All I Have To Offer
“When you’re just like everybody else, you’ve nothing
to offer other than your conformity.”
Lately, I’ve been adding some poetry that I had saved on my phone. What I’ve learned about having relationships with my internal guys is how to listen to them. If I get a wild hair and need to either write a blog or poetry it usually means that someone is needing to be heard. Write it down and then ask questions later has been my motto lately. What I’ve realized is that chaos and confusion are minimized and open, honest and direct communication has been encouraged. Trust me….this is one big process of learning how to build and maintain relationships with “head mates” that have seen a lot of the evils of mankind. I would like to thank Hobby Lobby and Michael’s Crafts for allowing me to buy supplies from them in order to do projects that enhance the building of a better relationship with my alters. Ok….now I’m being silly.
I usually start getting silly when I become uncomfortable in some way. And well, “Coach of the Year” has assigned me to write about what I have to offer as a person. I don’t always like the “assignments” but I love the lessons and answers I get from them. To put it all into perspective, growing pains are called “growing pains” because growth doesn’t always feel good. Likewise, growth as an athlete requires constant practice and learning the ins and outs of playing the game.
One of the greatest lessons about playing ball that I remember was when we were learning how to run bases. Stay with me because this part can get confusing. You don’t wait until you’re all the way down the baseline to the base to look at your coaches for direction about what to do. You ALWAYS keep your eyes on your coaches. Half way down the baseline to 1st base you start looking at your first base coach. If he or she thinks that you can take another base they will point in that direction. Half way to 2nd base you begin looking for your 3rd base coach for direction on either to stay or go while also listening to your 1st base coach from behind you about whether or not to slide. If your 3rd base coach signals to take 3rd base he or she will also be rounding you to home or telling you to “get down” to beat the throw at the base. If you start rounding 3rd base and head to home plate, you look to your teammates on whether or not to slide. So, from the time the ball hits the bat you look for direction and trust that your coaches are making the best decision for both you and the team. Either way, you’re not alone…ever. You’re simply being directed until you’re back to the safety of home plate. They direct you but they don’t nor can they bat for you individually or as a team. The work has to come from you.
Artist: Celeste Roberge
It’s the same way for me in therapy. I’m always looking to coach for guidance. I don’t want anyone to do my work for me. I hunger for her guidance and fear the unknown. But I also trust her and know that decisions will be made in my best interest. And from having been mistreated by a therapist previously, being able to trust her to not hurt me or to not have ulterior motives is really kind of a big deal. It has take now a solid 17 months to try to work through a lot of the fears surrounding the therapeutic process. I haven’t conquered them all but when I moved here I hadn’t conquered any. Getting hurt in therapy by a therapist has caused more issues then what I was prepared to deal with. I had no idea how hurt I was but Texas has a way of revealing all kinds of things. Yep….a modern day “Mr. Miyagi” she certainly is.
All of this ties into the original topic “What I have to offer?” It’s embarrassing for me to discuss this kind of topic. After years of being told by different people that I wasn’t good enough as a human being and the fact that I’m a total non-conformist, it’s really difficult to say, much less believe, that I have anything to offer this world. I totally stick out like a sore thumb with the problems that often arise in public (tics, switching, emotional outbursts, aggression, etc) regardless if I can’t control them falling short in society’s definition of “normal” is not easy.
Having limitations like this certainly makes life incredibly more challenging. The eyes that you view the world with after abuse seem to be put into place without knowledge that it’s happened. The confidence that I worked so hard to gather and maintain as a child was completely dismissed and destroyed through the hatefulness of others. The compassion that helped to build my confidence as a child didn’t seem to be able to shine through the darkness. Slowly, I began to lose my spunk for life and likewise pieces of myself. I could no longer offer those qualities in myself that I lived with daily that made me proud to be a part of the human race. I no longer saw people that I welcomed around me as a precious commodity. I now saw them as potentially harmful, shady and very scary. I kept my jovial demeanor that everyone loved until the hurt I was hiding became the new clothing for my soul. And my big heart that had always been one of my greatest assets had gone into hiding in order to also protect itself. I looked up one day and had no idea who was looking back at me from my reflection in the mirror. My arms were severely scarred. Eating had become a necessary evil. And my dreams and goals for what I had worked so hard to achieve had disappeared like grains of sand that slipped through my hands never to be seen the same way again.
I had become emotionally feral through my own survival. I seemed to have changed right before the eyes that had supported me for so many years. And now, I had become not only someone I didn’t recognize but also someone that other people who loved and respected me didn’t recognize. I simply had morphed from an individual that people loved into someone that people feared. It was heartbreaking to know that this emotional freight train was going through destroying everything in my path and I was powerless to stop it. Mel and I searched for answers daily for years in hopes of finding anything to help explain why I had become this aggressive monster that even she feared. She fell in love with Dana who loved and cherished her unconditionally. And almost overnight the Dana that she knew was gone only to be replaced by an aggressive, disrespectful, scary, immature and seemingly much younger version of herself that Mel didn’t recognize or understand. And frankly, I had no explanation for anything regardless of the evidence that would be presented to me.
