If I were a chain 98% of me would be made out of steel links. Strong able to withstand a lot of life's hardships. Things don't really rock my boat. But I'm not just steel. I have two links that are much different than the rest. At times in my life those two links had been made out of paper. Breaking at the sight or sound of my kryptonite. From the years of 15 when my mom's cancer returned until after my second child was born I definitely tried to make those two links disappear. I tried to hide from my kryptonite. If I didn't see it and the thoughts did't creep in I could get through the day.
But god help me if someone started talking about a story of another's life hardship.
Something like person fighting for their life in the hospital, a woman who died giving birth, a horrific accident, a careless driver, a show with any form of loss, someone that said my mom's name, a new baby that if they get sick will have to go to the hospital because the cold they had made it so they couldn't breath, a child that rolled off the changing table way earlier in age than anyone thought possible, a person who just got diagnosed with something.
Pretty much I had to walk around not listening. I left dinner conversations excusing myself for some made up reason. I couldn't take it. Those thoughts would break me. Like monsters jumping out of the story tellers mouths with knives and guns blazing chasing me down. If our bodies were covered in a protective layer outside of our skin that kept us feeling safe my protective layer would have been made out of mesh. Others issues and problems penetrating as if they were my own. I would feel their sadness and pain as if it were happening to me. Its twisted I know. I couldn't make it stop. A mother I know lost her oldest to cancer a few years back. I felt her lose as if it were happening to me. I grieved for her. I felt her pain. I felt it to my core. I couldn't function for nearly 2 months. It wouldn't leave my mind. I was reliving my mom's death through her. I couldn't just hear her story and feel bad like I can today. Back then it consumed me.
So what exactly are my two links that could crumble so easily. I am going to tell you. The first is anxiety. It sounds so cliche. Doesn't everyone have anxiety? I don't know.....maybe they do. Is it like mine? I don' know that either but my gut tells me no. I think some people can relate and maybe on one of those people will read this and not feel so alone. What I feel has been part of my life as long as I have memories. Counting things to feel safe. Feeling if for some reason I did things a certain number of times in a specific order that everything would stay in balance. As if I had some control over the world and earth spinning. I didn't know, I was a kid. As I got older I just marked it off as superstitious like a baseball player. Nobody knew I was doing this. I kept it a secret. It seemed to work great for sports. I would do the same skill set hundreds of times. I would lay in bed at night repeating thoughts thinking I would somehow stay safe. I guess you can say I had a predisposition for what was to come. When the cancer came back into my mom's body that anxiety that I kept under wraps took over my life. From 15 until 33 years old I did not have a hold on it. Some days those links were made of porcelain so stonger than paper but not much. I could get through the day. I could hold it together but when something triggered my fear of loss, being alone, losing someone I would break. The day would spiral out of control. My brain racing trying to hold onto something concrete I could control. Something real and definite. Well in my mind when my mom's body was getting destroyed by cancer and she was the backbone of my existence then I kind of felt like my body could't hold itself up anymore. I would do anything just to get through the day and keep these thoughts out of my mind. It didn't matter that the rest of me was made of steel. Without this link I collapsed.
The second link is loss and acceptance of the life cycle. I just didn't accept it at all. What does that mean? Does it mean I didn't think people should die? No, it just means I wasn't at peace with the fact people are going to die way before we want from means out of our control. It doesn't matter how hard you work at being alive and healthy. Shit happens and we are left gripping for something real to hold onto. Any conversation, commercial, movie, magazine cover that discussed someone leaving this earth too soon was the end for me. It would suck me in like a blackhole. Sometimes I wouldn't be able to climb out for months. Just pure fear coming over me and in response I would try to control any freaking thing I could. Let me tell you this, you are not going to win that battle. You can NOT control life. You can ONLY control how you react to things. But to be honest back then I couldn't even do that. My brain raced too fast. I couldn't shut up those thoughts. They wouldn't stop at night. I would be up with them mixing into every thought.
Its a tough place to live in your mind when it breaks so easily. When the days become hard to be awake, when your thoughts control you mind, when it hurts your soul to breath.
I will tell you this. That was then. I'm 37 years old now. From 33-37 my world changed. My perspective changed. I am in a good place. Those things I can hear and see and not fall apart like I once did. I won't lose two months of my life to the darkness of fear. I might have a day here and there but I will take that anytime over being trapped like I was before. I guess you can say those links are now made of rope. Definitely not as strong as my others but I can live with it.
I remember when that Eminem song came out "Monsters" featuring Rihanna. I was positive he went to the same shrink as me. She would talk about making friends with the monsters in my head for a few weeks leading up to the song coming out. To this day I don't know if he did or if it was just a coincidence. She never would have told me and I never would have asked. This lady was a vault which is what I trusted about her.
The lyrics go:
"I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head.
You're trying' to say me, stop holding' your breath
And you think I'm crazy, yeah, you think I'm crazy"
Pretty ironic, right!
I'll tell you what during those 10 years in therapy. I honestly thought I was doing therapy wrong for years. Like I was missing some major part of it. I would think maybe I need to shadow someone else's therapy session. I would try to talk everything out of me but it didn't stop this spiral from happening.
After I healed from all those horrible health issues (I discuss in my other blogs) in conjunction with therapy and Zoloft that I started feeling "tired" of talking about the same old shit and the same fears. I had just survived that 9 months of hell with that abscess that the doctors told me was a cyst as it legit ate my ovary and connected to my intestines while I was pregnant. Where I really couldn't do anything because I felt so awful. Before that I had that year of cdiff that wouldn't go away. That wreaked havoc on my mind. That broke me so many days. Nothing would make it go away. So between the loss of my mother, surviving my own sicknesses when no doctor would listen or believe me. I just wanted to move on. I had been still and in pain too long. I just wanted to do life. I realized if life was going to kill me there was not going to be a damn thing I could do about it. So I was going to enjoy each and every 24 hours on this earth I had.
I found peace. I found the monsters in my head and got to know them really well. I found a way to accept them as ugly and nasty as they are. I found a space where I can be ok if they live in my mind. I know they are there. I know they poke their head out time to time but it does not devastate me like it did. I accept that bad shit happens in this world. I know the sun is still going to rise the next day. The next day we get to have another spin on this earth and do with it what we want. I'm ok if I have a bad day. I can see it for what it is.
What are you links made out of? Something to think about..... Who are your monsters? Can you be friends with them?