i want to be as brief as possible, yet get my point across... but
i always end up rambling... please be patient with me, i'm trying to quit that horrible habit!
I've just gotta say it! I'm 49 years old, a mother, a wife,
a sister & a recovering human being. That's me folks... a baby boomer that has realized
that it's time to pull the hammer back & recover instead of giving up.
I have 5 children of my own & 2 step daughters, 1 present
husband, 3 ex-husbands, 3 dogs, 1 sister, 1 brother, my parents are still alive, in fact... so are all of my aunts & uncles
- save one - by marriage who died this year. We own our home & lease our Trailblazer. I don't have a job anymore. My husband
is retired GM with a part time job in a toy department of one of those buy everything stores... groceries, clothes & just
about anything stores.
I was born in Corning, NY. I lived in El Paso, TX, then
in Corning, NY again, living with my father's parents & my mother, brother & sister. We then moved to Baldwinsville,
Syracuse & finally Plaistow, NH. I lived in Plaistow until I married for the first time. The day we married, we left NH
to live in Palm Beach, FL. He was a golf pro & a native of Palm Beach. We moved to Burlington, VT after living the winter
in the south, then moved back down to live in West Palm Beach. We moved again to Hypoluxo, then back to West Palm Beach, then
after a brief time to a small suburb named, "Green Acres!" Incredible huh?
After my first divorce, I ended up moving to Lake Worth,
FL. I met my 2nd husband & shortly thereafter moved to Charlotte, MI. That was way out in the boondocks which was difficult
to adjust to after living in the West Palm area, so we moved to Kentwood, MI & soon after divorcing again to Grand Rapids,
I met my 3rd husband then. After moving a few times from
apt. to apt. on the west side of Grand Rapids, a great place to live by the way... I was unfortunately forced to begin a long
journey traveling from domestic violence shelter to domestic violence shelter to save my life.
Husband # 3 wasn't a great decision on my part, but anyone
who is aware of the life of a person who has been indoctrinated into a life full of domestic violence from a very young age... well ... it's obvious that victims of domestic violence don't really know what normal is. They just
keep falling for the same kind of guy, over & over.
I moved to Midland, MI. I was informed that I wasn't walking
with God after finding a fine Baptist Church in Midland. I loved the preacher, the church & the Lord most of all. I took my abusive husband back to participate in pastoral counseling to save my marriage, but I ended up pregnant again & in the hospital
again before long.
After moving back to Grand Rapids, the shelter there arranged
for me to escape to Dayton, Ohio. I've been here for 12 years. I gave birth to my 5th child, a daughter, all alone - just 2 days after arriving to the new shelter. It was a horrible place, but has been remodeled since then, praise God &
finally after 5 weeks, I re-established myself in an apartment to start a new life.
I've never been close to my family, never. My aunts & uncles were so very close when I was growing up, but my parents were distant while raising me & after divorcing when I was 18. They never made me feel loved, safe, secure or wanted. It haunted me.
It haunted me my entire life, until just recently. I've been recovering for about 5 years.
I've been estranged by my brother & sister since - well since forever.
I made a big mistake in thinking that just because I had distanced myself from domestic violence, that I was recovered from my entirely dysfunctional life since birth. Don't ask me why
I thought that, but I did & I was wrong.
I endured 3 divorces that included fighting for custody for my children
from time to time as well as finding myself helpless to support myself & my children without a husband. I didn't know anything about life. I never even knew there was
welfare in this country until I was in my 30's. While I was married to 3 abusive men, I never knew that there were domestic violence shelters until I had been forced to find one as recommended by a police
officer. One of my ex-husbands was a police officer. He was verbally, mentally, sexually & physically abusive. He got away with everything short of murder. I was his 4th wife, my ex-best friend is his 5th.
There's not too much that happens in this world that I haven't experienced.
I just wanted to be happy finally. I just wanted to be real. I wanted to be me. I wanted to meet the real me.
