This shell of mine is cracking.
I try to hide it under duct tape
But that’s no longer working.
I can’t take another setback,
I think I have suffered enough.
I deserve to be happy
To be loved
To be surrounded by people who cheer me on
Not tear me down.
Yet life does not agree with me.
It says that I don’t matter
Unless someone needs something:
A detective/private investigator
A human punching bag.
Life says that I am not good enough.
That I will never be anything more than what I am.
That I am beating my head into a brick wall.
That I should wake up and see that the shitty life I live–
Is all I’m worth.
Life says that my lot in life is to be alone
To watch others have all the fun, joy peace, happiness.
To hide away from the world–ignored and unaccepted.
Sadly, I’ve grown tired of fighting life.
My head is pretty battered from the beating it has taken.
I have chosen to give up,
To silently and quickly murder my dreams
And play alone with the dark shadows of my mind.
I come from a large blended family.
I have six siblings- four brothers and two sisters. I’m especially close to two brothers.
November 19, 2017 will always be the hardest day of my entire life. You see, early that morning, I got a text from my mom asking me to call her; it was very important. I called her immediately, expecting that my grandfather, who is already in terrible shape, had fallen again or had another stroke.
When I called, the first words out of my mouth were, “Is it Pappaw?”
It wasn’t. It was Eli, my youngest brother, just 25.
He had committed suicide in the middle of the night.
I screamed for hours it seemed. I couldn’t stop screaming.
My baby brother, and one of my biggest supporters, had chosen to end his life with no signs of depression or struggle beforehand. I cried myself into one of the worst migraines of my life.
I was in the ER that evening seeking treatment.
As if that earth-shattering day wasn’t enough, the next day was just as bad.
My dad, 66 years old, had gone to the ER complaining of back pain and unable to walk. I mean, his legs wouldn’t support him or move, not that it hurt to walk. After scans and exams, we found out that he had stage four cancer. His bones were riddled with cancer.
He went straight from the ER to radiation.
Now, this is a double whammy. Not only am I reeling and numb from Eli’s loss, but now I have to hold myself together to support Dad. He’d always been my greatest supporter, it was my turn to help him.
I immediately began packing bags to go to his side. After a cluster of idiotic errors and misjudgments by the doctors, he was finally given an accurate diagnosis regarding the type of cancer and I stayed with him as much as I could during the next two months.
Dad died January 30, 2018.
Since losing these men that helped shape who I am, I’m barely breathing some days.
There are times when it all seems like a nightmare. There are times when I’m drowning in tears. I’ll never be the same. I don’t know how to live in a world without them. As crazy as it sounds, I’m reluctant to seek grief counseling. I’m worried I’ll hurt more if I’m forced to talk about it. I am on an antidepressant that takes the edge off this utter depression.
I distract myself with movies and books to get through the day.
I read a book the other day about a soldier’s account of his time in Iraq. It told of his missions and what he saw and what went through his mind while he was overseas. It was interesting, it was scary, it was so sad. It gave me an inside look, a first-hand account of what my husband went through in the year he was gone. It made me wonder. How would my book read, my first hand account of being a mom on the homefront, holding down the fort? Maybe it would be an interesting read, maybe it would flop. I really couldn’t tell you, but I figured I would try.
I believe Dan got word that he was on alert in February of 2004. That was a scary day, we spent the day at families houses telling them the news. I held it together, mostly, I was really okay until his sister asked me “How are you holding up?” I lost it! I cried because I was mad, I was hurt, I couldn’t believe it. But we still didn’t know when he could leave, it could be tomorrow, next week or next month, we just did not know and that was probably the scariest part. Would I have time to tell him goodbye. Would the kids understand what was happening? What was I going to do? I spent a lot of time crying, always in private, sometimes to friends, but mostly into my pillow. I had to stay strong, I had to make everyone think I was going to be OK, when really I wasn’t sure. I mean, how could I be?
We never really talked about him not coming home, but it was always on my mind. I didn’t think I could handle that, being a widow at 24!
I tried not to think about it, but it was always there… just under the surface.
Finally word came.
The official orders, I am sure I still have them saved on my computer somewhere, along with every email and IM conversation we had while he was gone. He was going to leave on Veteran’s Day 2004. Kinda fitting right? We prepared as best as we could. And bright and early on November 11th we headed out to the unit to tell our soldier, my husband, my kids father, goodbye – perhaps for the last time. All of our best friends and our families were there. It was a tense atmosphere, so much crying from everyone around, talking, laughing, and just a lot of quiet thinking.
Finally the time came for the soldiers to line up and get on the buses that would take them to the airport. There were hugs, and kisses and more tears. Then we all got into our cars and headed to the airport to watch them board the plane.
