Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Secret is Love and Support

I'm a healthy individual, far from perfect but healthy. I've learned not to take anything personally. Even my thoughts don't really matter unless I want to listen to them- I don't need to believe every single thing that pops into my head. I live my life being kind and loving (especially to myself) because letting people know they are loved makes me happy. 

Sometimes people question my motives or reject my niceties which is completely within their right. But I'm not a doormat, if I'm being treated a way I don't appreciate I will say something, always keeping kindness and respect in the forefront of my mind. I read this book which says to imagine everyone as a mirror. Treat them with the same love and respect you treat yourself. When others are unkind it makes me sad. Not because they're being rude to me, as a nurse plenty of people are ungrateful and rude, it makes me sad because I'm very familiar with that internal turmoil that lashes out at unexpected moments. But it's easy to forget who I used to be. 

Earlier, I said something inconsiderate to someone I care about. I said something like, "Wouldn't it be easier just to communicate how you're feeling?" Their response was an incredulous, "No." It isn't easier because that's not what they are used to, perhaps they don't even know how. I feel like a jerk for being inadvertently inconsiderate. Ask someone who recently lost 100lbs what they did and they say something like, "Easy! I just lowered my calorie intake and exercised more!" Yeah, duh. Everything is easier said than done. It took me 6 months of hard work to get to the point I am today. Before that my emotions completely ruled my life. I couldn't get out of bed some days I was so depressed. I could be snippy, nasty, moody. It's easy to forget how not that long ago I didn't know how to communicate how I felt either. Asking someone else, who is used to keeping everything in, to express everything their feeling is overwhelming. Getting healthy is hard. Time and time again I felt like I was doing it wrong, as if I would never get it right. It took lots of patience and practice.

When I was assaulted in November I became so hostile with my friends. Two of them were with me that night but they were so into one another it didn't cross their minds to question when they saw their friend enter my room and close the door behind himself. I didn't blame them, I still don't. I thought Danny was a super chill, nice kid. He was quiet, polite, funny. I honestly and wholeheartedly wouldn't have questioned it either because I really thought he was my friend. However, logic only took me so far; I still felt resentful. I started being hurtful and eventually stopped talking to my friends. Not because I didn't love them anymore but because I couldn't handle it. They were a reminder of that night and watching them continuing their lives happily was way more than I could handle. After I pushed all my friends away with my impossible depression, anxiety and PTSD I was all like, "Wah, everyone abandoned me." No bitch, you pushed them away with your erratic, hostile behavior. 

"You don't know how I feel!" became the my anthem. It is true, they did not. But I'm sure they would have been willing to listen to it even if they couldn't do anything for me. I would have given anything to make anyone take away my pain but what I realized is that's no one's job but my own. My family became my life raft; their love and support kept me afloat. A week after it happened I was having such terrible panic attacks I could barely leave the house. Sitting outside the gynecologists office alone before I was to be tested is when I finally broke down. I called my brother Danny. In between sobs I told him what happened. I told him I couldn't function anymore, I told him I was scared and sad and I felt like I was rotting from the inside. He cried with me. I asked him to keep it a secret. He promised. 
Later that day or possibly the next I had to take my mother to get an MRI. On the drive home she was staring at me as I drove. 
"Something's wrong," she said. 
"I dunno," I responded my heart beating so hard I felt my shirt moving. She kept telling me to tell her what was wrong but it became nearly impossible to speak. "Leave it alone." 
She became quiet for about 30 seconds, I could tell she was concentrating hard, then asked quietly, "Did someone hurt you?" 
I let out a sigh of resignation. I nodded. 
"Did they hit you?" 
I shook my head, rolling my eyes and giving unnecessary attitude. 
"Did someone take advantage of you? Were you raped?" she whispered, the dread palpable.       
"If I answer will you promise to stop asking stupid questions and driving me crazy?!" 
"Okay. Yes."
"Yes, I was raped."
"By who?"
"You JUST promised not to ask anymore fucking questions."
We drove in silence for a few minutes. My mother grabbed my hand and said she was sorry that happened to me. She confided in me a time someone tried to force sex on her. "It happens to a lot of girls. You are good and beautiful and kind. People take advantage of that. You are also strong and brave and intelligent. I promise you we'll get through this." We cried and I apologized for being nasty, I didn't mean to be. I now know I was afraid of what her reaction was going to be so I was using anger as a barrier.
When my dad found out I thought he was going to yell at me, disown me, call me a slut. Instead he held me tight and said, "It's gonna be okay." 
I was so taken aback I blurted out, "You don't find me disgusting?" My dad's face hardened with rage.
"Never think that! Never! That pig, that animal- he's disgusting! The world is full of snakes just like him. Don't let him take anything away from you. You were Tania before you are Tania right now. Nothing is different."

With the help of my whole family I was able to get through one of the most difficult things which has happened to me. Alec would let me cry on his lap as he played with my hair. He tried to make me laugh by acting out a play by play of how he would "wreck that dude" if I gave him the Okay. He motivated me to work out and taught me self defense. "No dude has the right to put their hand on you, not for sex or to hurt you or at all, if you don't say it's okay. This is a pattern now, Tania. Stop being a fucking idiot and letting people hurt you! Now... try to punch me in the face." 

Getting to where I am today was hard. I put in the hard work, I got myself the therapy and medication I needed, I helped myself. But having the love and support of the people I loved is what motivated me to be better. The morning before I told my family, I was in the shower. As I closed my eyes and allowed the water to cascade down my face, a vision popped into my head. It was a nice summer day- I was with friends, laughing and all of a sudden I grabbed a bottle of Patron, poured it over my head and lit a match. That vision will always stay with me. It terrified me but instead of listening to my negative thoughts I reached out and asked the people I loved for help and they were there for me. 

I understand and value the importance of a good support system. Having Derek and his family's support during nursing school motivated me to get straight As and try my best. Having my family's love and support after November is what got me through these last few months. Listening to people's encouragement and allowing myself to really bathe in their love helped me find the strength to get back up and keep moving. It's not about depending on people. No one besides myself fixed my problems but being around people who loved me made facing and eventually overcoming the pain a lot less scary.       

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