Exercises to build self-esteem: #3. Personal positive experiences

Personal positive experiences…

1. Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pen of your choice.

2. Divide the paper into eight sections: Courage, Kindness, Selflessness, Love, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Happiness, Determination.

3. Under each section write about positive personal experiences that come under that category.

4. You don’t have to limit yourself to one example for each, the more you can think of the better!

5. Keep the paper somewhere handy so that (a) you can read it frequently and (b) you can add to it whenever you fancy.

 

  • I fought cervical cancer for four years, and I’ve hopefully won.
  • I underwent two surgeries for the cancer.
  • I underwent four biopsies.
  • I am going public with Lulu Stark.  I’m going to be courageous here and put my name out there.  I am actually Tiffany.  But, I prefer Tiff.  Please keep calling me Lulu though.  I like it.  I think it represents something in me.
  • In June 2011, I started As The Pendulum Swings, my first mental health blog.
  • I co-founded A Canvas of the Minds, a community mental health blogging site.
  • I supported Occupy Pittsburgh when they were camping in town.
  • In 2006, I lived without basic utilities in a dilapidated house.
  • I recently moved away from my hometown.
  • I had the courage to finally break ties with my extended family and put my parents at a distance.
  • I’ve finally accepted my son’s diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder.
  • In 2009, I sought treatment for bipolar disorder.
  • Before my surgery in 2011, I chose to live by my own hand.

  • I take late night phone calls for friends in need.
  • I used to volunteer for my family’s church.
  • I am fiercely loyal to friends, even if they don’t deserve it.
  • I occasionally give to charities, especially those for children.
  • I taught music in a youth program for underprivileged children.
  • I make it a point to comment on people’s blogs at least once a day.
  • I encourage online friends to email me when they are having a hard time.
  • I help my husband finish his work at home.
  • I leave love notes for my husband.
  • I once made a blanket for a child I was a nanny for.
  • I was a summertime nanny for two children plus my own.

  • I get up an hour and a half before my husband each day to get him off to work.
  • I always do without for my child.
  • I always make sure that my husband gets the big piece of chicken at dinner.
  • I cook, although I don’t often feel like it.
  • I take classes that my husband is very enthusiastic about me taking.
  • I make sure my child’s needs come first.
  • I am staying at home instead of working to take care of my son.
  • I am working hard to get my son services for his special needs.
  • I am always able to put my own stuff aside for a friend in crisis.
  • Over the last year, I have put off numerous appointments in order to accommodate my husband’s climb up the career ladder.  I still am.
  • Sometimes, as a result of my husband’s work, I find that I end up being the sole parent for most days.  I rarely ask for anything in return.
  • I lay my husband’s clothes out every morning because he’s colorblind.
  • I have forgone getting a new pair of glasses for two years because it’s not in the budget.
  • Sometimes, I make my medicine stretch just a little longer so that I can see everyone else is taken care of first.
  • I mentioned I help my husband finish his work at home.  I do so unpaid.
  • During Summer Semester 2011, I pushed a little girl around the wheelchair at the zoo.  If you knew the Pittsburgh zoo, then you know it’s very hilly.

  • I have never abandoned someone because they were “too much work”.
  • I put everything I have into my son.
  • One of the reasons we moved to the place we live in now is so we could take care of my husband’s family, all of whom are disabled now.
  • I write prose to my husband.  Sometimes, I stick cute notes in his work laptop.
  • I will do anything to immediately soothe my husband’s panic attacks.
  • I will hold my son for hours when he’s having an emotional day.
  • I am always telling my husband wonderful things about himself.
  • I am not hesitant to be affectionate with my husband, even when he is.