It was so very cold out. But I don’t remember being cold. We all gathered at the fence at the air strip. Dan was on every single news station. One of my favorite moments, I have on tape somewhere, Dan leans through the fence and kissed Nick goodbye. The whole QC got to see that. That was right after Nick proclaimed that Daddy had to take Blankie with him so he would not be scared, which brought tears to everyone around. Instead we tore a piece of Blankie off and Dan put it in his breast pocket, where it stayed until he came home. We said some more goodbyes and tried to hug through a fence, which was incredibly awkward by the way. Then they had to board the plane. We stood and waved, all of us until the door closed. I was still not ready to say goodbye so I didn’t get back in the car, I stood on a small hill and just watched, soon I was flanked on either side by my mother and my mother in law. That too was caught on video and aired on local television. And we waved, somewhere there’s pictures of us waving until the plane looks like just a speck of dust that is on a photograph. I don’t remember much after that. I don’t remember driving home. I don’t remember going to sleep that night. I probably cried. I don’t remember but that’s probably a good thing.
I remember waiting, a lot of waiting.
Waiting for mail, waiting for phone calls, waiting for the computer to beep that he was online and of course waiting for the call saying he was coming home.
But those are all stories for another day.
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.
I have had so much on my mind lately.
So many things make me question my worthiness. I don’t even know. I don’t even know what I want to say. Usually I pull out my journal and just write until my hand cramps. Everything that comes from my head through my fingers. Usually it doesn’t make sense. But I need to get it out.
So that is where I am today.
First. I have missed the Band so much. I am so grateful it is back together again!
I was fired last year from a job I HATED! but loved at the same time. I was a teacher in a 2-year old classroom. I loved my kids. Even on the worst days they made me smile.
People left, got new jobs. People were hired that didn’t like the way my classroom ran. They didn’t have the heart for 2-year olds. They accused me of some shady shit and state got involved. It was bad. I cried every day for a few months. I was terrified!
I mean, this is what I know I was put on this planet to do!
And it was taken away from me and ruined by some 18-year old snot nosed little bitch who didn’t want to work where she was told. I could go into a rant about entitlement here but that would be another post for another day. Ultimately she made up things that just weren’t true.
And to deal with it, I was fired. I was HEARTBROKEN! I was losing my kids. I couldn’t tell them why. I couldn’t tell the parents why. It was absolute bullshit! I was so hurt and angry. These people I worked with I thought were some of my best friends!
Guess what? I’ve talked to them maybe 5 times in the last year. They don’t care; I didn’t matter.
That is when I get into my head. See, I have heard my whole life that I don’t matter. That I am not good enough. That I am ugly and clumsy and not proportioned right – and too skinny, and too fat.
I was told I was stupid.
I believe all of these things to be true.
If the people in my life who are supposed to love me the most say these things to me as a child, they have to be true.
I don’t have relationships. I have people around me who I know I am not good enough for. I was just starting to actually build some self-confidence, believing that I was worthy of a friend.
Once again, I was told I am a terrible human; I don’t deserve friends, don’t deserve to do what I love.
I really thought my ‘friends’ wouldn’t disappear. I thought I might actually matter enough. And reality, once again, slapped me in the face.
It made me realize that I don’t have a single true friend. Someone I know I can call any time of the day and talk or cry or not talk or laugh.
I constantly feel like a burden. I don’t have a relationship with my own sister. Sure, I love her, I want to be her friend, but I am not even worthy of that. I feel so incredibly alone….. Even surrounded by people.
I know if I weren’t there, no one would notice. Or they’d be talking crap about me.
I have a new job now that I absolutely love and I work with some great people. But my walls are even higher than ever now: I can’t let anyone in. I can’t be devastated like that any more. It’s crushed me.
It’s happened more times in my life than I can count.
And here I am, rambling again.
I even suck at writing. I just wish I had a person. Someone who really cared. Someone I could give all my secrets too. Even the ones I am not so proud of. The ones that make me terrified.
I just want to feel worthy of someone.
To know that I matter.
I’ve been debating joining Band Back Together since the day it opened. I was leery, because good goodness do I have a lot to say. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. And hard to let yourself. Some things are hard to pull out of the box under the bed. It’s not easy to give them attention or light, even if sometimes that is necessary.
So I’m here. And fuck it all. I’m healing. I’m better. I’m stable and mostly happy. I got shit to say.
My mom once showed me a song by Lucinda Williams called Sweet Side. She said it reminded her of me. Which is sort of bullshit. I’ve been pretty emotionally fucked up but never quite to that extent. In any case, I found it sort of ironic that my mom should point it out to me. She mistakenly believes my internal wounds were created when I was molested.
They were her made by her alone. I’m honestly not affected by the molestation. I have been, but that pain has long since been banished.
The worst damage is the quietest.
It is the person who should love you unconditionally repeatedly telling you, “I love you, but….” It is being thrown out into the streets at the age of thirteen. It is being told you are insane; a bitch, violent, angry, a failure, unstable, and worthless in words and actions for most of your life. It is trying, with EVERY OUNCE OF LOVE in your child’s body, to gain the affection of your mother by any means necessary. Then, when that fails, to gain -attention- by any means necessary.
