Blog,  Mental Health

Blog 5.6.24

Last night before bed I read a short story that reminded me of a time in my life where I was very much alone in the world. So of course, I had terrible dreams. And by terrible, I mean emotionally fraught. They were the kind of dreams that brought back vivid memories, not just of places and things, but of feelings. Abandoned. Lost. Hopeless. Terrified. Back then, there was acid in my veins and a dull ache in my stomach at all times. I was always hungry, and in every sense of the word.

I’ve talked a lot about my childhood trauma, but I don’t often delve into the trauma of my young adulthood. Between the ages of 18 and 24, I was supremely fucked up. I did a lot of stupid shit, and I allowed a lot of stupid shit to be done to me. I don’t think I’ve properly dealt with any of it. Part of the reason is that I feel very much alone with these memories.

It feels like I live surrounded by people who can’t even begin to conceptualize the kind of poverty I’ve lived through — and not just financial poverty (though that was profoundly damaging in and of itself). I lived in solitary desperation in every aspect of my life for long enough that it became a way of being. For years I had no people. No prospects. No idea how to even function in the most basic aspects of adulthood. Estranged from my family, sleeping on floors or in any bed that would have me. Spending hundreds of dollars a month on my one and only hobby – getting fucked up. I traded my self-worth and dignity for any scrap of attention that could pass for love and friendship. Always on the losing end. Hanging on for dear life while my peers ran home to their parents for money or solace or a goddamn co-sign on a loan. It’s humiliating to talk about much of it.

These days you look at me, and you’d never imagine where I’ve been. What I’ve done and seen. I look like someone’s mom, for fuck’s sake. Most of the time I’m successful at forgetting how bad things were. Until I slip into that world of dreams and am confronted with it all again. Then, I realize why its so hard for me to feel comfortable around other people whose lives were made easier for them, who were protected by people who loved them, even if it was in imperfect ways. I realize why it’s so difficult to operate in circles where things like housing, education, and recreation are considered normal, and expected. And why I can’t relate to people who find themselves incapacitated by fear of ‘what could happen’ while surrounded by wealth and privilege I never knew.

I don’t believe in miracles. But the fact that I’m still alive is enough to make me consider the possibility that they do happen. Exactly why I should survive when I was hellbent on a path of self-destruction for so long, is hard to say. I’d love to take credit for who I’ve become, but the truth is, I’m not sure I had much to do with it. The path I’ve taken was sought intuitively, and the place I’ve ended up is better than anything I could have dreamed. I now have everything I ever wanted – a home, a loving and supportive family, a network of friends I can trust, and an opportunity to write fiction as my occupation.

At some point, I did start making good decisions. But until very recently I’ve always felt I was behind the 8-ball, playing catch-up while learning how to hide my scars from people whose heads would explode if they were subjected to even a fraction of my trauma. This isn’t a pissing contest. I’m not trying to feel sorry for myself. Believe me, I take no pleasure in having to come to terms with the fact that my damage is vastly more profound than that of most of the people I know.

So, despite the echos of desolation and sadness in my heart this morning, I’m also experiencing waves of gratitude. Because apparently, miracles do happen. I’m one of them.

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