Guard down, guard up

Sometimes, I let my guard down.

Then, I am quickly reminded of why I shouldn’t.

It’s a complicated thing. The fear of trusting anyone, yet the seemingly innate pull to open up to someone. The desire to be alone, yet the need to be in contact with others. The want for a family, even when family has continually been nothing but toxic.

I made a mistake. I should have seen it coming; looking back, I don’t know why I even put myself in that position. But it’s that seemingly continuous push and pull of two opposing wants that seem to lead to these mistakes.

It was the right timing. I was vulnerable. I had just left to go across the county. I left everything and everyone behind. I was disconnected, not only physically, but emotionally as well. And I wanted so much to reconnect to something or to someone.

And I did. I got a friend request on Facebook from a distant cousin — my mother’s niece. Years ago, I would have immediately deleted it. In fact, I may have even had her and others blocked. But over time, I let my guard down. I let my fear dissipate. But, given the circumstances, I felt okay enough to accept her request. After all, I was nowhere near her or my mother physically. After all, this was someone who hadn’t seen me since I was 14 years old. After all, this was someone who my mother avoided having any physical contact with, someone who my mother spoke ill of (along with her sister and others in her own family). So how much of a danger could it have been? I added her.

I soon learned that was a bad decision. In response to my last blog, she posted several comments, all of which focused on how I was loved and cared for, how I chose to leave the home where I was loved and cared for, how my mother loved her children and wouldn’t ever molest them…you get the gist. I did, too, because I heard it before. Almost word-for-word, in fact. Because they were my mother’s words, her defensive speech. We’ve all heard it before.

I was trying not to engage, but I eventually gave in and defended the truth. I reminded her that she was barely in our lives, how the last time she saw me was when I was 14, and that she really couldn’t have had any realistic idea of what was going on. I told her that I could connect her with people who witnessed the reality first hand — not just of the physical environment we lived in, but of my mother’s inappropriate words and actions. I suggested she be open to hearing both sides, as it seemed she was taking my mother’s word for truth without taking any initiative to find out what existed outside of my mother’s words.

But my words to her didn’t get very far, because when I woke up the next morning, her comments were deleted and so was she.

I had a tiny bit of hope that a friendship could have existed before all of this happened, that I could be connected to a part of my family, even if it was just in this small way.

I’m not that hurt over it. I got over it quickly. I think what stuck out to me the most was just how gullible people could be, how easily they could drink my mother’s Kool-aid and believe everything she says just because she says it. I’m fortunate enough that many people didn’t fall for her lies. I just wish that more of those people were family.

I find the timing interesting. Adding me as a friend a week before my freedom anniversary. Waiting until that very moment to let it out. I highly doubt it was all just a coincidence. But it doesn’t even matter. My lesson has been learned.

In her last comment, my cousin talked about how my mother was sick and suffering.

Good. I’m not going to lie. Good.

And that’s even if she is really sick, because I really don’t think anyone is close enough to her to truly know.

But, I will not feel bad about my anger or my grief. She is in her 60s. She got to live. I am 32 and can barely make it a month without a stay in the hospital, dealing with health issues that people my age (or anyone really) shouldn’t have to deal with. I’m not going to feel bad for being angry at her. I’m not going to feel bad for hating her. And I’m not going to feel bad for not caring about her, because she sure as hell never cared about me.

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Rage

In more ways than one, I am approaching rock bottom. Physically, psychologically, emotionally, financially. I am a disaster.

I left the hospital, but the truth is that I should still be there. And they all told me that. Every doctor I had to see. I don’t even know how many, because they all looked the same to me. Covered by masks and gowns, all I could decipher were voices, all saying the same thing. You are very sick.

I was not prepared. I thought I was just having trouble breathing. I shrugged it off until the coughing got worse, enough that I started coughing up blood on my way home from work. I took a detour to the ER, expecting a breathing treatment and a discharge. Instead I ended up with an admission to isolation with the avian flu, suspected pneumonia, and a COPD exacerbation.

I fought to get out. I left them with little choice; if they didn’t discharge me, I was leaving AMA, and they knew if I left without medication, I could get sicker and die. I still endured their lectures, their voices of concern. You’re very sick, they said. And all I could say to them was I’ve been through a lot worse.

