All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Try Looking At It Through My Eyes – Day 11: The Forgiving

Day eleven of the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge asks:
Choose one thing in your life that you have done and feel guilty for and write yourself a letter forgiving yourself for that thing.  (PS. You don’t need to name the thing you did unless you feel comfortable doing so.)

forgiveness

Dear Addy,

By now you should be used to getting these letters from me so I’m not even going to bother proving my credentials; you know who I am because I used to be you.

So, where are we now? Parks and blankets, isolation and soup vans? I did tell you homelessness would be soul-destroying, so perhaps now you’ve experienced it you’ll spend a little more time listening to my sage-like advice instead of filing it away in the ‘too hard to deal with’ basket.

I’m not writing today to get you through homelessness. Partly because there’s little I can say that will make you feel better and partly because this is something you have to deal with by yourself. The only person who can help you out of this situation is you, Andrew, so just get to it…and never give up!

The reason I’m writing to you today is far more complicated and important. I’m here to help you forgive yourself for the things you feel guilty for. Now, given that I’m you, I know full well that forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things in the world. You hold onto things. You dwell on every decision. You take responsibility for everything, even for things that you had no control over, and it’s not healthy. In fact, all that’s going to happen if you keep blaming yourself is an early – most likely slow, painful and lonely – death.

Now, I’m not going to focus on the little things you can’t forgive yourself for; things like stealing the milk and chocolate from the convenience store or not asking Natalie out when you were thirteen. By now you already know how futile feeling guilty over these trivial acts actually is. What I’m going to focus on are the big three. And, just so we’re clear, I’m not going to forgive you for them.  I’m going to tell you why you should forgive yourself for them in the hope that you will find forgiveness in yourself.

-●-

#1: Grace

Should you have been there for Grace? Absolutely.

Should you despise your very existence for the rest of time because you weren’t? Possibly.

To be honest, this one is hard for me to justify without resorting to the tried and true excuse of ‘mental illness’. You know as well as I do that if you had been ‘stable’ at that point in your life things would be different. But you weren’t stable, you were hypomanic, you were lost to the ravages of this insufferable mood disorder. Half the time you weren’t even able to look out for yourself, so why exactly do you think you could have been there for other people?

When it comes to this mistake I’m afraid I don’t have any easy answers. You know you did the wrong thing and you’re going to have to live with that. You know you should forgive yourself for it. And I know that there is nothing I can say that will make that happen.

So please, just try to move past it. After all, when it came to Kathy, she did.

#2: Samantha

No matter what you tell yourself, no matter what lies you deceive yourself with, no matter how many times you tell yourself that you could have saved her; Samantha’s death was not your fault! At the time of her death you were 10,000 miles away on the other side of the planet. At no point in those months did she tell you she was depressed, suffering through mental health problems or becoming suicidal. If she had, you know damn well that you would have done something. Sure, you can play the ‘what if’ game from now until doomsday, but even if you had entered into a relationship with her there’s no guarantee that you could have curbed her drug use, which means there’s every chance she would still have taken that ecstasy and still lost her life at a tragically early age.

You did everything you could for Samantha. Not only were you her friend, you helped her achieve a life-long dream, and you witnessed the bliss in her eyes as she achieved it. Even her sister would go on to tell you just how much you meant to Samantha. You were there for her when no-one else was, and that’s certainly something to hold onto.

But the reason you shouldn’t blame yourself for Samantha’s death is simple; you don’t even know if it was suicide. Sure, your mentally-ill ravaged mind has latched onto this explanation as it’s the easiest thing to focus on, but there’s every chance it was simply an accidental overdose; which means there is literally nothing you could have done.

Samantha’s death was a tragedy that will affect you for the rest of your days. But instead of mourning her loss and languishing in her demise, you should celebrate the fact that for a brief moment the two of you were friends. And that is more important than anything.  

#3: Kathy

I am going to say something that you have already heard countless times over. In fact, over the next several years you are going to hear these words so often you’re going to want to smack people for repeatedly saying them to you: the abuse was not your fault; you did absolutely nothing to deserve it.

Kathy was a sociopathic narcissist, a master manipulator, a woman so insecure in her own life that she would do anything to illicit control over everyone she came into contact with in order to prove to herself her delusional belief that she was the most perfect human being to have ever walked the earth.

And yes, you fell for your lies, get over it.

