Battle of the Body

She lay upon her bed, the only sound is the gasps of air as she sobs. Praying for sleep, she found none. She just wanted to make sense of the emotional pain that she had been feeling for as long as she can remember.

Freak, Fatty, Nerd, Worthless. The words rang repeatedly in her mind. No, she wasn’t being bullied, or maybe she was, but if she was, she was the bully and the bullied.

Her mind began to race, she was inundated with ideas, and it was just an impulse when she went to the kitchen, took the knife, and wildly slashed at her arms. In a flurry of activity and pain she felt the great release that comes with self-harm.

She had managed to turn the emotional pain that she couldn’t understand into physical damage that she could see and make sense of.  The endorphin rush was short, and the blood stains told her that she better hide the damage. She ran to her room to hide the knife as she cried for the stinging of the of the cuts.

Little did she know that her mind was hiding the knife for future use. She swore out loud that she would never do this again, as she placed the blade in her night stand drawer.

Washing up the evidence she had placed upon her body she allowed the tears of pain to turn to continued sobs.

As you read this, maybe you imagine a broken family, a victim of sexual assault or some other sort of crime, maybe even a mental patient.

Not once did you consider that maybe she’s just a normal girl, with normal emotional growth. Not once did you consider that her scars are caused by inappropriate coping skills. Not once did you consider how you might help her.

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Unblaming My Parents

October 16, 1965, a day that forever altered the progression and growth of my life.

How can that be when I wasn’t born until December 8, 1973?

I always thought that I was spared the pain of my brother’s passing, by being born many years after his death in infancy, but was I!?

Trauma has followed me through out my life, and when I told my parents in a desperate attempt to get help I was told things like, “Well, if you wouldn’t dress like that …” “Don’t tell anyone.” Or even just the silent treatment. One thing was clear, police and investigators had no place in our lives.

I learned to sit down, shut up, and take the blame. For a short time I was very angry that my parents were unable to be more supportive and less blaming in these matters, but today I had an epiphany.

When my infant brother passed away the media found them guilty almost before they were even questioned, and the inquest must have been horrific to endure. Everyone was pointing fingers, all but one detective that took the time to not only hear my parents, but to fight for them. One person out of all of those that were involved in the case, the odds were clearly stacked against my parents. God willing, they survived the tension of that chaos and moved forward to not only raise three older children, but to have two more.

Now there’s me … repeatedly raped … but the odds are stacked against my family, so I go to no one, it’s a risk too great to endure.

I acted out in ways that made me pure hell to raise, when life got to be too much I even tried overdosing … having your stomach pumped is not for the weak. I ran from my problems, leaping from a cliff with no parachute into a valley of lava.

I tried everything I could to be the better person, to be stronger and more resilient than I was raised to be. With each passing trauma I realized a tiny bit more that my reaction is my choice, not that of my parents.

My parents must have been really scared during the loss and investigation into their son’s death … sort of like me … deep in the brush of the old race track during the state fair. No one to turn to, no one to help, no one to guide me … No one, but God, and I missed it. I was so busy blaming my parents that I forgot about the faith I’d been raised in, besides, God didn’t want a dirty hoe like me in His house!

Today was different though, today I was driving past a location where I had once been severely beaten by an ex-husband, and I experienced a flash back. I had one of my children in the car with me … and I realized I had to keep myself together, or risk freaking her out. I can’t blame my parents anymore, they are both deceased and can’t fight back, I can’t blame my ex, because if I got that close I can’t be responsible for my reaction. The only person to blame for how I handle this situation is me, and this time I turned to the faith I’d been raised in and somehow I just knew, it’s not what happens to me, but how I react … I own that, so I am unblaming my parents for lifes traumas.

To Bipolar or Not to Bipolar

Has anyone every tried to suffocate you with a pillow? What about dangling at the ends of another’s hands by your neck, your feet just inches from the floor, and no air getting in, nothing left but the telltale signs of his fingerprints etched in bruises upon your neck? Or, has anyone ever struck you as you held your infant child in your arms, with five other young children looking on?

My answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes. These are just a few of the instances of abuse that I endured during my second marriage, and they left me spent, fearful, dare I say paranoid!?

In order to survive in a home like this everything has to be perfect … children shall be seen and not heard, the wife is in control of everything … or at least everything that causes his anger to be triggered.

