Tag Archives: friendship
Last night I was virtually up all night because I didn’t feel well. I passed the time by watching TED talks. I chose to watch one particular talk given by Brene Brown called “The Price of Invulnerability” (it’s a good talk – go watch it!). Now whether it was because it was 4 am and I was feeling pretty crummy physically and also emotionally after a hard day or if it was just because it is an amazing talk I spent part of the time watching it close to tears. And when she said one thing the tears erupted. She said something (roughly) like this:
People who are trauma survivors have told me ‘I don’t want your sympathy. I don’t want your pity. I want you to look at your life and know what you already have’.
For me this is it. I don’t want my friend’s pity or something for what I have had to endure, my diagnosis or my past. All I want is for them to have gratitude for what they already have. I have run into people in the treatment world who wish for trauma, who make it up or embellish it. I go through times when this makes me angry and times when it simply makes me sad and times when it makes me both. I suppose the wishing/embellishing/making up comes from a place of trying to relate to other or validate why they struggle with what they struggle with. That anyways is the nice answer I can pull out of the hat.
P and I were trying to put the exact concept of gratitude that Brene Brown does so succiently above into words the other day. We were talking of our treatment friends (and they are always there) who are like this. I think to a degree we can intellectually understand it like I described above but like me P, is also a trauma survivor and there is a deep seated pain and anguish that arises when people ‘wish’ for trauma or embellish their experiences. We also talked about how we would like others to relate to us and we tossed around words like we wished other knew how ‘lucky’ they were. How they by some shade of fate or whatever just happened to have all the right hands in the deck tossed at them so they avoided trauma. We talked that we don’t want the pity or sadness which we sometimes receive from people, we just want them to know damn lucky they are. ie – all we want from others is that they know what they already have.
It’s hard not to get mad at people when they show me pity or sympathy. In my mind these are very different emotions than empathy. Empathy to me is much more of an equalizer It put both the empathizer and the one receiving the empathy on the same level. There is no ‘looking down upon’ or feeling sorry which pity and sympathy entails. Empathy is not static. It moves with a person and allows someone to heal. Pity keeps a person in a box. A box in which the peson who feels pity towards them sees that the situation that happened to them is ‘so sad’ and makes that individual a victim. There is no room to move away from that box. And I believe that there is no room to move in a relationship when one individual feels pity for another. I believe that the pittyier so to say naturally feels somewhat superior while the one who is pitied tends to feel demeaned.
And to those who do not have trauma nor can they understand my past? I don’t want that pity. I don’t want that sympathy. It doesn’t make me feel loved. It doesn’t make me feel understood. As Brene Brown reported I just want people to know what they already have. I want you or whoever is reading this to be able to feel grateful that you have been spared (if you have) by luck, fate, faith (whatever you believe in) the devastating effects of trauma. Not all are so lucky. I have not been so lucky. Be grateful for what you have and for what you have been spared. As Brene Brown says “look at your life and know what you already have’. That’s all I want or need from you as a survivor.
Well, the second week of school is done. My anxiety has significantly lessened from the first week thanks to time and Ben. I made it my goal for this past week to go to the involvement fair and I did and found a group called “Feministis On Campus Uniting Students” aka FOCUS. I attended their meeting on Thursday and really enjoyed it. It was a stretch to make myself go. I ended up staying on campus instead of leaving b/c I knew if I left I wouldn’t return. But this group is passionate about things that I am passionate about such as women’s rights in a variety of settings. It’s a small group which is perfect as I am not quite ready for large groups of people .
It’s been weird trying to decide how to socialize at school. How much to share. How to answer questions about Ben. What to tell professors and how to handle the fact that now on the outside I do look like I have a disability. I don’t like the term disability. It feels scary and real. I have such a hard time admitting that my life has been so limited b/c of my eating disorder, anxiety, PTSD etc. that I do fall under the category of disabled. I don’t want to be disabled. I don’t want any of the things that happened to have happened but they did and now I’m facing the very real challenge of acceptance and navigating my life.
Darcie (the trainer from Heeling Allies) warned me that it would hit me that by having Ben I am admitting to myself and the world that I am disabled. I don’t look disabled from the outside (it’s called an invisible disability) and before Ben no one would have known. Well except for the fact that i had a lot of panic attacks, flashbacks and had a tendency to fall down….However, by having Ben with me I am in some sense broadcasting to the world that something is wrong with me.
Some people ask. And depending on the situation I give a variety of answers. In one of my classes I was going to share that Ben was a mental health dog but the teacher went on a ten minute lecture about how she was stalked by a mentally ill person. The lecture was completely unnecessary and very demeaning towards anyone with a mental illness so needless to say I did not share that Ben was a mental health dog. I am afraid I would have been judged as crazy as that is what she was implying during her story/lecture time. So in situations like that I tell people that Ben is an alert dog. And he is. He alerts me to when my anxiety is high, is learning how to tell me to take my medication and does a variety of other alerting actions that alert me to my own emotions.
I have shared a few times that he is a mental health dog. In these, situations I explain that he is for my severe anxiety. I don’t mention PTSD or the eating disorder but instead focus on my panic attacks. And surprisingly people respond to this. They almost always have a story about a friend who has struggled or their own struggles. This has made me think that perhaps it is time to simply tell people the whole truth about Ben. Mental illness has such stigmas attached to it. I want to fight these and perhaps by being open I can.
I realize that as I write this blog that I am in a sense exposing everything about me. But I made a pledge before school started that I wasn’t going to censor my blog. It’s important to me and as I accept facebook requests from people at WSU (two this week) I am very aware that I am potentially opening up my life for others to know way more than I would normally share. I’m selective about what friend requests I accept but I really believe I must continue blogging in order to let go of my shame. My past is my past and I have nothing at all to be ashamed of. I don’t believe this yet but this is where my blog comes in. Opposite action (for you DBT people out there). Someday, I’ll be glad I shared my story and I can look back at this time as a time of growth, change, transition and healing.
I want to start this post by saying I love my friends. I talk every day to P. who at first was my treatment friends and now has become simply my friend . I don’t have many if any secrets from P. We talk everyday and I am not scared to share my struggles, my triumphs, tiny little things, annoyances and share silly moments. We may be miles and miles a day but our friendship has flourshied. And then there is K. we are masters at phone tag but I’m glad she too is in my life. She is one of my only links to my time at Laureate and saw me at my worst physically and socially. Yet she still remained my friend even when many other girls drifted away from me. In many ways she helped me begin long process of learning how to be a social being (and trust me I was a very hard person to be around at that time) and stuck by me. I’m still awestruck by that at times. And that leads me to A. We have learned so much from each other and we continue to learn. We are beginning a new journey together in health and recovery. She is so committed to keep moving forward and leaving the past behind that she inspires me to do the same. We keep each other accountable and together are learning how to navigate a life approached by hopefulness instead of hopelessness. And then there is V. V. is such an anchor to me. She is someone that no matter how much time has gone by she is there for me. She knows my past and does no judge me for it. We can sit together and just be. Doing nothing but chatting or watching t.v. I love this. I have other women in my life who I am so blessed to know including C. and my other WIB.
My point of this blog is that I am a social being. I tried for many years to convince myself I wasn’t and that I didn’t need people. The reality is that I do. I need friends, I need family and I need a support system. This is why tomorrow I will go to the involvement fair at WSU and find something to become involved in. I have found myself craving the desire to walk through the halls and have someone-anyone to smile and wave at. So this is my first step for that to happen. I will be an anxious mess but I’ll have Ben. And together we’ll get through it.
And my journey continues.