Depression, Mental Health

Undeserved Emotions

I’ve had an extremely hard time coming back to the blog since my last couple of posts.  I wonder if I spoke too much.  Was I too open in talking about the incidents that have compounded my depression?  Should I have just continued to deal with my feelings by myself?  I have been so confused.

And then……I reached out a couple of weeks ago to a prayer group that I’m a member of and asked for prayers for peace for my troubled mind.  I gave a brief testimony and the administrator of the group denied my post.  In talking with her later, she said that my prayer was “too big” for the group.  She said that many members of the group were “new in the Lord and might not be able to handle” my testimony and my request.   How can that be?  How can prayers be too big?  Is there a certain amount of time that you must wait before telling someone “who is new in the Lord” about a significant problem that you are having?  I guess I didn’t read that part of the “I love the Lord Handbook”.  I’m still at a loss over that.  I tried to not take it personally, but I just don’t get it.  How do you tell someone that their prayer is too big?  So, I decided to just sit back and do my talking directly to God.  And that’s where I’ve been for the past few weeks.  Stewing.  Simply stewing in emotions.  Those emotions are taking a toll on me.  My mind is in overdrive and it is so hard to focus.

Then, last week something happened in my hometown and I’m so confused about how I feel.  That’s not entirely true, though.  I know how I feel;  I am sad.  But deep-seated emotions keep rearing their ugly heads and are keeping me off balance.  There are so many things I want to say, but out of respect for others I can’t.  And that’s the tough part.  It’s almost as if my emotions are not valid.  But, how can that be?  Isn’t everyone entitled to their own feelings?  No matter what the circumstances, feelings — any feelings — are valid, aren’t they? I feel no anger.  I feel sadness.  And regrets.  And sorrow for those involved.  But I can’t speak of it.

Undeserving — that’s the word I used when speaking to a friend last night.  I was trying to explain my emotions and said that I feel as though any emotions I have are just plain underserving.  And I know that it’s not good for me to feel that way.  I’ve spent far too many years living with the assumption that my feelings don’t count and that they are underserving.  I have got to find some way to break this chain of thought.  I feel what I feel and I can’t help it.

Many of my friends, without my reaching out to them, have contacted me to relay their thoughts and prayers.  And that has meant the world to me.  They know, all too well, the conflict that is running rampant in my head and heart.   I just need a way to address these feelings.  Isolation isn’t working.  Sleeping isn’t working.  Pouring my heart out to God isn’t working.  I guess I just must be patient.  God is going to speak to me.  He is going to guide me in the right direction.  I do know this to be true.  But, in the meantime, I am struggling.  And it is so not fun.

~~~Betty 

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

And That, My Friends, Is The $64,000 Question…..

Do you remember when you were a child and did something that got you in trouble? Maybe you were chasing your sister through the house and hit a table and knocked off the lamp. As soon as you heard it hit the floor, you knew you were in trouble — big trouble. Your mom or dad would come after you and ask that ridiculous question — “So, young lady, just how many times do I need to tell you not to run in the house?” And they’d stand there and wait for you to answer them. Good gracious. How do you answer a question like that? Do you just stand there and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to knock over the lamp.” (I tried that many times and it never went over well.) Or do you get brave like I remember getting one time when dad was raging and answer, “Seven times”?  Let me tell you now that that was not the answer he was wanting. Maybe I should have said, “More than a thousand times” because evidently that’s how many times he had said it to me already and I was still running in the house. I guess I was a slow learner.

Anyway, I finally made it to Macon to see my therapist this week after three long months of not seeing her. It wasn’t that I was staying away on purpose — I was sick and then I got busy with the class reunion stuff and then I spent a week of medical testing and appointments and I just couldn’t get over there. But, whatever the reason, I was finally there. And I was lamenting about the fact that I am still screwed up. I was talking about how I couldn’t forgive myself for being such a screw-up as a kid and then a screw-up as a wife and now I’m just a plain screw-up. Period. After a few minutes, she took a deep breath, looked at me, and said, “Betty, just how long are you going to let your father run your life? When are you going to take your life back? When are you going to forgive yourself and go live the life that you know you should be living?” Well, damn. What was I supposed to say? Do I (as I did) just look at her and say, “I know. I need to let it go.” Or do I look at her as I looked at dad all those years ago and say, “I’m going to do that next Thursday. Or next month. Or in three weeks. Or evidently, never.”

How do you answer that question? That question, to me, is what we used to call the “$64,000 Question.” It’s one of those questions that I have no clue how to answer. How do you decide when enough is enough? I’ve made that decision many times. I’ve decided that enough is enough. I’ve told myself that I didn’t deserve all the crap I got from him and that I was going to let it go. I’ve even said out loud, “This is enough, Betty. Let it go.” And maybe I would for a bit. And then, something else would happen or I’d have a nightmare and wake up remembering it all over again. And, Wham! It’s back! All the feelings of worthlessness. All the pain. All the anger. All the guilt. All the hatred. And I’d have to start over again.  I am so very, very tired of starting over.

She says we are going to work on that question at our next session. That ought to be a fun time, huh? If any of you have any answers for me, please clue me in. How do I let it go? How do I convince my heart that what my head knows (I don’t deserve the pain; it wasn’t my fault; It’s nothing that I did to make him not love me) is correct? How do I make it stick? How do I really and truly forgive — not only him, but myself, also? If any of you have the working answer to that question, I’ll scrounge up the $64,000 for you. You will deserve it!
~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I so wish I could just go buy a book from Amazon that has the answer to my question.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Been a pretty good day.  Talked to my friend, Dennis, tonight and he said I sounded like I was in a better place.  I had to admit that I just had some new, better drugs.  Ain’t that a kick in the rear?

