There Once Was A Girl…

There once was a girl who was in tremendous pain.  Her pain was so great she couldn’t manage it.  She tried, believe me, she tried.  She immersed herself in books, particular those dealing with people’s neurology, but also dabbled in science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, horror, romance, this was before the age of memoirs, so she devoured studies of other people written by psychiatrists, therapists of every ilk and doctors.  Losing herself in reading was thrilling, but it didn’t help her sort through the intense feelings she had.  All those books couldn’t begin to heal her often overwhelming feelings, anxiety, sadness and fear.

She thought that moving away might help so she did that, and then she moved farther and farther still and eventually she found herself living in another country and all those intense feelings moved right along with her.  By this time she was using substances to quell the pain, on a daily basis.   She knew she could zone out and for a little while anyway she would feel nothing at all and it was a great relief.  But as soon as the substance wore off she was left, once again, with herself.  She went from seeking relief, to needing relief, to feeling that if she didn’t do those things that gave her even momentary solace she might die.

There is no other way to describe what she went through when she could not indulge in certain behaviors.  SHE WOULD DIE.  She did not know this for a fact, but she felt sure that she could not exist without the things that changed her consciousness.  She was convinced that these substances helped her cope and that without them she would not be able to, and all those feelings would overwhelm her, suffocate her.  She lived in terror of this.  Years went by and she did the best she could, but her need for calm and peace was never satiated.

As time went on she knew that if she was going to continue living in this world she would have to change, she would have to find other ways of coping, of just being.  And again her fears both mesmerized and caused her to stay stuck doing the same things again and again that now did not give her the relief they once did.  She knew in her heart she would die if she continued doing what she had been doing.  She knew it was only a matter of time now.  The thing that she once thought was keeping her from dying, was the very thing that would kill her.  Still, how to change?  What could she do?  How would she stop?

At first she sought help from doctors and therapists and the medical profession.  She tried the various things they told her to do.  She made charts and ate specific foods and took supplements and lots and lots of vitamins, but nothing she did made a difference.  She went to psychologists and talked and talked, for years she talked, and while that helped her understand some of what ailed her, all that talk didn’t help her stop hurting herself.  One therapist, someone who loved her very much and had been trying to help her for many years said to her, you must find others who do what you do, they will help you.  So she found them.  Hundreds of people just like her who did the same things she was doing.  They listened to her pain and shame and they nodded their heads and told stories of their own and they said, “Here. Grab our hand.  We will help you.  We will show you the way through because you cannot do this on your own.  This isn’t about will power, this isn’t about desire, this is about needing help.”  And so she did, though she was filled with abject terror and was not at all sure she would be able to follow them, she did.  They taught her to breathe when she was scared and they took her calls in the middle of the night and they came to her when she was too frightened to leave her apartment and they sat with her when she was too overwhelmed to move.  They taught her that she alone could not help herself, she needed others.  This was both a great relief and also her greatest fear.

Over time she learned to tolerate all those feelings she once believed would kill her.  It was incredible!  She could not believe she was able to sit with feelings!  This was a revelation and she grew stronger and more able to be in the world.  She learned to ask for help and she found some people were safe and others were not.  She learned to be in a relationship with another person and to respect them and to honor their boundaries and she experienced the joy of kindness and acting in kindness for no other reason than because it was a part of who she was – to be kind.  She experienced the joy of helping others who were in pain and came to believe there is no greater gift in this life than to offer a hand to another being who is in the depths of despair and pain.

(To be continued)

28 responses to “There Once Was A Girl…

  1. Corbett Joan O'Toole

    Wow. Just what I needed to read. I am at that crossroads of “great relief and great fear.” Thank you for reminding me that the only way out is through.

  2. I love her. She is loved. She will always be loved.

  3. this is a book and a friend who i look forward to knowing better. continuing with u b

  4. Ib, I stand beside you…she is a true sweetheart and I love her too!

  5. Wow. TY <3.

  6. Proud of you.
    Here for you.
    Helped by you!
    Lots of love,
    Wendy

  7. That is beautiful. That is it right there. My substance was not the same as yours, but the emotions are very much the same. Thank you for sharing that part of yourself. I look forward to more.

  8. I look forward to more too. I want to thank you for offering us all your hand. For giving back so generously. At a time when I needed some surety from someone who had walked this road before me, someone I instinctively knew could guide me right, I found your page. And for the 1st time in 20 months since our 1st diagnosis and 10 months since our 2nd, the heartache eased and I could finally stop searching. You helped me find solace that I so desperately needed for my own survival. Carly. X

    • Carly, your words mean so much to me. Thank you for leaving them here. What you’ve written is how I feel about Julia, E. and Ibby. They were the first to show me a way through. And yes, they saved me and my family from more heartache, I am so grateful to them. I’m so glad I could pass some of that along!

  9. Chou Chou Scantlin

    Such a curious, curious thing, when I cannot process and find the correct response to something, but it happens. I will be going along, handling so much of life in such clever ways, and feeling many more skills than deficits, and then…boom. Something is so baffling! I am loving. You know I am, and I have grown to care deeply, and honestly, for you. I can tell from the comments that others are touched and want to support you. I always want to, too, of course! How curious, though, that I saw this a objective writing. When I objectify myself, when I step away to observe my story, the beauty of it is there is no emotion involved. There cannot be, for then I would not be able to effectively use that tool to analyze my story. When objectifying, I must be unsentimental in order to break down the pieces of the story and make choices based on those observances.
    Since I saw this post as you going through the process of objectifying, my instinct was to support by NOT adding any emotional response. That would have been the last thing I wanted when objectifying. Am I making any sense here? I am sending love, to reaffirm, but am also sending the breakdown of my reaction of what you wrote, as a gift, for you may glean more in you quest of understanding the many different ways of processing the connections we have to others. Is my reaction autistic? Does it matter? Is it a deficit? Does it make me a bad person, or unappealing as a friend? Interesting, and, I hope, not too annoying. Sending love. Lots of it ❤

    • It makes you a wonderful friend, because it is your response and you are wonderful and my friend, regardless of how you respond, you are my friend. And just so you know, it makes perfect sense to me!

  10. This is beautiful and brave, just like the writer. Thank you for sharing this. ❤

  11. Pingback: There Once Was A Girl (Cont’d) | Emma's Hope Book

  12. A – my brother has been sober for 25 years and we have rarely talked about his 2 decades of substance abuse prior to that. This post gave me some keen insights, thanks.

  13. That’s one thing we all have to learn what we feel won’t kill us.

  14. “She learned to ask for help and she found some people were safe and others were not.” this. learning that. still asking when you need the help.
    so important.

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