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An Introduction

by NicoleK

Hi, I’m Nicole. I’m sorry that you’re here, but I’m also glad that you understand. 

I would never consider death if there weren’t so many barriers to survival. I mean, many of those barriers are within myself, but there doesn’t seem to be much help to fix those things. I have tried counseling and talking with friends and praying (which I very much believe in), but I still feel wretched. I just can’t handle failure or any kind of mistake, really. It comes from years of abuse and others’ harsh reactions to childhood mistakes. Now, I react to failure in a way that resembles muscle memory. I start crying, and my body is paralyzed with panic, but the thinking comes later, after these things are already set in motion. If I could control it, I would.

For instance, I lead worship at my church (don’t even get on me about religion or God, I believe what I believe), and I messed up in a pretty obvious way the other day. Luckily, my friend was helping me lead, so when my body reacted as usual, she picked up where I could no longer keep it together. I was told later that many thought I was pouting by not singing. The truth is, I literally could not control my tears, and my hands could barely strum the guitar, and my heart was beating louder than the music. I would never choose to react so obviously in front of a room full of people, I swear. If I could have stopped it, I would have. But that’s what people don’t get. Why would I embarrass myself like that on purpose? After worship, I had to leave the sanctuary, and I probably cried for 45 minutes in the church office. I could not get it together. They think it was about me and my pride, and maybe it was, partially, but more than that, it was about fear. I have spent my entire life trying to earn love that I could never get, and my honest first thought when I mess up is that I have lost any love that I’ve managed to earn. I just want to feel loved. 

My brother abused me for at least 15 years, until his death when I was a senior in high school, mostly emotionally and physically, though sexually as a child (which I, thankfully, cannot remember, but my mom does). I thought that it had something to do with my inherent lack of worth, because I didn’t see other kids being treated this way. I figured it was me, I deserved it, so I tried to be better, to be good enough to be treated with love. But the good grades and the sports and the clubs and the art never made a difference. My father was also extremely explosive and angry while my brother was alive. I can see now that it was the stress of our home and his job, but as a kid, all I saw was the explosive reaction to my little kid questions and love and mistakes. I was never good enough to earn his love either. I don’t say all this for sympathy. I say it to explain that I react now the same way I reacted to their abuse, with fear and tears and panic. But nobody sees that or understands that, and how could they? They see a crybaby, an attention-seeker, a joke. But the truth is, I would do anything to turn off those automatic responses. Sometimes, I think they resemble PTSD, but I know most are much more severe than I experience. 

That’s just part of it though. Life’s hard with lupus and chronic fatigue while working a labor-intensive overnight job. I’ve developed carpal tunnel and can barely play the guitar, the instrument on which I received my college degree. I have to work to pay my $100,000+ in loan debt, but I can’t find a better job in my area, and I can’t afford to move anywhere else. And now, I can’t use my degree anyway, unless I can find something with the other part, psychology, but many require a Masters degree or experience at the very least. But the biggest struggle is with depression. I’ve had it since I was a child, but my parents largely let me figure life out alone, because they had my brother to deal with and I acted so together that they didn’t think to ask. Now, I’m 23, and I feel like I’ve ruined my life. And I keep messing everything up. I just want to dream again. I want to be free from all the garbage of my past, but nothing seems to alleviate that self-hatred. Even God. I guess, I just struggle to trust in His love too, because unconditional love and grace don’t make sense in my world. They don’t seem real. And I know that’s the point of faith, but I wish someone could help me figure out how to overcome without just saying prayer and Bible study. Been there, done that, and I still feel afraid of losing God too. There’s so much more, but I don’t see the point of a pity party. I just wanted to get some of it out. It’s pretty toxic. 

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15 comments

Kirito 2/11/2016 - 4:35 pm

in case you wanna talk for a while feel free to add phil2921 on skype

NicoleK 2/11/2016 - 8:24 pm

Thank you, really. That means a lot 🙂

Moneypenny 2/11/2016 - 5:11 pm

What about teaching children to play? Is that a possibility? (To find an different income)

NicoleK 2/11/2016 - 8:26 pm

I actually get a stipend to teach the teens at my church. I teach guitar and drums and help orchestrate/lead the worship band. It’s about $200 a month, which helps pay my electric and water bill, at least. I’ve thought about branching that out too. I guess, I’m just afraid that I’m not good enough to be teaching. Insecurity is a success killer, huh?

muspelhem 2/11/2016 - 6:12 pm

Hey Nicole 🙂

Thanks for sharing! That is quite a bumpy ride you’ve had (to put it very mildly).

What are some things you could do to improve your quality of life?

