Depression, Encouragement, Family, Life, Mental Health

Another Year, Another Prayer

It’s been 52 years now since I whispered in your ear for the first time.  That whisper was, “Happy Birth Day, sweet little boy”.

On October 5th of each of the last 51 years, I have whispered a short prayer in my heart.

On this 52nd year, I again whisper the following in my heart:

Happy Birthday, Allen Lee.

I pray that you are healthy.

I pray that you are happy.

I pray that you are safe.

I pray that you Believe.

I pray that you are loved.

I pray that you love.



God, Life, Mental Health

You Are Gonna Get Got. Don’t Ever Doubt It.

If it’s not something we’ve eaten, it’s something we’ve drunk, or maybe something we smoked, or something in the air, or something in the dirt, or something that seeped into our bodies from the clothing we wore, or some other bad habit we had, or someone with a gun, or someone with a knife, or someone driving while drunk, or by the hands of a loved one, or by the hands of an enemy, or by the hands of a stranger, or something that goes wrong during surgery, or from a reaction to some medicine, or from a bee sting, or from a shark attack, or from a hurricane, or from a tornado, or from a bear attack, or from a mosquito bite, or from tripping over your cat and breaking your neck, or from being in a plane crash, or from drowning, or from choking on a pickle, or from being bucked while riding a horse, or because we were speeding, or because we were using our cell phones while driving, or from a flower pot that falls off a 4th story balcony while we were walking down the street, or from being run over by a bus while jay-walking, or by suicide, or from a frillion other reasons, or just from being old and our bodies wearing out — we are all going to die. Nobody escapes this thing called life. It may just be because the good Lord decides it’s your time. But, you are going to die. No exceptions. Make sure you use your time here on Earth wisely and appreciate the life you have been given. Because of Something, somewhere, somehow, sometime — we are all going to die. The longer we live, the more things or reasons that people can think of are going to be said to be the cause of your death. Don’t think you’ll get out of it. You won’t. And I won’t, either. Make sure you are ready when it happens.

Depression, Encouragement, Mental Health, Suicide

Those Dreaded “Copy and Paste To Show You Care” Posts

For those of you with a Facebook account, I know that you have seen the following post.  It’s been around for quite some time. 

“Maybe if people’s heads weren’t buried in the sand of ignorance and they took the time to understand, instead of judging and thinking it won’t happen to them because they have the perfect family, life would be a little bit easier for people that do experience this! This hits close to home for me, for family and friends who live under this shadow. The days of ‘it’ not being talked about or being taboo should be over. In the most difficult moments of life you realize who your true friends are, and the people who really appreciate you. Unfortunately, most social media ‘friends’ aren’t true friends. They will send you a “like” here and there, but, they do not take time to read your status if they see it’s lengthy. More than half will stop reading right here, or have already scrolled on to the next post on their page. I decided to post this message in support of all those who continue to battle with their mental illness. (Suicide is at an all time high). Now, let’s see who will have taken the time to read this lengthy post right through to the end. If you have read everything so far, please “like” it so that I can put a thank you on your page. More mental health awareness is urgently needed. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering. Please, try to spare a little of your time with someone who may just want to talk (about anything). Talking can help us all to cope a little more, keeping things bottled up just makes it worse. Most people will say, “if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me, I’ll be there to help you” but will they? I believe a select few of my friends will post this, to show their support for those who may be struggling. You just have to copy and paste rather than sharing. I’d like to know who will take a minute out of their day to read this all the way to the end and then copy and paste it to their page, will you? If so, please write “done” in the comments. Thank you! Maybe if people’s heads weren’t buried in the sand of ignorance and they took the time to understand, instead of judging and thinking it won’t happen to them because they have the perfect family, life would be a little bit easier for people that do experience this! This hits close to home for me, for family and friends who live under this shadow. The days of ‘it’ not being talked about or being taboo should be over. In the most difficult moments of life you realize who your true friends are, and the people who really appreciate you. Unfortunately, most social media ‘friends’ aren’t true friends. They will send you a “like” here and there, but in reality they do not take time to read your status if they see it’s lengthy. More than half will stop reading right here, or have already scrolled on to the next post on their page. I decided to post this message in support of all those who continue to battle with their mental illness. (Suicide is at an all time high). Now, let’s see who will have taken the time to read this lengthy post right through to the end. If you have read everything so far, please “like” it so that I can put a thank you on your page. More mental health awareness is urgently needed. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering. Please, try to spare a little of your time with someone who may just want to talk (about anything). Talking can help us all to cope a little more, keeping things bottled up just makes it worse. Most people will say, “if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me, I’ll be there to help you” but will they? I believe a select few of my friends will post this, to show their support for those who may be struggling. You just have to copy and paste rather than sharing. I’d like to know who will take a minute out of their day to read this all the way to the end and then copy and paste it to their page, will you? If so, please write “done” in the comments. Thank you!”

Each time I see someone post the above message, I have the same feelings.  I think it’s unfair to many people.  And it’s not the people you think – it’s not those who are suffering – it’s those who are in the dark.  I think it’s unfair to them.  Let me explain how and why.  And remember, these are MY thoughts.  If you don’t agree with them, that’s fine.  We are all entitled to our own thoughts. 

1.      I think the post is judgmental.  I remember the first time I saw this post and read the first line, I thought, “Well, geez, aren’t you just the perfect one?”

Is Mental Health something that should be understood by more?  Of course.  But accusing them of burying their heads in the sand of ignorance is not going to make them want to research anything.  And blaming their lack of knowing on the fact that you think they have a perfect family or life is not going to endear them to you.  I don’t think that many people are won over by a challenge to them to get smarter from someone on Facebook.  We all pretty much think we are smart enough and don’t like others telling us that we are not. 

2.     I think the post is one of those threatening posts in which the poster shames the readers with that old “copy and paste and if you don’t do so, it must mean you don’t care”. 

I hate those copy and paste threats.  I think it’s because I’d rather use my own words.   If there is a topic that I feel the need to share on Facebook, why would I use someone else’s words to do so?  Most of the time, if you read through those things, they are filled with errors, make statements that everyone knows have nothing at all to do with you, and are just so insincere.  It’s kind of like those aggravating private messages that people send you because — this is something that you MUST know, it’s VITAL for you to know, or IT’S GOING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.  Well, dang, if it’s that darn important, why are you sending the message just to me, why not send it to everyone from your Facebook wall?  And why not use your own words to let me know that it’s coming from YOUR heart?  I detest those boilerplate warnings or threats or life-saving messages.  My friends know that I’m a real big proponent of “Use your own words.”  

3.      Now, for the meat of the post – Mental Health. 

Yes, I absolutely think that Mental Health has gotten the raw end of the deal as far as Medical Advancement goes.  However, through some of the recent books I have read and some of the documentaries I have watched lately that deal with Mental Illness, we have come a long way.  It wasn’t that many years ago when people were sent to Mental Health hospitals just so that someone in the house could get a break.  Doctors have most certainly diagnosed and treated mental conditions with medicines.  So, yes, advancements have been made. 