  • I recently passed up a job offer to stay at home with my son.
  • I have not pursued the last four credits of my Bachelors, because the money would come out of pocket.
  • In the summer of 2011, I taught summer semester while having undiagnosed walking pneumonia for over a month.  We needed the money.
  • In 2010, I had to surrender my dog Nikki.  She was too big for the house, setting off Beast’s allergies, and we didn’t have a big enough yard for her.
  • In 2006, I dropped out of college to work.  The man I was with at the time and I had some really wrecked finances.
  • In 2006 and then again in 2009, I took a job in a commercial bakery when I had two different Associate’s Degrees.  I was desperate for work.
  • Becoming a mother is sacrifice in itself.
  • I am holding off on having a second child for my husband’s sake.  I may not be able to have children as I grow older, and I take the risk that the cancer will return.

  • In 2012, I started Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon to help share my experience with others so they might not feel so alone.
  • I regularly give advice to friends and family.
  • Despite our rocky relationship, I counseled my mother while she had difficulty taking care of her own mother.
  • I know that I can only believe none of what I hear and only half of what I see.
  • Get me once, shame on you.  Get me twice, shame on me.
  • I realize that life is what happens when a person is busy making other plans.
  • There are some things that I can help, and there are some things I cannot.  It’s up to me to have the wisdom to determine which is which.  I am pretty good at that at this point.
  • I always remind others that you can’t change people.
  • I find that I always remind others that happiness and health are more important than anything else.  Money and duty sometimes have to take a backseat.

  • In 2008, I took a honeymoon to my favorite beach, Myrtle Beach.
  • Also in 2008, I gave birth to one of my sources of joy, my son, my Beast.
  • Also in 2008, I married the man of my dreams.  My other half, maybe my better half, Xan.
  • My family takes regular long drives through the country.
  • I adopted a kitten in 2011.
  • In 2007, my long time best friend, Xan (my now husband), got into our romantic relationship.  We had a whirlwind romance that ended up with us being married in less than a year.
  • I’ve had five wonderful years with my husband.
  • I have wonderful friends who would do anything for me.
  • I’m now living in the nicest house I’ve ever lived in.
  • I have so much land and I don’t live on a busy street anymore.
  • I’m in the best shape of my life.

  • I will finish my degree one day, and finish higher degrees.
  • I will find a good therapist and get on the right medication.
  • I will combat mental illness, and come out the other side better for it.
  • I will continue to get in shape and stay in shape.
  • I will belt up in Tang Soo Do.
  • I will continue to keep fighting cancer, even if the doctors are sure that it’s gone.
  • I will help my son catch up in his development.
  • I will help my husband be the best father, husband, and employee he can be.
  • I will never give up on myself, my goals, my dreams, and my friends and family.

 

All that I am, all that I ever was...

Send you negative thoughts to the naughty corner!

So far this week we have looked at what self-esteem is; the value we place on ourselves and how we see ourselves in general, what low self-esteem is; when we as individuals hold deep-seated negative beliefs about ourselves, and how we can work toward improving these beliefs through altering our perceptions of who we are.

First, by focussing on the things that bring us pleasure (rather than pain) and secondly, on how it isn’t narcissistic to love our individual gifts and talents.

Today, we look at our experiences.

As many people who suffer from low-esteem may relate to, I spend a lot of time living in the negative space of my life. All day, every day, I am constantly reminding myself of all the things I have done wrong; of when I let my friends down, of when I…

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Leep-Into-Cin – Part III

Part three and recent parts of my fight with cervical cancer

As the Pendulum Swings

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

Bringing in the Big Guns

After the experience where I was left stranded on an operating table, I had grown animosity toward that doctor that performed my surgery.  I refused to see her, and I refused to go through any more procedures.  It didn’t matter.  I had lost my insurance again and there was nothing I could possibly do.  The only other option was to return to the clinic so that they could slowly kill me with their negligence.

I did break down and go to the clinic, but only for a required Pap to receive birth control.  I…

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Flirting with Suicide

Warning: This post has strong themes of suicide and self-injury within. It may contain potential triggers. Reader discretion is advised.