And when that fails, shutting off to the world.
It’s being sent away, over and over as a child, on the word’s “I can’t deal with you any more, you are going to your (Aunt’s/Dad’s/Grandma’s) house.”
It’s your insane family hosting an intervention.
To tell you to lock yourself in an insane asylum. For the horrific sin of being angry. When the forty-year old virgin who still hides in her mother’s attic, the woman who had seven kids (five outside of her marriage) lied about the whole thing, watched her husband beat and molest her children and ignored it willfully, and the former heroin addict tell you that you need help, something has gone terribly wrong.
Having one of the most insane stick up for you at the least expected moment. Finding shelter in his rage. Seeing the correlation. Black sheep meet black lamb. Those surreal moments that buffer you from the storm.
It’s moving in with your step-dad when your parents separate. Because he’s the better parent.
It’s being kicked out of your bedroom and moved into the corner of the living room, so your mother’s boyfriend can have an office. Or moving into the spider-infested, insulation-free shed outside. Because they are tired of you inside. Or a 3AM, walk outside to get to the restroom, because you aren’t welcome to live IN the house with the good people.
And finding the front door locked.
It’s a birthday party alone, while your family went on vacation (again) to New Orleans without you. During Mardi Gras. It’s a sweet sixteen where they haul in a musty old pull-behind trailer and tell you, “Happy Birthday, now GTFO” and you find yourself with a ‘birthday’ basket of cleaning supplies and a rank, disgusting trailer parked in the back yard. Your new home. Have a paper umbrella, it’ll make it right.
It’s making the (sane) decision to not speak to your mother, ever again, at seventeen. And being talked out of it. Stupidly.
It’s having the power cord leading to that same trailer be pulled repeatedly in the middle of the night by your mother’s boyfriend. Leading to HOLY FUCK IT’S COLD IN HERE. Leading to ‘Stop lying! He didn’t do it!’
It’s trusting, against your better judgment, to go home when your life collapses and you are sick and losing your mind. And finding yourself taken advantage of, and then thrown out. Again.
Of trying to get your life back together, only to have your money depleted entirely. Of going back to school only to discover that every day seems to result in another, “I TOLD you I couldn’t watch the kids, I have an appointment”
Of visiting a friend in California to get away from the building stress and anxiety, to find yourself homeless and stranded and papers being filed in your absence claiming you abandoned your children. Of having to explain to your children that you didn’t. And that you meant it when you said you’d be gone a week.
Of living in a shitty motel in the middle of the Mojave desert, subsisting on ten dollars a week in food to make it back to get your kids. In waiting a year to see them again because of your mother’s treachery.
Of gearing up for an epic court battle only to have her mysteriously drop them off with ‘a secret, don’t tell your mother’ and have your beautiful, sensitive daughter burst into tears because the pressure is too much. In hearing her, through her sobbing, explain that she’s afraid Grandma would be back to take them again in a month, because that’s what she said.
Holidays are bullshit. They remind me of the family I don’t have.
They remind me of going to Thanksgiving to drop off my kids to spend time with their Uncle, and be entirely ignored by my family. They remind me of being asked how much a vacuum was at Home Depot without a ‘hello’ or a ‘Merry Christmas’ preceding it and without even so much as a ‘have a nice day’ on leaving.
I spent the last two years with just my partner during the holidays. It’s been years since I so much as got a birthday card or a Christmas card. I don’t expect them, and I don’t need them. But I kind of wish I got them. It felt odd. It still feels odd.
This year, I’m going to cook a turkey, we will all will sit down to it and be thankful for what we have. And I will continue to love my children fiercely every day, no matter how angry and hurt they are inside. No matter how long their own healing process takes. No matter what silly, childish things they do. Even if they break something I love, or snark at each other in a hormonal rage, no matter if they make horrible decisions or great ones. I’m going to be there and love them.
The fact is, that no matter how much she’s done to me, no matter how much she has injured my heart, no matter how many times she’s screwed my life through her manipulations, I love her. She’s my mother; I can’t help it. I miss the love a mother is supposed to provide. I miss the safe haven. I miss the support system.
I miss the person you call when you are at your wit’s end and need advice. I have nothing like that. I’m it. I’m my own self-contained support. If a kid does something baffling, I’m on my own. If I’m drying out the turkey, I’m on my own.
I haven’t spoken to my extended family in years. I haven’t spent more than five minutes in conversation with my mother for two. My life has NEVER been better. It’s stable, I’m back in school. My kids are healing, slowly and painfully, but they are healing. We have our finances in order and our life is generally upwardly mobile. But still…
I want a mother so desperately it hurts.
And I can’t make that feeling go away, no matter how much I want to.