On the Flip Side of Hell: Closure for Self

My life is wonderful right now. I don’t say this to brag, I say this to inspire.

If you’ve read some of my poetry or a few of my previous blogs, my life has not always been this great. In the past, my life has downright sucked everyone and everything I’ve known into spiraling chasms of hopelessness, anger, fear, and overall negativity. However, after many years of climbing up out of the rock bottom I’d fallen to, I can quite truthfully say, “I am happy. Life is good.” Rather than it being something I’m trying to convince myself of, I really mean it. Life is good.

Finally.

This journey has not been easy.

It wasn’t until I started to experience the power of genuine love from genuine people that I began to understand just how horribly toxic the relationships in my past were. I didn’t understand that I thought myself fully incapable of being loved or giving love.

To be fair, when we’re younger, things like love seem like they should be so much easier. Right or wrong, we’re all given a general morality compass by the people who raise us, including how to love and be loved. If I would have followed the direction of the compass that was given to me, I wouldn’t be in the place I am right now. I would be so much more miserable if I’d kept stumbling along blindly. Once I woke up and took a look around, the path I had found myself on was terrifying and full of chaos.

I had to stop and analyze why I was behaving in such self destructive ways. There was a point in my late 20’s where I suddenly realized I hated myself, and the people around me were miserable because they didn’t know how to talk to me or handle me. I didn’t know how to talk to me or handle me. I’d been told I couldn’t have children and that information had devastated my already fragile psyche. That information also set me on a path to complete transformation of life, though I had no idea at the time.

Addiction crept into my life as I turned to prescription opiates to numb the pain of a complete mental breakdown. It took a near overdose to wake me up and make me see that my life was a mess and I was the only person who could fix it. Until that point, I hadn’t really taken the time to explore the things that broke me. Holding onto blame, guilt for my mistakes, and self-hatred became normal, even in self talk. I was too busy trying to push forward through life like a bull in a china shop.

I needed to change the trajectory of my life or I would have ended up dead.

I had to face the truths that I had been too scared to face. I needed to teach myself how to be a healthy person and how to love who I was instead of hating who I’d become. As I took a hard look at the behaviors that needed changing, I had to pinpoint where I learned each negative or destructive behavior and reprogram myself, reparent myself, and love myself through it.

Being diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder gave me so much clarity and gave me a jumping point from where to begin working. Work it has been. The hardest work of my whole life.

I’ve spent a lot of time in PTSD land. Flashbacks, night terrors, visions, and horrible vivid lucid dreams plagued my sanity on a daily basis for over a year (or perhaps longer). Through learning and discovery, they’ve slowed significantly- becoming weekly, then monthly, and now, 5 years later, I’m lucky if I get two flashbacks or visions in a year. I’m so proud of this progress I’ve made for myself. I get to be proud of that, because nobody else could do that work for me.

I’ve talked the trauma, my emotions, the lack of rationale for it all to death with therapists, friends,  family, and my journal. That time in my life when my brain kept taking me back to past trauma was, quite honestly, absolute hell. I couldn’t look at the people who hurt me without wanting to scream at them or hurt them or shake them vigorously. I couldn’t think about those people, my parents in particular, without wanting to rage and destroy everything I touched. It has been years of physically and emotionally reliving the trauma of sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological abuse again. And again. And again.

Do you have any idea how it feels to mourn the loss of parents who are still very much physically alive? Do you know how it feels to let go of  basic expectations you’ve had your entire life for the people who raised you? Do you know how it feels to learn that you hate yourself because your own mother told you daily as a child that your existence on this planet is an inconvenience to everyone, that you are a waste of space, and then proceeded to withhold love from you and abuse you? Do you know how disgusting it feels to continue yearning for that love, to continue trying even as an adult with choices, just to keep finding devastation? It’s agonizing, heartbreaking, and any other synonyms for painful you can find. It’s terrible. Words can’t even express the depth and level of pain that exists in that place.

Once I went “no contact” with my mother, all of the layers of brainwashing, all of the layers of grime that had been piled upon my back- it all started to fall off. Revealed beneath were layers with more and more scars. I do not, and will not, ever regret cutting out of my life something that was causing me such deep and prolonged harm.

I will be staying “no contact”, a resolute silence to maintain peace and sanity in my life. Best. Decision. Ever.

As I’ve gotten answers and clarity about the past from family members, I’ve come to a better understanding about what happened all those years ago. I’ve come to realize that I was brainwashed to believe, feel, and act certain ways, and that nothing that happened to me as a child was my fault. I could not have changed it. In fact, I blamed myself for too many things that were not mine to take responsibility for, for way too long, including trying to find love where it never truly existed.

Getting to the other side of that pain and still being alive, still thriving, and finding happiness has been the sweetest reward. Finding love within myself and the true love of family has been beautiful.

Even better, the people I now have around me are happy, positive people. I love my family of misfits. It’s never a cake walk. We have struggles and mountains to overcome each and every day and we do. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes feelings get hurt. But no one in this new family resorts to violence or petty, catty behavior when things don’t go their way. We talk it out and address the issues head on. Conversations can happen without fear of being manipulated or made fun of. Honesty in self is what has become most important in attaining and giving respect and finding harmony.

Supporting each other, celebrating with each other, being real with each other, not sugar coating things but not intentionally hurting each other, protecting each other, defending each other, finding the positive spin on things- that’s what this new family I’ve been blessed to be a part of does.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find true, 100% forgiveness toward those who really screwed up my childhood and messed with my brain and took liberties with my body. And you know what, I think that’s okay. However,  I intend to let it go. Those challenges made me who I am today and so I have the tools to get through all manner of struggle because of the pain I’ve endured. It does not mean I need to be okay with the fact it all happened or have those people in my life ever again. I just accept that it’s one part of a larger picture and something I can’t change.

A blog post about closure wouldn’t be complete without addressing this, though. I was married to a man for almost 7 years that I never should have married. While things were okay at the beginning, we started to grow in different directions instead of together. Lacking the proper tools to navigate a healthy relationship, we were mean to each other and we hurt one another. Deeply. We’ve been divorced now for 5 years. I would have never been able to find the healing that I’ve found if we’d have stayed together. He’s happier, I’m happier, and it’s now a part of the past. Chapter closed.

What I have learned, and what I keep learning, is that I am my strongest defender of myself. I am the only person who can love me the way that I can and I’m grateful every single day to have found that for myself. I only hope I can teach my daughter how important it is to love herself so she can spend her time doing amazing things in this world rather than waste it feeling insecure or unloved.

Yeah, it turns out, I can have children, and, with the right person, I created a little one. I truly feel like I needed to make the journey I did in order to be blessed with the beautiful presence of my daughter.

There will be no book outlining the atrocities of my childhood. I’ve tried at least a dozen times to write it and put it together, but the idea of hurting people with my words, even if the characters in real life are toxic and horrible, makes me feel like I am less than what I know myself to be capable of. Hurting them will hurt me. Opening it all up to public scrutiny will just create a situation in my life that I don’t want to handle. My entire life would be consumed with the stories of the past and I would have a harder time than ever moving on.

I’m simply closing the book of the past, the one with the well worn, tear stained pages that I’ve read through a million times to find healing. It’s time to write chapters in the fresh pages of a new today and an exciting tomorrow. It’s time to embrace the wonder, magic, and positive beauty that has become my life.

Bring it on!!

 

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