Why Healing is Hard

This post was supposed to be about books. But after starting and stopping about three times and procrastinating half a dozen more times, I was going to scrap it and start over. Instead, I’d like to talk about a subject on my mind.

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Why is healing on my mind right now? Because I just survived hell.

Sounds funny, doesn’t it? I wish I was joking.

We all have our own personal hell, different things affect and hurt us. For me, just about everything that ‘could’ hit me in one week ‘did’ hit me in one week. More on that in a second.

There was one important theme that I pulled out, well, two really but they’re rather connected.

Communication and expressing my own needs.

I always surprise myself with my inability to express my own needs. Considering how outspoken and confident I can be, it would make sense for me to talk about myself and what I need easily. Unfortunately, I tend to take up a third-person viewpoint when talking about even the things I love. Trying to express something I need from someone in the form of emotional support causes me more pain than I can explain.

Indirectly, this also affects boundaries.

Mainly in the manner that I don’t have them. I’ll soak up everything from everyone and become an emotional dumping ground. I’m the person that will listen to anyone, be there for anyone, and support anyone. I’ll take everything in until I can’t anymore and then I’ll fall apart. Oftentimes, I’ll never ask for help. Even if I do, it’s rare that I receive the same effort that I’ve put in.

By the time I realize I have a problem, it’s too late. I meltdown. Emotionally, I’m a wreck. I’ll isolate, become snippy and intolerant, and procrastinate to the extreme while trying to find something to distract and numb the pain. This further complicates my anxiety, causing the feeling of drowning to occur and a constant background hum of panic.

Sounds fun right?

Raise your hand if you knew everything I just said is more or less a symptom of a post narcissist syndrome.

I was raised by an emotionally abusive mother. That being said, up to a month ago, she still abused me.

And I let her.

The demons of my childhood follow me around in the forms of anxiety, depression, codependency/attachment disorders, severely low self-esteem, body image problems, aversion to touch, and memory problems. Along with chronic stress and a deteriorating physical condition.

Last month, I put my foot down.

After letting her insult me and criticize me for more than an hour about my life choices, my boyfriend, and my lack of morality, I shut down mentally.

In the 20 minutes it took me to drive home, all hell broke loose.

I’ve had some pretty bad breakdowns in the past, but this topped anything I’ve experienced or seen before. I’m fairly certain this was on the level of mental breakdown.

Crying? That’s to be expected. It wasn’t the first time I’ve cried after dealing with my mother.

Screaming uncontrollably? Not so much. I’m one of those people that will be quiet as a mouse unless they’re laughing. I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve screamed in the last five years. Even stepping on a nail didn’t make me scream, before or after.

The sheer amount of pain I was in to let loose and scream my lungs out without a care to who could hear me was abnormal.

I screamed so hard and so long that I couldn’t breathe. I started hyperventilating and I still couldn’t stop screaming.

After about 10 minutes sitting in my driveway falling apart and contemplating throwing myself off a bridge, I finally relented and called my brother out of our house to help calm me down. I scared the living daylight out of him and my boyfriend that night.

I broke my number one unspoken rule; never ask for help.

I’ve reached out in detail to maybe one or two friends about my mental state in the past. But never like this. I’ve never let someone see me in such a raw and vulnerable state.

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What did I learn from that experience? Boundaries are a thing when you have an abusive family member. You are allowed to cut them out of your life if they incite that much pain. I almost didn’t learn that either; I almost gave in to my mother’s criticism.

The last time I saw my mother, I was in a constant state of hypertension and panic for an hour. But I made a huge decision I wouldn’t have been able to make in the past. I stood my ground and I kept my distance.

Since then, our communication has been kept to a minimum.

It hurts.

It hurts having to create strict boundaries with someone who should have been there for me and loved me. Instead, I’ve had to unlearn everything she’s taught me. Especially the fact that love doesn’t have to be earned, love is given. True love is never based on the efforts of the other person. It’s given no matter what. I just learned that. I’m 22 and I just learned that being loved doesn’t depend on my efforts.

Regardless of the trauma that experience left me, I’m grateful to have it. I’ve learned so much and come so far since last month.

Enter hell.

