Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reboot: Telling my story again

It has been such a long time since I posted on this blog….3 years to be exact.  It has been a busy three years while I obtained my Bachelors of Nursing degree.  I have taken a long break, but I feel like it is time to start telling stories again.  Looking back over the last few weeks, I can see that I have been being prepared to crack open the past and start sharing these stories again.  The final push for me was listening to a Brene Brown TED talk yesterday about vulnerability.  She said two things that really resonated with me.  1.  She defined courage as the ability to tell your story with your whole heart and having the courage to be imperfect.  2. She talked about authenticity as the ability to let go of who you think you should be to be who you are.  I know see that this talk was the final preparation to push me back to writing to share the stories who make me who I am.

This morning, sitting in the bath tub enjoying some time of quietness and solitude, I noticed the scars on my arms and really took a moment to look at them and see how extensive they are.  This moment of really being present to experience those scars led me to think about the circumstances the led me to put those scars on my arms.

I was 17 the night I did this two my arms.  The scars have faded over the last 26 years.  Some of them are covered with tattoos, but if you look closely you can still see them underneath the tattoos.  I got 90 stitches the next morning to close everything up.  When my mom picked me up to go to the hospital, I was covered head to toe in blood and the subcutaneous tissue (the fat below the skin) was hanging out of the gashes.  I had literally gone on a rampage up and down both sides of both arms with a razor blade.

I was so angry and so hopeless; I felt so worthless and full of hatred.  I just didn't know what to do, so I just took it out on my flesh.  It is just the grace of God that I didn't have the means or access to get drugs or pills because I honestly think I would have taken them and never woken up.

I was in a drug treatment program called Straight at the time.  To say this program was abusive is a huge understatement.  The premise of the program was to break you down by humiliating, degrading and verbally abusing you while reinforcing the idea that you were nothing and would be totally alone forever if you did not complete the program.  We would then, be build back up and be clean, sober, rehabilitated, useful members of society.  This was on top of being raised in an spiritually, emotionally mentally, sexually abusive home.  I had never been taught to have any type of dignity or safety.  I was not taught that my body belonged to me or that it was worth anything.  I was taught that my body belonged to others who could do with it as they chose.  I was taught that I had not value and would never amount to anything.

After months of being in the Straight program and being told that I was a worthless drug addict who would never amount to anything if I didn't graduate the program and that I would be disowned and have not family if I dropped out,  I made it to level 2 (where i would have more freedom) and ran away in the middle of the night.  I really had no idea where to go, but I knew I wanted out.  I went to the house of someone I thought was a friend.   When I was told I had to "pay for the stay", I didn't think I had any other options.  As spoke about earlier, I wasn't ever taught that I was worthy or had any right to say no when someone wanted to use my body for their purposes.  I had no idea what having a sense of dignity even meant.  I didn't have anywhere else to go.  After I had "payed the price" of staying, I was then told I had to leave and couldn't stay.

I remember feeling so used and dirty and worthless.  I remember feeling totally alone and totally hopeless that my life meant anything or that it would ever be anything more than pain and being used and rejected over and over again.  I remember it was chilly and I had on a pair of boxers, a sweat shirt and an old pair of keds.  I walked into a grocery store and stole a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of white out, and a package of straight razors.  My stomach ached and my heart ached.  I walked behind a 7-11 corner store and started smoking.  I opened the white out and tried huffing it.  It didn't do anything for the ache in my heart.  I then opened the razors, raised my sleeves and started to cut.  As I saw the blood and thought about how alone I was, rage started to bubble up in me.  I went into a self rage.  I felt overwhelmed with self-hatred, a sense that life was unfair and I was never going to feel anything but rejected and alone.  I just began to slash myself over and over.  I pressed the razor deeper and deeper into my flesh.  When I had reached exhaustion I pulled my sleeves down over my arms, lay down on the concreted and fell asleep.  I hoped that I just wouldn't wake up.

I did wake up the next morning.  I was freezing, covered in blood and my arms felt like a steam roller had rolled over them.  I ached physically at that point as bad as I ached emotionally.  I had one quarter on me.  I knew I couldn't go walking around in the light covered in blood like I was.  It was all over my clothes and all over my legs.  I used the quarter to call the treatment center b/c I knew I had no where else to go and that I wouldn't have anywhere else to go unless I went back and finished the program.  They picked me up and took me to wait for my mother to pick me up and take me to the ER to get stitched up.  When we got to the ER, my sleeves were glued to my arms by all the blood I had shed.  They cut the sweat shirt off of me and proceeded to scrub my arms with plastic brushes, so they could get all the sweat shirt fuzz out of the gashes.  It was excruciating.  The stitches took forever to be finished and I felt them all because the cuts were too extensive to allow novocaine for numbing.

As I looked back on this night, sitting in the bath this morning, I remembered what I felt like to be that girls.  She often just seems like a dream.  It is hard to imagine that I was ever her.  It is hard to imagine feeling so much self-hatred and unworthiness.  It is hard to imagine feeling so powerless and lost.  That girl is a part of who  I am today, but she would never have believed she could ever become who she is today.

I had no idea what the Lord was up to when He rescued that broken little girl.  I had no idea how far He had in mind to bring me.  He has given me a sense of dignity and worth.  He has given me strength like I never dreamed I would have: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  I know now that I am loved.  I am loved by Him most importantly, but I am also loved by many.  I am loved by my husband, my children, my mother and brother, my friends.  I am often overwhelmed with gratitude and feeling so loved.  I am loved and I am worth loving.  I am so worth loving that the Creator of the Universe sent His only Son, Jesus, to live perfectly, die perfectly and rise again, so I could be reconciled to Him and become who I am today.

As I looked at these scars that mark me, I remembered what it was like to be the girl who felt like she had no choice but to be used and to abuse her flesh to deal with her pain.  I am reminded that I was rescued and called out of the darkness that He might send me back into the darkness to tell others that they are loved and that they are worth loving.  I have been given a beautiful story to tell and I only pray that I have the courage to tell it with my whole heart, fully vulnerable when I am given the chance to tell.