So in all honesty, Hope's comment on my last post stuck in my mind and irritated me, like a splinter just under the skin or a grain of sand under the lid of your eye. As I am wont to do, I poked and worried at it, trying to figure out why it irritated me so. After all, if we can't learn about ourselves and improve and enhance as time goes on, why bother thinking at all? What's the point of introspection?

Anyway, I think I'm on to something. If you've not been in an intensely abusive, dangerous, or dysfunctional situation for an extended period of time, you won't understand. You just won't. I'll try to explain it in simple terms, though, so that I can get the words out of my mind and my heart, spit them out like gravel so I don't have to chew on them anymore (though truthfully I know they'll be rattling around in the back of my head for weeks to come now, if not longer).

I was raised in a sea of destruction. I never learned how to swim; I simply managed to avoid drowning.

I've never wanted anything more in my life than to be accepted for who and what I am, completely and without reservation.

I don't know how long it is in terms of years, but it's been the majority of my life thus far: I have not been accepted but punished and penalized for simply being myself, for being a child, for being exuberant, for being honest, for being… anything. The disapproval of myself was not just cold disapproval or disdain, it was actual physical danger on top of emotional (and often physical) damage, wounding, and scarring. My mind was broken. My heart was broken, again and again. My trust was broken. Who I could have been, should have been, was shattered, never to be restored to its original glory.

The circumstances I grew up in were such that if I failed to obtain complete approval I was in danger, both metaphorically and literally. I had to be pleasing in all aspects, or I would "get it". I couldn't mess up, couldn't be wrong, couldn't be displeasing in any fashion or I would bring pain upon myself and possibly (probably) others in my family, which is an exquisite form of torture in and of itself for someone as protective of loved ones as I am

All I've ever wanted is to be accepted for who I am. To not be rejected for being myself. To be approved of, to have my efforts thought well of, to be thought highly of for simply... being.

My beloved Desert Rose has mastered the art of disagreeing with what I do at times, yet loving me entirely and accepting who I am. Even when she speaks words of correction, I never feel endangered, challenged, or belittled because I am safe in her love.

My mother has been my safe haven throughout my life. I know that, even if she disagrees with what I'm doing, she never thinks any less of who I am or even of my motives for what I'm doing. She holds me in the highest regard, even if and when I have disappointed or angered her by my actions.

When I receive criticism, words of correction from those who have the best intentions and are just trying to help, well meaning suggestions, out and out disagreements and challenges of my thoughts/beliefs/opinions/courses of action, it is a message emblazoned across the sky that I reject you and your best efforts. You are not enough. (Again.) You have failed. (Again.) I reject you and your efforts. Pain is coming, and whatever negative things you experience are all your fault. Whatever pain occurs to those around you is all your fault. 

If this was the core message that every well-meaning suggestion was automatically translated into without your realizing it, would you not be touchy as well?

I recognize it, to a degree. I recognize it more, now. That doesn't stop the feelings from coming, the sickening swirl of grief and guilt and resentment and anger that simmers in my mind and burns deep in my belly. Something is broken deep inside, something that I personally have no way of fixing, at least not as of right now.

I'm tired. All my energy is used up fighting to survive each day, making sure that I'm still around to smile at my husband when he walks through the door at night. (It's harder than you think.) I don't have the wherewithal to make any changes that I myself don't see the benefit of, and I resent suggestions for change or improvement because it suggests that what I'm doing isn't enough, isn't good enough, that I'm not good enough and if I were then I would be better at handling all this.

I'm starving for affection, for attention, for acceptance… especially now that I'm a crippled, huddled little bird. Oh I'll fight and flutter, all right, but is that simply wasting my life's energy to no end? I can't tell. Am I getting anywhere? I don't know. I'm so raw, so vulnerable, so exposed… so adrift on this stormy sea of uncertainty… So tell me, Hope, how can I know what to expect of people when I've never done this before? I've never been sick like this before, been isolated from friends and family by hundreds and thousands of miles before while having my independence so utterly and completely stripped from me. What would you have me do? What do you want from me?

I am doing the best I can, and exhausting myself with my efforts. It's all I can do to make it through the day. I don't have energy to spare to instruct those around me on how to relate to me. Let them, with their seemingly boundless reserves of energy (in comparison, anyway) figure it out. I'm too tired. Too tired, and too broken.

I just want to be accepted for who I am… rants, ravings, and all. Even if it is completely insensical to expect it from anyone.

2 thoughts:

  • Hope | April 4, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Cassy, you're right. I don't know what it's like experientially to come from a past like yours, and I for sure don't understand how difficult it is to be tired and hurting all the time. A two day monthly headache feels like torture to me, so I can't imagine how exhausting it would be to have that pain magnified and multiplied day in and day out with no hope of it going away. As I read your blog I'm humbled and stirred with compassion. Honestly, I wish I could clean your house, go grocery shopping for you, give you a massage (if that didn't hurt), buy you a new plant, or just stop over and visit for a while. But since distance hinders, words are the only gift to give. But words can often be so misunderstood and what feels like a home made cookie made with love but sent through the mail gets received as a crumbled, stale and sticky mess. So next time I'll put it in a box with lots of bubble wrap. :) Your link on Facebook was very helpful. This is a first for you (being chronically sick) and for people like me, it's also a first. I've never personally known anyone who was chronically ill and dealt with pain every day. There was no intention in my heart to suggest any doubts about your worth as a person. I love you and think you are amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I thought otherwise I wouldn't read your blog. I just read a book called "Captivating" where the author shared that most women often feel like they are "too much" and "not enough" AT THE SAME TIME. I feel that way too so I understand where you are coming from when you "hear" that message even though the person communicating had the intention of helping. But please trust that none of those thoughts about you being not good enough or that you should be handling it better EVER entered my zone of consciousness. Far from it. You can tell from the girl you mentioned in your last post the hesitation and timidity she had in reaching out to you. I experienced the same uncertainty when I posted my comment, so for the most part its easier to say nothing and do nothing than fearing to say the wrong thing and hurting you (you're already in enough pain, why would I want to be guilty of adding more?!). Hence, my suggestion that you help us out a little. Give us some constructive pointers (which you did and I felt very blessed and enlightened by). It's new territory and we are all navigating it together. Your question, "how can I know what to expect of people when I've never done this before?" resonates with me because "I've never done this before" either. Sorry for being like a splinter or sand in your eye. Will you forgive me?

  • Cassandra | April 7, 2014 at 6:07 AM

    Oh Hope, there is nothing to forgive. Did you get my Facebook message? I hope so. (Hope so? Get it? LOL) If not, let me know and I will re-send it. There is uncertainty on both our parts-- I don't know what to tell you about how to help me or reach out to me, I only know how I feel when it happens, and truthfully… it doesn't always have a rational basis. I'm flawed and biased in some pretty weird ways thanks to my upbringing, so I in no way represent the population of the chronically ill as a whole. I'm unique, though in this case that is not the best thing to be. As you said, it's new territory and we are all navigating it together. I have no doubts about the intent of those who reach out, none at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I said somewhere in my post something along the lines of "I know she meant well, but this is how I feel…" As I said, doesn't make sense. I'm just wacky like that. I'm glad you still hang around, though. I value your friendship very much. As I said before, there is nothing to forgive. You are no splinter.

Post a Comment