I turned 47 a few days ago. After 18 months of intense therapy and struggle to find my lost self, I am discovering the person that I knew when I was younger. Fearless, determined, and confident. I don’t know where I lost her along the way, but I am glad she is back.
In 2004, after a lifetime of physical pain and struggle, I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. In 2008, after a lifetime of anxiety and depression, I went into therapy. The first ten years of being in treatment felt like wasted time. The therapist I went to first was a student at UNC that had no idea what they were doing, and their professor would see my once a month to “check-in,” but I got ZERO out of any of it. I had a counselor that sat quietly every session and only said things like, “How does that make you feel?” and the first psychiatrist would ask me to PRAY on it. They would say something like, “Let go and let God.” In 2018, after I had given up on talk therapy, I found my current therapist. The last 18 months have been hard, facing your demons always is, but I am feeling so much better. I have hope for the future. I no longer feel like a complete waste of space. I am re-learning to speak up for myself to be my advocate and protector.
I feel like I’ve reached the point in my life where I am taking my mental health seriously. I am no longer trying to smooth things over by ignoring my gut or hiding my story. The coping mechanism I created because of my childhood trauma was to be as small and quiet as possible. Invisible. When I felt safe, I stopped hiding. I became a confident and strong-willed young girl. Then, my parents died when I was 29, and that scared little girl moved back into my head. I felt lost and alone. I unknowingly allowed a narcissist in my family to manipulate me into thinking that she was the ONLY worthy mother figure that I had ever had. She convinced me that the love that I felt for my mother was unwarranted and that I was not wanted. “I’m sorry your mom didn’t give you the childhood you deserved,” and so many other comments that led me to question the relationship with my mother. Since my brain blocked out a lot of my childhood, I didn’t have a reason to doubt any of what they told me, but it turns out – none of it was true. A master was manipulating me.
I know now that my mother was my biggest champion. I have been able to put my trauma into perspective. Yes, horrible shit happened to me as a child – but I am realizing now that I was hyper-focused on the wounds and was not allowing myself to recall or enjoy the good times in my childhood because I was so afraid of reliving the trauma. I was worried that I would remember more things, a wound that may even be worse than what I already knew. So I pushed it all down and deep, and anytime a memory good or bad would surface, I would block it out.
I am grateful that I am letting all of the memories back in and learning from all of them; they are all becoming lessons instead of burdens.
“This is the part of my life where I silently remove myself from anyone who hurts me more than they love me, drains me more than they replenish me, brings me more stress than they make peace, and tries to stunt my growth rather than clap for it. I think that I’ve done more than enough talking and trying to make things work with certain people, and now I am done.” – Cici B – The Crimson Kiss