Take Some Credit

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Frankly, I’m an atheist and it’s because of my life experiences overall, that I’ve arrived at my ideologies surrounding any and all religion. I’m not writing this to debate or argue with anyone on the subject of religion. These are my established beliefs and are not subject to debate as I refuse to debate over those things I don’t believe in. A lot of you maybe familiar with the poem, “Footprints in the Sand.” You know, how when times were so hard for you, it was me (“god”) that picked you up and carried you and that’s why there are only one set of footprints to be found left behind in the sand.

I was told when I was a child, that if I prayed, not only for myself but for others first and also admitted my (and were honestly sorry for them) sins, that my prayers would be answered. I prayed a lot. I prayed a lot for everyone else first, like the kids in Ethiopia that I would see on TV with swollen bellies and crusted faces. I would pray for everyone else but me, first. Than, I would usually pray for a real pony or horse and call it a night. I was severely sexually abused from whenever I could begin to remember until the age of 7 by my step-father that had adopted me when I was six months old.

During these times that he was abusing me and the weight of his grown body was bearing down against me and I was enduring the worse pain of my life, I would scream and cry. To no avail. I started to pray too. I prayed incessantly to myself and “god” above, so hopeful my child prayers were heard. I had prayed so much that I stopped and never uttered another word to “god.” I was forsaken and I knew it at such a young age. I knew what that word meant at such a young age because it was through those times of abuse and trauma that I knew I was given up on.

My step-mother even caught my step-father abusing me as she began to descend the steps to the ground level of the house. I couldn’t move but all I could see as I looked up to see her, was her turn her back and ascend back to the top level of the house and all she did was go back to bed. At a very young age, I knew betrayal intimately as I would come to know vengeance, retribution and anger. My step-mother was a coward and rat of the worse kind and I never forgave her for betraying me nor all the violence and abuse she doled out on me until I finally left her house as I was tentatively scheduled to be kicked out when I graduated high school anyhow, so good riddance.

Take some credit! Through the shit storm that was my life, it was me, that weathered every storm over again only to get through another one. It’s been the same for you. You got yourself through the hell of life too. I never once gave up on myself. I’ve had the lowest of lows when I didn’t want to be alive anymore, but it was the will to survive that pulled me through. It was my voice telling me, “How fucking dare, you let the scum of the earth keep you down for so long to submit to a defeatist way of thinking! You always had the strength you needed and the proof of it all remains right in front of you, because here you are still standing. Still ready for the next battle because life is made of both the light and the dark.”

My life did a significant 360 when I was ‘tween 15 & 16 years old. I was enduring bullies at school, my step-mother’s boyfriend was putting his hands on me whenever he got the chance. I was a 120 pound girl that was fucking tired of being pushed around and used as a punching bag. I had a mental shift. I began to gain the courage to fight back and I lost the fear that held me back and was keeping me stuck in the victim role.

I began to attend punk rock shows and then hardcore and the message behind the music and the empowerment I felt was a very positive reinforcement for me in my life at the time. A lot of people talk shit that they don’t know about. I was attending shows in the mid-90’s and it was obviously largely male dominated, but I grew up also fighting and playing with males ever since I was very small , so it was like everything was coming full circle for me, in a literal sense.

There were brutal and chaotic shows, that to just be on the dance floor would most likely get you kicked in the head. I looked at the people of the punk and hardcore subculture as my type of people. A lot of those people were not wealthy, knew hardships, abuse, and had been knocked down more than once in life. I liked those that were like me. Legit, had nothing to prove, and only had love for the music and not fashion. I took what I learned from the hardcore lifestyle and applied it to my life and embraced it tightly against my heart.

I began to start to personally take on every bully that even stepped to me and also other bullies that I would see pressing others. When my step-mother’s boyfriend put his hands on me, I fought him the best I could. The most empowering thing I’ve felt in my life, was to lose that fear of someone putting their hands on you. What I learned, was to tap into that deep seated anger and resentment I will wholly and always own and unleash it against my enemy. I use my hate and anger at my discretion and it burns within me like a infernal flame that can never be extinguished.

I’ve had therapists discredit my resolve to not relinquish my anger. They say, that it’s “energy zapping” or just negative energy altogether. FUCK THEM! This is what I say to them. This is what I say to all of your therapists too! The only reason that I am still alive today, is due to my anger and hate. I have many mental illnesses and PTSD is one of them. I’ve never been a soldier, but I’ve fought my whole life and struggled.

I will say this to those whom have been soldiers, never let your anger and hate die. You survived for a reason. If you lost your friends, you must live your life in memory of them. This is your legacy and the greatest gift you have to give to those that gave all. Their sacrifices are your’s too. So, now it is for them and yourself that you have the greatest reason to live and continue to be the warrior you still are.

