Grief and Loss, Hope, Love, mental illness, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Dad

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It has been so long since my dad died, that I do not remember ever celebrating his birthday. I do not remember sitting around the table eating a birthday meal, watching him open his gifts, or blowing out his candles. I do not remember much of anything about him.

I do not remember his smell, or his voice. I do not remember his touch –from love or abuse. I do not remember so many pieces of him.

I have one photo of him that was damaged in the house fire. I have nothing else left of him, or his. In his thirty-seven years, there is barely anything left behind to prove his existence.

Except for me, and now my children, who are his grandchildren.

The memories I do have of the short time I was able to spend with him are haunted by abuse, and regret. I witnessed him hurt my mom, and brother, and experienced his abuse first hand. I also have memories of his kindness and love toward others in need.

I remember how intelligent he was, and how he could always come out ahead. He had survival skills like no one I have ever seen before –I like to think that is where I learned to survive through the extremes of abuse I experienced. He was a pro at getting something for nothing.

He was someone you did not mess with, but also someone you went to for help. He had a kind heart, and a lot of love to give. What I remember most is how much he wanted to be loved, and accepted.

He had Paranoid Schizophrenia, and for the longest time I was confused as to who he was. I confused his illness with him, which led to fear. When I was able to separate the two, I was able to see him for who he was. I was able to see all the good he had to offer, and I was able to understand the why behind the bad.

I wish I had more time to get to know my dad. I wish that his life could have been easier for him, and I wish he could have found the true love he had been searching for. I know there was a reason he was my dad, and I am grateful for the lessons I was able to learn from him.

Loving him taught me that people are more than a diagnosis. There are reasons behind many of the things people do. He taught me tolerance, strength and perseverance.

In his memory, I ask that you find someone in need of some extra love, and love them. Talk to them. Learn from them. Give people the gift of your time.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

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Depression, mental illness

Out in the Darkness

Last year I made my New Year’s resolution to write a blog every week. The perfectionist in me felt that this was doable. It’s only fifty-two posts after all. For the first half of the year I succeeded. I wrote a post every week. Even as I went out to Hollywood, and then Tennessee, I made sure that I had something written for the week. My desire to be my best, to do more, to be everything to everyone pushed me forward. I couldn’t give up, I’ve come to far. Then, out in the distance I saw more of the same.

An overwhelming sense of darkness fell over me, and I was unable to care about one of my favorite things. I have gone years without writing. The torture of having words trapped in my head, with no place to go was enough to keep me stuck. Self-sabotage. It is one thing I mastered early in life. If I could make myself feel miserable, no one else could. I could deprive myself of joy, and the darkness could linger. I didn’t like the darkness.

I believed that to be true until recently as I watched the days, and then weeks pass by without allowing myself to release the words, and find joy in doing something that I love. Secretly, I craved it. I long for the normalcy of the miserableness. Changing what you know is a layered process. I wanted it to be fixed now. I didn’t have time to wait for it to go away.

I lit a candle to illuminate the darkness, to give the appearance that it was gone. This worked for a while. But the real issue wasn’t being addressed. The desire to be all and do all takes too much of me. I give, and empty myself, but no one replenishes what they take. I smile, and push ahead. The smile is much like the candle. It hides the truth. It shows what people want to see.

I was trapped. Stuck. The depths of darkness held me tight. Whispering….shhh…and erasing all the creativity that I had. The longer I waited for the words to release, the stronger the hold of the darkness was. I couldn’t shake it off of me, even now I struggle with finding the words. Breaking the silence, and freeing myself from the weight of the shadows.

I know the darkness will always be there. I know that the light will always come. Knowing is half the battle.

To the darkness.

To the light.

Depression, mental illness, Uncategorized

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I almost let the month pass me by without mentioning it. Maybe, because I try so hard to act as though there are no struggles, so if I ignore it, it might just go away. I have found this not to be the case, and the reason why we need a whole month to bring awareness to Mental Health.

As a child I grew up with two mentally ill parents, and spent my whole life trying to prove I was not like them. I knew that mental illness carries a stigma, and we had to be quiet about what was really going on.

My dad was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He never believed this diagnosis, and never sought treatment. My mom, on the other hand never let me forget about his condition, and made sure I knew it could be inherited. Every time my dad did something evil, she blamed it on his illness. She would warn me, that if I misbehaved, I would be like him too. I didn’t really understand what it all meant, only that I knew I did not want to be like him…or her.

