I hate the fall.

It has been a long time since I’ve come here.  Things in life seemed somewhat stable for awhile and, for that, I am so grateful.

My mind is racing because I am anxious.  When I am beyond a certain level of anxiety, I freeze up.  I am sitting in front of my computer when I should be doing things I need to do.  The things I need to be doing are simple and yet I struggle.  I need to give my dog his seizure medicine.  My cat needs his thyroid pill.  They are both almost an hour late.  I need to put food in my fridge that is sitting out on the kitchen counter.  I need to brush my teeth and sleep.  It is almost 2am and here I sit, typing out words that I feel barely scratch the surface of how I feel.  Do others feel like this?  How do they deal with it?

I just finished scrolling through web pages I stumbled across after typing in the words, “crisis” and “help”.  Am I in crisis? I don’t feel I am at the moment, but I feel I am on my way there in the next few months.  It’s coming.  Catastrophe will always come.  I wish I could enjoy this moment when things are OK.  That’s what anxiety and panic disorder do to me.  They rob the calm and peace that seem just beyond my grasp.

I hate September.  I have hated it ever since many of my friends got to go off to college or university and  I was left behind, struggling to keep my head afloat while I longed for an education too.  September is a punch in the throat for me.  Everyone seems to be either going off to school, or enjoying the career their education helped open the doors to.  I want to be a doctor.  I have wanted to be one for decades.  I know I will not be able to become one, but that “want” simply doesn’t go away, just because I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school.  My cousin is a dentist.  I cannot tell you how much it pains me that I didn’t have the opportunity to become a doctor but she had every opportunity.  The difference?  The parents she had.

So, while everyone seems to be excited over the cooler fall weather and the beginning of another school year, I DREAD the fall.  I hate cold weather.  I hate the holidays that are approaching.  Every year it is the same.  As summer comes to and end, so does my decent health and relative calmness.  Thanksgiving is coming, an ever present reminder of my lack of family, lack of children, lack of love.  Then, no sooner have I gotten past Thanksgiving, Christmas is on its way.  Approximately two and a half months of preparation for the most miserable time of year for many people.  After the festivities are wrapping up, my birthday comes in January.  I will be 41 years old and a dismal failure at life.  My life has not failed because of a lack of trying on my part.  Life has just not become even close to what it should have been and could have been.  I wish I was not as intelligent as I am.  I wish I did not realize all I could have become.  I wish my brain was simple enough to not care about the situation I am imprisoned in.  I was almost about to wish that my heart did not feel as much…  but I don’t want to ever be like that.  I just wish I had thicker skin.  I wish I didn’t wish for things.  I wish I could just lay down and accept my fate and be done with it.  I wish I knew why God made me.

This is how my mind works right now.  It is a prison.  I need to get out of this prison but I can’t escape.  Since I can’t escape, I wish I could just learn to relax in my prison cell.  Maybe paint the walls in here a nice colour.  Add some pretty pillows to my prison bed and learn to enjoy it here.  Maybe make some friends in prison also to share the experience and make it less lonely…  but I feel I am in more of a “solitary confinement”.  Being alone in my prison brain is never pleasant.  I am too scared to abuse drugs.  Too fearful of vomiting to ever become an alcoholic.  How pathetic is that?  To not even be able to drown my sorrows, even temporarily.  Too scared to kill myself.  Too in love with my pets to give up trying and live on the streets.  Too anxious and in debt to get and education so I can dig myself out of this hole I am in.  Forever.

Depression is gross.  Anxiety is crippling.  I’d call a crisis line but how could they possibly help me?  I need a family.  I need a career where I can earn a living and use my strengths and abilities.   This is not where my life should be.  I cannot begin to explain the tangled web of fuck that has brought me to this point.  I’m pretty sure if I tried to explain it, nobody would be interested anyways.

It is now 2:37am.  I did manage to put that food in the fridge and both pets have been medicated.

I have an old book that belonged to my grandma.  The cover looks like it was printed in the thirties.  I was thinking that, after I brush my teeth for bed, I should just lay down and try to read it.  Maybe I can half convince my brain that it is existing in a simpler time.  I wonder if there really were simpler times at one point?  With all out scientific breakthroughs and advances in medicine and technology, you’d think we’d be calmer somehow.  Things don’t seem calm to me though.  Not at all.  Maybe it was just as depraved and dark in the thirties as it seems to be right now.

I wonder if my writing seems as disorganized and non-sensical as a schizophrenic’s writings?  I doubt it is that bad…  but it may be just bad enough for the thought to cross someone’s mind as they read this.  I’m never brave enough to read what I’ve written on my blog.  I guess I don’t want to see how I appear to others.

There are lyrics to a song that go like this,

“Looking out to the hills, to the setting sun…

I feel a cold wind bound to come.

Another change, another end I cannot see,

But Your faithfulness to me is making it alright

Whatever comes.”

These words are truth.  Whatever comes, everything will be alright, but it may not be alright until the very, very, very end.  It seems like that’s a long time to wait for things to be alright.

Just decided to share a photo of how calm I wish things could be more often.  These fur balls are the reason I stay alive.  The reason I even get out of bed some days.  My babies.  Also, the reason I have panic and dread.  My worst fears involve them.  The biggest stressors in my life circle around their lives…

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Chaotic New Surroundings and Other Ramblings…

Depressed.  When I’m not anxious, I’m often depressed.  I’ll go from days and weeks of anxiety to days and weeks of depression.  Anxiety requires more energy.  Panic creates more energy because of all the adrenaline pumping through me.  I think I’m more productive in “panic mode”, surprisingly.