Everyone’s had their own battles and lived their own wars. It’s how we come out in the end that matters. WE are not just survivors. We are all warriors for fighting day in and day out. Your struggle is unique to you and I dare not invalidate your experiences. The same goes for my own struggles. I take credit for myself. I take credit for becoming the person I am today despite all those people that hurt me so much. I would at the same time, like to thank each and every one of those assholes because, had you not made things so terrible for me, I wouldn’t be nearly as battle hardened and unfazed by those of a softer existence that have tried to press me. Take credit for your accomplishments!

On Being Your Own Best Shrink

Some background on me is, that I’ve been in relationships with mental health professionals since the age of seven. These relationships have been sporadic since the age of seven until my current age of 38. It wasn’t until my later 20’s that I actually was under more constant mental medical supervision of some sort. I think I can safely ascertain that when I speak of these things about myself and due to the experience I’ve obtained from working with the mental health professionals that I’m speaking objectively and obviously biased, since these are my opinions and experiences. However, my statements are also subjective because of those same experiences that happened and how they affected me mentally in my life.

My first experience with a social worker, was when I was approximately seven years old. I was pulled out of my class and felt like something was wrong and I also felt awkward because everyone’s attention was then focused on me and what was concerning me. The social worker takes me to a room and I thought I’d done something extraordinary wrong for the manner in which everything was taking place. It felt very covert and I obviously felt like all the attention was diverted to me, but in a overwhelming way.

The social worker makes an attempt to make small talk and eventually asks me if anyone had been touching me in an inappropriate way or hurting me. There were many times that I would wear pants to school to cover the welts in the warmer months and that was until my ass would start to mend and then my step-parents would switch off so I could wear the appropriate clothes for the weather. I suppose that was clever on their part.

I lied straight faced and without even having to think much over my response to the social worker’s questions. I didn’t tell the truth because I was afraid. I was afraid of where I’d be put if I was put in the foster care system and I was even more afraid of what would happen if my step-parents found out I told the truth of the sexual trauma, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse I endured day in and out. The devil you know is sometimes better than the devil you don’t. All I know is for a seven year old girl to have so much on her plate, she had to think fast and be a few steps ahead of things.

So, from that time when I was seven and until now, there’s no telling how many people know the intimate details of my life story. This is what I do know about it all now, though. From the time I started working with mental health professionals, I would have to say through my experiences, that very few individuals actually helped me make any productive head way whatsoever in my daily life.

I readily admit that I’m what any DBT therapist will describe as, “willful.” It’s entirely true to a default. I’m both a realistic and pragmatic when it comes to everything in life. If someone is hocking an idea or strategy to me that I know will not work for me, than I just discard it right away. THIS is my whole point with the mental health field. It still is medicine being practiced. New studies are being conducted constantly and nothing is truly static.

What I’ve learned for myself that works tremendously and it doesn’t require an hour long session to accomplish is, to assess your own self. You don’t have to have a degree in anything to do this. It’s something that I regularly do to figure out what is working for me in my life and what isn’t. Take for example, my relationship with my biological mother has always been a strained and rocky one. Last year, I wrote her a letter that would forever change our relationship. It contained something that happened that she needed to have knowledge of.

Her lack of response was the only indication I needed that I needed to move on in my life as she was no longer anyone to me anymore. I realize for some people, these are not easy life tasks to accomplish. Permanently severing my relationship with my biological mother was a painful process and definitely a decision that I ruminated over. But, the empowerment! If you are able in your life to make these decisions on what’s not working and only adding more stress to your life, with a clear, stable, and sober mind, than you will find that inner strength you always had to persevere through the strife.

I go to my therapist almost on a weekly basis. I don’t feel any stigma about having to deal with the mental health professionals. I know I’m a pain in the ass because they probably think I’m a know it all, that doesn’t listen to their suggestions (when they actually provide feedback ) but it’s my hour. Having multiple mental illnesses is enough combined with the physical problems I have as well. Ultimately in life, it is you that is going through and dealing with your mental illness and other problems. Your mental health professional isn’t going to be there with you when you’re stuck in a public restroom stall willing yourself to breathe because of a anxiety or panic attack.

I know all about these times. Twenty or so minutes spent trying to collect yourself so you can leave the bathroom and go pick up your prescriptions. Do the breathing exercises. Focus, distract yourself with just about any method that works for you. You know you better than anyone else. You know when you need a break. You know if a place is subject to trigger a panic attack. Take care of yourself the best way you know how. If something isn’t working, THROW IT OUT! I personally only use the strategies that work for me and everything else is background noise, because I have tried many mindful skills, and DBT skills but they don’t work for everyone.

I don’t have a little notebook of skills compiled for the panic attacks and all of my triggers. I just know. At this age, it’s second nature. Everyday is a struggle for us all. I’m just trying to learn as I go about what’s helpful and what’s not. Fight on my fellow warriors!!