chains III

58.chains III

…I wrote something the other day that was very raw and in the moment. I’m debating whether or not I should use this to replace it, since I cover that whole thing in greater detail here. Probably won’t; that has value, too. Maybe it’ll be a stronger deterrent from suicide than this will be.

Last week, when I was feeling self-destructive in the more self-harmful way, I actually did end up cutting all over my arm, leg, and chest, over my heart. I never really cut deep, preferring “quantity over quality”; nothing was severely damaged. I emailed my doctor about it though, and talked to my confessor as the sun was starting to set. That was nice. He said things I didn’t understand, but I could tell he cared. Sometimes that’s what matters.

Now, a long time ago, my first counselor I saw regularly gave me a safety contract to sign. It came to her attention that I self-harmed and had suicidal thoughts, and so she had me sign a paper that said that if I were to have so much as the thought of self-destruction, I would either contact her, contact someone I trust, contact a suicide help-line (not recommended, if all such help-lines were like the ones I called), and/or go to the ER to keep myself safe and unharmed. I don’t have that paper anymore, but I carried that promise with me all the way to my current counselor, my doctor.*

A/N: My father was very much a scapegoat as well (or as he liked to call it: Bad Dad). I read it was a common trait for some scapegoats to try and bring another down to make themselves feel good, throw shade, project blame, be passive aggressive, and/or manipulative to try and trick the system they’re labeled as “bad” in. It was partially from his bad example as a traitorous scapegoat (especially when it came to me) to make a commitment to value things like honesty, integrity, honoring my word, and keeping my promises. This had, and still has, a lot of cons to it as well as the pros, but I consider it worth it; it makes me hate myself a lot less if anything.
Then again, I did just admit to wavering in keeping a contract among other things…still something to work on.

I was still very much depressed though, leading up to the events the other day when I nearly broke that contract. I already wrote about what happened in that dark moment, so here’s a bit about what led to it, and what followed.

Just thinking of the word “forgive” made me want death. It’s a word I’d been hearing a lot lately from my confessor and my doctor both, though really, I couldn’t hear them anymore; I heard that chain rattle instead, those lessons from my father about forgiveness being another word for “sacrifice yourself to abuse for the lives and well-being of your family”. That said, forgiveness meant death to me, or maybe more accurately worse than death, as it’s my human dignity I was being told to destroy.

I guess that it does mean death in its proper understanding as it is; speaking sort of textbookish here, it’s a dismissal or release of the debt someone owes you. It says “no” to revenge or retribution, even in one’s mind. Given the grooming I received all my life, it’s all tangled in the chains of victim-blaming, invalidation, and the weight of my family’s lives, my father’s life. Almost as long as I remember, I was held responsible if my father lives or dies, making it more of a theft of the debt to be placed on me than a dismissal of that debt.

It’s a very powerful, dark thing. Overpowering.

That’s what got the events of the other day going. I couldn’t think, and yet my thoughts were zipping here and there. It probably was the closest I’d ever been to insanity. I looked up ways to commit suicide, what’s reliable, what works. There was no other option in my mind. I didn’t see any other choice.

I’d thought about death before, of suicide. I’d written a suicide letter before, held a knife to my vital areas: my neck, my heart, my wrists. I had the same thoughts then as I did before, though this time…

After work, I stopped by the church. I didn’t stay long; mostly thought it appropriate to go there one last time, say goodbye to my sanctuary these past 6-7 years. I wrote my suicide note while there. As I pulled in, I saw someone’s car parked in the lot, someone who once said in regards to my visiting as often as I did that I was “making a spectacle of [myself].” Those words came to mind whenever I thought to contact someone about what I was planning to do when I got home.

I ended up taking my time going home, staying out, feeling the sun and the wind, listening to the leaves rustle in the tree I parked under. I stared up at it, looking at the browning leaves. I felt like that tree (“Although,” a part of me thought, “It just looks like it’s dying when it’s just going to sleep for the cold season to wake up again in spring.“). When parked in the common garage, I sat there, hesitating again, reluctant. “I have to,” I told myself, getting out. It was a very long walk to my apartment. In the back of my mind, I could hear God or my guardian angel beg, “Don’t do it. Please don’t. Please don’t do it.” I ignored it, kept walking.

I got my scarf from the closet, settling on hanging. My father, when he told me how he attempted suicide over my mother, said he tried to hang himself. Seemed fitting for me to follow suit, though I planned to succeed.

That’s what I planned, though obviously that plan didn’t go accordingly.

