Just two weeks ago, I had to promise three different people at three separate times that I wasn’t going to hurt myself. I didn’t, and I wouldn’t, because even at the deepest depths of my depression, I want to live. But I was low enough that three people who care about me very much asked me to assure them of my safety.
One week ago, I was surrounded by the best friends I only get to see once or twice a year, my blogging family. I completely and totally lost it in the emotional tempest that was Erika Napoletano’s keynote presentation. My imperfect self, my true self, stripped naked in front of the crowd. I wasn’t up on stage, but I felt like I was. I sobbed even after the speaking was over. My friends at the table were there for me. They said I could open up to them, that they wouldn’t judge me…but I couldn’t do it. I’m still not going to do it. There are other people involved, and it’s not just my story to tell. But my friends were there for me if I wanted to talk, and they were there for me if I didn’t.
It was cathartic. I needed that good, hard cry.
But my tears weren’t done yet.
I went home the next day and hugged my husband and son tight when they greeted me at the airport. I was so grateful to be home with them. It helped, but it didn’t make the hurt go away.
Once home, I had to confront my demons again. There was more pain, and not just for me. I hurt people I love. It was my fault, too. Life hurts too much sometimes, and in my own pain, I managed to inflict it upon others.
My psychiatrist has referred to “abandonment depression,” which seems odd to me, because my parents loved me and never hurt me when I was a child – not the norm when it comes to abandonment issues. No, I fear mine is a more existential problem. Childhood friendships that ended in betrayal again and again, realizing that I was “different” from other people, always wanting everyone to love me even though that’s impossible, every romantic relationship I had before I met my husband with guys who didn’t treat me well because I didn’t think I deserved to be treated well. Every so often, I act out, recreate the emotional trauma, and return to that comfortably uncomfortable place where I know where I stand. No one really made me feel this way – well, except for those bad friends and poor excuses for boyfriends. My mind does it to itself. Most people got over these little traumas when they were younger. Not me.
I’m terrified for my son, who seems to do some of the same things to himself. He hits himself in the head and calls himself stupid, saying that he deserves to be hit – even though no one in his life has ever hit him, and we tell him that no kid deserves to be hit, and that he is certainly not stupid. He hurts himself, both mentally and physically, because he feels he deserves it. No matter how much we tell him that we love him, and how proud we are of him just for being himself, he repeats the same thing back to me every time I try to tell him not to hit himself. I can’t take that away from him, no matter how much I want to. I can’t take it away from myself either, although my body’s aches and pains are a far more subtle and sinister way to inflict the physical pain than just hitting myself in the head.
And I don’t live in a vacuum. So I hurt others when I hurt myself. I accept the responsibility for that, for all the good that does. It doesn’t take away the scars, though.
I’m not looking for sympathy. I do want to say I’m sorry to those I have hurt, with words or actions, or lack thereof.
I’m trying to get better. To be better. Or at least to handle life better than I am now.
I’ve made mistakes. I’d like to make fewer of them. It’s all I can do.