There have been a few times in my life when I have examined myself and realized that I felt a little lost. It was that kind of feeling where if someone had asked me to describe myself, I wasn’t really sure how I would respond. I am sure that this is something that is totally normal. After all, we all go through various stages in life, we spend time growing and changing and adapting to the world. I think it is in those uncertain times when we really do our growing, when we find the person that we are, or will become. We choose that direction at the fork in the road, and the conditions of those paths shape us. But there are times when life just happens to us, and the fork in the road is blocked by a wall making no easily accessible path. For the last few years I have been at that wall; sometimes sitting there pondering it, sometimes beating my head against it, celebrating at it, living by it, curled up in a ball next to it, hiding from it, ignoring it… in general, just stuck. Stuck is a scary, dark place to be.
So much of my thirty-two years have made sense to me. It seemed that in spite of the trauma I had endured, or bad experiences I had encountered, I always had that disposition which allowed me to see the glass as half full. It wouldn’t matter who you asked and about which age, I was consistently described as a kind person who could see the best in anyone. Kind became who I was, and who I wanted to be. I set my goals by this, and dreamed about making a difference in the world.
Nothing would break this resolve for almost thirty years. Not the sexual abuse I suffered at nine, or the silencing I experienced from not being heard; not the pain from 3 years later when I was heard and had to endure the process of seeing someone convicted; not the mental torment of being an abuse victim; not the failed marriage at the end of college; not the crappy self-punishing relationships that would follow… I was unbreakable. I forgave people who didn’t ask for forgiveness, who never even admitted to me that they had done wrong. I looked at things from other peoples’ points of views to explain their behaviors, I felt for them and excused them. Little did I know that this process was less of a kindness and more of a coping mechanism. That’s not to say that empathizing with people and attempting the understanding of another person is not okay or right, but just that the deep need I had to do this in particular was a way for me to cope with the things that had happened to me, and the way I was treated by some people. I felt indestructible, and if anything, my experiences empowered me to want to go forward and find a way to do good in the world. To be good in the world, for the world.
And then I hit that wall. I cannot tell you the exact moment that I hit the wall and began to crack. One day the world began to feel way too big, and the troubles of the world began to sit directly on my shoulders. I stopped feeling like I deserved to have anything good in my life because there were others in the world who had nothing or less than nothing. I felt like what is the point of doing anything when how could a microscopic spec possibly make a real difference? This didn’t necessarily stop me from being kind, or finding empathy for others, but I began to lose sight of a purpose in the world, and I started seeing the scales of good and bad people tip out of balance. For a person that lived so long wearing rose colored glasses this was very overwhelming and confusing. Outwardly I remained the same as I always had been, but inside I struggled with the feelings that it just didn’t matter.
Having a very rough pregnancy which ended in a truly traumatic birth really did me in. As a lot of people know, eclampsia ended my pregnancy 11 weeks early, and my beautiful boy was born at 29 weeks. I woke up in the hospital no longer pregnant, and my baby had been taken to another hospital. It would be about 5 days before I would be released to go and meet him. I was in so much pain but I pushed through it Because my sole purpose became helping him thrive. Oh he was so sick, what a tiny 2 lb baby hooked up to monitors and a machine breathing for him. I couldn’t hold him much, and there were times when my holding him was actually bad for him. I had to learn what to do if his sats dropped and he turned blue. And once or twice he did turn blue…in my arms. During this time I was 1400 miles away from home and lived in a Ronald McDonald House. This is a very condensed version of events. My mom flew up and drove me home 68 days after he was born. We came home with an oxygen generator and medications. We spent 4 days in the car stopping every 2 hours to get him out of the car and sleeping in hotels where every 3 hours I had to feed/pump and administer medications. Two times his oxygen machine ran out of battery and it was almost catastrophic and when we finally made it home it became one specialist after another for months. I saw a crisis in everything, I was scared of my own shadow. The wall grew even larger. I felt strong for him, but I was more broken than ever. I wanted to be the person that I used to be, but that person was shattered and damaged beyond recognition. I tried to live the same way, but I was just a shell.
It’s cliche to say that love lifted me, but it did. The love of my son, eventually of my daughters, and of a woman who saw through the shell and reached in and began dusting off the broken pieces, these things began healing me. This didn’t happen all at once, and has not always been a pleasant experience. At times I’ve felt that there wasn’t any hope, I was broken beyond repair and I was going to just have to learn to live with this new version of myself. But little by little pieces of the old me, my true self began to slip through, fighting with the parts of me that felt the weight of the world, that saw a crisis in every move, who wanted to hide from it all. I’m not saying I could never have achieved this on my own, but I could not move forward with these journals without giving credit where credit is due, and credit is due to the woman who helped me glue myself back together and reminded me who I am inside.
If it weren’t for her I never would have had the courage to open up these wounds so that they could heal. I would have continued piling on patches and telling myself everything was cool. Maybe writing about all of this in a public forum is self-indulgent, I don’t know. I could just go to therapy or write it down in private, but I think that for me, opening myself up to be vulnerable has been crucial. The first two blog posts felt difficult, painful, but necessary. After publishing the second one I felt a odd sense of peace that I couldn’t explain, like I knew I was going to get better. It’s a relief from a pressure you didn’t realize you had until the pressure begins to wane. The figurative wounds were opened and the draining has begun making room for the literal healing to happen.
I am standing at this wall at the fork in the road, but the wall has begun to weaken, there are spots where I can see to the other side. Finally, I am beginning to break through.