This week I have been thinking a lot about the different stages in my life.
Luz posted something on the forum about changing your expectations of yourself, and reaching goals you may have never thought yourself capable of. She talked about what her life used to look like, and how she once did not believe she was capable of achieving “normalcy”.
That made me think a lot about my past; where I’ve come from, where I’ve gone, where I’m at now. And most importantly, how I got there, and here. What did it take to go through each age and stage of my life? Where did I go (both good and bad) that I never imagined myself going? How did it change me?
Then today something else happened that hurled me years and years into my past.
I met someone- well didn’t meet, more met again. When I introduced myself she instantly remembered me- we were roommates and friends in the hospital together when I was 12.
That was over ten years ago, and the first time (of over 15) I was put in a psychiatric hospital.
At that point in my life, it was one of the most profound experiences I’d ever had. So much happened in those 7 months (it was technically 3 separate stays, but with only a few days of being discharged in between) that shaped and transformed me.
I cannot help but find myself entombed in thoughts and memories. Reminiscing about a time in my life that was both incredibly painful, scary, and difficult; but also comfortable, safe, and sometimes even very happy. These memories are similar to falling in a rose bush. I’m surrounded by beautiful flowers, and covered in wounds. I feel a small light in my stomach, but enclosed within a deep pit full of sadness.
And then I begin to think about what happened after I left the hospital.
From there my life fell apart.
From there my journey with mental illness began; and has not ended since.
And from there I grew and changed in many ways- both good and bad.
From memories of my first hospitalization, come painful memories of all that ensued afterward; essentially my entire family falling apart both separately and together over a period of 5 years.
What each tragedy encompassed.
How it felt, and I don’t just remember the feeling, I experience it.
I am once again a 14 year old girl stuffing 200 pills down her throat.
Then, I am 16 years old, saying “no” to a 24 year old man, who was too high to listen.
I am 17 years old and waking up from a coma after a suicide attempt I don’t remember making, because all the seizures that resulted from it damaged my memory.
Again and again I am experiencing the traumas I left behind years ago.
And it’s like being beaten with a bat.
I cannot catch my breath enough to beg for it to stop.
Where am I in time and how do I find my way back here?
How do I accept all that’s happened and the place I’m at now when all I want to do I reject it and bury my mind in a deep pit of sand?
It’s so strange how things continue to change at such a rapid pace. It’s all the time and we have no say as to whether or not it happens. Against our will we are under a constant transformation that will only cease to exist when we do.
How do I swallow the fact that I once wanted to die?
That many times I tried to kill myself?
That I hurt myself every day for years?
How do I move forward knowing at one time in my life I would cry thinking about how much I hated myself?
And that at one time I was a teenager and watching my life crumble before me; terrified and powerless.
I ask how do I do this because really, it wasn’t that long ago. And really, I’m still the same person.
Except now I have a daughter and life and set of responsibilities that I was never supposed to have. I was never supposed to be here. I don’t think I ever planned on being 22.
Yet against my own will, transformations occurred. And somehow, without my knowledge or consent, I began to get better.
What about the times that that old, familiar dark place seems most comfortable?
It’s funny how small things can begin large, unmanageable spirals. Like hearing a song, or smelling something vaguely familiar. And how simple things, like writing this blog post can begin to bring me back into realignment- even if it’s without my consent or intent.
I come back to a place of normalcy where I remember that sadness is not safety. And that I’m no longer a child, and no longer without control or power.
And most importantly, I am responsible for a little girl. Who needs me and wants me. And it’s my job to be there for her, and be good to her. And I promise to her, and myself, and the entire universe that I will not fail her and I will always try as hard as I can to be what she needs.