Alone

I must have started this post at least a dozen times in the past week.  Each time the first paragraph is different yet the same.  I never get past that first paragraph though, maybe because I don’t want to be vulnerable, perhaps because I don’t want to admit to others some of my deepest thoughts.  Either way, here I am, first paragraph coming to an end again.

The past ten days or so I have felt incredibly alone and isolated.  Nothing has really changed in this time period that would lead me to feel this way.  I still find myself in the sweaty room five times a week.  My husband is home every evening and I see friends from time to time. Despite no conspicuous reason, this feeling of exceptional loneliness is not resolving itself.  If anything, as each day passes, the sense of being alone in this world continues to snowball.

Part of this overwhelming feeling may be due to the fact that I speak to so few people.  I have arrived at a time in my life where I value the quality of a friendship over anything else.  I have fewer friends that I see regularly in real life.  I have also scaled down the number of friends that I have through Facebook. Not only have a deleted many, but I have also set privacy settings so that many people who are my “friends” do not see my post regularly. There are countless ways in which this smaller circle of friends serves me better. That being said, I am exceedingly scared that I will lose those friendships that I have chosen to invest in. I am hyper aware of how depressed and sad I am everyday.  I can’t help but think that eventually the friends that I have will want to abandon ship, not because they are not amazing and wonderful friends, but because there is something wrong with me.  There is something within me that keeps me from moving on and being happy.  

I have been so unhappy and sad.  Not my normal” depression” sad.  A different kind of sad. A sadness that stems from my situation when I was a kid as well as my current situation.  A sadness that feels like mourning a person who has passed, and maybe that is what it is.  Maybe I am mourning all the things that I have lost, my childhood, having a loving sibling, a less stressful relationship with my parents.  I am sad that I am financially dependent on my husband because I am not well enough to work.  When I did work I was disappointed because when I graduated from my undergraduate degree I was to depressed and riddled with anxiety to continue my education, leaving me with a job and not a career.  

Perhaps now, most of all I am sad because I do, mostly feel, completely alone in this world.  I let people in, but then I regret it because I want them to think I am happy.  I am scared that they run.  I am scared to actually be left with no one.

Untitled

My husband came home on Friday with a bottle of wine.  Nothing expensive or special, just our normal, go to kind of wine. As he put our youngest to bed, I sank into the couch downstairs, put on HGTV and poured myself a glass.  My husband fell asleep while putting our son to bed, and, well, the wine was going down easy.  I am usually a glass or two type of girl.  Last night though, as I savoured every sip, the whole bottle somehow emptied itself out.  I waited for hubby for a while before indulging in the entire bottle, but when I realized he was not going to make it, I thought “why shouldn’t I indulge”?  I had one reason not to.

I knew, as a sipped and enjoyed the robust flavour, that my husband would not be impressed with me.  When my son woke up at 5:30, as usual, I rolled out of bed. Since hubby had been sleeping since 9pm, I asked if he could get up.  He got up at 8am. 

When I heard him walk to the basement, it was not a minute before he was back upstairs in our room, asking why I had drank the whole bottle.  Really it was an accusation more than a question. Although I knew this was coming, I am never prepared for the emotional overload I feel when he reprimands me for such trivial things, like I am a child and not capable of making decisions for myself.

I waited until he left the room, and then the flood gates opened.  I cried because I am able to see and to predict his behavior with such accuracy now.  I cried because I know deep down that his reactions to such trivial events is not acceptable.  I cried because of what he is teaching our children.  I cried because I am teaching them that this behavior is OK.  Finally I cried because I am scared.  I am scared that I will never get the courage to stand up for myself and do what makes me happy.  I am scared to wake up 30 years down the road and wonder “why the hell did I waste my life”?  

Helicopter Mom

It always strikes me that one of the most natural relationships, the one between mother and daughter, is often so strained. When meeting your children for the first time, it is hard to imagine that there is a good possibility that at some point you may be a major stressor in their life.