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.1

An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.1

Essentially, statistics indicate that there are 380,578 reported cases of attempted suicide each year.  Personally, I see this as a gross underestimate.  The botched attempts are the ones that end up in the hospital.  But what about the folks who take a handful of pills, pass out, and wake up like nothing happened the very next day?  It is in my personal experience, as a person who has never ended up hospitalized by a suicide attempt, that I would jump that number up by at least 20 times the amount of completed suicides.

Today is suicide prevention day.  And today, I wanted to bare my soul and share my sordid past with suicide attempts.

Is suicide common among children and young people?

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.1 Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:1

  • Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
  • Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
  • Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000

I started in the earliest age group.  I was a deeply troubled young teenager.  I have only written about this in a personal journal, but I feel it’s time to share.

It was a warm March Friday, humid after a fresh rain.  I was rather excited for that Friday, because it would have been the first Friday I was released from my grounding since January.  It was the truth that my grades had slipped into the toilet.  But, so had my mental health.  I dressed in my funeral best daily.  Every single day was a day that I had wished, nay, prayed for death.  Only a merciful God would release me from this suffering, I thought constantly.  And as a result of my downward spiral, I felt the entire verbally abusive arsenal my parents had to offer.

Another bad progress report.  I was failing math and gym.  Truthfully, I wasn’t good at math.  And what teenage girl in the entire world wants to be seen in front of all of her peers in a swimsuit?  My “excuses” fell on deaf ears.  This warranted more time in isolation.  I begged.  I pleaded.  Just this one Friday, and then I will begrudgingly accept my punishment.  I had surely earned it, after all.

I was berated for not trying hard enough.  “Are you lazy or stupid?  I can’t decide anymore.”  The words stung, like a clean slap across the face.  I lost my temper and started to storm up the stairs.  I called back to my father, “You’re an asshole.”

“Get your little ass back down here!”

I glanced backward to see the furious, crazy look in his eyes.  But, I was beyond caring.  I was beyond fear anymore.  I continued up the stairs as he screamed after me.  Do your worst.

“You little bitch, come down here and face me!” he challenged.

I did.  He grabbed my by my collar and snatched me up so close to his face that he spat every angry word at me.  “Come on.  Take a shot.  The first one is free.”

I knew better.  If I were to take the shot, that would justify any beating I would have received after that.  I was only 4’9″, and he towered over me at a grand 6’3″.  I was a little girl in comparison to this adult man.  I stared into his eyes defiantly, gnashed teeth and a snarl.  I never lost his gaze in that moment.  I refused.

With one twist of his arm, he dragged me down the last three stairs.  Violently, he pulled me into the air by my collar and thrust me into the kitchen wall.  I was terrified, but I would never show it.  I would not give him the satisfaction.  I looked behind him to see my mother standing there, doing nothing to help me.  She looked at me with these vindictive eyes and a satisfied face.  He screamed in my face about disrespect, what an ungrateful piece of shit I was, and how I didn’t even deserve all of the things they had given me.  I started to lose my air as my collar choked me.  I panicked, as I started to black out.  His words faded.  I closed my eyes.

Thud.  He dropped me three feet to the floor, and I hit the ground hard.  I crumpled onto myself as he stormed off.  I looked up at my mother who was looking down at me.  And without a word, she walked away.  My last hope of salvation had betrayed me.  And I curled into a ball and cried.

(This part I have to omit because it is going to be in a future installation of “The Friday Confessional”.)

After I had been dragged home, I took refuge in my room.  All hope was lost.  There was no escape.  There was no one who could save me from this.  There was only one way out.

I went into the medicine cabinet and grabbed an entire bottle of Advil and another of Tylenol.  I washed it down with another bottle of Nyquil and waited on the edge of the bathtub.  This was going to be my way out.  If God wasn’t going to come to my rescue, and the authorities felt this was a gross exaggeration of the truth, then I would take matters into my own hands.  Let me be damned to eternal hell.  It couldn’t be much worse than this.

I filled the tub and waited some more.  I undressed.  This should make the cleanup convenient, I thought to myself.  I sure didn’t want my death to be a major inconvenience.   Everyone would celebrate my departure.  Everyone would be happier without me.