~~~ Betty 

Depression, Mental Health

Am I Still Who I Said I Was?

I went back today and reread what I had posted about myself when I began my blog.  It is kind of funny how I really don’t remember writing this.  Rereading it made me stop and think.  Am I still this person?  Have I grown any since then?  Do I still believe what I said back then?  The answer to those questions is yes.  But, I am more than that; I am so much more than that.

Writing these posts has been hard.  It’s been much harder than I ever thought it would be and I knew that all along that it was going to be hard as hell. There have been periods of time when I find it impossible to write. The thoughts are there, but the courage to do so is not.  I have spent so many years NEVER talking to anyone about myself and I never thought I would be brave enough to share many of my innermost thoughts and secrets. I’m still unable to talk about much of my life.  I’m not sure if it’s because I think those things will be hurtful to others, hurtful to me, shameful to my family, too revealing, or just none of anyone else’s business.  I do know, however, that being able to finally talk about my life has been healing to me.  I think that actually writing those thoughts down and hitting that “Publish” button is a means of release for me.  For those things that I have written about, it has been a way to let them go, a way to lift them from my heart and to admit to myself that I was not the cause of the hurt.

I will admit one thing, though.  The one thing that worries me (and it goes back to that feeling of fear or distrust or just uncomfort I have when people are nice to me) is that I fear that when my friends see the posts, they feel obligated to tell me that I’m a great person or a strong person or that “whatever it is they say to me”.  I never want any of my friends to feel obligated to try to make me feel better about myself.  Please know that I am not posting these thoughts in order to garner any sympathy.  I don’t do it to have others feel sorry for me.  I don’t do it to have someone post something positive that may boost my ego.  I would love for all who read my posts to reply on the blog itself and let me know their thoughts about what I write. I want to know that they are beginning to understand how depression lives and what it does to a person.  The more replies made, the more my blog goes out to others.  And that is one of my goals.  But my main goal is for these posts to become a means of release for me and a means of learning for others. Each post is a type of education, in a way.  I do it so that others may see that someone who struggles with depression is still a real person.  I do it so that others may somehow understand that depression is not something shameful.  (Although I really think that I am probably still trying to convince myself that I am a real person and that my depression is not shameful.)  I do it so that it becomes easier to actually talk about my depression to others.  Talking about it is helpful.  I do it so that others may learn how helpful it is to finally be able to talk about their own depression. I do it so that others might realize that when they see me out in public and I seem to be happy or funny or normal — I have dug back into my chest of masks and have put one of them on to hide my true feelings.  Those masks are always there when others are around. Very seldom — and with very few people — am I ever without a mask.   I would LOVE to be able to put away this chest of masks and just be myself. I just don’t know who that person without a mask is.