I’ve just moved very near to a cemetery.  I’ll walk among the head stones and envy those people buried there.  I’m NOT suicidal.  I can just imagine someone reading this and then calling the authorities to whisk me away to a padded cell for safety.  Or, even worse, no one calling anyone at all.

In my new home, there is nothing but chaos.  Boxes and Rubbermaid totes full of all my earthly possessions are scattered everywhere.  Nothing has been put away yet.  When I move someplace new, I can’t put anything away unless it is cleaned by me, regardless of how much it was cleaned before I move in.  I am overwhelmed.  I notice every hair.  Every spec of dirt.  Every cob web.  I wish I could ignore these things, put my things away and clean a little bit every day.  I can’t.

I have committed to doing one thing a day.  Anything.  Empty one box.  Set my bed up.  Clean something.  I have been doing that but my place looks no better to me at all.  Then comes the guilt.  Guilt at having my beloved pets live in this chaos.  My two dogs are both getting older now and I want to help them live as long and as comfortable as possible.  How can they be comfy in this chaos?  I know it must stress them out.  Then I feel guilt, which leads to utter despair and then I feel frozen.  Similar to how “frozen” I feel when I have panic.  I just can’t move.  I lay here, thinking of all the things that I have to do. It needs to be done, if not for me then for my pets at least.  They didn’t get to pick their owner.  They didn’t ask to be here.  It is my responsibility to care for them properly.  My lab needs a bath; I can’t even find her shampoo.  It’s here somewhere…

Instead of organizing and getting settled, here I lay in my bed… typing.  Not a productive use of my time but a little bit of productivity from my brain, maybe. Does anyone else ever get “stuck”?  I feel as though my brain is turning to mush.  I wonder what would help me?  Maybe if I had a bit more money?  Maybe if I could work more?  Maybe if I was younger or my dogs were younger?  I don’t even know if anything could help me at this point in my life.  I think I am beyond help.  Sometimes, there are just things we need to accept.  Stop trying so hard to change things that can’t be changed.  I think I would find it easier to stop trying and hoping if I didn’t have pets who need me.  I’m not saying they need me specifically (although my pets do seem to love me a lot).  I’m saying that there are not enough people in this world to step up and care for my pets if something happens to me.  So I continue to exist and try for their sake.

I wonder if my blogs appear to be nothing more than confused, chaotic ramblings?  That’s what it feels like to me.  I’m actually a very smart individual.  I think the problem is that I think too much about things.  I think too much about everything.  One thought leads to another which leads to another.  Some thoughts are distorted and some are accurate.  The trouble is that I have difficulty distinguishing the two.  I also believe that I am a realist.  I am very realistic about things.  I do not “sugar coat” things.  I do not pretend that things might just turn out OK, when it clearly seems that they may not.  See?  I feel like this last paragraph is just ramblings.  I only get out a fraction of the thoughts going through my head.  Exhausting.

I’m going to get up, force myself to put some more things away and maybe take some pictures of the chaos that is my new home.  Maybe I’ll add some photos to this blog a bit later so you can see things from where I see them.  We’ll see…

Why are so many Christians mean?????

This next story is one that has passed through my mind at least once a day since I was 12 years old.  I’m sure the fact that I am telling this story will piss some people off tremendously because it may put into question something they believe in and stand behind passionately.  I don’t care.  If there is one thing I HATE, it’s pretending.  Pretending that things are OK.  Pretending that things are fabulous…  when they are certainly NOT.  If there is one lesson I hope you will take away with you after reading this particular post, it is the fact that you have no idea what pain someone is dealing with on a constant basis… Please be kind.

The other thing I hope you will take away from this, ESPECIALLY if you are a Christian, is that behaviour considered “bad” in children is often NOT the Biblical definition of rebellion.  It is often an unconscious cry for HELP.  A lot of the behaviours I exhibited as a child were caused by the constant anxiety and stress load I carried with me constantly because of awful things going on in my life at the time.  It was terribly painful when people from the church would tell me or my mother that I was just being rebellious.  The kind of rebellion that those “helpful Christians” were referring to was a sinful rebellion, something innate in every human being.  The kind of rebellion I exhibited was often a rebellion against the horrors perpetrated against me.  I stood up for myself constantly; a STRENGTH I thank God for.  Without that strength, I surely would not have survived at all.  There is NOTHING wrong with telling someone they are hurting you and that it needs to stop, even if the person hurting you is your parent.  Unfortunately, many ignorant people in the church mistake trying to protect yourself as rebellion.  Hopefully my stories will help dispel those myths.

It may help you to first go back and read a blog I wrote entitled “Meal time torment and how it affects me to this day…”  That blog describes in better detail the things I was forced to deal with at the tender age of 10, 11, 12 and beyond.  There are many people who believe that abuse will leave physical marks and bruising.  In my experience, I have forgotten most of the physical abuse I endured as a child, but the emotional trauma I endured has affected me substantially to this very day.  It has prevented me from accomplishing many things, I would other wise have had the ability to do.  Only time will tell if that emotional trauma has succeeded in negatively impacting the rest of my life…

To begin with, I was a very resourceful little kid.  I would try and take my mind off of my pain through a variety of methods.  I would draw.  I would write.  I would watch certain TV shows that portrayed strength and loving family values.  Some shows I thrived on were “Little House on the Prairie” and “Punky Brewster”.  Another thing I loved to do to try to pass my time was read.  I’d read Bible stories, especially ones that portrayed God’s strength and protection.  I also read the Ramona Quimby books, Judy Blume and the “Little House” series.

