Withdrawing From Pain By Withdrawing From Life

Lately, I have had to admit to myself that I need some help. I’m unable to find my way out of my sadness.

10914902_10152692972144053_2774787161618968080_oMaybe this isn’t an earth-shattering declaration for some people, but for me, it is pretty unprecedented. I have a ridiculously complicated thought process when it comes to allowing myself to be weak. Should I find myself depressed, I instantly dislike my weakness, ashamed of how pathetic I am, question my faith, and often decide to avoid asking for help because I assume people will think I’m just wanting attention, and maybe deep down, I really am. I almost never come to the conclusion that I might just be a sick person who could use a little help, but instead, it is always that I am a person who just needs to try harder to  be better. What does it say about God that one of His own is so flawed and weak?

I have a past that includes being molested, and that subject makes me physically sick to my stomach, so I assume people will decide I’m “tainted” or sad“dirty”, or will look at me with pity, which I hate with my whole being. It happened so long ago, it feels pathetic to be affected by it now. The crazy thing is, I thought that way within minutes every single time it happened, and somehow, I always felt I had missed the window of time it would be acceptable to need some help. Decades later, I feel disgusted by my inability to just forget all about it.

Throughout my adult life, I developed a way to live rather contentedly around the parts of me that had been broken, and maybe even took a little pride in having accomplished this all by myself.

Then, my marriage exploded spectacularly, in so many extreme ways, and in such a short period of time, and suddenly I was not only being bombarded by the debris of that recent event, but long ignored emotions and fears from being abused were present as well, as if all that stuff had just happened yesterday. All of it confused me, threw me off balance, and removed any illusion of feeling safe in this world or in my own mind.

It seemed to take forever, but I limped my way through the grief, tears, fear, and sadness. I assumed that because I could make it through a day without crying, I was getting well. I could find things to laugh about again, so of course, I had to be getting back on track, right? Whole days had finally began to show up that I felt reasonably okay. As long as things were beginning to be endurable, I didn’t need anyone’s help with any of it.

I think I was wrong to assume anything about any of this.

psalmsOver the months that followed my separation, I have had to adjust to a whole new kind of life that includes a lower standard of living, a pressure to support myself without help, loneliness, changing plans and goals for my future from “us” to just “me”, and probably the hardest change, distrusting myself, my perceptions of what is real and what is just my imagination, and my innate powerlessness to protect myself from harm. I’m a resilient person, and I do have faith in the Lord, so my decline has been gradual, but last week, I finally accepted, I’m drowning in all of this, and I feel something terrifyingly familiar from a different time in my life — numb.

Since the day I left my childhood home, I have been grappling with different addictions that would pop up whenever I found myself in emotional crises that I felt I couldn’t cope with. I knew I was self-medicating, and frankly, the alternative was simply unacceptable. I would ride out whatever Doc 1-18-2015 9-04 AM6storm either drunk, or high, or asleep, and then I would quit the coping tool. I felt that because I was only using something to get through the problem and found stopping cold-turkey rather easy, I had found a reasonably effective way to deal with things I couldn’t deal with. I still maintained my jobs, and my perfectionism helped me maintain an acceptable level of performance, and my introverted nature kept people from ever really noticing I was impaired. From the mildest to the hardest drugs I’ve ever used, my reaction to being blitzed is the same – I’m silent. Everything is always going on in my head, whether I’m sober or not. So, for decades, on and off a few months at a time, I would crash into these valleys of self-medicating, and no one, even Chef, was the wiser. To further complicate everything, I’m a suspicious, distrustful person. Almost every substance I used was legal — mini-thins, liquor, or prescription drugs that had been prescribed to me specifically. Only a few times did I venture into street substances, and these times were when the drug was offered to me by someone I could reasonably believe wasn’t stupid enough to get caught by the police and give them my name. My fear was being thrown under the bus by someone trying to keep his own butt out of jail. I rarely if ever had to purchase it, and I used such small amounts, for such short periods of time, my finances weren’t affected either. As junkies go, I was pretty high-functioning, which may have been the worst thing for me. It has kept me from truly needing to get well throughout my entire adult life.

de2bc5f8b1dcbd01171766f544557675_largeIf you have been following this blog since the beginning, you know I fell into this same habit again, trying to cope with losing everything. Up and down, back and forth, using, not using, and even being able to maintain a job, pay my bills, write, and basically function. I was up-front with my kids about where I was emotionally, what I was or was not doing, and I was allowing myself a little luxury of leaning on Rebekkah a little. But overall, I was trying to deal with it like I assume normal, healthy, strong people would. It occurs to me now, I don’t think I’ve ever met one of these mythical normal, healthy, strong people I’ve always tried to emulate all my life. I think maybe we are all a little broken.