My mom was diagnosed with depression and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At times, she was meaner than my dad ever was. She was vacant for many of my memories, sleeping, under her covers for days at a time. Her body was there, but her mind was not. I never saw her as sick, until many years later. I assumed depression was a normal part of life. And PTSD, I thought it couldn’t be that bad…I mean, that was from events that had already happened. (I know this belief was false now, and understand how real, and debilitating it really can be.)

The downplaying is what gives mental health the stigma. I didn’t intentionally do it, and I knew others don’t either. It is the lack of understanding and compassion that adds to the pain and misconceptions. The not knowing is what made me afraid. I lived in a home, surrounded by different diagnoses, but I did not understand any of it. I just knew I didn’t want to be like them.

I didn’t want to be mean. I didn’t want to sleep my life away. I didn’t want to weigh so much, that I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t want to think people were after me or out to get me. I didn’t want to call my kids names, or beat them. I didn’t want to be evil or crazy. I didn’t want to blame my problems on everyone else. I didn’t want to live off the system. I didn’t want an addiction. I didn’t want to be so angry, or so sad. I didn’t want to die.

All of my fears came from not understanding. That is where a lot of the fear comes from. People are so quick to judge without the facts, without information, without seeing people as…people. I wanted information. I wanted to understand.

I took all the classes I could in high school and college to help me understand. I even went back to get my Masters in Mental Health Counseling (more so to understand myself). Information is power, and key to ending the stigma.

Since my childhood, I have found my way to more people, with more diagnoses, and I learned that people are more than the label given to them by an illness or disease. Under the layers of labels, and challenges they bring, people bring stories, and gifts. When you look past all the other stuff, there is so much to gain.

I learned that I also have PTSD, and at times have struggled with depression. When I was able to accept what was happening inside of me, I was able to understand it, and learn from it.

We all have our struggles, and challenges. We have stories, and lessons. We have the potential to shine. Life’s greatest lesson I have found: Don’t be afraid to be who you really are. Our stories matter. Don’t let shame or fear keep you silent.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Through my love for Tom Petty, I met a creative couple, who have a story of their own. They make beautiful jewelry out of recycled guitar strings, and help raise awareness for mental health by sharing their story. Please, check them out, and take time to read about their journey. ReThrive Guitar String Jewelry.

 

 

Depression, healing, Hope, Love, mental illness, Uncategorized

Trauma Camp

Continued from: Healing Trauma

2

 

I did not know what to expect when I packed my suitcase for a week away at Onsite. I talked myself out of going more times than I can count. I spent hours looking online for information on what to expect, I came up almost empty handed. The few reviews I did find were all positive, but I wanted more. I wanted to know what I was getting myself into before I committed to going.

I knew nothing more than what a quick (alright, hours of searching) search produced. The phrase that kept coming back to me was, “Trust the Process.” For a person that has a difficult time trusting, this was not that helpful. As the days grew closer to April 13th (Friday the 13th to be exact), I wanted to trust the process. I had done a lot of work already, I was hopeful that this could help. It couldn’t hurt. Right?

I prepared some meals to leave behind, wrote some letters to mail before I left, packed my bag, and rode to the airport with George riddled with anxiety. I wasn’t sure what I was the most nervous about. Leaving the outside world as I knew it, spending a week with a bunch of strangers, or opening up old wounds that I thought I had healed.

As I walked through the airport doors, tears in my eyes, I wanted to change my mind, but I didn’t. I walked up to the ticket counter, got my tickets, made small talk with the lady behind the desk and tried to smile. “Business or pleasure?” Hmm…Good question.

“A little of both, I guess.” I said as I faked a smile.

I made it through security, all the worries I had been trying to shove out of my mind came crashing back down over me. The small, young family in front of me caught my attention as their little one was so excited for their trip. The mother looked at me, “You look familiar…are you an author?”

Whoa…I didn’t expect that! “Well, kind of.”

“Everyone back at home is going crazy over your book. I can’t wait to read it.”

“Really? That’s great! Thank you so much for sharing that with me. That was just what I needed to hear today.”

My above response, “Well, kind of,” was exactly why I needed to go to Onsite. I have always had a hard time believing in myself, or seeing myself as others do. My lifelong dream was to be an author, and even in a moment like that, I could not own it. This. This was what I needed to change. This was why I had to get past my fear and trust the process.

