An insight to the mind of an individual suffering from mental illness, coping skills, and ways to overcome

The Vent

By: Kaila


I suppose the best place to begin with my story, is that I find it difficult to share my story. I’m not ashamed of it, and I’m proud of the obstacles I have overcome, but it’s deep. It has dark, murky waters…waters that most people are too afraid to swim in. It’s a battle between wanting to be heard vs not wanting to make others uncomfortable. Here is my story full of dark and murky waters, but also beautiful blue water. To summarize the first half of my life up through high school, I was bullied. It was one of those circumstances where I got made fun of when I was 7 years old, then no one wants to be friends with the kid getting made fun of, then you go to the next grade level with the same people, then you’re just an easy target, then it starts to shape your personality and develop anxieties and insecurities, then the bullying feels more personal and more painful, and so on. The start of that, was because I got picked up from my parents one day from after-school care; both of my parents being white and me being biracial. The bullying began with, “your parents don’t love you”. Now, being a 7 year old kid at the time, it was confusing. It was the first time I ever noticed that I was different, and that I looked different from my family. Though I didn’t know this at the time, my biological father went to prison for life and I never met him, but my dad raised me since I was a baby. There was no other “dad” to me. It raised questions, it led to me sobbing in my room asking my family if they were my family. Fast forward to the start of high school, I now knew about my biological father. And felt abandoned. How could the person who is supposed to love me most in this world do something knowing they might never see me again? Why wasn’t I worth it? I desperately wanted to feel worth it. I wanted to have friends, I wanted to be invited to things, I wanted to be wanted. I started smoking weed and hanging out with the wrong crowds because I was “accepted”. They were the only people who let me hang out with them. I wanted male attention so badly (I suppose that’s the saying, “daddy issues”), that I was promiscuous. Leading to more rumors about me. I was in such a dark place in my life, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation and self-harm. I couldn’t even fathom living anymore. Fast forward to when I was 19 years old, I found out I have Multiple Sclerosis. I was healthy my entire life, went to my yearly physicals, had all my shots and vaccinations, there was never an indication that anything was wrong with me. Until the day I woke up with my hand numb. The next day with my arm numb. And the next day with the entire left side of my body numb. The rug was yanked out from under me. All of a sudden I went from a healthy, “normal” person, to a person with a chronic, lifelong illness with no cure that was completely unpredictable and could effect any part of me at any given time. It was hard at first, the injections, the fear, the MRIs, the spinal tap. I was afraid. But to be honest, I didn’t think about it that much. I’m not sure how to explain that; maybe it’s because I was still younger and worried more about hanging out with people or going to college. I went off to college, found out the guy I was dating (my first boyfriend who I was in love with for two years after wanting to be wanted so badly throughout high school) started talking to other girls the week after I found out I had MS. I was crushed. But, I was in college. I was partying, I was drinking, I was experimenting with different things. I got a new boyfriend quickly. During my time in college, I had my best friend. One of those best friends where you are inseparable and did everything together, and everyone knew you were always together. We planned on getting an apartment together when I graduated because she was transferring to the university where I was moving to, we spent literally all of our time together, we were there for each other. She had to go up north to see her mom the week I was moving back home after graduating, and I got a random text from her that she didn’t want to be my friend anymore and I wasn’t good for her. Out of the blue. It was more heartbreaking than anything I had ever experienced. So much worse than a break up from a boyfriend; this was who I considered my sister. Fast forward, I was sexually assaulted at one point. Fast forward my drinking started really picking up. Fast forward, I was in a relationship for two years and in love. Fast forward, I uprooted and moved halfway across the country for a job and away from my family. Fast forward, the guy I was dating (who also moved with me) was from another country and left to go back home; left me. Fast forward, I’m alone. Alone with my thoughts, and alone with my booze. I’m around 25 at this time…I met another guy. We will call him Lemuel. Oh man. The ride with this one. Everything in my story up until now was light-hearted fluff. We were together in the peak of my drinking. When it was becoming a serious problem. I ended up researching recovery facilities near me because I didn’t like who I was anymore. I didn’t even recognize