And that is why I wrote the following about myself.

I am just a person.  I am just like you.  I am nothing like you.  I have dreams, fears, needs, wants, demons,  and joys.  You may have these, also.  I have suffered just as many of you have — abuse, rejection, put-downs, disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, and terrors.  Do I understand why this has happened to me?  No.  Will I ever fully understand?  Probably not.  Is it fair?  No.  Can I change those things in my past that have made me “me”?  No.  Do I wish I could?  Of course.  Knowing these things, what do I plan to do about it?  Not sure yet, but I do know that I’m going to change.  I am going to become whole again (although I wonder if I was ever whole to begin with).

I was first a daughter.  I am a sister.  I was a child.  I was a student.  I was then a wife. I was then a mother. Then, I was no longer a wife.   I was a teacher.  I am now a retired teacher. I am my children’s biggest cheerleader.  I am a Grams who cherishes her grandchildren.  I am a loyal friend.  I am a floundering Christian.  I am a lover of knowledge.  I am someone who has spent time in a Mental Health facility.  I am a person involved in on-going mental health therapy.  I am a person who yearns to love and be loved.  I am a person who wants to understand all the “why’s” of life.  I am a person who has many fleeting interests.  I am a person with big dreams.  I am a Southerner.  I am an expert in the art of sarcasm.  I am a lover of words.  I am a person who has lived behind an array of masks for most of my life.  I am a person who is constantly climbing to reach the light at the top of the hole that I find myself in quite frequently.  I am a person determined to become whole.  I am Betty (although Social Security and the DMV insist that I be Elizabeth.)   I am now a Blogger.

The goal I had when I began this blog was to educate others about depression. To those with depression, this is not necessary, they know all too well what it is.  While I am certainly not an expert about depression, I can speak of it first-hand.  I have lived with it for most of these 67 years. I have hidden from life because of it.  I have hidden from my friends, from my family, and I have hidden from myself.  My desire is to stop hiding and because of this blog, I am slowly learning to do so.

But there are still many people out there in this great big world who truly don’t understand.  They still believe that depression is when a person is sad.  They believe that depression is a cop-out.  They believe that a person with depression is weak, that they should be able to just “snap out of it”. They believe that a person with depression should just “turn it over to God” and He will fix it.  They believe that a person with depression should just exercise more and it will go away.  Oh, if it were only that simple. Wouldn’t life be grand?

But to answer the question — Am I Still Who I Said I Was? — the answer is “Yes”.  I am still Me, Betty O,  with all my flaws and imperfections.  I am still someone who longs to love and be loved –someone who just wants to be understood.  I have learned some things about myself and about my depression, although there is still much to be learned.  I am still someone who hopes that I have helped another person in a small way to understand that those of us who struggle daily with depression are not people who should be shunned or ignored.  We are just people, just like you, who want to be understood and loved.  It’s that simple.

Depression, Family, Mental Health

Preparing Myself

Next Friday night, June 2, 2017, Putnam County High School Class of 1967 will be holding its 50th Reunion.  From a class of 58, there were 6 classmates we could not find and 11 classmates who have passed away.  We are scheduled to have 73 people — classmates and spouses or significant others — in attendance.  And this “scares me to death”.

You see, while I attended school with these classmates beginning in grade 1 when we moved to Eatonton through grade 11 and have memories and experiences with them throughout each of the years, I was not there for my senior year, nor for graduation.  I had left Eatonton at the end of my junior year.  I remember the night that I should have graduated — I remember wishing  I was there with my classmates — and I remember wondering how many of them thought about the fact that I was not there.  And I continued to wonder that for four decades — did they even realize I had not been there?

