mckarlie

I have happiness in my heart and a thorn in my soul

Adjusting expectations

I spent years in emotional turmoil, my Mother issues were rampant, so were my Daddy issues to be fair. I was just so angry at my Mother, so angry at my Stepfather, so angry at my cousin, so angry at my husband. Everyone had let me down and I was pissed. True, my Mother let some pretty terrible shit happen to me when I was younger, my Stepfather has done some pretty terrible shit to me when he’s been drunk and raucous, and my husband and I have had our issues but I held onto every little slight, and let it fester.

I would look at my friends and the relationships they have with their Mothers and I would feel this ache in my gut, such sadness that I will never have that. After not talking to my Mother and extended family for about 3 years we started seeing each other again a year ago, and I’ve learned a lot in this year: if you expect the world from someone they will surely let you down.

Basically, i realized that i was holding people to an impossible standard and expecting them to jump through hoops because of their previous fuck ups towards me. I had to let go of the past, the anger and the pain and realize that yeah, my Mother and I will never have a normal relationship but who says we need a normal relationship? Why can’t we just be what we are, slightly dysfunctional but both trying our best. She tries her best with my kids and they really enjoy the sunday night dinners we have at her house, we don’t really do much else together but that’s ok, dinner once a week and the occasional lunch or shopping trip is enough for me now, now that i’ve lowered my expectations.

I guess at some point we are faced with the question of whether we can let go or not, and until very recently my answer would have been no, but thankfully i’ve started uprooting the pain that has itself so deep inside my psyche, it’s a work in progress but it’s so so worth it. I was so scared to let go of the anger and pain because I feared there would be nothing left, no link to my Mother at all, but instead there is love and understanding and patience. Just let go.

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Guilt

I was abused sexually/emotionally as a young child by my Mother’s first husband. As a teen I was abused physically/emotionally by my Mother’s second husband. For years I would find, whenever referencing any of the abuse, that I would always be sure to mention my part in it. For instance, I would say ‘yes my Stepfather physically abused me, but I was an incredibly difficult teenager’ or ‘he would beat me, but then I was such a nightmare when I was younger’, there was always the default reaction of mentioning how terrible I was. For most of my life I genuinely believed that I was an active contributor to my abuse, that essentially I deserved it. I have spent so many hours of my life reeling in guilt, guilt over shitty things I have done to people, guilt over shitty things people have done to me just bathing in it and letting it swallow me up. When I was younger I would go to bed and lay there in the dark for hours thinking about details of things I have done to people, like running out on ex boyfriends or being a dick to a friend or whatever, any mistakes I have made have been played out in my mind over and over and I have let it cause so much anxiety it’s incredible.

A few years ago I did therapy and actually made some progress, the therapist was talking to me about my children and asked me if there is anything my children could do that would warrant me hurting them physically as a response and I said no of course not, and through this I realized that I was a child when my abuse occurred, and badly behaved or not there is no way, as a child, I could have actually warranted my own abuse. I know it may sound simple to most but for me it was a revelation, I started to let go of so much guilt and anxiety and began seeing things perhaps a little closer to reality.

The fact of it is that all of us do shitty things sometimes, whether you’re bipolar or not, whether you’re depressed or schizophrenic or any number of things, every human being has done shitty things to another human being. It’s just life, we all screw up and make mistakes. What I tell my children about mistakes is that everybody makes them, it’s ok to makes mistakes so long as you learn from them and do your best not to repeat the same mistakes. I tell them this often, so why can’t I take my own advice eh? Why do some of us hold ourselves to this impossible standard of human behaviour where we feel like we’re letting the entire world down if we step out of line? The fact is, the entire world really doesn’t care about our trivial screw ups and we need to cut ourselves some slack.

So, I guess I just need to remind myself that it’s ok to make mistakes, I just need to make sure I learn from my errors wherever possible and try not to repeat poor behaviour. Beyond that I need to relax and focus on healing, when all your energy goes into feeling shitty about yourself you really can’t heal any of the past trauma that’s happened, but now, I can begin.

