energy into my new life.  I don’t want to have to waste energy in unnecessarily deflecting dangers from my past when they can just as easily be avoided.  It’s sad.  It makes me cry just thinking about it (I’m crying as I type this damn sentence).  But I have to do what’s best for me for once.  It just bothers me that in the end, I’m once again going to look like the shitty person.

It just sucks because I feel alone as it is.  I can’t afford to lose more people.  While I have made a couple new friends, it takes a lot of time and effort to build strong relationships.  I turned down spending time with a friend today because I thought I was going to visit back home, and instead I ended up by myself.  Maybe I needed it.  Who knows.  I’m not really sure what I need.

I’m still having trouble coming to terms with my diagnosis.  I mean, I’m getting there…slowly…reluctantly.  My therapist told me that my prognosis is good.  She could have just been trying to make me feel better.  Who knows.  She said I’m intelligent and functioning; I guess that plays in my favor.  It’d just be so much easier if I didn’t dissociate.  Most ‘normal’ people don’t even understand dissociation.  How are they going to understand me?