Are there still millions who have no clue?  Absolutely.  How do we change that?  I think that the best way to change this is for those who do suffer to talk or write about our experiences.  I know that it makes it much more real for me to hear about something happening to someone who I know and care for.  It makes it REAL.  I can read books about faraway people all day long and it doesn’t make an impact on me.  But, let me read something about someone I know, and I’m all in it.  I want to find out about what it is they are suffering from.  It connects me to them.  And by making that connection, it becomes MY problem, too.   

We must make Mental Health REAL to others so that they see the importance of education.  We must make it REAL so that they can see the actual suffering.  We must make it REAL so that it becomes their problem, too.  Perhaps by making it REAL to others, we can share our suffering in such a way that it lessens the impact it has on us.  

4.       So, in the end, do these “copy and paste Facebook threats” do any good?  Maybe they do.  Maybe they encourage those of us who live with Mental Health problems to share with others on a one-to-one basis.  Maybe our friends who never imagined that we suffered will become aware of what a nasty thing Mental Illness can be.  Maybe it will help others to learn.  Maybe these posts are not so bad, after all.  Who knows?  Maybe I’m the one with the wrong ideas about them.  Maybe. 


Depression, Mental Health

There’s a Fungus Among Us

Little bit of history here.

I swam a LOT as a child.  Swimmer’s ear was a constant companion to me as a child.  Way back in 2002, I began to have some severe problems with one of my ears.  My hearing was almost nonexistent in my right ear and I was having gunk constantly drain from that ear.  I was also able to hold my nose, blow, and my ear would whistle.  In fact, it was so loud that one day in my classroom, I told my kids to listen and they all heard the ear whistle.  It was time to figure out what was wrong.

During a visit with my ENT he said it looked like there was a lot of fluid in my ear and began to suction it to see if he could clear some of it.  After a few minutes, I heard the doctor say to the nurse, “Oh my goodness, come look at this.”  Then there were several “Ooh” “Ugh” and “Oh gosh” comments from him and the nurse had a terrible look upon her face.  I remember telling him that even though I couldn’t hear anything from my right ear, all those Ughs were traveling around to my left ear and I could hear each time he said something and that he needed to stop because he was scaring me.  At that point, he stopped and told his nurse to go out and give some Dr. M. a call to see if he could work me in the next day.  After she left the room, he told me that he was going to have to send me to Augusta to an ear specialist because there was “something in there.”  So, the next day, a quick trip to this Dr. M. took place and I was in surgery the day after that to remove a cholesteotoma.  After a lot of quick research I found out what it was and that it was most likely due to the many ear infections I had had as a child.  After surgery I learned that it had destroyed all the middle ear bones and a large portion of the mastoid bone and that plastic implants had been put in.  Healing took place and a bit of the hearing was restored in ear.  However, during surgery the doctor evidently implanted some crazy little man who is practicing for a horn-blowing competition because he blows his horn 24/7.  This has been an on-going problem since the surgery.  Occasional trips back to the ENT took place for ear maintenance and life carried on.

Present Day Status

A couple of years ago, I started having problems with the ear again.  There had been constant draining and pain.  Back to the ENT.  He has worked on it for these two years with no improvement so I finally gave up on him and went back to my Otolaryngologist to get an answer.  And, Lord, did I get an answer.

Here’s my answer.

  1. I have an aggressively-growing fungus in my ear.  This requires the following procedures each time I see my doctor (2 times a week for now – 180 miles per visit):  suctioning, physical removal of fungus by digging it out, cauterizing of raw areas, and application of fungus medication.  Seven trips so far and each time, more fungus has grown back.
  2. Once all fungus is finally gone and ear is completely healed and is clean and dry for at least two weeks, surgery can be done on this ear.  That surgery will consist of repairing the damage to the ear drum, repositioning of the plastic implants that had been placed during original surgery, and the building of a new air space behind the implants that will allow them to work.  This is due to the fact that because of the size of the fungus masses, the ear drum was pushed back into the canal, pressing upon the plastic implants causing them to invade the necessary air space behind them.
  3. At-home drops to the ear every 4 hours of an athlete’s foot medicine and of an antibiotic.  (Just thinking that I’m using the same meds that someone uses for athlete’s foot just blows my mind.)

That’s the answer for my “bad” ear.”  Now, for the answer about my “good” ear. (And I didn’t even know there was a problem with my “good” ear.)

  1. I have a cholesteotoma in my “good”  ear that must be removed.
  2. We won’t know until surgeon gets in there as to whether the middle ear bones are still intact and working.  If they are damaged, he will place plastic implants in that ear.
  3. Maintenance visits for both every 3 months to Otolaryngologist, NOT to an ENT.

And all of this because I used to swim every day, twice a day, as a child.  Sigh………….

This ear crap is doing nothing to help with my depression.

~~ Betty 



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.


Depression, Mental Health

Go Forth and “Be”

The following popped up on my Facebook memories today and I felt it was worth sharing here.  I had written this last year for a dear friend who was going through a rough patch and was feeling less than worthy.
September 4, 2016
This is for my friend (you know who you are) who needs to hear this loudly and clearly:

Put on your Big Girl Panties so you can own this. 
Put on your Mr. Magoo glasses so you can read this.
Put on your biggest pair of Mickey Mouse ears so you can hear what I’m saying.


Yes, sometimes life sucks. 
Yes, sometimes some people suck. 
No, life is not always (and sometimes is never) Fair.


Neither you nor I are on the list of “suckers” or “suckees”.

I don’t care who thinks we are. 
They don’t know Jack Squat.

AND, one day…….

Life will be grand. 
Life wIll be great.
Life will be fun. 
But, it still won’t be Fair. It will Never be Fair.

But, you won’t give a rat’s patooty. 
I won’t give a rat’s patooty.

We will just “Be”. 
And we haven’t done that in a while. 
But, we will both love just “Being.”
Trust Me.

So….hang on. 
Get tough. Get mean. Get ready. 
‘Cause it’s gonna be good, my friend. 
It’s gonna be good.

Now, on top of all that wisdom, remember the most important thing–

When you don’t (or can’t) trust yourself, dad-gum it, just trust Me.

‘Cause I’m here and I love you and I won’t steer you down the wrong path. (Forget those times that I’ve already done that. They don’t count.)

Now, go forth and BE. 
Darn it, don’t you DARE quit BEING!!!


Depression, Mental Health

I Know There Is A Plan

A friend of mine replied to a post yesterday and talked about how God had healed her from her depression.  I know this is possible.  I have heard of God’s healing many times. I have prayed for His healing many times myself and I know that others have sent prayers to God on my behalf.  But, we all know that God does things on His time, not on ours. I believe that just because He has not yet taken away my depression, there is no reason to believe that He does not plan to do so.  I have faith that in His time, He will restore my mental health.

