The first time I heard this expression it was from a secretary at my school. It was my first time back at school after I had committed suicide and she had heard about it. I didn’t know how many people knew and if anyone knew, but I kind of thought “Bitch” but instead said “thank you”very quietly. I never believe this expression to be true, All I knew was worse and never better.
Fourteen years later, I can say it’s true.
I didn’t know what my future would bring me.I didn’t think I had much of a future because after all who are we if we are not loved? So, I settled. Settled on any and everything and never quite found my voice to stand up and speak for myself.
This statement has never rang truer after 3 years of leaving my abusive ex-boyfriend. We had been together for a long time, but in the very last year of our relationship he got incredibly abusive. He raped me, I got pregnant, had an abortion, was fired from a job where I was getting bullied and demoted back to a place where I was also getting bullied, had my first real health scare and needed surgery, my ex stalked me and attacked me outside of my apartment, and would frequently call my cell or workphone to taunt me, My last lesson on fake friends occurred at this time too when this friend stole all of my pain medication while I was recovering from surgery. Why was this happening to me and why was it happening all at once? I reached out to my mother about my troubles crying on the phone to be told “YOU’RE WEAK!” and hear a dial tone. I was alone.
The loneliness, the fear, the anxiety, my self worth was never high, but it plummeted lower and lower. My thoughts felt dangerous, I wanted to die. I would walk late at night outside crying trying to figure out how I would kill myself. Would I jump off a bridge? would I get hit by a car? Would I take pills? How did I want to go?
The crazy thing is something always kept me from killing myself. I don’t know what, I had nothing to live for. I was a murderer in my mind, a person unworthy of being loved, an ugly person, I was everything that deserved horrible treatment. After all, my grandmother who abused said to me point blank that I would always be alone and that I was unworthy of love and that no man would ever want me. I was 10.
It seemed like my life was in a perpetual state of turmoil. No matter how kind I tried to be, no matter how patient, no matter how supportive or loving, it always came to my detriment. So, it must be true. I deserved it all.
I found out shortly after my surgery that I would’ve never been able to carry the child I had full term. I had way too many fibroids, but it didn’t make me feel better I felt worse.
I had started wondering why I had bothered leaving my ex-boyfriend in the first place? Being with him was so much better than the loneliness I felt. He alienated from what fake friends I had and often told me all I needed was him. His affection was addicting, but it lasted shorter than his rage. He degraded me in all forms and took pride in publicly humiliating, but somehow I thought it was better than loneliness. Sometimes, I would call him crying asking him what could I have done to make him treat me better he often would laugh and hang up.
I never thought I would get through the loneliness, but 3 years later I did. And in the past year I decided it was time to stop running from myself. I had to get rid of the strong black woman stereotype and acknowledge that I was entitled to my grief and that it was okay to be not okay. I had depression. I had anxiety. It was time I sought help for it.
Why did it take me so long? months after what had happened to me I was convinced that the problem was I was weak. I needed a job, a dream, I needed something! I took on a second job for over a year and decided I wanted to own a jewelry business. I quit the job I was demoted back to and decided to follow my passion. I had got it in my head that my story was the shit that made me the next Oprah. There had to be success in my pain There had to be something. I took a business class where I didn’t learn anything about business and watched way too much super soul Sunday and motivational speeches. Owning my business meant I had power over my life in a way that I didn’t quite have working at my last job and I so badly needed my power.
I avoided reality because I thought a bullshit dream was better than my reality. It was after three months that I had no choice but to come to terms with the fact that this business was never really going to happen. I knew I needed a job! I found one 3 months later. I started going back to school. I finished my last semester, got my AA which may not be something too amazing for others but it was for me. I survived it.
So, around my graduation time I started to fall into a deep depression and although my life was picking up and getting better. I had no one to share it with. I would call my mom to make her aware of my progress, but the conversations were cruel on her part and empty. I couldn’t understand why. I was no longer weak by her definition and yet I was treated much worse and as if I was doing something wrong. I didn’t quite understand that my mother was no different than a fake friend. I was devastated and felt truly alone. My focus started to wane on my assignments and I started to care less about my job. I started feeling suicidal again and this time I couldn’t distract myself from it.
I started fantasizing about my death. Praying that I never would wake up again. So much that it started scaring me. I made YouTube videos about my suicidal feelings and connected with a stranger who was worried about me. A stranger who told me life was worth living. I realized I was never going to hear these words from my mother. I was never going to get a loving support system. I didn’t understand it, but it somehow didn’t matter I knew I needed help.
For over a month I actively tried to see my school therapist. An hour and a half bus ride after work meant that her office was closed as I was arriving. I was certain this was a sign that I deserved to die, but one day after sitting on a couch I had thought to myself it was now or never. I went immediately to an emergency therapy center where I explained all that happened to me in the past year in a half. The therapist gave me her diagnosis. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.
I’ve started seeing a trauma specialist therapist and have been seeing one ever since.
I started reading books on what I was going through on trauma, on toxic parents, one on toxic mothers, abusive relationships, and lots of books on the plights and struggles of black women and although I was physically alone I knew I wasn’t the only one who experienced hardships and was told to get over it because I was a strong black woman. I started to break myself down piece by piece and question why I felt the way I felt. I started having more empathy and compassion for myself and I started to realize being alone wasn’t a bad thing and what my grandmother said to me wasn’t set in stone.I started to see myself as beautiful inside as well as outside when I had never before. I started working towards creating a foundation for a life that I want. I am now one semester away from graduating from school, one month from starting a job I wanted to,and weeks into decorating my apartment.
I know the last thing doesn’t sound too exciting, but for the first time in my life I am thinking about what I want and what I need. Which is something I had never done. I am at the end of the tunnel where i had finally found light.
I am in a place where I am working towards self love and happiness. I once thought love and happiness was given to people who were more deserving. I didn’t deserve what happened to me and I knew that I had to acknowledge my role in my own grief. I was worthy of love and kindness and humanity, everyone is. I didn’t realize that the most important relationship one could ever have is the relationship one has with their self. Denial prolongs the process, avoidance prolongs the process, and what is left when you can’t do either the dirt to build a stronger and more solid foundation. The choice is yours to build or stay on the dirt, and although I can’t blame you for wanting to stay there,but I have to say that it really does get worse before it gets better.