She told me to jump, so I did.
Letting go of negative and toxic relationships can take a leap of faith, especially when we know we absolutely HAVE to walk away from it, but just cannot seem to take the first step.
I have been wrapped up in friendships and a previous marriage that I would describe as toxic. The marriage was the first adult toxic relationship I experienced. I worked for him and his business really could not afford to pay me but needed help, so I tore up my paychecks and kept going to work. I also had this feeling that I could fix him. The reason his business did not do well was partially HIS doing, or more so, his not doing. He drank too much, took pills and smoked pot, but for some reason I thought I loved him. I was the opposite of him. I hated alcohol, I did not smoke pot, I did not take pills, I did not like being out of control of myself in any way. It was really the first time I ever thought I could actually help someone, and then I got pregnant. The plan was to marry at some point, and this is where my memory gets sketchy. I remember running his store for him a lot while I was pregnant and he was missing. He would be missing for long periods of time before we were married, and then I married him later anyway. Dumb. I walked across the street to our apartment for lunch on occasion and after we were married…I found him in our bed with not only another woman, but another man too. I was 18 and would describe myself at that time in my life as clueless. We stayed together for reasons I have no idea and I got pregnant again. It just got worse. We moved to a larger place, he still would disappear for long periods of time which got longer as time went on, and also would just bring home women, or should I say “woman”…because again, it gets sketchy here, I think it was always the same one. I was told to sleep on the couch on many occassions, or they would spend the night together in the bathtub, and I could always hear them. I listened and stared at the ceiling. A lot happened in the short, short time we were married. He is still alive but is slowly dying from HIV. He is still an alcoholic and still lonely. But I took a leap of faith one Monday morning, I gathered up my three babies and I left.
Friendships as an adult have been difficult at times as well. In a previous post I talked about attracting what you give away, I sure did a lot of that in my 20’s. I was in pain, from a messed up, difficult father relationship and from a failed marriage. I was failing at a lot of things back then, and I had no idea how to find positive friendships or build good family relationships. I did not have the skills but I did find Chris, or he found me, who in my eyes, saved me. There are so many experiences that fill in between the high points and lines, some traumatic, but most amazing in my time with Chris. Chris was another leap of faith.
For several years I pretty much considered myself a Mom, a wife, a corporate woman, but not a good friend. Outside of the 6 of us (Chris and I and our 4 kids), I was not comfortable. I had not yet figured out in my head how the world worked or who I was. Girlfriends at this time in my life would bore me. People would bore me. I just was not a good friend. Instead, at this time in my life, I felt different, kind of a little special. I was frustrated at the limits that people and society put on me, men were intimidated by me, women were intimidated by me. My feelings, felt as though they ran deeper than anyone else walking the earth. I wasn’t a snob or pretentious. Now I look back and I understand, I was gifted. I was gifted with a high potential through awareness and creativity. I wasn’t challenged correctly, I was not living up to my full potential, and I was just left with a feeling that I had to cope through it. I was growing and changing in my mind but there was a chain link fence causing my hesitation to act on anything. I suffered and I sank.
In my 20’s and early 30’s I worked like hell to read everything I could afford to buy about surviving obstacles, overcoming, reaffirming, and opening the doors back into the world. I taught myself how to say no, how to logically think things through — forward and backward, how to be a good mother, a good wife, and what to do with these excess thoughts in my head. I was growing, through experience and maturity but struggling to keep my head above water at times. I had certain books that I used as guidebooks for my life.
One of these books has a date of 2/90 in the front of it. It is heavily highlighted and underlined. Notes in the book in my writing included, “I want to understand why I cry”, “I’m burned out”, “I need to sleep”, “This pain feels as though it will last forever”.
My father tried to commit suicide when we were kids. At least once but maybe more than that. My brother found him one time and I have never talked to anyone about this, ever. I tried to commit suicide when I was 15. It was a time when I was going back and forth between my mother’s and father’s houses, after their divorce. My father was of course drinking heavily, using me to drive him to bars, actually ordering beer for me in these bars, and molesting me later at his apartment. Again, me=clueless. I was in pain though, I knew I was in pain and I swallowed as many pills as I could in the bathroom and kitchen..everything I could find. But, obviously I am still here. I threw up for hours and was a shaking mess. I wanted to die and I could not even do that right.