I have spoken with God so very many times. As a young child, I was a believer. Then, as things went on, I began to question why He was allowing the abuse and the heartache. How could a loving God allow that? As a young mother, I was reintroduced to a loving God. My heart was full again and things were good. As time went on, troubles began and I again blamed God for allowing hurt to be heaped upon me. I was not strong enough in my faith to believe that He had a plan for me. An ugly, painful divorce followed and I spent the next 20 years again believing that the guilt was mine. I turned my back on God again, believing that He was punishing me for all the wrongs I had done. I reached a point where I hated my life, hated it as I had never hated before.  There was nothing, other than my children and my grandchildren, that was good.  I was tired.  I was weary. I could not handle the pain any longer.

It was during this time that He sent someone into my life. Although this person brought a spark to my  life, all my fears and guilt and feelings of worthlessness still haunted me.   This person was kind.  He was caring.  He listened and showed compassion.  But, I was still miserable and felt there was no reason to live.  After spending a summer in which I was trying to garner the courage to end it all, I had a real health scare. It was because of this person who had been sent into my life that I had been found and rushed to the hospital. Upon waking up and finding out what had happened, I was super mad. I had been given the medical opportunity to not be here any longer. But, for some reason, I was.  I was struggling.  A few weeks in a mental health facility brought forth some hope. Things were better.  Upon returning home, it became apparent that all was not good with this person. Yes, he had saved my life and for that I am eternally grateful. But, it was not all good.  This person made me believe that I could care again, something I was sure I would never do. I learned to open my heart.  The problem was that because I could see the light again, the darkness was being buried.  In time, I found out that this person was just playing a game. It was terribly hard to finally walk away from him, but he was toxic. Yes, he had opened my heart again and that was good, but he was feeding me with false hope.   I was mad because God had let me open my heart to this person for no reason. Why was God making me pay again? I just didn’t understand it, but I no longer feel resentment. There was a reason for that person.  You know the old saying that people are sent into your life as either a blessing or a lesson? This person had been both a blessing when I needed it and was also a lesson.  I am better for this person’s visit to my life.

During this time, I had friends who were working their hardest to reintroduce me to their loving God. Through their tenacity, I finally decided that it was time to give God another chance. You see, I had turned away from Him because I did not have the faith needed to believe that God had a plan for me. I had thought He did not care. I was wrong. These sweet friends made me see that. I now have a pastor and his wife to whom I have been able to open up. I know that they pray daily for me and I know that they believe I am worthy. During a session with them, my pastor said something that really hit home with me. He said that he knew that I would live with God upon my passing, but he also knew that God wanted me to enjoy the good things while still here on Earth. He told me that God had a plan to enable me to do this. And that is what is opening my eyes.

Although I still struggle, although I still have doubts in myself, I do know that there is hope.  I have recently been plagued with panic attacks and for some reason, the biggest panic attacks take place as I am getting ready for church.  It has been years and years since I struggled with panic attacks and these are quite scary.  I break out in a sweat, shake so badly that I can barely hold anything, and actually become sick to my stomach. Just the thought of walking into the church where I know that I am loved, where I know that people will be kind, is for some reason scaring me to the point of being ill.  I cannot imagine the reason for this, but I am determined to overcome this.   I have stated before that I have a real problem with people being “nice” to me.  Those old thoughts of not deserving their “niceness” all come flooding back and I am overwhelmed. I pray daily to figure this one out.