Peace xo

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Assigning blame

I’m not sure if it was growing up being told I was shit, growing up being treated like I was shit, the abuse, the bipolar, who knows…but every time something would go wrong with a friend I would always spiral a little. Firstly I would over-analyze the crap out of it all, mulling every details over in my head. It’s a given that I blamed myself entirely for every interaction I would have that was in any way negative. I was always sensitive to rejection in any form, in fact most of my twenties was spent obtaining and then evacuating affection before I could be rejected, convinced it was inevitable I always got in first.

Now, I’m slowly learning to see things in a more rational sense. When I can see full well that I have done absolutely nothing to warrant negative feelings towards me, I’m becoming more indifferent and accepting that everyone acts like a douche sometimes, and sometimes it has nothing to do with me. It’s always been hard to decide what is reasonable behavior and what is *my disease*, sometimes I feel like an alien trying to act like a human, not quite sure what is acceptable expectations and so on, and what are not.

I think a lot of us go directly to blaming ourselves, it’s how we’ve been conditioned either through abuse, PTSD, or whatever mental illness we may have. The older I get the more I’m learning to cut myself a break, I don’t expect my beautiful kids to be perfect I teach them to just try their best, so in teaching them that nobody is perfect, how could I possibly expect myself to be perfect?

We go through this cycle of blaming ourselves, feeling like shit, writhing in guilt, and over and over again. Let’s just chill out, if it’s our fault then say sorry or make a gesture to fix things, if it’s not our fault then accept that sometimes people act stupidly and sometimes it truly has nothing to do with us, it just is. Assign blame only where it should be assigned and even then, be careful, blame is a hazardous thing when dealt with too often, like most negative things.

So hopefully I will continue to relax and learn what is worth the worry and that most things truly aren’t worth the worry. Let’s cut ourselves a break hey people!

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Always a choice….?

It’s easy to be sad. It’s my default setting, except when I’m manic, then I’m the happiest person you could possibly meet. But for the most part, feeling like shit comes easily. So often I accept my miserable fate, curl up on the couch and stare at the tv for days on end. I don’t shower, I don’t eat, I don’t communicate with anyone except those I live with and even then it’s minimal. I wear my greasy hair like a badge of despair, my body stops aching for food and my mind stops ticking over and accepts that television will keep me connected to reality, ha!

Then I realize, I’m not helpless at all, I’m just giving in, giving up on trying. There are a thousand opportunities every day to make my situation even a little bit better. Have a shower, you DO feel better afterwards, even if a little. Eat some soup, your body is in starvation mode. Call a friend, a good one who will be ok if you sporadically cry. Go for a walk, a little bit of exercise really does have a positive effect on the depressed mind. Do SOMETHING. Do ANYTHING, just stop feeling sorry for myself and hibernating on the sofa, if I give in it will beat me.

So I’m torn between self indulgence and self awareness. I think of all those people I got to know during my hospital stay, those people who really don’t have a choice, those who can’t chose to change things because they don’t know how or simply can’t. Then I feel lazy, and that feeds the guilt and isolation, oh what a silly circle I have myself running in.

I think we often hand over our choice as the price we pay for depression. We forget we own our own will, we become slaves to our own emotions and let them lead and guide us into the murky swamps that track the tormented mind. So fuck it, today I’m having a shower, going for a walk and getting some work done. It may not sound like a lot to you but it’s a darn sight more than laying on the couch like a vegetable. Never forget you own your own will.

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Stuck in the mud

Logically, I know it will get better. Logically, I know that the despair I feel right now will pass. Logically I know that things will change. There is little room for logic in the tormented mind, there is nothing but haze and darkness and tears, so many tears. I have been a champion for positivity so many many times, but right now I feel so low that I don’t exactly know how to myself. One step forward, two steps back, three steps forward, two steps back and so on i dance with my guilt and sadness, my own emotional carousel that I want so desperately to get off of.

I guess being bipolar means that there will never truly be an end to the dance, just harder bits and easier bits good bits and bad bits, which is much like life for every single person out there. I know I’m not alone in my grief, I know there are many others out there feeling just as low, or even worse than I feel right now. It brings me no solace. More than anything, I feel utterly alone, hence I decided to write. I decided to write not for sympathy or a pat on the back but for myself, it’s the best tool I have to figure things out and I can’t keep swallowing my sadness in hope it will pass through me, I need to feel it and stare it down and shine a light on it and analyze it. I need to take it all apart so I can put it all back together, and this is the best way I know how.

