Dysfunction Breeds Dysfunction

Different Roads, Same Destination:

The Devastation of Losing My Daughter

My mother suffered from bipolar disorder that for many years went untreated or under-treated.  It wasn’t until the day that my mother drove to my father’s workplace and shot him that the full scope of her mental illness was revealed to the world around her.  Behind closed doors, however, the fact that something was seriously wrong was abundantly clear.  I grew up enduring physical, mental and emotional abuse at her hands.  When faced with sexual abuse,  I turned to her for help only to be made to feel I was at fault.  As an adult, I have tried multiple times to build a relationship with her.  I have a desperate need to have some semblance of family, some roots.  Time and time again, however, I have seen warning signs that have made me pull away. Sudden harsh mood swings into anger or tears made me fearful that her medications were unbalanced.  Old dysfunctional and unhealthy behavior patterns gave me concern that she was not receiving the help she needed.  Eventually, I cut all ties and my mother and I became estranged.  I had not spoken to her in over a couple years when I received the call that she had died.

While on some level, I have since come to accept that her abuse was in many ways a product of her mental illness, subconsciously I have vowed to never be like her.  Without reason or common sense, I systematically structured my life around doing the exact opposite of everything she had done.  Where she was bigoted and judgmental, I was open-minded and accepting.  Where she was a hypochondriac with a long list of doctors, I tried to deal with ailments on my own and avoided doctors at all costs.  I focused on every aspect of her life with the fear that, in being like her, I might become her.

Perhaps my biggest goal in life was to be a better mother to my children than she was to me.  Where my mother was harshly critical, I was determined to be encouraging and supportive.  Where my mother would yell, scream and lash out in anger, I tried to be calm and reasonably discuss things.  Where I was reminded often that I was unloved and unwanted, I made a point of telling my children as often as possible how much I loved them, was proud of them and was blessed to have them in my life.

I honestly never planned on being a mom.  I had no idea how to even be one.  My children were all products of different birth control failures and are truly the biggest, though completely unexpected, blessings of my life.  Above all else in my life, I am their mother.  Morning and night, every single day, there is nothing else in my life that could ever compare to how much I love my children and nothing or no one that would be placed above them in my heart.  Each accomplishment and milestone of their lives has been a source of miraculous pride to me because I cannot believe that such beautifully perfect souls ever came from me.

I have poured so much of myself into being the best mother I could be to my children because I was terrified of messing it up, of messing them up.  I would spend hours on the floor with them, reading, playing, watching them grow and flourish.  I would rock them to sleep, singing endless loops of nursery rhymes and children’s songs, often holding them throughout their entire nap.  I was forever trying to teach them anything and everything, encourage them to think and see the world in different ways.  I fostered their curiosity and interests, from raising tadpoles to helping run after school programs.

My daughter, my eldest, was a product of a relationship with my high school sweetheart.  Unlike her younger brothers who came from my marriage a couple years later and had a dad who was very active in their lives, her father was not around for the majority of her childhood.  I found myself forever trying to overcompensate and be there for her to make up for his absence.  When my daughter was twelve, her father reemerged with a new wife, new baby, new house, new life.

Around that same time, I caught my daughter creating a fake online profile, claiming she was older, talking to older boys.  I was struck by a fear I cannot even begin to explain.  I, myself, had been the victim of rape and sexual abuse as a teenager.  I knew firsthand that what a child of twelve means when they say “I’m up for anything” differs greatly from what a man of eighteen or twenty hears.  I spent the afternoon trying to get through to her.  I showed her profiles created by mothers of children who had been abducted and killed.  I pulled up the database of missing and exploited children so she would understand that she was not old enough, big enough – that older children, bigger children have been victims.  I brought up the sexual offender registry hoping she’d see that you can’t tell a sexual predator by sight – they’re not all old men in nondescript white vans.  Sex offenders can be any age, any background, anyone.  Lastly, I took away her computer because I did not feel she was responsible enough to have online access.

A week later, she informed me, after a weekend visit with her newly found father, that she wanted to go live with him.  The grass was greener there.  We lived in a flat shared with roommates while he and his wife had their own house.  He and his wife both had well paying jobs while I was trying to balance a dead end job with flexible hours and college courses towards an eventual degree around being there before and after school for my children.  For almost thirteen years, I raised her without him yet she chose him.  I had tried to do everything right and be there in every way I could but in the end it was not enough.