The night that this beast was arrested he called me over a dozen times, from the county jail, to try to persuade me to drop the charges (the calls were collect of course). Finally, I had to call 911 to contact the jail and make him stop calling.

Within two years of this horrendous relationship I was preparing for another marriage. The stress was high, though a good stress, it triggered negative memories and behaviors within me. I became fearful of “being owned by a man.” Scared that the old one would hunt me down to be sure I never had happiness. Most of all, I was pissed off, yes, I was angry that my past could taint my future, and every little thing that I viewed as out of place was cause for screaming, and in some cases even throwing things.

My fiance sat me down, “Laura,” he said, “this isn’t normal, you need help.” He ran me to the doctor who said that I had bipolar and started me on medication.

That was in 2002, and for the past 14 years I have had endless amounts of counseling and when things weren’t perfect my husband would report it and doctors would throw more medication at me. We never decreased or altered, we only added more medication.

When I was raising five children, working full-time and attending college part-time I slept about two or three hours every night, but when college break was on, this mama bear was curled up in bed trying to catch up on lost sleep. No one said a word about my illness when I was setting the world on its ear, but when I slept for more than five hours, suddenly I was considered depressed and whoop, look out, more medication down the throat!

Through all of this I have tried to tell others that I am in control of this, that it was an enviromental reaction, not a chemical imbalance, but no one listened.

NOW, finally, after 14 years of medication I have someone that is listening to me and is considering the fact that I might have been misdiagnosed and over medicated. Now, think this through, I can’t just stop taking my meds, the withdrawals would be pure hell … bad things could happen. So, first I am weaning off the medication that causes: weight gain, high cholesterol, and diabetes … my three biggest concerns since starting this medication path so long ago.

We don’t know for sure if I’ve been misdiagnosed, the only way to know for certain is for me to be off medication, and I have a lot of weaning to get there. I can tell you, that I believe my earlier bouts of anger and throwing things was pure fear of anything less than perfection. Now I know, I’m not perfect, my children aren’t perfect, and neither is my home, but the world won’t end because of that … no one is going to kill me … because those that I surround myself with know that each of us is in charge of our own happiness.

Finally, I have found a doctor that listens and is in this field to help me rather than possible kickbacks. Woohoo!

Emotions Make YOU Weak

Yesterday morning I woke up with an amazing feeling of worthlessness. I held myself in check as long as I could, but the minute I ran out of things to keep my mind busy I got drop kicked by memories of marriages past.

Husband #1 wanted to fix me, to mold me into a better person. Husband #2, well, I was never good enough, no matter what I did. Husband #3 was once asked what did he think would be worth his efforts in raising children that ended up being a worthless waste of time. His answer: “Their mother.”

These thoughts, scrambling through my mind, seemed to kick the hamster that powers my brain off the wheel. I found me, the strong one, folded into the fetal position on the couch, sobs wretching from my deepest core.

Family and real friends will ask, “Why?” They will make you think, make you accept what you are feeling and give a couple of words to help you feel and move on. That’s all I really needed, I had a million things to do, I didn’t have time for this emotional crap. I certainly couldn’t venture out into society like this, that would show I’m not only weak, but vulnerable as well.

A niece asked me to send her a private message on Facebook, and we talked, she almost got me through it, but I was feeling in need of more. Dear friends posted that I’m not worthless, and though it helped, still I needed more. Then, I got a text asking “Why?” I explained the feelings, and the response was, “Oh well, you’re not worthless. Don’t let them best you again.”

“Don’t let them best you again!” that’s it, the fire that I needed. I felt like it’s okay to feel like crap every so often, but I can’t let them continue to win, by doing so I’m giving my power up. This … this is what good friends are made of, they make you think, they challenge you to become a better version of yourself.

I was still feeling pretty low, but I no longer felt weak, I just felt like I had to feel this, acknowledge it and move on. I now had the energy and power to start my day.

As I went through the day my negative emotions were still there, still dragging me down, but God has a way of putting things where we need them to be. As my daughter and I sat in front of a desk I happened to look at a dry erase board and I saw a quote by Mandy Hale:

The only keeper of your happiness is you. Stop giving people power to control your smile, your worth and your attitude. ~Mandy Hale

And the only thought on my mind was, God’s got my back.

