Often those in pain don’t wish to become burdens to their loved ones. This is why they hide away, much like wounded animals, never to reveal their agony. I used to do this too, and one might say I even lied about my pain. In this post, I will talk about how I felt about my pain in the past, and why I kept saying the words ‘I’m fine’.
The start of my little white lies
As a child, I was very typical. I liked running in the bushes around my neighborhood and playing with other kids. The problems of the world didn’t touch me. And then, when I was around 11 years old, my parents split. It was very sudden, an uncontrollable storm that swept away my sense of security and plunged me into chaos.
My father moved out, leaving me to mainly live with my mother. She was absolutely devastated for a while. I remember laying awake in bed, listening to my mother crying in the night. I felt so helpless, and I couldn’t bare thinking about making my mother feel worse. Whether or not I cried then, I don’t know. But I know I stopped doing it to the best of my ability. Soon after my parents decided to separate I had my first psychotic-like episode.
My sister had pretty much moved out before all of this happened as well. This meant that little Maria was now alone in the darkness. Those days are quite hazy in my memories. I’d read through the night, not being able to sleep due to the nightmares. I don’t even remember when we finally moved to the next apartment.
In the new house, my room became my hideaway. I had one friend in school and spent time with her when I could. My best efforts went into living a life that seemed normal and joyous, at least to the outside. Inside, when the door closed at night, all the joy in my fake smiles left. Only books could distract me from the pain, and even they couldn’t guarantee success.
My mother’s sorrow echoed in my mind through time. At some point, I adopted the stance of not wanting to be a burden so deeply that it became second nature. I started to please people, and my borderline took hold. Life was grim, and it had no sense of justice. My mother even told me to face up to my bullies with a smile. The pain of the chaos that befell me was too much for my child’s mind to bear.
And so, I started cutting.
I was around 14 then, I think. I’d seen the wounds on the arm of my friend before the group cast me out. I was a little girl, drifting in the wind, without guidance. And I wanted to make the pain end. Unfortunately, the shining crimson droplets would soothe my inner turmoils for over a decade to come.
The world darkens
A child depends on their parents. In my case, I couldn’t do that for the life of me. There was no way I would’ve opened up to my mother, much less my father. They already had their own issues, and the night they split wouldn’t leave my mind. Whatever I was, I was not going to add to their burden.
This led me into wanting perfection. I got excellent grades in school for the last three years after being an abysmal student in the first six. I’d socialize, smile, take part in events, and make plans that were not my true path. All of it couldn’t hide my growing anger, though. At this time, during my teen years, the pressure burst into violence against myself.
Often I wonder whether my father’s critical attitude towards me or my mother’s indifference poured fuel into the flames. I didn’t feel good enough to be their daughter and was constantly worried about being a bother. Consequently, I carried these feelings long into my adulthood.
I’m found out
I heard from my mother, that father had known about my affliction for a while before I had to confront him. Not to say it was much of a mutual thing, more like I died inside due to shame as he questioned me. When he found out, in my perception, my world broke once more. I had brought shame to the man I respected the most back then.
My father finding out was the wrong kind of shock for me. I wasn’t at all ready for the confrontation when he came into the apartment. Though I understand why my benefactor did it though, I had, after all, threatened them with suicide. I remember sitting on the couch, not looking at either one of them, staring at my game on the laptop. After that incident, I have still not been able to face my father properly due to the shame and guilt.
My mother, on the other hand, was probably more shocked than me when she had to face my pain. My partner at the time had cheated on me and had announced our split on social media. I went ballistic and shredded my shoulder, trying to hide it, but the ex had informed my mother. When I got home, she was waiting. I turned my face away as my beloved mother checked the damage on her youngest daughter’s arm.
The shame and guilt
As far as I know, neither my mother nor my father did not try to get help for me. As I’ve become more stable, I’ve thought about things more deeper. Yet, I still couldn’t find a reason why anyone would leave a person hanging like that. Especially when they have the tendency for suicidal ideation and self-harm like I had. Perhaps one day I will ask them if I’m brave enough.
After my parents found out about the cutting, I was destroyed. I didn’t want to face either one of them. All I felt was shame and guilt for not being the ‘perfect’ daughter they deserved. I was nothing but a failure and a burden. The shocking revelations came worse when I found a note from years ago that I’d written to my mother. It said something along the lines of: ‘I’m sorry I’m not the daughter you want’.
All of the burdens in my mind made me want to lie. After all, if nobody knew about my issues, they wouldn’t worry about them. And if I was perfect, they’d never have to scowl when looking at me. On the other hand, if nobody cared enough to try and get help for me, well… What’s the point of letting it be known anyways, then? These are the rationales of a teenager.
However, this all would soon come to an end.
My husband ends the game
Up till my husband’s appearance, I had been getting away with my lie. The people around me didn’t seem like they wanted to dwell deeper, and so the classic ‘I’m fine’ was enough for a time. Mr. V, however, is an entirely different beast. When it comes to his wife’s life, he does not play games. And so, it naturally follows, that I’m not allowed to play games with it either.
I will forever remember the day when I finally crossed the line. It was a full panic, dissociative, psychosis state. I kept banging my head on the wall, as we have a ‘no blades in the house’ policy. My husband was determined to get me help, even if it meant that my cries got louder when he left to make the call. I truly believed he had abandoned me.
My mind engraved the statue of two children playing within itself. Someone calling out ‘Maria’ echoes in my ears. A blurred figure of my husband stands further away. He followed me and kept me safe until the paramedics reached me. All the shame I had felt before came back a thousandfold when I woke up from the stupor. But in the end, that day was the day I finally understood that there is someone who will not play games with me. Someone, who took my health and safety seriously.
Our lives are not toys.
Failing to respect the spark that we have inside us is a grievous sin. After all the lies, the hiding, the indifference from others… I can say I am truly happy that I am now out. My pain is there for the world to see. I don’t have to feel ashamed, or guilty about it, we are all pained one way or another. One day, hopefully, people like me can wake up to the beauty of their own lives, no matter how dark it may seem at the time.