And on this day, a baby girl was born.

Yep.  My mother said it was a “breeze” compared to my older brother.  I was born in a hospital.  My mother smoked through her pregnancy with me and she did not breast feed me.  After a few short days, I was on my way to my first home, a small apartment.  Of course I don’t remember this time at all, but my mother said I was advanced for my age.

My first memory is of the moving that took place as we left Boston for Chicago.  I remember the shiny wood floor that my brother and I would play on.  In this room, my father was sorting through our toys and giving them away to neighbors.  I was upset.  There were toys that he gave away, in front of me, that I really liked.  I remember feeling anxiety, sadness, and a general feeling of insecurity about my future.

We were off to Chicago.  I don’t remember a whole lot.  I was enrolled in kindergarten and I was so proud to go to school.  My mom said I never waved goodbye when I got on the bus.  It was the 70’s, and our school had an “open classroom”.  Apparently I took it upon myself to leave my kindergarten group to go visit my brother Billy who was in first grade.  I distinctly remember when my parents were coming to the school to meet with my teachers.  I was excited for them to come.  I wanted them to be proud of me and how I could be a “big girl” while at school.  I saw them come in and I waited around my personal cubby draw in order to act like I was focused and doing really important work.

I also remember a particular morning when I did not want to go to school.  I was crying pretty hard.  Finally I decided that I would go and hide and maybe my mother wouldn’t find me and I could stay home.  I hid in my parent’s closet.  I waited and waited and waited for my mother to come and find me.  She never did.  I ended up leaving my hiding space because I thought she forgot about me.  My recollection is not clear, but I’m pretty sure she sent me to school.

I have few memories of the time in Chicago.  I remember my Auntie Elaine coming to visit with my cousin Mikey.  I remember her leaving me 2 Hershey’s kisses by my bed.

I remember trying to run away from home with Billy.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night and I went out to the living room and both of my parents were gone.  I started crying pretty hard.  After a while, my parents came back.  They were at a party a couple of doors down.  I remember my Mom saying my name.  And she picked me up.

The defining event of Chicago, however, was the time my father hit my mother.  At the time, I did not know why they were fighting.  But my mother said she was going to call my father’s mother, Grandma Carr.  My father got violent.  He ripped the phone cord out of the wall, went after my mother, and was screaming and yelling at her.  My little brother, who was only 2, hit his head on the corner of the coffee table.  He was screaming, but neither of my parents responded to his cry.  I tried to help Kevin, but I wasn’t strong enough to lift him.

It wasn’t long after this that my mother, my brother’s, and I were on a plane back to Boston.  I remember the pancakes on the plane.  I don’t remember much about what happened in Boston, but I remember my father having candies on the coffee table when we returned.  Soon after that, we were in a UHaul truck back to Boston.

The thing is, I had recurring dreams about this fight over and over for years.  I kept telling my mother I had “the dream” again.  I kept asking if it really happened, and she told me no.

Years later, I learned that my dream was in fact true.  I was very upset with my mother for not being honest with me.  It turns out that my father had an affair with some woman down there.  From the moment my mother caught him until the day he died, he claimed that he didn’t cheat on my mother.  I knew though, when I first heard that there was another woman, that my father was having a full blown affair with her.

I *knew* my father was a monster from at least 5 years old, probably before.

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The finish line is in sight, but I just can’t make it.

The date is June of 2014.  I was at my lowest point with clinical depression.  I was still working at my old school, but they modified my job and made a “deal” with me to keep me employed long enough to “find” another job.  I had simply taken too much time off from teaching because of serious depressive episodes.  The school district had to let me go.

Part of the “deal” was that I had to come to work 4 days a week instead of 5, and I was allowed a maximum of 10 sick days during the year.  I knew I wouldn’t make it.  I was just too sick.  My psychiatrist really let me down here.  She said I had to go to Day Hospital (an outpatient mental health program), or, I had to be at work.  She would not write me a doctor’s note saying I was too ill to be at work.  It was a choice-less choice.  I was much too depressed to get myself out of bed.  I couldn’t drive myself to the hospital every day and I could not get myself out of bed to get to work.  I was literally bedridden with depression.  I bathed maybe once or twice a week.  No makeup.  Dirty clothes.  I was terrified.

My biggest fear as an adult had been that I was absolutely terrified that I would not be able to take care of myself.  I think this goes back to the struggle for money that I always heard about from my mother.  Always, she said-we can’t afford it.  Once I signed off on the “deal” with my school, my worst fears were coming true.  I did not have a secure job.  I had huge amounts of credit card debt that I will explain later, and I had my mortgage.  I was afraid to spend money on groceries.  I was feeling extreme and constant anxiety to the point that it was crippling me.  I was eating much less than normal and had lost a lot of weight because I simply couldn’t allow myself to spend money on food.  I ate 2 lean cuisine dinners a day, and a bagel for breakfast.  I’m sure I had other foods during this time, but I can’t remember eating them.  I know I lost about 40 pounds.