Though I had spent a good bit of the morning in utter emotional chaos, I was able to pull through thanks to God, family and friends. This helped to prepare me for the emotional sucker punch I was about to be given in the late afternoon.

Just as things were coming together there was a knock on my door, allowing entry to the visitor I was handed a document detailing law enforcement interviews of the criminal investigation that tore my marriage and family to shreds. Taking the papers I didn’t know if I was holding fire or ice, but I could feel a burning sensation in my soul.

Since I had already felt so low in the morning and was able to stand up to it I was curious if I would have the energy it would take to read through snippets and quotes from the forensic interviews. Once the visitor left I took a folded arm across my chest in a way trying to protect my heart from what I was certain would be nothing but devastation. With my spare hand I held the pages close enough for me to read, but not for the children to see … and I cried again. The shame, guilt and pain that were entwined in those papers showed a lack of compassion on the part of some, maybe even a bit of psychosis. Yet, my earlier experiences had shown me that God had my back, and good always prevails. The aches that I felt no longer seemed insurmountable, instead, I knew who I could talk to about this, and I knew that He would protect me from further devastation as I explored the negative emotions that must occur so that we can know what true euphoria really is.

Friends, family, and above all God, are here, traveling this crazy path with me and I couldn’t be more grateful for those still in my life.

Why Women Return to a Life of Hell

For over a month now, the girls and I have had no income. Sleepless nights of worrying about how I’m going to survive tomorrow are getting to me. Waking up to face each day and the inevitable tears that follow are leaving me feeling dehydrated physically and emotionally. Some how, each day brings some sort of a blessing to make the day bearable. Then darkness covers the sun and the sleepless cycle begins again.

Let’s start with receiving public assistance … there’s no pride in this path that we are on, but we didn’t make the decision to be put here either. I called my case worker on Tuesday to find out when my benefits would be approved or denied, only to find out that some things were missing. I spent the day running across three counties to gather the paperwork and get it in.

On Thursday I called again … still, a missing paper, again I bust my ass to get the paperwork to her. That’s it, we’re all set and I should know by today if I’m approved to receive benefits that I’ve paid taxes for so others can get them.

This morning (Friday) I got online to see if my benefits were approved. NOPE, now I have yet another hoop to jump through. I have to attend a Job Readiness workshop to prepare my family for self-sufficiency. This is wonderful, considering that my appointment isn’t until March 28th, and approval is hinged on whether or not I show up. This also happens to be the day that my daughter has THREE appointments at Mary Free Bed, a hundred miles from Job Readiness, but hey, things aren’t all that bad, the medical appointments are back to back, to back, and the Job Readiness appointment is smack dab in the middle of appointment two. Cloning myself is beginning to appear to be a wonderful option.

To add to the melee of “life is hell” is the fact that our family doctor feels that my daughter’s medical needs are to the point that I must be with her 24/7. Her main diagnosis is depression, which is causing havoc on her physically and demands appointments in Grand Rapids near daily. Psh, depression? People survive that crap every day! Then there are those that don’t; as a former cutter, my daughter is at risk of not surviving. Add to her history the fact that we are still living in a shelter, we are reeling from the blow that my children and I have been dealt, and her grades are suffering because of the chaos our lives have become. If she’s not at risk of losing her battle for life, then I don’t know who is.

Yet, the state has decided that everything is fine, I can work 40 hours, find a home, get my daughter to all of her appointments, go to court, do laundry, drive at least four hours a day to those appointments; and everything will be okay. Oh, eating, almost forgot, that takes time too, but who needs food!?

Here are my priorities, in order, find a place to live, for stability; help my daughter heal to a point that a 15 year old can be self-sufficient; THEN, find a job and get out of the system.

Having worked for Michigan Works, and DHHS, I know how the game is played, I’m just a number … my family’s needs are not considered, just do it there way and everyone will be happy. Everyone but our family that is still trying to heal from devastation.

As far as the state is concerned, medical shmedical, who gives a flying *drop eff-bomb here*! We are left to wonder where we will be next week, next month, or even tomorrow. Will we survive? Is it even possible to survive? If it is, I’m damn sure that we are the family to do it, but if it isn’t? Well, I’ll leave that up to your imagination.