In September, when I had to put Jake down, something in me snapped. Emotionally, I was more than just a little sad. I was afraid. I was alone, exposed, and though it makes no real sense logically, I felt targeted. I rarely remember my dreams, but often, I wake up crying, or terrified of something I can’t quite recall. As a person who naturally isolates more than other people tend to do, my reaction to life in general has been to Jake 2withdraw inside myself for longer and longer periods of time, and it scares me to find how hard it is for me to come back from so deep inside of me.

I find myself staying numb, even without drugs or alcohol, and I haven’t a clue how I am able to do that. I will admit freely, if snorting a line of hot tar from the street outside could make me feel less emotional pain, the city would have to repave my street. I know myself fairly well, and only once has everything around me felt so hopeless and dark that I didn’t even want to try to fight it. The last time I felt this way, I swallowed a bottle of pills hoping to never wake up. I know when I have crossed into a dangerous place and this place is not good for me.

bird2Ella and the way she died was the tipping point for me, and I haven’t been able to recover any sense of normalcy since then. Where is God, and why has He deserted me? Does He really care about the sparrows? Why let Ella die so horribly? Didn’t He know how much Rebekkah loved that dog? I can’t feel God, or hear His voice, and I’m more terrified by that than anything else. What if God has had enough of this weak child so low on basic faith?

I’m afraid of what I may lose next. I’m broken. I’m so horrified by the world I’m living in. I’m so very angry. I’m afraid of feeling. I’m afraid of not feeling. I’m alone. I’m almost finished trying, and I’m afraid of that, too.

I’m older than I was when I did that hopeless act of selfishness, and I refuse to do something like that again. My children have been impacted by all of 10917201_10152687004769053_6523266361686547603_othis as well, and I’m not deserting them to handle all of it alone, knowing I bailed on them. I can still feel shame, of course, because that emotion could break through any of my walls, and that is not the legacy I want to leave my babies with.

I don’t care what my motives might be in the shadowy depths of my subconscious, nor do I have the luxury anymore of not allowing someone to judge how I chose to cope, either with booze or just becoming a cold, distant bitch. I have no control over the opinions people are going to have about me when it comes to this, nor does it matter anymore that I assume I will be despised for being so pathetic. No one could be more disappointed in me than I am.

I don’t want to disconnect from life and those I love in it; that would make me feel so much more shame in myself than I’m already carrying around. I can’t worry about what people’s opinion of me will be if they knew how pathetically weak I can be about such minor things in comparison to the nightmares other people have had to endure. Ella was a dog; people have had their children murdered!! What is fucking wrong with me?!

I write all of this because of accountability. I need to get help, but left to myself, I would find reasons not to.

ICONDon’t feel sorry for me. It was a long time coming, and I knew all along that eventually, I would need to deal with my inability to deal with life. I chose the easy way all these years through all sorts of crises instead of the right way, and here I am, reaping the consequences.

Because I am hard to read, and because my kids are loyal and private and would never in a million years give anyone a reason to judge me, I felt like I should let people know that I am not a person who has her shit together, no matter how it might seem on the outside. I hope I don’t choose to be intentionally deceptive, but who the hell knows anymore? I’m on auto-pilot, just going through the motions these days.

I have had the flu for a few days now, but I did call yesterday and make an appointment to see a shrink. I hate therapy, primarily because I have spent my entire life avoiding having to address this shit, and that’s all they ever seem to want to do. And if I want to get well, I have to have someone to help me. I’ve reached a real crossroads, and I’m choosing to live.

Feel free to nag me, insult me, love me, or hate me. But please, also forgive me.

~ Bird

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Author: Catherine aka "Bird"

Marketing Specialist Recruiter Freelance Writer Blogger

23 thoughts on “Withdrawing From Pain By Withdrawing From Life”

  1. I wish I could be there in real life to give you hugs. My eyes welled up as I read your post. All I can offer is is emotional support and prayers through the internet. I think you need to take it easy on yourself. What you’re feeling is normal. I bet any expert would tell you that. When we deal with emotional blows one right after another, who wouldn’t feel targeted, with or without faith involved? I think as Christians we are harder on ourselves since we feel like by losing faith we’re letting Him down. It’s hard for us to imagine how He could possibly love us in all of our ickiness and perceived weakness.

    Have you talked with a counselor? Whether it’s someone through church or elsewhere, it might help to have someone to help you purge this from your system so you can begin to see the light.

