Depression, Mental Health

Why? Because You Are Not Alone.

It’s been an interesting four days since I made my last blog post.  I had spent quite some time writing it, rewriting it, deleting it, and beginning again.  I finally decided that if I was ever going to be completely honest, I just flat-out had to post it.  After all, I knew when I began my blog that this story was going to have to be the destination.  My secret had been kept for over 50 years and it was slowly killing me.

I’ve had a couple of people message me and say that they were confused as to why I had let that instance “bother” me because it really was no big deal.  Of course, these two people are not of my generation, a generation in which bearing a child out-of-wedlock was most definitely a “big thing”.  It was something that brought much shame to the mother and the father, to their immediate and extended family, and in the end to the child if and when he or she was ever told of his or her birth story.  Back then, it was a “huge” deal and everyone did their best to keep it a deep dark secret in hopes that it would never be revealed.  It was such a shameful thing that there were “places” such as the Florence Crittenton Home where these pregnant young girls were sent.  Normally, their families spread the word that their daughters had been sent to live with an elderly relative to somehow help out the relative.  I have no idea where Mom and Dad said that I was or if they even acknowledged that I was gone.  Of course, the fact that I did not go until I was almost eight months pregnant probably helped whatever story  had been told. Things are much different these days.  Becoming pregnant before marriage is an accepted way of life now.  I won’t get into my thoughts about that because that has nothing to do with my story.

For those of you who have sent loving, supportive messages, I truly thank you.  When the messages began to come in, I could only clinically read them.  I had to keep all emotion out, knowing that if I read them with my heart, I would be overcome with emotion.  I had lived in fear for several decades that this secret would become public.  Now, I was the one who had made it public and that was a scary thought.  However, I was able to go back this morning and read them all and let the words sink in.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for the love.

But, I would like to talk about why I decided to even tell my story.

I did NOT tell this so that anyone would hate my father.  Although he was one of the major players in my story, it really wasn’t about him.  It was about ME and how I looked at the things that were happening in my life.  I thought that I was the reason that my father didn’t love me.  I thought that the things that I did were to blame for his need to abuse me.  I thought it was all about me.  My fault.  I thought that as a 10-year-old child, I had the ability to bring about the abuse.  I thought I was bad and for that reason, I deserved what was happening to me.  I thought that I was most definitely unlovable, undeserving, and unworthy.  In reality, it most likely was not about me at all.  It was about him.  I just grew up thinking it was about me.  It was about his illness (and most certainly he experienced some sort of mental illness.)  It was about his anger and his inability to love.  But, no matter what it was, it does not warrant hatred from anyone not involved.  You can hate the actions, but you cannot hate the man.  In my eyes, hatred belongs only to those involved in a personal way.  And, true, I did hate my father for many years.  But, that was because I did not have the insight to realize that he was sick. For whatever reason — his experience, his upbringing, his generation, whatever — he did not have the ability to love me.  And I promise you, it takes a lot out of a person to actively hate someone else.  It drains you.  And I finally had to just stop the hate.  My hatred of him was doing nothing to him.  It was only hurting me.  If you take his abuse of me and his abuse of my mother out of the equation, my father was a good man.  He was a hard worker.  He was a successful businessman.  He was a good provider for his four daughters.  He was a good friend to many people in our small town. In all of those respects, my father was a good man.  I now try to look at those things.

But, you say, he never abused your sisters, so maybe it was about you.  Well, that certainly makes me stop and wonder.  And, I guess you have a point there.  I do not have the answer as to why I was chosen. But, I was. I, and I alone, have to figure that one out. However, unless I find some hidden diary in which he wrote down his reasons, I will most likely never know why I was chosen.  And I don’t even know if finding out the “why” would change anything for me. It happened.  I suffered because of him.  But, I am recovering. That’s what counts.

I was most certainly not the first child to be abused and sadly, I will not be the last.  Child abuse happens far too often, even in today’s world.  Child abuse is a crime and the abuser should suffer the consequences.  A large majority of those abusers are never exposed and never suffer any consequences.  But, the children suffer. More importantly, the child who is abused is scarred for life.  And THAT is the biggest crime of all.  The thing is — I THOUGHT I was the only one who had things like that happen to me.  I had no idea that there were other children whose parent abused them.  I did not know that there were people out there who could have helped me.  I told my story because there are STILL people out there who think they are alone in their abuse.  They need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that there are millions of us out there who have experienced, and who still are experiencing the same things.  There are adults out there who still believe that their experiences of abuse have never happened to anyone else.  There are adults who struggle with depression, PTSD, and other problems because they think they are alone.  THAT is the main reason I decided to tell my story.

