Anyone Still There?

*A note from the writer* I started this blog nearly ten years ago along with my stent as a freelance writer for a local publication here in my hometown; “The Evening Whirl”. My “career” as a blogger started out as something just for fun, but my journey as a writer began as therapy. When I was a fifteen years old and a freshman in high school my father dropped dead from a heart attack at the age of thirty-six. I had just spoken to him only hours earlier and he was ok. When I lost my daddy I lost a piece of me and I turned inward; I was sad. It wasn’t until my ninth grade English teacher told me that I needed to figure out how to channel all I was feeling into something worth while; he told me to write. And so I did, hence the start of my journey. That was well over nineteen years ago. For a long time I used writing as my tool to get my point across. Not to anyone in particular but just to let it out. And then I stopped! Literally just stopped, the last post on this blog is from December 2016; nearly two years ago. When I stopped writing I starting hurting myself, both in a physical and mental way. Instead of using my outlet in times of stress or crisis I began to hold everything in until I would explode. But not only that, I’d become so lost in myself and self pity that I lost myself (does that make sense? I hope it makes sense). My identity had changed hands, I was now a wife, a mother on a crusade for justice for her son, a friend, a daughter, an advocate for mental illness and  I forgot who I really was, who I was really born to be; a writer.

The title of this post is “Anyone Still There?” but really the question is rhetorical because I don’t care if one or one thousand people read this blog I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for me. However, if in the process the right pair of eyes should come in contact with this content know that you are not alone. I’m here with you. This is the first day of doing something again for the first time. Thank you for reading. ~B

Have you ever considered that the mask you take so much time each morning in front of the mirror putting on is really not a mask at all?  That no matter how many layers you slap on that people can still see the real you? So often we as humans have this tendency to believe that who we really are can be hidden. That if we bury characteristics that create our personality or the ugly parts of our story so deep down in darkness that light will never touch it. Believing that people on the outside will never know the secrets that you’ve hidden for so long that even you’ve forgotten that they exist. When in reality you aren’t hiding anything. For many years this is exactly how I have lived my life, wearing a mask to hide what I so desperately didn’t want anyone to see. Not understanding that  my mask was nothing beautiful or nice, it was actually ugly and hateful. But what was I hiding?

Such a loaded question, “what was I hiding?” The simple answer is pain, anger, hurt, abuse, sadness; but those are things that we all endured at some point in our lives so that answer is taking the easy way out. While all of those are very valid feelings they aren’t the culprit. I was/am hiding the ugly parts of me, the parts that I am ashamed of, that parts that I am afraid will be judged should they come from shadows and step into the light (there are a few but this on is most important). As a woman who suffers (I use that word with hesitation) from a personality disorder I used to think everyone could see that I wasn’t “normal”, that I was different. There was always this paranoid feeling that followed me around forcing me to believe that everyone knew my secret and was judging me for it. It wasn’t until a few years back that after I shared my story of being a borderline that I stopped carrying that paranoid monkey on my back. So what was/am I so ashamed of that I had to hide behind a mask of false securities and lies? I’ll just start with shame, guilt, emptiness, brokenness etc. How did I become introduced to those things? Well, six years ago while in the presence of a “friend” I was sexually assaulted (would you believe that I have been sitting here staring at the cursor for five minutes? This is the first time I’ve typed that out loud and the memories still paralyze me). It was during those few moments when I was completely powerless that I lost more than my ability to choose who I give myself to and my right to say NO. I lost my very soul and anything that I had left on reserve for a rainy day; I had completely lost Brendolyn.

When you find yourself in a position such as sexual assault as a woman you blame yourself. You go over the scenario a million times in your head asking yourself what could you have done? Why didn’t you fight harder? But most importantly WHY YOU? Six years later I still blame myself for being in such a position to allow that to happen. I still feel dirty, and ashamed. And I hate the part of me that didn’t fight harder, I hate that I let someone take something so precious from me and still be able to be free. To still have power over me that when we come in close quarters every now and again that those moments, those hour long minutes replay in my head and I become ashamed all over again. He took away my control and since then I have been unable to relinquish control in any aspect of my life. One selfish act by another person changed the trajectory of my life for as far as I have allowed, it’s been six years.

In the time following my assault my mental health began to deteriorate drastically and I spiraled completely out of control (there’s that word again). My borderline behavior became a driving force when at one point it was simply a passenger. Instead of me controlling it, it controlled me and once again I had that two ton paranoid monkey on my back believing everyone could see my shameful secrets and were judging me. So I began to wear this mask, a mask of false happiness, pretend joy and an air of arrogance. In my mind I was untouchable and nothing could break me, not understanding I was doing myself a disservice by not dealing with what had broken me. But I wasn’t very good at being someone else because quite a few people could see right through it all. For people who knew me before they will tell you that something changed and not for the better and I was suddenly different, but until this very moment they had no idea what significant event sparked that changed. (Now ya’ll do)

I stand (well sit) here as I type this and show myself to the world with my mask completely off. They teach you in AA that the first step to recovery is admittance, you have to admit to having a problem. My problem is I gave my power away and ever since  I have been out of my body and using my “illness” as a crutch or an excuse to “get my way.” All the while never getting what I want, therefore causing sadness, depression, isolation, misery, and anger amongst other things. All of my own fault because I wanted to hide instead of facing my problem head on. But no more! I have damaged relationships, friendships, I have broken others of whom I love and just done more harm to self than good. That shit is EXHAUSTING!

I acknowledge who I have become as a result of my past but I refuse to accept it as WHO I AM, as this behavior in unbecoming of a lady. Mental illness is real and women like me suffer each day in silence and don’t realize the outward impact it has on those around them. I have in the course of a year isolated my husband and my teenage son because I was too afraid of having my control/power taken from me. I was too afraid to face the reality of my pain, I was too afraid to really look at myself. Recovery from any illness is difficult but with determination and the desire to get better and be better you will push through. It doesn’t matter who believes in you as long as you believe in you.

This is my day 1. It feels good to be back. Mask off!


Love and Life