The relationship between my mother and I is precarious.  Our physical characteristics are strikingly similar.  The full 50% of my DNA inherited from her, must have gone to my outer shell, as our thought processes, temperament, and personalities could not be any more different.

My mom is the quintessential helicopter parent  (and was so before the term “helicopter parent” became a thing).  She was the type of mom who stood at the bottom of the slide catching us for a couple years too long.  She escorted us to public washrooms in our small town well into teenagehood.  She volunteered in our schools, she was a chaperone for every team or school trip.  She kept us under her wing for much too long.

Now, as I raise children of my own, my mother’s constant opinion on how I raise them is putting extra strain on an already strained relationship.  She has accused me of not “having my priorities straight” because a friend and I had a few drinks while the kids were in our care. She has questioned why I do not love my daughter more because I am not worried about her going on a road trip alone with her dad. Each time I speak to her she questions what my husband will do with her when he needs to use the washroom. I asked her how I would ever travel with my son when he is older, since the same problem will apply.

During the most recent conversation she told me that my daughter is “beautiful and charming”, followed by “men look for children like her”.  She also asked why I am not “doing more” to keep her out of harms way”.  I wanted to vomit and scream at the same time.  I told her to get her facts straight, that a kid is most likely to be abducted by someone they know rather than by a stranger.  What I really wanted to throw in her face was the fact that her son raped and abused me in her house, under her roof for three years.  I wanted to say that if there is a grand daughter that she should worry about, it is her son’s daughter, my niece.  I wanted to remind her that she failed to protect me, even after disclosing the abuse. But I didn’t.

I never say anything because I am so scared of having a conversation with my mom about the details of what he did to me, over, and over, and over again for three years.  I am scared that I will lose all control, that I will say something and regret it immediately.  At some level I’d rather keep the peace than to “disclose” again.  It is easier for me to suffer than to tell my mom how I really feel.  

For now, I will continue to parent how I see fit.  I believe in giving my children the tools they need to survive in different situations.  I do not coddle them.  I allow them to make their own mistake and they learn from natural consequences.  I am raising them in a safe and loving home. They are well cared for and they are learning how to deal with hard situations with and without the help of mom or dad. They are growing and thriving, and for me, that means I am passing this parenting thing.

Normal?

A friend of mine wrote a post on Facebook about depression a few days ago. Sometimes (Ok, I admit, several times a day) I wonder if I am normal.  I wonder this, not in comparison to the average person, but compared to others who suffer from major depressive disorder.  You see, every time I find myself being pulled by the unrelenting storm that is depression, I become incensed because I am simply incapable of being grateful for the good that is in my life, despite being able to recognize that there is “good”.  

This summer has been grueling, despite being peppered with some wonderful times. I have made a new friend (whom I only wish I had known a lot sooner), I have had some relatively good days with my kids at the beach, and I have been able to relish for hours in the sweaty room (for those unfamiliar, the “sweaty room” is a slang term for where one practices hot yoga).  Despite all of this goodness, depression has a knack for playing with my mind.  I am perpetually trying to remind myself that the unhealthy way that I communicate with myself, has a less than desirable impact on my mental wellbeing. Despite cognitively knowing this, I am unable to stop the negative thought processes from happening.

Lately, I have come to the realization that much of my identity is tied up to what I did in my professional life.  It has been two years since I have worked, yet I unabatingly speak as though I am still employed.  I find myself telling people that I work for so and so, that my clients all have neurological conditions, that my co-workers are great, and so on.  Sure, technically speaking, the position is still mine until November, but I am not well enough to go back, and I certainly do not work at the moment.  Despite this, I have difficulty telling people that I do not work. If I don’t work, if I don’t contribute, then I am nothing.  

