Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Secret I Want to Reveal

This post is going to be sort of an emotional one. I dont talk about this time of my life much, but I have been thinking about it for a couple days and have decided that I will talk about it. Until now it was largely a secret that my mother and immediate family never knew about it. I dont know that I will ever tell mother, it would really hurt her and cause her too much worry.

About 4 years ago I went through some very dark times emotionally. I had suffered from depression for years but things were getting worse. I tried to ignore all the signs but soon I could not ignore them any longer. I was in a lot of pain emotionally. I had lost my best friend about 1 year prior to this and had also went through a very huge breakup with a man I had been with for 13 years. I have never handled the loss of people I care about very well and this was no exception. I did not want to let go of these people. My best friend had died from colon cancer and nothing I did could save her. I hated this kind of helplessness. As for the man--well I didnt want 13 years to be wasted out of my life. And that is how I looked at it at the time. I mean I had done everything but walk through fire for this man. To me it appeared that I had failed in some way. I wasnt good enough or something. He left for work one day and never came back. He moved in with another woman he had been having an affair with. One of many affairs I might add. I had overlooked so many of them before.
I started dating again after about a year. I was very happy but still uncertain about the relationship. My self-esteem was low--even though I looked better than I had looked in years. After about 2 years this relationship got rocky.

And that is when things started going dark for me.

I couldnt lose someone again. I would do anything to keep this person in my life. It was Jeff. I knew that I would eventually lose his love or I would stop loving him. Either way--it would go down as yet another failed relationship.

As the hole in my heart got bigger, the desperation got worse. I partied with him, I spent money, I called into work to keep up with him. There was never enough attention and the pain I was going through got worse. Everything I had experienced in the way of loss came to a head.
I lost my job and my house before I started to get better.

But before I lost everything, I already knew it was gone. So I started doing something that I didnt understand then and I dont understand now. But for some bizarre reason, it made my pain go away if just for a little while. It got me the attention I craved. For a little while.

I self mutilated. If you never heard of it I will explain. It is hurting yourself, not enough to kill you, just enough to bleed or scar. I would cut or burn myself. It is hard to talk about. I landed in the psychiatrists office countless times. I went to out-patient treatment. I took a lot of anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications. LOTS of therapy later I started to get better.

This lasted about a year for me. I am thankful that I no longer do this and it has been about a year since I thought about doing it and about 2 years since I actually did it.

I had to realize that this act was not going to make things better. I also had to realize that I was a strong person and I had let myself turn into a weak, clingy, pathetic person that no one really wanted to be around. Hell, I didnt even want to be around me. Who wants to be around someone constantly crying and whining and hurting themselves?

It was a long battle. I still get depressed and sometimes my days are dark. But today I am happier. I take less medication, just anti-depressants now. But I know I can go back there if I am not careful.

It is all about choices and keeping my ability to say no to things I dont want to go on in my life. I also have to keep things as orderly as possible. I have a pretty strict routine. One is to make sure all my bills are paid and I get plenty of sleep. I try to take care of my health. I also believe that I am not a failure just because there is not a man in my life or Im not making tons of money.

Although my relationship with Jeff is changed very dramatically, he is not gone. We are friends and that is all we need to be. I am happy with that. Most likely that is all we should have ever been.

I have known other people who self-mutilated before I ever contemplated doing it myself. I always saw it as an attention seeking thing. I think for the most part that is exactly what it is. But I also thought that it represented control for me. If I could hurt myself enough, no one could hurt me more. I could control that. But it is really such a lie.

Anyway, I wanted to share this. I also wanted the opportunity to be thankful that I am better and I am not going through that terrible dark time anymore. I never want to go back there.


Linda said...

Oh Lynn, I am so sorry that you had to go through all of that. Feeling unworthy is the absolute worst feeling. My first husband and I divorced after 13 years and 3 kids. I left him because he had been having affairs from day one. I stayed all those years hoping and praying that he would change, and of course he wasn't going to.
Being the emotional wreck that I was after he was gone, I had the brilliancy to have an affair with a married man that lasted over a year.I developed anorexia, and hid bottles of liquor under my bed so that the kids wouldn't know that I was drinking. My mom moved away (which was actually a blessing) and one month later my dad died (not only did my mom leave town, she left my father)Of course I had to break off the relationship with married dude because it wasn't enough (duh!) and I had to pick up my tired, sad ass and be OK for my kids. Mostly I read self help books intended for women, one of my favorite being "women who love too much", because really that was the problem. I was willing to sacrifice my own well being for the love of a man. FUCK THAT!!! I had to learn that if love doesn't come easy, it's not worth it. It should be the most joyous thing in our loves, and we can certainly love ourselves enough. There is a poem that I read over and over and over until it was so firmly ingrained in my brain, I'll share it in the hopes that you find the same belief and comfort:

After a while, you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaving and company doesn't mean security
You begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And you learn to build all of your roads on today
Because tomorrows ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of
in mid-flight
After a while, you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong,
That you really do have worth.
And you learn, and you learn, with every goodbye, you learn.

Lynnbug said...

That is a great poem! I love that--And I so agree with everything you are saying. I hate that I have let my own well being go for a man. It doesnt work--ever and it can destroy us. Thank you for sharing yourself with me. ;)