WARNING: EXTREMELY LONG POST!
Seriously, it's really long.
If you have to pee, pee now.
So... I had intended to do a different anger releasing writing project and instead I found myself "gifted" with a new starting point today. I ended up mixing some of my previous complaints with the newer ones. It might be a little confusing-somehow in my process I blended multiple members of my family into one. No matter. The process is the important part.
DISCLAIMER: I tried to embrace my anger. I tried to fan the flames. I tried to dig up compacted rage. As intentional as this is, I am still quite uncomfortable with expressing my anger. I don't know if such phrases are effective. I don't know if it's rational or justified or something I can stand by... I'm trying not to judge myself and I hope you can withhold judgment as well :o) I don't like saying mean things. I empathize and I see both sides so much that I struggle to even own thoughts like these let alone express them on paper, screen, or out loud!
DISCLAIMER PS: The hubby has encouraged me to embrace a "go fuck yourself" mentality. Instead of being hurt and trying to figure out what's wrong with me or how to be good enough, reject the hurtful opinion. Think or say "go fuck yourself" instead of throwing myself under the bus or putting myself at risk for relapse. I don't have to analyze every comment... I can let it go. Push it away. So, I tried to embrace that. In real life I don't really say, "go fuck yourself." Ever. Very weird feelings... Anywho. Just sayin.
Here we go. Somehow an offhand comment set my off...
Maybe you thought it was a compliment today when you said I should be on that show, "American Grit." The thing is, when the host describes the show as a place for people "all who either have lost their grit or never had it" I don't take that as a compliment.
A) How the fuck can you think that I don't have grit? Do you have that little appreciation for what I've survived?
It's puzzling to me that you have never seemed to grasp my mental health issues. It's been over 15 years since my symptoms surfaced and yet it seems like you still struggle to acknowledge my disease. I mention something relating to my mental health and I'm greeted with a "deer in the headlights" stare. My husband says that he has given up on trying to explain that this type of illness can't be "cured," that it's part of my body chemistry and brain structure. Do you really think I'm not trying hard enough to "fix it?" Do you think that I'm lazy?
Maybe you don't appreciate the years of my childhood and young adulthood spent in quiet desperation. The years of self-harming and isolation. You pegged me as "the Eeyore of the family." Why does my mental illness define my personality?
Maybe you didn't notice my instability. You didn't notice my disease sending me into months of darkness or jerking me into weeks of elation. Years of feeling like I couldn't be trusted with my own life; whether that meant wanting to kill myself or being aware that I was too starry-eyed to make responsible decisions. I was impulsive and unstable and trying to figure out a solution all on my own... I suppose these deep-rooted feelings of rejection and abandonment have grown from multiple seeds, I'm sure this is one of them though. You didn't know what to do, I get it, maybe if it felt like you tried I wouldn't feel this angry. I wouldn't feel this heartbroken. You turned away from me and fed my self-disgust.
And what of the last couple years? Do you appreciate the fact that I spent months barely able to care for myself or my infant son? What about the period of time that I couldn't be trusted alone with my son? Surely you remember the weeks in the hospital. I'm told you visited. I know that you helped drive me to ECT treatments. Do you know how many times the hubster drove me? or drove BB north to daycare then drove south to work then drove west to see me in the psych ward before rushing back to BB and caring for our son throughout the evening-multiple wakings in the night-before waking early to do it again all on his own? (Hubby comment: he only got one speeding ticket!)
Do you see the scars we carry? The scars that bind us? That time broke trust and built trust. I couldn't be trusted with my life or with my son's life. He saved us. Why does the hubby ask so openly and abruptly if I'm safe? if I'm suicidal? if I feel out of control? because dozens and dozens of times I've been in danger. He's been rescuing me. That was our norm and we've made it through. We've made it through and are making a new normal from scratch. Your jokes and teasing about his protectiveness and adherence to routine aren't just annoying, they're insulting.
How can you imply that I don't have grit? Over a year of life-threatening postpartum depression, over a dozen medications tried to stem the crisis, over three weeks in the hospital, over thirty ECT treatments... I'm still here. I laid on a bed and waited for my last breath to try and spare my husband and son a lifetime of trying to save a life I thought wasn't worth saving-mine. My husband ripped that plastic bag off my face and saved my life that afternoon and despite having close to no resolve left, somehow I kept fighting. For him. For my son. And a little for me.
