Sometimes, even though I know I have so much to be thankful for, I wish I could change my life. I look at people around me, and I wish I had the inner peace they seem to have. And maybe they aren’t at peace either, but they sure pull it off less awkwardly than I feel I do. I hide under a blanket of darkness that I don’t share with anyone. I can smile, laugh, and “fake it ’til I make it,” but that isn’t real. It’s simply a facade. A facade that I even successfully hide from my husband–a man I’ve been with for 14 years. But this is my truth…
The truth is, there are many memories that haunt me.
I remember feeling, as a middle-schooler, as if no one would ever understand me. I remember family secrets that I could never share with anyone. No one needs to know, right? But the fact is, I told. I told because I felt deep down that I was worth self-loathing. I hated myself. I hated my body. I hated everything about me. I can’t say that my parents are to blame for all of that. I really can’t. As far as my hatred of my body goes, I only remember my parents telling me that I was average. Nothing was wrong with me weighing 160 pounds as a 7th grader. I was “big-boned,” not fat. Yet, I looked at the girls around me and I knew better. And maybe because I hated my body, but maybe also because it was something I could control in a life that felt so out of my control, I starved myself for months. I lost 40 pounds. I still hated myself. But I also hated all of the yelling, and the drinking I witnessed, and feeling as if I were damned if I did, but damned if I didn’t.
I will never forget how it felt when my own parents quoted back my diary to me after they found out I had told. I will never forget my feelings being made fun of and belittled. I can forgive my parents, but I still look over my shoulder when I write. My husband can’t sit anywhere near me when I’m writing because I’m so afraid of what people will think of my thoughts. Is it wrong for me to feel upset? Do my feelings matter? To this day, I still question myself all of the time. Something is wrong with me, I just know it. No one feels what I feel. No one will ever understand.
I feel people’s judging eyes when I speak. If they’re really judging me, I guess I’ll never know. But it doesn’t decrease the self-doubt. It doesn’t make it any easier for me to feel okay about myself. And it doesn’t make me feel as if I can trust people with my feelings. I’m closed off. Maybe I will never feel open to people. Years of therapy have not kept me from feeling “less-than.”
I’m self-deprecating. I really try not to be, but I am. I am supremely pessimistic, even though I work really hard at putting out the positives. I can give really great advice to people who hate themselves like I hate myself, but I’m a hypocrite. I don’t even know how to follow my own advice. I don’t know how to think of all the great things that happen in my life and truly enjoy them.
The distance I put between myself and others causes so much hurt. It hurts me. It hurts people I love. I lost my first love to this distance, but the truth is, he never understood. He mimicked the same disapproval of my perfectionist attitude and the same mockery of my feelings that I had already known, but it hurt worse because I didn’t expect it.
I dated a man while I was 17 that took advantage of my need for approval. He wore me down until he got a little more out of me than I wanted to give and then he broke up with me because I didn’t give him all of it. I am still haunted by a man who I only knew for a short 2 weeks of my life. I feel as if I can never wash away how I feel about myself for compromising my purity. I may never trust–really trust–men again. I push away everyone who tries to get within my personal bubble because I feel so uncomfortable being touched. I can only praise God that this excludes my children. And I am thankful that, because of a loving husband, they are a part of my truth.
I am blessed with the gift of motherhood and the knowledge that I can be more for my children than I ever had myself. They have unconditional love. The kind that comes without judgement. They have a mother who, despite her own flaws, would do anything to make them feel safe. Safety is about more than protection from physical harm. Safety is also about protection from emotional harm. I love my boys. I love them, their feelings, their thoughts, and everything about them, and nothing they can ever do will change that. Nothing.
I want to erase all that’s been done to me and all that I witnessed growing up. I want to forget breaking up fights between adults and children. I want to forget feeling as I were the only way to prevent the suicidal attempts of an adult that needed to protect me instead. I wish I had not felt like an adult as a child. I don’t tell people about these things because it’s a secret. Such a big secret that I bury these memories inside of me only to erupt when anything resembling these events surface now, but they are a part of my truth.
This is the truth of my life. It’s a truth I cannot shake, no matter how much I try. No matter how much I love my family, these memories are ingrained in me forever. When asked what I fear the most, I can easily state that I fear rejection. I don’t fear death. I don’t even fear loneliness, the second-cousin of rejection. It’s rejection I fear the most. And that’s why everyone is at an arm’s-length. After all, how can you be rejected if you never open yourself up to rejection?
My family might hate me when I post this. They really might. But how many people out there have felt these same feelings and kept them under wraps? I write this not just because it’s 2:14 a.m. and I cannot sleep, but because someone out there feels the same way I do and is hiding it too.
This is my confession. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and I wish I could change it. I wish I could stop all of it from having happened at all. But I know that somehow, some way, what I have been through has helped or will help those I interact with in a meaningful way because I can express true empathy for them. Love me or hate me; it doesn’t matter in the end. This is my truth.
What’s your truth?