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Ask The Band: Is It My Own Fault?

I went to my psychiatrist today.

Through our one-sided conversations where I talk while he writes, I realized that through my childhood and adolescent years I felt like I was never wanted. I was just ‘there.’ A nuisance. A pain. Not a being – but a thing that was part of life. How awful for a child to go through life feeling like this.

Then it hit me that the child I was sympathizing with was me. I was distancing myself from MY actual life by thinking of myself as a ‘thing’ instead of a being.

Self-loathing takes on so many forms … it mutates in your brain to become something from another world. A world of hate.

Why would I feel this way? I don’t want to ask “who made me feel this way,” but rather, why? Why did I – why DO I – not hold myself to a higher standard in my own mind? Why do I hate myself so much? When did it start? I have so many questions today that I wish could be answered.

Questions like,

“Is it my own fault?”

#MeToo: On The Other Side

At the age of 3, my father began sexually molesting me.

At the age of 5, the sexual abuse was replaced by physical abuse from my father and my mother.

At the age of 9, both my mother and father went to rehab for alcoholism.

At the age of 10, I finally knew what it was like to have a home after living in over 200 houses, more than 100 cities, fifteen states, and two countries.

At the age of 14, I was raped by a classmate my freshman year of high school.

At the age of 15, I started working two full-time jobs and single-handedly supporting my family because my parents flat-out refused to work.

At the age of 16, my parents decided to start drinking again. I took on a third job to support their alcoholism.

At the age of 18 I graduated high school at nearly the top of my class.

After my first year of college, I was told that I was not allowed to continue even though I had scholarships because “I wasn’t raised to think I was better than anyone else.”

At the age of 21, I was raped again … by the man who had betrayed me seven years before. My parents told me I deserved it, and was lucky that a man had paid that much attention to me since I was worth nothing. I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

My birth certificate says that I was born on April 2nd, 1987 at 1:25 p.m.

I was born on March 30th, 2009 at roughly 9:45 p.m. when, at nearly 22 years old, I decided I had been through enough.

I am the adult daughter of two alcoholics who have been diagnosed by multiple mental health professionals as suffering from a variety of mental disorders.

My father suffers from Bipolar Disorder and severe Anxiety. My mother is a Paranoid Schizophrenic. Neither one has any sense of reality beyond their immediate perception of the world, and both are Compulsive Liars.

The man who raped me intimidated and frightened me into a silence I would not break for almost ten years. When I ran into him again, he introduced me to his wife and child as if we were old high school friends.

He contacted me after getting my information through old mutual friends and asked if we could meet to reconcile and so that he could apologize for what he had done. He never had any intention of doing so and in my own foolishness, I met with him and he forced me into the back of a car and raped me … again.

My parents told me I had to be lying, and that if I had been raped then I should consider myself lucky because that was more than I deserved from anyone. When I insisted that I was not lying and needed their help, my father smacked me across the face and broke a chair over my back.

I was almost twenty-two years old at the time and the only thing I remember after that was my youngest sister’s face. She was staring in horror and fear trying to figure out what to do.

I was the only one who stood up to the two of them. I defended everyone. I fought everyone’s battles and kept everyone safe. The thoughts in her mind were clear on her face: Who was supposed to protect me? How could they help me?

I had stayed for years thinking that I was protecting them. In that moment, I realized that if I showed them that all you could do was take the abuse and not actually do anything about it … then one day my little sister was going to be in my position … and no one would be around to help her either.

I didn’t have anywhere to go. I had nowhere to stay that night. I called up a friend and grabbed a ride, and crashed on a couch while struggling to find somewhere to live.

I went through months of endless torture and doubt while going through the trail that put my rapist in jail for what will be a very long time. I changed my address, my phone number, and all of my information so that I could cut ties with the life I didn’t deserve and start living a life that was not filled with fear, or doubt, or regret, or abuse.

Today, I am 23 years old.

I have a home of my own for the very first time.

I have sought counseling for the traumas I have been through in my life.

I have struggled with body image, self-esteem, guilt, and an intense lack of trust in people I care about.