I do know that God has a plan for me but that it’s not yet time to open my eyes to that plan. He is not finished with me.  There is something that God wants me to know or to see or to do that I have not done or seen or learned yet.  In order for me to know whatever it is, I must continue on this journey through depression.  I have faith that there is an end to it at some point.  I believe that.  He has plans for me to do, and be, something great and He is still working on that plan, refining it, so to say.  At some point, that plan will be revealed to me. Until then, I will continue my journey.  I know that I should be accepting and stop questioning, but I have always been the type of person who is not satisfied unless I KNOW the reason why. That is one of my downfalls (legitimate this time).  I pray daily for patience and for His guidance.  I have faith that sometime in the future my eyes will be opened. I will then know what I am to do.  What a blessing that will be!

~~~ 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

For Five Days……

I’ve been mulling something over for the past couple of weeks.  Each night when I go to bed, I’ve had the same thoughts.  I’m not sure what started me thinking about the words “For Five Days”, but I keep thinking those words over and over.  It seems as though I’ve been measuring everything in 5-day increments for a while and that length of time is just trying to tell me something.   And I know that when I start repeatedly thinking the same thing – there’s a reason for it.  And I don’t let it go until I have the answer.  Finally, the other night I woke up from a deep sleep and I knew the answer.  I knew what the five days meant and why that was so significant to me.

When I began my blog, I had a destination in mind.  I knew the incident that I was going to have to talk about at some point, but wasn’t really sure if I would ever be able to do it.  Is it time?  Do I dare?  Do I need to?  Is it just too much?  I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I’m going to try it.  This may never get posted, or it may be a long time from now when I’m able to post, but I’m going to begin the story.

This story is about a young girl – someone I’ve known all my life.  She had a rough beginning – lots of problems filled her days.  Alcoholic, abusive father.  Alcoholic mother who was abused by the father.   She had sisters who for some reason were spared the abuse.  Of course, they had to witness the abuse from the father, but luckily, never were the recipients.  Then, there was the young girl.  I never quite understood why she was the “chosen” one — the one child to receive the awful hate-filled verbal abuse, the painful physical abuse that included broken ribs, a concussion, and the many jabs and slaps and punches.  There is a reason she was chosen, but one that only the abuser knows.  In her mind, she was never smart enough, never good enough, never deserving.  In the beginning, she just took it.  Soon, she began to believe that she deserved it.  She wasn’t quite sure why, but she knew she deserved it.  So, she did nothing.

But, that’s not entirely true.  Even from an early age, she learned how to disassociate when things got bad.  One of her finest feats was that she learned to fly.  When things got really, really bad, she just closed her eyes, stretched out her arms, and she flew away.  Oh, the places she would visit!  She learned to love the mountains that she had never seen in real life, but had read about in so many books.  She would soar like an eagle, looking down on the world.  It was always full of normal people who lived in normal houses, and who were happy.  The mamas and the daddies loved the children and played with them.  This little girl would fly above them, watching with her eagle eyes, and she would wish that she could live that life.  Life as that eagle allowed her to be mighty and wise and all-seeing.  It allowed her to live in a world where things were good and beautiful and caring.  And then, she would have to land again, into the home where she was never good enough.  This went on for several years and she finally began to wonder why she had to accept that.  She slowly began to fight back – only with words, of course, but it was a way for her to fight.

And then, she reached the age where she discovered boys (or maybe the boys discovered her.  Whatever!)  Some of these boys treated her as though she did matter – that she was smart, funny, and worthy.  And that was all it took.  When she was with them, she was just a normal girl, like all her other friends.  And it was good.  She had found a way to be accepted.   She was so busy in her personal  life trying to hide the truth of her abuse from her friends that she jumped at the chance to be normal and to experience what she thought was love.  (Of course, it wasn’t, but since she had never experienced real love before, she did not know the difference.)  When she was finally allowed to date, a whole new world opened up for her.  Boys were fun.  They treated her like she mattered.  And it was good.

Then, came along one boy in particular.  Her father had never been really gung-ho with her dating at all, but this boy?  No way was his daughter going to date this boy!  He did not approve of his father’s line of work so there was no way HIS daughter was going to date THIS boy!  And let me tell you, there were some knock-down, drag out fights about his opinion of this boy and his father.  There were even some broken ribs involved, but since she had finally begun to revolt when he laid down the law, she decided that she was just not going to pay him any attention.  She was going to see this boy, no matter what it took.  And it took quite a bit of scheming at times. It finally reached a point where the girl knew that she really didn’t care for this boy as much as she should, based upon all the trouble it was causing, but her father WAS NOT going to win this fight!   No way!  She and the boy would “go steady” for a while and then he’d spy another cute thing and it would be over.  And then, he’d be back.  And then, they’d be over again.  And then, he’d be back.  She was always willing to take him back because she KNEW that her father disapproved.  And she was bound and determined that she was going to win!  No matter what it took!

And then, she met a knight in shining armor. He was kind.  He was sweet.  He had a wonderful family.  He was pretty darn cute.  He had a heart of gold.  And most importantly, he cared for her.  He really did.  And he didn’t mind letting others know how he felt about her.  AND, her father approved of this knight in shining armor.  Wholeheartedly approved!  So things were good.  Or so she thought.  However, her father was quick to remind her every chance he got that it would never last, that soon the boy would see that she wasn’t good enough for him and he would leave her.  But, the knight didn’t leave.  And things were good.  For a while.

Boy #1 still contacted her, still tried to see her, but she was determined to do things the right way.  She stayed away.  Until there was a tragedy in Boy #1’s life.  It was terrible and she did feel badly for him, but he was the past.  Her knight was her future.  And then……..her knight told her that she needed to see Boy #1 to tell him how sorry she was for the tragedy.  She didn’t want to.  She was afraid to, but her knight told her that it was the right thing to do.  Damn doing the right thing!  So, he picked her up for school one morning, but didn’t head to the school.  When she asked where they were going, he said he was taking her to Boy #1’s house so she could be there for him.  What a terrible, awful thing for him to do.  But, he was determined.  So, she went.  He said he’d pick her back up when it was time for school to be out.  She spent the day with Boy #1 and his family and in a way, her knight had been right.  It was the “right” thing to do, but oh, it was such a “wrong” thing to do, also.  She thought that after that day, things would go back to normal with her knight and they did for a while.

Then Boy #1 started calling and calling and calling and she fell for his sweet lines and began to see him again.  At this point, things got really confusing for her.  Her father was constantly telling her that her knight was too good for her, that they’d never last, and that she didn’t deserve anyone as good as a knight.  While he was yelling these words in her ear, Boy #1 was whispering his sweet nothings in her other ear.  And her knight was on the sidelines, still professing his love and devotion.  She had had 16 years of being told that she was not good enough and in her young, foolish heart she believed it.  She finally reached a point with her father that if he was so determined that she was “no good”, she’d show him what “no good” was.  She was tired of trying to please him and never being good enough.  If he was so set in his opinion of Boy #1, she decided that she was going to hurt her father just as much as he was hurting her.  So, she totally gave in to Boy #1.  Whatever happened would happen and her father was going to get what He deserved.  But, in the end, it was the young girl who was hurt the most.

It was now the end of January of her junior year of high school and it was apparent to her that there was a problem.  She had broken it off with Boy #1 and was dating her knight again.  How she was going to fix this, she had no idea.  Perhaps if she just ignored it, it would go away.  By the next month, she knew it was not going to go away.  What to do?  What to do?  She went to Boy #1 and told him of the problem and sure enough, he said it was her problem, not his.  He told her that he had just bought a new car and that in order to solve the problem, he would have to sell his car and there was no way he was going to do that!  Yep, those were his exact words.  It was either his car or fix the problem.  He chose the car.  She was devastated.  But, she still was not going to tell.  How could she?  She said nothing to her knight.

Secrets in a small town have a way of not staying secret.  This young girl got called into the Counselor’s office one day and she was asked if there was anything she wanted to talk about. Talk about?  Nope!  Not a thing.  The next week, she was called back.  Still nothing to talk about. This went on for several weeks and the counselor was not going to give up.  Week after week, she’d call the young girl in.  Week after week, the young girl would deny that there was anything wrong.  Finally, the counselor came right out and asked that terrible, awful question.  Are you pregnant?  “Good Lord, no.  Do you think I’d be sitting here alive if I were?  You know my father.”  Time was ticking away.  February. March. April.  Still not going to tell.  No matter what they say — she wasn’t telling.  Don’t know how she thought she was going to solve the problem, but she wasn’t going to tell.  Then, her knight told her that he’d heard something.  Oh, God, what was she going to do now?  At first, she denied it even to him, but sometime in May, she finally cracked.  He asked her what she was going to do.  She had no idea, but it was her problem and nobody else’s.  The counselor was still on her so to try to throw everyone off, the young girl signed up to take Trig during summer school.  The counselor told her that was a foolish thing to do since they both knew that she wasn’t going to be able to go to summer school.  “Watch me” was her reply.  And she was there for Trig each and every day.  She would go to school in the mornings and then go to work at her father’s store in the afternoons.  Still hiding the ever-growing fact that something was wrong.

When the young girl thinks of the counselor now, she is grateful for the concern shown to her.  She so wanted to open up to the counselor, but knew that if she did, there would be no stopping.  All kinds of hell would be brought out and the young girl knew she could not do that.  So, she did not tell.

Boy #1 was still denying any responsibility for anything.

The knight was still standing by her.

August came around and summer school was over so the young girl was working all day at her father’s store.  The knight was still asking her every day what “they” were going to do.  She reminded him again and again and again that there was no “they” and that whatever was going to be done had to be done by her.  She still had no clue as to what she was going to do – she just knew that SHE WASN’T TELLING.  Or so she thought.

There was talk at her house about going shopping for school clothes since school would be starting in a few weeks, but she kept putting that off.  One day, during the third week of August she was sitting at her desk in the store office and the knight’s mother walked in the door.  No problem.  Probably just wants to pay their bill.  But, she asked the young girl’s mother if she could “borrow” the young girl for a few minutes.  Panic!  Panic!  Panic!  As they walked out of the store, the woman said that she and her husband would like to talk to her for a few minutes.  Panic!  Panic!  Panic!  As she got in the back seat of their car, her heart was beating about a million miles a minute and she was sweating like a boar hog in the south Georgia sun.  As she sat there, a million thoughts ran through her mind and she knew that she was fixing to catch hell.  But, she was wrong.  As the knight’s mother turned around to face her, she reached back and patted the young girl’s arm and said, “The knight told us last night that you are pregnant and that the baby is his and that y’all are getting married.”  You could have knocked the young girl over with a feather.  How in the hell could he have told his parents that?  He knows damn good and well that this is NOT his child.  How could he have done that without even talking to her about it?   What does he think he’s doing?  While all these thoughts were rushing through her mind, the woman said, “So, we have gone by to see the preacher and the wedding is set for next Friday.”  Wedding?  WHAT WEDDING?  Surely she’s not talking about the young girl!  The woman said a lot more things that the young girl missed because she was busy trying to figure out just what in the hell was going on and how she was going to handle this.  And then, the woman said, “I assume you have not told your parents.”  I reckon not.  They are the LAST people in the world that she had planned to tell.  “Don’t worry.  We are going to tell them.  We will handle everything.”  She walked the young girl back into the store and asked the girl’s mother to find the father and to go home.  She said that they would be there in 30 minutes to talk to them.  And then, the woman walked out.  The young girl’s mother sat there just staring at the young girl for a few minutes before getting up and walking out into the store.  The young girl’s father stopped at the office door and just stared at her before walking out of the store with his wife.

