Many times over the years I have heard the phrase “Don’t blame yourself.” Those three words always said with the kindest and sincerest meanings, and yet they would often make me feel like I had more reason to let shame and blame eat me up in one big gulp.
Blame? What is this word – is it who is at fault? Who is to take responsibility? Who is at the core of the negative event? It seems to be a ‘blanket’ word slapped over the unfortunates and all circumstances that just don’t turn out quite right. So, no wonder for the longest of times blame lay heavy on my shoulders. For I am not one to shirk away from responsibility and often will take on that which belongs to others. I will often take ‘fault’ because surely someone being held accountable in some sense is better than none. And that is the issue with trauma and abuse of all sorts, we the survivors, take the shame and blame of others and manifest it into our own.
The other day I had a conversation with a good friend, and we talked about choice in life, and it led into talking about blame. And for the first time someone, this friend, took the time to explain blame and its responsibility and choice in life. How we are not in control of our life, just our egos and how we let them impact our existence. And for the first time in over half my life, I could put clarity on the big, happily flashing neon sign that was blame. I could switch that sign off. Heal that scar. In that conversation I understood blame, and I saw it shift. I saw it shift away from me. And onto them and their egos. Unburdened.
My heart feels lighter and there is a calm presence in me that was not there before. However, I’ve this empty feeling where that blame used to sit. I guess I used the shame and blame of it all to keep me ‘in my place’ and to give more reason to be unkind to myself. Not anymore though. This is my healing journey. Now I just need to find something to fill that empty space. I’m hoping it’s inner peace and love.
I often say this blog is more of a brain blurb because invariably I just type what is on my mind and in my heart. This is normally why I post here as opposed to other sites – my thoughts here never feel valid/good enough to be seen by many. This post is a real brain blurb where I am just typing out my thoughts – so if you manage to stick at it and see it to the end – well done you. And thank you.
I tweeted the other day that “I was ready for healing, whatever that may be” and the word and idea of ‘healing’ has been rolling around my head ever since. Healing – to fix, to mend what is broken, to become healthy again. What a thought! Healthy again. In a sense I don’t think I remember what healthy actually looks like. And yet, here I am striving to get to that point of being healed. Or at least on the journey to it. And isn’t the journey just as important as the end goal?
Healing myself means finding myself and maybe I wasn’t ready to do that. Something has changed within me though, and I want to find myself. I want to move on, but moving on means looking back., and that is the scary concept about truly healing. Delving into the past. To stand strong and yet break. To allow myself to break. To allow myself to find reasons and to allow myself to not find reasons. To grow and work through things. This utterly terrifies me, and at the same time the thought of feeling better about myself and my life, to be healed, fills my heart with hope.
I know this road i’m on, embarking on, is going to be like none I have ever walked before. Pick me up and dust me off if I stumble.
They say the best way to write is to write what you know, and despite my mind drawing blanks this is what I do know. My heart is hurting. I’m not even sure, at this precise moment in time that it is all together. I feel fragmented, jaded, and for lack of a better word, broken. Broken into a million little pieces, of which many are forever lost. Truth be told, I could list the many exhausting reasons for this but it’s not going to really matter, because in essence this is who I am.
How can a heart that loves so fiercely, so passionately and freely, be so damaged? It doesn’t make sense. And yet here I am. Sitting here on a Friday night, prosecco to hand, loved by others and so wrought with all the hurt imaginable.
Maybe my heart isn’t hurting but rather is grieving. Grieving for all the things lost, for all the things unsaid and undone. For me, and myself, and who I am and who I could/should be. I don’t know but I’d like to switch off my heart almost as much as I would like to switch my brain off. Just for a little rest.
