I’ve been away, once again helping out my mother who is moving. She is aging quite rapidly and she and my step-dad will soon be moving to a retirement home where the environment is conducive to elders who have difficulty walking and/or remembering. The place has no steps and dinner every night from 5-7.
Mom and I perused her old family memorabilia, boxes marked “archives” of both her parents and grandparents. We’re talking things dating back to the 1890’s. I learned my grandfather was a ladies’ man and even back in 1915 a guy could travel (by railcar for which he saved a hundred tickets) to faraway places and dance, see shows and meet a lot of women. He also was an intellect, graduated college with his master’s degree and ended up becoming principal and eventually superintendent of schools. His life story, in pictures and words, is impressive.
I’ve another grandfather who was equally impressive for not having gone to college but still attaining great success in the field of literature. His determination and personality allowed him to succeed despite his lack of formal education.
On the heels of these great men, you’ve got my well-educated parents and siblings who have acquired many higher degrees amongst themselves.
Then, you’ve got me. My family practically laughs at a mere bachelor’s degree. What the hell have I got to show for my life? What have I done with it?
Well, I’ve got a bunch of pitiful journals filled with whining about sexual abuse, PTSD and major depression. Is that something?
Truthfully, I feel less successful than any of my family members. I struggle on an emotional level that doesn’t show in any generation prior to me.
When I die or age and my personal belongings get disbursed, my kids and husband will be getting an eye and ear full when they read the crazy shit I’ve felt and lived through. I didn’t save too many of my accolades (there aren’t any) but I do have a stack of suspension notices from high school. I redeemed myself in college with good grades but my emotional health took a good 20 more years to catch up.
My kids will read my old journals and think, “Wow, I had no idea Mom was so fucked-up.”
They will wonder how I hid my lack of self-esteem and depression from them.
I’m sure what I write will challenge the very image they have of me as a woman and their mom.
I’ve tried to carry on the image my family raised me in — despite my own shortcomings — intellectual and academic success is important.
But, where does that leave what I’ve done? What about the importance of building emotional stability when one grows up lacking such a thing? I want to show my struggles and recognize my progress. I’d like to go full circle. If anyone reads all of my life through my writings perhaps they will see where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Not yet, though. I’m still traveling the journey of piecing the past into my present to make an explainable future.
That’s where my old journals come in. I will go back, refer to my pain, recognize the reason and heal the inner child by moving on without that baggage. That, my friends, is my goal.
My depression, thankfully, is being controlled and I think the time has come to put things in order. So when people read my private history they will see more than a sexually abused woman. That is not who I am.
I previously defined myself as such, in order to heal the pain from that experience but it is no longer a label I want to own. I’d like to be recognized as a woman who fought to gain power over her painful childhood through self-exploration with the guidance of doctor’s, psychologists, other supportive people and antidepressants.
Admittedly, I no longer define myself as a survivor but I will forever be a person who suffers from Major Depression. I know this because when I don’t take my medications I get stuck; I can’t see a future — when I’m depressed all I can see is a negative past and feel pessimistic in the moment.
When I die, I hope others will see emotional strength is as important as intellectual abilities. Some people have to work harder to get peace of mind but it is attainable.
I want them to think, “Shit, for what this woman went through she kept her eye on the goal and did a hell of a lot of hard work through psychoanalysis, soul-searching and emotional healing to get to the good things in life. ♥