July 23, 2010

How Do You Cope... part one

Posted by meli on Friday, July 23, 2010 in , , , , | 3 comments

I was asked this question recently, and it kind of threw me.
How could I answer something that I don't see myself capable of doing?

It's no secret that I harbor a lot of insecurities; I have since childhood. My life has been a very constant test of strength and endurance, and my self talk very often consists of berating comments of being weak, incapable, useless. All the no good mumbo jumbo we tell ourselves when we lack a sense of reality and confidence. You see, I can look back at all the trials and tribulations that have been hammered at me since just a child... I can see my strength overcome all of it. I can see that I'm not weak. I'm not a quitter. I'm not useless. However, my heart has a hard time accepting that, and since I am so completely built to "live from the heart", that negative view wins out... 10 fold.

On being hammered with harsh life lessons since a child. It was very early on in my life that I was put into a caregiving role. Really, it's all I've ever known. When the most important person in my life then, my Mom, was not in a place in her life to really take care of me ... I took care of her. Through drugs, and alcohol, and abuse ... I was there to pick up her pieces each and every time. When I wanted to play a board game, or color, or go to the park, but she needed some cold water and a nap ... I put the toys away, gathered her drink, and sat on the floor next to her while she slept on the couch. I would watch her while she slept, and silently pray that she would wake up (because I lived in fear that one day she wouldn't). I would clean the house while she was at the bar, hoping that when she returned she would be happy. Happy that it was taken care of so she wouldn't have to do it (I always wanted to do everything for her). And also happy with me. Maybe if she was happy with me she would want to play with me. She didn't. She would come home too sick or too tired or too preoccupied with a friend. I would cry in my room, wishing for a different life, but the second she called to me, I would go running. So excited to see her. To be with her. To help her with whatever she needed. I loved her so much, and I wanted to do everything perfect so maybe she would love me just as much as I loved her. I was convinced that if I would have just cleaned a little better, or had her water ready a little sooner, or had brushed my hair a little neater, that maybe she would love me enough to want to be with me just as much as I wanted to be with her. Since she was always leaving me, rarely wanting to play with me, constantly telling me what I was doing wrong ... I was convinced that I wasn't trying hard enough. My efforts weren't good enough. My love not strong enough. Determined to do better next time... determined to be perfect... if I could just give her everything she wanted, she would be happy, and that's what I wanted. Her to be happy. On and on went the self talk cycle of "you didn't do it good enough ... do better". No matter how low or worthless I was feeling ... I kept working at it. Kept taking care of her. I couldn't fail her, I loved her and she needed me.

Years and years of working through childhood issues (I gave you the tinest tip of the iceburg up there), and I was finally making progress. Through a lot of acceptance, forgiveness, and leaps of faith ... I was seeing myself in a new light.

And then my husband returned home from war... forever changed.

In his ptsd, depression, and brain injuries ... he has been lashing out at me. All of my insecurities resurfaced with a vegeance. He made a habit of blaming me for everything that was going wrong. Blaming me for all of his actions. Blaming me for all his careless words. He pushed every body out of his life. There was no one left for him to vent to but me ... and that venting so often led to yelling at me, blaming me, and pushing the guilt onto me. I took it. In my efforts to help him, to not make things worse, to protect my kids... I took it. He needed a place to explode, and I was afraid (gravely so) what he might do if he didn't have that outlet, so I let myself be the target. My head remained level. I could see the reality of the situation. I knew none of what he was speaking was true. I knew there wasn't any validation to the blame and guilt shifting he was doing. However, my heart was taking a severe beating, and we've already discussed how my life is completely ruled by my heart. I again, just like when I was a little girl, started feeling that if I didn't say this, or hadn't done that, or worked harder on this, or tried more for that ... maybe he wouldn't have done or said xyz. Maybe he wouldn't have gotten mad. Maybe he would have remained happy. My head knew better then to fall victim to an abusive situation My head knew not to let the words hit me on a personal level. There was no truth to them. But my heart, my sweet sensitive, ever emotional heart ... it was tattered. I again didn't feel good enough, capable enough, strong enough ... I was broken again. But, no matter how broken I was, I kept trying. I couldn't fail him, I loved him and he needed me.

It's a struggle I work on on a daily basis. Sometimes I make great strides, and gain the self esteem and confidence that I deserve to see in myself ... and sometimes I fall flat on my ass, and end up sliding down the hill several miles. Either way, I keep plugging along, hoping that one day it wont be such a struggle anymore, and instead I will naturally and instinctually see myself as the strong, capable person that I am.

So I guess that's the most important thing I do to cope. Convincing my doubting self, on a daily basis, that I am strong and capable. That by having faith in myself, I can get through anything. I tell myself that quitting is not an option, if for no other reason then being a good example to the three most important people on this planet to me. My want for them to have a great positive role model in their life, one that feels both strong and determined in her body and mind to not only stand up to the obsticles in life, but to hurdle right on over them ... my want for that far exceeds my feelings of wanting to crawl under a rock and quit. No matter how many times I fall down, quitting is not an option I am willing to accept. I might see myself as a quitter, as a failure, but more then that, I am a Mother ... I don't think anything can trump the feelings of Motherhood.


  1. You wow me daily - I feel such a bond with u for so many reasons and through you I see that this rock bottom for me will get better. I admire you so much. SO much.

  2. [...] touched on some childhood stuff in my last post, and I wanted to elaborate a little bit on one particular part… My [...]

  3. thank you for sharing that, I'm glad that you realize how strong and capable you are because I see that in you too, and so much more...love to you and the boys, hope Nick is doing okay