I had a board meeting a few nights ago.  I was asked to sit on this particular board back when I was still working.  I felt confident in my abilities and was active in my role.  Three nights ago I wanted to walk away and never look back.  I felt as though nothing I had to say was of importance.  I felt alienated amongst all the other members, people who have careers.  I felt embarrassed because while we discussed how an increase in certain fees would not have a significant impact on the budgets of people like “us”, but that it could wreak havoc on the budget of some of our clients, I said nothing.  Little did they know, that the increase that we approved, that I voted in favor of, will indeed have a significant effect on my family’s budget.  

After the meeting, several of the female board members were speaking to each other.  I had stayed back for a few minutes to speak to the director about unrelated business.  As I left, I continued to mercilessly tell myself that they must think I am stupid, that I am unworthy of their time, and that I am not good enough for them.  The thing is, it’s not them.  I have this conversation with myself every single day.  I overanalyze everything and I am always full of shame and guilt about who I am, what I have allowed myself to become.  

So, do others who suffer from depression think the same way?  Do they question why one day, maybe years ago, they felt intelligent, yet now they believe they are not?  Do they question why they can not be happy, why they can’t just get it together? Do they get mad at themselves because they have beautiful children, a nice house, and good friends, yet they feel empty?  Do they wake up in the morning wishing they were dead only to beat themselves up for having such selfish thoughts?  I think the answer is yes.  For once, I believe I am normal.  Normal in the world that is depression.  

Void

Being alone.  Being unloved.  These were two of my worse fears. As a teenager, it did not matter so much who my boyfriend was, but as long as I had one. My young adulthood was the same. I have been with my fair share of boys and men who were just not right for me, to those who were downright abusive.  It didn’t matter though.  I felt unlovable. Damaged goods so to speak.  The thought that someone could possibly want to be with me, no matter what their agenda, made me feel loved and wanted. After years of therapy, I have come to realize that the relationships I have had with men served to fill voids in the relationship I had with myself. 

As a teenager, I never loved myself.  I was 5’7″ and at my lowest weighed 98lbs, but all I saw were physical imperfections in my skeletal like body.  I was co-captain of my basketball team, but quit in grade 11 because I believed I was not good enough to make the team.  I was a straight A student, yet felt dumb all of the time.  I was popular, but always felt unlikable.  My self worth and self love were non existent.  I hated myself.  I despised every single inch of my mind, soul and body.

To fill the ever growing negative thoughts and feelings that I had about myself, I sought out relationships with the opposite sex.  I felt like I was damaged goods, and damaged goods did not deserve the best. My body, which I believed to be repulsive, was not mine, but theirs to do as they pleased with.

I sought out relationships with boys and later with men to make me feel like I was loveable.  I never liked sex, but would beg for it from anyone who told me no, as I took their refusal as a direct reflection of how vile I was.  

After high school, one particular relationship contradicted every false belief I had about myself.  I told him about my CSA, and he did not run.  I cried in front of him, he did not run.  I had flashbacks and anxiety attacks, and he did not run.  No, he did not run, what he did was so much worse, yet at the time all I saw was how much he loved me.

You see, when I had flashbacks or anxiety attacks, he would fuck me harder.  When I cried while giving him a BJ he shoved his cock deeper in my mouth, cumming and forcing me to swallow.  In my mind, this proved that even though I was damaged, he loved me and wanted my broken body and mind.  I did not love myself, but he did.  He controlled my life in and out of the bedroom for years, long after we broke up, which made me feel even more loved because he would find me, and invite me over to talk, which would always end up with him fucking me while tears freely rolled down my cheeks.  I never called what he did to me “sexual assault” until I had been in therapy for years.  It is clear to me now though that he raped and abused me for years, yet that is what made me feel as though he loved me.

I would like to say that my need for relationships to fill voids within myself stopped there, but it didn’t.  It continued into my adult life, my marriage, the decision to have children, everything.  The negative relationship with myself has had a ripple effect, which has touched all aspects of my current life, good and bad.  

