How Does It End When the War that you're in is Just You Against You Against You?

Hello darlings

How are you?
Me. Such a mess! A mess! Of note!
I can't contribute much to this world and that's a frustration, but transparency about my struggles is something I am committed to. For whatever it is worth. I hope it is indeed worth something to someone.

Life is great though. I mean it really is. I have no complaints.  Everyone is healthy. I'm healthy. Everyone seems happy enough. Everyone seems to be doing what they are supposed to be doing. It's not Winter anymore. The sun shines from time to time. The dog is still alive. I have a family who are incomparable. I can't describe their wonders, their support. Living in my pretty little doll house is easy.  It's small but it's chill. There's minimal conflict at any given time, the people who live here are all very awesome. It's a safe, happy fun place to be. Messy a good deal of the time, but nurturing.  I have friends. They are kind and good and true.  Generous, caring, selfless and loving beyond words. There are no real worries. No true problems. Cute white picket fence town.  Everything is provided for. Couldn't be easier.

But my life does not seem valuable. It does not seem worthwhile. It does not seem helpful. It does not seem to be worth the pain of living it. The world in my head is often very dark and sad.  My dreams are dreadful.  Every night. The hardest part right now is that it's back. The darkness.  C-PTSD is the name for what plagues me. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 Last May I was practically catatonic but it was to be expected. The things that I had been through in the months just prior to that were a culmination of many many many many years of suppressed trauma and had been cataclysmic in many ways It was really the first time I was addressing my trauma. This May is pretty chill. Nothing is going down other than the good stuff.  Awesome handsome, cool fun, overachiever first kid graduating with honours and a full college scholarship. Four other awesome fun etc kids. Booyah. Mother's Day. (omigod Mother's Day can we please please please just dispense of the horror of mother's day trust me when I tell you it does more harm than good to more people than not. I'm just saying.) Actually, my own Mother's Day brought every reason for gratitude and  oh grateful I was. It was delightful and I was Over the top grateful. Triggered? That too. The whole week leading up to it maybe a couple of weeks. So bad. All the bad, bad feelings.

Honestly, the last six months have been full of triggers. And some of the time I was a trooper through those triggers and faced them like a little champion and some of the time I did all the wrong things and pretended none of it was happening to me...lalalalalalallaaaaaaa.. After a while I "had to take a break" from therapy. I just couldn't keep digging. I felt the need for emotional independence. I just wanted to be normal, carefree, in the present. Apparently breaks are ok. They happen. I took way too long of a break. My bad. You don't quit therapy. That's a luxury that is not afforded to those who are in the early stages of dealing with unresolved C-PTSD.

You guys, I don't know much about freaking anything but one thing I have learned and I know and I live every day is that TRAUMA WILL OUT. You can't DIY yourself out of it, regardless of how smart and resilient you may think you are.  That MOFO will insist on being heard and the way it can be heard if you don't know what is going on is confusing and weird and insidious and very damaging to the soul. So you won't necessarily act up in the way one might expect you to.  You may go about your day and be the freaking life of the freaking party all the damn time.  You might smile and hold down a job and laugh a lot and throw lovely parties for your lovely children.  And show up and do the things you say you will do, and run and do yoga and seem like you  have it all together. More than all together. But those observing closely will sense the cracks in the facade, they will see that you aren't ok and then one day one of them will show up at your workplace and ask you with a kind and worried face how you are because they are truly worried and then maybe the dam will break and you will sob and you will sob and you will sob. Openly. Just as you have been doing as you hide in your car, the storeroom at work, the bathroom before you wash your face and touch up your makeup and go back to being "on".    And then you will realize that your cover is blown. And you will wonder why you bothered with the cover at all.  And then the old question that you have fought against since you were 11 or 12 years old will rise to the surface again and will coldly, boldly ask you why you bother with life? You are so stupid and so weak and worthless, so ridiculous and generally just so very useless. You are taking up space, and air. And time and other people's worry.  Wouldn't everyone just be so much better off not having to worry about you? What a burden you are.

It will tell you that in all likelihood you are much too broken to fix. The patch job that you've been doing all your life, the one that you used to reel in all these kind and unsuspecting people who unwittingly have grown to like or even love's wearing off  it's falling apart and there's no way to fix what has been revealed and soon they will ALL ABANDON YOU. Total abandonment is inevitable! Why wouldn't it be? Why would people stand by you while you muddle your way through this shit?  To fix you will take resources, and time and concern.  Which could be so much more easily channeled into so many more worthy causes. More worthy uncomplicated, undamaged people. Right? Quit while you are ahead. There's no hope. Do it to be kind. Do it to be kind to all the unwitting people who you cunningly made care about and now are saddled and burdened with you.  Right?

They tell me wrong. They tell me I'm wrong. They keep saying I'm wrong. There's a part of me that believes them.


All my life I have been motivated by being kind. I recognize that about myself. I am kind. I like that about myself. I value kindness above any other quality.  Being kind is good. I'm not always kind, not by any stretch of the imagination, but ultimately, I try very hard to be. I really do.  I want everyone around me, whether they love or like or even know me to be ok. I want the world to be ok. I don't want other people to feel pain or suffering. If you make kindness your primary motivation in life you can live to have a very valuable life. See Mother Theresa.  You can also become very neurotic and allow yourself to become very hurt.  See me. I know that. I've lived that. I've been somewhat successful in my kindness I think. I believe I have raised kind children.. But I haven't successfully extended the kindness to myself on any consistent basis.