I’ve spoken of my dear friend, Dennis, before.  I remember the day that we had met for lunch and sat at a table outside the restaurant, watching life go on in Eatonton, for hours. We reminisced about life in Eatonton when we were kids and then as teenagers.  We had talked about the people who had owned businesses and who had been married to whom, who had divorced, and who had fooled around on their spouses as well as we could remember.  I remember asking him that day if he had even missed me during 66-67.  Did he realize that I was not at school for our senior year?  Did he wonder where I was? And, bless his heart, true to Dennis, he was brutally honest with me and said, “No, Betty.  I was too busy living the life of a teenage boy to recognize that you were not there.”  (I cleaned that up a bit from the actual words that he said to me.)  In a way, I was devastated, but then, it was the answer I had expected.

Since moving back to Eatonton, I had spoken to many people who had never realized that I had not been there for my senior year.  And I had spent decades believing or hoping that, at least to my classmates, I had been missed.   I do remember that one classmate, Brenda, had told me when we had reconnected a few years ago, that at the beginning of our senior year, she had asked several people where I was and nobody could  or would give her an answer.  She said that she had even asked one of our teachers — several times — where Betty was.  She said that she was finally told by that teacher to stop asking and to let the fact that I was not there drop.  So, life without Betty in the class went on.  As it should have.  The fact that I was not there was of utmost importance to me, but was really no big deal to my classmates.  And I’m not saying that in a critical way — it was as life should have been.  Students finishing up high school are all about themselves and their futures.  If someone suddenly is not there, they just aren’t there.  It’s not going to change the way they live.  But it had certainly changed the way I lived.

Things had been beyond bad at home between Dad and me. They had reached a point where he no longer allowed me to live there and I was “taken” to Atlanta to live.  Upon checking my school records, it was determined that in order to graduate, I only needed a senior English class and a geography class, so I took those two classes and graduated on December 16, 1966 from an Atlanta high school.  It certainly was not the type of graduation that I had always dreamed of — they mailed me my diploma.  But, I did have a high school diploma and I was out of my house.  I was not being abused any longer.  And I did not have to fight with my dad every day.  That was a good thing.  But, it was not the life I was supposed to live.  It was not the life that I had deserved to live.  I was “allowed” to come to Eatonton for Christmas, but received the silent treatment from Dad the whole time I was there.  Shortly after the beginning of January, I began attending Massey Business College in Atlanta and actually enjoyed my life, living in a dorm right off 14th Street.  When leaving the dorm, all we saw were the long-haired hippies and I was fascinated by them.   I met and made new friends, but still missed my friends from Eatonton.  I asked if I could come home and attend my classmates’ graduation service, but was told no by dad and of course he had to add that “Nobody in Eatonton wants you here.  Stay in Atlanta.”  So, I did.  The following September, I moved to Valdosta, Georgia, and began attending Valdosta State College.  And here is where things went wrong again. (More to come on this aspect at a later date.)

A couple of years after moving back to Eatonton in 2010, I attended a class reunion and was petrified.  I had not seen the majority of these classmates since I left in 1966 and I had no idea as to how I would be welcomed, or, if I would be welcomed at all.  But, it was a good night and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone.  Five years ago, I attended another reunion and we had a blast.  And now, for our 50th!  What I haven’t figured out yet is how I pretty much came to be in charge of planning this, seeing as how I may have attended school with these folks for 11 years, but, in reality, I did not graduate with them. I am not a graduate of the Class of ’67, yet I was in charge of planning it.  Somehow, this just doesn’t make sense.  But, it’s done.  We are ready for all 73 people to invade Joe and Melody’s on Friday night.  All the planning that can be planned has been planned and I am not planning to plan anything else.  (I just thought that sentence kind of summed up how drained I am right now.  LOL)  We have the food arranged; we have the name tags made; we have the class booklets finished and printed; we have a photographer coming; we have the frames done for use when we take pictures; we have the Memorial table items ready; I HOPE we have the Memorabilia tablescape ready; and I hope we have the carpooling arranged.  All that is left to do is to show up and have fun.

