Learning To Be Broken Alive

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nevertoreturnAs I have been doing here is this post’s quote:

The broken will always be able to love harder than most. Once you have been in the dark, you’re going to appreciate everything that shines. Zachry K. Douglas

I know broken. I know the feeling of being split into a million pieces that no medicine on earth can heal. I know what darkness looks like, smells like, what it sounds like. I know because my brain fails; and when my brain fails the pieces that are glued in haphazard fashion within my whole world become broken. This is the life that I live. This is the world that I must walk through and if there are times when the resentment and the pure hatred for the science that determined that I should walk in this way overcomes my ability to find a way towards the light, there isn’t much I can do. No matter how much my love ones wished otherwise.

Being mentally ill is not an adventure. It isn’t an exciting trip through the myriad and complex emotions and feelings that this world offers. There is no real relief but rather a relentless and horrible feeling of loss, anger, and ultimately hurt that any being in this wide universe thought that I deserved to live this life. Broken pieces we have been told is where the light is able to shine; but what they don’t tell you is those broken pieces have jagged edges that make getting near the light almost impossible. And despite our doctors promise that things get better, either with medication or therapy or simply time, the truth of the matter is that mental illness does not get better. There is a reason that people fear the mentally ill and it has nothing to do with the promise of what we can become.

I have moments in my life that are exceptional; moments that I hold onto the rest of the time I live in this prison.  Moments that made my loved ones happy for a short time. Moments where I showed up and became not what I am but what the world I live in really wants me to be. There are seconds when I can be more, better, even put together in a way that looks almost normal. But these moments get shorter every year. These moments are harder to remember each time I go through a new hell. But I try hard to remind myself that there are in fact real, breathable moments that changed me into the person I want to be for the seconds that it lasts. Moments are what I live for because that is the only happiness I will ever know.

If you know anything about being mentally ill one of the absolutes that you will confront is that stress can change the ball game in one simple sentence. Stress has a lot of definitions and I have always felt that it was personal, defined by each person that must deal with the very real consequences that come with it. Some stress will physically change you (and not for the better). Some stress will change your emotional health (and not for the better). Some stress will come so fast you will find yourself reacting without actually knowing what the beginning look liked. Some stress will slowly erode all the healthy and strong positions that you have pushed for so that you find yourself ten steps behind where you started. Some stress will make sure that you can’t continue and some stress (just a few pieces) will actually make you want to change. I, like my therapist and husband desire, try to use stress as a springboard to making myself stronger and better. This of course works just as well as any other potential cure for mental illness – you may have a moment but it ain’t going to last. Stress kills; not just a life but the life one works so hard to live.

I was starting to do better after the holiday season; one reason I didn’t post a new blog. I was trying new things to feel better. I was trying to define what problems I actually wanted to tackle this time. I didn’t have a new year’s resolution (they fail me) but rather I simply got myself into a place where I thought, for one second, that maybe I could be better. I could survive without the almost constant desire to do just the opposite. For one second in my life, a second that comes so rarely, I wanted to be capable of more than just what this mental illness dictates.

As you can imagine, this has been since derailed. I sit here physically uncomfortable and worried about the body that can betray me in the most embarrassing ways. I sit here with a headache that can be directly correlated with the stress that has entered my world. I sit here so angry that where I was a week ago is so far from where I am today. I resent the hell out of those that have purposely played on me and determined that being sick is somehow their invitation to find ways to manipulate me. I am tired of not only fighting my own desire to be sick but tired of fighting those that by the definition of their title should be solidly in my corner and working to help me in everyone’s best interests. Titles like mom and dad should not be used as a weapon in order for them to get their own way. Mom and dad, while never perfect, should also never only learn their child’s weaknesses in order to find their own happiness.

My mom and dad are currently pushing me. They have plans, for the summer, for the family, for themselves that require a great deal of me. One, my parents are divorced and while when I was young they never played one off the other, these days it is a free for all. Two, my sister who has spent her life threatening my parents if they do anything she doesn’t agree with can’t and won’t think of anyone other than her own selfish world. There are others in my family that literally make life worse, but I really don’t want to sit here typing all my woes. We all have family issues and I recognize that a majority of my own issues is of my own making. I don’t say no very often. I don’t stand up for myself ever. I don’t simply look at my health and choose to be happy at the expense of living a life my family would like me to. I do what people tell me to. I do what people want me to do. I do everything I can to try to please those I love because I understand, to my core, that who and what I am – mental illness and all – is not anything like my family would wish me to be. I have disappointed those I love, over and over, and somewhere along the line I figured I needed to pay for that. No therapist in the world would say this is a healthy reaction to my family’s demands, but trying to make everyone happy is a simple and very complex characteristic of who I am. I don’t like to compound my own disappointments with everyone else’s. And that’s not fair to me. And that’s not healthy. But it is what it is.

So I have family coming at me right now from all sides. Asking me to choose sides. Asking me to find my way to their side. Asking me to once again please them at my own expense. They want me to choose and they are using all their firepower to get exactly what would be best for them: guilt, anger, dredging up the past, disappointment, my sickness, my health, my loyalty, my desire to please, and of course, their own definitions of what should and should not be. And it works.

I don’t stay healthy when people are dramatically and systematically making sure I do only what they feel is right. I don’t stay mentally healthy when people come at me with demands and forget that sometimes it should be my choice. I am old enough to make my own decisions. I am not dependent on any of them but my husband; this much I have learned. But because they are my family, and more specifically my parents, there is a real sense that I owe them something – my presence when demanded, my smile in every situation, and my decisions that look suspiciously like their own.

So I have been broken. I have worked at times in my life to try and make my own life better and healthy, but the truth is the guilt brought by the knowledge that I will never be what they wish me to be, has created a stress storm that is one day going to kill me. Because learning to stand up for myself causes more stress and more broken pieces than simply giving into the demands with my soul damaged forever. I am not strong and healthy; I am broken even when I can find the glue for one simple moment.