I have been amazed at the number of people who have contacted me to say that they, too, had similar experiences and that they have never been able to talk about those experiences.  Some said that it seems as though I easily speak of my past.  Believe me, it’s not been easy.  I have struggled with talking about my past.  I spent years and years and years not talking about it.  I spent years keeping it all bottled inside and it was slowly eating away at my soul.  I finally reached a point where I knew that it had to come out if I was to survive.  I am still embarrassed to admit what I did and what I experienced, but when I look at the options, talking about it was the only thing that made sense.  And, as I said yesterday to my therapist, at my age, I am at a point where I don’t really give a flip what others think.  Those people who are my friends and who care for me are not going to change their minds because they finally know about my past.

I do, however, worry about my children and my grandchildren.  I never, ever want to do anything to embarrass them.  I told my girls when they were teenagers about Allen.  I didn’t tell them about the abuse, but have openly spoken about it with them in the last few years.  Unfortunately, I was not the one to tell my son about Allen — my ex was the one who did that out of spite and that was the reason I told my girls when I did.  My ex also used this information against me during our divorce trial, so word of it got out in the town in which I spent 25 years of married life.  That was extremely painful, but I learned to bunch all of that crap together as being part of an ugly, public, painful divorce from a man who was and still is spiteful. But, that’s a story for someone else to tell; I am done with that part of my life. Thankfully, my children have been very supportive about my decision to talk about my past.  I just pray that my openness never brings them pain or embarrassment.  My son, my two daughters, and my six grandchildren are the best things that have ever happened to me. I love them beyond measure and never wish to bring them pain.

