Hi, I am B.S. and I am labeled. The labels I wear include: major depression, PTSD, treatment resistant depression, suicidal ideation, not normal, freak, messed up, special.
In elementary school, I was a bully. I did what I wanted. If I got caught, I stayed out of trouble by crying and blaming someone else. Being a bully was something that came naturally to me. You see, I was bullied at home. My parents and my brothers verbally abused me, and I was told too many times to count that I was the biggest mistake my parents ever made. I was not wanted, I was told I would not amount to anything, and I was given labels of freak and creep and special.
My parents never instilled in me that I was a beautiful little girl. I was a mess. I was a tomboy to the core. Growing up with two older brothers and parents who never embraced me as a girl, what was I supposed to do? When I was six years old, my parents asked me if I wanted a sex change. They explained I would go into the hospital a girl and come out a boy. After all, I was a hardcore tomboy, so shouldn’t I become a boy?
In addition to being verbally abused, I was physically abused, and I was being sexually abused by a neighbor. That started when I was three, and ended when I moved in eighth grade. Sometime later, I am not sure when, I started to be abused by another neighbor. With all of the turmoil in my life, by the time I was in fifth grade, I’d learned to punish myself. Alcohol was readily available in my house and I helped myself frequently. I also stole cigarettes from my parents.
Then the triangulation with my parents began. I was put in the middle between them constantly, and was the confidant each parent went to. I was told all of their inner mess—things a child should never know, like how awful the other parent was.
Beyond that, the verbal abuse shaped who I would become. I held shame messages. Words like, “You are not loved,” or, “You don’t matter,” were a common thing for me to hear. After one of my suicide attempts I was told, “Don’t air our dirty laundry.” My brother was quick to tell me, “I am glad I am not as messed up as you.”
The physical abuse by my parents had stopped, however I took over where they left off. I had found something that made me feel better: I had found cutting. I could finally feel some pain with the emotions I had built up. I saw something tangible to feel over. I began cutting and didn’t look back. I started cutting myself more often and more deeply as the stress and tension in my increased. I ultimately tried to commit suicide.
As I entered college, my parents had total control of my life. I did what they told me to. The verbal and emotional abuse from them didn’t stop. During my freshman and sophomore years of college, my residence hall advisor found out I had been cutting myself and that I was suicidal. He had me put on probation, saying he didn’t want the university at risk if I would end up killing myself.
I graduated college, but life didn’t get any easier. I was fired from my first two jobs. The first place fired me because I was suicidal—they even told me that. I was so hurt that I didn’t tell anyone else why I no longer worked there.
There have been probably 40 different medications prescribed to me over the past 16 years. It was always, “Let’s add this,” or, “Take away this,” or, “Let’s just start over.” Effexor, Ritalin, Xanax, Zoloft, Cymbalta, Prozac: I’ve been on anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, ADHD medication, seizure medication—pretty much anything and everything.
I coped in unhealthy ways. Besides being suicidal, I was still cutting, sometimes more than once a day. I spent money like I was going to die tomorrow. I racked up credit card bills because I didn’t plan on being alive to pay them off. I racked up medical bills from all my counseling and psychiatrists appointments. Ultimately, I went through a bankruptcy.
I began to have affairs. I didn’t care if the men were married or not because it was always about me—about me wanting to feel loved. I confused sex for love. I used sex for love. I knew it was wrong to have sex outside of marriage, but I didn’t care. I would attend church Sunday morning, and by Monday evening I would be sleeping with someone.
April 20th, 2007 was the day my life was going to change, or at least that is what I promised myself. That was the day my mom passed away. Yes, life was going to be better. I wouldn’t be part of any triangulation anymore. I wouldn’t be her confidant anymore. But it didn’t work.
I may have been out of the middle, but my life didn’t get better at that point. I didn’t have the instant relief I thought I would. I planned her funeral, and I took care of my parents’ house and animals while my dad started looking for a new wife. I became more of a hired hand than a daughter. I didn’t grieve. Life just went on.
I would like to say that today I am free of the abuse and triangulation, but I can’t. What I can say is that I have learned to put up boundaries, especially when dealing with my family. I don’t jump when my family calls. If I have the time or if I feel like, I will talk with them. I don’t visit as often as I used to, either. This has been one of the healthiest choices I have made in my life. I finally began to grieve the loss of my mom. I have received it with much sorrow, and have even found joy. I meet with a counselor once a week, and am finally stable on my meds.
I am here to say that what happened in your past does not need to define you. I lived too long letting my past define me. I am in a place where I can share my story and help others who are struggling, and it is a sweet and redemptive place to be.
Finally, I am changing the labels. I am worth it. I am loveable. I am “normal.”