As soon as they left, the young girl got on the phone and found her knight and asked him just what in the hell he had thought he was doing.  Very calmly, he said, “I fixed things.  I’ll see you in a little while.”   I’ll speed things up a bit here.  The next few days were torture.  Of course, there was the expected yelling and screaming and yelling some more at home, but the young girl’s father was just as shocked as the young girl was.  The knight had stood up to the father and told him that he was going to accept it and that that was all there was to it.  The young girl spent those days with a tortured mind.  How could she do this?  How could she not?  Did she love the knight?  She truly believed she did.  Was it fair to the knight?  Of course not.  Was he backing down?  Not an inch.  So the days ticked by.  The father was now not speaking at all to the young girl and as much as she cherished the silence, that silence was just as torturous as the yelling.  The young girl and her parents had spent an evening out at the knight’s home talking about how things were going to be handled.  The one thing that the young girl got out of all this was that she was being left out of the loop.  Nobody, not even the knight, had asked her if this was what she wanted.  I assume they all thought that this was the only option.  It seemed as though it was.  But, the truth was weighing heavily on her heart.  She couldn’t do this to her knight.  It wasn’t his baby.  He knew it wasn’t.  And from a couple of the remarks made by his mother, the young girl was sure that she knew it, too.

Finally, two days before the upcoming wedding festivities, it had to end.  It wasn’t fair.  She couldn’t do it.  When they sat down to talk, it was evident that even her knight knew that it was not the solution.  He was still insistent, but believed the young girl when she said that she would tell her father the truth if made to go through with the wedding.  And even the knight knew what that would mean.  So, they went to the young girl’s father and said that plans were cancelled.  It was that simple.  And he walked out the door.  The girl just received cold stares from the father.  The mother was crying.  The young girl was crying.  The father was just staring.

The next morning, the girl got up, got dressed, and went to work.  The mother came in to work and the father was missing in action.  The mother claimed that she didn’t know where he was.  Around noon, he walked into the office and told the young girl to come with him.  They got in the car and drove home.  When they got there, he told the young girl to go in and pack a bag.  “For what,” she asked.  “Where am I going?”  He just repeated, “Go pack a bag and come back out here.”  So she did.  They got in the car and drove down the highway.  He spoke NOT ONE SINGLE WORD.  She barely shut up.  She continuously asked where they were going and he said NOTHING.  As they hit I-20, it became apparent that they were heading for Atlanta, but she could get nothing out of him.  Complete silence.  Finally, they got off the interstate and began driving somewhere where she had no clue as to where they were.  They reached a long, winding, paved driveway and turned in.  A ways down the driveway was a large curved iron sign over the drive that read “Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers.”  She now had her answer.  They drove up in front of a large building and he finally spoke.  “Get out.”  She wondered why he wasn’t turning off the engine as she got her bag from the back seat.  Then, she knew why.  As she shut the door, he drove off.  He just drove off.  Not a word.  Just drove off.  And left her standing there.  Suitcase in hand.  She had no idea where she was or what she was supposed to do.  Finally, she walked to the door and knocked.  A lady came to the door and said, “Welcome.  We’ve been expecting you.”  Through conversation, the young girl learned that while her father had been missing that morning, he had driven to Chamblee and made arrangements for her.  Then he drove home, got her, and drove back to let her out.  And then he just drove off again.   And that, my friends, is how the young girl’s father fixed that problem.

It was now the first week of September and the young girl should be home starting her senior year of high school.  Instead, she was at a home for unwed mothers.   She tried calling home every day for the first week and was never able to speak to either of her parents.  Finally, after about 10 days, her mother accepted the collect charges and spoke to her.  She could hear the pain in her mother’s voice and the young girl prayed that the mother was not receiving the wrath that the father was certainly feeling. The Home itself wasn’t bad.  The people were nice and kind.  They were not judgmental.  She went to school during the mornings, only having two classes that she needed to take in order to graduate.  She spent the afternoons reading, or crafting, or writing letters.  Once a week, they were taken to a nearby strip mall where they could pick up needed toiletries or whatever.  Her father had been kind enough to leave $25 on her account so that she could have a bit a spending money on these trips.  Since she was now eight months pregnant, she was taken into Atlanta once a week to see a doctor.  (She had only seen a doctor one time during the pregnancy and that was after her parents had been told.  Her mom had taken her out of town to see a doctor and wham, a neighbor’s daughter was the doctor’s nurse.  The young girl could not help but giggle over that one.)

Her regular doctor’s appointment was scheduled for October 3rd.  She was told that in two days, they would bring her back to the hospital and they would induce labor.  She was told that she would spend 5 days in the hospital and then be returned to the Home.  She would spend one week there and then would leave.  During this time, the young girl’s father was still not speaking to her, but she was told by her mother that they had made arrangements with some family friends who now lived in the Atlanta area for her to stay with them upon her release.  They would bring her car to Atlanta so that she would have a way to drive to the Home each day until December when she would complete her studies and would earn her high school diploma.   The next day was their scheduled trip to the store and she bought an Instamatic camera and hid it in her bag to take to the hospital.  The young girl was told to call home after the birth to let them know how things went.

Early on October 5th, she was driven to Crawford Long Hospital and labor was induced. She knew no one.  She had no idea what was going to happen, but she knew she was alone.  And she was scared.  Sometime later that afternoon, she awoke in her hospital bed and a nurse came in to tell her that she had given birth to a baby boy and that they would be bringing him in to see her shortly.  What a beautiful baby he was.  He had her dark skin and dark hair and he was precious.  For each of the five days that she was in the hospital, they brought her sweet son into her room for the majority of the day.  The young girl was allowed to feed him, change him, take secret pictures, and love him.  For five days, she had someone she could truly love.  Someone who did not judge her.  Someone who loved her.  Someone she could take care of.  And then the five days were up.  They brought him in that last morning and told her that he’d be leaving before noon for his new foster home.  A woman came in and said that she was from the adoption agency and that she’d be handling the adoption. She said that she had spoken with the young girl’s father and that they had set up a date for her to sign the adoption papers.  Up until this point, the young girl had done her best to not think about this part.  As they took him out of the room that last time, she broke down.  They had taken away the only thing in her life that meant anything to her.  And he was being given away.  And it was her fault.  It was all her fault. She received a letter from the case worker a couple of weeks later and was told that they had had to change formula for the baby, but that he was doing fine.  She said that an adoption was in the works.  The young girl never heard anything else. Seven days after giving birth, the young girl turned 17.  She stayed at the Home for a week and then went to the home of family friends to live.  She had very little contact with anyone at her home.

A few weeks later, her parents came to the home of the people she was living with and picked her up to go into downtown Atlanta to the adoption agency.  She was told by the case worker that it looked as though the adoption would go through the court system within the next couple of weeks.  Once again, the father said NOTHING to her.  It had been the first time the young girl had seen him since he had put her out at the Home and driven away.  There were so many things she wanted to say to him, but no words would come out.  Not once did he ask about his first grandchild.  Not once did he mention the fact that it was a boy – he had always wanted a boy.  Now he had one in the family and he was forcing her to give him away.  It was probably better that neither of them spoke to each other that day.  The papers were signed and the young girl was taken back to the home of the family friends. She had no idea that perhaps she should have had a choice in the matter.  But, it was too late now.  Upon arriving at the friends’ house, she got out.  The father drove off.

So many months ago, the young girl had decided to do whatever she could to hurt her father as he had hurt her.  She was determined to make him feel pain.  She wondered that afternoon, after signing those papers, if he was finally hurting.  She hoped that he was.  She prayed that he was.  But, he never mentioned it again to her.

But, for five days –five glorious days – she had had a beautiful son.  He was perfect.  She was truly in love with this precious baby.  She loved on him, cuddled him, sang to him, fed him, changed his diapers, and prayed that somehow he could feel the love she had for him.  For five days, she was content.  For five days, she had someone to love.  For five days, she was happy.

And then he was gone.

You might wonder how I know this young girl’s story so well.  Did she tell me of this time in her life?  Did she tell me her thoughts, her feelings, her hopes, her dreams?  Did she confess her guilt to me?  No, she didn’t.  You see, I know this story so well because I was that young girl.  This is my story.   This is what has haunted me for all these years and still haunts me to this day.  I have prayed each and every day for my sweet son and for the loving family who adopted him. God Bless them.

Allen 1

Allen Lee Mains
October 5, 1966
6 lb. 14 1/2 oz.
19 1/2 inches
12:32 pm

About eight years ago, I started the process of trying to find my son.  I have filled out the oodles of papers and registered with the state so that if he ever tries to find his birth mother, I will be on record.  I have never heard a word.  I don’t know what that means.  I have no idea how he is, where he is, or if he is even alive.  I don’t know if I will ever know any of these things, but I pray that I will someday know something.  I pray that he has had a good life.  I pray that he has been healthy and happy.  I pray that he has loved the family who adopted him.  I pray that he can somehow, someday understand why he was placed for adoption.  Maybe one day, I’ll get a call or a letter.  Until then, I have only those five days to remember.

At some point after I moved back to my hometown, I ran into Boy #1 and we spoke briefly.  He still would not admit that the child was his, but he did say that we had both been young and foolish.  I guess that is as close as I’ll ever get to an admission that the child was his.  And I’m OK with that.  I wondered for many years why I didn’t hate him. I mean, I feel like I should have.  Isn’t that how the story goes?  Young girl.  Boy takes advantage of her.  She gets pregnant.  He denies that the baby is his.  She gives the baby up for adoption and then she hates him for the rest of her life.  At least, that’s how it goes in all the movies, right?  But, for some reason, I didn’t feel that hatred.  I tried to.  I pretended that I did.  But, in reality, I don’t think that I ever really hated him.  And I could never figure out why I didn’t.  But, through many years of therapy, I have come to realize that I was as much at fault as he was in the whole situation.  He didn’t love me.  I didn’t love him.  I knew that. I was a young, foolish, stupid girl who fell for his sweet lines and he used me.  That was wrong. But, I also used him as a way to hurt my father.  I guess that made it all even.  And while Dad never admitted it, I believe that I was successful at hurting him.  If he had any heart at all, he had to have been hurt (and I choose to believe that somewhere buried deep inside all the hate and meanness, he had a heart.)   I did find out many years later that Dad was told who the father had been and he never mentioned it to me.

As for my knight in shining armor — he went his separate way and is now married and has a beautiful family.  I am happy for him.  He deserves nothing but the best that life has to offer.  He has a good heart and he tried his best to “save” me and I’ll forever be grateful for that.  His wife and his children are blessed to have him.  May God Bless him always and in all ways.

I often wonder how things could have been or would have been different if I had not believed all the lies that my father told me throughout my years at home.  I wonder what it was about him that made it possible for him to never love me.  I wonder if there was a reason for all his abuse.  I wonder a lot of things.  The majority of them, I will never have an answer for.


I do know one thing.  And if I never know anything else, I know that for five glorious days his name was Allen and I was his mother.   Those five days will never change.

