Content warnings for: mentions of (child) sexual abuse, abuse in general, drug use, death, self harm, suicide, etc. Again, not very in depth with any of this stuff but I do touch on it and I know it wasn’t exactly pleasant for me to talk about.
Let’s start this post off on kind of a weird foot. Trust me, I’ll get to the point as soon as I possibly can but we need some back story before I can be my usual introspective self.
Now, let me just say my mom is not the kind of woman that talks. She talks to me and that’s probably something I deserve a medal for because even then she doesn’t say much. Our phone calls last all of about 3 minutes and it’s all small talk, but that’s a lot for her. She had a rough upbringing and made a lot of bad choices in life. No one was really there to guide her or help her see things differently. I mean, yeah, she kinda grew up in the 50’s. Grandma and Grandpa were not shining beacons of how to parent a child, let alone six (there could be more, I know I didn’t meet a handful). She dropped out of school to have kids and get married. Things were different back then, and I’m sorta ashamed that no one did anything even though I clearly had no role in this until 1990.
When I turned nineteen, I was spending a weekend here at my mother’s house because she wanted to take me to dinner. I had moved out for the first time a few months prior and she would throw out ideas whenever she could to get me to come back and do things for her. Moms are silly like that sometimes I guess. What I wasn’t expecting from that weekend was for my mom to have a complete mental breakdown. It was the first time since my dad died that I really saw her in any sort of vulnerable state.
The details aren’t entirely necessary. At least not all of them. I sat on the couch with my mom at 3am the day of my birthday while she sobbed and yelled about whatever came to mind. The biggest being an issue with the house– our house. We had a situation earlier in the year that prevented her from seeing her grandson often because someone had said the house wasn’t clean enough either because we had dogs or cleanliness and dogs were two different ideas to the person. I dunno, it was asinine and rude. That bump in the road keeping her from being the grandma she wanted to be was apparently the final straw for someone that never openly talked about feelings or looked for help. The house was suddenly the reason I was “sick” and why dad was “sick” and why she was “sick” (on top of simply referring to bad mental health as a sickness, her panic caused her to believe that an illness she had could have been cancer) and it would continue to make others sick. I spent hours talking her through it, sharing the sobs, and trying to get her to realize that the house itself wasn’t the problem. It was the people.
As we know, my dad was diagnosed with bipolar too late in his life and the medication mixed with his cocaine addiction caused his heart give out shortly after my 7th birthday. I think another family member had died in this house before we moved in. (Grandma and Grandpa lived here and if I recall correctly, Grandma moved south for a few years after Grandpa died.) So we already had some negative feelings and memories in this place.
The abuse I suffered clearly added more to it; at least for me. It took some time for my mom to really accept and face the reality of that situation. I have a lot of hereditary conditions that run on both sides of the family and I was one of the first few to really face those things and get help. No one else wanted to talk or admit that problems were there. That also added to the negativity.
So yeah, we all had our problems that we either faced or tucked away, but those came from us or those before us. A family in denial and unable to cope and recover was bred and continued to pretend that they could thrive. I guess they faked it well enough. It wouldn’t have mattered what house we were in, though. If the same things happened to us anywhere else, it would have been the same ending.
And that’s when I made progress in therapy. That’s when I realized that while this house didn’t make me sick as my mother puts it, it sure as hell kept me sick. I’ve made plenty of progress in my recovery but the one thing that really holds me back is living here. I’m lucky enough to be able to say that I’ll be able to put this place behind me very soon. While everything that has happened to me will always be a part of me and in my memories, I truly feel that getting out and finally being able to breathe will really let me process things not only objectively but on my own time and in a safe environment.
I’m very aware this just moving out will not fix my issues. It’s not going to magically remove the neglectful mother, the drug addicted father that died too soon, the 9 years of abuse and molestation, the toxic family abuse that came from opening up about that, my years of self harm, my suicide attempt, the loss of the woman that granted me safety and knowledge, the suicide of my aunt, and everything in between. It won’t remove they physical illnesses I’ve come to have due to poor mental health and coping mechanisms.
What’s important, though, is that it’s giving me the chance to start properly healing. I’m leaving skeletons behind. I’m leaving behind the rooms that stole my ability to be a child. I’m leaving behind the room my dad died in and hopefully someday I’ll forget what his imprint on the day bed looked like. I’m leaving behind the drug dealers, the thieves, the bullying– the list probably could go on for awhile. I’m leaving so much behind me. So many things that have weighed me down every day because I’ve been left to stew in the memories and flashbacks rather than move on with my life.
My baggage will be lighter, but I’ll always have a little bit of something coming along with me. I think I can tackle those with time. This is the first time I’ve moved out with a plan. It’s also the first time I’ve ever felt like I’ve really had a future. The ability to say “I want to do this someday” and not get plagued with anxiety and misery thinking I won’t actually be alive to get it done is something I genuinely cherish now.
I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was 7 years old. Some at schools, others at clinics that wound up closing weeks after for bad practices, and then there’s the clinic that denied my experiences and tried to push other disorders on me. It wasn’t until I met my current therapist that I learned a lot and grew and really started making progress in coping. It wasn’t until I made the friends I have now that I realized there was a world outside of this bedroom. I didn’t know people could really believe in me and want to see me succeed. I guess for a really long time, I didn’t know what real friendship was. I’ll always be thankful for them.
So, as I’m downsizing my things and packing up this month, I’m actively thinking about what things will follow me and what I can do about them. I’m thinking about items I can get rid of that carry bad memories so I can keep myself safe and focused. I’m learning to let go. I’m learning to build myself up. I’m learning to survive and not be defined by my traumas.
I’ll probably post again in December when I’m comfortably moved in to my new home. I know I’m bad with keeping up with this sometimes, but I think I can be more active in the new year. I want to be, at least.
Take care of yourselves. Thanks for sticking through these posts. ♥