    I thought of this song when I saw this post. Hope it brings a small measure of comfort. Take heart my sister in Christ. He’s got you in his hands, even when you can’t feel them. ❤

    Danny Gokey, Hope in Front of Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5GFiDdGGGM

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  2. My goodness Catherine you do not need forgiveness for how you’re feeling…. or from anything else you did from anyone… If itis something between you and God needing forgiveness ..that’s between you and Him. You know your Bible and I’m not going to try and quote..but you know many of God’s people ..one example only David.. Look how he messed up. So God is not surprised right now at how you’re feeling… He knew before you did.

    You’re depressed … and need to have loving support and some clinical support to help you climb out. I hope that whoever it is doesn’t simply go over all the things that are in the past… and remain there. I hope he gives you a way to come into the present to help you turn things around.

    Allow for all the ‘shi*…. you’ve been through and tell me the normal average Joe Blow would not have collapsed under the pressure far before you did. The human body, mind and soul whether Christian or not can only go through that type of stress so long without breaking under it. The situation with Ella was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back… and not surprisingly. I don’t think you need a bevy of words right now…just understanding and love and support. Whenever there is anything I can offer you… just ask…. even if it just involves listening… I think you have my email but anyway… it’s writerwannabe763@gmail.com Love Diane xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Diane. I finally broke and cried and cried this morning. I didn’t even think while I was doing it, or wonder if I should be or not. I just cried. I can’t explain why, but I have an odd peace right now. Hopefully I won’t over-think it to death. I just want to rest in it for a bit. You are always so kind to me. I could never repay you. I love you too, Diane.

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  3. Bird, You are a wonder to me. I dont write back to you often – mostly because I have been in such as state as you described, sort of just moaning through the stages of grief, but you are at a turning point I can see – and its all good.
    Your Honesty is what is like best. I mean – really – your life is everyone’s life. And you share things that allow others to feel validated. You know, you and I have shared much of the same journey.
    Religion and faith are vital to personal happiness. yes. having somethign we believe in greater than ourselves. yes. But let’s remembr in our “imperfect perfection” that the entire POINT of your human life is to experience “who you are not” (addiction, fear, sadness – you are not this. You already knew that though :)) But to experience the grandest version of yourself.
    One of the things that interests me about Buddhism is the actual story of the Buddha. I think EVERYONE has his story. And really, its also the same journey as Jesus and Mohammed and many prophets. This journey to “enlightenment”. Well kiddo – welcome to the crossroads. The “jumping off place” – For Buddha it was when he finally just sat under a tree and stopped trying so hard – with no effort. For jesus it was when he surrendered to his father’s will. And for you – it will be when you love yourself, not despite your supposed “flaws” or what you call “flaws” (I dont :)) but when you love yourself WITH your flaws. You my dear friend have to LOVE your inner bitch. LOVE your weepie emotional vulnerable awesome self. God did not create day and night for our entertainment – He created it for us to be able to understand both sides of the coin. And that ALL sides of the coin – ultimately – ARE God.
    One of the coolest parts of the Buddha story is that when he sat under that tree and sort of just “gave in” to everything, he chose to face his “matraya” – this evil demon that represented all his fears. Instead of running, or trying to meditate more, or doing something to “fix” his fears…he just sat with them. Like Jesus and satan. no fear. Just the Holy presence.
    Don’t be afraid of your addictions. they arent you. Don’t be afraid of your emotions…they arent you either. Dont be afraid of what is in your path – you have put it there (we are powerful creators! – when we forget this, problems happen to remind us)! ANd for God’s sake – and I do mean that quite literally – learn what is so awesome about YOU. Be compassionate with YOU. First. Before rebeccah or the kids. I know…I hate giving advice, but I have BEEN where you are. It is a SPECTACULAR PLACE!! It is the place RIGHT BEFORE you come out the other side and find this place inside of you that is not fear – only LOVE . Because this hard time is so cathartic- you will remember – and continue to honour yourself.
    You know, I work with animals, They are very much part of everything I do – your dogs are close. Turn off all the lights, light a candle and allow them to come to you. You will feel them. NOTHING dies…only continues on. Peace sister. Keep in touch.