~~~ Betty




Depression, Mental Health

Today’s My Anniversary

The following post comes from a Facebook posting of a year ago.  As I read it today, I stopped to think about how, and if, I have changed in the last year.  Sometimes I think that I am continuing to make progress in my mental health journey and other times, I see no progression at all.  As I read through the 80 comments that had been made, I saw a couple of recurring themes —  strength, courage, and determination.  I had to smile as I read some of the comments because I can’t help but think to myself that these people have no clue.  While many people call me strong, I see very little strength in me.  Most days I still feel like a blob of jello.  (And, I hate the word strong, by the way.)  While they talk of my courage, I tend to mostly agree, but only because I know that in order to talk about my illness, it most definitely takes courage. There were so many years when I never admitted to anyone that I struggled with self-loathing, guilt, and depression and I certainly never had the courage to tell them why.   Through my postings on Facebook and since I’ve started this blog, I have had a few people to message me to say that I shouldn’t be talking about these things because I’ll embarrass my family, or that these things should be kept private, or even that these things may make others feel badly. Some of those comments have struck a few nerves, some have made me wonder if I really shouldn’t talk about this, some have been really hurtful, and some have made me think that perhaps they are right, But, I had made the decision that I needed and wanted to talk about my mental illness and their comments are not going to stop me.  I can speak of this much more easily now and readily credit my ongoing therapy in the ability to speak openly now. Through my therapy, I have come to learn that I am not at fault. (Even though I know this in my head, there are still those times when I will claim the fault in my heart.)  And while others talk about my determination, I struggle.  I don’t feel as though I am “determined” as much as I am just “accepting”.  I have accepted the fact that I will most likely feel this way for the rest of my life. There will be times of happiness, however fleeting those times may be. But, there will also be times of not caring and just accepting that “this is the way it’s going to be.”

