“…riding this unending wave of…unrealistic optimism…delusions of grandeur…”
I had been manic for over a week after sharing my art in a sexual assault survivors show, and talking to people there. There are times when I forget what lurks just under the surface, because I have been way off center since then. Of all things, I was so high the night of the show that I went next door to this Huge sculpture shop and blabbed about myself and how I want to sculpt (which I do), and introducing myself th the owner. He was very kind and personable, and sent me to talk to his designer, who was also very kind, very charismatic and really got me wanting to work in a shop again.
I got a wee bit off the beam, though. I came home and started writing a grant proposal while simultaneously applying to this famous sculpture artist’s shop, while also offering to be an apprentice, and messaging the director in a crazily familiar manner… Whew! I am mortified when I think about it. Not only was I manic that day, I was on a roll for days and days, seemingly riding this unending wave of optimism. Unrealistic optimism, which I do believe is called delusions of grandeur.
Ah well, I guess I have a lot to be grateful for, I am clean and sober today so I didn’t try to seduce anyone, or get drunk and puke on anyone! Yes, that is a huge thing to be grateful about, because 21 years ago I had serious regrets after a night out. Oh boy. How easy to forget how far I’ve come!
I know now that I never have to go back to being an addict or an alcoholic, but how dare I ever forget this gift of sobriety. I know in the rooms of AA we would talk about keeping it fresh…I’m glad I’m writing to you now or I may not have remembered to be grateful. “Out of the mire and the sediment… You put my feet on a crag…a new song in my mouth…praise to our God!”
I just heaved a great big sigh of relief, that all I have today is a gift, and I have so, so much more than I could ever deserve. To breathe to cool night air, to reflect on a day well lived, with a soft bed to sleep in and warm food in my belly. There was a different time back then- but it’s time to walk away from that wreckage in my mind. Pack it all back up into the little ammo can it lives in, bury it deep in the earth and let it dissolve into nothingness. I know that one day the memories will never hurt me again, and I will keep pushing on until that day comes.
Hatred can eat you alive. Trust me on this, you do NOT want to carry it around for thirty years like I did, it is poison. I watched my Mom wither under the weight of the loathing she had for my Dad, fifty years of resentment and anger all twisted up inside. And he was just as bad, in a different way; vindictive and cruel to her, and sometimes to my brother and I, but always to Mom. Is it any wonder I grew up filled with the black death of it?
It fuelled my young life, after the years of blissful ignorance that comes with kindergarten times. No, hatred was to force its way into me, at the hands of an abuser. The funny thing was (not that sexual assault is ever funny, it’s a figure of speech) , to the adults in my world there was blame to be settled on my eight- year-old head. I was so confused by the abuse, because the offender was a trusted adult, that I wasn’t filled with hate towards him. It was all so overwhelming, and my best friend and I were swallowed up and spit out by the Justice system at that time. Childhood sexual assault wasn’t treated the way it is today back in the early 70’s. We had to tell the judge and the entire courtroom what was done to us, detail by detail; the abuse was over the course of a year, so there was a lot to tell. The judge kept making me repeat things and go into more detail, ” COULD YOU SPEAK UP PLEASE?”
(My friend was so traumatized that she couldn’t come back the second day, so it felt like a white hot light shining down on my eight-year-old head. The abusers wife decided to add to my torture by announcing to the audience that we were little whores who enticed the old codger. )
I digress. I learned to hate thru this experience. Not only the bad people, but myself. My Grandmother let me know that “nice girls” never talked about these things ever, and if I wanted to get married someday I would never, no NEVER, mention it again. My Mom blamed my Dad, and my friends parents, and was angry at herself for never having “The Talk” with me yet.
The Hatred grew, I started to use drugs, I drank, I stayed out late, my grades failed. It was all MY Fault, and the reason no one loved me was because I was faulty somehow. I lost my virginity to rape- that was my fault to, I belived. Circumstances were such that my friends abandoned me after this, my Dad told me I was disgusting when I got home at 3am with sticks and grass in my hair, so I never told anyone. I hated myself so much, I deliberately did more and more shocking things. It must be true, I thought, I am disgusting! I tried to end my life before I even graduated high school.
