why did i do it. why did i stay for so long. i was hurt and broken and angry. and i knew it. i knew he was the reason i hurt myself. i felt guilt and shame and disgust with my own body because of what happened, even though he had forced me to do it against my tears, and head-shakes, and soft “i don’t want to”s. i tarnished my own skin in an effort to purge myself of that shame and disgust. it did not work. he saw the scars and, first, didn’t ask how i was, like he used to in the beginning; he just expressed surprise that i would wear something that would show it; wasn’t i afraid?. i said no, and i was meek as always, but internally i glared. i was angry at him. he was the reason i did this. and i knew it. but still, i stayed. why did i do it? is there an answer? i’m the only one who could know the answer to such a question, but i don’t seem to have a clue.
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I’ve been meaning to do it for a while. Since I first started this blog almost 4 years ago, actually. I was never particularly fond of the original title I chose, but lacking in creative thoughts and not wanting to confuse my writing teacher and classmates by a name-change, I keep it the same. Since then, I simply haven’t bothered because I haven’t cared enough to do anything about it, and again, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to call my blog.
HOWEVER. Here I am, finally changing it, because I just sat down and said, “screw it. enough with 3 years of procrastinating. here’s my new blog title.”
Whew. That was easy.
Anyway, the new name is a reference to a quote from Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms:
It reads, “You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and roadtrips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things.”
This quote helped me hold onto life during a very dark period for me, primarily the first half of 2014. At that time I don’t think I even fully absorbed the essence of Jamie’s words, but it gave me something to cling to and find hope in nonetheless.
In addition to the connection it has for me in the past, I feel it also speaks to my future. Who and what I want to be going forward. My life’s mission statement, you could say.
There are very few things I am sure of in this life: I’m not sure who I’ll marry or if I’ll marry at all; not sure what university I want to transfer to; not sure where I’m going to live; not sure what career I’ll have; and even though I’ve already started college, I’m not even sure what to major in.
These things are supposed to determine the essence of one’s life, and I don’t have a fucking clue where I’m going with any of it. But a few months ago, a friend took the usual “so what are you doing with your life” q’s, and rephrased it.
He said, “what’s something you’re good at? or at least, what’s something you hope you’re good at? not necessarily in school, but just in life.”
Since he had decided to put away the cookie-cutter questions, I decided to put away the corresponding answers, and instead allowed myself to say the first thing that came to mind.
I said, “I don’t know what the fuck I’m good at, but I hope I’m good at helping people. or that I will be, someday.”
I paused. Then continued with realization, “that’s what I want to do with my life. I don’t know how, but I want to help people. give them hope, I guess. love them… let them know that God loves them too.”
And that’s one of the few things which I’m sure of in this life. Introverted as I am, I love people. And I want to devote my life to bettering other’s lives.
God knows how it’ll happen, but I want to be that living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things.
In the meantime, I hope to feed my own soul with countless coffee shops and sunsets and roadtrips.
And maybe even write a few blog posts along the way.
To Christian parents, mentors, therapists, teachers, and well-meaning friends of people who struggle with mental illness: you don’t have to make every single conversation with your depressed loved one circle back to God. Sometimes it’s important to leave those conversations for another day, or leave them altogether. Sometimes all the other person really needs is a kind, understanding word, a hug, or just your quiet presence as you silently let them know you’re there for them. With all the things spiraling in the mind of a mentally ill person, it often only adds to the guilt and confusion and frustration to have someone you care about be able to do nothing other than talk about how God is the answer to everything.
Because while, yes, He is the answer, it’s not YOUR job to tell them that. It’s not your job to make them feel God’s presence or to convince them that God’s love is the only thing that matters. Because sometimes a hurting person needs to be told that their pain MATTERS, regardless of whether or not God works that pain for good. It’s your job to simply love them. Because sometimes they need to know that YOU love them, because you are what’s right in front of them.
I know you mean well, and I know you think it’s necessary to connect EVERY little thing to religion, and I know you may even question my own faith for saying this, but frankly, you gotta let it go. You over-harp on the one thing you know, and never consider that there are other components to someone getting healthier. The fact that YOU don’t have any other coping mechanisms for struggles in your arsenal is NOT an excuse to guilt trip someone else with constant talk of God. Seriously. It’s exhausting. Give it a rest already.
I want to be engaged this year. As of yesterday I’ve been on this earth for more than twenty-three years, and I think it’s about time for me to be engaged.
I’ve been asking people on my Home Team what one word they want to hold true for 2016, and when the question was finally reciprocated by my friend Sanford, I couldn’t come up with anything. I hadn’t found one that quite fit just yet.
I would say seemingly meaningful words aloud to see if their meanings would hold any significance for what I want this next year to be.
I rustled up words like depth or rest or value and announced them to myself in the car or in the shower or on my walk to work. Nothing was clicking.
Until I drove to Joshua Tree yesterday morning, and that’s when a word so unexpected was whispered into the silence…
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I admit it. I wanted one last chance to say goodbye.
One last chance to tell you again all the “don’t give up” type of things I used say– the things you didn’t deserve to have me there to say.
One last chance to make you feel like someone believed in you, like you could be more than the shitty life you had doomed yourself to live.
Everyone wants more closure than they get, and I’m no different. I wanted to say goodbye. But not like this.
. . .