Animals provided me with immeasurable therapeutic relief!  I had a cat named Beckey who would patiently lay there as I buried my face into her soft fur and often cry myself to sleep.  Many times, I’d wake up in the morning with her fur stuck to the snot in my nose from crying so hard.  Oh how I loved that cat!  She was my best friend.  The only one, beside my family, who witnessed what went on in my life.  Such a comfort to me! I also fed outdoor stray cats and played with their kittens.  At one point, a dog who lived down the street from me had puppies and I would often be knocking on their door to see if I could “see your puppies again, please?”

Another thing I would do to pass the time more peacefully would be to babysit as often as I could.  I would tell any little kid I came across, “Tell your parents I will babysit!”  I did it to get away for a few hours and find some peace and safety.  I did it to spend time with happy kids who seemed to have good families.  I loved to see how it could be different for me someday!  It gave me hope!  There WERE peaceful homes where the family members loved each other and supported one another!  I could have that someday!  (I’m still waiting for that day…)  Being in those homes gave me HOPE!

I had many sweet friends at that time as well.  As I have mentioned before, I chose friends who, for the most part, seemed to have “perfect” families.  Of course, I knew that there are no perfect families, but a family where parents worked, didn’t excessively drink and smoke and didn’t subject their children to meal time torture were as close to perfection as I imagined you could get!  And, if they loved God as well, I didn’t think you could get any better home than that!  I had one friend in particular.  I’ll call her “JDS”.  She went to my church and was the sunshine of my life during those dark periods.  I don’t believe she had any idea what went on in my life but it didn’t matter.  When she and I were together, I was able to feel somewhat normal and child-like!  She was actually my sister’s age, almost three years younger than me, but we were inseparable from the start!  JDS had an older sister who was closer to my age, but JDS and I got along better.  We would go to K Mart on a Saturday, all by ourselves!  Exciting stuff when you are 10 to 12 years of age!  We’d attend many church functions together and we’d go to each other’s birthday parties and sleep overs.  We did not, however, go to the same school.  She went to a private Christian school, which was something way beyond what I could ever dream of.  My parents would never choose to spend their money on something like that.  Oh how I wished I could go to the same school as JDS!  “That would help me with my pain and my life in general!”  I just had to find a way to get me to that school!

Why did I think going to a Christian school would all but solve my current problems?  Well, I needed LOVE.  So, in my 11 year old little brain, I knew that the only way to improve my situation was to go get some love!  If I could get that kind of love, I just knew it would help me through this painful part of my life.  I was convinced that would provide me with a good part of that peace that I was searching for.  If I could get loved all day, then it would be easier to come home at night and get through the pain until the next morning when I went to school again.  As I write this, I want to go hug my 11 year old self and hug her so tight and tell her that her ideals and expectations were not realistic.  Oh, if only I could have known.  If only I’d had some guidance…

I was aware of two siblings who attended this Christian school by the support of “sponsors.”  If they could get sponsors, then surely I could too!  I was no less deserving, I figured!  If someone could love those two so selflessly, then maybe someone could do the same for me!  So I got to work.  I wrote a letter to the principal of that school, asking if there was maybe a way to find a sponsor for me. I believe I sent it to school with JDS to deliver to the principal.  It didn’t take long before I heard back from him.  I’ll call him, “Mr. L”.  He was such a kind and gentle man.  I remember he came to my home and spoke with my mom.  Not only had he found someone to sponsor me to attend the school, he had found one for my sister too, if she wanted to go!  I never did learn who the person(s) were who paid for us to attend that school, but I was ecstatic and so grateful!!!!!  So, after the Christmas break, both me and my sister started attending the school.  I was in grade 7 and my sister was in grade 5, I believe.

That was the start of a very difficult time of life lessons for me, both positive and negative.  I’ll start with the positive lessons.  Even at age 11, I understood that having a stranger pay for my education was a huge privilege not to be taken for granted.  That was the very first time I was aware of a stranger being completely selfless for me.  It was a kindness that I think of often, even to this very day.  It was definitely a wonderful illustration of putting another person ahead of oneself, with no personal gain to come.  Years later, I realize that there IS a personal gain that comes from selflessly blessing others, but that gain is felt within.  It is such a joy to do something for someone else, knowing there will be nothing in it for you!

Now I’ll write of the negative lessons I learned.  Christians can be mean.  Horribly mean.  Some of the meanest things ever done to me were done by people who claimed to love Jesus.  I can certainly see why Christians have a bad reputation for being judgemental and horrible to people.  I have never understood how such meanness can come from children of God and I don’t think I ever will.  In my experience, being treated badly by a Christian hurts considerably more than being treated badly from someone who hates God.  In my mind, the reason is that Christians are supposed to experience something called conviction when they do wrong.  In short, it is similar to guilt but it comes from the Holy Spirit.  I’m not going to get into that anymore at this time, but, in short, if you are a Christian, you know what I am talking about.  If you are not, that’s OK too.

Both of my parents smoked cigarettes.  Many parents did back in those days and many parents smoke today.  There are many laws presently to protect non smokers from second hand smoke.  Many of those laws did not exist back then.  I hated cigarette smoke.  It made me nauseous.  Which made me panic.  Which made me more nauseous, and on it would go…  I spoke up quite vocally about the way their smoking made me feel, especially when they would smoke in the car with me.  I felt absolutely trapped and very ill every time they did it.  Many times, when I would protest enough, I would be told to roll my window UP and all windows in the car would be closed.  I guess to counter act my “rebellious” nature and put me in my place.  I fought harder and couldn’t win.  I would be driven around in the car for longer distances until I could be “quiet” about feeling ill.  That memory makes me rage to this day.  Making me physically ill was abuse and I could not escape it.