I don’t really mention in my post what the medical emergency had been.  I had over two dozen clots in my lungs as well as a “Saddleback clot” that had blocked over 80% of the oxygen going to my lungs.  My granddaughter had found me and notified her mother and a quick trip in the ambulance had landed me at our local hospital.  While I don’t remember this incident, nor do I remember the first 3 or 4 days in the hospital, I certainly remember what happened afterward.  Here’s my Facebook post.

August 6, 2016 — Well, today has been an interesting day. When I got up this morning and saw that it was August 6th, I couldn’t figure out why that day kept sticking in my mind. I went through the names of my friends to see whose birthday it was and still couldn’t figure out why today’s date kept twirling around in my brain It finally came to me — Seven years ago today (or was it six, I can’t remember), I was supposed to have died. At least that’s what the doctors told my children. “She shouldn’t have made it to the hospital. We are not sure she will make it Macon, but that’s where we’re sending her”, said the doctors. Someone also worked their magic and got Darrell home from Iraq in 3 days. Although I still don’t remember anything about the first several days, I do remember finally waking up and being told what had happened. And I was mad. Pure mad. I don’t think I’d ever been that mad before. I had struggled all summer being in the bottom of a deep, dark pit of depression and anger and self-loathing and I so wanted to leave this world. But, for some reason, I hadn’t. All I could think was, “God, you know what I have prayed for all summer. You had your chance, and dad-gum it, you didn’t let me go. Why in the world are you making me stay here when you know I don’t want to be here?” Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers” kept running through my mind and Garth kept saying that they are good things. I could have, and would have, slapped Garth if he’d just shown up next to my hospital bed. What the heck did Garth know?

Once my children realized that I WAS going to make it, they decided it was time for what they called a Family Conference, but in reality it was an intervention (and Dr. Phil was nowhere to be found). After a long and painful discussion with a lot of crying and a lot of being treated as though I was the child and they were the parents, I was told that I was not going home. I was going to Atlanta to a Mental Health hospital to get my head screwed back on right. No choice. Period. That was the way it was going to be and I needed to just accept it. They had already made all the necessary preparations; we just needed to call and tell them when I was being dismissed. I was mad, discouraged, afraid, embarrassed, afraid, and had no idea how I was going to do that. Did I mention that I was afraid? I had spent my entire life wearing a series of masks so that no one would see the real Betty. How in the world could I strip off those masks? How in the world could I actually talk about how I felt about life, myself, my past, or my future? In my mind, the only good thing I had ever done was to have my three wonderful, loving, accomplished children and through them, I had been given six wonderful grandchildren. I could hide everything else by choosing a new mask for each day. It was only when I got home and was alone that the mask would come off. At that point, all the fear, self-hatred, and depression would be there full force. But, masks were no longer going to be allowed. Oh, Lord, I am so afraid. Why have you done this?

So, after almost three weeks in Macon, I went to Atlanta. And I must say that those next five weeks were the best five weeks of my life. The first two weeks while I was in the actual hospital, (and no, it’s not like a mental hospital you see on tv — we didn’t shuffle around the halls in our bathrobes with stringy hair) things were pretty tough. Long sessions with the psychiatrist were so draining. And of course because of my recent health scare, I was seeing the medical doctor on a daily basis. We had group sessions in the hospital, but I was pretty quiet in most of them. I still could not figure out how to talk about my feelings. After all, I had kept them bottled up for 60 years and had to learn how to talk. The kids and Sandra had to come up for a family session and that was Hell — pure Hell. Once I moved to the group house, I pretty much didn’t have a choice to not talk. We stayed in group sessions, group therapy, and individual therapy sessions from 8 until 12 each day and then again from 1 – 5. Dinner at 6 and then from 7 – 9 each night we had to attend either an AA, NA, or an EA (Emotions Anonymous) meeting. Since they had AA meetings 5 times a day, I seemed to gravitate to them. Although at one meeting, I had to confess that I felt guilty feeling so at home there since I really didn’t drink nearly enough to qualify to attend. (I had finally gotten a bit of my humor back, I guess.) Although those were the hardest 5 weeks of my life — full of introspection — those five weeks literally saved me; they gave me a life worth living or at least a roadmap I could follow to find that life. Upon returning home, I was introduced to my miracle worker, Roz. I have spent all these years since leaving Atlanta going to Macon to meet with Roz, talking, crying, cussing, praying, crying some more, and talking some more. In the beginning, I saw her 3 days a week then weaned off and last summer I decided I didn’t need Roz any more. (BIG Mistake) I was able to deal with life and with Betty. Or so I thought. There had been many times during these years when I had fallen back in the hole, when I wanted nothing other than to isolate. Thankfully, Roz understood and talked me out of the hole each time. Sometimes, it took a while to do so, but I finally reached a point where I could see the hole for myself and could avoid it, but, if I wasn’t careful, I’d be looking the other way and fall back in it. I am now always aware that those holes are out there and they are ready to gobble me up if I’m not careful. Thankfully, God knew what he was doing when he made “my Roz”.

Sandra’s death on New Year’s Eve drove me back to Roz. While I guess we all expected it at some point, to me it was just so sudden. There were so many things I still wanted her to know and she was just GONE. How could that be? Losing my younger sister, Sonja, had been Hell, but her death was not drawn out like Sandra’s. I just couldn’t handle it. What in the world was I going to do without Sandra? I know I still have KaKa and am so thankful for that. But Sandra was here in Eatonton and when I’d get down, I knew she was just down the street. After her death, I once again retreated to my deep, dark hole for quite some time. I would try to venture out, only to have panic attacks and become an emotional wreck. Most of the time when I talked to my kids, I would grab that “everything is fine” mask. I didn’t want them to know that I was slipping back into that “I’m just tired of it all and really don’t want to be here” emotional roller-coaster again. I promised myself when I left Atlanta that I would never cause them that pain and embarrassment again and I never wanted to disappoint them again. I knew that if they knew the state I was in, they would be hurt and disappointed. Thank the good Lord for Ash. Not sure why, but she made it a point to come to Eatonton at least once a week for lunch. She was my lifeline and was my cover. I always made sure that I had on the “good Grams” mask so that she could report back to her mom that I was ok. There were several weeks that those lunch dates with Ash were the only times I left the house and pretty much the only time I had any verbal contact with anyone besides Roz. (Poor Roz has certainly earned her pay these first 6 months of 2016.) Of course I still had Bella and that poor little dog has pretty much heard it all. (I guess that’s why I spoil her with a weekly Zaxby’s salad.) I have always been extremely good at the art of isolation and I was isolating, big time. My sweet friends, Dru, Mary Helen, and Gail made sure I checked in with them daily on good old Facebook, but I had no desire to see or talk to anyone. Finally, after a killer session with Roz, I reached the top of the hole and could at least see out of it. It’s been hard, very hard, but I’m slowly digging my way out of the hole again and think that I finally see some sunshine.