So, why did I do it?  Why did I “out” myself?  Because of the many others out there who are still hiding their truths.  For those out there still thinking they are alone in their depression due to abuse — please know that you are not alone.  Find a friend, find a therapist, find someone to talk to.  You will be amazed to discover how many other people are JUST LIKE YOU.  They have the same memories, the same guilt, the same fears, the same regrets.  Together, miracles can happen.  Together, you can find a way to overcome this terrible, terrible thing that has happened to you.  You can’t erase it; you can’t cover it up forever.  But, you can live through it.  Don’t spend your life alone, thinking you are the only one.  I, too, am one and I am living through it.  Come join me in this thing called life.  I hear it’s quite grand.

~~~ Betty

 

 

 

 

 

Depression, Mental Health

Rise

I know.  I’ve said it a frillion times already.  But, I’m going to say it again — I am in absolute awe of song writers. They have the most magnificent minds.  How do they do it?  How do they know exactly what you are thinking and how you are feeling?  It’s almost as if they are living in your own mind.  And that, my friends, comes almost to the point of being spooky.

I’m sure that I’ve told you before how much I love music, right?  In order to feed that addiction, I discovered YouTube many years ago and I can honestly say that I could probably spend all day long watching YouTube videos — not only music videos, but videos on cooking, sewing, scrapping, how-to’s, just about anything. A few weeks ago while watching YouTube, one of the many ads that pop up every couple of minutes came on.  I thought it was an odd ad since it wasn’t really trying to sell anything, but was rather just showing the making of a music video.  There were parts of the video that for some reason, just kind of tugged at my heart, but since it just showed snippets from the video, I wasn’t sure what was so special about it.  Then, yesterday, I saw a post on my Facebook timeline for the completed video.  I watched it a couple of times, trying to figure out what it was about the video that totally had me enthralled.   Was it the words?  Was it the perspective that most of the video is shown from above, as though you are flying?  I couldn’t quite figure it out until I could put the actual words to it.  Since my hearing is so very, very bad, when I hear a new song I normally just go online and look up the lyrics so that I actually know what the singer is saying.  It is only once I know what words are being spoken that I can put things together.  (I sometimes wish that I had a “lyrics sheet” to Sunday sermons since my lack of hearing keeps me from actually hearing half of what the preacher says, but that’s another story.)  When I read the lyrics to Rise, I “got it”.  A couple of things about this video were speaking directly TO ME! 

Perspective — Looking down from above on the scene was all too familiar to me.  I think I’ve told y’all before about my ability to fly.  When things get too stressful for me, I have always had the ability to close my eyes, stretch out my arms, and just fly away.  I have seen much of the world while just flying around.  I have been doing this since my early childhood and feel as though I have spent much of my life looking down upon the actions of others from above, while I fly away from the situation.  If for some reason, I could not fly away, I’d disassociate by stretching out my arms and just float away on the waves of the sea. So, when this video showed things from a perspective of flying above it — it got me!  I was watching as the woman was freeing herself from all the troubles of the world.  How did the songwriter KNOW that I needed to see hear this?  How did the videographer know that his vision was what I needed to see?  That I would be able to relate?  What a blessing!

Words — There are parts of this song that speak directly to my heart. I know it was written for ME to hear and to absorb.  And absorb it, I have.  I immediately went to iTunes to download it to my computer and have it on repeat as I sit here.

I’ve been sleepin‘ in my mind
But now my heart is risin’
Risin’ with the tide
Floating on a wave
Buoyed by the sea
Carry me away ‘cause the world is not for me  

I have spent many years “sleepin’ in my mind”.  It has always been so much safer to “sleep” through the many stressful times of my life, rather than actually “live” them.  But, I have reached a point where my heart is learning how to deal with those times I’ve slept through.  My feelings are risin’ with the tide and I am being forced to deal with them.

If I could see through different eyes
From ten thousand foot skies
I’d navigate the lies
And never fear demise
Nor be timid of the rule
How can I grow wise
If never I’m a fool?

Oh, how I have wished to “see through different eyes”.  I have prayed many times in my life to be removed from the situation so that I would not have to experience it any longer.  Isn’t this what she’s saying in the song?  By seeing the situation from different eyes, we are able to see the lies that are taking place, but not have to live those lies ourselves or perhaps to just learn that they are actually lies.  And of course, if it’s not really us living it, it’s so much easier to not be afraid. But, as we know, we only become wise by seeing or living through a situation so that we can learn what not to do or how not to act.

Oh I must be quiet
Enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
As it echoes in the clouds

Therapy has helped me learn to be quiet enough to hear those sounds that scream from my soul.  It has been through therapy that I have learned to listen to my heart and deal with the many cruelties and the abuse I’ve lived with.  While I haven’t mastered it yet, before therapy, I never even realized that I was capable of hearing those hurtful sounds in my soul and might possibly learn to live with them.

Raindrops ripple as I breathe
I can feel the deep blue miles from my feet
Coming up for air, conscience coming clean
I have left the past at the bottom of the sea

Those raindrops are the whispers from God that constantly come to me, telling me that He loves me.  As I learn to listen to my soul, I can feel the old hurts float up from that deep blue sea (my hole that I live it).  Those hurts do gasp for air, trying to be freed.  I am learning to clear my conscience from the guilt I have felt my whole life — guilt for not being a better daughter, sister, wife, teacher, mother, friend, servant of God, or person.  I am struggling to leave my past somewhere — whether it be at the bottom of the sea, in a fire pit, or in the garbage — just anywhere except in my heart where it currently lives.

No matter where you land or how far you may fall
You have heart, you have hands
And the highest calling of our lives
Is to find the grace in the very place we stand
And rise

And this, my heart, is the important part.  No matter what my past.  No matter what I’ve suffered.  No matter what I’ve felt — my biggest calling is to find grace right here where I am today.  And to rise.

So, to the songwriter of Rise, whoever you are — thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing these words so that I, too, can Rise! To the videographer, thank you for your perspective.  I am enjoying this “flight” through Rise.  And to Caroline Jones, as I fly high above you watching you ride your horse through the beautiful countryside and listen to you beautifully sing these meaningful words, thank you.  I am trying my best to Rise along beside you.  Absolutely a beautiful video!  It has touched my heart. Thank you and God Bless You!

Rise (Sing it Loud)  by Caroline Jones

I’ve been sleepin‘ in my mind
But now my heart is risin’
Risin’ with the tide
Floating on a wave
Buoyed by the sea
Carry me away ‘cause the world is not for me
If I could see through different eyes
From ten thousand foot skies
I’d navigate the lies
And never fear demise
Nor be timid of the rule
How can I grow wise
If never I’m a fool?
And home, home is in my heart
So why do I get lost in the crowd
Trying to be proud
Oh I must be quiet
Enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
As it echoes in the clouds
I’m going to sing it
Loud
I’m going to sing it
Loud
Raindrops ripple as I breathe
I can feel the deep blue miles from my feet
Coming up for air, conscience coming clean
I have left the past at the bottom of the sea
‘Cause home, home is in my heart
Why I do get lost in the crowd?
Trying to be proud
Oh, I must be quiet enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
I’m gonna write it down
I’m gonna sing it
Loud
I’m gonna sing it
Loud
No matter where you land or how far you may fall
You have heart, you have hands
And the highest calling of our lives
Is to find the grace in the very place we stand
And rise
I’m gonna sing it
Rise
I’m gonna sing it
Rise
We will rise.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I cannot get this video off my mind. I have listened to the song at least 50 times as I’ve been at my computer in the last 24 hours and am absorbing the hurt, the love, and the grace.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Slept terribly last night.  Finally got up around 3 and took half of a sleeping pill.  Was finally able to sleep, but awoke later to the realization that I’d been dreaming about Sandra.  She had been here with me.  Lord, I miss her so much!