And, that, my blogging friends, is why I am filled with anxiety.  Although at the two reunions I have attended, everyone has been wonderful.  But, at this reunion, it is going to be evident that I did not graduate.  We have name tags with everyone’s senior picture on them; each of the gals are in their senior drapes and the guys are in suits.  But, not me. It is evident when viewing my picture that I am NOT in a senior drape.  I worry that there will be questions and whispers and that they will remember that I am not actually a member of the Class of ’67.  All those old fears are coming back and the memories as to WHY I’m not in a senior drape are flooding my mind.   I’m trying to think that it doesn’t really matter, that being there for 11 years ought to be enough to count.  I’m going to take that leap of faith that everyone speaks about and just GO and have FUN and not WORRY. Yep, that’s what I’m gonna do.  Right, Betty.  You just keep on thinking that.  Anyway, by this time next week, it will be a done deal.  I will most likely find out that I have worried for no reason and that all my trepidation was unwarranted.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the rest of the week, just in case.

I’ll let you know how things went.

~~~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I have dreaded speaking about this period in my life.  There is so much more to the story, but so far, I am not brave enough to talk about the rest.  The goal when I started this blog was to be able to be open and honest and real about all of the things in my life that have haunted me for so many years.  Since this period of time is one of the “biggies”, it’s stressful.  My hopes are that at some point, I will be able to speak the truth.  Not that what I’ve written today is not the truth.  It is.  It’s just that it’s such a small portion.  So much is left out.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  I still need to figure out how to do this sleeping thing.  I’m trying to eliminate the need for sleeping pills, but without them, I just flat don’t sleep.  Period.  But, with them, I seem to sleep for 12 hours.  It’s either no sleep or 12 hours of sleep.  It is just so hard to plan things that take place in the mornings.  I missed church again this morning.  Darn it.

~~~ Betty

 

 

 

Depression, Family, Mental Health

It Was A Very Good Day

I was able to spend a good part of yesterday with my baby sister, Karen, known to me as KaKa.  It’s been a while since we spent a lot of time with each other and I don’t like that.  I promise to do better.  Anyway, she had to go out to my local hospital for some tests and I met her there.  When she was finished, we decided to go out to the lake for lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  We laughed for a while about what I was supposed to do with the lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream that they had put in a really neat little circle in the middle of my already-cut Quesadillas (I never know what you are supposed to do with that – it’s not a salad and you can’t open the Quesadillas up to put it in them, it’s hard to just pile it on top of the individual slices so, do you just eat it?  I never know how to treat that pile of stuff so I usually just move it around a bit so the server will think that I ate it.).  I know this is far from being politically correct, but I told KaKa I needed to watch one of the Mexicans who worked there eat some so I would understand what to do with it.  After KaKa “ate at” her Chimichangas, we just sat and talked — mostly about  our childhoods.

KaKa is eight years younger than I am and, unfortunately, she doesn’t remember a lot of her childhood.  I left home at the end of my junior year when I was only sixteen which means she was eight and was living an entirely different life than I was living.  She was still a kid, enjoying life and playing with her friends, while I was deep in a raging battle with my father.  I learned that she really had no clue what was going on with us, and for that I am glad.  In a way.  But, of course, I also wish that she could remember the terrible battles in order to validate my memories and my feelings.  For some reason, that validation is still important to me.  I was told so many times by Dad that I didn’t know what I was talking about so I sometimes wonder if he was right.  Did all that really happen to me?  Why did I let it happen?  Why did he let it happen?  Or, more importantly, why did he make it happen?  The more I think about those times, the more confused I become.

The most important thing that happened at that lunch was that KaKa did not judge me. She just listened to me.  And that was what I needed.  In looking at our lunch and the way KaKa just listened, I got a bit of deja-vu.  You see, early yesterday morning, my dear friend, Deanna, posted a poem on Facebook about listening and its importance.  I’m sure you’ve probably read it before, but it’s worth reading again.  Listening is something that is extremely important to all, but is vital to someone filled with doubt, guilt, and with that terrible thing called self-condemnation.