Don’t throw me a pity party though. I do not wish for that, and in a funny way, I do not deserve that. My heart is a reflection of my life and it’s scars. Of which many I have put on myself. I imagine my heart to have originally been a beautiful thing, only now it bears the mark of all the bad words thrown in my direction, every harsh action sent my way and with every unwanted finger on my skin. Bruises fade and bones heal, bodies rejuvenate and I ‘moved forward’, and yet the marks on my heart remain.
They say it all lingers in your head, and maybe that is true but what if the heart is where it all takes up residence. Maybe how your heart feels matters more than what your head is saying. In a way that makes more sense to me, in a way that fills me with more hope. My heart albeit, in the depths of absolute destruction is calling to love and be loved. Truly. Maybe that’s why you are still alive until your heart stops beating.
I hate breathing. Strange, I know, but I hate it all the same. That sound that people can relax to. That in and out motion that calms most, sends me into a complete spin. Even typing this, has set me on edge and I’ve had to take a break. It’s that ridiculous and yet here I am.
The natural thing, the go to phrase people use when I say I feel anxious or panicky, is “just breathe” or/and “deep breaths.” Harmless and full of good intent, and yet those simple well meant phrases transport me to a place I do not ever wish to be. A time where my airway was not mine, and also a time where hands were placed on my neck. A time where breathing was obstructed. And so to survive, after the panic had worn me down and I needed to find a way through, I shut down and focused on slowing my breathing. On focusing on my chest rising up and down. If I could slow and steady myself down I could control the amount entering my lungs, and survive longer. And so that’s what I did.
And since that day I get troubled (at the least), full blown attack (at the worst) by my own breathing. Put headphones in, and I will hold my breath until I near pass out because it all gets too much. Lying in bed when the silence fills the room and all that is left is the focus on breathing, I hold my breath and have to consciously distract myself on something else. Having my child when midwives told me to just breathe, and when I sobbed “I cant” – it wasn’t that the pain was too much or having a child was too much, it was that simply breathing was destroying me.
Breathing may come easy to everyone else, to most. Just know some find, possibly the most natural thing to do, extremely difficult, once the emphasis is shifted onto it.
Breaking the egg to make the omelette.
It’s a phrase I say often when things don’t go to plan, a shrug of the shoulders – got to make some mess to get to the end result. Invariably it is such an applicable quote to so much in life. Isn’t it true that more often than not, it’s once something hurts or has gone wrong – and then the healing process, the next stage, takes place and we end up with the brighter, better outcome?
I’m crossing my fingers that this is what all this is. I’ve broken that egg. Smashed it. The month of May did it for me, I think without my realising it. May damn near killed me, and I’m not one for exaggeration.
And yet now it is June, and I’m here working it out. Working it all out. And I knew it would be difficult (since when is anything ever easy), but wow, it’s a lot more complicated than I thought it to be. I’ve spent the last 3 days completely on edge, triggered by too much, and feeling like I was in quicksand and no one could pull me out. I wanted to be sick or pass out or something. I was jumping at the tiniest noise, certain scents made me want to cry and even the shower wouldn’t make me feel clean. And yet somehow in amongst all of it, I’m here typing this, and my mind is a complete and utter mess, but my heart is calm (well calmer).
I’m taking this journey, for others. For my daughter, and husband. For family. For the friends who stick by me through thick and thin. The ones who know when to be kind and loving, but also know when to call me out and give me a boot up the backside. More importantly though, I’m doing this for me, because finally, I have this weird notion that maybe I’m worth it afterall.
I had wanted to write something meaningful or inspiring regarding mental health, yet words escape me and so I will leave that to the experts and the wordsmiths, and just share this with you instead.
They say mental health is in your head, and yes, it begins there. However, what so many who don’t quite understand, struggle to realise is that the line between mental and physical health is often blurred, and how they like to prop each other up and also tear each other down.
When I hit a rough patch that likes to knock me off my feet and leave me struggling to find air, my mental health and physical health like to take turns to take lumps out of me (so to speak).