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      1. i REALLY ADORE YOU KIDDO. You’re doing great!! Just be you! 🙂 and come visit me in this cold frikking place 🙂 week on the farm with some musicians…do you a world of good. Doors always open 🙂 and when I “forget” to love me – you kick me in the ass xoxox

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  4. No forgiveness necessary Bird, You’re not attention seeking you’re just suffering under the weight of a lot of problems that have been piled on your shoulders for a long time.
    Get some help Bird and he burden won’t seem half as heavy. Plenty of us will stand at your side to either hold your hand in support, or help lift that burden and take over the weight from you.
    Don’t look at it as admitting defeat, it isn’t. We all need a hand sometimes.
    xxx Humongous Hugs xxx

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  5. Dear Bird,

    I don’t think you’re pathetic. Far from it. I’ve followed your blog for almost three years (whoa), and I have been privileged to read your stories, and observe your journey with you. You have faced, and dealt with a lot more damage than the average person day after day, and each time you’ve tried to put up a very strong front to keep yourself from going over cliffs, and staying in ravines. You’ve used humour; you’ve used rage; your gone beloveds have seen you drunk/prescription dialing close friends, but you have kept going. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, pathetic about someone who will not stop going no matter what life has thrown at them, and right you now, you need a bit of a pit stop to get cleaned up from all that’s been thrown at you. That’s alright. That’s normal. It’s fine. Abuse in any form does not go away with strong will power, and offering forgiveness. Not because healing is impossible, but because there is nothing more life-changing than having another human being sully a part of your life that should have been yours to explore when you were ready. Having a marriage fall apart when that sort of history has taught you that trust, and vulnerability are dangerous things is not something that you’re expected to magically bounce back from, because so much of your life has been changed, and change, in any form, is a big deal when the center of it was someone who made you feel normal after all you’ve been through. You may not have coped spectacularly, but you are alive, and breathing. You are still here for your children. Still here for yourself. Still giving yourself the opportunity to grow, and get better, and enjoy what your life can be. Finally, God has not abandoned you. He never could. He never will. No matter how numb, and disconnected you feel, when you’re ready, you’ll see His presence working in your life to get you out of the rut. In the meanwhile, try to think of this as an experience that will teach you to treasure just how important His voice, and His dictates are to you. Once you’ve crossed this state, I can guarantee, you’ll look back and be amazed at how far He has brought you, especially on those days when you thought His voice was lost to you. Having been on both ends of the emotional spectrum, I am going to say (no matter how hypocritical it may be coming from me) that you deserve to treat yourself with patience, and forgiveness. You do not hold yourself together for so long, and then get to beat yourself up for having to be weak a few times. Weakness is what ultimately makes us stronger, because it teaches us so much about ourselves, and the people out there who we will one day be able to help with the lessons from our weaknesses. You’re wise in many ways, and you going out to get a therapist, even though this kind of openness goes against your very grain, is wise, and brave.

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      1. There’s no need to thank me, you’ve been to places I cannot even begin to imagine, so thank you for sharing that here.

        The three year discovery definitely shocked me. I can’t believe so much time has passed. Feels like just yesterday I was worried about finding my poems published by some plagiarist. 😐

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  6. I don’t comment often but I’ve been here reading your words for a long time. There is nothing to be ashamed of Bird. Healing happens when you’re ready. Sounds like your time to start truly healing had come. Xx

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  7. You’ve had a lot of good, loving advice here, so instead of adding more paragraphs, I will just say..you are wrong..you DO feel…that is why you broke your heart writing this. Its time to talk to someone who can see above the mud and get you back on your feet. We all fail…and we all do feel. And we’re all here for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Through your tears you will see healing. You have no need to ask for forgiveness – we all love you for who you are, for your strength, your courage and your compassion. I will tell you something that happened to me after Tom died suddenly, I too could not feel God, nor could I pray…then it was as if the Lord spoke to my heart, actually He did, He said – “Don’t pray just rest and heal – I am sending others to pray for you” So I am praying for you – rest and heal and you will feel God’s presence again, when you are ready He is there with His hand held out to you – He never left you. Hugs –

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  9. You definitely do ‘feel’ and certainly you aren’t pathetic in any way. Your strength can inspire. Many of our thoughts and feelings seem similar-I too feel ‘targeted’ at times, not sure who by…just the faceless, cruel coward that is life sometimes. I try to have faith but struggle a lot of the time to really believe and feel completely alone.

    Perhaps we both share a certain strength that we can’t see but is very apparent to others? It is so hard to keep going, often drowning in pessimism and fear, I fear every corner in life now as it is so long since I tunred one to find something good. I hope for something good around the next one for us both x

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    1. From your lips to God’s ears, Sep. Husband! Hang in there. I don’t know if we have a wellspring of strength we can’t see but others can. I do know that all we really have to do is make it through this one minute we are in right now. Stop fearing the future. Stop being haunted by the past. Only live right this minute. That’s how I’m making it these days. Hoping your load gets lighter too, brother!

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      1. Thanks, I’m afraid it got heavier today..I found out my wife had someone else in her life and there was still things going on while I nursed her through cancer. I’m distraught tonight, never thought the hurt could get worse but it is x

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