I have cut all ties with my family, stopped supporting them financially, and moved on to start a life of my own.

I have found love in a man who is the best thing to ever happen to me. A man who would never raise a hand to me, who loves me in spite of my demons, and who has already supported and seen me at my absolute worst.

I have found peace.

I am not sharing my story to shock, horrify, or scare people. I am not sharing my story seeking sympathy although it is graciously received.

I am sharing my story because somewhere out there is a man, woman, or child who has faced demons that linger in shadows all around them. They may not feel that they are able to overcome them and they are utterly alone.

I am telling you my story to tell you this:

You are not alone. Ever.

No one is ever alone. There were moments when I wanted to give up and give in. Just tune out and wait for the worst to come so that nothing else as bad could happen. I figured there was nothing that could help or save me. I have been there.

I made it out and I am waiting for you with open arms on the other side. There’s plenty of room here.

Danceband On The Titanic

There is a picture of me, somewhere out there, probably still on my dad’s phone unless they’ve turned into Christmas Card people, in which case, the picture is most definitely out there in the world for all to see.

I hope it is not.

I didn’t see the picture until I was 5 months sober, staying in the unfinished basement at my parents house, grateful that I was no longer homeless, while I hunted for a job. Before this, I’d been staying there after a stint at a ramshackle, rundown motel, the kind of place you probably could dismantle a dead body, leave the head on the pillow, and no one would think anything of it. But it was my room, and despite the lice they gifted me, I loved it. Until money dried up and suddenly I was, once again, homeless. I’d moved in there after I was discharged from the inpatient psych ward, in which I was able to successfully detox after a suicide attempt. Got some free ECT to boot.

(WINNING)

Despite what you see on the After School Special’s of our childhood, I didn’t take a single Vicodin, fall into a stupor, and become insta-addict – just add narcotics! No, my entry into addiction was a slow and steady downward spiral of which I am deeply ashamed. It’s left my brain full of wreckage and ruin, fragmented bits of my life that don’t follow a single pattern. Between the opiates, the Ketamine, and the ECT, I cannot even be certain that what I am telling you is the truth; what I’ve gathered are bits and pieces of the addict I so desperately hate from other people who are around, fuzzy recollections, and my own social media posts.

About a year and a half before I moved from my yellow house to the apartments by the river, Dave and I had separated; he’d told me that while he cared for me, he no longer loved me. While we lived in the same house, we’d had completely separate lives for years, so he moved to the basement while I stayed upstairs. I’d been miserable before his confession and after? I was nearly broken. Using the Vicodin, then Norco, I was able to numb my pain and get out of my head, which, while remarkably stupid, was effective. For awhile.

Let me stop you, Dear Reader, and ask you to keep what I am about to say in mind as you read through this massive tome. I’m simply trying to make certain that you understand several key things about my addiction and subsequent recovery. I alone was the one who chose to take the drugs. No one forced me to abuse opiates, and even later, (SPOILER ALERT) Ketamine. This isn’t a post about blaming others for my misdoings, rejecting any accountability, nor making any excuses for the stupid, awful things I’ve done. I alone fucked up. My addiction was my own fault. However, in the same vein, no one “saved” me but myself. There was no cheeky interventionist. No room full of people who loved me weeping stoically, telling me how my addiction hurt them. No letters. Nothing. It was just me. I was alone, and I chose to get – and remain – sober.

The delusions started when I moved out, sitting in my empty apartment alone, paralyzed by the thought of getting off the couch to go to the bathroom. Always a night-owl, I’d wake at some ungodly hour of the morning, shaking. It wasn’t withdrawal, no, it was pure unfettered anxiety.

It was the aftermath of using so many pills, all the fun you think you’re having comes back to bite you with crippling anxiety and depression.

Which is why I’d do more.

Yes, opiates are powerful, and yes, I abused them, but things really didn’t become dire until I added Ketamine to my life.

Ketamine, if you’re unaware, is a club drug, a horse tranquilizer, and a date rape drug. You use too much? You may wake up at some hipster coffee bar, trying to sing “You’re Having My Baby” to the dude in the front row who may or may not actually exist. In other words, it’s the best way to forget how fucked you are.