I am a firm believer in things happening for reasons, no coincidences, and messages. This encounter was what I needed to help remind me of what I needed to work on. It was my view into the outside of what people see me as. Our short conversation helped ease some of my anxiety and replace it with excitement for things to come.

When I arrived in Nashville, TN I had an hour to wait for the shuttle to Onsite. As I waited outside I looked around to see if I could spot others that I would be spending the week with. I had no idea what I was looking for…I mean…what does a person who needs to heal past trauma look like? People came and left as the minutes passed by. And then, at 3:00pm on the dot a black van pulled up with a small white sign “Onsite.”

I rolled my bag to the door as a man with a clip board greeted me. He took my bag and I boarded the van. I found a single seat, so there was no chance I would have to make small talk until I had to. I texted people to let them know I was safe, and on the way to the program. More people entered the van as we waited for the last person on the list to arrive. When we were all loaded up, we were on our way to heal our past trauma. The hour and a half ride was uncomfortable, and almost silent, except for one talkative guest, who kept herself entertained.

The battery 0n my cell phone was fading fast as I tried to get all of the last minute conversations in. Seven days without my screen. Without talking to the people I love. Without watching the news, or checking the weather. Seven days.

The van drove up the long driveway and parked in front of one of the buildings from the website. We were told to go inside for orientation. We each got off the van, still in silence as we entered the building and sat in the chairs that were placed in a circle. We were given a bag with a name tag, water bottle, binder, and room key, and then given a tour of the campus while they delivered our bag to our rooms.

After the tour, we were allowed to go to our rooms and explore…and keep our phones until after dinner. I found my room in one of the cabins, that I was to share with two other women for the week. The room was cozy and comfortable, but it was not home. I unpacked my things and called home one last time to let them know that I was safe and able to have my phone for a little while longer. The kids and George wished me well and we counted down the days until I could call again…Thursday night at 4…things were starting to look up…a day less than expected.

At dinner I found a table of three strangers, who sat quietly until one of them made small talk. Two of the people at my table were there only until Wednesday, and were doing individual intensives. I was not aware that was an option, or I probably would have went for that (I’m grateful I ended up in a group though).

After dinner we all joined in the Carriage House, where about thirty-five people gathered in a circle. My anxiety returned as I looked around the room. How was I supposed to share my darkest secrets with this many people? The night continued with a few icebreaker activities. We had to place ourselves on an imaginary map from where we were from. I stood alone in the northern part of the room, as others congregated in small groups. I wasn’t surprised to be the lone person from New Hampshire.

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We were asked to walk around the room and find someone we did not know (which was easy to do, since I didn’t know anyone) and talk about the question that was asked. “If you could be any animal, what would you be, and why?”

This seemed like a harmless enough question. My mind went blank. “A dog.” It was the only thing that came to my mind, and then the tears began to fall. I looked around the room, and it appeared I was the only one crying. Great.

“Aww. Let them out. Tears are good. Why do you want to be a dog?” The kindness from this woman, this stranger illuminated from her. It helped take some of the awkwardness away from the tears.

“Because they love unconditionally.” I couldn’t make sense of what I was saying, or why, and then it was time to move on to the next question. I did my best to suck in the tears and try to find something to laugh about.

The next question came. “What are you most afraid of for the week ahead?”

The tears returned as I tried to spit out the words. “Of meeting myself.” Wow…I had no idea how afraid I was of this, or that I didn’t feel that I really knew myself. I was lucky that the receiver of these tears was also a kind and gentle person. He let me continue to cry, and then it was time to find our seats. I brushed away the tears and tried to put my fake it until you can make it smile on.

We were free for the night. One of my roommates invited me, and a bunch of other women to play cards. We found a game, and a space on the outdoor porch of the mansion. We talked a little as we played a few games until it was too dark to see and we all parted our separate ways to get some rest for the next day.

What had I signed up for? I still was unsure, but I told myself that I would trust the process, and give it my best shot. The people I had met so far all seemed nice, and for the first time in my life, it felt like others knew how it felt to be damaged or broken too.

 

#MeToo, Child abuse, Depression, gas lighting, Hope, mental illness, Uncategorized

Healing Trauma

 

img_7491Continued from  : An Adventure Awaits

When the show aired, a new level of healing came…but it wasn’t immediate. It took time for everything to ruminate, circulate, and eventually sink in…honestly it still is. The haze on my mirror was thick…after all, it had been gathering grime and dust for over thirty years.