From September until June, I carried on like this.  The depths of my depression were truly severe and I am angry that my therapist of 22 years didn’t *do* anything more for me during this time.  Why didn’t she put me in an inpatient program?  A crisis center”?  She didn’t increase my level of care when I clearly needed it.  I was living like a zombie.  I’d wake up, dress in whatever I could find, go to school, drive home, eat a lean cuisine, and go to bed and sleep from 4pm until 6am the next morning.  And when the alarm went off in the morning, it took all the force of will I could muster to get out of that bed.

Finally, I could do no more.  I had been considering suicide for a while.  I had done research online.  What pill could I buy that would actually kill me?  The only one I could come up with was benadryl.  I had some other type of pill too, but I can’t remember what it was.  I weighed the pros and cons of suicide–but I didn’t think all that deeply about what it would be like to die.  I thought nothing about how my family would respond.  I didn’t feel like they cared.

I picked myself up out of bed to go to school one morning and I decided.  On the way home I picked up a bottle of 100 tablets of benadryl.  And I had 50 of the “other” pill.  I walked upstairs with a drink of some sort.  I opened the bottles and swallowed all of the pills.  All of them.  150 of them.  Then I simply went to bed……

Why am I here?

I’m starting this blog to help recall my memories from childhood that led to a compulsive shoplifting addiction that has become full blown in my life, to my great surprise, at the age of 47.  I have a fairly new therapist and she is helping me to analyze and interpret how events of my past and present affect my behavior each day.  I got in trouble for my shoplifting.  I’ve had some close calls and they didn’t end up prosecuting.  But I did get a larceny-over charge.  They put me on probation and required therapy.  The case is now dismissed, but in spite of all this, I still steal.  Sometimes it’s stuff I need, like food.  Most of the time though, I don’t “need” the things I take.  The next time I get caught, I will go to jail.  Probably 3 months.  But still, I steal.

I was diagnosed with Major Depression, Anxiety Disorder, and a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  The Borderline symptoms come up apparently when I am under stress. I have the ability to become very angry–rage–when I’m having trouble with something or if I feel threatened in some way.  My self-esteem is very poor.  I have mood swings. My best friends are my cats.  I’m crazy about them.  I live with my boyfriend–the first man I’ve ever really lived with.  He is a good man at his core.  But he has a lot of mental health issues that he’s never addressed either.  He’s a heroin addict–sober only for the past few weeks.  He doesn’t treat me like I’m special.  He doesn’t treat me like a lady.  He doesn’t hug and cuddle me and tell me I’m pretty or cute.  Instead, most of the time, he berates me.

I’m at a crossroad right now.  I’m trying to get a teaching position and I’m hoping that I am able to get a new job for the fall of this year.  I am currently unemployed, living on food stamps and a hundred dollars a week from the Department of Unemployment.  If I get a teaching job, I can support myself quite easily.  My next step is to get my own apartment and decide at that time whether bringing Michael, my boyfriend, is in my best interest or not.  I’m thankful to his family for embracing me through a very difficult year.

My father died just a few months ago, and a month before, my aunt Tina died.  She played a very big role in my life.  6 years earlier, my mother’s battle with lung cancer came to an end.  Two months after that, my grandmother Mema died at the age of 92.  I don’t have a lot of family left.  I have my two brothers, but I don’t get along with either of their wives, so those relationships are no longer really genuine.

Just as an aside-I am not taking time to plan out my writing here and I’m not revising it.  Maybe I will at some point, but right now, I want to remember my story, and then tell my story to help my therapist understand me more, and I hope to learn more about myself along the way.

I’ve come to understand, fairly recently, that I have deep dark feelings, secrets, and needs that I’ve never spoken about before.  Not my mother, not my Aunt Tina, not my psychiatrist of 23 years (Dr. Freeman)!  In fact, only *after* leaving my therapist, Dr. Freeman, was I able to start to share these “secrets” with my new therapists.  There are several things that I’ve only ever shared with my current therapist, C.P.

I’ve also come to understand that I’ve lived most of my life in a sort of detached way.  I’m not sure how to describe it exactly.  I’ve always had highs and lows.  I used to take tantrums growing up because I became so incredibly frustrated with how my parents were interacting with me.  I’ve engaged in self-injury since I was in elementary school.  But many many times, now that I can look back, I feel like I was operating in a very naive sort of way.  I lacked emotion intelligence.

I envision now a daisy flower floating down a stream looking sweet and pretty, but oblivious to the treacherous rocks that she is about to encounter.  No “antenna” one of my first mental health counselors first noted.  This pretty little flower missed all the clues that told of many upcoming rolling rapids!  Banging against the rocks because of the energy of the water flow, her petals became wilted and torn.  Eventually, a lot of them just fell off.  In the end, the pretty little daisy ended up all washed up in the mud of a small empty bank of the stream where no one noticed her.  It’s not that people didn’t like the pretty little flower.  They just weren’t aware of her injuries, her pain, her loneliness.