Figuring it out, and why I wish I never did

They say that knowledge is power.  But I tend to think that ignorance is bliss.  Not knowing that you don’t know is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes knowing the truth brings pain…. I don’t always think that knowledge is power.

I had a good holiday, for all the right reasons.  I enjoyed time with family and friends.  I got to spend the days with my daughter and the hubs, and togetherness is truly what Christmas is about, for me.

But… in one fell swoop, I was suddenly reminded why I have a sincere disdain for the season.  I don’t want to share all of it, but it was related to the sexual abuse I endured for years as a child.  Suffice it to say that I really had no memory of the awfulness until Saturday night.  And it all came back to me.  With one swift movement, I went from trying to enjoy the day to really being consumed by the memories of one of the worst atrocities I’ve ever lived through.  It hurt.  I hurt.  I still hurt.  I cried and cried and cried.

I went on, through the weekend.  I mostly slept.  Besides still being on the recovering end of bronchitis (which is, in itself, exhausting), I just felt like sleep was the better choice.  I was tired. But I tried to be amicable.  Cheery was probably more than I could manage, but pleasant was as far as I could make it.

Xanax has helped control the mood swings.  Thankfully.  But unless there is a pill that makes you forget things, I sort of have to soldier through it, for now.

I fall between anger and sadness and guilt and self-loathing and disappointment and emptiness.

In a hole_Courtesy of Amy Holsinger

This is what I feel like.

For any of you who have faced depression and anxiety,you know what an oppressive companion it can be in your life.  I’m trying not to listen to the terrible things that are playing in my head.  But coming to terms with the terrible things that others have done to you can be a challenge.  I get the whole “forgiveness” thing.  Truth-be-told, I don’t want to.  Forgiveness is defined as releasing someone from retribution or debt; concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake.

Here’s the thing: I won’t ever stop demanding retribution.  I won’t ever release him from it.  I won’t ever conclude resentment.  I won’t, and I will not.  I know all about the bullshit, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”  Nope.  Forgiveness is also something you give to someone who deserves it.  And he doesn’t.

And I’m angry about it.  Still.  Knowledge isn’t always power.  I was fine in the blissful ignorance that I kept company with.  As far as I was concerned, I just didn’t like the holiday.  It was fine with me.  But now I know.  I wish I didn’t.  Knowledge isn’t always power.

“They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting.”

P.S.  My apologies to my readers.  How much does it suck to read this boo-hoo sad story?  I’ll get back to semi-normal soon.  I promise.

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I’m just not that into you

I’ve been having a pretty good week. Riding this wave of contentment has felt great. I haven’t been looking for reasons to be dumpy, and when some reasons have presented themselves, I’ve dismissed them and moved on. I’m not sticking my head in the sand, I’m just comfortable with not letting anxiety and depression take hold of me. It’s been great.

But it’s funny how it can sneak in a back door, when you least expect it.

So there I was, minding my own business, working on a Christmas present for my dad (I’m giving him a framed family portrait of our whole family – but having to Photoshop some people into it, which is somewhat time-consuming). I was browsing through old photos so I could find the people I need and I stumble on an old portrait session of myself with my mother. And I was thinner. And pretty. Wow… I was so pretty.

Now, two things happened:

  1. There is a really great picture of me with her, but I didn’t want her in the photograph with me. At all. Like….not.even.a.little. So I pulled it up and removed her, digitally. Which kind of messed with me.
  2. Spending that much time on a picture causes you to actually *look* at it for a while. And the whole time I’m looking at my face thinking, “You were perfect back then. Look at your face shape and your eyes and your lips. You were stunning.” Were. Was. And then….that messed with me.

And so the pain took hold. And for a while I was stuck with it. I was remembering how painful that visit from my mother was. I was remembering the emotional turmoil I was in. And then….I was remembering how it felt to feel pretty and desirable. To be fair, that picture was taken only 15 lbs from where I’m at now. But those 15 lbs might as well have been 150 lbs last night.

I remembered the mistakes I made that led me to disordered eating. I remembered the damage I caused my body. I remembered the damage I caused my soul. I started recounting all my mistakes. Friends I lied to, horrible things I said to myself….the selfish way I neglected my husband and child. I knew, in my head, that the girl in that photo wasn’t better than me. Actually…she was way worse off than I am. But she was me. And I am her. Last night, I just couldn’t escape that.

I went to bed and had very restless sleep. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I had a nightmare. Among other, very personal things that happened in the dream, there was an ugly little tar-covered demon chasing me. I kept trying to get away from it, but it was always right there, just reaching out to get me. It was scary. And sad. I woke up screaming and terrified.

