"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Monday, October 28, 2013

From a death sentence to safety

Ever since my bad day at work last Friday, exactly what I want to do with my life has been on my mind. Writing a book is of course a goal I would like to some day achieve, but I'm not entirely sure that it would be a channel that would lead to a career. I know that I want to work in rehab and with people who are trying to better their lives.

What I really got to thinking though, is how much I'd love to do some public speaking. Whether it be in rehab centers, or to groups of teens facing the choices of getting into drugs or not. I want to make a difference in some way. I have so many experiences and stories to tell...some that are downright mind blowing.

I know that it's not possible to stop all drug addiction. I wish it was, and in a perfect world no one would ever have to face the things that I have over the years. But it's isn't a perfect world, and there will always be people out there that choose to ruin their own lives, and choose to hurt the people around them. It is a terrifying disease, and the rate that it takes lives while ruining others is quite scary.

But another scary aspect of the whole situation, is the mental illness and domestic violence that so often comes with addictions. Too many wives, girlfriends, children, and other family members are affected by domestic violence. No one should have to live in fear...whether it be fear of being hurt...or worse, being killed.

I mentioned in my post last night about the person I was talking to about my dad. One of the things that stuck out in our conversation...was something that I mentioned to her about how I felt when I was with him. It's something that I realized I've never said outloud before...and it helped me see just how far I've come through the years. You don't always realize all the healing that has taken place...until you think about where you were.

Yes, I have PTSD. I have fought a long battle with depression and anxiety. Some days things are just too hard and it takes all of my energy to wake up and function normally. Other days I have random panic attacks sitting at my desk at work. They've gotten so much better than they used to be...and there used to be times that I lost all control of my body and forgot how to breathe.

The body does a funny thing when it is in danger. At least mine does. Back when I lived with my father, I don't remember a single panic attack. There would be moments that I was scared...but I always fought back and kept my mind together. They aren't kidding when they talk about "fight or flight"...and how it is the body's natural response. Living in my father's house...flight wasn't an option. Running away never helped...the moron police officers would just send me back to the house, and it would be back to a high monster who was angry as hell. Not exactly the safest situation. But the fight in me was so strong...that I kept a level head in the face of absolute hell breaking loose. I would find ways to sneak weapons into my room, and plan escape routes out of every window of the house. I would be awake for days because I didn't know what he was going to do...and while he crept around the house looking for the "gremlins" that were after him at 4 am...I "slept" with one eye open ( Just waiting for the day that he decided I was one of the things that was "after him."

But my entire point of saying all I was always an eery kind of calm around my father. Any "normal" person would have been constantly terrified and worried about things going terribly wrong. Now sometimes I was...but most of the time I kept my head on straight. It wasn't until the other day that I think I finally admitted to myself just why I was so calm.

It was quite the age of 12, I had accepted that I was going to die.

Don't get me wrong, even typing that sentence makes me feel sick to my stomach. But it couldn't be more true. I always had an escape route in my matter how badly things got, and no matter where we were. But in the back of my head...I think in a way I had started to lose hope. My mother was fighting so hard to get me to safety, but the higher powers in the government were making it impossible. I was fighting for myself...but again these stupid people that were supposed to be protecting me...couldn't see through his lies and fake personality.

To this day...all I hear from people is how wonderful my father was...and how everyone loved him. It takes a lot out of me to look back at those people and smile. I say thank you...and walk away. Every once in awhile I can't even muster that...and I fight just to keep my mouth shut. If only they knew the hell he put his innocent child through.

I look at my siblings, and honestly can't understand how anyone could intentionally scare a child so badly. I can't imagine ever looking in those eyes and making them think I was going to hurt them. But at the same sister is now 13...and I can't imagine her ever having to deal with the things I had seen by that age.

Looking at it from an outsider's perspective...makes me want to break down into tears. But at the same time in some strange twist of thoughts...personally I'm so thankful I saw the things that I did. Granted, life would have been a HELL of a lot easier in the safety of my mom's home. And I thank God I had her...she was the one that dealt with the breakdowns, and coached me back up from rock bottom. She gave me the fight to go back to his house and be able to make it through each day. But had all of that not happened...I wouldn't be me. That sounds so cliche...but I really wouldn't. I look at people my age who have this whole mental breakdown because they lose their job, or go through a breakup. I have one of two reactions every time I see things like that. I either want to shake them and tell them to get some perspective...or I laugh a little to myself saying "if only you knew."

Let's be honest sucks. We go to school for years, to work in jobs that many times we can't stand. Friends...backstab us. Sometimes family members hurt us. We lose jobs, we overdraft bank accounts, and cars break down. In the winter, the cold freezes us...and in the summer, the humidity ruins our hair.

But seriously. Who the hell cares? Yes you read that right? Who gives a flying rats ass about that stuff. I'll be the first to admit that there have been times that I throw pity parties for myself. But it's usually pretty easy for me to put it all in comparison to my past. When you come from a situation where you literally had come to peace with the fact you were going to 12...nothing seems all that bad anymore.

