I’m currently going through the final four (and most challenging and emotional) big boxes of things that belonged to my mother. I’m barely making a dent because it’s bringing up a lot inside me.
I found this pic of me in high school with a horrible perm and cut and a mouth full of braces. I think I was 15 here. Not sure.
I remember this time as a very dark time in my life, not that there haven’t been plenty over the years.
I was first hospitalized for depression after seeing a counsellor at school and I was wanting to end my life. I was 17. So I was taken to emerg that day, was set up with a shady psychiatrist and put on meds that week (which didn’t last because I kept throwing them up), and they called my parents to tell them where I was and that didn’t go over well. I knew it wouldn’t.
My mom refused to come see me at first. When she eventually came to visit me in the hospital, it was the first time she admitted to me that she also suffered from depression. I always knew she was in bed all the time and she cried a lot, but no one talked about anything in our family. Just me.
I named things. I got help. And I’ve spent my adult life trying to heal from my childhood. My mother’s childhood as well.
I was shunned for naming family issues to someone outside of the family. I was criticized every time I spoke up within the family. You just don’t do that in dysfunctional family systems. You’re supposed to play your role and remain silent and accept everything (fucked up as it is) and act like you’re fine.
Don’t you dare rock the boat. Don’t you dare point to the collective wounds. Don’t you dare ask for better treatment. Don’t you dare question the status quo. Don’t you dare grow and evolve and see clearly and learn to set boundaries because it’s a threat to the rest of the system.
And don’t tell anyone what’s really going on. Don’t act out or display your pain. Just pretend to be ok when absolutely nothing is ok.
It was all bullshit and I hated myself and my life and I didn’t fit in my family unit, nor did I feel like I fit in anywhere really, and I think I was just born to rock boats because I couldn’t shut up and I couldn’t back down.
I genuinely feel like I fought every step of the way to get to the point where I can now say that overall I’m happy inside and I love my life and I’m proud of who I am and I don’t hate myself and I don’t wish I was dead and all these things are triumphs for me given where I came from.
I wouldn’t wish my past or my pain on anyone and I would never ever want to live 99% of this life again (though it’s getting really good now), but if I can turn all of that shit into something rich and beautiful and meaningful and shed some light and insight along my path, I believe that if you’re also struggling right now, you have the power to do that kind of transformation as well.
We are bigger than our traumas, and our pain is unfortunately what we must somehow transmute if we are to get to the really good stuff. The process fucking sucks but it really is worth it.
What else are you here to do but to figure out how to live comfortably and authentically inside yourself?
I’m here for healing. And seeing this picture reminds me of who I was on my way to who I’ve become.
I was so sad. I was so wounded. I was so lost in this world. But now I’m ok. I still feel deep pain but I also feel deep joy even more than that. There will always be more layers but overall I’m happy and I’m free even while I carry deep rooted grief inside of me.
Life happens and I will face whatever comes my way, but today like many days, I am so grateful to be alive.
Over time and over many years I have built my family by heart which is strong and solid and I really do feel like I belong in this world and that I am loved and valued and understood.
Regardless of the day I leave this world, I am so grateful to have experienced the other side of the darkness while I was here.
To the light 💛
“Your words... so touching.” Lily Rivera Contreras
“Still a hottie. Just saying.” Kelly Sanzsole
“Mandy thank you for opening your heart and sharing all that.” Noreen Hanna Robertson
“Beautiful Mandy. Thank you for sharing.” Karen Benedict
"What else are you here to do but to figure out how to live comfortably and authentically inside yourself?" Steve Partridge
“Thank you for sharing. It’s people like you that make it ok not to be ok.” Nerissa Flannigan Markham
“I could only wish that I could open up as freely as you do! You are definitely inspiring! Thank you.” Melissa Simon
“We were neighbours for the longest time and I never knew that you were going through all of that. I think you look beautiful in this pic and I am super glad that you received the help you deserved xoxo” Angela Haddock
“If I know you, you will go through the final four, and will dispense with/keep an assortment of things. Then, you're done with it.” BJ Del Conte
“Hugs. I can so relate, in more ways than you will ever know.” Shelley Ibbotson