I often wish I were dead because of who I am and who I have not become.  I feel like a bad wife, a bad mother.  Yesterday while driving (my husband was actually doing the driving) I had closed my eyes.  As we came to a stop, then made a left turn, an automatic thought popped in my head. “Maybe we will get t-boned and I will be killed”.  I have these thoughts a lot, but they never fail to overwhelm me.  They are so automatic, but then I sit there and ponder each possible scenario. I still don’t feel like a good person, least of all a good mother or wife.  The void remains, it is within myself and will only be filled when I learn to love myself.

When Friendships were Easy

Relationships, we all have them.  From the minute we are born into this world right up until our final breath here on Earth, our relationship with ourselves and those we have with others are constantly changing and evolving.  Some we have based solely on chance or circumstance, such as being born into a certain family, assigned to a specific classroom at school or the colleagues you have at work.  Others seem to be carefully calculated, such as who you choose to marry, who you seek advice from or who holds your hand while you take a pregnancy test when you are sixteen and scared you accidently got knocked up. Every relationship serves it’s purpose.   Some are short lived, some are life long. They can be healthy, unhealthy, or somewhere in between.  They can be life changing.  They shape and form who we are for better or for worse.

As far back as I can remember most of my relationships have been complicated.  I often found myself in emotional turmoil, even though back then I had no idea what those words even meant.  Having so much inner chaos convoluted even the simplest of relationships that I had.

When I think of “simple relationships” not many come to mind.  However, if I were to choose, I would say the relationships that I formed in elementary school were the least complex, especially since I grew up before the days of severe bullying that is all too common place now.  My friends in early elementary were based solely on who I went to school with.  I was with the same 31 classmates each year unless someone moved in or out of town.  I specifically remember a shift from the simplistic friendships of my early school years to those that I had from grade four on.  Each and every friend had a specific purpose.

For me, grade four was a defining year.  It marked the end of childhood. It was that year that I lost my innocence, my life as I knew it.  All of a sudden the Back Street Boy that we had a crush on, who I would sit with on the bus, or what trick we would play on our poor supply teacher seemed silly, even trivial.  What was no longer inconsequential were the friendships, and on a larger scale, the relationships in my life. 

At 9 years old, the sexual abuse that continued for three long years, started. The carefree girl that I once was slowly faded, and so did the simplicity of most of my relationships, starting with my friends.

As I think back to those days, I did not realize the shift that was taking place.   I remember yearning for the simpler days. The days that I could simply revel with my friends.  I was jealous of their outwardly simplistic lives (I was unaware of any hardships they may have been experiencing).  It was around this time that I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be on the outside, and all I wanted at the time was to keep what was happening at home, at home.   

The quick decline in my own self worth and self esteem led me to seek approval from others, no matter the cost associated. If it meant shunning one friend in order to stay friends with someone else, I did it.  If it meant begging a friend to let me cheat off her test, I did.  I did not want my friends or teachers to infer what may be happening at home.  In the big picture this meant telling some pretty big lies to protect my secret.  

As my nine year old self, I never let the fact that I was lying to my friends day in and day out bother me.  What did bother me was that they had no idea what was going on (obviously because me keeping it a secret).  Somewhere in me a fire burned, and for a while I was devastated that none of my friends came to the rescue.  I lied to them in order to hide the pain, yet became angry when they did not notice.  At this point in time, my most important friend’s were those who would rescue me by inviting me for sleepovers on the weekend, giving me a much needed reprise  from seeing my perpetrator on a daily basis. I worked hard to keep those friendships alive and well, which also meant being a perfect house guest so that their parents would like me as well.

The new set of rules for most friendships and relationships from grade four on were set.  They needed to like the “fake” me. They had to make sense of my ever changing mood, and not mind it.  They became my walls in which I could hide behind, because that is exactly what I needed to survive at that exact time.  I needed to ensure that every person had a purpose and that their role.in my life would keep me safer than if I were to go down the path of sexual abuse alone.  The friendships became one sided, often only taking into consideration my needs. Surprisingly this did not seem to bother my nine year old friends.  This is when I learned the power of deceit.  If I could lie and pretend, no one would ever know my secret.