In the next week, she quickly packed and left.  I was told there was no use fighting it – at her age, family court would leave that decision primarily up to her.  After she left, I discovered all the contact numbers I was given did not work, the other information invalid.  I emailed her repeatedly with no response.  I tried calling her paternal grandmother and was told she didn’t want to get involved.  She was gone completely from my life, vanished without a trace.  I was utterly and completely heartbroken.  I had my first breakdown.

It would be a few years before I would hear from her again.  She was a teenager by then, almost done with high school.  Her father’s marriage had ended, the house was gone.  She had been bounced around his family, sometimes with him there, more often not.  I pleaded with her to come home.  She insisted she was fine.  She had close friends there and loved her school.  She did not want to leave the life she had built.  I respected that and did not push.  I was grateful to have her back in my life in any measure.

I tried to be there for her as much as I could, despite the distance.  When she complained of there being nothing in her aunt’s house to eat, I would send pizza.  When she and her on-again off-again boyfriend broke up, I took hours of buses to get to her and spend the day making sure she was okay and trying to cheer her up.  We met up places close to her for holidays so she’d still get her Easter baskets and Christmas presents.  I wanted more than anything to be there for her again in whatever capacity she chose.

When she graduated high school, she was informed she could no longer stay with her aunt.  Her grandmother was staying with a friend and had no room for her, either.  She called me in a panic, nowhere else to turn.  We talked about her plans for the future.  I searched frantically for an apartment close to her college.  Without a second thought, everything was packed up and moved.  She needed me and nothing was going to stop me from being there.

Having her back with me was bliss.  I had missed my baby daughter more than I could ever put into words.  I often felt I was walking on eggshells because I was so afraid of losing her again but I would have walked over broken glass or hot coals just to have her there.  A piece of me that had been missing for so long was back home.

During that time, she began dating, her first real venture into real relationships outside of the puppy love of high school romances.  The man she ultimately chose had a bad boy streak and a checkered past.  He had a controlling nature that concerned me but I tried to be supportive.  She was a smart girl and I trusted her judgment.  She began spending overnights with him that soon turned into multiple days.  It wasn’t long until she announced she was moving in with him.

Shortly after moving in, they got into a fight.  She texted her best friend in a panic because he physically would not let her leave.  Her friend, in turn, contacted me.  In less than an hour, I had people en route to pick her and her belongings up.  In the days that followed, he messaged her relentlessly apologizing and begging her to come home.  She eventually gave in.  Shortly after moving back with him, she cut all ties.

Months later, I heard from her again.  Happy Mothers Day Grandma!  She was pregnant but she was okay.  She was okay and that was all that mattered.  I would not lecture her because she, herself, was unplanned and was one of the biggest blessings of my life.  I would never make her feel like her baby was anything less than a blessing.  I poured as much support and encouragement as I could into our messages back and forth, thoroughly enjoying every milestone she shared.  Then, one day, with no notice at all, she cut all ties again.

It has been almost a year since we’ve talked.  I’ve missed the birth of my grandbaby, her first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  I’ve missed my daughter’s 21st birthday and so much more.  There is a gaping hole in me that absolutely nothing can fill.  She is an adult.  I cannot force her to have me in her life, nor would I want to push my way in unwelcome.  I miss her everyday.  I mourn every day that passes without her or my grandchild in my life.

It is truly and hearbreakingly ironic.   While I tried so hard to live my life so differently from my mother, I’ve found myself in the exact same place, estranged from my own daughter.  I was so obsessed with not being my mother and being the best parent I could be that I was blind to so many other dysfunctional things I’ve passed onto her.  Much like myself, she had faced abandonment and feelings of inferiority from others.  She had been misled along the way, by both her father’s actions and my other relationships, that it was okay for men to cheat, assert control and to treat women poorly.  She learned from me that it was okay to cut family out of your life if it makes life easier.  The truth is NONE of that is okay.

I honestly fear for my daughter and her daughter, as well.  Dysfunction breeds dysfunction.  As hard as we try not to walk the paths of our parents, we often find ourselves at the same destination.  I love my daughter more than I could ever put into words.  I am sorry beyond belief for passing the burden of dysfunction onto her and pray with all my heart she’ll have the strength and wisdom to break these chains and stop this cycle.  While I will always be here for her if she ever needs me in any way, I fear it is too late for us.  Most parents send their children out into the world hoping they one day have a child that is just like them.  I pray that my grandbaby will be stronger, healthier, happier and will rise above the path we keep walking, breaking those chains of dysfunction.  I don’t hope that my grandchild is just like my daughter or like me, I hope that she is better than us both and has a happier life despite the legacy passed down to her.  I wish I could give her the world, as I wish I could my own children, because they deserve happiness beyond what I could ever give them.  More than anything, though, I hope she finds peace in life because walking this path again and again is exhausting.