myself. I went and got help, I was forced to confront all of the demons, insecurities, fears, and regrets all at once. It was miserable. And the one thing I would turn to, was something I could no longer turn to. But, Lemuel was there. He was there next to me, supporting me. He came to the center a couple times and did a counseling session with me. He even went to couples counseling with me when I suggested it because I was quite literally learning how to act from scratch. How did I ever get so lucky? To be in a relationship with a doctor, who brought me flowers, who stuck by me while I was in treating getting help for alcohol abuse. How was I so lucky to have someone go to counseling sessions with me. Someone who forgave me. Someone who forgave me for all of the horrible things I did and said. He agreed to have weekly talks with me. I asked him if we could so we could check in with each other and make sure we were growing together and strengthening our relationship. He did it, for about two weeks. But that’s okay, he tried and we are still growing our foundation by being together. I was so appreciative that he stuck by my side (my friend told me it was a trauma bond lol). I loved making him a nice breakfast in the morning and driving it over to him. I loved surprising him with his favorite ice cream and drink. I loved writing nice letters to him. It made me feel genuinely happy; happy to do those things for the man I was falling in love with. Over time of doing that, I asked him why he didn’t do the same things for me? He responded with, “I never asked you to do those things”. And I thought, oh, well that does make sense. After more time passed I asked him again, “it would be really nice if you did things like that in return.”. It turned into him annoyed and angry with me. Telling me he never wanted me to do anything for him ever again because it wasn’t out of love, it was out of me wanting something. That I always expected something in return when I did those nice things, so don’t do them. I was taken aback by this and upset. Explaining my perspective, that it’s not about wanting things back, it’s about wanting him to want to do those things for me. My explanation got nowhere, and I swept it under the rug. I continued doing those nice things because it’s who I am; I love making other people smile and brighten their days. His excitement became less and less. Each time I went out of my way to do something, he wasn’t even happy about it anymore. It crushed me. But, we would figure it out, everything will be okay. I just need to change my approach, that’s all. When I stopped drinking, I stopped smoking cigarettes and began vaping instead. One night when he came over, he told me how disgusting I was for doing that, using the word “disgusting” over and over again. The sharp word. I got angry about it, how dare he call me disgusting? But then again, I really should stop vaping. He gave me a card just to tell me how incredible I’m doing after I stopped drinking and how proud he of me he was. It melted my heart, it made me feel loved. It made me feel special. That Valentine’s Day, we decided to go out to a nice dinner. I was so excited because he chose the place and it was a surprise. I remembered him telling me one day that I would look really good with the smokey eye look. I was in the bathroom for so long trying to do it and couldn’t figure it out. I got anxious, frustrated, and upset. My anxiety projected, like I was having a meltdown, saying, “I just need to get this right ahhh this is so stressful but I want to do it for you because I know you said you’d like it!”. He responded with, “this is why I don’t want you to do anything for me. You get all stressed out and ruin the entire evening”. Another sharp word, “ruin”. I quickly finished and we went on our date! I was so happy once we were there. Spending time with him, something I rarely got to do. Easter was coming up and his sister lived in Houston, where we lived, and I had no family in Texas. I was waiting for him to invite me, but he didn’t. I asked him about it and he said “my family just isn’t like that, we don’t date in my culture.”. Well, okay, I understand. I explained how important Easter was for me and how this was the first one I’d be without my family, but hey, he doesn’t do that in his culture. By the way, this lasted our entire relationship, I never once met his family. Fast forward, we move to a new city together. He was starting residency and got matched at a hospital in another city. We talked about how it was our fresh start. Our new beginning. The start of our life together. It was a crap hole of a city, but I was so excited. It was us against the world. It was the first time I ever felt so accepted (?) by someone after all of my wrongdoings and was sober and starting a real life. My authentic self came out more and more and my nurturing side flourished. I loved taking care of him without question. It filled me with happiness to do things for him and make him happy. I did the laundry, I grocery shopped, I cleaned the apartment. Not that I thought those were my job, but because I was able to take things off of his plate while he was in residency and he came home so tired. I loved having meals ready for him, putting waters and snacks