Learning to become my own reason for living

 When I was a little girl, life was so chaotic. (Check out The Beginning and The Beginning part 2) It was hard to know what to trust. Who would not obliterate me.

While, granted, most of that insecurity came from careful brainwashing from my father, there was an element of truth. All the best lies have them. My mother wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. She didn’t seem to feel I was…

Important, special, the love of her life?

So, like a good little girl, I cleaved to my father. He hurt me, he scared me. He also made me feel loved, needed, and special. 

I can remember driving in the car with him while he told me, and a voice recorder, all his grandiose dreams. He was sure he knew how to make the world a better place. I whole-heartedly agreed. I viciously stomped down any little thought otherwise.

It’s ironic. My first anchor nearly broke me. Pulled me as close to death as I’ve ever been. 

My father set the template for any love I would feel after him.

Even after the abduction, the abuse, and the neglect, I still wanted him. It seemed nothing could change that.

Then I met Chris. To be more honest, eventually I grew close to Chris. To trust him, love him, need him.

Chris gave me love. Unless he didn’t. We were like your typical high school drama couple. Except that he was gay. And we were never a couple.

Still, he became my everything. Somehow, I transferred the role of anchor, or reason to be alive, to him. And I was happy. But not really.

Because my father’s example was so destructive, when I went looking for love, I looked for someone like him. Someone inconsistent, often unreliable, someone who always left me a little worried. Did he love me? Would he leave me? The only love I could accept had a heavy dose of pain behind it.

Eventually, we crashed and burned forever. 

I felt I had no one. For six months I froze my heart so I wouldn’t feel the total obliteration. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital. It was hairy for a while. It was an entire summer spent in and out of hospitals. In my last chance, before my psychiatrist was going to put me in the state hospital, I met John.

I didn’t know if I liked him. I pretty much knew that I didn’t. But he liked me. He wanted me and pursued me. That was my rock bottom requirement. So, like the unstable, empty person I was, we got involved. In months he moved in with me. Which, five years later, became a marriage. Seven years after that, we were divorced, and I was in a homeless shelter. 

I rediscovered all the letters Chris had written me. Some pictures he had drawn, and recordings. In one he was playing love songs on his guitar. Another was of him singing pieces he had written.

I rediscovered his love for me. I grabbed on with both hands, closed my eyes, and began to pick and choose. Sure, in seven years of being friends, he had broken it off five times. Sure, he said insane things like “I want to marry someone like you, only prettier” and “I wouldn’t give you a diamond engagement ring.” 

Still, the choices were sparse. My father was out of the question, and so was my ex-husband. And there were moments. Chris calling us soul mates. Chris telling me he was committing to me to be a better friend. To work harder at it.

Those were words I needed. So, I drew my love and security from a man I hadn’t seen in over a decade.

My final anchor was my last therapist. She told me explicitly that it was ok, that I could count on her until I could count on myself. Maybe it wasn’t the someone to come and take care of me I had been looking for for so long. But it was someone who believed in me, who would keep me safe until I could.

And she did. Oh, she left before I fully wanted her to. But not before I needed her to.

So, here, and now, I find I no longer need an anchor. There isn’t a raging monster inside me waiting to destroy me. It’s been so long since I’ve self-injured or wanted to kill myself that I can’t remember when it was.

It is a strange feeling to be whole. Some days, it is hard, lonely. I am grateful for my anchors. Even though sometimes, I wish they would come back, I don’t need pain to appreciate (actually, even to accept) love any more. I have no need for pain in anything. You don’t know me yet, so you don’t know, but that is life’s most amazing gift of all. 

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