July 2, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~Day 7… Scars…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:53 am by eddejae

A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars. ~Carly Simon

I remember one morning, about two and half months ago, that I stood in front of my closet staring at the long row of twenty-something sweatshirts. Even though the the weather was starting to get warmer, calling for shorter sleeves, until that day I had refused to show my arms because of my many scars. I was ashamed of them, not wanting to be stared at or judged. I was deathly afraid of being asked questions and hated feeling self-conscious. Hardly anyone in my life knew I was a cutter, and the scars were too deep to use  the “cat-scratch” excuse. So I used the easy way out and just pretended I was cold-blooded.

However, something changed that morning. For the first time, I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I had finally gotten to the point in my recovery where I was open enough to accept myself with my flaws and let people think what they may. Perhaps it might even give someone else the courage to not be ashamed of their battle wounds either. I made the decision that morning to love my scars. I closed my closet, walked over to my chest of drawers, and pulled out a t-shirt. That day, I walked around with bare arms, my struggle with depression and BPD exposed to the world. Sure, I got a couple of glances, I was a bit uncomfortable, but in the end… I was ok. No one asked any questions. I didn’t break down. I didn’t panic. The world didn’t end. I was fine. And everyone else was fine. I was just me.

Perfectly imperfect me.

Now, my scars have faded quite a bit, but they’re still there. I’m getting married tomorrow. They’re not that noticeable anymore, but I will still have to use some cover-up for pictures. But I’m fine with that. To me, they are just indicators of where I have been and the things I have overcome. They are my battle wounds…markers that I have fought… And that I have won. That I am a warrior. The most important scars are the ones you don’t see… The emotional scars. And I am happy and relieved to say that those have been healed. Through therapy, time, commitment, and love… Those have been healed. And that’s all that truly matters. It IS possible. I can testify of that.

Healing is possible.

Hope is real.

Love is attainable.

Believe in yourself…

Keep fighting your battles.

And be proud of your scars.

They mean you’re strong enough to survive it all.

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June 29, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 3…Inner Quiet…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:47 am by eddejae

As the days pass, I am surprised to find that no words are coming…

A surprising lack of emotional outpouring.

It seems perhaps I have said all I have needed to say.

If not here, in other places.

Perhaps, this place has served its full purpose…

And these last few days are for me to reflect, to offer my last thoughts of hope, of encouragement, of love…

There are some things I wrote that I never published which I most likely will in the next few days.

But as far as new content, there really is not much more for me to say about my past, about my demons, about those things that killed me inside for so long.

It’s almost time for me to say goodbye.

A bittersweet farewell to be sure…

This has been the third day of sunset…

May 24, 2010

Hoping for the Sea

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:03 am by eddejae

Dedicated to Fia…

Smile, though your heart is aching

Smile, even though it’s breaking

When there are clouds in the sky

You’ll get by…

If you smile

With your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just…

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying


Smile, what’s the use of crying

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just…


Smile, though your heart is aching

Smile, even though it’s breaking

When there are clouds in the sky

You’ll get by…


If you smile

Through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile…

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile…

April 25, 2010

To Live = To Love. To Love = To Live.

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:18 pm by eddejae

Well, I promised to divulge the secret of my new-found outlook on life and the turning point that I experienced, but… I am too tired! So sorry. I will say this though…

The greater your capacity to feel pain, the greater your capacity to feel joy.

I am not cured, but I have greater hope I will be. I still feel pain, but I know it will lessen more and more each day. I still have problems, but I have greater courage to face them. I am still me, but happier and more hopeful.

To wrap it all up with a cute little bow…

I’m in love.

Whew. Glad I got that one out!

Now, before you roll your eyes and get all cynical on me, I ask you to please refrain from any sort of jaded mental jaunting (don’t act so surprised – I can hear your thoughts quite loudly!) until you hear the story in its entirety and how this relationship factors into my recovery process. Suffice it to say that I had two choices:

One. To die.

Or two. To live.

I chose to live.

And I chose to love.

Life.

And love.

These are inseparable in my eyes.

I’m off to bed soon. I am posting this song as it expresses almost perfectly – in word, in rhythm, in melody – what I feel right now. Seriously… what would I do without music??

Goodnight
To the city and the sea
To the strangers in the street
Goodnight
To the ghosts out in the hall
The paint peeling off the walls
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

Goodnight
To the TV and the clocks
To the rain that never stops
Goodnight
To everyone I know
Shut my eyes and let em go
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

There is something beautiful dying every day
And for the first time in my life I’m not afraid
Cause there is nothing in this world that doesn’t change

Goodnight
To the person I have been
To the place that I am in
Goodnight
Tomorrow hello to the sun
Are you ready here I come
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

April 15, 2010

Absolution

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:17 am by eddejae

Trapped in a prison built by betraying hands,

Brick by burdensome brick.