How much more grit do I have to have before I can believe you think I'm enough?
I can't count on that anymore. I can't wait to sense some change in you. I can't play these pussy-footing games of allusion and corroding criticism. I may have started my life in this game with your dangerous rules. I won't finish my life at your game. You can call me sensitive, you can tease me and imply that I'm weak, you can make me feel like I'm flawed beyond salvaging-and then you can go fuck yourselves. Just because you don't seem to realize the damage you cause doesn't mean you are devoid of responsibility.
I don't need your apologies. I don't need you. I don't need more grit.
B) Do you have that little appreciation for how much I do everyday to try and avert relapse and continue to survive? What kind of grit does that take?
You give the impression that the most important aspect of my exercise regimen in my weight loss and being fit. Maybe all your comments about me "being in the best shape of your life" or "a sliver of what you used to be" are intended to be compliments. In reality? It feels like weight added back onto my shoulders. I feel pressure to lose more weight. To lift heavier weight. To tone more parts of my body and fit in smaller clothes and eliminate rolls and embody some image that you, society, and the shadowed part of me have deemed worthy of pride.
It's not healthy.
My mental state is more important than the state of my ass. I exercise every day to try and maintain my mood stability or actively battle back anxiety and depression. I go to the gym despite my social anxiety, despite feeling inept and insufficient, despite feeling like an outcast and poser. I go to the gym and try to push myself hard enough to be able to push back the disease I will live with for the rest of my life.
It doesn't really matter how much I can lift. The kind of strength I need most can't be provided by regular exercise.
You tease me for my "OCD" while loading the dishwasher or trying to keep the refrigerator organized. Okay, that's not how you do things. Fine. I do it different and for a damn good reason.
I'm not OCD-which is a clinical disorder and not something to be joked about-I am sick. I am sick in such a way that I have to avoid any extra stress whenever possible. I am sick in such a way that I have to be mindful throughout my day about big and little choices-from doing dishes or taking medication.
I am sick in such a way that unloading the dishes and finding several of them dirty because the machine was overloaded or loaded ineffectively can be unduly upsetting. I'm sick in such a way that having sharp knives scattered throughout the other silverware instead of contained in their own section can increase my impulses to self-harm.
As for a disorganized and sometimes unsanitary fridge or a cabinet stuffed with mismatched Tupperware? If I'm having a bad day, opening a door and being confronted by these things can send me into a panic or distress me in a way that contributes to a depressive episode. Not to mention feeling the criticism and rejection from you verbal teasing in each carelessly placed item. And seriously-why would you want to put your fruits right by (or on) your raw meat!?
I have to live this way to live. It's working for me and that's what matters-at least to me, my husband, and our son. Don't think that I resent it-it is a lot of work and it's also the greatest sense of stability that I've ever had in my life. My mental state may fluctuate and get dangerous from time-to-time; dinner will always be at 6:00 PM. The silverware will always be sorted and easily accessible. The yoghurt will always be on the same shelf. Baby Bananaface will always have a set bedtime. That stability, having something I can count on, gives me comfort and confidence that I didn't have before. It helps me cope, it helps me thrive.
You want to live in a hurricane made by your own hand? Go ahead. You want to swallow your feelings and eat your loneliness? Go ahead. You want to bury yourself in cheap trinkets in lieu hearing "I love you?" Fine. I'm sick of trying to satiate the needs you don't claim responsibility for or even acknowledge. I'm not interested in maintaining this legacy of delusion and self-imposed suffering. I take this heritage and try to set it aside day-after-day for my own good and for my husband and for my son.
Y'all can sit in your burning building on your own. I'm leaving.
Whew. I tried NOT to edit much. I tried NOT to hold back or censor. I'm sure that this isn't everything though. I have a hard time handling anger. I think this was a step in the right direction though.
What does this mean for the real relationship with me family? I have no clue. I do think that I can't expect them to change or expend too much of my energy fighting to change things. I have to take care of myself in other ways first and that takes a lot of my time and energy. I think it's all right to simply accept things and accept that I don't have to fix it. I can move on and live the best life that I can without making everything neat and perfect.
CONGRATS if you read this entire post.
You have eyes of steel ;o)