in his bag to surprise him when he opened it at work the next day. It was a dream come true. But why did I still feel off about it? I realized that even though I did those things out of my heart and even though doing those things made me happy, he wasn’t doing those same things back and doing things to make me happy. I started to get a little resentful. But I was working on my communication and wanted to talk to him maturely about how I was feeling and why I was feeling that way. He never wanted to talk to me when I wanted to talk. I tried explaining over and over how important it was to me for us to have communication, and I was being pushed aside. My needs that made me feel loved were pushed aside. I didn’t ask for much. The few times he was willing to talk, he was on his phone the entire time or he would listen for about a minute. He would quickly end our conversation and make it very clear to me that he didn’t want to talk anymore. I would be upset, and I knew I deserved more than that, but I told myself I was happy that I got 5 minutes. My standards got lower. Lemuel made me feel like what I had to say didn’t matter to him. It hurt. I felt like I was so in love, I kept putting the things that bothered me to the side and trying to focus on the good things in our relationship. It was becoming more and more difficult to find anything good. Over time, I felt worse and worse. It evolved from questioning my relationship, to questioning myself. I would ask him to help me clean the apartment or take out the trash, and I would get pushback or told that he would do it later. When hours went by and it wasn’t done, I would ask again, and then he would be annoyed with me. Telling me that I expected too much and was annoying. That he didn’t want to deal with me. He told me that he would gladly do it, but when I asked him to over and over it made him not want to do it. I was confused. I felt like it was my fault that I wasn’t getting my needs met. I wondered if he really would do those things if I didn’t ask for it. I started thinking it was my fault. He would work 60-80 hours per week, but still make time to go to the gym, play basketball, and go out with friends. But he didn’t have time to talk to me for 5 minutes or take me on a date. He told me it’s not his fault because he invited me to hang out with him and his friends. But I told him time and time again I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I felt like I didn’t fit in with his friends; they were all doctors and I wasn’t. They didn’t talk about anything else. But one night, I did it. I got out of my comfort zone and I went out to a Halloween party that he invited me to. He said a bunch of people were getting together and gave me the address for the party. I even brought a friend I met at yoga to help me get through it. This was a big deal for me. Before this, I had never gone out other than yoga or the gym since I stopped drinking. We got to the party, and went through the haunted maze out front, which took about 3-4 minutes, and then got to the front door. But the door wasn’t open. There wasn’t anything going on inside. I was soooo confused because I was invited to a party. What the hell was this? Finally, after I stood there looking confused for what felt like forever, he came up to me while wearing a mask and laughing. I asked him what was going on, and that I thought it was a party. He said there wasn’t one and that it was just the maze in the front yard. I was upset and told him that he could have at least told me. I told him that he should have warned me what I was getting into because I came in with an expectation based on what he said, and then I felt dumb when I showed up and it wasn’t even remotely what I thought it was. He got annoyed with me. He didn’t want to have a conversation, he wanted to have fun with his friends. He wanted to put the mask on and go back to scare people and that’s what he did. He left and went back to what he was doing. He invited me there, giving me the impression it was something it wasn’t, and then left me to leave with my friend. I started walking back to the car with my friend and felt so embarrassed. Embarrassed about bringing her there and telling her it was a party and embarrassed about being around the other people at that haunted maze. I texted Lemuel after we left and told him that I would have appreciated a heads up. I told him that it’s fine if that’s what it was, but I just wish he told me beforehand. He got so angry. He called me and started yelling at me. I even told him that I was in the car with my friend and didn’t feel comfortable talking, but he didn’t care. He kept yelling. He yelled at me that I ruined his entire night, that I was embarrassing, and that he doesn’t bring me around anyone because I’m so awkward and weird. Within 5 minutes, he had successfully confirmed every fear I had and confided to him. I was sooo upset, I drove home in disbelief. Why would he say that to me? Was it true? Was I really like that? Why was I like this? Why couldn’t I just be different? After I got home, I became mad. I was mad that the person I loved would tear me down like that and make me feel so badly about myself. I was mad that he didn’t even bother to think about how much it would hurt me to