I was awake for a while after that. And thought a lot of about what that dream meant. And it occurred to me: that demon was *inside* that girl in the picture. But not in me now. Sure, I have to be vigilant against it. If I let my guard down, it’s too easy to slip into bad habits. But that thing isn’t in me now. And it’s clear that I don’t want it.

I did fall back asleep, finally. And woke up this morning feeling a little relieved. Although it was scary, my subconscious was reminding me that I’m not in that place anymore. I’m just not that into you, Bulimia.

And then, I was reminded that I was beautiful, and real. And human.

It’s probably a break through for me. I was able to feel the pain, and move on without it. That’s a big deal in these parts of the world. It feels good to be able to move past it. Yay for me.

The battle resumes

I’m back to the battle. It’s been a tough several days in my part of the world. But in the last week or so, I’ve made some pretty big decisions.

Part of the reason I have been struggling so much is the sheer unrelenting stress that I’ve been under at work. I’m a sticker-outer. I’ll wait, in a holding pattern, for a very long time when I’m unsure about something. Although I tend to be spontaneous with little choices (like, jeans or slacks today?), when it comes to the bg stuff, I’ll wait it out. Often times, I wait too long.

In the case of work, I allowed myself to wait too long. And last week, on my little break from work (6 glorious days off!), I made the decision to start looking for a new job. It wasn’t/isn’t to make that choice, but I had decided that I’ll never get better when things aren’t improving. All I’m doing is masking symptoms with the meds. And… I don’t want to be on meds forever.

Mediocrity has become the acceptable form of performance at my office. That isn’t something I handle well. I’m not tolerant of people who choose not to put forth their best efforts. Every now and then? Sure… we all have days when we decide that we can’t focus on things too long. But all the time…every day, this is how it is. I can’t handle it anymore. Their shortcomings become my responsibility. And I literally can’t take on any more.

So… there we are. I re-did my resume. I started job searching. I’ve sent out a few. No responses, yet.

There is a little bit of fear in that. I’m pretty fragile, right now. I’m putting on a very tough face for the world, but I’m breaking underneath. Hopelessness… it’s the worst. And when you’re putting yourself out there to be judged, personally and professionally, it is a little scary. So… I’ve been really struggling, inside.

I’m afraid of many things. Truthfully – they’re all the unlikely things. I’m afraid of falling down stairs. I’m afraid of zombies. I’m afraid of boogeymen under my bed. Turns out, I’m also afraid of failure. Which I realize is a very real thing for most people.

We make choices based on pleasure and pain. But pain is always the stronger motivator. And for too long, I’ve tried to justify the work ethic in the company I’m with. But now, the pain has become too much and I’d rather face judgement and failure from prospective employers than the misery at the office.

I’m praying, hard, every day. God… show me the way out. Give me strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Give me grace. He’s listening; I’m sure of it. And He’s sending me angels, and support, everyday.

It’s a slow process.

If you’ve been in this situation, you’ll understand that.
But know that you’re not alone. And be careful of allowing yourself to isolate. You may think that people are tired of hearing about it. You may feel like you’re a burden. You may even be tired of talking about it. That’s okay. First – the people who love you will never tire of helping you. Second – the definition of burden is “a heavy load”. It is heavy to *you*, but they have the strength to help you carry it for a while. And third – you don’t have to talk about it to talk. Just be sure you’re talking. Silence has a tendency to fill up with the very worst things.

If you haven’t ever dealt with depression or any other mental illness… maybe this will help:
There are good days, and there bad days. Everyone has those. But my bad days seem worse. And personal. Like, something goes wrong and it’s like everything in my body is screaming at me what an idiot I am. And then, because I’m already feeling like crap, every little thing that happens reinforces what a terrible human being I am. The ability to “let it go” and recover is hard.
If you’re watching someone go through it, be patient. Support them. Remind them that they are a wonderful person, even if they don’t feel that way. Ask how you can help. They may not know the answer, but it’ll mean everything that you asked. Take it one day at a time, and remind them to do the same.

The goal isn’t to only have good days. The goal is to have less bad days and more good days. The goal is to be able to identify when you’re overwhelmed and handle it in appropriate ways. The goal is to be able to recover.

You may have to make changes in your life to allow that to happen. You’ll do this when you’re ready. And when you’re ready, trust me, you’ll know. Until then… be patient with yourself.

My BFF said to me, “It’s okay to lose a battle or two. It’s fine. Don’t lose the war. Keep fighting.”

I will. I am. This war has only one victor – and that’s this girl. And you can quote me on that.