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So why is healing so hard? Because even when you make monumental steps, you still end up going backwards and getting hurt. Healing takes courage and determination. It takes more effort than living with the trauma and the past. You end up fighting a battle that takes everything out of you.

My most recent hell began by watching someone I love very, very dearly shut down emotionally in an act of self-preservation. I take partial responsibility for what happened and that makes it worse. I understand the need for shutting everything out to cope, I hold nothing against them, but it hit me harder then I was expecting. Especially knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do to make it better.

So that was a fun end to a good day. I think I cried a bit that night and then got up and continued my life.

Then came the silence.

I’m really clingy to the point of ridiculousness. I hate uncertainty, especially with the people I love. It’s an effect of anxiety; I need constant reassurance.

Is that a problem in a relationship? Yup. It sure is. Especially when you both have anxiety.

A lot of that comes from the inability to set boundaries and also a misunderstanding of what love is. You don’t love someone so they can satisfy a need, but that doesn’t mean you can’t express your needs and ask that they’re met. That takes two.

And as I stated above, expressing my needs is not my strongpoint. Is that my fault? Absolutely! Can it ruin a relationship? Yup. Communication has to go both ways. If I’m unwilling to communicate my own needs and I frustrate myself by that incapacity, then I have no one to blame but myself.

So what have I learned?

CA-MUN-I-CATE.

Don’t keep putting your own needs aside for whatever reason. If your partner loves you, they want to help you and will happily work with you to meet your needs. It’s not something you demand, it’s something you two work out together. Love takes two people, it should never be one-sided. If you find it feeling that way, maybe you should look at it and see what’s going wrong.

By Wednesday, I was emotionally shutting off and work was giving me nightmares.

I just started a new job where I’m working for a state department of unemployment insurance from home. I hate asking questions at work. It physically causes me pain to have to ask for help and this job is confusing as hell. So yeah, lots of questions being asked and lots of metaphorical stabbing being done.

Having to make phone calls all day also drains the literal life out of me.

*Think of the effects of sunlight on vampires*

All I wanted to do that evening was crash in my bed, take a nap, and ignore everything. Duty called though.

I ended up on suicide watch for a family member. I don’t regret a moment of that choice. I love this family member very much. They’ve been there for me and made enormous sacrifices for me. They’ve been happy for me and supported me when no one else has. They’ve put up with my mood swings and held me when I cried. If the least I can do is sit and talk with them, then I’ll happily do it.

I still managed to give my poor boyfriend a heart attack by mentioning I was gonna be on suicide watch for the night. I made the mistake of not specifying it wasn’t me in danger. I still feel really bad for that (If you’re reading this, love, I’m still really sorry and I love you!).

By the time Thursday rolled around, things had looked up a little. And then Friday came.

Friday was a disaster.

Because of my anxiety disorder and how on edge I’ve been the past few weeks, my sleep has been royally f***ed up. I took a nap after getting off work on Thursday and ended up sleeping/resting most of the evening away; I didn’t sleep a wink that night.

So Friday rolls around. No sleep, running on anxiety, work being a pain, and later, as I would discover, my hormones playing hell with my emotions.

I fell into major depression, even after a long talk with my pseudo therapist who I hadn’t heard from in a couple weeks. I had told him I was struggling with boundary problems and I kept running in anxiety circles to the point where he got frustrated enough to tell me “<3 you but stop being so damn hard on yourself”. Pretty bad when even your therapist has to tell you to stop.

I tried asking for help from someone very dear to me that day, but no reply. That started a build-up for a major blowup the next day.

I had ended up going out to dinner with my uncle and my brother and my depression abated to a certain extent, probably aided by drinking lightly on an empty stomach. That night when I got home, I must have been tipsy enough to lose some inhibitions. I was laughing and talking my head off, my brother was slightly befuddled. Mood swing much?

I ended up drinking more that night and ended up in an absolutely blissful state. My anxiety quelled for once, I managed to get amazing sleep and somehow not wake up with a hangover.

And then the bloody cramps set in.

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I’m a woman. I get miserable stomach cramps when I get my period.

Yes, I used the ‘P’ word.

I’ve noticed the past few months that my emotions have gone haywire with my period. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it does make me do some rather stupid things. I tend to lose all my abilities to reason and fly off the handle. Considering the week I already had and the emotionally high state I was not used to running in, let us say I made a really stupid decision.