I don’t know how much more my body can take. It’s been through hell, and I just keep making it worse. You would think I’d be doing my best to stay healthy, but I’m just pushing myself closer and closer to pain and death. I walked around aimlessly yesterday, in the cold, smoking cigarette after cigarette, cycling through fits of crying and fits of rage.

I had such an intense urge to die. I ran through the street as cars were turning in, but none of them hit me. Why can’t I just get that one distracted driver to do me in? I tried to cut my wrists, but I couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking. Why can’t I just be strong enough to do it myself?

I think about getting high almost every day. I miss it. I miss not having to think about shit for awhile. I miss the feeling, the feeling that nothing else matters because you can stop giving a fuck about everything for awhile. Poverty is probably the only thing that has been saving me from that right now. I can’t even afford to live, let alone afford coke. But that’s my fault, too. I let people walk all over me, I let them take advantage of me because I’m just so afraid to say no, so worried about hurting people’s feelings at the expense of hurting myself and my own. I paid their bills when I should have just been paying my own. So now they are sitting with their new phones and tablets, and I’m selling mine just so I can afford one more week of therapy and another bag of rice. But it’s my fault. I can’t be mad at anyone else, so I hold it inside, just like I’ve held everything else for so long.

I’ve been thinking about calling my mother. To say what, I don’t know. Maybe to say I’m sorry for being such a horrible daughter. Maybe to hear her voice, to sense her familiar anger. Maybe to ask her why, why she had to do the things she did, the things that have led me where I am today.

Or maybe to let out my rage on her because the rage I’ve been unleashing on myself hasn’t been working. It just keeps building and building and I don’t know what else to do. But I know if I go on like this much longer, the rage will destroy me before anything else does.

Trust

I’ve never been able to trust anyone completely.

It’s not surprising. Every survivor of child abuse I have ever met has had the same difficulty with trusting people.

Why is it so difficult for me to trust? Because the first people I met, the first people I ever formed relationships with – my parents – were also the people that abused me for my entire childhood. The very person that a child is supposed to be able to trust was the very person that shattered my ability to trust anyone.

In my healing process, I have come a long way. I have learned, to an extent, to trust other people. But I have never been able to put my full trust in anyone. There are things I keep inside, never feeling comfortable enough with anyone to let them out, never trusting anyone enough to be able to give those things a voice. And in the long run, it drains me.

I have so badly wanted to be able to trust someone enough to let everything out. And I think, just maybe, I finally found that person in my therapist.

I have been avoiding telling my therapist something that has been eating away at me. It has been eating away at me for years, really, but even more so in the recent months. I have made passive comments about it, but whenever she probed further, I said it was something that I couldn’t talk about. It came up again on Monday. I don’t remember everything because I had dissociated towards the end of our session, but it must have been significant because she brought it up again in our Thursday session.

By this time, I think she had an idea about what I was hiding. She asked if we could talk more about it. She asked if there was anything she could do to make it easier to talk about. I really wanted to say let’s forget this ever happened but on some level, I knew that wouldn’t help anyone.

My words were there but I was still so afraid to let them out. I sat there with my head down, staring at the rug beneath my feet, contemplating all of the possibilities that could come out of this. I must have told my therapist at least a dozen times that I was scared. She continued to reassure me that it was okay to be scared, that she understood. She told me that she would continue to care about me no matter what I told her, that no matter how bad I thought my secret was, we would work on managing it together. I told her that no one would understand the darkness within me. She wanted to try to understand.

After a half hour (though it seemed like hours) of inner turmoil and resistance, I finally broke down. I started crying and just blurted it out. The secret that I never told another person. The secret that I never even wrote on paper. The secret I will likely never tell another soul.

Now it was out there, out in the world, and I could never take it back.

I immediately turned away from her and hid my face. I was so disgusted with myself, so ashamed of what I had done. I couldn’t face her.

But she didn’t run away. She sat next to me, comforting me, asking me questions. I asked her if she hated me now that she knew the truth about me. I asked her if I was just like my mother.

“Your mother would never be sitting in therapy like this, feeling this intensely about anything she ever did. But you’re here, feeling all of these things because you care so deeply. You’ll never be like her.”

That still didn’t change what I had done. I still felt sick. I still felt unresolved. But in a way, I felt different. I didn’t feel weighed down. I felt like I could breathe a little deeper. I felt a release.

I realized, after our session, that my therapist is the first and only person I have complete trust in.

I never thought it would ever be possible for me to trust another human being like that.