When I saw my step-dad (from here on referred to as him) on stage I could not help but feel sorry for him. That was always my downfall –feeling sorry for the people who hurt me the most. I just could not understand how someone could or would hurt someone else intentionally. Why? There must be a reason behind it. That reason took away my anger, but it also took away my ability to see them as a danger.

A gift and a curse life gave me –to find the good in people. It was what kept me alive, but I now see it is also what kept me in situations that were unsafe.

As I heard him speak, I could not feel the anger I should have felt. I felt sad. I felt sad that he was alone. I felt sad that he did not understand what he did was wrong. I imagined his life now, and I wanted to help him. This empathy, or pity really, kept me from acknowledging my own feelings. It kept me from being able to own what he had done to me, to my sister, to my mom.

George sat with me as we watched the shows. His anger was visibly present. I still could not see what George saw. It had not sunk in yet.   As we talked after the show, about what was aired, and what was not, I still felt sorry for him.

“That’s what he wants. That’s what he’s always wanted.”

“Maybe, but I still can’t help it. I still remember the good parts of him.”

“After what he did to your sister? After what he did to you? Your mom?”

I could see there was nothing I was going to say to explain it. I didn’t even really understand it myself. “But, he didn’t understand what he was doing.”

“Did you not hear him only admit to what he was charged with? He knew what he was doing then, and he still knows.”

As George’s words hit me, I saw it. I saw that he did know. He admitted to only what he had gone to jail for. Nothing else. My pity turned to anger. For the first time in my adult life I could see him for who he was.

That’s when it shifted. That’s when the mirror started to become clearer. Nothing was what it had seemed. Nothing. It got worse before it got better as I went back through my life with this knowledge. It is life shattering to realize that your whole life was a lie. You are not who they told you you are. So who are you?

Who am I?

What if all of my memories were a lie? What if my gram wasn’t who I thought she was? What if I didn’t really know anyone as I thought I did? These thoughts took me down. Back down to where I had fought so hard to get out of.

When I was ready to stand back up, I saw the world differently. I saw myself differently. I understood that the trauma I had gone through as a child was worse…much worse than I had accepted before. Not only had I been abused physically, sexually, and emotionally…I had been forced to live in an alternate reality…and forced into believing that it was me that was damaged. This belief was still haunting me, causing me to see who they wanted me to be, and keeping me from seeing who I really was.

Imagine for a minute that your eyes are blue. Beautiful, sky-blue.

“Your eyes are brown.”

“No they aren’t, they’re blue.”

“No, they are brown.”

“No. My eyes are blue.”

“Don’t be crazy, they are brown.”

“No! They are not!”

“What, are you color blind? They are brown.”

“I am not! I know they are blue, I can see them.”

“Stop being difficult. You just want to make everyone out to be a liar, when we all know you are the liar.”

“No, I am not! I know my eyes are blue.”

“We all know they are brown. Tell her.” A nod of the head.

Maybe they are brown?  “They are blue…I think…I thought…”

“Go on, look in the mirror…see…they are brown.”

“Maybe I don’t know my colors. I do have brown eyes.”

“See, we told you.”

What color eyes did you have again? The above scenario is how my entire childhood was, and followed me into adulthood, when my ex-husband took over.

What I realized was that every person who had ever hurt me, had been introduced to me by my mom. My dad, step-dad, the man who raped me, my ex-husband…all were sent to me through her. Each and everyone of them shared this connection. As I took this in, I realized that the lies they told me were all similar, almost as though she had handed them the book, How to Keep Jessica in the Dark.

I learned who I was from that book. I saw myself only how they saw me. I beat myself up because I could not see myself in any other way. Even after traveling on my healing journey, even after being with people who told me how they saw me, even after sharing my story with others and hearing praise and encouragement –I still could not see what they saw. 
 
The spell that book carried left the day my mom died. It has slowly been lifted off of me, but the roots of damage are deep. I have to live each day shaking free from its hold over me. I look in the mirror, and I still have to take a cloth to clean the dust that settled back over it. It takes effort every single day to re-learn who I am. 
 
When I understood this. I understood why. I understood why I have such a hard time pushing the negative self-talk out of my head. I understood why I cannot accept praise, or kind words. I hear them, but it doesn’t feel right. It feels foreign. Slowly, I start to see a glimpse of who I really am.  
 