Botched.  I woke up a few hours later and crawled into my bed for warmth.  And I slept for over 24 hours.  No one took any kind of note at the missing medications or my inexplicable hypersomnia.

That was the first in dozens of attempts to take my own life.  At the young age of thirteen.  The idea of suffering the abuse and neglect of my parents for the next five years until I was a legal adult was too much to bear.  And I was absolutely convinced that I would be dead by my seventeenth birthday at the rate I was going.  I had tried so many times that I eventually started calling it, “Flirting with Suicide”, just because there was something of a romance between it and me.

And every single attempt was the best I could possibly manage with the materials provided.  I suppose a person can call that parasuicidal if they choose.  Maybe it was.  I’m not sure anymore.

I’m nearly twenty-eight now.  All of that was nearly fifteen years ago.  And the last time I attempted suicide was over a year ago, a few days before I started writing As the Pendulum Swings.  In that year, I learned that I had a relapse back into a more serious cervical cancer.  And it dawned on me that there was a possibility that I could one day die from it.  I had resigned myself to life.  If I couldn’t die on my own terms, a survivor of multiple attempts, then I would live.

In the end, I chose to live.

What are some risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts?

  • As noted, an estimated 11 nonfatal suicide attempts occur per every suicide death. Men and the elderly are more likely to have fatal attempts than are women and youth.1
  • Risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts by adults include depression and other mental disorders, alcohol and other substance abuse and separation or divorce.5,6
  • Risk factors for attempted suicide by youth include depression, alcohol or other drug-use disorder, physical or sexual abuse, and disruptive behavior.6,7
  • Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention. A person who appears suicidal should not be left alone and needs immediate mental-health treatment.

Educate yourselves.  Realize that every suicide attempt is serious and should be treated immediately.  Realize that suicidal gestures, ideation, and plans are all extremely serious and significant.  And find the courage to find yourself, a family member, or a friend immediate treatment.  Suicide is completely preventable when people are educated.

Thank you for reading.  Take care.

Possibility and Ascension : 30 Days of Truth

Day 07 : Someone who has made your life worth living for.

I wrote this for my husband, a year after we got together.  This is our story.

When one door closes, another opens.

And occasionally it occurs as overlapping events, rather than simultaneously.  Such is the nature of life, with its interwoven fibers amounting to the gorgeous flowing fabric.  We are the sum of our actions and the resulting events.  But it’s not so simple.  The seeds were strewn about our fields throughout a long period of time, lodging themselves deep into our soil.  Then under the right conditions, they emerged to the surface to the light of day.

The winds of change can scatter and confuse time, and when we awaken, years have passed without a whisper on the lips of consciousness that this was this but now is that.  When we awaken, like moles into the sunlight, scratching for vague patterns of our new reality, we are left with grins or grimaces.  I could not say that I grinned or grimaced, for I smiled – breathing in the air and beauty that surrounded me.C.S.

His accent was intoxicating.  His stories were enchanting.  His facade was alluring, but it wasn’t enough to disguise the man underneath.  It wasn’t a question of where he had come from or what he had done, but more of our interactions.  They were flawless like ice crystals, solid in structure but liquid all throughout.  We anticipated each others responses.  No one person had such an intricate and complete understanding of me.  The seeds of our affections were sown.  And yet, we were blind to it.

Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve – – – words that often arise when hindsight comes into perfect focus.  Had I not been so engulfed in my failing relationships, I could’ve realized it.

The purging had ceased, inebriation started to fade while the sun battled his way above the horizon.  The first dim morning rays crept into the room, scarring the darkness into hiding.  Innocently entangled in one another, grappling for a certain reality that remained just shy of our reach, we breathed in unison.  Our voices were so low that the breeze seemingly whisked our words away, leaving only remnants in my memory.  What only remained was his gentle baritone murmur in my ears and the soft vibrations against my chest.  However, one managed to sound loudly in my mind.