At 17, I not only hated myself, I hated authority, my parents, men, my old friends, school and disco. Everybody hated disco, didn’t they? I was angry with my big brother for disliking me and the company I kept. My Mom took me for an abortion at age 15 when my “boyfriend” abandoned me; I never really understood that it had been a wonderful, tiny life inside of me. It came back to haunt me after 2 years, when I saw friends at school bring their babies. This was the FIRST TIME that was been done in that area. I became suicidal, I started hitting things, kicking things till I broke my toes, bloodied my knuckles. There was no one talking about Bipolar Disorder in those days.
I just kept spiralling downward. After jumping out of a moving car I was placed in a locked adolescent ward of a Psychiatric Hospital. I was able to talk about the awful things for 30 days, but no real diagnosis, just depressed, they said.
Flash forward to moving to Florida at 20 with my parents. New beginnings, same old song. I kept losing my sobriety, using cocaine big time. It was ‘snowing’ all over Florida in the early 80’s. Then I met an ex-Marine named Ricky. He was the first to really beat me. That was fine, I deserved it. That’s what he told me, so it must be true. It was always something I did, something I said. Then we found rock. ‘Crack’. Now I really had reason to intensely dislike myself. I stole from every member of my family, including stealing my deceased Grandfather’s gold teeth, stolen from my Grandma’s jewelry box. My own Grandma and Grandpa. Yep.
Well, that wasn’t even the bottom. There were 15 years of addiction, abuse, crime, alcoholism, jail and agony yet to go. Not to mention the pain and trauma I put my Mom thru. I would travel up the east coast, across the country to the west coast, become homeless, rob the store I worked in, live with train tramps, hop freight trains, be ‘held hostage’ by Mormons, pretend to be a lawyer for said Mormons, live in the Sonoran Desert, travel back to Florida, marry a habitual offender, have my nose broken twice, my jaw once, get pneumonia 3x, become a pot dealer, then a coke dealer, a drug runner and a co-conspirator to my husband’s crimes, try to infiltrate a motorcycle club on my own and lose everything at least 3 times . Oh, and get snake bit twice, once by a pygmy rattlesnake, once by a copperhead, both times drunk. These are only the things I remember…
It all added up to one very sad, very angry, very sick person who could not stand to look herself in the mirror. The self-hatred and self-abuse led me to the darkest place I had ever been. Everything I ever tried failed. I hurt everyone who ever loved me, and I could not stand it one more day. I tried to overdose on a cold night in September 1999. I couldn’t even do that right it seemed. I was shooting up in my parents’ house, they let me come home after my husband went to federal prison. I promised myself that I would never jeopardize my Dad’s business. But I’d been allowing a coke dealer to do business in the place in exchange for an 8 ball every couple days. (An 8-ball is an eigth ounce of cocaine) I told him I quit that night, but he left me a package anyway. So I knew it was over. I did what I said I wouldn’t do. I’d been in and out of AA and NA so often they called me the “white chip queen’; I just couldn’t do it, I believed. The only way was to ‘ride the lightning’-give myself a hot shot.
I loaded the syringe, and gathered my nerves. With tears running down my face, I apologized to God and everyone, and then…
…then I saw this image if a candle in my mind’s eye, with the tiniest flame I had ever seen, the wind was blowing and it was flickering-it would go out any second…then suddenly I realized that I was being shown my life, just about to blow out like that candle… I put the needle down and got on my knees, and prayed to God to help me….
I know, you are sceptical, and that is ok, I don’t know if it was my imagination or what. But I got up and called a friend, took the dope and headed over to his house. The trouble was, he was clean and sober. Or maybe that there is the miracle. Because he convinced my to dump out the drugs and go to a 12 step meeting when morning came. I did this, and amazingly have been clean and sober till this day, 21 years later! Twenty two in September…
But it still took a wee bit longer to forgive myself. As the years passed I still didn’t feel happy, I cried all the time. I finally got a proper diagnosis and a medication regimen that works for my Bipolar Disorder. I have PTSD from all the physical trauma and abuse, but I have coping tools today. I have a therapist who understands my pain and guides me thru the darkness when it comes. But the best medicine I ever found is the forgiveness God gives thru the Sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. By learning about this and about God’s will, and dedicating my life to God, I have experienced the greatest gift ever: The free gift of a cleansed conscience, of forgiveness from all my past sins.
