Searching for Compassion
Working on yourself is a very hard thing to do. Sometimes it feels self indulgent, some times it feels like it will kill you, and sometimes, you can push yourself too far and lose hope.
I have worked so hard to free my children. I have worked so hard to provide a safe home for them. But it really isn’t easy to be a single mom with all of the responsibility on your shoulders. It isn’t easy to be healing from so much damage while simultaneously trying to hold together a household.
But the hardest thing of all? It’s finding a drop of compassion in the world. I’ll be clear, I was molested from a very young age, it started when I was 2. I was raped from the age of 5 by my father and then passed around to his fraternity brothers and relatives for the next 10 years.
That alone ought to be enough for anyone. You can’t fathom something like that happening to a child. But once you grow up, people think it’s some kind of joke. I’ve been asked if my dad made a lot of money off of me. I’ve been asked how he offered me up to others. I’ve been ridiculed for having lived a life disconnected from my body, as though I even understood how I became disconnected in the first place. I’ve been told that it’s just sad that I would live that way instead of choosing a happy life.
I’m not sure how else to explain how that kind of trauma really messes you up. When you’re in a constant state of panic and just trying to survive, how can you be normal? You can’t. It’s just impossible. Until you begin to heal, you don’t have your whole personality available to you. You are dealing with trauma responses you don’t even understand and that impedes your path.
I have a lot of people telling me what I should do. I have a lot of people thinking the kids need to step up in a big way. I have a lot of people judging me for not being able to keep up with all the variables. But I don’t have a lot of help. The best I can get from someone is “I wish I could help you.” But why can’t they?
I haven’t asked for money. I haven’t expected anyone to bend over backwards for me. I save asking for help until I really can’t do something on my own. I don’t want to overburden anyone. I only have about 4 people I can ask for help. I get that people have their own lives and that they’re just as busy as I am in many cases.
But the result is that I’m overwhelmed to the point of having a mental breakdown. I actually called a suicide hotline tonight. I didn’t think I really would do it, I know that my kids really need me and they have no one else. But that feels like just one more thing I don’t have autonomy over. I can’t choose to die. But no matter how I try to live, I feel like I’m losing.
Money sucks and the kids have a lot of needs. It isn’t as simple as telling them what to do and expecting results. I can’t push them too hard, too fast or they’ll regress. These kids have trauma. It may not be the same type of trauma I lived through, but trauma of any kind messes you up.
I haven’t had a haircut in almost 2 years. I need two root canals. I need an oil change. My house is a mess. The cat needs to go to the vet. The kids need to get to the dentist. The neighbor keeps blocking my driveway with their car. The kids need support in school. Everyone wants something from me, but my cup is empty. Everyone wants to tell me what I need to do with my life.
I don’t want to be told how to live. I reject the idea that if you ask for help, that gives the person who is helping you the right to tell you how they would do it if they were you. They can’t possibly know what you’re dealing with and why you’ve chosen to do things the way you are doing them.
I didn’t ask you to fix my life. I didn’t ask you to tell me what you would do in my shoes. I didn’t ask you to tell me that I’m doing it wrong. If I did ask, then that would mean that I’m ready for new information. But I didn’t ask for an opinion. I asked for a ride.
It is hard to trust people when you’ve been violated. It’s hard to be vulnerable. It’s hard when someone plays games with your heart for the lift to their own ego. It makes you not want to trust anyone ever again. But you know that leads to a lonely life.
I already have a lonely life. It is a part of healing to pare down your circle until you’re left with only people you trust. It’s painful to let people go like that. It really hurts. It really hurts to push people away when they won’t hear the explanation. They can’t respect you, so they can’t hear you.
I am trying to release the shame that my mother instilled in me. She told people how deplorable I was and they believed her. My step-dad just laughs at me when I tell him how much I’m struggling. As if it were a joke. As if it were funny that I’m having a mental breakdown. Ha ha.
I’m so overwhelmed. I keep saying it and people keep saying I should be grateful that I was able to buy a house and divorce my husband. I am grateful. I am so grateful for this. But that doesn’t invalidate the struggle of starting over alone. I worked hard for this house, for years. It took 3 years of hard work to buy this house. I worked hard to get a divorce. I lived with someone who treated me terribly for much longer than I thought I could bear to make that divorce final.