I want to make love to you . . .

Stunned.  Paralyzed.  I want to make love to you too . . .  – stifled far too soon.  It wasn’t the phrase.  It was the sentiment.

Beside me, pressed so tightly our hearts could echo one another.  An invisible orchestra played between our natural sounds.  Each breath was the cymbal crash against the skin of my neck.  The trembling baseline was his voice and body swirling with my soprano melody.  Locked together in this eternal waltz, our instruments impeccably played on.  Beside me, inside me, we were unified.

All in the firing of one synapse, one millisecond, one singular possibility.

I ached.  To feel his bare flesh against mine.  To be absorbed into the depths of his soul.  To possess every last part of his being.

But damn logic right to the depths of hell!  My mind twisted and bent into a steel cage around my heart to protect my already compromised structural integrity.  I had been a victim of love, complete with open, festering war wounds.  I was not yet ready to allow anyone the opportunity to victimize me once more, for better or worse.  Code Red!  Lockdown!  I rationalized our emotion away like birds into the sky.  And it was smothered before seeing the light of day.

I could’ve made love to him . . .  if I had been more intoxicated.  If I had my inhibition stripped and alarms silenced.  I would’ve granted him access to my heart, had it not been in such a critical state.  And despite these things, I should’ve taken that impossible leap of faith across that great chasm.

And that was the last time I saw him clearly for nearly six months.  However, unbeknownst to us, affections simply don’t dissipate because you will them to do so.  But tactics – distraction, false rationalizations – can be instituted in order to subvert the truth.

Silence, with the exception of our constant dialogue like a clear flowing stream.  It was never the conversation that was important, but rather the continual contact.  We caressed each other through discreet discourse, as if our words were hands searching each others’ darkest secrets.  Outright confessions would’ve been too forward and obvious.  Physical displays would certainly be condemnable.  Our verbal intercourse continued, flying low under the radar as an innocent act of friendship of which even we were both eagerly convinced it was.

There are moments were feelings and situations are clearly defined, even if they aren’t noticeably bolded or otherwise visibly highlighted.  Our book was clearly still in it’s early chapters.

His bare bedroom walls were soon filled with the colors of our affections.  Even the air was different, crackling with a indescribable high voltage energy found between new lovers.  And yet we were not.  We needn’t have discussed it; it was merely understood.  Perhaps, if we spoke it aloud that would make it real, holding us responsible for our every unconscious exchange.  Our gaze met and dropped and met again, like a spark between live wires.

Chronos smiled, freezing time for us, and only us.  The night stood still, permitting us to slip between the cracks of space and time.  We defied the continuum without breaking our bonds.  And for those moments, we were more than just two solitary entities inhabiting the same space.  We were the space; we were each others’ thoughts, voices, and breaths.

My head swam and as quickly as we exchanged words, they had gone like whispers in the bitter, but beautiful winter breeze.  Time began once again, the second hand beating ferociously, creating a terrible sound in my mind like gunshots on a battle field.  My heart swelled until it nearly choked the breath of life from me.  I was numb from the excitement yet mourning the loss of what never was yet might have been.  In another place, in another time . . .

Responsibilities and duties rooted us in distant lands, desperately apart.  Being a moral person very rarely instantly gratifies anyone who continues to hold up to its code.  Severed from one another through obligations, requests and eventually demands from those who were more perceptive than us, we drifted away on turbulent seas toward distant destinations.  Another six months fell from our calendars like flower petals wilting away.

Familiar places, familiar faces, we once again found ourselves on our eternal carousel, orbiting one another but never to meet in the middle.  Gravitation pull kept us circling, leaving others to be our asteroids consistently knocking us off course.  Nearly two years elapsed before our irregular orbits had crossed paths once more.  But other planets were aligning, creating a universal, cataclysmic event, speeding up motion and time.