The delusions worsen as time passed. I could see into the future. I could read your mind. I was going to be famous. I was super fucking rich. In this fucked-up world, I could even forget about me, and the life that I’d so carelessly shattered. I remember sitting in Divorce Class at the courthouse, something required of all divorces in Kane County, weeping at all that I’d thrown away – using a total of three boxes of the low-quality, government tissues. I left with a shiny pink face and completely chapped nose and eyes that appeared to be making a break from their sockets. I went home, took some pills, took some Ketamine, and passed out.

I retreated ever-inward. I didn’t talk to many people. I didn’t share my struggles. I was alone, and it was my fault.

The hallucinations started soon after Divorce Class ended and my ex and I split up. He’d left my house in a rage after a fight and went to live with his sister. I got scared. His temper, magnified by the drugs, the hallucinations, and the delusions, grew increasingly frightening. Once he’d moved out, the attacks began. I’d wake up naked in my bedroom, my body sore and bruised, and my brain put the two unrelated events together as one – he was attacking me. It happened every few days, these “attacks,” until I found myself at the police station, reporting them. I was dangerously sick and I had no idea.

My friends on the Internet (those whom I had left), sent me money for surveillance cameras. I bought them, installed them – trying to capture the culprit – and when I saw what I saw, I immediately called the police and told them the culprit.

The videos in my bedroom captured an incredibly stoned, dead-eyed, version of myself, violently attacking myself, brutally tearing at my flesh. In particular, THAT me liked to beat my face with one of my prized possessions – a candlestick set from our wedding, take another pill or hit up some Ketamine, then violating myself with the candlestick. It lasted hours. I’d wake up with no memory of events, sore and tired and unsure of how I’d gotten there.

I’d never engaged in self-injury before – not once – so the very idea that I’d hurt myself was unbelievable, but right there, on my grainy old laptop, was proof of how unhinged I’d become. Charged with filing a false report, I plead guilty.

In early September of 2015, I decided to get fixed, and made arrangements with work to take a few weeks off to do an inpatient detox, and, for the first time in a long time, I woke up happily, rather than cursing the gods that I was still alive.

It was to be short-lived.

Several days later, sober, I was idly chatting with my neighbor about her upcoming vacation (funny the things your brain remembers and what it does not), standing by my screen door, when karma came calling. It sounded like the shucking noise of an ear of corn, or maybe the sound that a huge thing of broccoli makes when you rip it apart – hard. It felt like a bullet to the femur. I crumpled on top of my neighbor and began screaming wildly about calling an ambulance, yelling over and over like some perverse, yet truthful, Chicken Little:  “my leg is broken, my LEG is broken!”

I don’t remember much after that. I woke up in (physical rehab) and learned that my femur (hereafter to be called my “Blasfemur,”) had broken, fairly high up on the bone, where the biggest, strongest bone in your body is at its peak of strength. Whaaaa?

The doctors and nurses shrugged it off my questions, with a flippant “It just happens” and sent me home, armed with a Norco prescription, in November, to heal. I added the Ketamine, just to make sure.

A couple of weeks later at the end of November, I was putting up the Christmas tree with the kids and my mother. It was all merry and fucking bright until I sat down on the couch and felt that familiar crunch. Screams came out of me I didn’t know were possible, but I’d lost my actual words. My mother stood over me yelling “what’s wrong? what’s wrong?” and I couldn’t find the words. I overheard her telling my babies that I was “probably just faking it” as she walked out the door, my screams fading into an ice cold silence. They left me alone in that apartment where I screamed and cried and screamed. Finally, I managed to call 911 and when they asked me questions, all I could scream was my address.

I woke up in January in a nursing home. When I woke up, I found myself sitting at a table in a vast dining room, full of old people. For weeks to come, I thought that I’d died and gone…wherever it is that you go.

