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.