I know some of what I will share on this blog will touch some tender spots on my loved ones hearts. When addressing these difficult topics, keep in mind that my intentions are never to hurt someone.
I felt invisible.
And that was exactly how I liked it. I didn’t want to be known by many people; I didn’t like letting my walls down. Feeling vulnerable and being transparent were two things I never had to be. They were two things I really couldn’t be.
I grew up in a broken home: divorced parents, “daddy issues,” moving to new locations, trying to make up for time lost, new “step”-parents and siblings (then losing the finally-blossoming relationships with them), and having to grow up way too fast.
I realized recently that I–and my brother–had to be the strong individual when it came to family matters. My brother and I had to be the middle man for awhile when our parents divorced (age 4?), and when my dad got remarried. There was so much conflict in the parental aspects, so we had to be the communicators among the three of them because they couldn’t resolve their own issues. We were still very young.
A few years later, my mom got into a relationship that was quite abusive in many ways; thankfully not physical, but verbal and emotional abuse are no better. That relationship lasted longer than it should have. I remember nights where I’d hear yelling for hours, to the point that I’d retreat to my brother’s room because it was farther from the noise.* We shared a lot of anger and sadness, but always ended with a comforted feeling from the presence of the other.
In a lot of ways, my brother was my hero. He may have only been a year and a half older than me, but we faced so much turmoil…together. He was there when I had no words. He was there when I needed a safe space. He was there when I didn’t know how to handle the stress. He was the first person I told that I started recklessly shaving so I would “accidentally” cut myself…because I could never self-harm. And that’s what I told myself to justify my actions; I never wanted to be someone who inflicted pain upon herself.
But I never told him about the numerous nights staring at a full bottle of pills, wondering how many I could take without killing myself. Or how many I could take to do so…
I landed on how-long-can-I-stay-in-this-numbed-state-by-taking-5-pills-at-a-time,-every-couple-hours? in my 12-year-old body.
I didn’t want to feel the weight of the world anymore, but I could never get myself to give in to total defeat. I idealized suicide but didn’t know how I could ever get myself to do it. I could never do it by my own hands, which is why stepping off the sidewalk into traffic was a frequent thought.
Who would visit me in the hospital if I were to step in front of a car?
When one thing seemed to brighten up, something else terrible would come my way, and the process would continue. I faked outward happiness. Some people wondered why I was so shy. You can blame it on my introvertedness, but there was more to it. It was hard to find joy in my life. How can you see the light on the other side when you live in a poor home where food was a struggle to obtain? When every important relationship you had was shredded, and you didn’t know how to mend the wounds? How can you keep seeing the light when you are slowly sinking into a place similar to the unexplored darkness of the ocean? You go into it, completely blind. However, you know that if you can find a way to swim, you can find yourself reaching the surface.
That’s what I had to do: I had to learn how to swim. But that was never my strong suit.
Thanks for sticking through til the end of this post. It’s going to be a rough ride from here; this is only the beginning.
*We’ll come back to this later.