This time, I learned, my (blas)femur and it’s associated hardware had become infected after the first surgery, which weakened the bone, causing it to snap like a tree. They put me all back together like the bionic woman, but the surgery had introduced the wee colony of Strep D in the bone into my bloodstream, creating an infection on meth. I’d been in a coma for weeks. Once again, I learned to walk, and once again, I was sent home in late January with another Norco prescription. The nursing home really wanted me to have someone stay with me to help out, but I insisted that I was fine alone. In truth, I had nobody to help me out, but was far too ashamed to tell them.

The picture I referenced above was taken some time in May, as far as my fuzzy memory allows me to remember, after my third femur fracture in March. This time, I’d been so high that I fell asleep on the toilet and rolled off. Glamorous, no? Just like Fat Elvis. Luckily, my eldest son was there and he called 911 and my parents to whisk him away. I remember my father on the phone, telling Ben that I was a liar and I was faking it. I was swept away in the ambulance for even more hardware, and finally? A diagnosis:

HypoPARAthyroidism.

It’s an autoimmune disease that leaches calcium from the bones, resulting in brittle bones. It is managed, not treated. There is no cure.

But, I had the answer. Finally.

After my third fracture, I once again was sent to the nursing home, and quickly discharged with even higher doses of Norco, when my insurance balked, I’d used up all my rehab days for the year. By this time, I’d lost my apartment, my stuff was in storage (except the things that we’re thrown away, which my father gloated about while I was flat on my back) and my parents let me stay with them, which was about the only option I had. They couldn’t really kick me out if my leg was only freshly attached. I feel deeper into a depression, self-loathing, and drug abuse as I realized what a mess I’d made with my life. How many bad choices I’d made. How many people I’d hurt. How much I’d hurt myself. How much I loathed myself. How I once had a life that in no way resembled sleeping in my parents dining room. How I’d been a home owner. How I’d been married. How lucky I’d been. How I threw it all away. My life turned into a series of “once did” and “used to.”

The only one who hated me more was my father.

While we were once close confidants, in the years after my marriage to Dave, his disdain had become palpable. My uncle had to intervene one Christmas, after my father mocked me incessantly for taking a temp job filling out gift cards while I was pregnant with Alex. It may seem normal to some of you, this behavior, but in THEIR house, NO ONE was EVER SAD and NOTHING was EVER WRONG. WASPs to the core, my family is.

When I moved back in, broken, dejected, and high, our fights became epic. For the first time in my life, I stood UP to one of my parents. Then, I was promptly kicked out.

Guess I’m not so WASPy after all.

I want to say that the picture was taken around May of 2016, but my estimate may be thoroughly skewed, so if you’re counting on dates being correct and cohesive, you’ve got the wrong girl.

This is a picture of me, though you probably wouldn’t recognize me. I am wearing the blue scrubs that you associate with a hospital: not exactly sky blue, not teal, not navy, just generic blue hospital scrubs. These are, I remember, the only clothes I have to my name. I was given them in both the hospital and the nursing home, a gift, I suppose, of being a frequent flier, tinged with a bit of pity – this girl has no clothes, we can help. Whomever gave them to me, know that you gave me a bit of dignity, which I will never forget. Thank you.

I am wearing scrubs, the light of the refrigerator is slowly bleaching out half of my now-enormous body, as opposed to the darkness outside. There is a tube of fat around my neck, nearly destroying any evidence of my face, but if you look closely, you can make out my glasses, my nostrils, my hair cascading down. My neck is stretched back at nearly a 90 degree angle from my body, my head listlessly resting on the back of my wheelchair. My mouth gaped wide, which, should I been engaging in fly catching, would have netted far more than the average Venus flytrap. I am clearly, unmistakably, and without a single shred of doubt, passed the fuck out.

It is both me and not me.

High as i was, I don’t remember a thing about the photo being taken. But there I was, in all my pixelated glory.

By the time I saw the photo, I was once again in my “will do” and “can do” space. I’d kicked drugs in September 2016 and had found a job that I enjoyed. I stayed with my parents while I began to sort out my medical debt and save toward a new car and an apartment of my own. My spirits were high, my depression finally abated to the background, and I was tentatively happy. I’d apologized until my throat was sore, but my fragmented memory saved me from the worst of it, but I was not forgiven. I don’t think I ever expected to be. And now, I never will.