On my very first day at my new school, I was told over and over again that I “smelled like smoke.”  I was crushed.  I was a particularly clean little girl and very self conscious about my appearance and being clean.  No amount of bathing could wash the cigarette smoke smell off my clothes though.  I would beg my mother to please not smoke when she drove me to school.  Couldn’t she just wait until she dropped me off?  She would not wait.  Every, single morning I would go to school and quite often I was told I smelled.  I was mortified.  To me it was worse than body odour and I could not escape it.  I do not believe for a second that any of those kids knew the impact their comments were having on me, but I do believe it is the job of their parents to teach them to be kind.  Never once, in all my life at public school, was I told I smelled.  That was the first bad experience.

The second bad experience was a punishment I received for talking too much in class.  Now, I will admit I talk a LOT.  I always have.  Every report card I have from kindergarten on says “Rachel is an excellent student but she chats too much with the other students.”  Now, in all fairness, kids are supposed to be respectful and quiet in a learning environment.  Looking back, I believe I was talkative because of my high anxiety levels.  To this day I tend to talk an awful lot as my anxiety increases.  If I feel nauseous and panicked, I’ll talk your ear off, just to make everything seem “fine” and normal on the outside while I am terrified on the inside.  It was one of my coping mechanisms and I should have been helped to cope differently.  Instead, I was placed in a cardboard box while in class every day.  My teacher brought in a large cardboard box and put me in the very front desk in the class room.  He cut the front of the box out so that I could see him and he could see me, but I could not see the rest of my class.  That kind of discipline is what I would call a type of “shaming” today.  My “ideal, loving, supportive” school was turning out to be a cause of extreme anxiety during the day time.  Now, instead of finding some relief at school during the day, I dreaded going to school to be ridiculed about the way I smelled and placed in a box as a way of isolating me from my peers and them from me.  This whole “school as my refuge” was not going as I had planned for myself at all.

As I have mentioned, I wanted a loving family some day.  That need actually causes me pain.  At 12 years old I hadn’t even had a boyfriend yet.  There were three boys in my grade 8 class.  THREE!  So, one day, I mustered up the courage to write one of them a “love letter.”  I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I can tell you that whatever was written was how I felt in my soul.  I always write that way.  I told him I wanted him to be the first boy I kissed and other little tid bits that would likely cause a 12 year old to feel very embarrassed if an adult were to get a hold of that letter and read it.  I decided to give it to him at recess.  I stayed away and watched from a distance.  To my horror, the yard teacher was walking right up to him!  She took it from him and read it.  I wanted to die.  She kept the note and, from what I understand, she showed it to at least some of the other teachers.  I was mortified and I felt embarrassed to even look at any of the teachers for the rest of my time at that school.  Now, they may have long forgotten that note, but I could think of nothing else when I went to school every day.  I did not want to go back.  I wanted to go back to public school.  My sister had finished up her first year there but chose to go back to public school because of tremendous bullying she received from a few girls who were constantly calling her fat.  I could not swallow my pride and return to public school.  My dad had warned me about going to the Christian school.  He said it was just a terrible idea.  I could not admit that he may have been right about that.  SO I continued to go and graduate from there.

I drew pretend

I drew pretend “families”

Fantasy Family

Fantasy Family

My grades dropped as soon as started going to that school.  I was always a straight A student at the top of my class before that, but now, I was doing miserably.  I have never done that badly in school before my time there or since.  What I believe would have helped me succeed in those years are having a peaceful home to go to every day after school.  I also believe that had I not had to face embarrassment and shaming at school, my anxiety levels would have been low enough for me to have at least been able to keep my grades up.  My “resourceful” idea to try and help myself through those years turned out to be a very bad decision.

Even as I write this, I am having to constantly sip ice water and ginger ale.  I have had to take a few days off now and then to even be able to finish this blog because I am physically ill as I recount these memories.  All those feelings I experienced during that time of my life feel just as fresh today as they did so long ago.  That is what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does.  You relive horrible experiences and the exact same feelings again, and again and again.

There was a lot more I wanted to write in this particular blog, but I honestly don’t think I’m up to it right now.  It is 2am and just finishing off this much is taking a toll on me.  I’ll go take a Gravol and try to calm down so I can sleep.  Maybe writing this out will help me to not remember those times so vividly anymore.  Maybe not.

Thanks for stopping by.  Till next time…  xx

Death sucks. Moving is stressful. Combine them both and it can be a disaster. I need some help…

I’m really, really hurting these past few days.  I’ve heard that the two most stress-causing experiences are death and moving.  I have gone through both things TWICE each, in less than the span of a year.  I’m just not handling it well.  At all.  I am really disappointed in myself because I used to deal with things a lot better.  Now, I feel as I’m getting older, I just can’t cope as well.  I need a stronger support system and I just don’t have one.  Yes, I have a doctor and a social worker but they aren’t friends.  They are not family.  They can only deal with me professionally.  I am isolated and lonely and it sucks.  Not only that, but the few people who DO offer me support and love are also busy with their own lives.  They work.  They have children.  Those things take up a lot of time and energy.  I have none of those things.  Because of that, my days seem empty, pointless and they are just not getting better.  I feel like I want to die (I am NOT suicidal).  I just feel like death looks like such a peaceful and loving way out.  I would NEVER, EVER leave my precious animals because they NEED me.  I would NEVER purposely leave my beautiful niece and nephew who are absolutely FABULOUS!  Their dad is also a source of support in my life as well and I am so thankful.  I get TONS of compliments and loving messages through social media like facebook and even this blog!  But it is not the same as someone calling you up and saying, “Hey, can I stop by?” or “Wanna go for a Timmies?”  This is the painful, ugly side of panic disorder and PTSD.  They are ALWAYS there.  This is gonna be a short little blurb because I just took a sleeping pill which works pretty quick and soon I will stop making sense (if I even have been making sense thus far, lol)  Thanks for reading my short little blurbs.  Writing them out helps me sometimes and maybe my writings will help others relate and see?????  I don’t even know.  Hopefully next blog will be full of flowers and sunshine and hope and far less pain and loneliness.  I DO get those times too!  xx

