Due to the level of soul-crushing depression I was living with, I knew I needed to find the answer to the screaming question in my mind of, “how did I get here?” or “how did I get so far from the good parts of me?” I realized that my life had been a series of many “breaks.” I imagine these as breaks in the pattern of my soul. To me these breaks, look like the cracks in the road that have been fixed with crappy asphalt, which accurately describes how I felt about these breaks in who I am.
The breakdowns have been mental, physical, and crushing soul level. They all have a story and their own unique damaging designs. I’ve often felt that my emotional and sensitive nature indicates these broken parts of me. I assumed that everyone could see them and see how much of an imposter I am.
The anxiety, depression, and trauma, the subsequent flawed concept of self, caused a great deal of pain that left me feeling broken. For so many years, I thought I had a handle on these feelings of brokenness. I would try to keep these feelings under control to prevent one of my more severe breakdowns (more on that later). To tackle my flawed concept of self, I would try to collect accolades to prove to myself and the world that I was worthy of existing, being loved, and having a life. I thought if I could build myself into an attractive, high-functioning career mom and wife with a lovely home, I would feel like a whole human. Unfortunately, that was not the case; in fact, it made me feel more broken than ever. How could I have everything I ever wanted and feel like I was breaking even more? I didn’t have the answer to my question or the pain that I was feeling, so I found something to numb the pain. I started using alcohol, wine especially as medicine, to numb the screams of pain from my broken places.
Where it started
I think my broken parts started at the youngest age possible. My father, a mentally unwell broken person, who medicated with drugs and alcohol, created a dark, tense cloud in our home. He would be in the house, and the energy would become scary and thick with his frustration, anger, and the knowledge from my mother and I that anything could set him off. It was like living with a ticking time bomb. Like many abusive households where substance abuse is an issue, we struggled financially. I often considered myself a “poor kid” and assumed my peers did too. All my friends had nice homes, clothes, and toys. On the other hand, I lived in tiny one-bathroom homes and shared a bedroom with my sisters.
It’s amazing how other kids can sniff out our brokenness like we give off a scent, and they can tell that our home life probably isn’t great. Then for that reason, they decide that they should make school just as hellish. I don’t know what was worse, home or school? First, I would be made fun of for my wild curly hair that, when brushed, turned into a frizzy mess or hand-me-down clothes I wore daily. Then in fifth grade, when my homelife’s stress manifested on my face in the form of acne, the kids, some of whom I considered my best friends, would use that to torture me.
By the beginning of seventh grade, things at home and school had become even worse. My father’s outbursts had become a daily occurrence where the severity of the outburst and level of subsequent destruction after the fact were the only changing variables. For example, a loud noise made by one of my little sisters or myself could set him off into what appeared to be an adult temper tantrum. On the other hand, with my apparent disdain towards him, I always received the worst and took the brunt of the abuse. I am happy that most of this landed on my shoulders, and I could protect my sisters. But now, 23 years later, I finally realize the effect this has had on me throughout the years.
Thankfully, when I was 12-years-old, our mother left my father. She was finally forced to leave with my sisters and I by a terrifying event at our home. Terrified, I called my Grandmother across the country for help while hiding in my closet.
To be continued in next weeks post: Introduction – Part II – All of my broken places