So you see, I just Had to learn to forgive myself, otherwise I would be claiming that I know better than my God!! It is not easy though, sometimes my old thinking creeps back in and I feel that old discouragement. I have to stay on top of things and pray, follow the Bible’s counsel and reach out to my support network. Knowing that my Creator loves me is the greatest high I have ever experienced.
AMAZING!! I really have felt exhilarated , even in just this first week of “future me” thinking!
That’s just wonderful, I neeed this;
After all we have been thru this past year, and my isolation, my thinking had become sluggish, self-centered and negative. Too much couch potato activity, not enough oxygen getting into the ole noggin. I needed a jolt, a wake up, a SHAKE UP! And I received just what I needed, just in time.
(as a side note: I am EXTREMELY SPIRITUAL, so I credit God with leading me in the right direction, because I prayed to be able to serve him more fully. I believe the Bible where it says that when we request in our prayers the things that help us do his will, he Always answers us. Not like asking for a car, or a million bucks…)
Suggestions for refocusing have inspired me and are easy for me as an artist, because I am naturally a very visual person. I used my handmade visual prompts to great success when I lost 70 pounds in 2013-2014. I AM MAKING A BUNCH OF LITTLE POSITIVE NOTES, AND POSTING THEM ALL AROUND MY HOUSE! As has been suggested, I write some goals on them, a little doodle of what that looks like to me, and encouragement ; the kind of motivating encouragement I would offer a dear friend, or loved one. Notes like I used to stick everywhere for my Mom to cheer her. NOTES LIKE THESE:
This method of visual perks has helped me heal from Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and years of Emotional Abuse! I first was introduced to “ART Therapy” as an adolescent in a Psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. To get at the ‘real’ problem, this method allowed us to let out the pain, albeit subconsciously , by use of color, shape, pressure of marks, etc. The aim wasn’t to create a thing of beauty, it was to allow the anguish(or anger, etc.)to vent.
(For myself, this was insightful, and extremely freeing. I have uses this technique in my art practice to this day, very intense, more focused version of it. )
***I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL!!!*** ATTENTION!! IF YOU FEEL LIKE HARMING YOURSELF GET PROFESSIONAL HELP IMMEDIATELY!***
visualizing my goals has been HUGELY beneficial! as someone who had to depend on herself for positive confirmation and encouragement, I feel this small action has been pivotal in my motivation now!
One thing is crucial for me as someone with Bipolar Disorder, I have to constantly gauge my level of Mania when I feel so “UP”. If it is a Manic Episode I must reach out to my doctor before it escalates. For someone with this illness, mania can lead to devestating extremes of behavior. I ALWAYS take my illness seriously, TAKE MY MEDICATION, AND FOLLOW MY WELLNESS PLAN!!
I love my life today, and now that I pried myself away from Poptarts, Ice Cream and endless Film Noir, and my woman-eating Couch, I am feeling that love again!
Here is another therapeutic tool that has been Life Altering for me: Forgiving the Past Me.
I just attended one of my meetings on Zoom, for Worship. It amazes me how much these 2 meetings per week have become my greatest source of comfort, by seeing all my loving friends. It’s wonderful to feel the warmth-it even comes in loud and clear thru the computer!!
Isolation can be a killer for the mentally ill. There have been times when the only thing pinning me to this fabric of life was contact with another human being. The worst part of being so deeply depressed and out of hope, for me as a Bipolar person who used to have suicidal ideations, was that all I could see, ALL I COULD SEE, was the abyss. I had absolutely no ability on my own at that point to make a decision to reach out of the blackness for help. When you are in the dark, it is difficult to see a friend. The emptyness seems to stretch endlessly away, I had no thought of how I would hurt my loved ones.
