Really. It’s the burning question for the ages. And you’re right to ask it – because only so many of you have met me before, know anything about me beyond the typed word or maybe a Facebook interaction.
In some ways, I’m an everywoman.
What I do here is share the intimate thoughts and feelings of my own, even if they’re ugly or scary or sad – but *especially* if they’re uplifting or hopeful or thrilling. I lay it all bare for you, because if I do it, and you see that it makes me stronger to do so, maybe you’ll join me in this freedom. And if I tell everyone the bad parts as well as the good, and I show that despite the bad parts, I’m more than okay, I’m thriving… maybe you’ll feel safe enough to do the same.
… Because I firmly believe that part of the problem with mental illness is the pervasive myths and restrictions placed on it, and those who live with it. There are not enough safe spaces where we can discuss the way we feel without a well-meaning but ultimately hurtful comment or suggestion is offered up to us from those who don’t know the truths of mental illness. It’s often the ones who mean the best who hurt us the worst, and that can make us afraid to say anything at all. I want to change that. I want to start discussions amongst peers, for exploration and healing and venting and support.
My story is both a complicated and a familiar one. I came from a broken home that had a well-meaning band-aid slapped on it – well, the action of slapping the band-aid was well-meaning, but the
band-aid man himself was a weasel. No, that’s not fair to weasels. He was someone who took his broken-ness and applied it to everything around him in a selfish attempt to assuage his internal issues. Some of these applications included heavy drinking, cheating, and sexual abuse of the young person who trusted him.
I moved from this broken place through various broken relationships into a marriage that eventually would become broken. All these things have a theme of cheating and lies – and the worst lies are the ones that the people I trusted told themselves, because those ended up effecting me the most. This is one of the reasons why I am an endless advocate for honesty. Even when it hurts, it’s preferable to the pretty lie that hurts worse once exposed for what it is.
During the crumbling of my ill-fated marriage, I decided that what I was doing to deal with my depression wasn’t working. [ya think?] So I bravely – and yes, it was VERY brave to try something new – marched to the doctor and told her everything. And walked out with a fancy prescription for Cymbalta, and a feeling of resignation. I have a disease. I need to medicate it. That’s both a bit of a bummer – I can’t just wish it away – but also VERY freeing, because I finally had the proof in hand that it is NOT MY FAULT.
Because, you see, there’s an amazing amount of guilt that comes packed with depression. Or maybe you know that already, because you’re in the choir with me. It’s not fear that’s the mind killer for me. It’s guilt. It makes me sick, it makes me second-guess everything I do and say. It’s what finally drove me to engage in the second part of my healing process: the Therapist.
The Therapist helped me admit the stuff that I knew but didn’t want to face. The Therapist affirmed that I was Brave and Strong and Capable and It Wasn’t My Fault. The Therapist let me know that it was NOT all in my head, and that I was indeed injured by what had happened but I could and would heal, and the guilt was natural – but it was telling me lies.
And most importantly, it opened my eyes fully to the truth: keeping secrets is what kept me hurting for so long. I bought the security of others via my own pain, by keeping my mouth shut. It didn’t help them – although they probably think that it did, because I’m sure some of them blame me for speaking up and changing their worlds – but it really did nothing but maintain a pretty lie.
I’d rather have the Ugly Truth than a Pretty Lie.
If you feel differently, this is not the place for you, and I am not the girl for you.
So why should you listen to me?
Well, my guess is that you’re probably on a quest, just like I am, to improve. To heal. To grow better, stronger, happier. [if you’re already at that place, AWESOME. Please share your tips?]
By sharing what I’m going through, I give you the gift of transparency, to see that you are not alone. I invite you to do the same. It is scary, I won’t lie. I get flack about what I say and share. I get questions, doubts, and disapproval. But I’m not going to stop because it makes them uncomfortable, because THIS IS THE TRUTH. It’s my truth, yes, but it is also things that actually happened, and things that are happening to other people all over the planet. We’re told to hide things, to be quiet, to dim our soul-light and truth and voice all the time. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to refuse to do so. The people who want to silence you, to dim you – they may not mean to hurt you, but they *are* hurting you, and it’s okay and right to say NO, to say I WILL SPEAK MY TRUTH.
I’m here to cheer you on. I’m here to lead by example. I’m here to learn from you. I’m here to speak out, and to listen.
Secrets can hurt. Don’t let yourself be badgered into keeping them just to keep the peace, if that peace isn’t one that you get to share.
Join me on this journey, won’t you? Let’s let our small lights in the darkness help to lead each other along the path to happiness and wholeness.