Friday, October 08, 2010

Resilience

It's been a while since I posted. Some of it is that I've been busy, some of it is that I've been sick when I haven't been busy, and I guess a bigger part of it is that I haven't been in much of a writing space lately.

I guess I've gotten out of the habit, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. I tend not to write as much when things are going moderately well, and I was kind of in the habit of coming to this blog when I was really trying to sort things out.

I guess I would come here most often when I was trying to shore up my life. I would write about things, trying to figure things out, trying to hold myself together. And I've needed less of that in a lot of ways. I'm coming up on a full year since the worst of the depression ended. I think this is probably the longest stretch I've gone without having that lurking depression inside of me. I would never say it's gone forever, but I'm feeling pretty confident that I'm able to handle it.

Because here's the thing: I do still get depressed. I've even come close to being suicidal, although it's kind of like I built a staircase out of that deep, dark pit, and while I might drop down into it, it doesn't take long for me to find the way out again. Which is pretty damn amazing, you know? To have the depression come up, in response to things that objectively suck in my life, and then to be able to find the path to not being suicidal any more.


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I've been thinking a lot over the past week or two about doing something for the It Gets Better Project. (For those of you who don't know, it's a community response to the number of recent suicides by kids who were being bullied for being queer.)

Mostly, though, I've been defending the project to people who are absolutely livid that someone is saying "It gets better." I guess the people who object to that are still really caught up in their own pain, and can't see how important it is for someone to be able to believe that things get better. The people I've seen who object to it don't seem to believe that things *do* get better, I guess. And so they're angry that the problem of bullying isn't solved immediately. They're maybe jealous of people who *did* find a way to make things better. And, with some of them, it seems as though they think the people who are living better lives now got there by luck or magic or something, and they feel cheated that they (the ones who are currently unhappy) didn't get that magic.

All I know is, one of the things that helped me through some of the worst times was the fact that there was always at least some part of me that refused to stop believing in the possibility of things getting better. Sometimes, it was a very small piece of a very quiet part of my system. But it was always there. It thwarted my suicide attempts. It kept me going to therapy even when most of me was absolutely certain that nothing would get better, ever, at all.

It took me almost eighteen years of therapy to get to a point where I felt better. Objectively, I have to admit, I didn't start feeling really bad until my external circumstances *were* better. When I was still being abused, I was pretty damn certain that there was better, and I did what I had to in order to live to get there. Hell, I did what I had to so that the future I got to would be a place I wanted to live. And that SUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKKED. Just to be clear. I wanted to leave home when I was eleven. I knew it was horrible. I knew it was bad for me. And I also knew that, since I didn't have anywhere to go, anywhere safe to live, that leaving home would mean that I was going to close off a lot of options for myself. Options I wanted to have, like being able to go to school. So I made a deal with myself: live through these next seven years, and then you can leave home. So it was seven years more of abuse, choosing over and over to stay, since I didn't have anywhere I could run away to. I mean, I could have lived on the streets. Hell, it's probably even the case that, had I said something to some of my friends, they would have helped me. But I didn't know that then, so it didn't seem like an option.

Anyhow. I got through those seven years by holding onto the belief that it would get better. That I could leave the abuse behind me, and that things would be BETTER.

And they were, on the outside. I can still remember that first year away from home. Have you ever done the thing where you press your arms against the sides of a doorway, as hard as you can, for a minute or so, and then step out, and your arms just float up, without you making an effort? It was like that. I could just float through things. Everything seemed easy, everything seemed perfect.

And then the nightmares started, and the flashbacks. And I started having all of those horrible feelings coming up, the ones from when I was being abused. I felt like I was a horrible, worthless, disgusting person. I felt like a fraud. I felt like if people found out about me, they would despise me. I felt like people were about to reject me. And so on. And I could look around at my life, and see that everything outside of me was great, and so it seemed like the logical conclusion was that I was the one who had something wrong with me. The problems were inside of me, and there was no escape. And that is when I got suicidal.

I'm just kind of rambling now, still trying to work out what it is that I want to say for the It Gets Better Project. Because what I want to say is, even when the outside circumstances have improved, you might not feel better yet. And that is realistic, and human, and it DOES NOT MEAN YOU'RE NOT GOING TO FEEL BETTER. It just means you need to keep working on it.

What I want to say is, you have to do a lot of work for it to get better. It's not just going to happen for you. You have to find ways to be around people who are supportive. You have to find ways to accept yourself. You have to find your own way into being safe, and you have to make some hard choices along the way.

What I want to say is, you have to keep going. Even when it seems like you're never going to make it, you have to stay alive anyways.

What I want to say is, those of us who have survived have a responsibility to help those who are still being hurt. We need to do what we can, both to make things better, AND to give hope to the ones who are still struggling. There are a lot of different ways to do that, but being as honest as we can, and speaking up as much as we are able, is one of the ways.

I'm still thinking this through, but I wanted to write something down for now.

3 comments:

Claude said...

I was thinking about that project today and gave somethoughts to the "and what when it gets better?" and now I read your post and I' m amazed by how you've been able to figure out so much and how well you express it, and there are so much feelings reading this post but I can't just write them down.
Hugs.

I' m KSK.

Anonymous said...

J.A. your last couple of posts are SO helpful to us... thanks so much for writing about your progress. I am in the thick of it, and very much needing to remember that it's not always going to be like this. I have had glimpses of some of your realizations, and they are sweet! Bravo, Brava!

~Indigo

w said...

Thank you for sticking around. I think that's the best way I can put it. I love you.