Lovely WeeGee over at How do you eat an elephant wisely told me that I can be “not okay” and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I must fall apart. It’s funny isn’t it the beliefs that are so engrained in your head? I always thought that if I allow myself to not be okay, or perhaps more appropriately if I admit that I am not okay, that falling apart is the obligatory next step. This friend helped me to realize that this isn’t true. Not being okay is just that; you are not okay.
I am not okay. And I’ve realized that I don’t think I’ve ever been okay. My life has been a fluctuation between the two extremes of acting okay (or pretending to be okay) and then really not being okay and falling apart, during which time it’s nearly impossible to keep up the act of being okay. But I’ve never just admitted that I’m not okay, and allowed that to be okay. Is everyone still with me? 🙂
For most of my life, I’ve known that something is really really wrong, I’ve just always had a hard time pinpointing what that “thing” is. I had a “good” life after all, with loving parents and a happy family; what possibly could be not okay?
What wasn’t okay was that I was overlooked and ignored for much of my life by my family. I was the “compliant” baby of the family. Never complaining, never causing waves, always happy, always agreeable, always successful. Well… I had to be. That’s the only way I got noticed.
As a young child, if I cried or threw a fit, I was put in my room and told I can’t come out until I had stopped crying. I learned at an early age to ignore and suppress my own needs and my own feelings. Other people’s needs and feelings were what I paid attention to, not my own. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t have needs, nor did I have feelings. And that set the stage for the later abuse.
Fast forward to later abuse ***trigger warning: sexual and emotional abuse***
When I was twelve, I met someone who was sixteen. Little did I know at the time, this person was controlling, manipulative, and… well… an abuser. I remember small snippets of our time together, but I know he sexually abused me and humiliated me in front of his friends. Forced me to get drunk. If I didn’t drink the alcohol that he had so “kindly” bought for me, I was ungrateful. If I didn’t perform sexual acts on him, I was unloving. I knew nothing about boundaries or limits. I had never been taught to look at my own feelings about things and to trust them. And after years of thinking my parents were in the dark about this whole thing, I’ve learned that they weren’t. They just looked the other way. Until it was too late.
Fast forward to years my early twenties
Things began pushing up in the form of anxiety. I began having debilitating fear and unexplained panic attacks. When it all came to a boiling point, I broke down and cried in front of a group of people. It was the first time I had cried since I was a little girl. My mom was present, and she walked out of the room. Everyone else stayed to comfort me. What a strange feeling: to be comforted while crying. Strange; foreign; uncomfortable; strangely comforting. That was about ten years ago.
I have spent the last ten years trying to solve the mystery that is me. Trying to solve the mystery that is my anxiety, that is my panic, that is my PTSD, that is my dissociation, that is my fragmentation, that is my DID. I’m finally with a therapist who gets it. Who knows her shit. Who supports me. Who doesn’t push me too hard to try and access the trauma.
I am still trying to solve the mystery, but I know one thing: there are reasons I am not okay. I may know only a fraction of those reasons at the moment, but just knowing there are reasons behind it, that I’m not just broken for no reason, that I’m not just crazy for no reason, is more than reassuring. One step at a time, one feeling at a time, one memory at a time. I will get there. And in the meantime, I am admitting that I, in fact, am not okay. And I’m trying to be okay with that.