The same friend who showed up at my workplace and watched me cry and cry and cry later sent me a text with a link to a song. It had been a horrific day. Horrific.Worst of the worst. I was out of options.  I was in the lowest of low places. I didn't want to listen to it. I knew that she has a very simple and very profound faith in a God that I do not have a simple faith in.  I do not have good connotations with that God and I really didn't want to have anything to do with anything that would remind me of Him at that time.  But! If a friend takes enough time out of their day to think of me, and send me a kind wish and then goes so far as to look up a link and send it to me in an effort to help me, well then dammit the least I can do is listen. That's just good manners. Suicidal depression aside. Good manners trumps all.  I lay in my bed under my covers and listened. The song was short, it was tender and the message was simple. There was an oblique reference to God but I inserted my kind friend's face in there instead. Actually the faces of many kind people in my life flashed before me one by one.

And then one line broke through the stoic ice cold numbness I had summoned to protect my fragile heart and broke it: can't expect to be perfect, it's a fight you have to forfeit so
lay down your weapon, 
darling take a deep breath and believe that I love you. 
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself.
You've got to learn to love your enemies too.

My breath caught. The tender nurturing simplicity of the injunction broke through my cold self loathing determination and I sobbed again. Just for a moment. I'm sorry to say that crying doesn't come easily to me because I think it can be very cathartic. I wish I cried more easily. But it was enough. Enough to break the cold clinical devastating spell of what I thought I should do and had to find the courage to do to make everything ok for everyone else.

Later by some miracle, I managed to go for a run,  the song rolled around on my playlist and again that same line emerged, I felt my step quicken so that I could keep my composure but again it broke me. As I ran I sobbed and sobbed. I felt humanity. I felt a tiny shred of kindness toward myself, the self that was also the enemy. Maybe not something not quite as powerful as kindness but an acknowledgment at least, that the light within me deserved to you know...not be snuffed out..... I'm not sure, to be honest how to explain how I felt. But it was something. Enough to get me through the day.

Since then, I'm getting through the day. Sometimes one minute at a time, sometimes hours flow fairly effortlessly by. Generally it's a minute by minute thing.

You guys I wish I had a happy spin or pretty bow for this story. I do. It seems like that would be the kind way to end this. But another line from the song, the title of this blog post which asks, "how does it end?"  This war in my head. Just me against me against me?

 And I can't tell you. I just can't.

 I can tell you that:
I've overcome a lot to be where I am, however tenuous that place might be I've had a part in bringing about some truly nice people into the world. And I do remember even as a young child experiencing trauma confidently innately believing that all would be well, if it had to happen to someone I was glad it was me because I'd be ok. I knew I was strong and I knew I could make bad things turn out to be good lessons. I knew it would make me kind and more compassionate.

 But it would appear that I forgot about myself.  Compassion is supposed to be turned inwards too. I talk a pretty good game about that. But when it comes to me, I don't feel it.  I don't see the point in it. I don't see much value in me. Keeping it real. Right now I see myself as infinitely disposal and dispensable, completely replaceable. But I also tell myself that while I may be dispensable, first do no harm. First be kind. Be kind where you can and give what you have. Right now, I don't have much to give.  But I do know that sharing my pain in the past has been kind. People have told me it has helped them. And so I hope it does.

If you can; be kind to yourself today. If you can take a deep breath darling, and lay down your weapon and just be kind to yourself today. I hope you will.

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Gabrielle Findlay said...

The world is a better place because you are in it. Your light shines across oceans to whichever continent I am on. Your words are some of the most powerful and searingly insightful, I come across. Thank you for finding the strength to fight on. Warrior woman!!

Jennifer said...

My dear, you have been heard. Just when you think you can run away or past or through the dark you might find yourself still in it. Take care of yourself, I would miss you.

Jason Armstrong said...

Thank you Kirsty. I know how much it must have taken out of you to share that. You are a true inspiration even if you don't feel that way.

~*~pumpkintrina~*~ said...

Relatable post #1296545.

You are so invariably special and courageous. Telling your story even while in the midst of the pain is -- well, I'd say impossibly hard, but you've done it. So it isn't impossible for you. Last night, at an annual dinner for the local mental health board, I was too ashamed to even raise my hand in a crowd and proclaim that I was in recovery from mental illness. It's too private, I would feel too exposed. I couldn't, can't do what you do.

My love and all the light I have to spare are with you in your darling house in your darling little town with your darling family, all of which and whom make this harder rather than easier, which is one of the sad truths of this monstrous disease. Our protective instincts extend to those we love most and we want to protect them from ourselves. Because we know what we are doing to them and feel powerless to stop it any other way other than leaving, running away or ending it all, for their sake. But it isn't true, it's the disease creating those thoughts and they seem real as the chair I'm sitting in, but they are not real. The love is real.

Love you and holding you in the light.

Anonymous said...

A truly amazing and valuable post. So glad you have that friend in your life. I am grateful to her. The truly nice people you have helped to bring into the world are grateful to her too, I am sure. Not to mention your husband who loves you beyond worlds. As do your extended family, whether you know and believe that or not.

Seth Randall said...

To my dearest sister. I am so deeply touched by your post and the raw honesty of your feelings. I wish I could fight off your pain like you used to fight off my persecuters. Your worth is infinite, and so is my love for you.