The Thoughts That Hurt Me…

Yesterday, I provided a temporary home for a two day old kitten. I loved the experience! I really enjoyed myself and felt useful and productive until the thoughts creeped into my head…

“You are a 39 year old, never married, childless, uneducated woman. You’re not fooling anyone by caring for this kitten. It is obvious to everyone that nobody wanted you. First, your mom thought her job as a mother was complete and finished when you turned sixteen years old. Then you struggled to “keep your life together” for years and have failed dismally.”

“People see you with this kitten and silently think to themselves, ‘How pathetic has Rachel’s life ended up that her desire for a loving family has had to suffice with fur babies alone?’”

“God has not allowed you to have a family and children because He obviously knows you would not be good at it. He is protecting others from you.” “Do you know how incapable God must think you are to not have blessed you with a husband and children!? I mean, look at all those He DOES allow to have kids! Some people are just horrible parents and He doesn’t trust you enough to care for a little child of your own.”

“IF people are looking at you at all, Rachel, no one is brave enough to actually say to your face, ‘You are obviously just too much of a mess to be able to care for yourself properly, let alone a precious human being. You have not married for a REASON, Rachel.’”

And on and on and on the thoughts go. I feel like I believe in myself way more than is realistic and way more than others believe in me when it comes to family, kids, getting an education, getting better from this pesky panic disorder. Truth is, I am embarrassed and humiliated that I am still single. I have no children. I mean, how much more obvious can it be that nobody wanted me? And it is painful to try to look into all the reasons why I seem to be unwanted.

“It’s obviously YOU Rachel. The whole world can’t be wrong! You are not wanted as a girlfriend or wife for reasons obvious to everyone but you.” And while those thoughts are on a roll, some more pop up like, “And really, Rachel. Do you even think you are even that valid in other people’s eyes that they even BOTHER to think those thoughts of you? You don’t even cross most people’s minds to begin with, let alone have them ponder the fact that you are alone. People generally don’t think of you at all or what you are doing in your life or why it is the way it is. It just isn’t on their list of things to even care about.”

So, I usually don’t end up enjoying my animals and other experiences as much as I should, because I feel like I am a walking neon sign that flashes “Unwanted. Crazy cat lady. Inadequate. Incapable of being part of a family and incapable of being a mother.”

I really don’t know how I ended up here. But I feel like the only thing that is left for me is that my pets will die, one by one. My heart will break each time and I won’t be able to afford to have any more pets again. My heart has broken each and every time one of my peers or friends has a baby. It is a constant punch in the face that I am, somehow, inadequate as a woman and even inadequate as a human being. And, now some of my peers are even having grandchildren… something else I will never have.  As my peers kids graduate grade eight, then high school and soon college, it is a wound reopened again and again and again. It hurts me so badly, it is honestly indescribable.

I am not one of those women who thinks they can get along just fine without a husband or without children. Trust me, I have lived most of my life lacking supportive and loving family and I know I cannot handle it. I know I NEED family. Everyone does. I am embarrassed and hurting and feeling deeply inadequate. I am in so deep at this point I can no longer imagine how I would ever be able to dig myself out of this hole. 39 year old woman with panic disorder, never married so that obviously equates to “no one wanted her.” An incomplete education with a huge amount of student debt STILL. Not working, which can equal “lazy”, “unmotivated” and “basic leech on society.” This is how I believe I appear to many. In my heart, I know who I am and why I am where I am today. It doesn’t help me to know those things though, because nobody can really see those things except God.

As I write this, I am thinking to myself, “Rachel, your thoughts are distorted. This can’t be that bad. You need to keep going to your doctor, following what they teach you at your PTSD classes, taking your medicine and trying to get better so you CAN change your life to make it what you want it to be.” Mostly those are the thoughts and suggestions from those around me though. I feel like, I KNOW the truth. I KNOW how hard I have tried and failed again, and again and again.

The only sure thing I can say about myself that makes any of this bearable is that I simply CANNOT give up. It is not in my nature. It is not me. Even after weeks of depression, anxiety, panic and despair I always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS try again. I may give up brushing my teeth for awhile, stop brushing my hair, quit going outside for days at a time, let my bedroom become a disaster, slack on my pets grooming, nail trimming and exercise, but I will ALWAYS hit a point where I try again. I haven’t figured out whether not giving up is as good as everyone says it is.  I mean, isn’t there a point where you just have to face reality and accept that things might just not happen the way you want them to in life? For some people, the things that they never attain or achieve are just in greater number than other people…. At what point do I just sit back and rest and admit that it’s just not gonna happen? I have no idea…

Sad and terribly pathetic or a joy I am blessed to experience?  I have mixed feelings...