We moved to Albuquerque and for me it was something that I had hoped that a geographic change would help to remedy. It didn’t. Once we got there free from the oppression of the deep south, we sought out counseling knowing that I had problems. We had no idea how deep those problems ran but soon we would. I could offer nothing to anyone. I felt I was being drained of my “goodness” and all the positive attributes that made me the compassionate and loving person that I had always been. All I felt was hurt. And all I seemed to be able to offer was more hurt. So, my only solution to stopping the hemorrhaging was to end relationships and to isolate myself, as much as possible, from society. That way no one would have to suffer pain through my own doing anymore.
Again we would come in contact with another hurtful human being in the form of a therapist. The only thing good that came out of the 2.5 years that I saw her was the correct diagnosis. Other than that she was incredibly damaging for me therapeutically and emotionally. I soon wanted nothing to do with professionals and became even more aggressive to make sure that no one wanted to help treat me. The truth was that I wanted so desperately for someone to help me. I, however, was so scared of having another hurtful professional that the fear paralyzed me and sabotaged any type of help that might’ve been offered. My new motto was: “No one would ever hurt me again professional or not. And I would do everything in my power to make sure that happened.” True to my word I became a patient in facilities that people hated to deal with. I gave a whole new meaning to the term “non-compliance.” I trusted no one and hated everyone. But my fearless and loving wife still searched for answers while trying to raise our two little boys despite me often times being in a condition where I couldn’t even get out of bed to take care of my basic hygiene needs. And yes, there were times that she had to bathe me because I just wasn’t able to at the time. That, my friends, is a example of love.
She would find a facility in Texas that she thought I needed to try. For two years, she pleaded for me to go and I wouldn’t. I eventually showed up and set the aggressive tone early just to prove that I could hurt and scare people just like they had done to me. I finally met the therapist that would work with me while I was there. I was determined to run her off too. What I didn’t count on was that she would be able to see past the anger into the pain hidden behind the spewing and venomous rage. I tried to end the caring and compassionate look in her eyes and couldn’t despite my greatest efforts. This peaked my interest but the fear of her position as a therapist took over. I knew that I had finally met my match.
Within 1.5 years of this experience I moved to Texas as a last ditch effort of trying to save myself from an assured death. I didn’t come here believing that things would change and get better. I came here because a rare find showed me compassion despite my self-destructive path. So again….what do I have to offer? For me, I’m still in the process of finding out what those gifts have the potential to be. My sense of humor continues to be one of my strongest and best qualities. I have an education that allows me to speak to people about the damaging power of abuse. I have the emotional knowledge to be able to reach teenagers and to know the struggles of living life feeling emotionally trapped. I have the knowledge and firsthand experience of seeing how compassion and love can topple the effects of abuse by soothing the pain and hurt. I know and can feel what it’s like to be loved by someone who will sacrifice everything to make sure you’re safe because they want so desperately to help find the one they fell in love with. I know what it’s like to make sacrifices as a parent to protect two little precious beings that still call me mom. I know what it’s like to still be coachable after being a washed up “has been” athlete from 20+ years ago. I have the experience and know how to continue to pick myself up and keep going when I’ve pushed myself way past my limits in order to survive. I know what it’s like and fully understand the fear of letting someone in to help when allowing someone to do that caused so much hurt and pain. I know the feeling of not being heard. I know the agony of silent screams and the language of pain that can take on so many different forms. And I have the Experience, Strength and Hope of someone who’s been fighting a war my entire life without being in the military and not ever having to leave my homeland.
One thing that Sarah taught me many years ago was this, she said, “Dana, you have the capacity and ability to do great things. But you can’t give away what you don’t have. Recovery is what you need and what will make great things possible.” So, I say this to you now…recovery is a marathon not a sprint. You don’t ever reach the finish line of being “recovered.” I still struggle emotionally on a daily basis and I still don’t yet have all of the answers I want. I am, however, slowly receiving the answers I need. Healing wounds is not easy nor is it comfortable. And unfortunately, it’s also not instant. It took me 43 years to become this damaged and dysfunctional and to think that it can all be changed overnight is unrealistic. One thing I never allow life to come between is me and my therapy. I have my heart set on once again being a functional part of my family and to help my one and only soul mate raise our two little boys that we fought so hard to have. And today I can say that the parts of my destructive self, no matter how slowly, have begun to be silenced.
“Mentors don’t just have to be people
who are older or more experienced that you are.
Mentors are people who really care about you, know you,
and want to offer feedback and advice to help you grow.”