I become this horrible and mean bully to myself. 9 times out of 10 I do not even see it happening until, in my head, I’m reducing myself down to the size of “a borrower” and making sure to keep myself in that place. And so begins the conflict of my mental health altering my physical wellbeing, and then my physical wellbeing intervering with my mental health. Then begins this long drawn out vicious circle, that leaves me spinning and lost.
I struggle with food. I do not sleep particularly well. (Both of these are understatements). My anxiety is at an all time high. It’s not constantly there – but when it wants to show up – it does so, yelling from the rooftops, usually dragging in depression behind it. Depression and feeling low, lingering in the background, grey cloud looming. Old habits come to mind and want to find themselves of use. And when they all hit at once, I may as well just hide under a blanket and not come out at all.
My muscles tense and my body aches, and I get the most horrible headaches. And this adds to the miserable feeling of falling apart and letting the defeated version of me thrive. I heap stress onto myself without even realising it. And I pressurize myself to be the best and on form all the time to the people I surround myself with.
I recently downloaded an app on my phone. It’s a fitness/health tracker type app. And whilst part of me is so against counting calories and counting steps etc, it has been an eye opener. The last few weeks are right up there with the worst ones I’ve ever had. I have been all over the place because my heart aches, my head hurts, I want to quit but at the same time I want to survive. And I feel like I’m doing it all on my own. Again. (and believe it or not, I’m a people person – so being alone punches me in the chest).
And so after reflecting on the data I’ve been putting into the phone – I know changes have to come. When, for pretty much the past couple of weeks my daily calorie intake was maxing at 1000 (not even hitting there some days) and my sleep at 4 hours, no wonder I was feeling low with no energy or self worth. No wonder the fight in me had gone.
So today on the start of mental health awareness week I’m trying to take care of me. I have eaten, and I have tried to take a nap. Small steps that will hopefully mean I can find a way of getting back to the person I want to be.
My thought process was, and is, very much, just get through the day. And night. Yet that is not a way to live. And I don’t want to continually fight my physical and mental health. They are me, so surely they ought to be on my side.
Please don’t mind me as I spill my heart onto this blog/rant/whatever it is. I just needed to put it out there. somewhere.
I hate May 1st. I hate it with all my might. And then some. Hate. It fills me with every rotten emotion under the sun. And yet, somehow in amongst all of that it manages to make me feel incredibly numb. So so numb. And even more alone than I could imagine. And somehow this year I feel even more so on my own. Always on my own, because I have this incredible talent of shutting up and shutting people out. It’s a skill.
I feel sick. Knot in my stomach, lump in my throat, ready to cry and just be sick and dissolve into the ground I am sitting on. Swallow me up earth, I beg you to. Every single bone in my body feels brittle and ready to snap, and my muscles ache. I want to scream, yell, cry, sob, curse the world til there is no air in my lungs but no noise wants to come out. I’m not okay, and yet, I am at the same time. I am because I have to be. I gave myself no other choice. I wear a brave face, but know my insides are crumbling already.
Do not call me strong or brave, for I have no strength or courage. Nor did I. I just did what had to be done. I had no choice, because I couldn’t give myself that little kindness to just fall apart. Just fall apart once. I couldn’t allow myself to be seen and supported, cos I was broken. I was dirty and tainted. Maybe that should be “I am” because right now it still feels like that.
And I know I should be over it. I know I should be past it, and talk it out and whatever it is that needs done to get it to a level of acceptance. Hell I know that, but as always – good ol’ me likes to mess things up and just go it alone. I’m strong enough to do it by myself… aye right. Done a fine job of it so far, haven’t I? (rhetorical question here)
know what – don’t go to parties when you should be studying…don’t trust people…don’t trust your own judgement… don’t fuck it up like i did.
No amount of bleach or soap or whatever I could get my hands on would wash me clean that night and I doubt they’d do much good now. Damaged goods. For always.
Time to hit the shower regardless. Night. X
(Ps I’m okay.)