Afterwards, I curled up in a corner for an hour or so, wrapped up in a prayer shawl a friend gave me with my bokken nearby. That’s where I was when I was writing that last entry. I was feeling pretty bad about myself, and what I’d just done. My survival instinct won out this time; it occurred to me just how far gone someone has to be to kill that will to live. I never realized how strong that will to live is.

My confessor told me to call someone. “Don’t be sorry. Call someone who can help you.” I called a friend who stayed with me on the phone for about half an hour while I was waiting for my doctor to call. This was the first she heard of my suicidal thoughts, nevermind “attempt”. Among the very nice things she said, she suggested that maybe there wasn’t enough justice being done, my parents not being held accountable enough. I’d say it’s a fair factor; I read things every single day in politics or general news how no one seems to care about abuse, least of all sexual abuse. On top of that is the fact that my parents suffered absolutely no consequence of going against police orders and contacting me a few weeks back. Abusers can get away with murder, it seems, these days, while their victims don’t. I really do largely blame To Kill A Mockingbird for this, and also inspiring all those false victims out there who ruin people’s reputations with invented reports, wounding our credibility.

Shortly after I got off the phone with my friend, my doctor talked to me for about an hour. The first thing he told me, in a very calm, serious tone, that I need to convince him that I was safe, and that if I don’t, he would have to do everything in his power to save my life (ie. call the hospital). That was fair. I thought that very fair. I told him everything, about how I would always hear my father’s lessons instead of his and my confessor’s counsel, how I failed to kill myself (to which he said that people who don’t actually want to die often make such bad attempts like I did). I told him the things I realized for myself as well as the things I don’t understand.

A couple things stood out to me of the many things we talked about: he told me to not let my father have so much power over me. He told me my father doesn’t own me like I thought he did; however they acted, I’m not their doll, in no way their possession. My existence isn’t for them. I belong to and was created by God, he said, though not as an object in His case either. I’m someone He loves. I’m someone He died and resurrected for.

My doctor often talked about that, God’s love for me. My confessor does, too. I don’t get it, no matter how many times they explain.

Love in general confuses me; forget adding things like “unconditional” or “everlasting” to the equation. Too many x-variables. I’d say it was a shock, therefore, when my doctor had me consider what my suicide would do to him, to my confessor, and anyone else who loves me. He said suicide is a sin against the people who love me, because I “deprive them of [my] presence.”

He also had me consider, when I remarked my confusion as to why my confessor included in his reply that he was out of town, that if he wasn’t out of town he would come and take me to the hospital if I needed, or that he, my doctor, would. I never would have thought of those things unless he said it, sparking the memory of when my confessor said something similar at least twice in the past.

He reminded me of my son with a story from his own life, making me think of how I wished he got a chance to live. Chances are he’d have a pretty miserable time as well, especially if he ended up under my parents’ custody. All the same, I wish he was born, got to see the beautiful things in the world like flowers, sunshine, animals, smiles, etc. I wish I could’ve held him, looked down at his face as he looked up at mine.

Strange that those kinds of thoughts came from the same person who thinks she’d have been better of not being born, isn’t it? I feel that way for all pre-born children. Yet I’m just as human as they are, as my son is, making my life just as sacred as theirs (to at least three people to his one what’s more).

Towards the end of our call, he told me how there are Carmelite nuns praying for me, as they pray for him and all those under his care, including me. He said that meant that all Carmelites in the world are praying for me; apparently that’s their deal, that they pray for each other’s intentions along with their own. My confessor told me he was praying for me, my friend was praying for me. That’s a lot of people. I was touched. I’d been hurt by Carmelites in the past pretty badly; this made that lingering pain hurt less. He said it was from their prayers that he found grace to forgive someone who by all accounts should be in jail for malpractice. On that logic, he said they’ll help me, too.

I want to be a better friend to my confessor, to the friend I called, to the people I consider close to me. My doctor said a good step was to never do this again.

I also want to understand this whole “Love” thing, even this “Forgiveness” thing; my current understanding of these things sucks. It makes me deathly miserable. Maybe it’d be easier to understand if I had more examples of those “x-variables” as a point of reference to tell me what that all looks like the way it’s meant to look, what my doctor told me was the reality. THE reality, not my reality, not my parents’ reality, not the reality of all those cruel/useless grown-ups.

I wonder if it would help to deactivate social media, or to just not go on it while things are as dark as they are. Might help. Might also help to take a more active role in the whole “new detective” dilemma.