My mind, traitor to my abandoned heart,

Slave to a captor concealed –

Cruel taskmaster brandishing whip unseen,

But felt with every serpent-like sting –

Tiring arms aching,

Hunching back breaking,

Pleading for the abiding asylum of death.

Tick…Tock… Tick… Talk…

Talk… Talk…. Talking…

Ceaseless talking of sing-song voices

Creeping in with winter night’s chill,

Cracking the concrete silence.

Slip… Slip… Slipping…

Senses swiftly slipping and sliding

Into a murky sea of suspicion and suspense.

Blood-stained fingernails tear

Frantically at four unyielding palisades –

Crimson blood reminds me that life

Yet runs relentless through each vein.

A splinter of light slices through the blackness –

One suggestive breach in the barricade,

The two-faced fortress cloistering me from the world,

Safeguarding an unsuspecting world from me.

Peering through the porthole to that alternate reality:

A flashback from a forgotten existence made flesh…

One face.

Mere footsteps away and yet a lifetime apart,

As close as my heartbeat, as far as the stars.

You cannot see me here in my solitary cell,

Yet I know you feel my piercing, sunlight-starved eyes

Sifting softly through the unspoken secrets of your soul.

One smile, one glance, one sincere utterance,

And without warning, the cleft in the facade

Cracks open just an inch more, taunting me

To pry at the edges with bruised and burning fingertips.

A triangle of radiance paints itself on the opposite wall,

A breath of blossom-tinted breeze satiates my thirsty lungs.

The schism in my shelter of suffering is still

Too slight to squeeze through, and, disheartened,

No – furious! I pound my tight-clenched fists,

Beating myself against the blood-stained bricks

Against the cursed lies, the sordid secrets, the broken vows.

I fabricated this suffocating prison, my strength and will

Brutally born of hate, of anger, of pain –

Where is my power now to shatter it’s very frame?

I wail aloud and in spirit, tearing beast-like at my hair.

And Sink….Sink…Sinking…

Into an absymal void of despair.

Phantasms of the raging flames of hell

Consume my cluttered brain –

Demon fear incarnate mutters

That you will leave me here alone,

Dismiss my illusive phantom-like presence,

Forget you heard me, perhaps even loved me…

I, the shadow of a shattered dream.

I cannot bear to witness through my window

A paradise I may never know.

I cannot endure you walking away,

Fading into the hopeless horizon,

Wishing to hold you forever in my gaze.

I cradle my head in empty and aching arms,

Drowning in my loneliness and shame.

Then, as subtle and soft as an echo from afar,

I hear you call my name –

Once. But no… But yes! And once again.

Tears of redemption making rivers down my face,

I drag myself up to the once- impenetrable barrier…

You are standing there still, unwavering, waiting for me.

Inspired anew with yet-hesitant hope and timid longing,

I close my sun-stunned eyes, and whisper an

Imperfect prayer sincere.

For seeming centuries, I search my heart, my soul –

I reach my hands into the welcoming light,

Breathe in the life-awakening crispness of

Air washed clean by April rains,

And remember. And forget.

Forgive. Find. Let go. Catch. Lose. Regain…

And finally…love.

The suffocating bricks crumble around my feet,

Baring my pale head to the firmament above.

Glory envelops me –

I gasp in the first breath of new life,

And Run…Run…Running…

Feet barely realizing the ground –

Soaring straight into your outstretched arms,

Once empty, now forever filled

By everything that I am and will be…

I am free.

March 11, 2010

Visions of the Future

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:10 pm by eddejae

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us. ~Wilma Rudolph

I’m taking on a big task today. I’m facing those nasty “shoulds” that have been hounding me for years now, not only originating from my own perfectionism and unrealistic expectations for myself, but also other people’s expectations and ideas of what I “should” be doing with my life. I was a pretty smart kid – skipped two grades, graduated high school early, went to college on full scholarship at 17 years old, etc. School was just always easy for me. After I graduated college, I really had no clue what I wanted to do, but I kind of took it for granted that I would get a post-graduate degree. I considered several options, including law school, business school, or going for a Masters or PhD. However, nothing ever seemed to really fit, and honestly, while I did miss the learning aspect of education, I didn’t really relish the idea of going back to school for another three to five years. So for three years now I’ve been going back and forth with the idea, getting input from other people, and changing my mind every few weeks it seems.