“When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem, you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen!
All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.
Advice is cheap – 20 cents will get you both
Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince you
and get about this business of understanding
what’s behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious
and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works sometimes
for some people, because God is mute
and He doesn’t give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn,
and I will listen to you.”

“Listen.” ~~~Anonymous.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Listening to others.  Not telling them what to do.  Not telling them how to feel.  Not fixing their problems.  Just be there.  Listen to what they say.  Love them no matter how they feel or no matter what they say.  Just listen.

Kaka did an excellent job yesterday of just listening.  Thank you, little sister, for listening to me.  I love you.

~~~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  The lunch with KaKa was just what I needed.  And the fact that Deanna had posted that poem that very morning was another one of those “signs” that remind me I’m on the right track.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  I’m tired.  Go figure.  That’s nothing new.  Tired, but optimistic.  Looking forward to church tomorrow and to our local Memorial Day service on Monday.  A dear, dear friend of mine will be making an address and I’m so very proud of him.  We have many things to be thankful for in our country, and our military is right up there near the very top of my list.  Monday will be a day for us to remember those who gave their all.  May they Rest in Peace as we salute their service.

~~~Betty

Depression, Uncategorized

I Am Not Perfect

Well, I’ve been MIA for a while.  Needed to get through the holidays.  I don’t do holidays well and this holiday season has been especially tough.  But, I’m back and am ready to get back to blogging.

I had a rather interesting event to happen yesterday.  While browsing though my Facebook News Feed, I came upon a post made by an acquaintance.  It was about people you could count on.  Reading it made me think of a friend I lost during the political season.  We have been friends for many, many years and met when we were both Stampin’ Up! demonstrators.  While we have never met in person, I considered her a close friend.  I won’t go into details, but she and I differ greatly in our political beliefs and after making a rather simple comment to a post of hers one day, she actually told me to “STFU already”.  And she did so publicly.  I had reached the breaking point — tired of being called names and being told that I was stupid, so I finally unfriended her.  And it has bothered me ever since.  But, back to my original thought.  His post reminded me of losing my friend and I commented that I wish I had seen that post a couple of years earlier (thinking of the times in the future that I might be put down by her for my political beliefs.)  Next thing I knew, this friend was calling me out and accusing me of posting about HIM.  Far from the truth. However, after the fit he had, I tend to  believe that perhaps the bit dog was hollering (as we tend to say in the South).   After a couple of back-and-forth responses, he sent a private message apologizing and saying I had been right in saying that he had taken my comment out of context.  And then — he removed his comment from Facebook where he had accused me of talking about him,  leaving my response which made me look like a loon, talking to myself.  (I hate when people do that.  Grow a pair and stand behind your comments.  If you’re not going to do that, then you ought not to be making them in my opinion.)  But, that’s ok.  Some people can’t or won’t stand behind whatever they say.

And of course I thought about it all night.  Who would expect anything less?

In thinking it over, there is one thing that I have learned from this, for sure —– I am too damn old for this sort of nonsense.  And that’s exactly what it is — nonsense.  At one point, this person meant a LOT to me.  About two years ago, I realized that he was not the person I had thought he was and we decided to just remain friends.  It’s been a struggle to do so, but I’ve tried.  When he gets lonely or when he wants some information about someone, he’ll call or contact me.  He knows all the right lines to feed me to make me think he’s sincere and like some darn 16-year old girl, I believe him.  Then, the next day, he’s back to the same old crap.  It’s been a real roller-coaster and my emotions have been all over the place.  Get smart, Betty.  He’s a user.  He’s a schemer.  He is toxic.

Well, one thing led to another and the following comments are what I posted earlier today on Facebook, not only about the incident, but about me and my thoughts in general.

I am not perfect. I never have been perfect and I never will be perfect. I dare not claim to be perfect in any way, shape, form, or fashion. In reality, I am so far from perfect that it’s sad. BUT………….I try.  Lord, do I try and it’s killing me.

I am opinionated. I speak my mind. I stick up for myself. I wasn’t always this way, though. There was a huge part of my life where I was a people-pleaser. I would do anything necessary to prevent any type of disagreement. If I knew I was right, but if stating that meant there was going to be a disagreement, I would cower in the corner and just agree with you.  I would eat my feelings and convince myself that those feelings were not true feelings.  But, no more.

