Words Linger

We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But I beg to differ.

There are two moments from my life that I have carried with me, that have resonated within my entire being, and no doubt shaped the way I view myself and affected my relationships.

When I was about 10 or 11, I woke in the middle of the night to hear my mom and stepfather arguing in the kitchen. I wasn’t a big fan of my stepfather, to say the least. So curious as a cat, I crept down the hallway so I could better hear what the argument was about.

Before they got married, my mom had made very clear to him that she didn’t want any more children. She had a very hard time getting pregnant with me and she wasn’t going through that again. At the time, he was fine with that. But apparently on this night he had changed his mind. He wanted a child of his own. I was no longer good enough. He hated my biological father and, since I was part of him, he hated me too. I was guilty by DNA. I crawled into my closet and cried.

I was a good kid. I wasn’t too interested in school but I did OK given the amount of time I gave to it. I loved to dance and spent almost every day after school in one dance class or another. Or I had my face buried in a book. I tried my best to be agreeable and to not cause any trouble or problems for my mom. But because of the person who provided half of my genetic code, I was worthy of hatred and was not good enough, not lovable.

How does a 10 – 11 year old process that message? You don’t, but you internalize it, and you carry it with you the rest of your life.

My life did go off the rails completely during my 20’s.  I was suffering from chronic major depression and hadn’t yet found a successful treatment. I was in and out of the hospital and losing jobs left and right due to problems related to the depression. I made some less-than-good choices about how to earn income quickly in order to pay my rent. Desperation will do that to a person.

I was over at my mom’s house one afternoon expressing my concern about making my rent payment for that current month when her current husband walked in the room. He looked at me as he walked in and said “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you keep a job?”

Good question, what’s wrong with me? I’m assuming you mean other than the depression. Maybe you need to have a conversation with husband #2, who attributed all of my faults to my father.

The depression has been successfully treated and at bay for 10 years now, but these words still haunt me. They reside at the core of my being, like a pit in my stomach. I need to find a way to purge.

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4 Responses to Words Linger

  1. Laura A. says:

    We are a lot alike Kelly and I look forward to more posts. One if my defining moments happened in 5th grade when the boys all got together and gave me a ring box with a razor blade in it and a note that said ” Do everyone a favor and slit your wrists ” I have never forgotten that and probably never will. It’s amazing the shit we hold onto. (( hugs ))

  2. Kristina F. says:

    Kelly – like Laura, I am struck by some of the things we have in common. I remember reading some things that you posted on Facebook about your history with depression. I am fairly guarded about it, so I don’t talk about it on Facebook, but I share your struggle. Mine is also currently successfully treated, but every couple years it comes to life again, and the meds have to be adjusted again, and I have to do some therapy again, and every time I fear the day that the next med adjustment won’t work, that we will max out on the dosages, etc. Mine has never been quite as bad as yours, but at its worst it did lead me to the ER. I have been heavily suicidal in the past. It sucks. I am so glad you have been able to keep it under control the last 10 years. I am so glad you have your passion for dogs to pour yourself into, because I think that helps.

    I also have some experiences in the middle school timeframe that had long-term effects, that caused an incredible amount of self-hatred that I didn’t even really realize I had until I started getting help. You are absolutely right that you internalize it and it stays with you. I will never forget the time in therapy that my therapist had me mentally separate from my 11-year-old self, to step back and look at her in the depths of her sadness. And she asked me what my reaction to her was, how I would react to her. I HATED her. She was nasty. No, I had no desire to give her a hug and make her feel better – I didn’t even want to TOUCH her. She was that ICK. Suddenly seeing the self-hatred inside me was devastating and powerful. But it was the first step at starting to resolve it. I am a big fan of cognitive therapy and psycho-analysis type therapy in general, but for dealing with that core self-hatred so that I could move on to dealing with everything else, I found the Internal Family Systems method that that therapist used extremely valuable. It can be a little hokey and “new-agey,” but it was ideal for getting through that really tough stuff. Here is a website if you have any interest in finding out more and finding therapists who practice it: http://www.selfleadership.org/

    • crisisinca says:

      I had to think about that one. I think if I was looking at myself as an 11-yr old, I would cry seeing all of the pain that little girl was in and not understanding why. She always felt like an outsider and was frequently alone, with her head in a book.

      I do still take meds and I do still go to therapy once every 3 months. But what “fixed” me was ECT. I’ve been worried in the past about possibly slipping another depressive episode but upping my drugs has helped. If needed, I’ll go back and get my brain zapped again. Now that I’m not afraid of the procedure, I don’t have to live in fear of the depression returning, which in and of itself is pretty freeing.

      I’ll definitely check out the website you mentioned, thanks for the reference!

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