I've just about found the real me now. I'd like to share how I found myself.
being a baby boomer, like many of you out there... our parents were all about "not feeling anything."
we came from the generation of parents that strongly believed that kids were, "to be seen & not heard."
if you didn't have anything productive
to do in the house, like chores, then you needed to be outside... for hours... sometimes on summer vacation all day long.... can you imagine not knowing where your
kids were for 8 hours?
if you got hurt, it wasn't okay to cry about it... girl or boy... because the only time it was okay to cry was if your father or mother spanked
you because you needed something to cry about!
getting hurt wasn't enough reason to cry.
& it wasn't okay to "feel bad" because no one should be mad, because it wasn't nice to be angry, or it wasn't okay to feel anything that wasn't nice. Nice was the word of the year! the generation! It was the only word
that mattered. You needed to look nice - be nice - think nice thoughts - believe nice things - do nicely in school - & treat all people & animals nicely.
I still don't know how to be mad. I have real
difficulty with anger. I have trouble with disappointment. I won't allow anyone to make me cry. I can shut myself off to all emotion & feeling faster than you can flip a coin!
dig down deeper... (after all, that's what recovery is all about)
after a few years in recovery,
i realized that i was doomed or predestined to experience a mental illness. as researchers continue to study people to determine
what causes one to develop a mental illness, they've found some common determining factors.
brain chemistry: the longer a
mental illness goes on, unrecognized & untreated, the more likely it is that your brain chemistry will change because
of the "flight or fight" reaction always protecting your psyche - causing an over production or under production of certain
neurotransmitters in the brain.
personality: my personality had
been shaped into a very dysfunctional mode - not allowed to experience emotions & feelings, no affection in my childhood
& thru my teen years I never knew if my parents loved me. although i was suffering inside, on the outside i appeared to
be happy, healthy & well adjusted.
family history: many of my relatives
experienced mental illness but no one talked about it.
gender: women are almost always
more likely to develop a mental illness than a man
& life events:
i experienced many traumatic experiences as a child that were never resolved or talked about after
they happened. there was a family history of domestic violence, which i often viewed in some of my close family members,
no one talked about it. my own family was dysfunctional & included abusive behavior towards myself, my siblings and my
Recovery forced me to see
that there was a reason for my mental illness. I realized, "for real" that it wasn't my fault that I was depressed & anxious.
I realized that there were reasons for all the horrible things that happened to me.
That felt good to me.
When I finally found a counselor, which took me many tries
over many years, that could diagnose me with post traumatic stress disorder, depression & an eating disorder - I was almost
When I discovered thru an inventory of my life from its
start to the present that it really wasn't anyone's fault for my mental illness. It just was. I was relieved.
Suddenly, just as suddenly as you may be able to see right
now, I found myself moving from total numbness to recognizing the fact that I was actually feeling things & identifying
emotions that I was experiencing.
I had been so depressed that I had spent over one year in
my bedroom, withdrawing from everyone, self-isolating myself. I was totally numb. I had contemplated suicide. I was dissociating.
I no longer had the ability to cope with my misery - negative or positively. I was just "existing."
I thought to myself, I've studied mental illness, I've studied
my family history, my own history and how lifestyle can affect mental illness. Now I see that emotions & feelings are
so important. Now I can see that I was never allowed to have feelings & emotions.
I began to study emotions & feelings. I learned that
emotions & feelings can be hidden, unresolved from past trauma and they can be buried so deep inside that they have been
in 1 year's time i had visited many various emergency
rooms in unbearable pain, not able to breathe, not able to be still, not able to control my pain....
actually it was approximately over 300 times....
i was ridiculed by nurses & doctors, undiagnosed for
years, prescribed addictive medications over long periods of time by specialists, underwent numerous endoscopy procedures
wasting thousands & thousands of your dollars because i was on medicaid at the time...
no one recognized my pain when i was a child, a teenager, a young adult, a mother, an abused wife, or even while i was in the numerous
domestic violence shelters that i lived in.