say those things. I was mad and hurt and self-conscious at the same time. “He should have been there for me. He should have been my person and held my hand and told me everything would be okay. He should have reassured me to make me feel more comfortable” while also thinking “I know I’m awkward but I didn’t know it was that bad. I didn’t realize that it was so obvious how uncomfortable I am. I thought I did a good job hiding it and putting on a smile. Why am I like this? I wish I could be different”. His words started seeping into me deeper and deeper. His words started making me question myself and I started believing what he was saying. We weren’t in a good place in our relationship (obviously) so I suggested doing the Adventure Book we got when they were still in Houston. It was full of fun things to do as a couple that were spontaneous. He didn’t want to do it though. He never wanted to do it. He didn’t care that I wanted to do it. He said he was tired. I waited until he had an entire week off work and asked him again, but he said he was tired and needed to catch up on sleep. I got a little more resentful, why wasn’t I important enough to do something for one hour that meant a lot to me? Why couldn’t he just do it to make me smile? Did he even notice that I never smile anymore? But…I told him straight up that I wasn’t happy and what I wanted in a relationship. Aaaaand, ignored. I did everything I could to connect. I found an app that asked each other questions and we had to guess each other’s responses. I told him over and over how important it was to me. I told him that it wasn’t just a silly app, it was something I wanted to do to “rekindle”. He told me it was dumb, and he wasn’t going to do it. That he was too busy. He didn’t care at all, he wasn’t even willing to do it for me. He ignored me. The worst part of the entire relationship, is when he told me that he wasn’t sexually attracted to me. At this point, we hadn’t been physically intimate for almost a year, and it was incredibly upsetting. Especially because I tried everything I could to bring that back into our relationship, but I got rejected every time. Every. Time. I eventually stopped trying. I tried to ignore the fact that one of the most important things for me in a relationship was physical intimacy. I explained countless number of times how important it was to me, and how I thought of it as being closer emotionally as well. How it grew connection. I researched it and things I could do, and I even asked him if we could schedule it because I read that even though it wasn’t romantic, it could bring us back together eventually. It was one of the most degrading things I have ever done. And I was still rejected. When it came out that he wasn’t attracted to me, everything added up. Everything that didn’t make any sense to me started to make sense. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I told myself the entire time we weren’t physical that it was because he was so busy with work and mentally drained and didn’t have the energy to. I made excuses for him even when I was in so much pain, because I loved him. I never expected this, even though I questioned it. I thought back to all the times he told me how attracted he thought Taylor Swift was (which I thought was weird, but figured it was just a guy thing). He told me that he wanted to sleep with other women. I questioned him almost daily, I just wanted to know why. I was so broken down from him, that I started asking him what I did wrong. I was questioning myself. He said “it’s like when married men get hookers, they still love their wives and want to be with only them emotionally, but wanted something else sexually”, that it wasn’t a big deal. What the hell? He compared the situation to married men getting hookers? What the hell was I hearing!? To top it all off, he said “it’s like a little kid wanting a new shiny toy”. Like I was dull and boring. He told me that I was very attractive, he just didn’t want me sexually. He tried to justify it by telling me that there are other things more important to a relationship like emotional connection. But I didn’t feel any emotional connection for half of our relationship. I stopped feeling any connection at all months and months prior. I saw myself pulling away from him more and more. But he legit sat there telling me he did the right thing. He told me that he wanted to be with other women. Point blank. He didn’t even try to hide it. But made me confused about if he was a terrible person or if he was great for being honest with me. I was confused because he kept telling me that it was better for him to be honest. He was mentally and emotionally abusing me. This entire time. He was manipulating me, taking my love for granted, and disregarding me and my feelings. I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said. It lingered. I started wishing he just cheated on me rather than me feeling worse and worse about the situation and the pain growing every single day. I wished that it was one big pain because it would have been better than that. The worst part to me was that we weren’t physically intimate at all. It would have been different if our relationship was hot and heavy while he was thinking about other women, but he was only