You will never know the reason why she chose you to destroy. (And if you’re still harboring any doubts…that is definitely what her goal was!) You loved her; she deliberately annihilated you. You had no idea what she was doing; she always knew what she was doing. So what exactly could you have done differently?

So I say again: the abuse was not your fault; you did absolutely nothing to deserve it.

And I need you to keep repeating that line, every single day, for the rest of your life, otherwise the guilt you feel over the abuse will cause a lot more damage than her vicious treatment of you ever did.

-●-

Although you won’t be able to comprehend this right now, not from the park that you currently call ‘home’, in a few years you will begin something called your ‘recovery journey’. You will spend many days, weeks and months looking back over every decision and action in your life so you can find closure and more toward a healthy, happy future. A large part of this recovery journey will be forgiving yourself for these three, and other, events.

Hopefully, by sending you this letter, the seeds of that forgiveness will have been planted.

So once you’ve read this letter, re-read it if you must, but then tear it up, throw it away, have it for your dinner, do anything to it other than dwell on it. You do far too much of that as it is.

Be kind to yourself, Andrew, life will get better than it is now.

And if you can learn how to forgive yourself, it will get even better, or so people say.

Love and hugs always,

Addy xox

~◊~

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this challenge, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 | Day 04 |
| Day 05 | Day 06 | Day 07 | Day 08 |
| Day 09 | Day 10 |


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Unsent Letter #3: My life would be empty had you never been in it

The idea for this series came to me last week whilst writing about how social anxiety has affected my life. How my inability to share myself with others prevented me from saying the things I really wanted to say. So, last night, I tore a sheet of paper into 100 pieces and upon each one wrote a name. These names were partners, teachers, acquaintances, ex-work colleagues, family members, old friends and random strangers who made a significant impact on my life.

Each day this week I will draw one of these names at random and then write them a letter.

The only rules for this challenge are:

1) The person will remain anonymous.
2) The letter should include unsaid things I always held back.
3) It shall be written as a sixty minute stream of consciousness. (i.e. no painful seven hour editing sessions, so please excuse any grammar and/or spelling mistakes)

So with all that in mind…[shakes beanie, shakes beanie again, once more for good measure, plunges hand into sea of scrunched up piece of paper, selects, reads name]…okay. Not sure how this one is gonna go down. Hopefully not badly.

5 September 2012

Dear ——–.

Did I ever tell you what I was thinking when I pulled your purple pyjamas off the line? How when the wind began to pick up and the rain threaten to fall, I dashed outside and plucked them from certain drowning in the Hebridean Sea, all because I wanted to see how cute your perfect posterior looked within them.

Yep. You probably thought I was being a modern-day, slightly scruffy Mr Darcy when I saved the pyjamas of a relative stranger from being lost at sea. But nope, I was just thinking of your cute backside and how much I had already begun to fall for its owner.

I’m hoping you know me well enough to know I didn’t fall for you simply because of your quality arse, but in case you don’t, and for the benefit of the blogging audience, I didn’t.

I fell for you the first night we met, the moment you staggered out of the Professor’s car wearing every item of clothing you owned. I fell for you the moment our eyes met and you smiled that contagious smile of yours. By the time we huddled around the fire entertaining ourselves with a dodgy fashion advice book you’d already stolen my heart, so your deliberate sexual pronunciation of breasts and buttocks and bosom and stockings was just torture. But you know that, don’t you?

Did you know I lay in bed that night fantasising about you? How I craved to be the one to slowly peel each layer of clothing from your body? Did I tell you how much we laughed in that fantasy as I removed over a dozen pairs of underwear before finally getting to the good stuff!

Just like with that book, and the drinking game, and the oh-so-take-me-now ”yes please” you whispered under your breath that first night, you knew you had me caught in your splendiferousness.

So much has happened since we last met, since we shared a tea and you quoted Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. So much heartbreak and loss, confusion and darkness, that sometimes I thought nothing would make me smile again. But no matter how wrong it sounds, how weird or pathetic, when things get too much I just allow myself to drift back to the hostel and those first few blissful days.

Even though it’s a sure-fire way to make me cry – happy tears, just like now – it’s also a sure-fire way to make me smile. As they say, you always remember your first time, and I am so grateful that my first time was with someone so understanding, so beautiful, so kind-hearted and whose posterior looked so utterly magnificent in purple pyjamas!

Blimey, so many memories are flooding back right now I think I need to take a moment. I was always a bit soft, you know that, but in recent years tears have become few and far between; I should have known memories of you would bring them back in a heartbeat.

