Exhausted

Exhausted

A survivor story written by Angela

I often felt my story wasn’t worth sharing; others have had it so much worse than I. However, I have come to learn this is a common train of thought among survivors and those battling depression and anxiety like myself.

Growing up, I have good memories just like everyone else. I remember my mom being my best friend, staying up until the wee hours having thought-provoking conversations with my dad. I had friends, I participated in gymnastics and dance, I went to school, I was ‘normal’.

But that is about where the normal ends. When I was six, I started asking my parents if they were ‘staying up late that night’. At the time I loved it when they stayed up late; hey that meant I got to stay up past my bed time! As I got older, I realized every time they “stayed up late” they were binge drinking. It started as two or three times a week but eventually it was nearly every night. My parents would drink until they were so intoxicated, they often could not make it up to their room; falling asleep sitting up in a chair. At nine, I would stay up late to clean up after them, something that I felt was my responsibility.

At this age, I was petrified of sleeping in my own room. I was convinced I would get kidnapped or something terrible would happen. So, my parents enabled this fear by allowing me to sleep in their room. All during my parents battle with addiction, I was sleeping on a mattress on their floor. Looking back, it was weird. The abuse happened for the first time around age nine. My dad came into the bedroom very intoxicated and proceeded to molest me. I remember the next day telling my mother and her response was “Well, he probably thought it was me. Just forget about it”. This happened three times over the course of my childhood.

Fast-forward to the age of fifteen, my mom had had enough of my father’s emotional abuse towards her and they filed for divorce. I was numb, I remember thinking I didn’t care at all; I thought ‘about time’. However, that was the tipping point for my mother’s alcoholism. After the divorce, she tried to re-capture all the years she felt she missed out on by being with my father. She would party with my twenty something brother, only to get black-out drunk and repeat the cycle nearly every night.

One night was especially bad, she got it in her head that she wanted to take my little brother (who was seven) to the store. Obviously, myself, my brother and a family friend were refusing to let that happen with the current state of intoxication she was in. It eventually escalated so much we had to call the cops on my own mother in her house. Fun fact: the police cannot do anything to forcibly remove someone if they own the home. So, with the police being of no help (besides trying to put her to bed) we locked ourselves (with my little brother) in the room. My mom was screaming at us and turned to stabbing the door with a large kitchen knife to try and take my brother away. There I was at fifteen contemplating moving out by myself because I was desperate to break away from my mother.

After that night I told my mother she either chose rehab or us. She chose rehab, so I raised my nine-year-old brother with an older sibling for 30 days while she completed inpatient rehab. I continued my path of (literally) trying to get through every day. I was working, going to high school, dating my now husband, and trying to remain as normal as I could.

Once I graduated high school is when I really started noticing the toll my childhood had taken on my mental health. My boyfriend was always telling me I should get help for my battle with depression, anxiety, and OCD. I downright refused. I thought, ‘Well I have made it this long, why get help now?’ Eventually, I got to the point of no return, I was emotionally exhausted. I knew I couldn’t continue this way.

After several hours of therapy, group support from al-anon, and learning what it meant to truly make peace with the past I was finally been able to accept that regardless of the good, the bad that this is who I am, and I am proud of that.

With the help of my support group I decided I needed to cut ties from my father and I no longer have contact with him. My mother and I never stopped talking through the years, even though our relationship was certainly strained at times. We had a very raw and eye-opening conversation where I was finally able to let go of resentment and anger that I was holding onto. There was a very evident weight lifted off my shoulders when I hung up the phone that night with her.

Today, I live with my husband (my high-school sweetheart), our two dogs, and we are currently trying to buy our first house. I have come to terms with the fact that YES, I am a survivor and YES this is something I will have to continue to battle.

But I want you to remember to take care of yourself and always keep fighting because we are NOT our stories and we ARE stronger than our past.

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