I wanted to give a quick update on my health situation since so many of you commented on yesterday’s post about coughing up blood. Thank you to all of you who sent your thoughts and prayers. I did end up going to Urgent Care, where they did a chest x-ray and came to the conclusion it was bronchitis. So I’m on antibiotics yet again (the third time in the last few months).
I’m a little freaked out today. I’ve had a chronic cough for years, which we have always contributed to sinusitis and my chronic sinus infections. But today for the first time, I actually coughed up blood. I’m not sure if I should go to Urgent Care or if it is really that big of a deal. I may have to contact my doctor to see what she thinks. My chest hurts too, which concerns me even a little bit more. So needless to say, I’m not up for writing a long post today.
Today I’m doing something rare for me…two posts in one day! I didn’t plan to post this second entry today, but I feel compelled to do so and get something off my chest that I’m tired of hiding. For a long time I debated whether to tell my real story or not, because even when our family hurts us, we still feel a need to protect them.
So this post is about the most humiliating and potentially traumatic experience of my life. It happened when I was 15 years old. At that point I had already endured a rough childhood of turmoil, including being surrounded by and sometimes the target of verbal, mental and physical abuse, my parents’ constant instability in relationships, and the death of my father when I was 12. So, I was already pretty banged up emotionally and mentally. Not to mention the fact that I had undiagnosed high-functioning autism, which made it really hard for me to find my place in the world or understand it.
Anyhow, when I was 15, a boy who was I had been school friends with for years started showing interest in dating me. He was two grades ahead of me and 17 years old at the time. I agreed, but wasn’t sure if I really wanted to date or just be friends. So, I did bring him to my house a few times to hang out with him. In the end, I decided I just wanted to be friends and we decided not to date. Ironically enough (as you shall soon see), my mother actually helped me officially “break up” with him. We never kissed or anything like that, but the kids at school thought we were together and he was technically the first boy I ever “brought home”.
So after deciding to just be friends, I thought life would just go back to normal. But I was wrong. My mom started acting sort of weird. She was sneaking around having mysterious phone conversations and I even once caught her hiding outside, smoking, something I had NEVER seen her do before! I knew something was up, so one night I quietly picked up an extra phone extension to see who it was she was talking with at night. I was shocked to hear her and the guy I had been “dating” exchanging “I love you’s”. I confronted her after the call and she admitted to being in a relationship with him. I was angry, humiliated, shocked, and sickened.
After that, she quit hiding it and started taking off on dates with him pretty much every night, leaving me all alone night after night after night, or even dumping me off on random people so they could go away for days at a time. Before long, she moved him in and I had to live with them. By this time, everyone at school knew that he was dating my mother, which brought me a lot of uncomfortable questions about the situation, since they had all thought I had dated him. I even overheard teachers talking about my mom and the boy. Everyone treated me like my family was insane, and I felt like they had a right to do so because we WERE insane. It felt like Jerry Springer type stuff.
One of the most hurtful incidents I remember during this whole time was when I got into a fight with my mom’s new boyfriend. It was just a verbal fight, but I made him so mad with what I said that he punched me. I was so hurt by this that I jumped on my bike and rode away, even with my mom yelling after me to stop. Eventually I came back home, and instead of making him apologize to me for hitting me, my mom threatened to send me away to live with relatives. At this point, I felt like I was nothing and no one wanted me.
My mom married this boy the very day he turned 18. So I was going to the same school with my new “step-father”. Even though school had always been a refuge for me in the past, now it felt like torture every single day. I started skipping constantly and barely ended up graduating in the end because of all of it. When I was 16 we moved to another state and I went to a new school, but the feeling of shame followed me and I had given up on caring about school or about anything else. I was soon diagnosed with depression for the first time (not surprisingly!)
To this day I still hold a lot of resentment, anger, feelings of betrayal, and embarrassment about the whole thing. I have a relationship with my mother, but it is precarious and not the most trusting.
Last night my back pain got so bad that I may have accidentally overdosed on muscle relaxers. I was thinking my prescription allowed me to take up to 3 muscle relaxers at a time, but I was wrong, apparently it was only 2 at a time…and I took 4. I’m not sure if there is actually much danger in that, but I probably should be more careful.
Yesterday was also a horrible depression day for me. I think the combination of physical pain and the despair I feel sometimes about the seeming meaninglessness of life makes for a perfect storm. It probably didn’t help that I attended a group early in the day that talked about the sometimes apparent pointlessness of life when you are agnostic or atheist.