I had thought when my gram died, I did too. And maybe that is accurate, but I was not officially reborn until my mom died. With the spell lifted, I am now learning how to live without the lies, without the hurt. A whole new world. Each day is a new day.  
 
I am not who they said I was, and understanding why I believed all the lies so intently, I am able to forgive myself a little more. It was ​that ​bad, and I do not have to pretend that it wasn’t. The freedom that came from this helped me see how much I really did need to heal the past trauma. I had done a lot of work already, but new work was needed. It was time that I gave myself permission to love myself.  
 
The thought of being free from the spell, from the lies, from the negativity scared me. What if I was not worth getting to know? What if I was not worthy of love? What if the lies were the truth, and when everything is fully lifted, I will see that I am broken.  
 
Anxiety lingered as the days to go to Onsite grew near. My heart pulsed out of my chest, fluttering at the top of my throat. I couldn’t sleep. What if I wasn’t ready? If not now, when? I had been held hostage from my real life, my true life for too long. I was ready to try. 

Continued on: Trauma Camp

Depression, Grief and Loss, healing, Hope, mental illness, Uncategorized

Survivor’s Guilt

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Seven years and ten days after my gram died, her daughter followed.

She left behind the Earthly prison of her body and mind to travel to joy and belonging. Within minutes of exiting her body, she was basking in the beauty of the sunshine–this was something that she had not been able to do for many years.

For years before her death, her wish was to sit out in the sun and feel it beat down on her skin. She rarely left the house due to her mobility, and as each day passed her by, she wished for better days.

Depression and guilt haunted her, and stole many pieces of her. She was barely able to exist some days. She had many dreams, many wishes, and the heart of a child.

One of her wishes, the one that I remember the longest, was to be a published author. She passed her love of writing to me; it was the one thing that we shared. Maybe my dream of being an author came from her–it was also the one thing I always hoped for.

When my book became a reality, I had a hard time feeling the joy it should have brought. I was sad. Sad that I was able to fulfill a dream we both had shared. Sad that I was able to find strength within myself to fight the depression and the blocks. Guilty that I lived to tell the story.

When I think back to the life my mom lived, a sadness comes over me. Her life was much like mine. We shared many of the same kinds of abuse, but we were never close enough to talk about it. There was a distance between us. I was unable to reach her in the places that I longed for.

I tried my best to save her, but I couldn’t. No one could. So I had to save myself. Through my healing, I think of my mom often. I struggle with knowing she was unable to find her own strength. Guilt overwhelms me when I think about all of her suffering. Shame shadows me as I think about the secrets I exposed.

I struggle with the reality of what was. I wish things could have been different. I long for her love, for her to see who I was. I dream of having a childhood, where I could have been a child. And then I feel guilty all over again. My insides cringe when I think back to how much my mom suffered.

But I suffered too.

Then, the cycle circles back to thoughts of why was I able to have a different outcome? Why was I able to travel on my healing journey when she wasn’t. These thoughts alone can take me to a place I don’t want to be. They interfere with my healing. I didn’t know what this was called, until I talked with my counselor. Survivor’s Guilt.

I felt guilty because I could crawl out of the trenches. I felt guilty because I could fight the demons. I felt guilty that I succeeded. I felt guilty that I am alive, living and thriving when she never did.

Giving these feelings a name helped ease some of the guilt. Understanding what I was feeling made me see that it was normal. It did not mean I was throwing away my healing, but that my heart held love for my mother.

I wish my mom’s life had of been different. I wish our life together could have been different. The past cannot be changed, but it can be learned from. I consider the lessons a gift.

Enjoy your freedom Mom. Until we meet again. Spring 2016 855

mental illness, Uncategorized

The Devil Inside

My sister came acrmirror-1662178__340oss a paper our mom wrote for college. The subject: Mental Illness. The topic: Me. I debated on whether or not to read it. I had an idea what it was going to say, and I wondered if she would be upset to know it was in my hands. I waited a few hours, and when I couldn’t wait any longer, I skimmed it and decided it was going to be too upsetting.

A while later the pieces that I did read kept playing over in my head and I knew I had to finish reading it. This was my mom’s perspective of her first born daughter. I wrote my perspective when I wrote The Monster That Ate My Mommy, and thought it was only fair to see the situation through her eyes. I have forgiven her, and this was the past, written seventeen years ago.

