I asked my dear friend, Brook, to write a guest blog for me because she’s someone I admire. We went through a tough ordeal together a few years ago and I developed a deep respect for her, but nothing like idolization. We are both similar in some ways, especially when we’re doling out the sarcasm and biting wit. Self-deprecation and humor are common in people like us. We use these methods to deflect and distract from our pain, and to hide our truth from those around us.
I saw myself in her almost immediately, although her battles have been different from mine, the weapons we used were the same. Over time I began to see glimpses of her softer and more vulnerable side and I envied it. She inspired me to think differently about my situation and eventually go against my instincts to run and hide from my own truth. I began to hold myself accountable for all things in my life, big and small, bad and good. I decided that I would finally forgive myself, love myself, and accept the many mistakes I had made along the way as part of what made me strong and whole.
Without this woman, I don’t think I’d ever have gotten out of the self-destructive mindset that had been drastically affecting my ability to stand up for myself and make good decisions in my life. During the ugliness of my divorce battle my ex and his family tried to literally erase me from my own life and the life of my only child.They told so many lies about me, but the words that cut deepest were the true ones. The truth does hurt, but only at first. Own it first, then fix it.
I was so ashamed and humiliated by my circumstances, I wished for the sweet relief of anonymity and a clean slate. Instead, I did not run away, although every nerve in my body screamed at me to run and hide. I held my head high and began to write the words I had thought I’d always be too ashamed to acknowledge to anyone, even to myself. I felt the physical weight of these burdens lift off of me and I felt free. I was in a jail dormitory at that moment, but I’ve never felt so free.
I stopped covering up my issues and instead did the hard work that I needed to do to make a new life for myself, one that I know I deserve. The bad things I’ve endured in this life don’t define me anymore. I became free when I unburdened myself of all of the deep dark secrets that kept me sick for so long.
If you’re being bullied or threatened, the only way to get your power back is to take away their leverage. Speak your truth and face your life head on. That is the only way to take the power away from the demons that haunt you. Drug abuse, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive behaviors, depression, anxiety and abusive relationships are things that will only hold you down while you’re protecting the secrets.
I’m so proud of my friend for writing this piece that I think will inspire and help so many struggling people who read it. I hope you’ll share your thoughts and comments here and maybe even share it! -Sandi
Learning to love the ugliest thing about me….
I’m literally about to open “me” up and share with everyone something that I am ashamed of. Something that I try to hide from most people. Something that I am so scared of people finding out, because I’m worried its something that will not be accepted. I have been rejected before because of this. With guys that didn’t find it attractive. With females that didn’t want to be seen with me. And just by random people. I guess they thought something wrong with me.
Now…everyone has scars. Different sizes, different shapes, different places…even different colors. Depending on the place and the severity of the scar, with time and proper care, most scars can and will fade. My scars will fade.
Then why the big deal? I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of the shame. I’m tired of wearing long sleeves during the summer time. I’m tired of people asking, “Whats wrong with you? And I’m tired of the look of disgust on people’s faces. I’ve had parents remove their kids from around me because they were worried that their little shit turd would catch what I’ve got if touched. And before you say anything….my answer is “No.” No I don’t expect this entry to fix stupid. I’m not trying to fix stupid. Stupid is always gonna be stupid. I’m tired of looking in the mirror and not like what I see. I’m tired of worrying about what people think and say about me. I thought this would be a start.
When I was in High School I was diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. What am I OCD about? I pick. I’ve always picked. When I was a kid I remember falling on my roller skates and skinning up my knees. I also remember spending the following weeks picking at the scab over and over again. It took twice as long for the sore to heal, and once it did, it left a scar. As I got older it was no longer scrapes. Now it was acne. Mainly on my face and back. If I was under any amount of stress, it would get worse. Sometimes I didn’t even need a sore to start picking. It was around this time that I noticed that I was even doing it in my sleep. I would go to bed with fresh and clean sheets. When I would wake In the morning, I would find fresh blood all over my everywhere. I was prescribed a mild anti-depressant to help with the OCD symptoms. I got it under control. Yes, when I was under a lot of stress, you would see me pick a little here and there. But nothing horrible.