Hugs

NicoleK 2/11/2016 - 8:29 pm

Hey, thanks for acknowledging what I’ve been through. That in itself is helpful. As for my quality of life, I do some poetry and songwriting as well as therapeutic art. That has helped give me a sense of accomplishment. It’s just the creative dry spells that depression brings that make it difficult. I do a lot at my church–worship, leading the youth group, working on murals, planning events, etc. That helps too. I guess, what I most want is to find a dream to work toward. My dream used to be music, but I feel a bit crushed in that area. What helps you?

muspelhem 2/12/2016 - 4:36 pm

I think people probably help me the most. The other day I went to a café with a friend I really like (I have some friends where it feels more like an obligation to see them). I enjoyed it so much. I never do stuff like that normally. It was just a couple of hours, but it was super.

Tbh it also really helps if a cute customer is a bit flirty or shows some interest. I mean, the effect doesn’t last that long, but it’s one small reason not to off myself.

I used to write songs, but I always felt like an outsider amongst musicians, so I’ve sort of given it up. But yeah, I write a bit and I comfort eat (bad idea) and atm I’m reading a book on depression called “The Upward Spiral”. Oh yeah, novels. I like them. Nothing fancy. Stephen King or something. And sleep helps a hell of a lot. I literally went from feeling like my life was getting back on track to being an unhealthy suicidal wreck in a few months of working late shifts. It’s ridiculous how much it matters for me.

Sorry, that was long. I’m glad you’re on the site (like, you know what I mean, right?).

muspelhem 2/12/2016 - 4:38 pm

Do you think you might return to your old dream, or seek out a new one?

NicoleK 2/12/2016 - 9:45 pm

I’m glad that being around people is something that helps you. I know those nice cafe conversations with friends very well. I used to do that a lot in college, but those chances are much less frequent now. I definitely relate to the “flirty” thing. It’s like, for one moment at least, there’s someone who sees you and is intrigued by you. That’s a booster, for sure.

Although you didn’t ask for it, my advice about the songwriting thing is to forget about the “musicians.” Now, personally, I believe that we all have the right to creation. Some are so good at certain kinds of creation that we look up to them as masters of the craft or something, but really, creativity shouldn’t be a competition. It’s like we take these traits that could be used to pursue unity (because they are common to all), and we make them an arms race. It’s in you. Write. Creativity isn’t a club you need an invite to; it’s a basic right. Anyway, sorry about that unsolicited soapbox. I just hate that people ever feel like they can’t express what’s inside of them.

Reading is wonderful. I do a great deal of that as well. Sometimes, it’s necessary to “put on” another life for a bit and learn something from inside of someone else.

Do you still work late shifts? I totally get the sleep deal. It makes sense. Our physical processes are so interconnected that one out-of-sync piece, and the whole thing gets thrown off kilter. I hope you have been able to get sleep recently though.

You know, I don’t know about my old dream. Some days it feels like I’ve already let it die and buried it. But then I hear something that inspires me, and for a second, I feel that passion again. But something always comes around and walks all over that fire. Usually, it’s an insecurity. I struggle with that same feeling of being an outsider amongst musicians. That’s probably why I don’t want you to feel that way. It’s just that I know what it takes to make a music a career, and I don’t know if I have the emotional strength to handle the criticism and backlash that comes with it. It’s one thing to make music for yourself, but if it’s for the rest of the world, it can hurt deeply. I don’t think I can fully let it go though. My other dream is to be a public speaker and to help people with mental health issues. Mostly because I get it, and my heart breaks into oblivion thinking about anyone else feeling the way I do. But that would mean being honest with those around me, and I’m not ready for that. I think I’m just at a stand still right now until I can be strong enough to be real with people, you know?

What’s your dream?

muspelhem 2/13/2016 - 2:29 pm

Thanks for your songwriting advice. It inspired me, and I’ve been thinking the same thing. Yesterday I came across a claim by an academic expert on suicide (pyschology professor Thomas Joiner), who said that if you think you belong or are contributing, that protects you from suicide. Obviously, bad feedback upon sharing your work can feel like not belonging. But if that is one way you feel like you can contribute, I guess you just have to keep doing it until you find your audience. It echoes advice by Brené Brown to be vulnerable and let yourself be seen and also some (actually good) pickup artist advice I saw on YouTube about self-esteem: be divisive. I’m thinking that if e.g. Iron Maiden played their music in front of an audience that loves… pop or something, that might not go over well. But other people adore them. Anyway. I borrowed my friend’s guitar today, and it’s just so therapeutic. I also read that in Africa, the words for “sing” and “dance” are the same, or something. They don’t distinguish. And they don’t elevate the performer. Everyone performs. Together. Or maybe that was the way it was around the world in the past, and nothing to do with Africa. I forget. Anyway, I think it’s probably wise to be yourself in public, to share yourself with the world and then take the beatings that may arise. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I finally picked up the courage/got so fed up, that I told my boss I was close to quitting because I never got any proper sleep. She was so kind and now I only work during the day. Haven’t got any sleep yet, but plan to ease into it. What about you?