thinking about other women. What was the point of this relationship anymore? I was so confused and brainwashed by him, that I was genuinely asking myself if I could just live without physical intimacy forever. I mean, what?! He broke me. Slowly. It was so subtle it was almost masterful. I started fading away, my heart breaking apart little by little. But they weren’t big pieces, they were small slivers and shards. The worst part of the relationship for me was how slow the entire thing was, because each day brought more pain, but also confusion about where the pain came from. Even though I knew deep down. I unconsciously justified it to myself; that was easier than accepting the fact that I was still there. I didn’t know up from down, left from right, valid from invalid emotions, love from abuse. I was lost, so lost that I just had that scratching my head feeling like, “what the hell is happening?”. It was torturous, degrading, and confusing. I second guessed myself, I truly believed I was just overreacting, I believed it was just a bump in the road. I was a counselor at the time. I literally counseled people in abusive relationships and had the domestic violence shelter come speak in my groups. That’s how good he was. I moved out of our apartment and got my own, but I told him I didn’t want to break up, I just wanted physical space so I could work on myself (literally still thinking it was me!!). When I thought it literally couldn’t get any worse, we saw each other one night and he said he wanted to “see what was out there”, that he feels like he “missed out on being single because he was always studying and working”, that he just wanted some space to figure out what he wanted He had to have time to figure out if he even wanted me? How did this happen? Why would I give so much to someone else when I saw the entire time that I wasn’t getting anything in return? Why did I keep trying? Why did I put myself through this for someone who obviously didn’t care about my wellbeing? It wasn’t that one day this just came out, it was also the fact that he told me the exact opposite; that he saw us being together forever. I was strung along this entire time. I was being kept around because I benefited him. I started becoming upset with myself. Upset for letting this happen. I didn’t trust him, and I knew I’d never be able to. I loved him so much that I was stringing myself along at that point. I continued to let him torture me like the emotional terrorist he is. But then I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t live like that anymore. So I broke my lease, paid an obscene amount of fees, and moved to Florida to be with my family. I had to get away and at least try to heal. The manipulation was unreal, but I was able to see it clearly at that point. I didn’t love him anymore. I didn’t even wish him well, I couldn’t even genuinely say I wanted him to be happy, because I didn’t. I wanted him to feel the pain I felt. I wanted him to be miserable. But at the same time, I didn’t even care. He emotionally sucked the life out of me for over an entire year. He abused me. The silent abuse. The kind of abuse that couldn’t be seen. The kind that could be easily denied. I took time. I let myself be sad, I let myself lay in bed for days, I let myself feel sorry for myself. I started slowly doing things, even something small like sitting outside or going to the store. I had never been so tired in my entire life! Then…I started feeling happy. And it was SO foreign because I hasn’t felt happy for so long. I started seeing the sun. I started seeing the blue sky and hearing the birds chirping. My strongest belief is that everything happens for a reason. And all of a sudden all of the stuff he put me through had a reason. He pushed me down so incredibly low, that life had no option other than to catapult me upwards. If I wasn’t with Lemuel and if he didn’t put me through that, I would have still been teetering on that edge of not being happy but not being too low. His horribleness and abuse is what showed me that I am worth it. I am deserving of something amazing. I am an incredible person. I am beautiful. I am worthy. I love myself. All of the things I went through during my entire life, all of the pain I’ve felt, all of the things I endured. Lemuel was hands down the worst thing I have ever been through. But in some weird, sick way, he was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. So, that’s my story. And now I’m here, almost 3 years sober, love myself, enjoying the little things life has to offer, being appreciative and grateful for what I have, working on myself, putting myself out there, finding hobbies I love. I know I still have a long way to go, and I am starting counseling soon because I need to address my legit diagnosed PTSD from Lemuel…but…I also feel like I made it. I feel like I can conquer and overcome anything. I feel alive. I feel like I made my way through that long dark tunnel and I’m in the light!!! There will always be things to push me down and make me question myself, but I know the balance now, I know the boundary. I am a work in progress every day, and I’m so proud of myself for that. Thanks for letting me share murky waters 🙂
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