It got really, really bad years later in 2013 and on when I started combining amphetamines and the strongest pain pill out there, Opana. The pain pill, which is Dr. prescribed heroin, would make me itch, causing me to scratch and pick. The amphetamines would make me obsess about it. I would sit there, hours and hours on end, and pick on my arms, legs, and my back. I would take a needle and tweezers and tear up any area of the body I could reach. By morning I would be covered in bloody marks. The bathroom sink splattered with blood. I didn’t go outside or out in public. Now, these scars, they are fading. I am extremely embarrassed when I go out in public. Most of the time I just throw on a long sleeve shirt. Now I don’t know if you noticed but, we are in the south. Almost in the middle of summer. It gets hot. But for the most part…. I just don’t go out unless I absolutely have to.
Hurricane Katrina and all that mess after….
OCD and drug abuse are not the only reasons I have scars. In 2005 I was working as an EMT-B for Acadian Ambulance Services in Louisiana. Some of you may or may not remember this tiny little headache called Hurricane Katrina. I was part of the 1st caravan of ambulances allowed inside New Orleans that Monday morning. I had just gotten off my regular 24 hour shift when the call was sent out for “all hands on deck.” Everyone was assigned a partner and a unit. Our mission…get our butts to New Orleans to help with the evacuation of survivors needing medical treatment.
I was assigned my Paramedic partner, Jeff. I already knew him. He was one of my instructors from EMS Academy. He was also Paramedic of the Year. Good guy, I liked him. And he liked me. I could tell. For some reason, Jeff and I were at the end of the caravan. Once we entered New Orleans, we got a call for a couple in distress at a local grocery store. We broke off from the caravan and headed to the destination dispatch gave us. Needless to say, Jeff and I didn’t get very far in our ambulance. Were forced to stop and continue the rest of the way on foot. Before us stood waist deep water, if you can even call it water anymore. It was a mixture of debris, gasoline, oil, bio-hazard and no telling what else.
Yes..we had to walk, waist deep, in this sludge from hell, to reach our patients. Once we reached them and got them back to our ambulance, we found out that this couple, both diabetic, had been stuck there since the day before. They hadn’t taken their medicine nor had they eaten since the day before. Luckily we had gotten to them in time. Another couple of hours and both of them would have gone into diabetic shock.
I spent another day in New Orleans helping in the rescue and transportation. It wasnt long after that, that I started to get sick. Very sick. I was diagnosed with a severe Upper Respiratory Infection. But that wasn’t all, I had contracted a severe case of the deadly infection known as Staph. Abscesses starting popping up all over my body. So bad that I had to be hospitalized. Each abscess had to be opened and drained. It was horrible. It was painful…bring on the pain meds….Yes indeed.
What am I ashamed of?
Am I ashamed of what I did In New Orleans? No. I was doing what God put me on this earth to do. Am I ashamed of the abscesses? No…It doesn’t mean that I am a dirty person. It does not mean that I don’t take care of myself. And, no, it’s not a disease.
I’m ashamed and embarrassed because of the drug abuse and what I did to my body while I abused these drugs. I’m scared of what people may or may not think when they see these scars. When this summer started, I vowed that I wasnt going to put on long sleeves. I was going to go out in public, with my scars showing.
A couple of weeks ago I was pulled over for speeding. The officer, very nice, polite man, saw my scars and immediately asked when the last time I did meth. He looked at me. I know he didn’t believe me when I told him, “over 3 years ago.” This is something that I have to come to terms with on my own. I have to learn to love me and everything about me. Am I ashamed to be a recovering addict? Yes. But, I am also very proud of the fact that I was able to stop and make a turn around.
So what was the point in all this?
Ultimately….I want to love myself. I don’t want to be ashamed anymore. I don’t want to hide in the darkness anymore. Because if we keep our shame hidden and in the dark it will always have power over us. Once brought into the light, it can no longer be used to define ourselves.
I want to teach my son to love himself. Whatever flaws or imperfections he may have, visible or not. I want to teach him to be proud of who and what he is, and not give a shit what people may think or say about him. But how can I teach my son to love himself when I am unable to do it myself?