When I first came home from Atlanta and started seeing Roz, I was still embarrassed about having been in a mental hospital (that just has such a negative sound and we must do something about that) and for all the suffering I had caused myself and my family. I didn’t know what to say to people when they asked where I’d been — it was so hard to admit that I had some real problems. There were some people who knew where I’d been and they were quick to tell me to keep it a secret. I tried that for a while, but finally reached the point where it was important to me to be truthful about where I’d been and why I’d been there. Through my therapy, I have learned that there is no need to be embarrassed. You know that old saying that people are quick to throw out there — if you had a physical disease, you wouldn’t be ashamed to get medical treatment for it, would you? I’m sick of that saying, but I guess it’s true. I have even become proud of the fact that I have “fixed” myself (even though I had not begun the fix willingly and I really wasn’t “fixed”.) But, I reached a point where I could somewhat talk about what an absolute living Hell depression causes and how dangerous self-loathing is and can proudly say that I am truly a work in progress. Hopefully, this post will help others see that there is a light at the top of the hole and it’s worth the effort to get to the light.

Moving back home to Eatonton was a huge part of my recovery. I had spent 25 years or longer scared to death of Eatonton and all the terrible memories that hid behind every tree here. I had been told by someone close to me that I would never be welcomed back in Eatonton and I believed it. I believed it with every fiber of my being. Moving here was the most frightening thing I had ever done. But, you know what? Eatonton is not that scary. I was welcomed with open arms and have reconnected with friends, made new friends, and have been happy here for the most part. There are still days when I go digging through my closet for my old trusty masks — I feel so safe hiding behind them. “Hello. My name is Betty and I am addicted to masks.” But, I know those masks are not good for me. Some people are addicted to drugs or alcohol. I am addicted to my masks and have become so proficient at wearing them, I can fool people so that they have no idea that the mask is on. Sometimes it’s torture to take it off, but I know I must. I cannot go back to that life of hiding behind them.

Now, I’m sure that some of you are saying, “But, Betty, why didn’t you just trust God? Why didn’t you turn to Him when things got tough?” Believe me, I tried. I tried so many times. But, just as many people claim that they had been let down by the “church”, I used that as an excuse also. I spent many years being scared of God. I had trusted Him and had still lived a life of Hell. Why did He let me live that life? I don’t know the answer to that. But my sweet friend, Luann, sat me down one day and told me to trust her if I couldn’t trust God. “Come to bible study with me, Betty. I won’t let anyone hurt you.” It was hard. Oh, Lord was it hard! But, I slowly began to hear the whispers of God telling me to trust Him. Then, Elaine C. and Rudy H. invited me to come to Liberty Chapel. I remember telling Rudy one time that I didn’t know if I could actually go back into a church and his response was, “Betty, you will receive nothing except LOVE at Liberty Chapel.” And Elaine wouldn’t give up. She constantly texted me, inviting me to come to church. I am so thankful that I finally listened to them and gave it a try. And they were right. I have never received anything except Love. And that has been such a blessing. It is good to have God back in my life and I realize that the hurt I received in the past from the church was their problem, not mine.

One of my biggest problems has always been that I don’t know how to handle it when people are “nice” to me. I’ve never felt that I deserved anyone’s kindness. Isn’t that silly? But, I had spent the first 18 years of my life being told that I was not worthy and I believed it. (I won’t tell you what Roz says to me when I say something like that, but some of you are probably saying the same thing.) I won’t talk about my marriage out of respect for my children, but those 25 years did nothing to break the spell that Dad had cast upon me. Most people yearn for niceness and I try my best to steer clear of it. I’m scared to death of it, to be truthful. I become an emotional wreck and have no idea what to do at that point. I’ve always felt that if someone is nice, they are just faking it until they can figure out how to hurt me. And, yes, I know in my head that all people are not like that, but knowing something in my head and feeling it in my heart don’t always jive. I am trying to overcome those feelings and most of the time, I can talk myself out of the distrust. Hopefully, I will soon reach a point where I can give love and also receive it.

I think my biggest desire is to be able to freely GIVE love without being afraid that I will have to pay the price for it. To me, being able to give love is more important that actually receiving it. I know that even at my lowest point, when I couldn’t even stand myself, there were people out there who loved me. I have loving children and grandchildren who think that the sun rises and sets in their Grams. I have dear, dear friends who have loved me through the bad times. I have a church family who, I believe with all my heart, loves me. The problem is that I don’t love me and because of that, I find it hard to believe that the love I give to others is accepted by them. Maybe once I learn how to give it, I will also receive it with gratitude. I pray for that constantly. I so want to be the real Betty. But, in reality, after all these years, there may not even be a real Betty. I may have to build a new Betty.

I have always yearned for love and acceptance and realize now that one of the reasons that God did not let me die all those years ago was because He wanted me to actually experience it. I can now thank Him for that. I’m not mad at you anymore, God.

Back to the present — I have finally reached a point where I can get back out there again, but it’s hard.  It’s really hard.  There are more times of sunshine and happiness, but they don’t last.  There are times of real clarity when I can see the weaknesses and can see the solutions.  But, those times don’t last either.  I know I told Roz once that it seems as though the bad times are much worse now but I think it’s because I can see how good the good times are.  Back in the day when there was nothing but depression, I was no longer aware of “good” so it fooled me into believing that the “bad” wasn’t really that bad.  That probably makes no sense to any of you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  If I could show it in a graph, you would see many “good” spikes way up there in the 70% – 90% range and then comes along a “bad” dip way down at the 10% – 40% range.  The way down to that dip is just so damn far and it’s so hard to make that climb back up to the good spike.  If you live in either place — the spike or the dip — after a while, it just becomes natural and it is only when you fall again into the bottom of the dip that you realize how absolutely terrible that dip is.  Thankfully, I haven’t hit that 10% dip in many a year, but I always know it’s there and I’m always afraid of it.  I also don’t think I’ve made it above the 90% range either because I’ve never learned to fully trust — be it life, or people, or myself.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited with my Pastor and had a long talk.  I must say that he and his sweet wife were able to set my heart at ease about some of the things that have truly bothered me for so many years.  I don’t think that I’m fully at peace with myself yet, but I do know that my past is not my fault and that God loves me, no matter what.  And that knowledge brings me peace.

So, while it’s been 7 years since I was supposed to have died, I’m still here. I’m aware of the progress that has been made.  I’m aware of the fact that the hole is still there.  I’ve visited the hole several times, but I’ve climbed out each of those times.  I’ve learned a lot. I’ve loved a lot.  I’ve been loved a lot.  I’ve trusted some.  I’ve learned what not to trust.  I’ve still been hurt by others and I’ve been hurt by me.  But, I’m here.  I’m still learning and I’m still trying.  I guess, in the end, that’s what’s important. So, Happy Anniversary to ME.


THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I dread this day each year because I know it is a day of introspection and that’s always tough.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Still dealing with a terrible ear infection or something, but will be seeing my doctor tomorrow so am looking forward to some relief.  The biggest problem (besides the bleeding and the pain) is that I can hear almost nothing.  The roaring and clashing and banging in that ear is driving me pure mad.

~~~ Betty