Sad and terribly pathetic or a joy I am blessed to experience? I have mixed feelings…

Meal time torment and how it affects me to this day…

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God, I was so thin! It hurts so much to look at this little kid…  This was my cat, Beckey.  She was a HUGE comfort to me during those years.  My best friend.  🙂

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Trying to look like Punky Brewster. I wanted to BE her! Punky had some awful things happen to her but she was so strong and happy!

DSCF0918 It started in grade four.  I remember because of the house I lived in.  We had moved into this house the summer before I started grade four.  This was the sixth place I had lived in my life and the third place in only the last couple of years.  At first it was just my grandma, my mom and my sister.  Then my dad moved back in at some point.  My mom had told him to leave before because of his alcohol abuse, constant rages and the chaos brought into our lives.  But now, for financial reasons, I think, he moved back in.

I would start to get scared after lunch because I knew in a few hours I’d be headed home.  And I knew it was going to be bad.  It was always bad.  I would get very nauseous at school because of my anxiety caused from anticipation of what was going to happen at dinner time.  When the bell rang at school, telling us it was time to go home, sometimes I’d get a brief minute of excitement.  Home time!  Time to watch Little House on the Prairie!  Maybe go play at a friend’s house before dinner?  Then, the memory would hit.  It would be dinner time soon.  Oh please no…

I’d walk in the door at home and usually the first words I heard were, “YOU’RE GOING TO EAT YOUR FUCKING DINNER TONIGHT!”  And, just like that, I was so ill I could not possibly eat anything.  My dad would be drunk by then, usually, and he often cooked foods I didn’t like.  I was a picky eater but I feel like he made things I didn’t like on purpose.  I’d try to play for awhile or watch TV but the anticipation was making me panic.   Why was this happening to me?  Why the obsession over my eating?  My mom would take me to the doctor on occasion to see why I was so thin.  She’d express concern at my weight.  It was always the same.  My doctor always told my mom, “She’s a tiny kid, but NOT unhealthy.  She could likely gain about ten pounds as a “reserve” but she’s healthy.”  For some reason, my mom could never rest easy with that answer and would soon be dragging me back to the doctor again to find out “why I was so skinny?”  Of course, she never mentioned what was going on at home to my doctor.  Never mentioned what was going on every day at the dinner table.  Never mentioned what I was being told.  Years later, my mom told me she always hoped that I’d say something to him!  As if a ten year old little girl would tell her doctor of abuse.  Good grief!

Anyways, we’d get called to dinner, “Get in here!”  I was always so scared by that point that I could not have swallowed one bite of food if it was my favourite food in the world.  Oh how I HATED meal times.  I HATED eating.  He’d slam a plate in front of me, usually with creamed corn or some other foods that I really hated.  “You’re going to sit here and eat all this goddamned food.  You will not leave this table until you do!”

God, my words and writing are just NOT giving this experience any justice at all.  I have this fear that people will read this and not realize the absolute horror this created in my life.  Maybe someone out there has had a similar experience?

My mom and sister would usually not be speaking at all and I’d have already started crying (silently) with tears streaming down my face.  My dad would pound the table with his fists and make everyone jump.  “GET EATING YOUR GOD DAMNED FOOD RIGHT NOW!”  There was no way I could do it!  How could I escape this!?  Please God, just let me die!

My grandmother lived with us but never ate with us if my dad was there.  When the screaming and crying got too loud, she’d quietly shut her door so she wouldn’t have to hear it so clearly.  But I know she could still hear.

I would sit there for an hour.  Nibbling on the tiniest little morsel of bread to make it look like I was chewing on something.  But he’d usually catch on and bang his fists on the table some more.  Plates would bounce off the table.  Sometimes food ended up on the floor.  I’d get even more panicked.  My mom and sister sat in silence eating or, sometimes they’d join in a friendly conversation with my dad, while everyone would try to ignore the pink elephant in the room:  me.  Sometimes their conversations would bring me relief.  Get the focus off of me for a few minutes.  At those points I’d often shove food into my sleeves, pockets, napkins or anywhere else I could think of, just to make it look like I was eating.  Then, I’d ask to go to the bathroom.  I was often told no, but if I was allowed, it would be the way I got rid of the food.  I’d flush it down the toilet and go back out.  Most of the food was still left on my plate because I was constantly watched and got very few opportunities to actually hide a big amount of food.

My dad had likely been drinking all afternoon and he continued to drink at supper time too.  It would make things worse.  More yelling, “IF YOU DON’T EAT, YOU’RE GONNA FUCKING DIE RACHEL!  EAT YOUR GODDAMNED FOOD!  YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CONTROL THIS ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD!”  What!?  He thought I was trying to control the household by not eating?  I was trying to not throw up.  I had emetophobia at that time but could not vocalize it because I didn’t even know what it was!

Then, my sister and mom would finish their dinner.  Mine was still on my plate.  The amount of food still on my plate depended on whether or not I was allowed to go to the bathroom that meal or not.  “EAT YOUR GOD DAMNED FUCKING FOOD!”  And he’d bang his fists on the table so hard, food and even dishes would sometimes land on the floor.  I’d sit there looking into my lap, crying silently.  I prayed over and over, “Please Jesus help me.  Please Jesus, come and help me.  Why won’t you help me?”  Sometimes, my dad would get so close to my face while he yelled, that food from his mouth would land all over my face.  “Please Jesus…”  I’d never make sounds when I cried at the table because I thought he enjoyed making me cry.  I’d always cry silently, with my head down, facing my lap.  My hands would be at my side and tears and snot would pool on my legs.  By this time, my mom and sister had usually left the table.  My mom would go watch TV in the living room and my sister would go play at a friend’s place or maybe watch TV too.  I really don’t remember what they all did but I know they did not stay and sit with me.

