I’m a highly sensitive person. I was born this way.
I’m convinced this is a major contributing factor for why I developed PTSD later in life.
I have a number of gifts: my creativity as an artist and a musician, my empathy, my intelligence. I have a greater number of weaknesses: a slow wit (it takes me much longer than most to process events, conversations, and emotions) and an emotional developmental delay. I struggle to communicate, although writing is easier for me than verbal communication. I have no concept of time (past, present, and future all feel as though they are one moment). Relationships with other people confuse me to the point of paranoia, such severe social anxiety that I would rather isolate. I easily lose focus and get derailed by distractions, and I lack the discipline to maintain the motivation necessary to complete complicated tasks.
The work I’ve done to understand myself has taken me all of my 46 years and was met with resistance by any person involved in my life, whether that be couselors or therapists, coworkers, family, friends, or significant others. The number of times I’ve been told to grow up, just get a job, you’re lazy, you’re worthless, you’re not special, you’re not unique, you’re selfish, or any number of other criticisms that attack my sense of “self” far outweigh the encouragement and emotional support I’ve received over the years. Too often the harsh and critical voices within my own mind were validated by others while the quieter, more positive voices were ignored.
I’ll continue repeating this as long as I have to until someone finally listens.
Today, as I sit reflecting on my life, I have no problem seeing how much I’ve grown as a person. I’ve gone through more than my fair share of trauma in this life. I survived even when I thought I couldn’t, even when I didn’t want to survive. I found the strength to wait out the suicidal ideation just one more day even when I so desperately wanted to give in to the darkness. I continued believing in myself despite all of the emotional abuse and bullying from others. My inability to communicate how badly I struggle is as much a reflection of my own weakness as it is an unwillingness of those I trust to actually hear and comprehend what I’m trying to tell them. Humans are simply hardwired to avoid pain at all costs as a matter of survival, and consciously looking at another person’s pain, let alone our own, is oftentimes too much.
These past 7 months have afforded me the opportunity to gain a little peace and clarity. My mother passed away on December 17, 2017. I returned to my childhood hometown the following day. I’ve been here ever since, living in my mother’s house while my sister and I prepare to sell her belongings and the house, pending the completion of probate. The tremendous sense of sadness over the loss of my mother was compounded by the sadness and disappointment I was already feeling over the loss of my 11 year relationship (18 year friendship) with KR. I have no plans as of yet for what to do after the house sells and all is said and done. I’m feeling a lot of pressure from both my sister and KR to make up my mind and “do” something.
I was on a combination of Lithium, Zyprexa, and BuSpar for several months; but they did little to ease my symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. At the point they began affecting my thyroid, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, I had to make the decision to stop taking them. This was the same reason I quit taking medication back in 2008: the risk of taking medication outweighed the benefit. I did manage to keep a part-time job for 5 months, but I quit that job when the entire management team and several other employees quit. That entire situation still confuses me because it was so sudden, but the level of toxicity in the workplace I dealt with for those 5 months was comparable to what I experienced with KR. It’s one thing to put up with that from someone you love, but for a job? Hell no.
KR recently told me I abandoned him, our cats, and my responsibilities to them by coming here. That hurt. Not only did it trigger the past trauma of my break-up with my ex-husband, but also my abandonment of my son — each of my sons, if I’m really honest about it. Talk about stabbing a knife into an already festering wound. Those cats have been my world for the last 11 years in the same way that my son was my world for the first 4 years of his life (the last 4 years of my marriage). I never meant to abandon anyone, either time. Both then and now, I was only thinking of the least disruption to the innocent party’s life whether that was my son or mine and KR’s cats. I caught myself screaming at KR over the phone in my triggered state in much the same way as I did back in 1998 when I sat in this very living room at my parents’ home screaming at my ex-husband over the phone after he told me the same thing.
I “caught” myself screaming at KR. I took a deep breath. I calmed myself enough to finish out that hour and a half long phone conversation. Days later, I apologized for screaming at him. I was in the wrong for that.
Despite the fact that he was the one who broke up our relationship, KR said he expected me to come back to him and for us to “work out our differences.” When he broke up with me last September, he made it very clear to me that his sexual needs are more important than my sanity, safety, and security. He justified his behavior, in his own mind, by blaming me and anyone else for his problems rather than face his own addiction issues and rather than taking responsibility for his own actions. The only thing that has changed since I left him is that there is 133 miles of distance between us.
Also, as of today, I’ve been sober for 311 days (this time around). I quit drinking alcohol and smoking pot the day KR broke up with me. I did it on my own without the help of AA, NA, a therapist, or any other type of emotional support. In fact, I’ve had NO emotional support system whatsoever here in my hometown since I came back. That’s been incredibly difficult. After that heated phone conversation with KR, I made several phone calls to find support; but like back in September, my desperate pleas for help have gone mostly unheard. I do have an appointment with a counselor at a local domestic violence facility on August 9th. I’ve gone to 3 Al Anon meetings in these past 2 weeks. I have yet to make myself actually talk with anyone in Al Anon, though.
My sister shows little understanding of what I’m going through or what I’ve experienced throughout my life. She’s too busy with her own life and responsibilities to lend a compassionate ear. Her words from years ago when she told me, “I don’t want to hear your sob story,” echo through my mind with every attempt to confide in her. Our last phone conversation a few days ago was no different. I attempted to talk with her about that phone conversation with KR only to be met with her disdain, telling me, “Well, if you’re not going to take your medication, then maybe you should try essential oils,” as if that would be the magic cure all for decades long depression. After getting off the phone with her, all I could do was laugh at the absurdity of her suggestion. I know she means well. All I really needed from her was for her to listen, to acknowledge my pain and sadness, and validate those emotions, not criticize or try to “fix” me.
My depression is warranted in this situation. I’ve lost a lot in this past year – a trusted counselor, my relationship with KR, my mom, even the emotional support of my pets since I can’t have them here with me. I completely uprooted my entire life to stay here and help my sister with this house. The majority of my belongings are still in Sparta, TN. I don’t have the space here for them since this is a fully furnished small home, not to mention I still have no idea where I’ll end up after the house sells. I don’t have internet here, so I didn’t even bother bringing my computer with me. I don’t even have that as a distraction method. Sure, I have my phone’s internet; yet that’s cumbersome, at best, infuriating, at worst. Using my phone’s internet is a nightmare. It’s as time consuming as dial-up and oh, so frustrating.
Shock and disappointment are two of the most difficult emotions for me to face. No other emotion except rage causes me to dissociate faster or leaves me in that state longer. I managed to journal throughout most of this with only minor gaps versus in the past, I stopped writing in my journals altogether. With fewer distractions here in East Tennessee, I’ve had more time to just sit and think, write, and even go back and re-read all of my past journals — something I’ve never done before. So much pain, sadness, and suffering within those pages….
Rather than bring my piano keyboard, which I dearly miss, I only brought my acoustic guitar. A counselor at New Leaf a couple of years ago said learning a new instrument can be beneficial in the recovery process, so I decided it was high time to finally learn how to play that guitar. It’s soothing my broken spirit when nothing else seems to work. A full 25 years later after leaving my hometown, I never expected to come back to East Tennessee. I never even really wanted to come back here, but I suppose it’s only fitting to go back to the beginning when trying to heal the end.
Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple.
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way.
Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple.
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way.