If you haven’t been through some sort of trauma or loss it might be hard to imagine what it’s like to be triggered and instantly flashback to that time and place where the pain is at. It cuts deep, right to the core. You lose all sense of reality and are in your own horror story. That’s what it’s like to live with triggers when you have PTSD. Often times the trigger is small and insignificant but other times they are a roar. It’s especially difficult when it comes from another person, one you love. Yesterday was one of those days.
My grandmother probably had no intention of triggering me. She is 92 years old and can’t help it. She’s looking through life with different goggles on. While she’s been through her own struggles and trauma she’s not gone through mine. No one really knows what it’s like to deal with grief, loss and trauma. Each pain is unique and each person just as different at the next.
I love my grandmother with all my heart. I haven’t always made attempts to see her. My mental illness has gotten in my way so many times and my relationships have severely been impacted. In my mind, I have believed I didn’t deserve love. So of course I shut away anyone who tried to love me. Isolation is a game that depression plays on you. You will never win no matter what kind of hand you have. You can have a hand of all aces and still lose in the end.
I have made attempts to be in her life. I get the sense that no matter what certain people in my life will always only see me as who I use to be. They talk to me about moving on from the past but they’re not including themselves and how they see me. It’s taken me 42 years and all my adult life to get to this point where I’m finally embracing the real me. I’m finally healing from all those old wounds. Moving on from the past isn’t something that can be forced, nor is there a time table that others expect you to move forward. When you endure decades of living in the past it’s a tough task to overcome. For me, it took being miserable long enough to start fighting back.
I’m the strongest I have ever been that means dealing with a lot of past trauma. The deepest darkest sorrows. Darkness as pitch black as a night without stars or a moon. The only thing that remains is the pain and rejection. You’ve ripped off the bandaid and you must experience it for the first time in your new healthy state. It hurts like hell and shakes you to the core. I don’t have the luxury of hiding anymore though I try with all my might to do so. No amount of Pepsi or junk food will drown out these tearful cries for help. I must endure them if I’m to move on.
Yesterday was one of those days. I was so happy to get a call from my grandmother, asking me to lunch. She was a comfortable stranger and I was so content to see her again. I have missed so much time with her and others, and now time is ticking against me but the sad reality is you can’t force things. You can try all you want but sometimes people can’t move past from your past deeds. Maybe they think it’s just a rouse.
My grandmother knows what my father did to me and for a time she tried to push a relationship onto me. The typical well he’s your father and you must respect him. Then after years of that she stopped. I thought finally she realized the seriousness of what he did to me. Finally she believed me and validated the pain. For many years she didn’t say a word about it. She would occasionally mention him but it wasn’t anything about me. I would just nod and agree, waiting for the next topic to talk about. I got good at changing the subject.
I’m sure her aging has caused her to go back to the old ways. I’m also sure that she’s had a change of heart due to her own ticking clock. She just wants to see her son and grandchild finally get along. I want that same relationship but it will never happen, at least not in the way I need it too. You can’t make someone love you. I learned that a long time ago. Since my Mom died I have had moments of my own changes of heart but those quickly faded at the realization that nothing has changed with him. He’s still the same person who hurt me so many years ago. He’s still just as fanatical with God.
If I’m to ever make a go at life I have to keep our worlds separate. I use to hate him. That almost destroyed me. I no longer hate anyone who caused great harm to me. People that were suppose to love and protect me but didn’t. I use to take the blame but it never was my fault. While I’m awake now that doesn’t mean that I’m gullible. I’m strong enough to realize that I’m the one that’s changed.
I use to think I was deserving of his pain and rejection. That was my purpose in life. Deep inside I was unlovable. That was the biggest lie of them all and I no longer believe that. He’s not worthy of my tears, nor my happiness and joy. I have earned this peace of mind. I have wasted so much time in pain and suffering, that I refuse to put it at risk. This is my time, my life. I can do whatever I want to. I have spent enough time in my shoes that I know what works and what doesn’t. People might have the best intentions of giving you input and advice as to how you should lead your life but usually it has nothing to do with them. I find it interesting that people who have made NO attempt in helping you heal show up at the end with all their opinions about your life. Those who act like they are concerned for you but are just really judging you.
If people really were concerned for you they would take action with you personally. They would help you find a therapist, maybe even offer to take you. Instead they talk about you to others who know you. All the shoulds and shouldn’ts. The woulda, coulda and shoulda.
I got to this point today, all on my own. I had no one to talk to, other than my therapist. I had no numbers to call in the middle of the night when I felt like I was doing. I did it by myself. I use to think that as a weakness but now I realize it’s strength. I’m the strongest person there is, well one of them.
