The One Where She Finally Asks For Help

Rabbit Ears Pass Winter Wonderland, taken by my talented husband, Steve

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It’s been five weeks and change since I bothered to post anything here. While I couldn’t get my shit together to write, you may be relieved to know I literally couldn’t get my shit together for much of anything else either. It’s been fits and starts for me for years now, and I’m spent from trying to figure out how to start my engine again. It seems as the rest of the world is beginning to bounce back into some sort of trial, post-pandemic life and get going again, I’m still standing in the starting gate questioning whether I heard the gun go off. It might have. I probably wasn’t paying attention. I don’t know. What day is today anyway? What am I going to make for dinner? I’ve got no clue. Will I actually put on something other than pajama pants today? Probably not. I’m too tired to put in the effort for myself and I’m too tired to care about it.

What’s the point. It’s not even a question anymore. It’s just a statement.

I’ve come so far in my emotional journey, breaking down my life’s components, decade by decade, to help me understand how I got to be 54 without having any idea who I am. Still I am coming up short of knowing myself honestly and without filters. I understand how I got this way. I know exactly what led me here. There’s no undoing it. First I had to accept that my childhood was run by emotionally immature adults who used me as a foil for all their issues. Then I had to grieve the loss of the childhood I wished I’d had. Then I had to work my way through the traumatic memories to take away their sting. Then I had to accept my own part in remaining that lost little girl. Then I had to begin to make amends to myself and to others who I used to bolster up my assumed identity. And, well, it was all worth it, but I’m spent and I’ve been spent for years.

I found this today in an Instagram post by The Holistic Psychologist. I wish I had written it. I couldn’t find the words, but I am grateful she did.

A Letter of Forgiveness to My Younger Self

I forgive myself for the time I spent in survival mode. I forgive myself for the times I used other people, alcohol, and other destructive behaviors to avoid the pain I felt within. I forgive myself because I learned that closeness meant chaos and dysfunction, and I re-enacted that dysfunction over and over again. I forgive myself because I witnessed adults who couldn’t self-regulate, so I dissociated to not feel and not connect to other people. I forgive myself because I was left alone to deal with my emotions, so I became fixed on not being abandoned by other people. In the process, I abandoned myself. I forgive myself because I learned my role was to be easy and to be liked, so I betrayed my own values to gain that approval. I forgive myself because I allowed my mother wound to impact every relationship I ever had, then avoided responsibility and blamed other people for issues they didn’t create. I forgive myself for my past and know that through taking responsibility for my life, I give the younger version of myself a new future.

That sums up where I am now. That is how far I’ve come. I get it. I see everything. How I became lost and how I kept myself lost is no longer a mystery. But I’ve remained stuck here in this place, biding my time and hoping I would snap out of it. Here I still stand, waist deep in a quicksand of exhaustion and apathy. Going NOWHERE.

Because of this, I determined that if I can’t move forward on my own, I’m going to have to ask for help. This week I did something I never thought I would do (back in the old days when I was 100% certain I was someone I was not). I started taking an antidepressant because I need a push to start living again. Not just breathing and going through the motions, but actually living my life. Being present. Being invested. Being enthusiastic. Being healthful. Being observant. Being open. Being brave. It’s too early to tell if they are helping yet and, indeed, I might need a higher dose to stop my stalling and get on with it. But, it’s a step. A step I desperately needed to take. And I am hopeful. Hopeful that I will find that lost little girl and tell her to go for it, all of it, and stop apologizing to everyone for existing in her skin. Hopeful that someday soon I will be writing again, and through my writing I will find my way to the beautiful me I’ve never known yet long to meet.

3 comments

  1. Hey Justine:

    Sincerely, my heart goes out to you. While it distresses me to know you feel you are at the bottom- or perhaps stalled out, it gladdens me to see your great comfort in being able to recognize the cause and effect of such things, and to speak of them freely. To be able to seek alternative solutions as well, seems to show a core level of self-worth. That you feel you are worth taking care of, and have a desire to attend to it. Remember, I have been following this journey for a decade or so, and you have spoken much of it. You’ve done a great job and come a long way, even if you can’t see it yourself.
    During my sabbatical, a most freeing and empowering revelation was that all the requirements with which I was laden (the “shit” I had to get together), were those of my own choosing. While staring out the window and feeling that inexplicable sense that I had to get moving, I thought: “Well, if I was 83 instead of 63, no one would think it unusual for me to sit in the rocking chair on the porch all day, watching birds and nodding off.” Sometimes my brain still wanders into the shit storm, and I can hear it’s tell-tale calls: “I should…”, “I need to…”, “At the least I ought to…”, “What will someone…”, “I better…”.
    Sure, there are a few really basic requirements like showering and eating. And at first I didn’t understand how easily everyday life would get itself done. Laundry, cleaning the windows, mowing the lawn. Everything else, all that shit, chattel we have laid upon ourselves. Who said I need to define myself or give blood or support the political rally or learn to fly? To have answers to well-posed questions and a plan for the future? To know and do everything? Yeah, that would be me.
    I began interrupting myself at “I need to…” with “No. No, you don’t really.”
    I am choosing the things I want to do, not doing that which I feel compelled to do.
    It takes the slightest leap, but the ordinary things really do take care of themselves.
    Leaving us free to choose as we please.
    and

    All my best,

    Paz

    1. Hello, Paz.

      I was deeply moved by your words here. I got quite emotional about them, to be honest. I appreciate your following my journey and recognizing some progress. The best part for me about journaling (as that is what blogging is for me, online journaling) is that I can go back and see where I have been and where I am now. It helps me understand that growth is occurring, even when I feel stuck. I am proud of myself for getting to where I am. I am also quite tired of thinking about the past and ready to move back into the present. I just needed a little help being able to show up for myself right now, and I feel I am on the right track.

      I agree that learning to prioritize your to-do list, both for life and the day, into things you actually *need* to do helps a lot. I’ve also started asking myself if something I am doing for someone else is something I genuinely want to be doing rather than something I feel obligated to do for any reason. For the first time in my life, I’m able to react to the moment with a calmer mind rather than the defense system I built as a child. I’m so grateful that I was brave enough to put in the hard work and, yes, that I had enough worth to make the hard journey and not give up.

      Thank you for being a friend all these years. As I’ve said before, you’ll never know how greatly your comments impacted me.

      On to better days!
      Justine

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