WARNING: This piece contains discussion of suicidal ideation and a description of an attempt. However, this is a positive piece and i am not currently suicidal, nor am i experiencing ideations.
More on Tuesday’s therapy sesh with the lovely and talented Ms T.
I shared with her that i’d fallen so low that i was experiencing some serious suicidal ideation, and i was deeply disappointed in myself for it. I haven’t dealt with those thoughts and feelings in any serious way for a solid number of years. Sure, there had been some brief moments, sometimes intense, but i saw them for what they were as they were happening. They held no power over me. I could see that they were a direct response to something i was going through at the time, or something that had triggered me. I knew how to weather it, and that it would likely pass quickly. It always did.
This time the thoughts and feelings persisted. It’s been a shadow in my head casting a pall over my heart. I’ve been thinking that my loved ones would be better off without me. That i take up too much space and use up too much of their time and energy. I’ve been feeling unworthy of their love and support and concern. I see how much of our family business is in fact, my business. When i’m manic, or my system is in a panic, i stir everyone up. When i’m depressed and drowning in sadness and remembered pain, i clutch at them to save me, but it seems like i just pull them down with me.
I used to be angry about that – thinking it was because as the keeper of the home and hearth, i set the tone. I would think, Dammit! Stay out of my process, you make me feel guilty for being where i’m at – go be where YOU’RE at. This spot here is mine and these feelings are mine and just… Just stop copying me!
(That’s my Littles talking there; i’m not generally that immature. Heh.)
Now i see it differently. I see my responsibility in it –i did before, too– but it’s got a sour taste to it. Before, the conclusion i came to was that it was only natural, that as the carer and nurturer of the family unit, i would set the tone for the household. It made perfect sense that my other family members would feel low when i was down, would be brittle when i was anxious, warm and smiley when i was happy, snarky and snappish when i was angry. We love each other and we’re deeply connected. I’m the life-bringer, the nourishment provider, the space-maintainer. It is only the way it could be, considering the way our family is structured. That perspective felt right and good. But the way i see it now was working through me like slow poison.
I see how i’m hurting the people i love most and it’s dragging me down into an abyss. And i’m currently fighting a mania. One might think there is no darkness in mania, but oh, there can be for me. When i’ve gone dark during a mania i’ve displayed the riskiest behaviours, put myself in the most danger. I’m like a hurricane at night. It’s a terrible place, where some of my parts are swallowed whole, and the automatic death puppets in me come out and begin eating everything in sight.
I’m disappointed in myself, sad and low, and that empty pit inside has opened back up. I tell her i’m ashamed that i’m at this place again, after all these years and all this work.
I’m reminded first that shame is my body’s signal that i’m wanting connection with another human. And it is so, as i learned from her a few months ago, anytime i’ve felt shame i’ve been able to easily trace it to that desire. I’ve been able to ask for connection from safe people, like my husband and children, and a friend or 2, and shame has disappeared as the connection is responded to and made.
But then she casually says that she’s not at all surprised that i’m struggling afresh with suicidal thoughts and feelings. I don’t understand, but i am paying close attention. And then she says, “This work you’re doing – you are giving the same attention and care to your body as you have to your brain, and the split off bits of you that live there.”
I almost lean into the phone. Yes. Tick, tick, tick…
“How do you think your body felt when all those terrible things were being done to it?”
I can hear my own sharp intake of breath. Yessss. CLICK.
I wanted to die. I felt so covered in filth i wished i could stop existing. I wished it so hard in fact, that i created a Land of the Dead inside my own brain, where i went and hid for the majority of my upbringing. When the worst of the abuse was finally over, one of the first things i did was take an overdose of the medication i took for epilepsy. When my Daddy was finally out of my life, and my mother moved to a little town where no one knew i’d once been for sale, i had some relief for the first time i could remember. I poked my head out from my safe graveyard, and i simply could not deal with any of it. My first impulse was to match my outside with my inside. To be dead. I remember swallowing dozens of those little white pills. I see myself like an automaton, hand to mouth, zombielike. Dead, but breathing. I was completely numb. I couldn’t feel my hands or my legs or my face, or anything else. The air around me was foggy and filled with invisible bees.
And then i see myself putting the glass in the sink, and the bottle back in the cupboard, and going to my room to read.
My mother had suspected i wasn’t taking my meds and had counted them the night before. She counted them again, not long after i’d taken them. She yelled at me while taking me to emergency, where they pumped my stomach and then filled me full of ipecac, just to be sure. It was the nicest thing she ever did for me, besides dying.*
I’ve been listening to my body for months and months now. The intention is to hear its story through physical sensations, and through that mend the broken connections between my brain and my body. The end goal is to be alive. To live my life conscious: thinking my thoughts and being aware of them in the moment, feeling my emotions and experiencing my physical sensations in real time, as they happen. I’ve always taken them all and stuffed them away in a box, to take them out and look upon them from a distance, disenchanted and uninvolved, completely divorced from any kinship, any simpatico.
It has been through thinking my thoughts and listening to the people that live in my brain that i’ve been able to begin to take my place as the head of my system and gather them all closer to me. To function as a more cohesive unit and bring some calm, quiet, and success to my day-to-day life.
It is now through experiencing my physical sensations that i hope to rejoin my body to my brain, and finally become a real, living girl!**
My body has been communicating some awful things to me. I’m reliving my abuse in a physical way. The things i became a multiple to escape, i’ve now invited back in to tell their stories. My jaw aches, my girl parts hurt, my legs twitch with the need to run, and so much more. But there’s yet more than i’ve felt and here it is now, and i see/feel so clearly. It’s sharp, this knowledge i have suddenly, my hands gripping the phone so tight it’s a wonder i didn’t push a wrong button and lose her. It makes my heart twinge in sympathy for myself –that poor child i was– all alone and in unbearable pain mentally, emotionally, physically.
My body wanted to die.
I don’t want to die today! I know and trust in the love and support of my husband and my sons. I believe them when they look deeply into me and tell me they understand, they love me and it’s all right. Shh, it’s okay. You’re doing great, you’ve come so far, you’re so much better.
This is my body telling me its story.
And suddenly i am free of it. I’m lighter, but not the floatiness of dissociation. It’s a burden that i’m laying down. I’ve unwound another ream of the bandages that have mummified me. I am being reborn, coming alive. Breathing out death and breathing in life, LIFE!
I tell Ms T of the revelation inside that her words have brought me. We share the wonder and beauty of the moment and then it’s time to end the call for another 2wks. Before she hangs up (i’m old, we used to hang up our phones, okay?) she tells me how proud she is of how hard i’ve worked and all i’ve accomplished. She reminds me that not a lot of people who’ve been through things like i’ve been through ever make it this far.
Without excuse or qualification i tell her Thank you.
And then she says, “For this next 2wks i’d like you to celebrate, really celebrate, what you’ve been able to do and how awesome you are.”
I barely rolled my eyes.
May Love and Peace Be Yours In Some Measure Today,
*Sorry for the brutality of that statement, but it is a true one.
**I use the word “girl” without any cutesiness – i am not being coy. I may be in my 50s and technically a woman, but on the inside i’m a girl who is only now on the cusp of adulthood. It’s an accurate description, to my mind.