For the last few years my mind has oscillated between anger, frustration, guilt and joy whenever I think of you. Anger because of what you did; frustration because of all I sacrificed; guilt because of the things I never said and joy because, well, you’re you. How could I not feel joy with all we shared?

I hope you won’t mind if I skip the anger and go straight to the guilt. We spent too much time in the anger that year that there is little left to say on the matter. I made mistakes. You made mistakes. We were both human. All I will say is that I’m sorry I didn’t handle the situation better. I’ve returned to those months many times over the last few years and no matter when I do all I see is a man struggling to figure out what was happening. I tried so hard to explain but I could never find the words to get across to you how scared I was. Not because of what happened but because of myself.

That sharp drop into depression obliterated me that year. I didn’t understand it like I do now. I never had. Which is where the guilt comes in – and I need to talk about that, because it’s been eating away at me for years.

It would be a lie to say I’d never wondered if you’d read any of this blog. Back in those early days I thought of it often, worried about how you would take some of the things I wrote. You knew I suffered from depression, and you knew of my early suicidal thoughts, but the self-harm…I’m sorry.

There were so many times during our relationship that I wanted to talk to you about that. To tell you of the things I had done to myself. The day I self-harmed just before Christmas, when I lied to you about burning my hand on the stove, all I wanted you to know was that I had done it to myself; that I wasn’t coping and didn’t know what to do anymore. Perhaps if I’d told you, you could have helped me find help, but I guess that’s what karma is for. It sure did come back to bite me on the ass, I assure you.

For years I convinced myself I hadn’t told you of my self-harm past because I was protecting myself. When I met you I hadn’t self-harmed for over a month, and then there was kissing and sex and experimentation with handcuffs and long walks along the Ness and the urge was gone. I was scared that telling you would trigger me to doing it – and as time went on – it was no longer an issue. Until that day before Christmas. Until 2006.

There’s nothing I can say to alleviate that guilt, of keeping something so intimate from you, but know that I am deeply sorry for the things I never told you of my life. Like I said, if I had maybe I would have got help sooner, but like I said, karma.

Just like October 2007, for which there is no excuse. When I left that suicide letter I was out of my mind. I wasn’t thinking rationally. I wasn’t thinking at all. I barely remember leaving it and, when the psychiatrist at the hospital gave it back to me, I couldn’t even remember writing it.

There was no malice there, ——–, I promise. My mind was broken and I had no idea what I was doing; or the rational irrationality of the suicidal mind, as I have said to myself over the years.

So I’m sorry, truly. The thought that this is your last memory of me is punishment enough.

Then there’s frustration, but I think I’ll skip that as well. You know what I sacrificed for you. I emigrated for you! Through all these years of nothing I keep wondering where my life would be if you’d just told me you didn’t want to be with me anymore.

But then, if I hadn’t come to Australia, we would have missed out on so much happiness. Or, at least I hope they were happy years for you, because I’ve never regretted the time we spent together. All those walks along the beach, the long bike rides around Albert Park, lazy days in the flat and excursions to beautiful places. They fill my heart with such warmth and happiness all the pain of what happened between us dissipates.

And I just find myself remembering that same contagious smile I fell in love with on that distant island almost twelve years ago. And the perfect posterior that looked so edible in whatever you wore!

Okay, starting to sound like Karl Stefanovic, sorry.

The problem with streams of consciousness is that I am bound by the mythical rule of zero editing. If this weren’t such a post I would happily snip all I wrote between the symbols so you would only remember the happy times we shared.

Family aside, dearest ——–, you were the most important person in my life. In many ways, you still are, and given the likelihood I’ll be spending my remaining years alone, you always will be.

You taught me about life, art, literature and – to be crass, but equally true – the female body; both inside and out. You introduced me to a world of music beyond dodgy pop and random Scottish folk. You showed me what it was like to trust someone, to give yourself over to someone so completely that they become the guardian of your soul. You introduced me to the pain of a broken heart, a lesson as equally important as the introduction of love, which you were also responsible for.

My life would be so different had you never emerged in all those layers of clothes from the Professor’s car. Had you not seized control and asked if you could kiss me, nothing would be the same.

Perhaps for the better.

Perhaps not.

Either way, I know my life would be empty had you never been in it.

For all the years of wonder, beauty, love and bliss you gave me, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I loved you more than I ever dared to admit and I will continue doing so until my dying day.

I hope you found happiness, my dearest ——–, for my heart would break if you didn’t.

All My Love Always,

Addy xx