It’s okay. I can’t expect this. I know I fucked up.

My father, who’d actually grown increasingly disdainful of me, the more sober and well I became, confronted me when I came home one day after work, preparing to do my AFTER work, work.

My mother shuffled along behind him, Ben, the caboose. All three of them were in hysterics, tears rolling down their cheeks as I sat down in my normal spot on the couch. After showing them a video of two turtles humping a couple of days before, I eagerly waited to see what they were showing me.

What it was was that picture. Of the not me, me.

They could hardly contain their laughter, my father happier than ever, braying, “Isn’t this the best picture of you?” and “You PASSED OUT, (heave, heave) IN FRONT OF THE FRIDGE!” punctuated, with “I’m going to frame this picture!” The tears welled in my eyes while my teeth clenched, they laughed even harder at my reaction.

Like I said, if they’ve become Christmas Card sending people, this will be the picture of me they show, expecting others to laugh uproariously. Before I moved out, in fact, my father made certain to show the picture to anyone who came over. “Wanna see something hilarious?” he’d ask. Expecting memes or a funny cat playing the piano, they’d agree. I could see it when they saw it, my dad chortling with laughter, nearly choking on his giggles, the looks on their faces: a mixture of confusion and pity. Even in my drug-hazed “glory,” I’d never felt so low.

Maybe that picture is splashed all over the internet, in the dark recesses I don’t explore, and maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s hung on their wall, replacing all of the other pictures. Maybe it’s not.

Maybe we’ll meet again.

Maybe not.

Fighting The War: Addiction

Mary sat there with her eyes rolling back into her head; her mouth foaming a bit. Her newborn baby was sleeping in her arms while she jostled him each time she would nod out and try to keep focused.

She looks up at me and says, “you just want to take my baby away from me. All of you Social Workers are the same.”

I stare blankly. I am new at this, but I can’t let Mary know that. I am just 25 years old, and she is well into her 40′s. She is not new at this, not by along shot.

Little does she know it isn’t her newborn I am after, it is her disease.

“Do you have any other kids Mary?” I ask, as I fill out her assessment.

“Yeah. 4. They all were taken away from me because people like you don’t think I care about my kids. People like you think I have no heart, and all I care about is drugs.”

I clarify for her that people like me what to see her clean, healthy, and safe.

After an hour long assessment I learned Mary has been using for more than ten years. She doesn’t even remember how old she was when she started, but she does remember the first time she sold her body for a hit of heroin. She tried rehab too many times to count, and currently she is high on the doctor-prescribed methadone mixed with a hit of heroin.

The air is thick with concerns, and I am forced to send her back out on the street with her newborn wondering if she has a warm place to stay tonight. I asked her and she laughed at me and said, “yes where else would I bring this baby?”

She still thinks I want her baby. She doesn’t know I want her disease.

I want Mary to claim war on it. I want her to fight with me. I want her to have the ability to see herself as more then just a drug addict. I want her to see herself not as a prostituting drug whore, but as a loving Mom.

It is clear she is an addict, but it is also clear to me she is a loving Mom as well (the baby is swaddled in a blanket, fed, and she is cooing at him. She bathes him in kisses, and opens her diaper bag for a pacifier). That baby deserves his Mother to fight the war. That baby deserves a better life then getting passed around the drug world, because if he stays he will never get out.

I really don’t want to take her baby.

After a few more meetings and evaluations, Mary refuses my advice to go into family residential treatment. It is the only way for her to keep her newborn son, and for them both to be safe. She isn’t ready for the fight. Her disease is telling her that it is more important then her kids. Her disease is running Mary.

Mary isn’t fighting because she hasn’t “hit bottom” or reclaimed the right to her body, her life, her choices.

By now I am sure you know the outcome, Mary lost her baby to the state. Her 5th child to the system. I was just another Social Worker that had to report it. I was, what she said I was, a baby snatcher. I wish I could explain why, but nothing I said comforted her. She refused treatment, and I, ethically, could not let her continue to take care of her 1 month old on the streets she sells herself and buys drugs on.