I wanted to tell you about the dream I had– not the first one though, where I confronted you and yelled “FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE” and then clocked you a good one. Nor the one where we were together again, and again I felt the fear, the isolation, the inability to reach out, the horror of my voice being taken from me. No, I wanted to tell you about the the third dream; the one where my heart was filled with joy, because I heard that you were with someone new, and you had turned your life around and become what I always believed you could become. You had made it– made it through all the darkness and the mess; made it to the other side. There was no sign of illness: your lungs were whole, your kidneys were clean, your heart was strong, your mind had stitched together its crooked neurological pathways. You were a complete human being, mentally and physically, and you were with someone who made you happy. That’s the dream I wanted to tell you about, because somehow, inexplicably, even after all the hell you put me through– that was still what I wanted for you. I mean, sure, I wanted you to face consequences for your shitty behavior; but at the same time, I wanted you to change, and to live a happy, healthy, full life. I no longer wanted to have a part in that life, obviously, but that didn’t stop me from wanting it for you, for your own sake.
I wanted to tell you about all that, and more.
I wanted one last chance to say “I’ve become more than what was done to me, and I hope you become more than what you did.”
One last chance to say goodbye.
That last bit of closure.
Not closure for “US”, but closure for you and me as individuals. I didn’t want that “so what did our relationship add up to in the end? and what do we mean to each other anyways?” type of closure most people seem to search for. I always knew I never needed it, and eventually I even stopped aching for it. I also didn’t want to exchange anymore confessions; no more apologies and “I forgive you”s. I learned that receiving apologies has nothing to do with receiving peace. I learned that forgiveness does help with peace, but only inwardly. I may have forgiven you a long time ago, but telling you so is an empty gesture unless you’ve forgiven yourself.
See, I wanted the type of closure that comes from knowing you’ll be okay. Where I make you promise to call me up in 5, maybe 10 years, to tell me that my third dream came true; to tell me “hey I made it, and I hope you did too.”
That kind of closure. That kind of last goodbye.
. . .
But… there’s my fourth dream. The one I don’t need to tell you about, because it’s the one that’s becoming your reality. The one that makes it impossible for the third dream to ever come true. A part of me always knew that it would go this way. I mean, when you live the life that you do, it’s impossible to NOT consider that this could be the ultimate consequence. But I still hoped against hope that your body would defy the inevitable, and that it would stay alive through all the shit you did to it.
I wanted one last chance to tell you to stop the bad habits, to get help, to believe that recovery is possible and that there is no such thing as too far gone.
One last chance to remind you that you’re loved and never alone.
One last chance to tell you I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you. I couldn’t get to you, even after saying a hundred times “please, please, please, take care of yourself.”
I wanted once last chance to say goodbye. But not like this. Not when goodbye is the only thing left to say.
I don’t really have anything to add to this, so I’ll just say that it resonates with me on a very personal level, and mirrors many aspects of my journey the last year and half.
EDIT: on an unrelated note– and yet at the same time, very much related– I could really use prayer today. I received some devastating news this morning that’s really tearing me apart, and I’m kinda going into shock. If anyone could keep me in their thoughts and prayers, it’d be appreciated.
“Wow, that’s so admirable that you would stay an in abusive relationship for so long! And you were so determined to keep loving him no matter what… most people wouldn’t do that. You’re so strong.”
admirable? strong?? love??? Um, no.
Remaining in that relationship was the most destructive thing I have ever done; it was a sick, twisted codependency, not love; and it was a result of a weakness of character, not a strength of character. Not to say that I blame myself for what happened– I don’t. Or that I view others in abusive relationships as “weak”– I don’t. But the fact of the matter is that it takes a heck of a lot of strength to have self-respect, and to stand up for what you know you are worthy of. That’s a strength I’ve never had, up until about the last 5 months of my life. It’s a strength I wish to God that I DID have 2 years ago, so that I could have avoided the mental, emotional, and physical scars that I’m not convinced I’ll ever be truly rid of. It’s a strength that needs to be understood to BE a strength, and not a selfishness.
I persevered through that hell of a relationship, partly because I thought it was love, but partly because I was experiencing severe chronic depression, and didn’t believe that I deserved any better. He needed someone, and even though he was twisted, dangerous, and unhealthy, I honestly thought it was my purpose to be that person for him, no matter the cost to my own health or to my other relationships. Tell me… what about that is admirable? Because from my perspective, nothing about sacrificing your grades, familial relationships, friendships, ability to confide in anyone but that one person, hope for the future, sanity, and your very sense of self– nothing about that is admirable. It’s not that I was “strong” for not giving up on him, not defending myself to him, not telling anyone the things he did to me. It’s just fucking sad.
It was a nightmare I created for myself, that I would never ever go back to, and that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone– why on earth would that be something you aspire to?
I knew right from the beginning exactly what I was getting into with him. But I never once gave up on it. My own awareness and acceptance through the whole thing continues to haunt me. In the months since, getting through all of the loneliness, confusion, flashbacks, guilt, shame, and horror– THAT took strength. Who I was then was not admirable. But who I am now– while still a flawed, in-the-works person– has made admirable progress. And I intend to keep making progress, until the very day I die.
But I know who I am.
I know what I’m worth.
That’s self-respect. That’s strength. And if anyone doesn’t think it’s right that I so confidently announce my worth– frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I don’t need anyone’s approval, and I don’t need anyone’s permission to accept myself. Not anymore. I will not apologize for my existence, and I will not apologize for being proud of who I am. Not anymore.
My love story cannot be sculpted into a tragic tale of gallantry. It is a sad, fucked up story, so don’t you dare be inspired by it.