I no longer cower in a corner and agree with something that I don’t believe. And, at times, that causes problems. But, that’s ok, because I’m a big girl now. I have discovered the aisle at Wal-Mart that sells those big-girl panties and am quite adept at pulling those suckers up and moving on. I will no longer let anyone walk over me. I will no longer let anyone accuse me of something that I have not done without speaking up for myself. You may not like it. You may not be man or woman enough to admit that you were in the wrong, but that’s Tough. I will not purposefully do anything to hurt you, but I will not let you walk over me. That’s just the way it is. I have learned to expect and accept consequences when I am wrong. I have learned to admit when I am wrong.

If I comment on something on Facebook, you can rest assured that the comment comes from my head and my heart. I do my own research. I think before I speak (99% of the time). I very seldom (hardly ever) rely on someone else’s meme or post to allow someone to believe that I feel a certain way. If I do use a meme, I will add my own thoughts to it. I am not a puppet. I love words and I know how and when to use them. There were many years when I was not allowed to have an opinion and using my words in any way would result in a physical fight. For that reason, I just didn’t use them.   I am regaining my words and use them freely now.  I always speak from my heart and my thoughts can be believed. They may not always be right. They may not always coincide with your thoughts. But, you should always believe that words spoken by me are words that I believe.

I have a heart. That heart has known great love. That heart has also known great sorrow. That heart has been stomped on, misused, taken for granted, and pure lied to. It has had knives plunged into it and twisted. It has always given second, third, and fourth chances. This heart has finally learned that it must be closed to some people once it has become convinced that they are toxic to it. It weeps when it is taken for granted. It longs for the way things “used to be” or for the way “it ought to be”.

I have always tried my best to be loyal. If I say I’m your friend, then I’m your friend. I will do anything I can to help you. I will always have your back. I will not let someone speak badly of you without being told they are doing so. I will try to be encouraging. I will always try to help you see the good in you when you cannot see it in yourself. I will listen. I will love you. My biggest problem has been that I am not a loyal friend to myself. I am trying my best to change that.

There was a time when I trusted no one. I have worked hard to learn to trust again, sometimes to the detriment of my mental health. You taught me how to trust and then you pulled the rug out from under me and showed me why I should not blindly trust you.  I still struggle with things my head “knows” and things my heart “feels”. I am getting better at seeing and believing myself when I feel that the trust I have in you is misguided. I struggle with giving up. I always feel that you deserve one more chance and I have finally learned that there must be a cutting off point. Those times are hard because my heart says “just one more chance” and my head says “girl, you better get the hell out of here”. However, if I am your friend and lose trust in you, it is very, very, very hard for that trust to ever be regained. I can remain civil when I see you. I can be friendly if needed, but I will not trust you. It’s that simple.  I just won’t trust you.  And to me, without trust, true friendship is impossible.

There was a time when I was furious with God. I did not trust Him at all. I blamed Him for things that were not of His making. I had forgotten who He was. I had forgotten that He loved me, no matter what I did, said, or thought. I am slowly reuniting with God. I am learning to trust Him again. I am feeling loved by Him. And, THAT is a good thing.

While my past has not been an easy one, I realize that there are millions of others out there who have also not had an easy past. I am nothing special. I deserve no sympathy. I deserve no pats on the back for “being strong”. I am far from being strong. I do what I must do to get through each day. Sometimes, I make the right choices. Sometimes, I don’t. But, so far, I haven’t given up totally. I’ve been close. Oh, I’ve been so close. There was a time when it would not have mattered to me one bit if I had just gone to sleep and not awoken. I no longer feel that way, but if I’m totally truthful, it’s always in the back of my mind.

I have demons. Sometimes, those demons come out and truly haunt me. At those times, I have learned that I must forgive myself. There are things I cannot change and I can no longer torture myself over those things. I cannot forget them because they are such an integral part of me, but I simply cannot let them rule my life. If those things that haunt me can somehow come to a resolution, that would be wonderful, but that has to be put into God’s hands.