I sat next to George as I started to read, reading pieces out loud and stopping with a few gasps, “oh my Gods,” and “wows.” I read a sentence, stopped, and explained the truth. There was a hint of truth in a lot of it, but for every truth there was a twist to make it seem like we lived in different worlds. An example: “Jessica was born from a rape.” This was the story I was told as a little girl, maybe to make me understand what a gift my mom gave me when she fought the world and decided to have a baby under such circumstances. The truth came out years later, after the guilt of my conception was carried on my shoulders. My mom and dad went to a convention in Atlantic City, NJ, where they had a mini vacation and I was conceived…consensually. She only admitted to this when I found a letter she wrote my dad that had been used as a book mark in one of Gram’s books. I do not remember the exact words now, but it talked about that weekend, and it talked about how I was created out of love and how it would be best if they tried to work it out and have him in my life.

My whole belief on who I was shifted when I read that letter, and I gathered a little more evidence to store in my mental file, “Your own mother doesn’t love you.” When I confronted her with the letter, she looked like a deer caught in headlights. Surprisingly, she did not deny it. She was angry at me for “snooping.”

Another example, and I think this might have been her favorite, “She said she heard voices and they were always telling her to do bad things….She never mentioned the voices again, until years later. They had never left.” It is true that when I was seven years old I did hear voices, but they were never talking to me and never told me to do anything. When I heard the voices they were two women fighting with each other. I remember telling Mom it sounded like a mother and daughter bickering. I only heard them in my bedroom at Bill’s house, never anywhere else, and they did not last long…I stopped hearing them, and they never came back.

Her eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas when I told her about the voices. “Ahha…she is crazy!” I went to her for comfort and support, but what I didn’t know then, and probably didn’t really realize until recently she was compiling her own mental file, “Reasons why I don’t have to love my daughter, and can prove to the world she is crazy so they won’t love her either.” It wasn’t good enough that she didn’t love me; she had to make others feel the same, to maybe help her ego a little. If others thought the things she did about me, she couldn’t possibly be a bad person. It was me who was the problem.

At seven when I heard the voices I was under an extreme amount of stress and had undergone more trauma than most adults ever face. By seven I had been continually physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. I had my life threatened more than once. I was caught between two mentally unstable adults who made sure I did not love the other while I was in the opposite’s presence. I also had a new baby sister, who was loved by everyone, even my mom, who had been unable to show me love.

The rest of the fourteen page document is much of the same. She took a tiny truth and shaped it to fit into her belief. There was not one part that I could read without feeling like I had to defend it. As I got to the end of the document it became clear, “I think Kate had a much better life because Jessica wasn’t in the home.” My eyes opened wider than I think they had ever before, and my final “wow,” spewed out of my mouth. There we have it folks…a lifetime of being made to feel crazy…and the grand prize…a better life for my sister, who has her own memoir to write.

This twisted view of who my mom saw me to be was how I was raised. The toxic, crazy making was real. I have it in black and white. I cried at the end of reading it and talked it over with George. This. This was my life. It was like what you watch on a Lifetime movie. This isn’t reality. How could anyone survive in this type of environment? But, it was reality. A tiny life came into the world to this unstable person, and she tried so hard to find defects in me, and when I wasn’t who she wanted me to be, when I was able to withstand her venom and hatred, and twisted reality I became a problem. I was not moldable. I was the flower that grows out of the mud. I was the ray of light shining through the dirty window lighting up the room. Sure, I have my flaws, but I will never be the person my mother wrote about in that paper. I never was.

It is even clearer why I needed years of healing. Why I still struggle with loving myself, and seeing the adversity I overcame. For most of my life the air I breathed in was full of poison. The belief system reminds me of a cult, and because I would not follow suit I was punished. I believe my mom thought the devil was inside of me. She tried to schedule an exorcism for me after I told about the sexual abuse by Bill. She had to get the devil out of me, so I could see the “truth.” I never caved. I never went to their world. There were times that I believed I had no worth, and I am working on fixing that still. After a lifetime of being shown an image of yourself, it is hard to see what is really in the mirror.

Positive self-talk is a struggle some days, but it is the only thing that will save me.

I thanked George for seeing me. The real me. The me that my mom tried to hide. And for helping me see myself with different eyes.

The sad reality is that in order to heal, my mom had to die. The spell she cast over me, to alter my reality could only be lifted upon her death. And, then my healing could fully begin.