You may be reading this and thinking “I’ll never get this low,” “This isn’t me” “my story is different” or “it hasn’t consumed me” “I have control of it”.

Don’t fool yourself, Mary thought all of these things as well.

Addiction is all the same disease.

It will consume you if you don’t choose to consume it. It will make you give it everything. It can push you to do things you never imagined you be willing to do. It will cost you not only years of your life, but your loved ones. It will take all of who you are, and what makes you “YOU”, and give it a slow and painful death.

It is violent, and abusive, and it needs to stop.

As a professional in the field of Addiction I can tell you this: You can not do it alone. You shouldn’t have to do it alone. If you needed surgery to remove tumor, do you take the scalpel and do it yourself? No. It is the same thing my friend, the VERY same thing.

A disease is a disease is a disease.

We (professionals) aren’t here to take your babies. We aren’t here to pass judgment and tell you how bad you are. We didn’t get a degree in this to make fun of you, or to watch you pee in a cup.

We did it to help you fight. We are here to reclaim you.

I am no longer 25 years old, and I may not be in the business of rehab anymore (instead I am a stay at home, blogging Mom). However, Mary, and all the other people I sat with in various rooms at various locations will always be in my heart.

I will always feel like I am a warrior against Addiction.

I will always want to win the war, support addicts and their families. And I am here to tell you….

you are not alone with that monster.

Don’t let the Addiction win.

Reclaim yourself, your life, and what you rightly deserve.

Seek help, and fight the war.

Who Am I?

I am not a “blogger,” even though I have a blog. I am not good at writing.

I have tried. I have written as catharsis. Anything I write eventually ends up used against me. I even used to write poems long ago, but what I got in return for pouring out my heart effectively put a stop to that.

I don’t know where to begin or how to form a coherent compilation of a jumbled life. There is much I will leave unsaid.

I didn’t know where I began and my mother stopped.

I am a child of a mentally ill parent. The woman who gave birth to me, whom I am supposed to call Mother, has schizophrenia. I am sure there are many other diagnosis that could be added to that, but we will keep it simple. As if there is such a thing as simple with schizophrenia.

I could write endlessly about the trauma, dysfunction, neglect, and abuse of my childhood.

The shame. The guilt. The fear. The secrecy.  Being judged from HER illness.” Crazy by association.” As a result, I think I have been depressed and angry my entire life. I never was able to have a “childhood”. The early years are a blurry nightmare. Memories that are locked away by choice and repression. Sometimes I feel like I am made up of nothing but scar tissue. Who am I?  Will I be judged based on her illness forever? How long will I carry her baggage as well as my own?

By some miracle I was given a reprieve. When I was 5 I went to live with an Aunt and Uncle and their two sons.  God only knows what they thought of the feral child they received. Merging into a “normal” household was difficult. For all of us, I’m sure. I was a child who fended for herself and had to adjust to a new way of life. At some point I started to call my Aunt & Uncle, Mom & Dad. My cousins were like brothers. Although I was still reserved and doubtful about the security of love, I loved them.

But then like a piece of property, like a borrowed casserole dish, my “owner” demanded around the time I was 10, that I be returned. Returned to hell.  I remember having an early birthday party with my friends before I left. I didn’t understand. Why would they send me back? What did I do wrong? Why was I being punished? Part of me still doesn’t understand. Even as an adult who has actually been given some of the information that as a child I was not privy to.  Only those that were adults at the time will ever truly know the whys of it all.

I became the caretaker. I felt thrown away. Invisible. Damaged. Unwanted. Unlovable. Once again fending for myself in every way. Any time I made my NEEDS known, I was told I was selfish. Like dinner. How dare I expect dinner. Or school clothes, or to have my laundry done. Or or or… infinity. Any time I tried to speak up to ask questions of my family or tell someone that something wasn’t right or even to break free of the twilight zone I lived in, I was brushed aside and told “we’ll speak with your mother”. Yeah great idea. I was screaming. No one heard me. No one saw me. Or they chose not to. Selective blindness. She was the adult. I was just the child who acted out.