Experiencing escalating mental illnesses & harboring
unresolved emotions & feelings can often lead a person to be accident prone and to have many physical ailments.
Finally, they're (researchers,
scientists, and doctors) realizing that depression isn't just a mental disorder dealing with the brain only...
it affects the body as well. You can experience many aches, pains and psycho-somatic illnesses when you are experiencing anxiety
disorders, depression, eating disorders and other mental illnesses!
One day I was driving on a busy multi laned expressway when my eyes seemed to cross
causing double vision. Ever try to drive with your eyes crossed? I had to pull over.
I had to get special lenses to correct the double vision. The doctor said something
about using prisms in the lenses.... this lasted almost a year.
Suddenly I was experiencing the very painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
I saw the doctor. I would wake up in the night having severe pains in my forearms and wrists. The doctor was just about
to operate on me when all symptoms, mysteriously disappeared - never to return.
I had my gall bladder out in an emergency surgery. That had bothered me for months
while I was pregnant.
I almost cut my foot off cooking dinner. I had an accident with that Visions Corningware.
That glass set of pans they developed, remember them? I managed to knock the lid slightly off the dutch oven so that steam
escaped and burned my arm. I jumped backwards but I had nowhere to go! We had such a small kitchen I was backed up against
the cupboards with the oven door open in front of me.
When I jumped up because my arm was burned I accidentally bumped the lid off and
I went to pick it up and I got burned thru the pot holder. I dropped the lid, and it caused the whole dutch oven to fall over,
all the gravy and the pot roast sloshing over the material of my sweat pants, my red sweatpants. The pan fell off of the oven
door and broke on the floor, but my legs were burning so I was jumping up and down and trying to get away from the oven door,
but my foot hit the broken dutch oven on the floor that had a large pointed shard of glass on it.
When I stepped on it forcefully, it stuck that large shard of glass right into
my leg by my ankle. I had about a 4 inch gash in my leg and blood was spurting out, but I didn't realize it because of the
red sweatpants and because I was burned by the gravy as well, and that was what I thought the pain was from.
I've had so many accidents, it's crazy. I even spent two years in a wheel chair
because I fell down 3 stairs and severely broke my leg and it wouldn't heal.
These things happen to us. Those of us who have our minds on a million other things.
Believe me... it's difficult to cope with.
Soon I realized that I had
actually been abused by my parents. I had never blamed them for how they raised me. After learning more about my family history
I began to understand why they acted the way they did.
Still, there are certain
behaviors that my father had shown me that were inexcusable and purely abusive. His brother, my uncle, had been very abusive
towards my cousins and my aunt. I had seen it with my own eyes.
I had heard thru the grapevine
that my mother's sister, an aunt that I didn't know very well, was experiencing symptoms of some kind of mental illness.
My mother's mother had always
told me that she lived on "nerve pills" so I began to wonder just what kind of nerve pills they were and why she had to take
them. Was it because she was experiencing a mental illness?
I had also heard that my
grandfather, my mother's father, had been abusive towards my grandmother. There was so much that was never talked about. I
began to see and understand, the stigma that mental illness and domestic violence carried.
my experience with an eating disorder...
what happens if you have an eating disorder that no one seems to know anything
it happened to me and millions of you out there. night eating. that's what it's about.
read about the eating disorder that is also sometimes identified with as a sleep
disorder... night eating syndrome... it's not a nice thing to be experiencing!
I had felt depressed, anxious
and restless my entire life.
I had coped by self medicating
almost my entire life. I had used alcohol, cigarettes, sex and food.
I experienced 3 failed marriages.
The list is long. I never
understood any of it. I was accident prone, always sick, always feeling physically bad, always fighting to keep my weight
down, always expecting myself to be perfect, and I never understood my unhappiness.
Do you see any parallels with your life?