Friends, family, and coworkers have also felt the need to “advise” me as to my life path. My boss encouraged me towards business, my aunt practically begged me to become a lawyer, and a close friend of mine even told me that if I didn’t go to grad school, he would be “disappointed” and that I would not be “living up” to my “potential.” So here I am, bombarded with all of these pressures, on top of the nagging voice in my head saying “If you don’t, you’ll regret it!” and “Don’t sell yourself short!” So great was my anxiety over the issue that it was the topic of many sessions with my therapist. She presented me with a very important question that, at the time, I could not even answer: “What do YOU want?”

The query stumped me. I didn’t really know. I just had this expectation built up that I was going to become something “great,” and somehow that translated into becoming some sort of professional with multiple degrees. But how did I define “great”? What would I consider as “living up to my potential”? What do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to be? What would make ME happy? At the time, I was so overwhelmed by opinions and expectations that I couldn’t even identify my own inner voice. I just assumed that the only way I could ever be happy with myself was if I went back to school… But what if I didn’t? What if I decided grad school wasn’t the thing for me, at least for right now? What if I decided on another path? For a long time, I couldn’t find those answers within myself, and I continued in my discontentment and lack of direction.

Yesterday I had an enormous breakthrough. I was able to identify those things that make me the happiest. I realized that going to grad school at this time in my life would NOT make me the happiest. Sure, I could do it, no doubt. But do I want to? No. What makes me happy? Expressing myself through music and writing. Being a daughter, sister, friend. Being involved in my church. Learning on my own through good books. Trying in some small way to make a difference in this world. Volunteering. Loving. Enjoying nature. Discovering who I am and just being that woman, no more, no less.

What do I want for my life? What do I hope to become when I am recovered and healthy in every way? I will tell you.

First and foremost, I want to be a wife and mother someday. I want to have a beautiful, peaceful home full of love and happiness. I want to be a wonderful lover, best friend, and incredible wife to the husband I hope to have one day. I want to have children. I want silly things like… Surprising my husband when he comes home from work with a candlelight dinner. Tucking my children into bed and telling them stories I make up from the top of my head. Taking my kids to soccer practice and ballet lessons. Going on romantic picnics with my husband. I want a flower garden. I want to invent delicious and healthful meals for my family. I want the kind of home that my kids’ friends will love to hang out at. I want to teach my children how to love God, others, and themselves. I want my home to be full of warmth, love, music, and laughter.

I want to be a supportive and loving daughter to my parents. I want to be a positive example to my younger siblings, especially my little sister as she becomes a teenager. I want to be there for my family whenever they need me.

I want to be a published writer.

I want to go to a community college and get an associates degree in music and become a music teacher. I want to give piano lessons in my home. I want to write my own songs and maybe someday make an album.

I want to travel when I can and see as much of this beautiful world as possible.

I want to serve in my church.

I want to keep learning for the rest of my life, and developing new skills.

I want to live my life with passion, taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way and living life to the fullest.

I want to change the world for good in some way and let my light shine. I want to be a conduit of God’s love and an instrument in His hands to lift His children. I want to inspire others and help those in need in whatever way God has planned.

I don’t need to be a lawyer or doctor to be happy and make a difference in the world. I might still do that someday when my kids are grown, but it is not what I feel is best right now. The last time I was in the hospital, I had this overwhelming feeling that I have something important to do with my life, and that is why God needs me here. I’m not sure what that is yet, but I believe as I do those things I listed above – the things that make me and others around me happy – I will surely discover my purpose.

Finally, I feel free from those expectations and “shoulds” I had bound myself with for so long. Free to enjoy my life. Free to be all that I can be. Free to reach my true potential.

March 7, 2010

Beauty from Pain

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , at 11:03 pm by eddejae

The pain passes, but the beauty remains. ~Renoir

I first heard the following song today, and it had such an impact on me I had to share it. I feel like I could have written it myself, it hits so close to home.

The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I’m alive but I feel like I’ve died
And all that’s left is to accept that it’s over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I’m slipping away

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today,
Someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I’ll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can’t understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how you’ve brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today,
Someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Here I am, at the end of me
Trying to hold to what I can’t see
I forgot how to hope
This night’s been so long
I cling to Your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today,
Someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain


March 4, 2010

Pain Stayed So Long

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , at 10:49 pm by eddejae

Pain stayed so long
I said to him today,
“I will not have you with me anymore
And paused there startled at the look he wore.
“I who have been your friend,”
he said to me, “I who have been your teacher
–all that you know of understanding love,
of sympathy and patience,
I have taught you.
Shall I go?”
He spoke the truth,
this strange unwelcome guest;
I watched him leave and knew that he was wise.
He left a heart grown tender in my breast.
He left a far, clear vision in my eyes.
I dried my tears, and lifted up a song
Even for one who’d tortured me so long.
~Anonymous

February 19, 2010

My Purpose for Writing, Part 1 – My Story

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:09 pm by eddejae

It was the evening of January 3, 2010. I blinked into the glaring fluorescent lights on the emergency room ceiling as I rubbed the stinging handcuff marks on my wrists. Dazed and lethargic from the 24 Nyquil pills still running through my veins, I stuttered my way through an awkward series of questioning from various nurses and doctors who forced their way into my consciousness. Talking was the last thing I wanted to do. Giving them reasons was not only daunting, but seemingly futile at this point.