~ Dedicated to my daughter and grandbaby.  You both deserve so much better than the legacy I have left you.  I love you both with all my heart and hope and pray that every day finds you healthy, happy and well.  Please know that, while I am far from perfect, I always tried my best.

 yourtango

Republished on Your Tango on 10/20/16.

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Mother Dearest

Trying to Look at My Mother through Adult Eyes

 Growing up, my mother was larger than life and seemed forever intent to make me suffer.  Her words were harsh and unloving, her approval unattainable.  I’ve spent much of my life struggling to come to terms with what I, as a child, must have done wrong, to incur so much wrath.

What I didn’t know then was that my mother suffered from bipolar disorder and struggled with abuse and trauma of her own.  While that does not excuse her treatment of me, it shines a light on why it happened.  Mental illness had such a stigma back then.  At most, people would talk in the shadows about someone who was unbalanced or crazy.  Families hid such problems and pretended the world was just as it should be.  And things festered and grew.

I’ve begun looking at my past through different eyes, trying to take into account her disorder.  Again, I am not looking to rationalize or excuse her actions.  For too long, I’ve looked back at my past through the eyes of the young girl, battered and broken, who lived through it.  In her eyes, everything was plain and simple, good and bad, black and white.  There were no shades of gray and no compassion.  Today, I aim to fairly take into account her mental illness and understand that, while she is responsible for her actions, her life was so tainted by her own mental illness and trauma that she was not fully herself.  Very few things in this world are plain and simple, good and bad, black and white.  My relationship with my mother was painted in a multitude of grays.

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My mother was often unreasonably critical of my achievements.  An A grade was acceptable; an A minus was not.  Anything less than first place in any aspect of my life was tantamount to failure.  If a test or paper came home with less than a hundred, she would pour through it with me until I understood how glaringly wrong my mistakes were.  I was once beaten because a semester grade dropped from a 94 to a 92.

As a child, I internalized her criticism.  No matter how hard I strived, I always felt I would never measure up to her standards.  Despite high grades and participation in sports and academic groups, I felt like a failure.  Teachers and coaches showered me with praise but it felt hollow and empty.  I wanted more than anything to please her, to finally win her approval.  I never did.

As an adult, I try to weigh her actions from differing viewpoints.  She saw potential in me and never wanted me to settle for less than the best I could do.  She had gotten married young and began having children early.  She wanted me to build a better future for myself.  Perhaps, within a life she had very little control over, I was one thing she could control, one person she could mold and sculpt to ascend higher than she had landed in life.

None of this erases the harshness of her criticism, nor does it ease the inadequacy I carry with me to this day.  While her intentions may have been good, her approach made me feel like a failure.  Each time I fell short of a goal, I would attack myself with worse criticism than she would dole out.  Where her voice ended, my own began.

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My brother was four and a half years my senior.  Often growing up, we were both held accountable for transgressions until the guilty party confessed.  Many times, punishments were harsh and lasted whole days.  More than once, I confessed to wrongdoings I had not done in hopes of ending the torture.  On many of these occasions, she would refuse to accept my confessions, declaring that she knew I hadn’t committed the offense and the punishment would not cease until the guilty party confessed.

As a child, I could not fathom how a parent could repeatedly punish a child for transgressions they knew their sibling had done.  As an adult, I wonder if she had hoped to teach my brother empathy and compassion.  Once again, it doesn’t excuse her actions, but it helps to see the situations in a different light.

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I was seven the first time I remember my mother telling me she hated me and wished I was never born.  Over the course of my childhood, she told me many times that I had ruined her life, that I was inherently unlovable and that I should never let anyone in because, once they got to know me, they would leave.  Words like these have haunted me since childhood.  Each time I was rejected or abandoned, I took it as a prophecy fulfilled.

Considering those words now, I am faced with the ugly truth of mental illness.  Mental illness can not only cause those suffering to internalize the actions of others, but it can also cause people to project their own illness onto those around them.  I was, in many ways, an extension of her.  If she saw herself as unlovable, it makes sense that she saw those who came from her as unlovable, as well.