This was about 7pm by now, so I had been sitting there since roughly 4:30pm or 5pm.  A long time for a ten year old.  My dad would sit there and just stare at me, making me more frightened, nauseous, anxious and heartbroken.  Why wasn’t my mom helping me!?  Why wasn’t my grandma??!!  I’d think things like, “You’re so awful and pathetic that even your own grandma is annoyed by your crying so she shuts her door to block out the sound.”  I just didn’t understand.

While I’d sit at the table, I’d begin to wonder how much longer I had to live.  I was told several times at the table that I was starving myself to death and it would be anytime that I’d be dead.  Remember, at ten years old, I was more likely to believe my parents who were telling me something several times a day than a doctor who only saw me sometimes.  Sometimes, my dad would get so angry at me not eating that he’d pick up the chair I was sitting in and knock it over.  I’d hit the floor.  Then he’d yell at me to “GET BACK UP IN THAT CHAIR AND EAT YOUR FUCKING FOOD!  YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CONTROL THIS HOUSE!”  I just could never understand it.  Here I was, with a vomit phobia so bad, I’d rather die than vomit and he’s thinking I’m in a power struggle to control them!

Two of my dad’s  sisters would come over sometimes and I’d hear them telling my parents to stand their ground.  That I was “just trying to manipulate them” and that they “had to stand their ground.”  I hate those two aunts to this very day.  At ten years old, thoughts of controlling my parents by not eating did not ever cross my mind.  I was AFRAID to eat, ESPECIALLY when I felt nauseous.  I was nauseous EVERY, SINGLE DAY because of my extreme anxiety levels (and from malnourishment, I’m sure!)

I missed a profound amount of school and other activities because I constantly felt ill.  I remember other kids commenting on the fact that I missed so much school.  I was embarrassed that something like my absence would draw attention.  I was convinced that they likely knew something was “wrong” with me too.

I could usually only manage a few bites at breakfast time and usually nothing at lunch.  At school, I would maybe be able to swallow a bite of my sandwich or a couple of bites of an apple or some chips.  I was literally starving!  Even when I DID feel hungry, I was afraid to eat.  I would get panic attacks just thinking about eating.

The few things I could sometimes manage to get down, when I was hungry, were ice water and granny smith apples.  It would sometimes take me three hours just to eat an apple.  Every bite was agonizing. “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE IF YOU CAN’T EAT THIS!”  Now it was my own thoughts yelling at me.  I could not get away from it.

I could not eat at friend’s houses and always had the excuse, “I already ate,  I’m not hungry.  My tummy hurts.  My head hurts.”  Standard kid excuses.  I DREADED sleepovers and birthday parties.  How can you say, “I’m tortured at meal time every day which makes eating impossible most of the time.  I have emetophobia, which means I am petrified of vomiting?”  (I did not even use that word, vomit, until my teens!!!)  “Meal time is awful for me and often violent as well.  I am told I am going to die several times a meal.”  A ten year old can’t say those things.  So I endured it.  For years.

Often, by ten or 11pm at night, when most kids my age should have brushed their teeth, finished their homework and been tucked into bed, I was STILL sitting at the dinner table.  Now, I’d be by myself.  All the lights in the kitchen would have been  turned off, so I’d be sitting there in the dark.  I had some pretty deep conversations in my head with God during those long, lonely nights..  To this day I still cannot fathom how God sat there and watched me crying but seemingly did nothing.  I now know He had been giving me a strength to endure those times.  A strength that few adults can muster, let alone a little child.

Whenever my dad had passed out, my mom would tip toe out to our kitchen, quickly empty my plate into the garbage and tell me to go to bed.  But I was so hungry by then!  I usually wasn’t allowed to eat anything at that point and would go to bed hungry until the next morning.  So, I would have pretty much eaten a part of grapefruit or some cereal for breakfast that morning and eaten very little else until the next morning.  I learned to chew gum during that time, to help with hunger pains.  Gum chewing also helps my nausea, a trick I use to this very day.  Anyways, off to bed I’d go, hungry, traumatized, alone and crying myself to sleep.  Only to do it again and again and again…

This went on for five years, I think.  My memory is honestly not clear on the time frame this occurred.  I’m sure there were breaks in this cycle because my dad would go away in the summer time to work.  He obviously would not have been there at those times.  My struggle to eat remained, however.

There were many other things that went on as well, but I’ll start with this.  I’m sure my words have not done my experience any justice.  I almost hesitating publishing this at all, for fear of having someone tell me, “That’s not that bad!”  I suffer from panic disorder to this very day because it WAS that bad.  I was thin and afraid to eat until I was about 25 years old.  I did not ever enjoy eating anything until sometime after twenty five years old.  One reason I have chosen to post part of my story is because, interestingly, I have had discussions with other emetophobics who had some kind of trauma around meal times as a child.  I like learning about WHY things happen.

I can’t write any more right now because this has made me physically ill.  I need a break from it.  Thanks for reading!  More to come…

Why didn’t anyone help me?

It hurts me to look at her...

It hurts me to look at her…

So, I can’t sleep.  I was so tired earlier and then I had a phone conversation with my sister.  I took a sleeping pill and it is 3:26am and I STILL can’t sleep.  So…  I’ll write.

I swear, I have so many thoughts in my head that I want to get out, that I worry I will never be able to get them all out.  There are THAT many.  I was hoping to have a bit of order in these short blurbs that I write.  It seems I am failing miserably at it so far.  Oh well, you’ll either continue reading them or you won’t.  Either way, I am hoping this will help myself in some way.  Maybe it will even help someone else.  Who knows?