…I think it’s also to be said that the only way I saw justice happening was for me to self-destruct. I don’t think I can explain it very well; best I have is that holding onto the hurt is the only proof I think I have that all of it was a reality, that the abuse is a reality. I once said how “no one can deny blood”; those who harmed me probably will never make any sort of recompense, so in my mind, I have to do it.

It’s true…all my life, I never really got any apologies for any harm done to me by others. I can count on one hand the number of times my mother said sorry, even if it meant nothing. My father apologized plenty of times, but as he’d turn around and act like that apology never happened, I must conclude that those meant nothing as well.

My parents groomed me to assume their blame/sin and forced me apologize instead, sure…but even people out here, especially “grown-ups” (again, those in their 40s and up), and especially those father figures. They never apologized either. I ended up apologizing instead, and just like with my parents, never got any sort of forgiveness for my apologies.

I therefore have to come to the conclusion that while I have next to no experience offering forgiveness, I also have next to no experience receiving forgiveness. I don’t know how to accept forgiveness when it actually does come. I’d long since given up on requesting apologies, or holding anyone accountable for their harmful behavior. That’s a whole other story of heartbreak right there.

The people I have any regard for now do in fact apologize and forgive. My doctor does, my confessor does, the few friends I have any trust in do, too. I’m looking for forgiveness and accountability, even if I don’t understand most of it. I look for love, even when I don’t know what it looks like.

I think I do want to understand, then. I don’t like these chains. They’re cold, cruel, and biting. They weigh me down. They almost made me sink to the very bottom. Maybe that’s a way to understand this whole “forgiving away” the pain better; you can’t swim to air when you’re weighed down by all this stuff. You get stuck, or worse, drowned.

It’s extremely unlikely that any of these people who put a chain on me is coming down here to unfetter them. At the same time, I’m not Houndini, and even if I was, these aren’t normal chains; I can’t get out on my own, but then, my doctor pointed out with those nuns, himself, my confessor, etc. that I’m not alone.

Most important, he says, is the presence of God. I think of it like the sun in this drowning analogy, brightening the water at least so I could see which way is up. Or maybe it’s closer than that…maybe He’s closer than that. My doctor often says that He lives in my soul. I don’t get that at all. Yesterday, he told me about saints who said that if we were to realize how close God is, how much He loves us, there’s be a lot less sadness in the world, a lot less want; that sounds pretty good.

Sink or swim…do I want a good ending to my story, or a bad one? After yesterday, I think I’m more willing to make an effort to swim.

My parents, my uncle, even those more recent examples of human unkindness, they’re not holding the chains anymore. They’re real, the chains and harm they inflicted are sure as heck real, but they aren’t around. Their presence around me now isn’t real.

My parents may try to intrude, and the law may not stop them from doing so as I’d hoped. I’m not helpless, though, as weak as I feel. I’m not alone, even if I rarely look around and see I’m not.

Leaving the past in the past doesn’t mean denying the pain then, the reality of that abuse, and it doesn’t mean deny justice and accountability. What’s true for those people who hurt me, my father, isn’t true for my confessor or doctor at least. I know that much is true. I didn’t understand when they’d say “leave it in the past”. I had to clarify if one meant is as a “Hakuna Matata” thing, just ignore and escape it. Escape and distraction doesn’t work, so obviously it’s not that (though breaks are good).

I don’t think I’ve quite got it yet, but I think it has more to do about saying “yes” to the present reality than it is about saying “no” to the very real and valid past reality. The present reality is that at least three, maybe four people care about me, would actually come help me if I need them to (unless they’re out of town or otherwise occupied, to which they would delegate someone else to help me in their stead).

That counters the past reality of “no one is coming to save you”, at least as it pertains to these few. They’ve got a lot of people praying for me, are praying for me themselves. I feel like that’s more important than having proof that the people who were supposed to do all that failed, did the opposite.

I am holding them accountable, in that we no longer had a relationship. They made, and are not making any effort to admit and amend to God, to me, and to society, to all of you if you’d ever been abused.

Ven. Fulton Sheen said something cool about forgiveness; I looked to his words in the past, so I did last night after I settled down. He said that a biblical scholar revealed that when Jesus said His last words, namely “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”, it was spoken in the past-tense. The crucifixion, the horror of it, is therefore being seen by Jesus as in the past even as it’s happening. Pretty wild, right?

I have to go to work now, and confession later for what I tried to do. I think these are pretty good lines of thought, though, ones to be built on later.

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