I hope you do share yourself with the world, be it through music or public speaking on mental health or both, or something else entirely. Another quote:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

–Howard Thurman

I already think you seem really cool and kind, and definitely wish there were more like you in the world.

I can totally relate to the problem with being real, I have that myself. I can do it pretty well online, because there are few repercussions. And I noticed people seem to prefer it. But irl… much harder. I was especially reminded of it because you asked about my dream, and I tend to omit that or lie about it, because it creeps people out or freaks me out or both. But what the hell. It is what it is. It’s my dream and I’ll just have to deal with people’s reactions.

I would like to make porn. I think. I would like to try working in that industry.

Thanks for your kind advice and do take care 🙂

muspelhem 2/13/2016 - 2:34 pm

Edit: Actually that self-esteem advice wasn’t “be divisive”. I misremembered it. It was to be polarizing. The point is you can’t make everyone love you, and if you could, they probably wouldn’t love you that much, because you would be bland. Better to divide opinion.

muspelhem 2/13/2016 - 2:37 pm

Nicole, I’m really sorry if what I said was triggering. I never meant to do that to you.

NicoleK 2/13/2016 - 2:54 pm

Muspelhem,

Nothing you said was triggering at all, seriously. I’m just having a bad time recently, that’s all. I actually really appreciate all that you said. It’s nice to hear from someone else.

I think you’re right about the need to contribute or belong. One of the things that kept me going in college was the thought that my degree might help me help someone else. Plus, I was able to be around a lot of hurting people and make a difference in their lives. Now, I’m pretty isolated, and I don’t have any goals to work toward. It’s a very stagnate place to be.

I’m glad that what I said inspired you. If music helps you, never let it go. It’s the purest thing I know. You’re also right about the Africa thing. I’ve been to Ghana, and their worship is so much more sincere and free. We danced and sang and nobody cared that we were speaking different languages or that the children were yelling or that the church was in the middle of the neighborhood and all could see. It was beautiful. I wish it was like that everywhere.

I’m glad talking to your boss helped. Sleep will come :). As for me, nothing really changes. My bosses act like there’s nothing they can do. I stock shelves in the dairy overnight at Walmart, and I usually have a workload that is meant to take 14+ hours, but I only have 8 hours to do it. And the things that I lift are usually 20 to 60+ pounds per box. I’m a fairly petite girl (but strong), and it’s hard on my body. The lack of sleep is making it worse. What management could do is send me help or hire someone else to share the load. I work every truck night, which is every other day. This means my sleep schedule changes everyday, and I never have more than one day off to recover or have a life. I’m not trying to complain, just explain what it’s like right now. I’m just frustrated and exhausted :/.

I hope you share yourself with the world too. If that means doing porn, than so be it. A dream is a dream, and those are relentless.

muspelhem 2/13/2016 - 3:18 pm

Wow. I don’t know what to say. That sounds incredibly tough. I sometimes feel like I’m living in la la land because my country has such a (atm anyway) strong social safety net and I’m just pretty deluded and entitled myself.

Is there any other way you could live where you could get your sleep and still gradually pay off your debt? Maybe abroad or something?

I don’t know. I just find it strange that society works like this. The other day the auditors came by unannounced at work and my colleague had to stay two hours extra for them. I had to count my till in front of them and during our conversation I let slip that we sometimes give the equivalent of 30 cents to customers so they can use the toilet.

The auditor looked shocked and she sternly told me that it wasn’t my money to give, etc. Which pissed me off no end, as I’ve ripped three pairs of pants working there (my problem) and have voluntarily paid for whatever food I accidentally dropped during preparation.

I just felt so humiliated. Here we are, at the bottom rung, earning a pittance compared to the higher-ups, and we have zero power. They swoop in with no knowledge of the realities of our workday and boss us about and tell us what to do.

I can’t believe some firms work like this. I’ve lost a lot of faith in capitalism. So much knowledge gone to waste, so little team spirit. It just seems like a race to screw each other over. /rant

I guess I should just cut my expenses to the bone and then try to somehow be a little a part of this scam as I possibly can.

I don’t know. I want to say you can come stay at my place for free and take a break from it all, but then I guess Denmark is a bit dark and miserable (not to mention remote), plus it wouldn’t really help you pay off the debt. But yeah, you’re welcome, honestly.

Anyway, I hope you work something out to at least get your sleep. If I were king, that would be a f***ing enshrined right.

Thanks for your fascinating experience from Ghana 🙂 Pretty adventurous stuff!

Thanks also for what you said about my dream.

Take care 🙂

justscribbles 2/12/2016 - 12:57 am

I, myself, play that beloved instrument, so it really saddens me to hear what you’re going through. I second the idea of becoming a guitar teacher, especially you already have a degree in music, and you’re already teaching children. You can learn to becoming a good teacher, but you certainly don’t need to be a virtuoso player or performer. Let us know how that works out, and best of luck!

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