~~~ Betty

Depression, Mental Health

Before I Go To Bed…

I feel that I must say something about today’s post.  It is important to me for you to understand the following:

  • Did my dad do terrible, cruel things to me as a child and as a teen-ager?  Yes, he did.
  • Did I hate my dad?  Yes, for many, many years I felt great amounts of hatred.  When those feelings began after the kitten incident, I don’t think that I was mature enough to feel, or to know that I had an option to feel, anything except hated.
  • Do I now understand why he did what he did?  I’m not sure.  I have finally come to understand that he was a sick, sick man.  I know he grew up during hard times and that he evidently never learned how to love. I know he suffered from alcoholism and I am sure that had a lot to do with what he did.  However, I don’t understand how or why, if I choose to blame his actions on the alcohol, he chose Mom and me as his punching bags.  Not that I ever wanted him to do anything to anyone else, but there were four of us girls in the family and it was ME that he chose to physically and emotionally abuse.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand why I was the chosen one.
  • Was everything about him mean and cruel?  No.  He was a hard worker and I guess he had always been.  I know that he worked his way through college, graduating from Syracuse University.  He had a successful business composed of three auto parts stores.  He was well liked and respected within the business community in the small town in which we lived.  He provided for his family.  In a time and place where working was what a husband did, he did just that.  His work seemed to be everything to him.  I guess even my dad had the “mask” thing down pat.
  • Was I ever open with him about how I felt?  Yes, especially during the years in which I thought my only feelings toward him were hatred.  In his later years, I was not nearly as open.  I tried throughout the years to show him that I loved him, but there was always a wall — a huge, huge wall — between us and as an adult I never sat down to really talk to him about the past.  I tried a couple of times and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about — that he’d always supported us and did what had to be done — so I’m not sure that he ever believed me when I said I loved him.  And I really don’t think that I believed those feelings either.  I spent my life trying to prove to my dad that I was good, that I was worth his love, and that I deserved better than what he had given to me.  In the end, I really just tried to keep the peace with him.
  • Was my objective to bash him in my post?  No.  Absolutely not.  I am trying to be honest about my life and how my childhood affected me.  I cannot tell my story without being honest about my experiences.  In reality, I am extremely embarrassed for anyone to know any of the cruel things that Dad did to me, but my childhood experiences have always been the driving factor in my depression and I have kept these experiences bottled up for over 60 years. They have eaten away at my life, my thoughts, and my personality.  My objective is to rid myself of the guilt and shame of those experiences and to become whole.
  • Do I still hate my dad?  No.  I don’t think that I do.  So, if I don’t hate him, does that mean that I love him?  No, I don’t think that I do.   I have tried for years to somehow feel love for him but the love never sticks.  I try to close my eyes and see him as “Daddy” but each time I do that, I am overwhelmed with the cruel actions and words that he so freely heaped upon me throughout my life.  I always wanted to love him but don’t think that he was interested in any way in having my love.  I will have to settle for acceptance that he was the man who raised me.  That’s about the best I can do.
  • Do I blame everything on my dad?  Good Lord, no.  As I stated in today’s post, I became very defiant.  During my teen years, when the abuse and beatings became just about an everyday thing, I was bound and determined to not let him rule me.  When he said “You can’t,” my usual response was, “Watch me.”  When he said “No,” I was determined to do whatever he was against.  When he hurt me, I made sure I did something in return to hurt him right back.  There were times when I did a good job of paying him back.  In the end, I embarrassed him greatly and I am sure that hurt him.  He finally felt some of the hurt he had given me.  The sad thing is that in that final action, he wasn’t the only one hurt.
  • Have I forgiven my father?  Phew, that’s a hard one.  I want to forgive him. I pray each day to be able to forgive him.  I know God says that I should. Sometimes I think I have but then I’ll have another nightmare and it all comes rushing back and I know that the forgiveness didn’t work. I do know I am not, and never have been, responsible for his actions, but part of my mental illness is that part of me still believes it was my fault.  Until I can forgive myself for everything that I blame myself for, I don’t think I will ever be able to honestly forgive him.  But, I will continue to try.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: I read many messages today about what a sorry father I had and what a sick man he was.  That had not been my intention when posting about the kitten.  I don’t need anyone else to hate my dad.  To many people, he was a good man.  My intention was not to diminish those feelings for others.  I was just trying to tell about where my depression began.  I feel badly that some people have joined me in my hatred.

TODAY’S FEELING BAROMETER: I feel guilty for telling about the kitten incident.

~~~ Betty