“Why did you overdose?”

“Were you trying to kill yourself?”

“What’s going on in your life that would make you want to do this?”

All I could do in response was shake my head and say, over and over again, “I don’t know.” I don’t know. I don’t know why I took all those pills. I don’t why I’m so hopeless and depressed. I don’t know why I hate myself so much. I don’t know why I hurt so badly. I don’t know why I just want my life to end. All I know is that I don’t want to feel anything anymore. I’m tired of my life. I’m tired of being me.

The entire scenario – the paramedics, the ambulance, the emergency room, the subsequent seclusion in a psych unit – was all too familiar too me. This was my third suicide attempt in the last two months. My first attempt involved overdosing on liquid Nyquil and slicing my arms, wrists, and neck with a utility knife. During the second episode, I submitted myself to the hospital before I followed through with my plan. And here I was again, in a hospital, choking down charcoal. This time was a bit more dramatic, as I had actually written a suicide note to my parents and, in my medicated state, apparently attacked the paramedics…hence the handcuffs. Even now I can’t say for sure whether or not I truly wanted to die. I figured, whatever happens, happens. If I die, so be it. If I don’t, I guess it wasn’t mean to be. Either way, I didn’t care. Either way, I hoped to somehow escape the overwhelming intensity of the emotions that bombarded me from moment to moment, making life meaningless and unbearable.

Episodes of severe depression and turmoil have become a way of life for me. My first episode occurred at sixteen years old, accompanied by severe anxiety and panic attacks. I have dealt with both depression and anxiety on and off for seven years now. I have also struggled with eating disorders –  first anorexia, then bulimia and uncontrollable binges lasting days at a time. Though I have experienced social anxiety, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and excessive shame and guilt for most of my life (largely as a result of childhood sexual trauma), the severe symptoms of depression, as well as other self-destructive behaviors, had become especially prevalent over the last several years.

I could never understand why the very act of living was so difficult for me. Why couldn’t I just be happy and normal? I felt stuck in destructive patterns of behavior that affected my health, my relationships, my schooling, and my work. Over the few months leading up to my first suicide attempt, and continuing on until the third, sexual promiscuity, binging and purging, drinking, and cutting had become the norm for me. I absolutely hated these things, but I felt as if I had no control over myself. I no longer cared what happened to my body, because I hated it. I no longer cared what happened to my spirit, because I already felt dead inside. Dead to everything but pain, loneliness, and self-loathing. I turned my back on God. I was somehow angry at Him for what my life had become and, at the same time, felt I was a filthy, disgusting creature unworthy of His love. I felt that I had nothing, no one, to turn to. I was in complete darkness.

Two weeks ago I was officially diagnosed with chronic, recurrent depression and borderline personality disorder. Though depression is commonly known, BPD (borderline personality disorder) is not. The symptoms of BPD include frantic effort to avoid abandonment; a pattern of intense and unstable relationships; identity confusion and disturbance; impulsivity in a least two areas that are self-damaging; recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behavior; emotional dysregulation and instability; chronic feelings of emptiness; inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling it; stress-related paranoia or dissociation. I exhibit every single one of these criteria. Believe it or not, I was actually very relieved to hear this. Finally, there was a reason for everything I was feeling and experiencing. I am not a horrible person. I am dealing with an illness that is brought on by a combination of abnormal brain functioning, genetic predisposition, and negative and stressful life events. I have a difficult time dealing with emotions, and I have certain thought patterns and beliefs that are a result of childhood trauma and that lead to unhealthy ways of coping (eating disorders, self-harm, acting out, isolation, etc).

Now that the underlying cause of my distress has been pinpointed, I have hope that I can overcome this illness that has kept me down for so long. Through medication and therapy, I CAN get through the depression, through the BPD, through my eating disorder… and become healthy and whole again. But although meds and therapy sessions are an important part of my recovery, I am fully aware that the strength motivation to achieve full mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health MUST come from somewhere inside ME. And THAT is where my biggest challenge lies.