The Eve of Omega and Alpha culminated at the end of a mighty crescendo.  All in one space and time resided unrealized past, present, and future respectively as if the freshly laundered fabric of time had been folded, once over, twice over, then again.  I was frozen, pondering the possibilities, and still too nearsighted to distinguish.  My crossroads were much fuzzier and perilous than I had realized and my choices too weighted and narrow.  Yet, he stood further down the path, silently beckoning me once again, always too far ahead like a time traveler.  And for once brief moment, I caught his greyish outline in the distance, down the overgrown path.  However, it wasn’t enough to detract from the bright signs, falsely guiding me down yet another treacherous path.

But there, another stood beside me, guiding me down the rabbit hole.  He took my hand as he had done many times before and drew me in, only this time I couldn’t resist.  My mind had been poisoned, distorting (reality), destroying the judges and silencing the council. I was alone in deep, dark silence, as thick and black as the essence of night itself.  His coaxing, his orders, my circuitry was being rewired.  I was becoming.

Enslaved, I carried out the will of the master in the fray of the sinister sociopaths.  Degraded, defiled, stripped of everything sacred, anything sane or reasonable.  The war ensued, my flesh the battle ground in which they ravaged every last morsel of respect.

I’m not here. This isn’t happening.  I’m not here.  I’m not here.

The fires in my belly weren’t nearly enough to thaw the ice encasing my soul.  A piece had met it’s cruel demise, withered and fallen off into oblivion.  Recollection of manufactured moments, fragments of time enmeshed with conjured emotion poured out and circled the drain until they were banished.  That regretful incident eviscerated us, the flower child and I.  All for not, HE, the incarnate of Hades had unknowingly paved the usually treacherous path ahead.  The cosmic highways once again converged, allowing for a head on collision that this time would not be mistaken for anything other.

The spring air was crisp, and the beauty exuded more so than ever before.  We spoke, old moths to the flame, drawn in, never missing a beat to the rhythm of the familiar drum.  Perhaps we marked time to it, never straying far enough for life in all of it’s obstructive noise obscure it’s particular pulse.  Our time was infinite.  We walked the earth eternally, as long as the sky was blanketed in the celestial beings that kissed the sky.  Even with every step I took, I felt my chains to the other becoming more cumbersome, the burden unbearable.  I trudged on.

Suppression, unconscious denial, drawing fine lines in the sand at high tide to be redefined as necessary.  Only vague remnants floated in the seas of unconscious mind.  Moments that hardly brushed another were only partially unearthed, still questionable to the naked eye.  With fresh rain, more flooded in, flushing the ground, stringing vague context in the light of day.  The night, with all of the shadows it cast upon other landscapes, stood in stark contrast to the light from the burgeoning flames, growing ever closer, threatening a spectacular inferno.

Come with me.

Such a simple phrase struck a nerve and coursed my stagnant lifesblood through my icy veins.  With only those discreet rounds of discourse, a pulse was discovered and we were once again resuscitated.  The obstacles were become fewer and fewer; the road cleared, becoming more navigable.  Torrents of rains had cleared, leaving only fertile soil, ripe with nutrients to nurture our long dormant seeds.

Drunk words are sober thoughts.  Confessions poured from my soul through my mouth faster than a river through the universe, traveling at the speed of light.  I was the sinner and he was my savior, hearing every gruesome detail, redeeming me with stroking words, caressing my frail soul.  The picture was black, the sound garbled like in a damaged film reel.  The scene continued regardless; the show must go on !

I can’t stand, to see the morning come.  While the evening rain is still falling.

Out of the ashes, the phoenix was once again reborn.  We both stood amongst our own personal ruins, seemingly miles apart and yet within earshot to sound the alarm.  His flame flickered and mine sparked brighter in return.  Call and answer, call and answer, a repetition so primal and instinctual that it was out of our control.  The beacons in the darkness.

What is the difference between a best friend and a significant other?

I pondered, time and time again.  The tides shifted the sands more, redefining the landscape, blurring some beyond recognition and shaping others beyond their infancy.  Clocks, their pendulums clanging loudly, sounding down each moment.  Every word, each breath shared, one by one, counting each moment closer.