So, last night I was watching YouTube videos (trying to distract myself from the depression) when I watched a video about the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls. While I was watching it, I started thinking that my depression is kind of like the extremely popular but somewhat annoying 90’s girl group. Instead of Sporty, Posh, Baby, Scary, and Ginger Spice, I have Paranoid Spice, Anxious Spice, Angry Spice, Sad Spice, and Hopeless Spice living in my head. Thinking about all these emotions personified in ridiculously dressed, cheesy girl group images did make me chuckle a bit. Imagine those dance routines!
I met an art snob yesterday. People like that really get to me. I understand that views of what is “good” or “bad” art are very subjective, and everyone has the right to their own opinion on the matter, regardless of whether others agree or not. However, when I meet someone who believes that their personal views on art are perfect and they refuse to even allow room for argument or debate, it makes me frustrated and honestly makes me want to never talk to them about art again.
I feel much the same way about music snobs. Like most people, I have definite preferences when it comes to music, and there are artists and bands I personally find much more talented and introspective than others, but I never understood the need many seem to have to “shame” others for their musical tastes. I have eclectic musical tastes myself, just a few days ago I was in a Marilyn Manson mood, and then the very next day I was popping in a Carpenters cd. But if I suddenly want to listen to 90’s boy bands, Katy Perry, or the Hannah Montana soundtrack, I’m going to do so without feeling guilty.
Sometimes I worry that I come across as too negative or focused only on the bad on this blog. It is really a fine line to walk, because as someone who is chronically ill, constantly feeling sick, and dealing with several mental health issues, it can often feel like the negative in my life does far outweigh the positive. Most of the things I used to love to do (hike, play tennis, roller skate, go dancing, etc.) are now virtually impossible for me. I haven’t been able to work in a couple years and even when I did, I was constantly in trouble for missing work due to health issues. I used to find a great deal of meaning in being a foster parent, but there is no way I could handle that anymore either. I feel like I’ve lost SO MUCH that it is hard to cope. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression, but since becoming sicker and sicker physically, the levels of those mental issues have skyrocketed.
I want to be honest on this blog above all else. Even when it hurts and even when it is ugly and dark. However, I don’t want to give the impression that there are never good moments in my life. There are times my husband makes me laugh uncontrollably. There are days when I do feel well enough to go out to eat or browse through a bookstore. Sometimes I get to watch a tv show I’m addicted to and excited to see. I still get to paint and play with art materials. My crazy cats continue to be crazy and adorable. It isn’t all bad, and I am grateful for the good times, but most days are a struggle and I don’t want to lie about that either.
* Art by Maranda Russell
Although I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 mood disorder, honestly, I wonder myself if it might not be Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) instead, or even in addition. The reason I say this is that so many of the stories of other Borderlines hit close to home and so do the symptoms. My greatest fear is fear of abandonment, and has been since childhood. It doesn’t matter if that abandonment comes from rejection or death, it all feels like being abandoned to me.
As a child I wouldn’t even spend the night at friends’ houses normally because I would have panic attacks at night and end up calling my mom to come get me. I was always afraid something would happen to my family or they would somehow be gone in the morning if I wasn’t there with them all the time. This fear became much, much worse after my dad died when I was 12. After that, my fear centered on my mom dying or leaving me, which wasn’t helped at all when she remarried when I was 15 and started dumping me off on anyone she could while she went on trips with her new lover.
When I got married at 20 years of age, that fear transferred to my husband. At first I feared he would just get sick of me and leave or find someone else he liked better. I was extremely insecure for a long time. I would get upset over the silliest things, like thinking he loved the kids he worked with more than he loved me. It was ridiculous. The one and only time we have been apart since being married was when I went with a church group to Tennessee for a week. One night during that week he told me he would be home by 10pm, so I called him after that and couldn’t get an answer. I freaked out, and ended up leaving 19 tearful messages for him within an hour because I was so scared something had happened to him.
Fortunately, I have matured over the years and my fear of my husband leaving me or cheating on me has greatly reduced due to his loving nature, although deep down I know I must still have some of those fears because I have nightmares about those things happening. However, now my fear focuses mostly on my worries that my husband will die before I do…a fear that might be somewhat justified by my being about a decade younger than him. This fear of something happening to him is so strong it literally gives me panic attacks if I think about it too much.
My fear of abandonment and rejection greatly affects my ability to develop other relationships because I tend to push people away before they can get too close, mostly out of fear of them rejecting me once they really get to know me. I know I have poor self-esteem and a flawed self-image, which I’m sure I will address further in part 2 of this post.
* Art by Maranda Russell