Unheard. Screaming inside. Unheard. Seriously!?!? How could family simply go on living their lives like mine was disposable?

Not ONE person in my family could admit to the secret that was my mother. So I became the problem child. It wasn’t her it was me. It wasn’t HER sick twisted warped behavior, it was somehow MINE. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a functioning parent or that I was subjected to abuse and exposed to things no child should be exposed to. It wasn’t because I was expected to be her caretaker, therapist, mental and physical punching bag and be sucked into her warped reality. No couldn’t possibly be that! According to them, I was a “bad” kid. I was wrong. It was ME. I had problems. I was the cause of the problems. All of the dysfunction was MY fault.

I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me.  It has affected every aspect of my life. When I was a teenager, I finally found out what was wrong with her. Not because I was told, but because I wrote down the names and doses of all her medications and a person in my life was able to tell me what they were for. Needless to say confrontations were served all around. I stopped staying at “home” when I was 16, spending as little time there as possible. Still being labeled the problem child, I moved out completely at 17.

I have gotten therapy ad nauseam. I asked that I be given every psychological test known to man to see was I anything like her. Would I turn out like her? Was there something wrong with me? Despite my many flaws and admitted quirks and dysfunctions, I AM SANE.

So I still may not always know who I am, but I AM NOT HER. Nor will I ever be. I am bitter. And yes I am damaged. But I am ME. Whoever that is.

And for all the people telling me I have to forgive. For the so called family who abandoned me and still to this day judge me, shun me, and blame me, instead of facing the reality of HER illness, I give you a ginormous mushroom print. FUCK YOU.

I am me. Someone you do not know.

A Letter To My Younger Self: It Will Be Okay

I wish I could write like our favorite Aunt Becky, but I can’t. My words will be misspelled, my commas will be out of place, and there will definitely be run on sentences, but I swear like a trucker so somehow I think I will fit right in.

So back story: BAD shit happened to me when I was a kid.

You know, my dad was an alcoholic, show me on the doll where the bad man touched you, which I never told my parents. My sister got pregnant when she was 14 and eventually my Mom could no longer deal with it all so I had to pick up the slack. That kind of bad shit.

There were days when I didn’t know if I would make it. Days that I wasn’t able to deal. I would burn myself or punch a wall just to feel… something. I made it through bruised but not broken.

I just wish I could tell the young girl that dealt with all of that what I know now.

I’ve been talking to a young friend who is going through so much in her life right now. She reminds me so much of my younger self. She, like me, puts up a strong front, but just beneath the surface you can see the hurt and self-doubt. When asked we will both say we are “fine.”

Every time she says it to me, my heart cracks just a little. See I know that when she says, “I’m fine” what she really means is “This hurts like hell! My heart is breaking. Somebody please just take away the pain.” I just want to give her hug and tell her it will all be okay. I won’t, mind you, because that would make me seem weak or soft or whatever my fucked-up mind thinks.

Still, through talking to her, I’ve been thinking, what would I tell my younger self?

So I wrote myself a letter today. Maybe it will help her or some other young girl who needs to know it WILL BE OK.

Dear Tonya,

I know it’s hard right now, but experience brings knowledge, adversity brings strength. None of that makes a damn bit of difference when you’re hurting but faith, faith gives you hope. The hope that there is something greater out there brings a small amount of peace even in the darkest times.

When you find love, it calms. Love doesn’t hurt; it heals, it comforts, it expands. Love gives. It should not take away.

If life seems to be spiraling out of control, find solace in the small things. Family, friends, music, words. These are your armor against all that will stand against you.

Remember that the lessons learned from the mistakes we make and the paths we choose make us who we are. Never regret them. To do so would mean you doubt yourself. Nothing and no one should make you doubt your worth.

Though it’s sometimes easier to forgive others than yourself, YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN.

Be as kind and love yourself as much as you do those others.

Stand tall without being cocky and be proud of who you become.

I know I am.

Tonya

PS. If none of that shit works there is always vodka.