That boy loves you more than you’ll ever know.

First synapses firing, connecting, the stirrings of conscious realization.  The Alpha and Omega, overlapping in folds of time.  The mirage eroded before me, and the poisonous cloud released.

For the first time in centuries, we were standing face to face within the labyrinth.  Side by side, we made our way through its dark, narrow walkways.  Our flames licked each other eagerly, separate for the very last instant of eternity.  No walls remained, only the flesh and air between us.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight.  I’ve been waiting for this moment all of my life.

In the dead of night, so silent the rain did not dare make a patter in this moment, he grasped my arm firmly and wrapped himself around me.  Underneath the long reach of the trees branches above, time slowed to accent the moment, and brand it in heart and memory for lifetimes to come.

I have always loved you.

He breathed into me, a life and fire to awaken mine.  Our lips touched, melting into one another.  Reunited, intertwined, conjoined at the purest moment of our final reunion. My being shot out so quickly reality could not keep pace.  Time and space bent for us, allowing this moment to live in all of our eternities.

I, as well.  I have always loved you.  

It echoed louder than a chorus of angels, spreading throughout all the worlds to be recognized for the cosmic event it was.  Twin souls, united, now indiscernible from one another.  Two halves of the whole conjoined, intertwining with each passage, every last exchange.  Our flames united into the blazing inferno, lighting up the whole world around us.  He gazed into me as I gazed into him.  And in that very second, we fell into one another, freed from the labyrinth.  Only the world, our beautiful, majestic world, with the vast fields yielding those just emerging seedlings, existed among us.

Tu es mon soleil, mon seul rayon de soleil.

Taunts of Absolution : 30 Days of Truth

Day 4 : Something you have to forgive someone for.

In years past, my relationship with my parents was far beyond dysfunctional. Although we are building a mutually respectful relationship as adults, I do not feel as if I am considered a daughter. I am a family friend, the mother of their grandson. That extraordinarily detrimental relationship created a schism too great to have a distinct parent-child relationship. I have resigned myself to the notion that I will never be my parents daughter, and they will never be my mother and father.

I have touched upon the subject in prior posts, One Day, I’m Going to Grow Wings, Spitting Fire, and The Real Demons. Mostly, I fear I will remain unable to absolve them of the responsibility for the suffering they caused me, directly and indirectly.

I have to question every aspect of my childhood. The problem arises, because I don’t remember the greater majority of my childhood prior to age twelve. I could never figure out the reason for such an impenetrable block. It was only very recently that I discovered the numerous reasons for such incredible repression.

My brother has moderate autism. My mother was a raging alcoholic. And my father is a war veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As if that wasn’t dysfunctional enough, it accumulated into an overall bad home life. I have fragmented memories, drudged up by raising my own son.

My father was largely absent prior to age twelve. Most of his time was spent in the psychiatric ward in the Veteran‘s Affairs Hospital. And when he released back home, he isolated himself from the family. I was far too young to understand what was happening. All I knew was that my daddy was sick, and he was never going to get any better. To me, it felt like my daddy didn’t love me. He didn’t love any of us.

required special accommodations. I was lonely, and felt as if I were nonexistent to them. Completely transparent in their world. I did everything I could for recognition. My grades were perfect, and my standardized scores were well into the 98th percentile. I had taught myself my instrument in one summer and My parents were busy handling my brother. He had special needs that ]gained first chair. My attendance in Sunday School was spotless, and I was a devout Episcopalian. What more could a parent ask for in their own daughter?

All of these achievements bred resentment among my classmates, and they alienated me from their social groups. My mother made it crystal clear when I was just a little girl that she had no desire to play with me. My brother was nowhere near my level of functioning to participate in games. I spent many nights in solitude, alone in my room with only my dolls and stuffed animals.

When I began middle school, I finally began to make friends. It was the best thing that ever happened to me! Finally, I wouldn’t be so alone. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the prospect of friendship and all of the wonderful kinship it entailed.