I thank my God that someone saw my despair, and made a move, even though I said I was fine. Over and over and over…I would paste on a smile, because we of the depressed masses are SO GOOD AT ACTING, and repeat the phrase, “Oh no, I’m really fine, just a little tired…”, or “Nothings wrong, seriously, I’m fine.” Especially as a teen, I knew just how to shut my Mom down with a roll of my eyes and an exaggerated sigh of frustration. A slammed door worked well too.
At the time in my life when I was suicidal, I was not yet diagnosed with any mental illness. I was a teenager, had been sexually abused routinely, had been drinking and taking drugs for years, and felt so sick inside, mainly with self-loathing. Up to that point, say around age 13, I was starving for love and attention at home. I know now that it was largely in part due to my parents’ exhaustion at working constantly. But there was more. My Dad was tired, constantly, and angry, and he was very grouchy. I was SO sensitive that every word he said was rejection. I was not at all at fault, but I was acting out my need for love in promiscuity. Of course , having been sexually abused by trusted adults beginning at age 8, I’m sure I needed serious counselling even that early, but those were the years before it was ok to talk about such things.
I had many experiences where I heard my best friend and I being blamed for causing the abuse, even at the ages of 8 and 9, by the abusers co-conspiring wife, in the courtroom!!!! Also, the old-fashioned Protestant attitudes exhibited by Grandparents and Aunts and other family members told me in no uncertain terms that these abuses were never to be mentioned again.Nice girls didn’t talk about such things! Nobody will ever want to marry you!! You are “spoiled”now!!
These lies and the ensuing actions of not being cuddled, or hugged, or even being allowed to accompany my beloved little cousin to gymnastics class seared my little heart and mind. How does a child process rejection? She doesn’t know that her family is perpetuating the trauma, or that they are sick too, or just plain mean. She believes the lie that she is unlovable . Imagine for a minute: An eight year old believing it is HER FAULT that she was violated . That Daddy and Grandma don’t love her anymore…
So clear to me now, how wrong they were. And it also so WONDERFUL THAT I understand now. I hope so much that someone out there sees this who has a loved in a similar situation, and reaches out to the child, or teenager, or adult…Tell them IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT !!! You are LOVED, AND CHERISHED, AND NOT TO BLAME!!!
The circumstances that the abuse happened under were not caused by you. You absolutely DID NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN, NOR DID YOU MAKE THIS HAPPEN!! Repeat these truths over and over, until you can truly believe them. You must try, even though it may seem to be the hardest thing in the world, to find someone safe to talk to. For me, this was a Doctor at the emergency room, where I wound up after jumping out of a moving car. He really cared, even though I refused to talk initially. He did not judge me, or act shocked, or even run and get my Mom. Today, after years of treating sexual assault the fault of the victim, I would hope that ALL Doctors would give help and comfort to assault victims. This most likely is not the case, so don’t give up in seeking help. There are suicide prevention hotlines you can call, also 911 and 211 in the US. In the front of the phone book, if they still make these, there are lists of helpful organization, also safe places to go.
I know how hard it is to reach out, but you can do it. If you don’t feel up to talking to a human, there is still the BEST FRIEND you will ever have, who you can talk to, Anytime, Anywhere, out loud, or silently from your hurting heart… This person is God. Jehovah is his name, and he is Jesus’ Father. He knows you are hurting, and he wants you to call on him…
I did not believe that God could love me, and I suffered on my own for 20 more years. You don’t have to suffer that long!
Psalm 34:18 says, ” Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 94:19 reads,”When anxieties overwhelmed me, you comforted and soothed me.”
Psalm 27:10 also says, “Even if my own father and mother abandon me, Jehovah himself will take me in.”
For me, praying to God has been my lifeline. Even though I live alone now, I know He hears my prayers anytime and every time. I say, “in Jesus name.”at the end of all my prayers because Jesus tells us at John 14:6 , “No one comes to the Father except thru me.” Thus is because God made Jesus High Priest and God requires that we acknowledge this when we pray! So Jesus also states this truth in the Bible at John 16:3,
” If you ask the Father for anything, he will give it to you in my name.”