I ended up on the floor curled up in pain from the stupid cramps that night and once those finally abated, something snapped in me and I broke down crying. I would have been screaming if my brother wasn’t home. I ended up crumpling up a few letters I was supposed to send earlier in the week and tearing up a few things. I managed to calm myself down enough to rant to my best friend and then delete some things on my phone that I’ve since regretted.

For those of you guys that don’t understand, don’t leave the women you know and love alone if they come to you for help. If you can help it, don’t ignore them. They need you more than they’re often willing to say. Periods make us emotional and unstable. So maybe next time you take a woman in your life for granted, take a moment and appreciate her. She could be gone the next day through no fault of your own, and sometimes she just needed a little extra love.

Sunday I woke up feeling miserable and deciding not to go to church after my emotional meltdown from the night before. My emotions had gone from hurt to scared overnight after not hearing from someone very dear to me for several days. Anxiety has a funny ability to imagine the worst happening.

This week started in a bloody disaster. Work was a nightmare. I was trying to work through panic attacks while on the phone. I couldn’t focus. And I was still terrified out of my mind. Today I woke up in about the same state. Still not having heard from my dearly loved person and panicking every thirty minutes.

But there were little glimpses of hope. I talked with a friend I haven’t heard from in ages. It was actually amusing because I had been thinking about messaging her since I was moving closer to her area. Providential timing.

In fact, there was a lot of providential timing going on. I had determined to call my person of interest the next day because it would have marked a week since I had last heard from them. Instead, I got another message from a mutual friend who kindly filled me in on what they knew.

Point in fact, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, they’re safe just unable to communicate. So I went from shaking in anxiety to shaking in anger at the reason I was given. Still unable to focus at work, but at least I have some answers.

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This past week was hell. Everything that happened emotionally, mentally, and physically broke me down and tried to destroy me. Today though, I bounced back. I sent the middle finger to people who waited for me to mess up and walk away. I made a commitment I intend to keep. And I learned that love isn’t easy. I also learned that I have issues that I need to deal with, ones that I need to stop dragging my feet over and get help.

So what was my point? Other than the fact that I’m ranting about my miserable week…

For real though, I do have a point I’m trying to make.

Healing only comes through breaking and putting yourself back together. It’s only in breaking that you realize what needs to be fixed.

By breaking, I learned that love doesn’t have to be earned. I learned that when you love someone, they aren’t there to meet your needs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t express those needs. And love, well, love is unconditional. You give it no matter what the other person is doing. If you really love them, that love doesn’t diminish when difficulties come your way. And you don’t give up at the first sign of trouble.

I learned that love can evolve and grow. Even if you don’t have it right the first time, don’t give up. Sometimes you just have to keep trying until you get it right. Nothing is perfect when it first develops. Only time and care can make something reach its true potential.

It’s like the rose amid the thorns metaphor. Sometimes you don’t get a rose, sometimes you just get thorns. But with a little tender care, you can get that rose to bloom and then you have something beautiful. Wouldn’t a rose be more beautiful if you had to work for it a little?

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Its okay to ask for help. I made the decision to reach out to numerous people this past week, some with varying degrees of success. I owe a lot to my brother, my therapist, my best friend, and two other very dear friends who reached out to me without realizing how much I needed them the most. And all my extended family and the friends who have been there for me without knowing it.

I owe so much to my boyfriend, whose patience with my many faults means I can learn to heal from them and who’s unwavering love and commitment have allowed me to grow at my own pace. I hope some day I can return his love to the same degree that he has given me. And I hope that I can show him the same commitment he has so painstakingly shown me.

As he is human and has his own faults, I revere them right now because they’ve helped me realize my own shortcomings. Regardless of what our future holds, I will forever be grateful for that gift of change he’s given me.

If you’re struggling through something right now and having your own hell of a week, please, reach out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Someone is always willing to listen. Some people still have good hearts. It can be the hardest step you will ever take, but I promise, it will also be the most rewarding.

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What are some difficult times you’ve managed to get through? Comment below if you’d like to share what you’ve learned from your struggles. And don’t forget to subscribe to get a notification when I finally get that book post out!

Till next time, my dear readers!

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