I keep replaying mistakes I’ve made and reliving the guilt and negativity associated with them. I play things over and over in my mind, bathing in the murky puddles. I would make myself a martyr if I had any real strength, but right now I’m empty and alone. I know there are people that love me, people that need me, and that does (on paper) make a difference, but not in my heart. Usually the people I care about prop me up and keep me positive even when things are hard, but when the chemicals wont do what the chemicals are meant to do I end up like this, a lump of bitter despair. I don’t blame the people that damaged me in the past, I blame myself. I convince myself that I deserved all the things that were done to me and that this is not just PTSD and depression, it’s me and i’m fucking broken.

This too shall pass, and it is not my intention to bum anyone out, I just had to confront what I’m feeling at the moment, and what better way than this eh?

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Do you feel like life owes you?

My upbringing was a bit of a clusterfuck. Not the worst of stories but not the best. Half of the time I was with my Mother, she had me when she was 20, my father ran off, apparently he was a drug addled sociopath. The other half of the time I was with my Grandparents, religious, consistent, steady folk who would do almost anything for me and loved me immensely. My Mother treated me more as a best friend, a handy accessory to keep her from being lonely. I was a glorified puppy, taught to do tricks in front of her friends, spell big words and cook my own breakfast at 7. Her first husband molested me when I was very young, her second husband beat on me and called me every name under the sun, she then abandoned me effectively, so I have my lion’s share of issues.

I know that the reason I have a mental illness is partly because I inherited it from my Mother and partly because when a child grows up without feeling safe, their brain doesn’t form as it should. When a child has to watch every word and every action with dire consequence, synapses don’t form as they should.

In my twenties I formed the opinion that I deserved what happened to me when I was younger, I made excuses for my abusers such as ‘i was a difficult teenager’ and ‘i was out of control’. In my late twenties I saw a therapist who really got me, and we made some great progress before I stopped seeing him randomly (as I tend to do with a lot of things). He got me to see that no matter how badly behaved a child may be, they NEVER deserve abuse, and the abuse was probably the reason I acted out in the first place. This lead me to a place of anger, I had had this anger throughout all of my twenties, but it had been directed at the general populous, but now, now it was directed specifically at my Mother. Why not her husband? Well, he’s an alcoholic, he has a rampant disease, and while his actions shouldn’t be excused, the duty of care was squarely on my Mother’s plate.

So throughout my twenties I was angry, and this made me act irrationally, with little thought of consequence. I felt like I’d been dealt a shit hand and everyone could go and fuck off. I was only concerned with kindness when it concerned my inner circle, which was ever changing (as so happens with us bipolar folk) but I was fiercely caring of those I chose to be my inner circle and felt great loss when either they moved on or I ran away, I often ran away from people in anticipation of my perceived rejection forthcoming.

Since my revelation that it wasn’t my fault I’ve started caring much more about people in general, but I still feel like I got a raw deal. I see families, hanging out together and looking after each other and my soul feels empty, I feel so cheated. I see people with loads of money and fancy things who seem together and beautiful and I feel envious, sure I have my own little family and boy are my kids amazing, my man is a good man and i’m not hideous looking or anything like that, but i see these beautiful fancy people and feel entitled to their life. On the odd occasion I buy a powerball ticket, part of me secretly believes I deserve to win more than some people because of the shitty life I had as a child, ha! I’m serious, this is what goes on inside my head.

I think some of us with PTSD, bipolar, trauma, whatever it may be, I think we can often get concerned with what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we DO. I have enough money to pay my bills and feed my family and even go on the occasional holiday, which is more than a lot of people can say. I have a steady relatively drama free relationship with a man i love, i have two amazing children who love me dearly and are amazing people, yet i still often get caught up in what i don’t have, what i deserve etc

Even if you don’t have the things I have, you have the things YOU have. Each person is different, but just the fact that we made it through these things is a beautiful thing, there are so many people out there who don’t make it through. There are kids who don’t get food every day, there are kids out there being beaten bloody right now and no one cares about them, there are so many shitty things happening in the world at any given moment that we have to take pause and put things into perspective, yes what i went through was bad but by no means do i have the monopoly on pain, by no means is my pain more important than anyone else’s and when I start feeling sorry for myself and feeling entitled, I need to remember those things.

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