One of my favorite verses in the Bible offers me so much insight into God’s love for us . It is in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes I will help you, I will really hold onto you with my right hand of righteousness.”
I hope this brings you comfort and hope. Know that you are loved…
Always feeling different, in a room full of schoolmates. Outcast, in my mind, just knowing that the kids could see inside me. It began in kindergarten, even then, when the little boy I was in love with ran away from me. Mom had asked me to get the recipe for his Mom’s Syrian Bread, but he must have thought I wanted to kiss him, because he ran away from me, all the way down the road to his house.
He’s a successful doctor all these years later. And me? I’m still painted green. You see, that is the best way I can explain what being Bipolar feels like, in a crowd. Like you are chartreuse in a room full of normal people. I explained to my therapist that all my life (before diagnosis and psych meds) I felt as if I were in a movie, an endlessly rolling recording of every move I made. That would make a person feel conspicuous, wouldn’t it?
I certainly am better now, 21 years after diagnosis, med regimen, and therapy. But I still feel green sometimes..,
Let me start this blog off by saying that I am not a health care professional, nor am I licensed in any form of mental health capacity. All I am is a person in pain, having lost a dear loved one, and who also happens to suffer from Bipolar Disorder.
So, in a sense, that makes me an expert of sorts. I say that in a lighthearted way, coming from a heart that is anything but light. Ever since Daddy died I have been running in circles, like a dog chasing it’s tail. Somehow, I am dealing with each necessary task: the funeral, the cremation, the memorial, filing for assistance for myself since Dad supported me in my disability, cleaning up all the evidence of his sickness and dying that were left here in the house. It feels like being in the center of a hurricane.
Knowing that I will soon be back in the raging storm, only this time I will be alone.
In my manic state right now, I cannot sleep, cannot rest. I either forget to eat, or I eat the wrong things in the wrong quantities. I baked a cake and cupcakes last night at 11:45, then ate 3 cupcakes before lying down. No wonder I did not sleep, right?
I keep getting up, in a half asleep stupor, thinking I have to check on him. Then I wake up sitting at my computer at 4 in the morning, all crooked and stuck like a pretzel. Once the other day I fell asleep on my face with my glasses on, and they had embedded themselves into my head. Not a nice way to awaken.
But the endless cleaning, and going from room to room carrying the strangest things, and the inability to breathe normally are also very disconcerting. I have the feeling of impending doom, the one I had for years in active addiction, the feeling that came back when Mom died in 2010, the feeling that follows me like a shadow. It keeps telling me that I am all alone now, that there is no one to love me, or hold me anymore.
It is a terrible, sad feeling, and my head knows it is not real. God loves me, and will NEVER forsake me. I am in a cloud of witnesses, all loving Jehovah, and He has tight hold of my hand. So-leave me alone, terrible darkness! Stay at bay, awful sadness!
Please God, help me have soundness of mind, help me to have a quiet heart, a hopeful spirit, and faith sure and strong!! I know that you hear me, in the name of Jesus.
I am loved, and I am safe. I will never walk alone!
My heart healed, my wings mended, my joy complete.
I am now the person I always wished I could be.
I am not responsible for anyone else’s decisions, for anyone else’s pain.
I have paid the price for my past mistakes by enduring the consequences for my actions. I am not required to flog myself any longer. I do not have to grovel before an abuser ever again.
I am fine, protected by God’s Love, able to fight the fine fight with the tools He provides, and His Holy Spirit.
The Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word the Bible.
The Breastplate of righteousness.
The Large Shield of Faith.
The Helmet of Salvation.
Loins Girded about with The Truth.
Feet shod with the Good News of Peace.
” There are are more who are with us than there are who are with them…”
I am no longer a victim, alone in my suffering and fear.
There is a way out of an abusive relationship. It starts with telling yourself the truth. It is not going to get better, his gifts will not make it better, your family does not hate you like he says they do. You are not ugly. You are not stupid. You CAN survive without him. You have everything you need within yourself, it is just hidden under all the fear and lies. Listen really close, and find the voice of the person inside you who spoke before he hit you the first time. She is calling out to you now, she is ready to come home. Just reach out, turn that doorknob, and don’t look back!