NOTE: Content warning for my history with suicide. No references to methods.
These are excerpts from another blog i keep.
Don’t take no shit
Yeah, you deal with it
And you rise above it all
Before you run
Yeah, you gotta walk
And to start you gotta crawl
~ Love Love Love, My Morning Jacket
I’ve been in and out of the hospital twice in as many weeks.
I was close to a commitment situation. The status of my marriage, and the stage i’m at in therapy, had me stretched to my limit. I’d had a plan for some time, but that wasn’t too concerning — it’s the way my brain has worked since first contemplating suicide at age four. (Yes, that’s early for memories and early for such thoughts. It’s emblazoned on my mind, and i know how old i was based on where i lived.) I was every axiom there is regarding being at my absolute limit.
My entire system was in full panic mode. I’ve had decent control for several years now, i’ve put in thousands of hours of work to be able to parent the broken children that live inside my brain. Many of them, perhaps even most, trusted me to be in the face and relied on me to take care of them and keep them safe. As my hold on myself weakened, i wobbled in my resolve to continue along this path i’ve been walking. I got tired — no — i was exhausted, and i hit complete overwhelm.
It was too hard to resist the desire to get away from it. In the veritable blink of my mind’s eye, i was lost. I let my system take over. I switched, and i was gone. So then, chaos for me and those who live with me. Regardless of the age they present, they are traumatised children born of a traumatised child. They think and act as children do when they are hurt and frightened.
But i left my family to cope with their various messes. Shitty of me, i know.
I have never wanted to die, which would seem dichotomous to the number of times i have attempted to end my life. But the thing is, if i’d truly wanted to do that, i certainly could have accomplished it. And i am still here, which gives lie to the actions. It wasn’t a purposeful lie; there was no intention to do so. I only wanted whatever i was suffering at the time to stop, and that, along with parts of my system that some of my worst abusers programmed to end things if it got too much, were the driving forces behind my suicidal behaviours. I hadn’t the awareness, the maturity, or the tools to do anything besides what i did.
So, the plan that was beckoning me?
It was a flashing neon sign that came with its own air raid siren.
And while it didn’t keep me from losing time, it seemed to keep me from disappearing altogether. I wasn’t gone for as long as i could have been.
I thumped back into the face once they’d gotten hurt.
I’m standing there staring at myself in the mirror, which is a frequent take-off and landing pad for switching when i’m in a highly dissociative state. I reemerged black-eyed, bruised, and bloody. They’d stepped on my laptop and cracked my phone screen. I’d missed plans and commitments with two friends. My son was upset, and my husband was worried and probably as tired as i was.
But that neon sign and siren demanded my immediate attention.
And i didn’t do all this work for nothin’. I did it precisely for these moments. All the pain and the plodding along, all the falling down and the getting back up, all the suggestions from my therapist that i took, even as i rolled my eyes and scoffed…
I knew shit was coming down the pike two years ago. Something good, something IMPORTANT, was coming my way. A small light i kept burning inside me. Hope. I had hope.
As i lay on the couch in agony, detoxing from all the poison my system had funnelled into my body, even the throbbing in my head couldn’t banish my thoughts. They were shrouded in fog and pain, but my introspective nature wouldn’t, couldn’t let it be.
I’ve endeavoured to know who i am underneath all the coping behaviours and “alternate personalities.” It’s been years of learning to identify when i’m dissociating/dissociated, and taken intense effort, concentration and practise to get control of my system. More time and effort still to get myself to a place where i can choose not to dissociate. Slowly, i’ve learned that other people not liking me or disapproving of how i live my life will not kill me nor need it result in any abuse.
Turning off the reflex of being who i think i’m supposed to be and instead, tapping into my core personality has been worth all the work. I’ve found that place inside me where it’s YES, this is right, and NO, this is wrong. YES, this is me, and NO, this isn’t me. It’s a foreign, wonderful feeling.
And as i’m staring in the mirror, assessing the damage to my face and shaking off the last vestiges of days of lost time, that feeling floods in, filling me with a surety of what i want and don’t want, what i can do and what i can’t. WON’T.
Dealing with the worst part of what happened to me when i was little is what’s in my face, literally and figuratively — right now. It’s every breath i take and it clings to me like a second skin. It won’t be ignored, and i tried. To ignore it might cost me, well, everything. It might cost me my life.
But that little light of hope inside me was on. It kept on glowing in that moment when i am looking at myself and seeing who i am. And it is not a looking back and realising. It is not a lightning bolt epiphany. I looked, and i just saw what was there.
You’re staring at the sun
You’re standing in the sea
Your mouth is open wide
You’re trying hard to breath
The water’s at your neck
There’s lightning in your teeth
Your body’s over me
Staring at the Sun, TV On The Radio
The choice is obvious
I will put all my effort into therapy.
Once i decided, the plan faded. It’s still there, but it is no longer a (somewhat) attractive option. The little ones that live in my head are no longer demanding to be let out. Well, there are still a couple, but they’ve always been that way. What can i tell you? DID is complex, man. I continue to be neck-deep in the most disgusting memories of my life; these are the details that i refused to look at because i didn’t have what it takes to process them.
But now i do, and so i will.
I want this post to show how i changed my situation by not much more than keeping going and doing what was in front of me if i was able. I know of people that have survived worse than i have, but i will tell you that i do not know of many who have not done so by stuffing it down, ignoring it, numbing it, or covering it over with other things.
I couldn’t do that — that’s not who i am.
I don’t judge those that have survived their traumas in other ways — that they did at all is enough.
I’m moving out of survival and into functionality. The next part of it for me is thriving, and i fully intend to get there, married or divorced.
I haven’t gotten here through any life-changing experiences or epiphanies or massive output of effort. I barely had the energy to manage marriage and children with the way my brain works. All i’ve been able to do this entire time is put one foot in front of the other and take baby steps forward. And when i fell, which was repeatedly, most of the time i’d lay there on the ground for a while before i could get up again.
It wasn’t fancy work, nor romantic. It hasn’t been like a movie where the heroine triumphs over insurmountable odds and your heart is full and soaring as the credits roll. It’s been messy and frustrating and painful and seemingly interminable. I’ve walked away from family and lost dear friends.
But i am sitting here and writing this and i know who i am.
I’ll plod through this filth as slowly as i must. I am not special or so incredibly unique. I’m not this strong because surviving made me so — i am this strong in spite of the cost of survival.
And if i can do this, maybe you can walk your path, too.
I hope you can.
I’ll keep a little light on for you.
Somewhere, inside something, there is a rush of greatness
Who knows what stands in front of our lives
Let the Sunshine In (Audience During Sunday Rainstorm), Galt MacDermot