There has always been a stigma around depression, especially back then. But I never considered myself “depressed”. I thought I had unresolved crap that I needed to work through but then it will all just miraculously go away. I have made mistakes in my life and done things wrong, I looked at my pain as a punishment. I never understood my childhood pain until recent years, more after my father was finally caught again molesting a young child and put in prison this time a few years ago. Maybe a final sense of closure from a toxic relationship. Finally a feeling of safety.
I have struggled with depression. There I said it. I have not been able to admit it as a real depression, or as a real problem. Probably because I too was wrapped up in the stigma of mental health and depression. Not wanting to be labeled as crazy, not wanting medication, not wanting to face the fact that I was at some level “broken”.
It was not until today that I put all of these together with my son’s suicide. It was not until my son’s suicide that I felt the need to die again. It was not until I lost Fred that I attempted to, and failed again.
Today, a group of friends that have a band that plays around Colorado, emailed me a song through the band leader that they wanted me to listen to. The band leader/manager stated that he wrote it about my family, me, us. What we are going through. He said in the email that no one has heard this song outside of the band playing it. I was the first.
The song, made me realize the circle I am in. It made me realize my years and years of struggle were depression. It brought me full circle to a place where it is overwhelmingly obvious that depression runs in families. Why couldn’t I have figured this out in my head or admitted it if I did know it back there somewhere. Could I have saved my son? Could I have helped him? But we did not even know he was struggling.
So I have this newfound realization, another epiphany, but now what. He is still dead, still not coming home. I cannot talk to him about getting help for depression. I cannot tell him about warning signs or ideas to help cope through the hard times. I cannot do anything for him. I went through inner torment throughout many if not most of my years, in denial of a bigger problem, but able to survive. And, I do hope that in writing this my other children will realize they could be at risk in their life.
I did not kill my son. I did not give him a specific, literal gene that caused him to be sad on April 5th and take his life. I did the opposite, I was a good mother to him. I taught him so much and supported him through everything he did. Ask any of the kids, I did my best.
I have a little slip of paper in my wallet, it says quite simply, “You did not kill Fred. It is not your fault.” Back in my 20’s I used this method to work through a lot of things. I hung notes to myself on the refrigerator and kept them in my purse. I had to keep reminding myself that I was ok. I also had a plastic film box that I kept index cards in. I had this box for more than 20 years until I finally threw it away after my father was sentenced and taken to prison. On top of the box I labeled it “Pandora’s Box”, and inside I had cards that were in order by priority at that place in time. Each card had words written on it, one card per subject, each subject representing a problem, issue, thought, worry, etc… I would regularly take the cards out, usually before bed, and prioritize them or write new cards for new worries. When I was done with a worry or issue, feeling as though it was not relevant in my life….I turned the card around backwards and put it to the back of the box. I kept this box on a shelf in our closet, capturing the metaphor in an actual ritual, “Put your worries on a shelf”.
I took that slip of paper out today, I read it at least one hundred times. “I did not do this”, “I did not do this”.
Tonight I am taking a miraculous leap of faith, the largest of my life. I am facing the hollowness inside myself, and I am giving it a name. I am going to find out what I want, and give it to myself. I am going to survive this too, like I have survived everything else in my little world. I deserve life, I deserve happiness. I will move forward through my darkness by going deeper.
Hope – Pandora brought the jar with the evils and
opened it. It was the gods` gift to man, on the
outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the
“lucky jar.” Then all the evils, those lively,
winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time,
they roam around and do harm to men by day and
night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of
the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the
top down and it remained inside. So now man has
the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the
world of the treasure. It is at his service; he
reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not
know that the jar which Pandora brought was the
jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for
the greatest worldly good – it is hope! For Zeus
did not want man to throw his life away, no matter
how much the other evils might torment him, but
rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew.
To that end, he gives man hope.