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Perhaps the hardest for me to overcome were her responses to the two times I turned to her for support after being raped.  The first time, I was eleven years old.  The second time, I was thirteen and one of my brother’s friends had not only taken advantage, but had gotten me pregnant.  She had told me not to talk about it and made me feel like I was at fault both times.  She had secretly arranged for an abortion and told me to never tell my father.

I’ve tried to rationalize her behavior over the years, taking into consideration that rape cases were treated differently back then.  Often, the victim was put on trial in the court of public opinion.  Her history, behavior and clothes were strewn about as possible causes for the rape.

I also know now that she suffered through sexual abuse and rape herself as a child and young adult.  I know, as a victim myself, that the events play over and over in your head, a spinning wheel of torture, as you search for what you did wrong and what you should have done differently.

Of all I’ve endured from my mother, these two instances have been the hardest to understand and move past.  As a mother myself, I cannot imagine being so callous.  I can try to reason that it was a different time or that it was her mental illness oozing out, but I can find no words of solace to ease that pain.  Some things, I just have to accept as a horrible piece of my past that there’s no justification for and do my best to move past them.

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My relationship with my mother has always been dysfunctional.  When speaking of her, I often feel like that little girl again, walking that thin line between trying so desperately to please and being terrified of failure.  I feel more vulnerable when discussing her than any other aspect of my life because that little girl inside me will never understand why she didn’t love me.  Why she couldn’t love me.

So many choices in my life have been made for no other reason than I did not want to become her.  Where she was critical and unyielding, I made every effort to be flexible and praise those around me; While she was closed-minded and bigoted, I prided myself in being unbiased and accepting.  She had many health issues and was a hypochondriac; It takes severe pain or illness for me to see a doctor.  There were no rational thoughts beyond my life choices.  I simply was terrified of becoming her.  I’ve slowly started to question the motives behind my various choices.  In retrospect, I’ve made far too many poor choices in life based solely on that one irrational fear.

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My adult relationship with my mother had been sporadic and strained at best.  When she was in my life, I always kept a watchful eye for bouts of anger or tears or other signs that her treatment was not working.  I was terrified that she would hurt my children in some way.   Many people scoffed at me for those fears because they could not understand.  When I was around her, I was instantly that little girl again, backed into a corner as a windmill of blows hit me on all sides.  I was that little girl who was told she was horrible and unloved so often that she eventually believed it.  I was that little girl who was made to feel like I deserved to be raped.  This was also the woman that shot my father.  I had many reasons to be scared.

Regardless of everything I had been through, I longed in so many ways to have family in my life.  Over the years, I tried many times to repair fences and rebuild bridges.  Every time, however, my fear ate at me.  I would see her moods shift and panic that her medication was no longer working.  Once fear set in, it wasn’t long until I’d run.  I’d flee for my own safety and the safety of my children.  We would go blocks of time with no contact, months, sometimes years.  I had been estranged from her for over two years when I got the call she had died.

I’ve since talked to the people she had stayed with in her last year, months, days.  They shared stories about how she had finally received the help she needed and was in a better place mentally and emotionally.  I learned she had developed a fondness for Harry Potter, something my children and I all share.  She had become, in many ways, quirky, silly and sweet;  She was kind and generous almost to a fault, always reaching out trying to help others.  As I heard one candid story after another, I realized  I never knew my mother, though I knew her mental illness well.  It was a dark sludge that oozed over her, blotting out her true self behind a darkness and cruelty.  The knowledge that she found herself at the very end is honestly very bittersweet.  I wish I could have met that woman.  For years, I longed for a mother to be there, MY mother to be there.  Instead, I am left clinging to the memories of others and running from the monsters that oozed from her own mental illness into my depression.

mightylogoRepublished on The Mighty on 9/16/16.

 yourtango

Republished on Your Tango on 10/20/16.

A Break Up Letter to My Ex

Healing Through Saying Goodbye

The end of a relationship is usually a chaotic mess, with hurt feelings, broken hearts and words left unsaid.  There is often no closure.  When my fiancé of eleven years left me for someone else, I felt blindsided.  We had issues with his infidelity in the past but, after a series of brutally honest conversations, I believed we had finally moved past them.  We had been communicating and were more affectionate and attentive.  In the weeks before he announced he was leaving, we went on long car rides, happily singing along to the radio and talking about life; Walked hand in hand through the farmer’s market, shopping for houseplants; Went to the drive-ins, fooling around like two teenagers going steady; We made love multiple times.  We had overcome so much and it finally felt like we were going to make it.  Before I could even wrap my head around it, he was gone.