There is something that my counselor made me repeat over and over back when I was fighting to get myself back on track. After leaving my father's house for good...I was a mess. Finally not having that fear to keep myself together...the strong face all came tumbling down. The panic started...the overall anxiety and depression all came at once. All of that pent up fear came out like a tidal wave. But when I found a good counselor...she would literally make me repeat 3 words. "I am safe."

Those words did more for me than I ever thought they would. To this day...they serve two purposes. They calm me down during flashbacks and panic attacks. But they also remind me where I came from. I wasn't safe...but I sure as hell am now...and that alone is something to celebrate and pass on to other people.

Amazing how when I plan to write a few paragraphs about a future career...and it gets all of this stirred up in my brain. But everything I've just written...and everything else on the blog is a perfect example of why I want the career that I do. I want to share these stories not only to hopefully shock people into getting help...and to help them see what they're doing to their families...but also to show others that they aren't alone.

I'm a normal 22 year old girl. Except for the fact that I have a crazy past. I like shoes, I drink too much coffee, and when my boyfriend is overseas...I live at home with a dog and 3 cats. I go to work every day, and I forget to do my dishes on a regular basis. But I'm a girl that wants to save other people from dealing with what she did. It is a long lasting that can only be cured by preventing the same feelings for someone else.

I was having a hard day last week because of all the time I was spending thinking about my dad. As I said last night...those letters were bringing up some old feelings that I wasn't quite prepared to deal with again. But I finally realized what I needed to be thinking about. This blog has inspired what I consider a miracle. It was just over a year ago...and reading that post again...remembering that day...brings tears to my eyes for the best reasons.

That was just one family. One person was touched by the blog and the story...and it ended up not only saving someone's physical life...but an entirely family's relationships. This blog has almost 20,000 views...and it helped one family that I know of. Right makes everything worth it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Letters from another life

I was talking to someone the other day about my dad and his addiction. This was someone who has struggled with addiction, and I wanted to really show them just how badly addiction can affect you later on in life. I pulled out some old letters that he wrote to me in jail…and I was slightly caught off guard.
                Sometimes I don’t realize how much my PTSD affects me. But in re-reading the letters, I saw all sorts of things that I had somehow forgotten. I suppose you can’t even call it forgotten…but there were words in the letters that I had completely blocked out of my brain. Reading the letters hurt me more than I thought they would…and brought out a sense of guilt that was more gut wrenching than ever.
                In the letters my dad would jump through feelings. One second he would be telling me how much he missed me and how sorry he was that so many things had gone wrong. He never really accepted full blame, but he would apologize that I was upset. Essentially blaming everything on my feelings instead of his actions. Then his thoughts would jump in the other direction. He would go to anger, telling me how horrible I was and how I was hurting everyone around me. He would tell me that I was a disappointment and that I would never become a good person with all the “hate” I carried with me.
                One of the craziest parts in the letters are where he shows "genuine concern" for me. He goes on and on about he just wants me to be mentally healthy, because I'm clearly not. Then he starts talking about how he wants me to stop using drugs, and stop stripping because I'm so much better than that. It was insane to me to re-read these things. If you all remember the posts about his accusations years ago ( ) you may remember. But the lies weren't that shocking as I've heard them before. What was insane was the fact that he truly seemed to believe what he was saying. The concern and confusion seemed so if he invented these stories years ago...and actually managed to brainwash himself. It's insane what happens to your brain after abusing it for so long.
                The letters broke my heart, because in some moments you could read the pain he felt. You could tell how horribly he wanted his daughter back in his life, and how scared he was. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to fix him…and re-reading the letters I remember how I sat in bed for days crying over trying to decide what to do.
                Once again I was forced to make a decision that broke my heart. I had to cut him out of my life, despite the psychological warfare. I was hurting, but I knew it could only lead to more pain and frustration if I didn’t get away from him.
                But back to the point of this post. The letters hurt to go through again. It brought back that guilty feeling that I hadn’t done enough to make things right with my father before he died. Seeing the candy wrappers he put in the letters (still don’t understand why) gave me a deep horrible feeling…knowing that whatever he ate was coming from jail. Knowing that he sat in jail…finally forced to be sober…and was still so crazy is mind blowing. He clearly had mental issues from the start…and the drugs ate away his brain.
                My mom’s mom mentioned something to me the other day about my dad. I responded to her in some fashion and completely forgot about whatever it was. She confronted me a few days later and asked me if I had realized that when talking to her I had called my father by his first name, and not “my dad.” It was strange, because it hadn’t occurred to me. Being my usual self, I started self-analyzing. I came to the conclusion that yet again, my sub-conscious is trying protect myself. I have unintentionally distanced myself from the memory of my father in hopes of keeping myself together.
                My dad’s story makes me sad. Some days I rarely think of him, but others I can’t get him off my mind and it’s hard to get out of bed. He brought havoc and pain to so many people…and that is an incredibly hard pill to swallow. But as always, being a victim isn’t an option. It’s always going to hurt…but if I use my pain the right way…I can keep others from getting hurt in the same way. No one should ever have to read the letters that I did.