I have worked hard to heal. I’ve worked so hard that I tried everything I could think of to heal. I meditated and worked with a buddhist teacher. I met with a counselor every week for years to talk through all of the damage I’ve been through. I saw an energy healer. I’ve educated myself about trauma and healing techniques. I’ve done ballroom dancing to reconnect to my body. I journal almost every day. I remember to be grateful. I am sober.
But is that enough? When will it be enough? When will I have done enough healing and work on myself to feel like I can relate to other people? It’s not so simple. All of those things that I did to heal changed me. I don’t want what I used to want anymore. I just don’t want to be alone. I have everything else I need.
My boss is this amazing human and I love her dearly. I’ve been at my new job for about 6 weeks now. Just having an open dialogue with her and having her listen to me has been incredibly healing. She talks to me too. We’ve both been through a lot. But I can’t ask too much from her, she is my boss after all.
I take what I can get when I can get it. But it isn’t enough. I’m okay with who I am. I’m okay with my home and my kids and all of that. I love my friends, though I don’t see them often. I am content with my job and my commute, though dropping the little one off adds an hour to my commute each way the days I have her. I am happy with the schools that the kids go to.
In my heart, I know that no matter what I can’t keep up with, no matter what I can’t wrap my head around, what I can do and give is really enough. It has to be, because I haven’t got anything more in me.
The dishes will have to wait. The kids will have to help when they can - they get overwhelmed too. They are making sacrifices that others don’t see as sacrifices. It’s okay to take a night off or even a week off from doing anything overly taxing when you’ve hit the point of overload. You just need to know when it’s been enough and you’re ready to get back to work.
Though loneliness consumes me, I know that I am doing the very best I can. No matter how others judge me, I have to know that their judgement is more about them than it is about me. Some people will never give you credit for anything no matter what you do. It is important to give yourself credit.
When I step outside of myself and look at what I’ve accomplished, I see a bad ass woman who is putting her life back together. She has chosen freedom and safety and a tiny fraction of the people who once comprised her social circle. She has chosen to nurture her children and meet their needs and learn when to push a little harder. Her kids tell her she’s the best mom ever and tell her that they love her every day. She is good and kind and friendly.
I have no idea how anyone else sees me. I have no idea if the ones closest to me are proud of me. I know I still need to hear it though. My boss told me I was a smart woman the other day. I cried hearing the words. I realized that it had been so long since anyone had said something like that to me.
I’m on the right path. It hurts to walk in the right direction sometimes. You have to feel the hurt to learn from it, you can’t just push it away or bury it. You have to let it go. Sometimes you move beyond a place where anyone can understand you. Sometimes you just need to find new people to be your family. Whatever it takes, I will keep moving forward. I will keep doing what is right.
None of this is easy. I’m at a painful place in the path now. It isn’t that things are so terrible, it’s that there are so many things and I am just one person. I’ve changed everything about my life in the last year. It is fair to give myself time to heal from this trauma too. It’s easy to say, but it’s hard to give myself compassion.
Maybe no one will ever want to hear my story. Maybe no one will read my blog. Maybe you all think I’m throwing a pity party. Whatever the case may be, it isn’t up to anyone else to tell me I’m doing a good job. I have to believe it myself.
I am doing the best I can. I have a heart full of compassion. I have the rewards to show for working hard and having strong boundaries and standing up for myself and my children. I am struggling, but how could I not be when I’ve been so overburdened? Eventually I will get through this list too. Eventually I’ll pay off the debt. Eventually I’ll be able to get an oil change and a haircut. Though I can’t do everything I want to do now, the path will become easier as time goes on. Why? Because I just need to get used to living a new life.
I’ve never been so strong, so capable, so able to see how my hard work has paid off. I won’t have to change everything about my life every year. Just this last one. I will find my balance, my normal, my people. It’s hard to be patient when I’ve been through so much, but I know that I will get there soon. Look how far I’ve come!
I am proud of myself. I am so strong and so fragile at the same time. I have chosen to honor my heart over and over, even when it’s painful. It takes courage to do that and I know that I am brave. I am smart and capable and clever. I am resourceful and persistent and I get things done. The world may not be able to show me compassion, but I can give it to myself.