Many hurtful words were transmitted yesterday and unfortunately some seeped in but not enough to stop the progress I’m making. My heart is guarded now by a secret garden. Now that doesn’t mean that I’m not suffering today because I am but I now realize that this pain will pass. I just must endure it, let the poison run out of my wounds. That is the only way to heal. You can’t stuff the wound expecting it to heal, it will only become infected with disease. So when you finally unearth that wound you must clean it and leave it open to heal. That’s when the real hard work begins.
I’m not going to lie, there is a part of me that wants to do but it’s faint and I’m stronger. So much stronger. I must let go of the need for validation of my pain from other people, especially the ones closet to me. It will never happen. That was clear to me yesterday. As I sit across from her I started to float away as she continued to lecture me on respecting my father and letting go of the past. I had checked out but I was still feeling the pain seep out. I tried to justify the pain with examples and it wasn’t good enough to warrant not having a relationship with him. Well that was wrong but that was the past. She even acknowledged that he hadn’t changed. That his views were just as radical as before. I couldn’t understand why she was doing this. I even told her that wasn’t why I wanted to see her. Finally after she started to see that I was upset and stopped. She apologized a couple of times but the wound was sliced open. She dropped me off, at my new place, and I was left stunned and unsure what happened.
All my life I have had people tell me to move on from the past. Which usually meant keeping my mouth shut and pretending like nothing happened. When you silence a violent act you silence the victim. I won’t be silenced anymore.
I tried to defend myself, falling into my old patterns. I knew that certain people judged me for being so open about my struggles both on my blog and on Facebook. I’m empathic enough to feel things deeply. The silence says everything. I told her the things he said like I was going to die of AIDS and be alone in the hospital. It didn’t matter. Her need to fix things were a priority over my pain and suffering. I don’t blame her. Nor am I upset with her. I’m hurt, deeply but I will be okay. I know who I am finally and working on myself. I don’t need to be fixed. I just need to heal, allowed to flourish into the beautiful flower that I am inside.
I finally know my impact, even though my grandmother doesn’t. She made it clear how my Aunts felt about my airing my dirty laundry in a public forum. She even said they didn’t approve of me talking about my father either. I tried to convince her that people did find me inspirational and she stopped me, saying that no they didn’t. It was like she was yelling at me. It shook me to the core. She might not see my impact but I do. I understand that my message isn’t for everyone. There are those who will judge me and that’s their right. There are many out there who need to hear my voice. I hope that I’m their lighthouse leading them to shore like so many were for me, like my nieces and nephew. I know what it’s like to feel so alone and no one should have to endure this but they do.
Our pain, trauma and experiences aren’t dirty. Keeping the bottled up is what makes them dirty. There are others who will try with all their might to keep your pandora’s box closed. Don’t let them. Fight with all your might. Speak your truth no matter how loud the no’s are. Your voice is one of the greatest parts about you. The shame of others is not yours to take on. We don’t owe anyone anything.
So I’m going to live life the way I want to. It’s my choice to have a relationship with my father and I chose not to be apart of his toxicity. I love myself too much to endure the pain any longer. I will endure this pain one last time and then I will move on. Which means that I will have to suffer through this week. I will have to fight the needs to overeat. To numb out the pain. It’s already started and I’m struggling to fight but I am. I just have to get through these few days. I realize now that the storm always pass. I no longer will be swept under by other people’s floods. So while I might be eating junk food and drinking Pepsi like crazy I know that tomorrow is another day and I will get back on track. This trigger is just temporary. I will suffer for only a short time and I will push through. I don’t want to leave my apartment today but I’m going to anyways. I don’t want to brush my teeth but I will. I didn’t want to put the meat I bought last week in the freezer but I did. I didn’t want to write this post but I did. I didn’t want to call my grandmother today but I did.
I’ve learned that recovery is about pushing myself out of the discomfort. Do the things my mind tells me not to. Depression is a liar. While the diagnose and disease is real but I refuse to let it hold me down any longer. I will use my struggles and pain to help others. To spread awarenesses about the things that matter to me most like mental health and the homeless. Those with mental illness are some of the strongest people out there and so much stronger than those who try to deny it’s existence. If you beat homelessness you are the definition of strength. Those in my family couldn’t bear an ounce of that struggle. They live in luxurious, glass houses and have never had to endure the pain and struggles that I have. I use to want to be in their houses but I now realize it’s just a mirage. So I’m going to make my own home and fill it with the people who love and accept me for who I am. If you can’t handle me when I struggle, then you don’t get to experience me when I shine. Sure you can get a ticket but you will only be afford for the nose bleed seats.