I desperately needed closure.  Whenever he would come by to gather more of his things, I would tearfully ask questions, desperate to understand.  He spoke candidly about his new relationship, admitting that he wasn’t even at ‘love’ with her, but that it was nice being with someone who expected nothing of him.  He talked about all she had: a good job, her own house and the ability to help him pay for things when his money was tight.  He talked about still loving me and that I had done nothing wrong, that I was sweet, loving, beautiful, intelligent and deserved more than he could give me.  He felt I would never be able to fully let go of his infidelities and that I had stagnated in life and he wanted more.  He talked and talked, but nothing he said gave me closure.  After he left, I realized I never had a chance to speak my mind.  It had been all about how he felt and what he wanted.  To get closure and begin to heal, I needed to share how I felt and say my own goodbyes.

As I sat down to write, I found myself at a loss for words.  The only goodbyes I had written were suicide notes during the roughest moments of my life; Times when I was so full of pain and anger that I wanted to give up and die.  This goodbye was different.  My heart had been shattered but I wasn’t at that dark place where I wanted to give up and fade away.  As I began to write my goodbyes, I thought of it as an anti-suicide note.  I wanted to share my heartache, confusion and pain, not to die but so I could move on and live.

Dearest J-:

I honestly in my heart of hearts never thought I’d be writing my goodbyes to you.  I imagined us as one of those sweet couples, growing old together, sitting in the park feeding birds, holding hands, a lifetime of love together.  When you had proposed, I said yes because I wanted that for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health with you – not because I thought you were perfect but because I loved you for who you were.

I knew about the abuses you suffered and cried over your scars.  I saw you at your worst and still cherished you for all the good I knew was buried underneath.  I stood by you through injuries and unemployment, always trying to be brave and encouraging to offset your fears.  I always put you before myself because, in my heart, that’s where you belonged.  There was nothing I would not have stood by you through, nothing I thought we could not overcome.

Throughout it all, you were always still searching for where the grass was greener.  Again and again you strayed, and again and again I stood beside you.  Though your infidelities broke my heart and crumbled my self-esteem, I wanted to be that one person who would never give up on you, would never abandon you or walk away.  I never understood why you couldn’t see what you had right in front of you.  Ultimately, you chose money over love, creature comforts over my commitment to stand by you through anything life may have thrown at us.

When you were leaving me and saying your goodbyes, you talked about how you felt I had stagnated in life.  That I was not trying anymore and you wanted more out of life.  For years, I battled depression, anxiety and ptsd worse than I ever let on because I never wanted you to worry.  I poured what little energy I had left into being there for you and my kids.  Even with that burden, I had still made huge strides lately.  You had been so busy shopping for someone else you must have missed them.  When we fought, I no longer retreated to cry though my flight response was always high – instead I would stay and try to talk.  I was trying to find ways to heal through the traumas of my past.  Asking you to drive me past where my mother shot my father was one of the hardest things I had done, but I fought off one anxiety attack after another, ready to face my fears with you at my side.  That day is what inspired me to start writing about my past and to fight harder than I’ve ever fought before to heal.  If you would have waited just one more week, you would have been here when it all came together and my book was finally done.

The one thing that kept me writing through the worst nightmares of my life was the thought of being able to heal for you, to be able to function better for you, to make you proud.  Little by little as I wrote and began to heal, my mood picked up.  I was bounding to the door to greet you with hugs, standing at the window watching for you, waiting to make hearts with my hands and tilt my head in that quirky way that always made you smile.  You were too busy looking for greener grass to see it all, but I was getting better.  I was in a better place and fighting the hardest battle of my life to heal and be the person I thought you wanted me to be.

Since you’ve left, I cannot count the number of people who have told me how stupid you were for giving up on us.  We may not have had a lot in a financial sense, but you had someone who would massage your muscles when you were sore, make you food when you were hungry, rub your head when you were stressed.  You had someone who was able to see past all the hurt you had caused and still love you for the man underneath.  You had something true and genuine, something people search their whole lives for and often never find.  We may not have had a lot of money or possessions, but we had love.  Not that fresh and exciting new love full of butterflies, but a strong and honest love, that knew all the bad as well as the good and still burned true.

