The Way We Were

Not sure where to start this week. I had a COVID test today because I am having surgery on Friday. Kind of surreal. Pulled into the hospital parking lot and followed signs that seemed to lead to nowhere until I realized I had to pull into a makeshift garage area where I had to then lower my window and yell to a woman behind a window. I stayed in my car and a nurse approached with the Q-tip thing and told me she was just going to swab the inside of my nose. It was not bad at all. Just saying. I thought they stuck those things all the way in to the back of your throat. Nope. Just a little swab inside the nose.

The news this week in the world continues to be bad and I am once again reminded of how little we control in this world. I am reminded of that not because of the horrific things heard on the news that we can’t do much about, but because of my own life and the lives of people I speak with.

I was once told that worry is nothing more than trying to control a situation that you have no control over. I worry so much about the people that I love and my surgery is going to lay me up for weeks if not months and it’s going to make me feel even more helpless than I do already.

After our group meeting last night, I called my mom and she sometimes forgets what I do or how I am doing things. I told her I was in a meeting and she again asked what for and I told her it was for people abused by priests and again she asked me why I am doing something so depressing and the church is working on this and there aren’t going to be any priests left, etc.

The thing is, we are survivors, not victims. And in our group, we do discuss what happened to us, but we also discuss why it happened and how far we have come. I think it is important to discuss these things. I know that talking with others has helped me immensely. And I hear other people say that as well.

There are so many sides to the abuse. There is the side of….I didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t see it coming. And there is the side of….I went into “take care of” mode and I felt this or I did that….so it is not just blaming the church or looking at the bad bad priest….but also trying to prevent this from happening again in our lives and in the lives of others. There is also the knowledge we gain from comparing notes….because the stories tend to have similarities.

Oftentimes we as survivors end up learning so much more about ourselves and our lives in general and the people we have known and how we have reacted to them along the way.

In my life, when I look back, I see so much effort put into pleasing other people and taking care of others and trying to save people.

Last night I told the story of how when someone I know who I love very much tried to commit suicide and when they got home, I went over to stay with them to be sure they were okay, and to make them dinner and to be sure nobody hurt them. I was ready literally to do battle with anyone who tried to bring this person drugs or tried to physically harm them. I literally blocked people in the stairway and would not let them in. Drama in the hallway. Tears. Other people’s drama. To protect the person I love.

I stayed all night. I left when the sun was coming up. When all their friends had left and it seemed safe to leave. And as I was leaving, this person said two very inappropriate things to me. After telling me what a good person I was, this person said something very sexual to me and then said they felt like killing themselves.

What we tend to forget about victims of abuse is that we are generally people who care about and who take care of other people. And that gets abused as well. And because so often, we tend to also have co-dependent tendencies because we were not raised with healthy boundaries for one reason or another to see ourselves as strong and separate from others who we care about…..we tend to cease to exist….or forget how to exist….in a healthy way….without bouncing off of an unhealthy person or situation.

The thing is, it’s not always possible to walk away from unhealthy people and situations. We need other people. We want family. Especially when we have children to raise. There is such a feeling of being trapped like no other when raising children and needing the help of others who are either emotionally abusive or at the very least, not emotionally supportive. Or being forced to work at a job that is soul crushing because you have to just get through life to take care of your family. It can be a life in which you don’t feel you exist except to keep things calm and keep things going and to keep everyone else okay.

It can be a very foreign concept to put yourself first. It can be scary as well. But learning about yourself apart from others is an important lesson to learn. I don’t know why exactly I feel the way I feel sometimes. It may be important to look back and see how we learned our behaviors. But it is also important to take responsibility for doing the work and accepting the pain of emotional growth.

I have a sibling who likes to joke and say he drinks because of our parents. He is not a horrible person, but he is unhealthy and will continue to be unhealthy until and unless he begins to take responsibility for himself. Funny thing is, his daughter started to follow in his footsteps. And before she got help, she blamed him for the way she was. But she has sought help and I can see her begin to grow into a more mature adult woman.

For myself, I have become somewhat more aware of my feelings. My need to be a chameleon to become the person someone else wants me to be. And then the feeling that I have failed to find that right combination to please someone else. And then the feeling that I can never be enough. The desperate need to please emotionally unavailable people. Trying so hard to make things work with people it’s never going to work with. Trying so hard to save people who don’t want to work to save themselves.

The feeling that if I put my own needs first, I will alienate everyone. The feeling that I need people to understand who I am and what I mean. That I need to explain to people who don’t want to listen. The feeling that it’s okay to not be a priority to someone as long as I can get a part of them. That I will fight through the haystack to find that one crumb on the tip of the needle.

Because if I don’t keep fighting and pleasing and saving and taking care of…..I’m not sure what else there is of me to give anyone. Because I’m not sure who I am or how I feel. And I’m afraid to find out because that feels so damn vulnerable.

These are the things that are important to talk about, to think about and to work on. This is why it is good to be still and to be quiet and to listen. To breathe. To toss aside the things outside of ourselves and to look within. To create. To get to know ourselves. To act instead of reacting. To be aware of our faults and to be able to speak their names and acknowledge their existence. To allow them to be without allowing them to rule us and to run our lives. It’s an on-going, sometimes lifelong process.

My love, support and respect to all survivors of life.

Last week the votes were tied as to who believes in aliens. Most of those who believe live in the U.S.

Also last week, this blog was read in American Samoa, South Korea and Japan among others. Welcome readers.

3 thoughts on “The Way We Were

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