Long story short:  I was abused growing up.  It was horrific and painful and leaves me in anguish to this very day.   So many people’s response to this statement seems to be, “So was I.”  And that’s that.  Abuse comes in so many forms and affects each person differently.  Some seem barely affected at best, managing to go on and live productive and fulfilling lives.  Other abuse victims go on to live lives of dysfunction, pain and, in many cases, become abusers themselves.  Some abuse survivors simply cannot cope and end up dying of drug and alcohol abuse, and even suicide.  I hate to use the word, “abuse” because it seems so commonplace these days.  You hear about it almost every day.  I think people have become numb to the word.  Indifferent to it and, even bored by it.  Unless it was sexual abuse, I find, in my experience, people think it couldn’t have been that bad.  Nothing is worse than sexual abuse, right?  Well, I have never been sexually abused, so I can’t answer that question.  I can, however, tell you with certainty, that physical and emotional abuse can destroy a person.  It can eat at them until there is nothing left of the person they once were. It leaves them no chance of becoming the person they might have been, had they not been abused.  I won’t deny that abuse survivors can and do become productive members of society.  They can get past their abuse but they can never forget it.

In this blog entry I won’t describe the different forms of abuse I endured, but I will in future blogs.  The pain that is keeping me awake on this particular night (like many other nights) is the question of “why?”  Why didn’t someone help me?  I will tell you that, in my experience, the greatest pain did not come from my actual abuse.  The greatest pain was the fact that so many people KNEW what was happening to me (to some degree or another) and yet not one, single person stepped in to stop the abuse from happening.  There were many people who were aware of the abuses happening to me and those people chose to look away.  Some of those people would actually blame me for my abuse and tell me ways of changing my behaviour so that I could avoid it in the future.

Let me back track a little bit.  When I was little I thought I was so pretty.  I was not vain in any way but I could look into a mirror and love the little girl that I saw.  I had crooked teeth from sucking my thumb and I was painfully thin, due to anxiety exacerbated by my abuse, but I still saw a pretty girl when I looked in the mirror.  As I grew older, that changed.  I knew I had done nothing to cause or deserve the abuse I was getting so I just could not understand WHY certain people could be treating me this way.  So I began to look for flaws in myself.  I mean, let’s face it, society dotes on pretty people.  They get attention and love (often superficial love, but as a  young child, love is love).  I’d look in the mirror and look for a reason why they would treat me this way and why others would ignore my cries and screams for help.  As I grew a bit older I thought I had found the reason.  My nose was crooked!  It really was!  I know how silly that sounds but, as a little child searching for a reason, this was as good as any.  I used to look at the cute kids I would babysit.  I’d stare at them and wonder how anyone could ever hurt such a precious person?  Of course, I’d never think of hurting a less-than-beautiful child either, but maybe others would?  And so began many years of obsessing about my ugly nose.  I reasoned that my nose was so horrific to some people that it made me seem less human, less worthy of help and love.  Then I began to obsess about how I was going to get this problem fixed!  Then people would see the  loving human that I actually was.  Remember, these are the thoughts of a young, abused child.  I realize how absurd and distorted this sounds, but I just HAD to find out WHY I was overlooked, and ignored.  Why didn’t it matter if I cried?  Why would people turn away when I screamed for help?  I just could not fathom it.  I still can’t.

I have two dogs, three cats and two hamsters.  I have always loved and had pets my entire life.  I think this almost every day:  If anyone even came close to treating any of my animals the way I had been treated growing up, my rage would be uncontrollable.  The momma bear in me would come through so fast that the abuser would not know what hit them!  It seems like such a natural, human response to me that I just cannot, to this day, fathom why no one spoke up for me.  It is a question that will haunt me till the day I die.  Why?  Just a legitimate answer is all I want.

You know what?  I already KNOW the answer.  It is because those people who knew were cowards.  They were self absorbed.  They were interested in their comfort more than my own.  That is really the answer.  There is no other reason why anyone would look away from abuse of a child and not help.  So, I already know the answer.  Am I satisfied with that?  No.  I want every, single person who watched my abuse and looked away to look me in the face and tell me.  I want them to have the balls enough to say, “Look.  I was more concerned with my own well being than yours.  More concerned with my own comfort than yours.  I didn’t love you enough (or at all) to help you.”  That response would make me more peaceful than a million “I’m sorries.”  (I don’t ever expect anyone to apologize to me.  I know there is no remorse.)  The thing is, I just want to hear why.  Out loud.  To my face.  Is it helpful to want these things?  I’m not sure.  My desire for an admission of selfishness seems rather healthy to me.  I know my worth.  I know I am valuable.  I know I deserved to be protected and loved and cared for as a child (and now too!).  I know they were selfish.  I know their lack of action was solely because of a need to put their interests before mine.

It likely wouldn’t give me the peace I want anyways.  But, sometimes, especially after conversations like the one I had just before bed tonight, my mind wanders back to those thoughts…  Why didn’t you help me!?  How could you not!?  Do you have any idea how my life is affected severely to this very day!?  I’m smart.  I know none of them are even remotely interested in how their ignorance has contributed to the difficulties I face to this day.  I know all those answers.  All the reasons they looked away.  But I still ask why…

If you ever see abuse happening, hear of it happening or even suspect it….  you can never know the life changing impact you can have on someone’s life by simply saying something about it and reporting it.  Please help when you see a need…

OK.  Enough for tonight.  Maybe I can sleep now…