I honestly don’t hate you.  I truly wish you well.  I hope you’re able to find happiness in the things you’ve surrounded yourself with – her house, her money, her possessions.  I can tell you from experience, though, that money and stuff does not bring happiness, at least not any lasting kind.  There’s a fleeting elation in having new things, maybe a sigh of relief at not having bills looming, but it’s an empty happiness because there’s no foundation.  I hope you’ll eventually be able to show her all of yourself and she’ll be able to love you, scars and all, and forgive you for any hurt you’ve caused her as I once did.  I hope you’ll be able to find that love again that would stand the test of time, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or health.  People say that kind of love is a once in a lifetime thing but perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to find it twice.

As for me, I’m going to keep writing and keep healing.  The fight I began to become healthier for you and healthier for us, I’m continuing for myself.  I cry today because goodbyes are hard, tear apart your heart and soul hard.  But I won’t cry again over you.  I may silently mourn you and the love we shared when faced with reminders of our years together, but I must move forward.  You’ve made your choices in life.  I may not understand them but I must accept them.  I will move on and search for love again because I want that once in a lifetime love, myself; For someone to love me for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.  You’ve already had someone love you that way.  I deserve to have that kind of love myself.

You’ve said your goodbyes and assured me of how much happier you are with her at your side.  I truly hope that was in earnest because I would love to see you finally happy in life.  For over a decade, I tried with every ounce of my being to give you all the love and happiness in the world.  While I cannot say I’ve found happiness yet myself, I can tell you I’m in a better place.  I’m beginning to surround myself with people who appreciate me for all I am and all I have to offer; all those things you took for granted while searching for greener pastures.  I’m healing and moving forward in life.  While it’s bittersweet knowing that I won’t have that happily ever after I always imagined with you, I am more determined than ever to still have my happy ending.  I’ll never forget you or the love we once shared, but it’s time to let go and move on.  Goodbye my Love.

 yourtango

Republished on Your Tango on 10/20/16.

Unlovable

Why Put My Life Out There for the World to See?

My childhood was plagued with physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse.  The traumas I’ve endured led to a lifetime of scars and a lifelong battle with depression, anxiety disorder and ptsd.  For years, I’ve struggled with mental illness, carrying with me the chains of dysfunction from my childhood.  I carried the awful stigma with me, minimizing its severity behind fake, encouraging smiles.  I feared people learning how bad it truly was and judging me.  I did not want others to see me as damaged or broken, though that is how I felt inside.  I did not want to be pitied.

When my world recently shattered beneath me yet again, I was ready to give up.  Suicide dangled in the corners of my mind as an escape from my demons.  Tearfully, I began writing my goodbyes.  My body convulsed as I sobbed, knowing I could not live another day in this torment.  As I finished writing and turned to leave my letter on my desk, a small pink pig my son had won me years ago at the county fair caught my eye.  A voice inside me screamed to STOP!  My children needed me!  I could not break their hearts.  That voice continued on, urging me to hold on, to fight, to not give up.  It urged me to do whatever it took to hold on for one more minute, one more hour, one more day.

After suffering in silence for years, I had finally found my voice.  I picked my laptop back up and I began to write.  Fervently, I shared all I had been through and the struggles I still faced.  As my words flowed, I began to see the overwhelming strength it took to survive it all.  I began to see, too, the dysfunctional patterns I had carried through life.  My inner voice eagerly continued on, encouraging me to put it all down and see it all for what it was.  Only by facing it all could I begin to heal and to change.

When I shared what I had written with a close friend, he was visibly moved.  He truly had no idea about the depths of my depression.  It was then that I knew I needed to put it all out there.  If sharing my story could help even one person see depression for what it was or reassure one person that they were not alone and help them find their voice, it would be worth it.  If sharing my trauma and scars starts even one conversation and helps break the stigma attached to mental illness, it would be worth it.

In perhaps the scariest and bravest moment of my life, I compiled all I had written into a book and put it out there for others to read.  However, I was not done yet.  I have awakened my inner voice and it has been relentless in its encouragement to keep writing, work through everything and heal.  What started as a private effort to survive has spiraled into a very real NEED to ignore the stigma, talk about my battles with mental illness and my struggles to heal.

Youshare-Award-FNL-v1-200x2001Republished on YouShare on 8/8/16.

biplogo

Republished on Bipolar Life on 9/13/16.

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This blog also inspired a longer, more detailed original piece found exclusively on:

everydayhealthlogovoicesofexperienceIt was Expanded Upon and Republished on

 Everyday Health: Voices of Experience on 8/22/16.