My house is currently upside down. It’s a disaster. Clean clothes need to be folded. Dishes need to be washed. Beds need to be made. Toilets need to be scrubbed.
The current state of my abode is just a metaphor for the entirety of my life at this moment in time.
And this post is bound to be a reflection of my home and my life: scattered and with no real direction or focus.
Consider yourself forewarned.
We have lived in our current home for the past two years. In that entire time I have not felt uncomfortable, scared, creeped out or ill-at-ease. That all changed in the blink of an eye. I am currently crawling out of my skin while I sit here waiting for the family to get home. I keep looking over my shoulder and have gradually, one by one, turned on every light in the house. I check the locks constantly and every little sound makes my ears perk up. I am on high-alert.
And I hate it.
I am not a cold person. I am welcoming and kind. I am empathetic and understanding. I always try to see life from the other person’s perspective. Having said that, I do take some time to warm up to. If I allow you close enough to get to know me, well, then you know everything. When I welcome you in to my home and my space you have open access to my little world and everything in it. Right now I’m regretting being that person.
And I hate that, too.
I hate that the events of the past year have made me question everything that I thought I was. I have always been a realist, but I was also always able to maintain hope. taking one hit after another has started to transform me in to this jaded, cynical… thing.
Once upon a time I was an AOD counselor. I maintained the hope for my clients that they may have lacked for themselves. I believed that people could save themselves from a life of addiction if they had the right information, resources and support. I offered all of those things. I supported and “helped” complete strangers all the while turning my back on the one addict that needed me the most. Part of me feels like he died because of it. Part of me believes he died in spite of it. All I know is my hope has been diminished by the time that has passed since I left my job as a counselor. My brother’s death was the final straw. Now I ask myself if I ever really helped anyone in the first place. Was I kidding myself by thinking I could make a difference?
We always had an open-door policy at our home. Friends, family or just those in need could drop by, walk in, eat, shower or crash on our couch at any given time. The only rule was no weapons and no dope in our home. This had worked out well for us for years. Until it didn’t. I missed the signs. I was looking for something that wasn’t there. I put my children in danger because I was off my game. Now we live with our doors locked. Our friends and family have to be allowed entrance to our space. Now there is the chance of violence, of theft, of lies and cheating. Of course these threats were always there, but I always hoped (and believed) that “it” wouldn’t happen to us.
During my time as a counselor I also held group sessions on domestic violence as part of our curriculum. I hated it. It was, by far, the most difficult (while being one of the most pertinent and important) pieces of curriculum we had in our arsenal. I could barely stomach hearing the stories of abuse and the lack of love and self-respect that the victims of abuse had to share with the group. I wanted to scream and cry and beat the hell out of the abusers (who were, at times, in group with their victims). I actually snapped at one point and told my lead that I could not do it again. It was too hard. Too sad. Too infuriating. I could not be objective. I had found my bias.
I never expected domestic abuse to slip in and reside within my family, those that I love and am supposed to protect. I never thought it would rear its ugly head inside of my own home. As a family, we had a very low risk factor for abuse to touch our little world. There was no cycle to break. It was never a “real” concern for us because it doesn’t happen to families like ours. Until it does. And when it does, when it touches your loved one.. your baby, it’s almost paralyzing. You question every choice you made, every sign you missed. I, personally, am questioning my effectiveness as a mother… as a wife… as a counselor… as a human being. Every good I ever thought I may have done has been erased with the knowledge that I didn’t protect and help my own child. You’re supposed to protect your children. I failed in that mission.
Abuse of any kind: drug or alcohol abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, can touch any one at any time. I know this. I have always known this. And, yet, my little world has been turned upside down because I forgot. I forgot the lessons I had learned from my clients. I forgot the lessons I had learned from my brother, my friends.
I’m not sure what it will take to right my world… to turn these jaded thoughts around and get myself on solid footing again. I just know that I need to take this new life, this new me, one day at a time. Hopefully each day will be easier and I can start to remind myself of the me I used to be: the hopeful me, the generous and accepting and open-minded me. The me who could always find an ounce of good in every “bad” person.
She’s still in there. She has to be. Otherwise what was the point?
(ps: I warned ya)