I have a wonderful family. My children and my grandchildren are true gifts from God. I have a sister I truly love. My extended family is a blessing to me. I have marvelous, loyal friends. My church family is a blessing. My “Hens” are what keep me together many times. I know how to laugh. I know how to have fun. I know how to love. But, most importantly, I have learned to stick up for myself. It know that it is up to Betty to take care of Betty. Trying to do that is quite a chore at times, but I believe I can do it. My head tells me that I am worth it.  My heart yearns to believe it.

I am who I am and that is all that I am. Take me for what I am or don’t. That is your choice. You cannot change me. You cannot misuse me. You cannot abuse me. You will no longer be allowed to lie to me.  No, I am not perfect. But I understand what love is and I’m learning about trust.  And trusting you is something I no longer do.  It’s that simple.

 

Depression, Mental Health

How Do You Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways.

As I was on my way to Macon yesterday, I heard Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet #43 and it got me to thinking.  Because of some things that have been going on in my life,  hearing this old Sonnet put my mind in gear and I decided to put my own take to it.  I swear, I have too much time to think.

This was, of course, written with someone in mind, but I have no expectations that he will ever see it.  And that’s OK.  If he sees it, it will mean nothing to him.  If he sees it or not, it means everything to me.  I needed to say this to myself far more than I needed to say it to him.  I can now let go.  It’s done.  It’s over.  Time to move on and make myself happy.

Sonnet 43 – Elizabeth Barrett Browing
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Sonnet 7,329 — Betty Mains O’Steen
How do you love me? Ahhhh, let me count the ways.
You love me when it’s convenient and you have thought up some new plays.
You love me on the surface; there’s no true, deep, honest love.
You say those sweet words that you think will surround me like a glove.

You love me on your terms, in just the way you want; you love me that way because that is what you do.
Yes, you love me on your terms, that’s what makes you, you.
You love me when it gets you something because you know I’m there.
You love me in front of others because you trust that I am fair.

You love me on your terms because you think I have nothing better to do.
You love me on your terms because you think I have no clue.
You love me with public words because private actions are too hard to fake.
You love me from afar, because that’s what you think I’m willing to take.

You love me by text because loving me in person means you may have to be real.
You love me by text mainly because you know when I look into your eyes, I will see those feelings that you don’t really feel.
For years, I wore those rose-colored glasses.  I had hope.
But with each line you fed me, you merely tightened the rope.

You love me on your terms and there is no negotiation.
You love me on your terms because you are the man and believe that I should bow in supplication.
You love me without passion put to use because of your old beliefs and with your childhood ways.
You love me when it sounds good to others because they don’t know all your plays.

You publicly love me even when it brings me tears and hurt and heartache. My feelings don’t really count.
You love me with a fake love; I cannot measure the amount.
You love me with a love you’ve never had, a love you’ve never understood.
You love me with movie lines because you think they sound good.

We’ve spoken of this so-called love before. I told you I knew it was not true.
I told you it had no effect on me because, after all, you always said you love your dog, too.
You loved it when I gave you my heart.  You loved it when I shared all my secrets and my fears.
You loved it when I depended on you, but in truth, my words fell on deaf ears.

But, you had to take that one last jab.  It looked so good to others, but you had to know it would hurt.
That one last jab — and you told yourself it might just work.
You did it with a post.  To others, it made you look like a caring man.
You did it with a post because that’s the only way you can.

I’ve gotten smart.  I know it never was.  I’ve gotten strong.  I know it will never be.
I’ve finally learned that the most important person here is me.

But, you’ve loved me for the last time with those old movie lines that you don’t think I know.
I’m done. I’m finished. There’s only one place left to go.
It’s time to close the book.
That love you offer is no place for me to look.
So, my dear special friend, as you are so quick to call me now, take your love and give it to others.  Yes, do me a favor, take your love and, please, just GO.

~~~~~

Thoughts About My Thoughts:  This needed to be done a long time ago.
Today’s Feelings Barometer:  Sad, but relieved.

~~~ Betty