It was short lived. Only a year later, I began to suffer my first symptoms of bipolar disorder.

And that is the precise time my father emerged from his decade long hibernation. The man was disgusted with everything about me. He was certainly a far cry from shy about vocalizing his opinions. The criticisms ranged from my appearance, to my friends, to my music, and my hobbies. I was hurt. It was more evidence to strengthen my theory of his lack of love for me, as I was, instead of his idea of me.

I was also enraged. Who was he to come bursting into my life after so many years of absence?

He was merciless in his punishments. The greater majority of my teen years were spent incarcerated in the very same room I was isolated in as a girl. These were typically for minor infractions – “talking back” (which I considered to be expressing an opinion), disrespect, messy room, “feigning illness”, lying, etc. All because I wanted some independence and to assert myself as an individual.

In heated arguments, he would rough me up. He was careful not to do this when my mother was around, or leave any evidence. One time, I called him an asshole. Insistently, he got in my face and demanded I take a free swing at him. I refused. It would only provide him with an opportunity to lay his hands on me.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. He grabbed my throat in one hand and pinned me against the wall, and lifted me high into the air. I tried to scream, but there was not enough air in my lungs. He screamed in my face, leaving me soaked in spit. He let me go, and I crumpled to the ground, nearly in tears.

I won’t cry. I won’t give him the satisfaction.

My mother found an even better excuse to take figurative and literal swings at me. She’d get belligerently drunk and deliberately provoke me. I would attempt escape, but there was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even allowed the privacy of a door on my room.

There was an instance where she followed me around the house, insulting me as I went. I begged her to leave me alone. I attempted escape to somewhere, anywhere I could possibly manage in the house. I ended up heading to my room, of course. She taunted me, saying, “You’re just a lot of fucking talk, you little bitch. I’ll teach you a lesson about that mouth of yours.”

She swung at me, and caught me across my right jaw. Instinctively, I pulled my right hand back, and swung down toward her face, backhanding her as hard as I could. Disoriented by the blow, she stumbled backward, nearly falling down a flight of stairs. (It wasn’t the first time, and wouldn’t be the last). I grabbed her arm and pulled her forward to standing.

A look of shock and malice spread across her face as she spewed, “Just wait until I tell your father.”

So many things were said. Hurtful, awful things.

My father:

This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship, and I’m the dictator!

I wish you were never born!

How dare you defy me, you little bitch!

Go on! Run up to your room and play that gloomy noise you call music. I dare you to cut yourself! Cut to your hearts content, I don’t give a shit!

My mother:

You are the little bitch that ruined my life!

Go on out there and be the little slut that you are.

I am ashamed to even take you out in public.

If it weren’t for you, your father and I would never fight. You’re going to tear our family apart. I hope you’re happy.

These haunting words still have a faint echo in certain corridors of my mind.

– Staind

I cried out for help. I was dismissed as spoiled, going through a phase, and attention-seeking. I did need attention. By the time I was in high school, I had attempted suicide twice and was cutting at least weekly. And still, they turned a blind eye to it. I had to force their hand to get the help I needed. I can’t help but feel if they were more involved, they would have noticed my behavior was amiss. They failed to get me diagnosed correctly.

For a great duration, I held them accountable for my screwed up mind. In my eyes, all of the neglect and abuse made me crazy. I went on to have dysfunctional and abusive relationships. I was devoid of self-esteem and vulnerable. My baggage would have been too much to check at the airport.

As I have grown, I have come the realization that certain things were beyond their capacity for parenting. They could not have been better parents, given the circumstances. It’s not as if there weren’t moments where they tried. By that point, the damage had been done.

I have tried desperately to forgive them for those awful behaviors. But, each time I find myself getting close, another hurtful experience comes to pass, reviving old memories that I relive in my mind over and over again. Some scars will never fade. I can never forget. But perhaps, one day, I will have the capacity to forgive all of their wrongdoings.