I woke up this morning and checked my phone as I always do. I scrolled through Instagram and replied to my comments and messages. I then checked my email and had several notifications from WordPress. I’m not sure why, but since I started posting about my mental health struggle my site has been poppin. I know one of my supporters shared a post on Facebook, but this still wasn’t the response I expected. And not only was I getting traffic, people were liking and commenting like never before. I started this blog to help women feel beautiful and empower them. I seem to have ended up empowering them in another way now, and it wasn’t just women. Men were showing their support and thanking me for my openness.
Honestly, sharing with you has been stressful. I feel great getting my words down on paper but I almost have a panic attack every time I press publish. I’m still worried about what you will think, and I’m scared of the response I may receive. I went in to a full blown anxiety episode replying to a strangers supportive and insightful message, but I pushed through, because its getting me towards my goal. I hope to attend group therapy soon so these little interactions I have on social media are small victories for me. And in the end, connecting with you brings me joy and comfort. So I push through. But I compulsively read my words, over and over again, checking for errors and scouring for anything I could be judged on. I then debate whether or not to delete it, but I then remember part of therapy is remaining open and honest so I leave the post be. But I’ll revisit it several times. Its a bad habit I do with almost anything I write. But I began to notice a theme in all of my posts, loneliness.
I was raised an only child. I do have a younger half brother but my mother gave up custody of him to his father when I was 6. The last conversation I had with him was on Christmas, he sounded unenthusiastic to talk to me, I understood that even at a young age. I never heard from him again, and we continued on life as though he never existed. I’ve tried to find him on social media but none of my messages were responded to. I joined Ancestry.com in the hopes of maybe being connected, but I didn’t know how their system worked and didn’t have enough info to build a family tree. I also kept getting notifications about them finding info about my mother, we are estranged and I was getting angry with these emails so I deleted my account after a couple weeks.
My family situation has always been strained. Between anger, resentment, denial… every relationship I had with my relatives was toxic for as long as I could remember. Things started to fall apart when I was about 5 or 6 and my father began doing drugs. No one would talk to me, no one would sit me down and explain what was going on and why I was experiencing these scary emotions. I was treated as a burden by everyone, literally everyone. I would be shuffled back and forth between my mother and grandparents, switching between neglect and abuse through my childhood. I felt alone and often had conversations and played out situations in my head because real life was so lonely. Its pathetic, I know. But its all I could do to keep me sane. I yearned for personal contact, but it would be a really long time before I truly experienced it.
I had a really hard time making friends as a child. Not only did we move around a lot, I was also awkward, overweight, and shy. I was picked on by everyone and was convinced everyone hated me. I also came to realize that a lot of my classmates parents knew about my family situation and discouraged their children from hanging out with me. A few would give me pity play dates, but for the most part I never really had a friend until I was in intermediate school. His name was Rick and he was the first person to talk to me on my first day of 5th grade. He was kind and tried to include me in his group. His friends weren’t really welcoming but they tolerated my presence. He always included me in social events and was often the only person in attendance at my birthday parties. He was my best friend. We would never find out that we were both hurting on the inside, he masked his pain and I didn’t know how to articulate mine. But none the less, he was always there for me and I adored him with every fiber of my body. Even when we grew apart, we always picked right back up where we left off. I would eventually find my own group of people who halfheartedly accepted me but they were the bad crowd. We remained friends but we just ran in different circles. He would suddenly commit suicide on the evening of my 21st birthday party, it would scar me for life.
For years I only had party buddies. I wouldn’t call them friends, they didn’t know me on the inside. They either didn’t listen to my cries for help or I was too scared to open up to them because everyone else rejected me. And after losing Rick, I just couldn’t bare to be close to someone again. No one really knew what was going on in my life, and if they did, only one or two showed concern. These people knew what to order me at the bar and would only call me when it was time to get wasted. I developed deep relationships with a couple people but by the time I really let them in to my life I still wasn’t ready to let them in my head. So I secluded myself and suffered alone. I don’t know what those few friends thought when I lashed out at them and tested their patience, but I’m thankful they stayed by my side. But I always felt alone.
When I left Texas, I did have a handful of people I would miss. When I told people I was leaving some of them showed a tremendous amount of support and were happy for me. I was surprised honestly, and finally let my guard down a little. It sucked that I had finally found a true circle of loving friends and was about to move 1000+ miles away from them. I made it a point to see each of them and I keep in contact. These friendships were based in respect, I can honestly say haven’t made the time to really get to know each of them until recently but I’ve always enjoyed their company and wished them nothing but the best. When I arrived in Kentucky I had no friends. Of course my husband had plenty, hes quite popular, and some of them were willing to give me their time but I never really clicked with any of them. I would go out and be social but I couldn’t seem to break the barrier and get them to hang out with me outside of the bar. I was sick of having party buddies, I wanted to develop meaningful relationships.
After family drama began plaguing my wedding plans, I opened up to people about how I felt because I was sick of feeling alone. I felt abandoned all over again, and I needed to connect with someone. So I vented to a couple of friends I had made, and I was greeted with love and comfort. I was again surprised. I became closer to them and we did things beyond party together. I again developed a little circle of friends, and it was nice. But I still felt like I couldn’t fully open up to them. I didn’t want to scare anyone off with my mental illness again, I couldn’t handle the rejection. They knew there was something wrong, but until I went public with my problems 2 weeks ago they had no idea how bad it was. Their support continued, I became closer with my husbands fathers side of the family, and I connected with complete strangers. I’m still in shock.
It took so long to finally develop a support system. And the funny thing is, it created itself once I stopped trying to force it. I seriously woke up one morning with friends after years of being alone. After years of fantasizing about being at social events I wasn’t invited to, I was living out those dreams and enjoying reality. I still suffer from severe social anxiety but I’m more open and receptive to people. I finally have a support system and its getting me through these tough times.