Archive for June, 2013

June 22, 2013

The letter I wish I could give to my mother.

Dear Mom,

First of all, I want you to know that I love you so very much. You’re such a good mom and such a good person. I wish I could be half the person you are.

Remember when you asked me the other day if I’m suicidal? You were fighting with my baby sister and in a fit of anger, she blurted something out about how I want to kill myself. When you asked, I said of course not.

I’m really sorry I lied to you.

I know you don’t want to hear this. I don’t think this is something that parenting handbooks and years of being an excellent parent really prepare you for. But this is the reality of the matter, and I don’t know how much longer I can put off talking about it.

I think about killing myself every single day. Admittedly, some days are better than others. Some days, the thought doesn’t come up until the very end of the day, right before bed. But it’s there, all the time. It scratches at my skull like an awful tick. Sometimes, the thought is so nagging that I can’t sleep. I just sit in bed and cry. And I think about how much better off everyone else would be without me.

I can’t explain why I feel this way. I know that’s probably one of your biggest questions. I’m going to be honest here, even though it’s probably going to sound like a terrible thing to say. But here it is: it’s not entirely your fault. I say this because as my parent, you’ve taught me what to value, what determines worth, what is good and bad, etc. And for whatever reason, I’ve learned from you (along with the environment I grew up in: society, the media, friends, teachers, all that jazz) that I’m not valuable, that I’m not worth much, that I’m not good. I couldn’t pinpoint for you exactly when and where these statements became facts in my mind. But they’re there. I’ve developed a strong hatred and disgust for myself that is almost unbearable.

I know that everyone wants me to say that the way I feel about myself has nothing to do with what you’ve done as a parent. That’s the answer you want to hear. But as you and Dad have always said, wouldn’t you rather hear it from me than from someone else? I want to be honest with you. I hate lying to you; it burns me up inside. But you and Dad haven’t exactly created an environment that promotes talking frankly about how I feel, especially when how I feel disagrees with something you believe to be true.

You probably want to know more about why I want to kill myself. Well, a lot of it has to with the fact that I don’t feel like I’ve ever lived up to the expectations I had for my life as a kid. When I was younger, I had these grand ideas about how my life was going to go. I’d be successful, smart, rich, and beautiful. I’d be constantly surrounded by friends. I’d be loved by everyone I meet. I’d be everything my parents always said I would be.

Well, I don’t feel successful. At least not to the extent 12-year-old me would have wanted. I’m not nearly as smart as I once thought myself to be (my grades are a good indication of that). I’m definitely not rich, since I don’t have a job that pays above minimum wage. I haven’t felt beautiful since I was a kid. Beautiful and me just don’t go in the same sentence in my book. Not even on the same page. I don’t really have many friends. Not like I used to. I’ve always blamed my terrible personality and all-around unfriendliness for that. And of the people I’ve met, I think more people dislike me than like me.

I feel like I’m constantly disappointing people. You, Dad, my sister, my boyfriend, myself. I just keep letting people down. I keep getting things wrong. It feels like the proportion of things I do right is exponentially smaller than the proportion of things I do wrong. And there’s always someone mad at me. There’s always someone waiting for me to screw up. There’s always someone saying that I’m just going to keep making a mess. And so far, I keep proving them right.

It just hurts to look in the mirror and not like the person I’m seeing. I want more than anything to be happy with myself. But I’m not. And I haven’t been for a long time. There are so many great things about my life. Basically everything about my life is great, except me. And I like to think that I’m the most important part.

I’m really hurting, Mom. I really wish I could tell you that. I wish you knew how much I’m suffering, so you could help me. Because you’re my mom, and I know that you would want to help. But I’m not brave enough to tell you. I’m not brave enough to break your heart like that. I don’t know what to do, Mom. I’m so lost.

I love you. And I miss talking to you. I hope one day we can talk. I could really use it right now.

Kris

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June 5, 2013

What Not to Say to Someone Who is Struggling

1. “There are people in the world who have it worse off than you.”

The last thing you want to do when you’re trying to help is invalidate someone’s pain. Sure, there are people in the world who are suffering to an unbelievable extent. But that doesn’t make my pain unimportant or imaginary.

2. “Cheer up already.”

A person who is struggling emotionally is not going through a phase. Being depressed or upset is not something you can just snap out of. By telling someone that they should just “get over it” or “cheer up already,” what you’re really saying to them is that you don’t believe that their pain has any real significance and that they’re emotionally incompetent if they can’t manage to make themselves un-upset.

3. “Are you just doing this for attention?”

Treating mental or emotional trauma like it’s an act or a game is not only offensive, but also harmful and damaging. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to stop playing around, so why would you say that to someone with an emotional injury? There’s nothing about this that’s positive or constructive. It only hurts.

