I can no longer apologise for, or shrink away from, self-expression. Be it public or private. This is who I am. This is how I survive and this is how I connect to others. My life has been really hard – from the beginning.
Mostly, the battle has been mental and I spent years undiagnosed, misunderstood and untreated. Despite circumstances people would long to have, I was tormented inwardly and bullied outwardly. I didn’t know I had OCD and that these random, terrible thoughts were normal for this condition. I thought I was evil and spent a lot of time confessing and trying to atone. Religious ritual and OCD don’t necessarily go well together.
My period of breakthrough came from 14-17. I found confidence, I talked with God, I made so many friends and was chosen by the very ones who had hurt me to be Head Girl of Tauranga Girls’ College. Then came burnout, then came the virus, then came the post-viral syndrome that has carried on for 23 years. And with that came the disappointment of ‘failing’ in the eyes of myself and in the eyes of others.
After this last medicine contraindication, I was tested to the absolute maximum of my limits. Like Lauren Daigle sings, I whispered underneath my breath that I have nothing left. I have been left traumatised that this can happen to a person (again). Trapped in my head, nothing being real, disconnection, severe depression, severe anxiety, fatigue, total and utter despair. Yes, brain chemistry can do that. I have tried to paint my life light pink with a bow on, looking for every bit of good (and there have been good times). But underneath is a broken-down, rusty piece of machine just hanging in there. I’m so very bone weary.
And I’m not going to go ‘yes but this good thing happened so it’s all OK’. It’s not OK. And I realised that I don’t have to pretend that this piece of machinery will ever be beautiful. It sucks. I’m angry. I’m angry that I can’t catch a break. I’m grieving. I need to grieve what living that machine has done to me. Life can have ugly parts.
But I must say, I know the thing that allows me to keep on keeping on – everything that this machine went through made me who I am today; empathetic, compassionate, strong-willed, a lover of people, creative, a lover of Christ, myself. I am no longer the machine, I am the outcome and I am proud of the outcome for the most part.
I might have unfairly lost my health, my figure, my youth, my children, my scholarships and awards, my travel, my reputation for being fun but intelligent and stable. But I gained who I am. And I would never give that up. Andrew has been dragged through a lot of this secondhand. Yet he still stands and is also becoming himself. All the beautiful gifts that people fortunate enough to know him, receive. This is not a cry for help but a line in the sand – a life statement.
And God, he’ll send an army for me.
P.S. Below is my my representation of this situation (and please be assured it has nothing to do with the breast cancer survival ribbon!).