self respect

If Someone in your life talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you would have left them long ago. Carla Gordon
It is so very true. When I stop for a moment and focus on the constant negative chatter that goes on in my head, I can’t help but be taken aback. I have spent so many years with it, it barely registers. When did it become okay to torment and judge? to be vicious and unkind. I have come to think so little of myself I don’t even argue, I just accept it. As Virgil talked about where I came from, and the work that has allowed me to survive, I am distracted by that voice. I know in my heart she is right, it is not just an empty pep talk. It is heartfelt and genuine. I really have come so far. I just cannot get myself to embrace it completely. Intellectually, I understand. Emotionally I have not. I would rather berate myself as a failure for walking away from Cornell (ok, it really was more like crawling, or in all actuality tied down in restraints). How can I possibly think that is failing. I would not judge someone as having failed if a health crisis pulled them away from their studies. I would not judge a person who left for behavioral health reasons either, but this isn’t someone else. It was me. I cannot accept it. Here more than a decade later, and I am still unable to let go. It needs to be accepted, and the sadness dealt with. There is no doubt it was one of the greatest losses on my life, least in my head it is. There is such profound sorrow. Not just having let down my family, or having not met their expectations, but of having lost a tremendous opportunity. To me it was this vast open expanse of choices. A life waiting for a chosen path. That is how I saw it. I cannot say that is how it felt, because I was lost in a sea of suffering. Despite that, there was still wonder. It is a magical place to so many. I would include myself in that group. I would have loved to have stayed and found the path I was meant to take. Instead, my life changed course. It detoured in to this hellish place of imprisonment, restraint, loss of freedom and respect. I went from having the world in my hand, to having nothing. No control, no choices, no voice. The change could not have been more swift, nor could it have been more complete. There are no “ifs” or “buts”. It was medications, and locked doors. A world without privacy, and without hope. For every dream I ever had, I now had questions. They went unanswered. I cannot even write about this without a deep sense of anger and loss. I truly mourn what I left behind, just as I rage against what I endured. There was no welcome mat, nor anyone to explain that the entry might be a tough one. I was just another patient, barely that, a number. Another broken soul amongst hundreds. An ever changing population filled with hopeless sick people. I had doubts about myself before I dropped into this hell. The judgements and beliefs I held were only further reinforced. It was the worst possible path I could have taken, though I don’t really know how it could have been avoided. As Virgil said, my past caught up to me. All the trauma and abuse was just behind me all those years. To finally be alone, without family, it settled in. Perhaps if I had some coping skills it may have been okay, but I lacked them. Here we are years later, and the rage just simmers. I have come light years from there, but I still bristle at the treatment I received. There is something so alienating and discouraging about the system. It is hard not to accept oneself as useless in its wake. I managed to get back on my feet, though much of that was with Virgil’s urging and aid. I will have to find a way to come to terms with so many things, amongst them the departure from Cornell, and the hospitals. Accept it, and figure out how to be kind to myself. I know I am not a useless piece of shit. But I don’t “know” it. Until it is sorted, I will forever be in this place looking back rather than forward. The past so great, and treacherous it eclipses anything on the horizon (even foreclosure). To be lost in this world of doubt and confusion, never able to shrug off a shawl of judgements, makes my life miserable. I cannot even imagine a world without this harsh inner critic, forever hurling what ifs, and should haves. It would be such a peaceful place without it.

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