4. “You have no right to be upset.”

Feelings are not things that only certain people are privileged enough to have. I don’t need to prove to you that my feelings, concerns, and struggles are real and valid. If they’re real to me, they’re real. Plain and simple.

5. “You have your whole life ahead of you.”

For many people struggling with severe emotional trauma, envisioning a future is not an easy task. The future is scary and for plenty of people, it’s not something they look forward to. Saying this can stir up a plethora of fears for a person. It’s also another way of indirectly saying that their problems are small and insignificant “in the grand scheme of things.” Just because a problem will look small in the future, that doesn’t mean it feels small now.

6. “How can I expect you to love me if you can’t even love yourself?”

For some reason, people view love as this singular, finite pool of stuff that you give away to people in parts until there’s nothing left. And for people whose loved ones are dealing with self-esteem issues, they feel that their loved one’s “love pool” is already empty and thus cannot be used to sustain a love for anyone else. That’s simply not the case. I don’t have to love myself in order to love you. My love for you is completely separate from love for myself. Saying something like this will just make people like me feel like we’re doing a terrible job showing our affection, which will only increase the self-loathing.

7. “Want some advice? ……”

Giving advice is a double-edged sword. We all know that you try to give advice because you want to help. But to me, you’re advice-giving can sometimes sound like gloating and condescension. What it says to me is that you’re clearly much more capable of handling problems and you’re obviously superior to me and my problems are so insignificant and petty that they’re a cinch to fix. When giving advice, try to keep in mind that what you’re saying and what is being heard are sometimes two very different things.

8. “You’ll feel better tomorrow.”

No, I won’t. That’s the general subconscious reply. Emotional pain is real. The cause and the triggers – for lack of better words – don’t matter. What matters is that whatever it is causes me pain that I can’t get away from. This pain is in my mind and the mind is not something you can escape from. Sure, you can ignore it for a little while. But that doesn’t make it go away. Don’t assume that sleeping it off or becoming preoccupied with something else is going to make me feel better in the long haul. That’s a very poor assumption to make.

9. “You’re being selfish.”

This has to be one of the most infuriating things anyone could possibly say to me. Trying to guilt me into feeling happy seems like a really backwards plan, don’t you think? When you say this, you’re telling me that I have to just suck it up and deal with the overwhelming emotional trauma that I experience on an almost continuous basis because I’m making the people around me uncomfortable. Do you see the irony in this?

June 3, 2013

Okay

“Rather than fighting for every woman’s right to feel beautiful, I would like to see the return of a kind of feminism that tells women and girls everywhere that maybe it’s all right not to be pretty and perfectly well behaved. That maybe women who are plain, or large, or old, or differently abled, or who simply don’t give a damn what they look like because they’re too busy saving the world or rearranging their sock drawer, have as much right to take up space as anyone else.

I think if we want to take care of the next generation of girls we should reassure them that power, strength and character are more important than beauty and always will be, and that even if they aren’t thin and pretty, they are still worthy of respect. That feeling is the birthright of men everywhere. It’s about time we claimed it for ourselves.” (via brute-reason)

When I was little, I used to wish to be rich or famous or loved by everyone or powerful or influential. I used to dream big. I used to want extravagant things for myself. It’s not really like that anymore. Really, I only want thing: I want to feel okay with myself.

More than anything else, I want to be able to look at myself – my body, my face, my accomplishments, my personality – and be okay with the picture. My big, quintessential dream for my life is to look at myself one day and have nothing to complain about. I don’t even have to be proud of it, really. I just have to not hate something about me as a person.

I’ve noticed that a lot has changed since I started to really hate my body. It’s definitely affected my relationships with my family and my boyfriend. Almost every conversation with my parents revolves around my body, so there’s very little talk about things that should matter. My sister has gotten really comfortable with using the term of endearment “fatty,” and I don’t think she realizes how much that hurts me. And I can’t have a single conversation or interaction with my boyfriend without wondering whether or not he thinks I’m fat or have gained too much weight or am no longer attractive. Because if I was in his shoes, I really doubt I’d like me anymore.

I don’t think the people in my life really know how much it hurts to go through life never liking what you see when you look in the mirror. And it’s not an easy subject to talk about.

I wish that someone had told me when I was growing up that being attractive wasn’t important. I wish someone had pulled me aside and said to me that the world has it wrong and being kind and compassionate and smart is what makes you a good person and that being attractive has nothing to do with your worth and value as a human being. I wish that someone had told that it’s okay to love myself no matter what I look like.

Because I’m not beautiful. And I wish that I was allowed to be okay with that.