Then She Stood By the Brave

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 5.22.35 PM

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. It was originally published on April 8, 2014.

******

**DISCLAIMER: the situation you are about to read about is in good hands and I ask that you not try to contact any of my siblings. They are safe and things are being taken care of.

About a month ago I got a phone call letting me know one of my siblings was being admitted to the mental health ward. All I could think was when it is going to be enough, how many more of my siblings are going to suffer.

Their story is theirs to tell, not mine, but I want to tell you about a story that has continued to unfold over the past few weeks.

Phil and I went to visit my sibling in the psych ward, and I saw my sibling relaxed, a little medicated, but they were relaxed, peaceful, and they were safe there and they knew it. We brought one of my other brothers in to visit our sibling and I found out that he had been faithfully visiting his sibling the whole time during their psych visit. This brother is the one I have had my spats with growing up, and in fact, thanks to him I have a nice numb spot on my hand from one of our fights. This brother is also the one I see holding one of the biggest, caring hearts I have ever seen. The fact that he would purposefully take time out of his day to go visit his sibling in the psych ward every day they were is a huge indicator of just how big his heart is.

*****

I am now barely 2 months away from having this child of mine.

I am becoming more and more aware of how important it is to stand firm with my boundaries when it comes to my mom and my dad. I somehow found myself in a position last week where I was asked by my mom to “draw out” my sibling who had been in the psych ward. My sibling had been asking to be admitted again that morning and wouldn’t talk to mom or anyone else about what was going on. Inwardly I knew my sibling was only going to talk to me and that’s why my mom was pushing me to talk with them. After spending awhile chatting, I knew what I needed to know and just let my sibling know that I was there whenever they needed me. The rest of my visit over there ended in me putting my foot down and being completely blunt with my mom. I told her my exact thoughts on how her staying with my dad was at the expense of the kids and how he wasn’t changing, how I didn’t believe her when she said he was, and just watched her shut down as I refused to let her screwed up logic change my stance.

In that moment I realized I have changed.

I am no longer blinded by the manipulative logic my dad uses to control those around him.

I could see right through everything my mom said and was able to see things I had known were there but had never been able to put words to. I am stronger, I am clear headed, I have changed, and yet, it became painfully obvious she hasn’t changed. She is still toxic to me, she is still clinging to some delusion that my dad is changing, and until she can let go of that and actually protect her children from that man, I have to be careful to keep boundaries in place.

It was encouraging to see how therapy has really worked and I have been able to break so many chains that had previously greatly bound me. I am also in a position now where when a sibling needs help, I’m one of the first people they call, and hell, I’m out the door before they can even coherently say anything other than to beg me to come get them. Which is what happened recently, and which included a visit to my siblings’ school counselor who after hearing our story immediately called Child Protective Services to make a report. I have proven to my siblings, the ones who need it most, that I am not the mean, evil older sister my dad makes me out to be. I am who I say I am and I will drop everything for them if they need me.

I sat in that office and watched my siblings find their strength as they stood up to the abuse they have personally suffered from our dad. My heart bursting with pride, I backed up their stories, and watched as they willingly gave information that will hopefully make a difference. I watched my siblings make very brave and bold decisions despite the possibility of facing retaliation. They are doing what I wish I could have done years ago, they are brave enough to stand up and say enough is enough and it hopefully will truly be enough.

The little girl inside of me wept as I proudly stood by my brave siblings.

I felt like I watched my childhood come full circle. The shame of not being “strong enough” to stand up to my dad was put to rest as I stood there being my siblings’ support. I went through what I had to so that I could be there for my siblings when they needed me. I am stronger now, I have the strength they needed to be able to be brave themselves. I can validate their fears and tell them they’re not crazy despite what the man at home will say. I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a good reason to have gone through what I have if only to be the support my siblings need.

I’m feeling hopeful, I am full of pride, and so relieved I can be there for the siblings who call for help and I can be there to lift up their voices.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel 

It’s Going to Be Okay: By Isabella

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 4.18.02 PM

It’s Going to Be Okay: By Isabella

HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Isabella” is a pseudonym.

*****

This is all your fault.

If you were only a better Christian/Person/Sister/Brother you wouldn’t be dealing with this.

Try to help others more, then you will feel better.

Taking a pill to help is of satan!

Mental Illness isn’t real – it’s all in your head.

This is a result of your sin. Repent; and you shall feel better.

*****

Hello dear friend.

Thanks for meeting me at this small coffee shop to chat. I know you’re nervous about something, that’s okay, I’ll try to do most of the talking. I’m sipping my coffee, and thinking. Today I’m having a quad (four shots of espresso) hazelnut white mocha. Heaven in a cup. I should know. I escaped to coffee houses a lot growing up to “study”.

Didn’t everyone fear their father and try to get out of the house as much as possible?

You’re being quiet while you sip your coffee. Not making eye contact. I get that. Maybe you think what you are dealing with is normal. Dear, it’s not.

I thought my growing up was normal.

The spankings, the yelling, the verbal abuse, all that was normal. Crazy thing is, I thought I was the one messed up. You know, because I was depressed. And dealt with self abuse. And had panic attacks. I must be really messed up if I made dad mad enough to throw my laptop on my bed and threaten to send me a mental hospital. There they would lock me up so I could never see my siblings again. I wasn’t supposed to talk about my self abuse — my depression — my panic attacks. That would make dad even angrier and make him send me away for sure.

Oh honey, I see the look in your eyes. This depression you are dealing with is not your fault. Just because someone tells you something, it doesn’t make it true.  You might be told to shove those feelings aside, that your feelings are wrong. If you hear it enough you might start wondering if it’s true. You might even start to believe it. Even if you have a “perfect family”, you might still deal with depression. It’s not your fault. No one wants to feel sad. No one wants to think about ending their life. No one thinks it’s a great idea to injure yourself or have panic attacks.

That’s not you. That’s not your destiny. Maybe you’ve tried “everything” and still deal with this stuff. That’s okay. That still doesn’t mean you are messed up, a bad person, or deserving of hell.

Dearest friend, this belief that I was messed up because I was dealt with these issues (let’s call them what they are — mental illness) and that I wasn’t supposed to talk about it is a huge lie.

Are you being told that lie? Let me tell you the truth.

The government won’t lock you up for being depressed. They have bigger issues in their hands. You won’t be locked up for talking about it. Talking will probably help you the most. Find help. If all you see is darkness, think of those that you love. I know you don’t think you will get through today. Tomorrow is even more uncertain. I get that.

I totally bawled at my high school graduation because I didn’t think I would be alive to graduate. Really. I was that suicidal.

If you cannot talk to anyone, talk to yourself. Write it out and burn the paper. Tell yourself you will be safe for five minutes, and then five more minutes. Play a game. Listen to music. Knit. Go for a run. Anything really will do, as long as it’s mindless and distracting.

Friend, if you have been out of the abusive situation for a while and are still struggling you might have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have it, and sometimes I do slip into that dark hole.

I almost didn’t talk to you tonight. I thought that if I was quiet it would be better for everyone.

That’s what our abusers want.

They want us to be quiet about mental illness. God forbid that someone would come out of the perfect homeschooling family with PTSD! But the truth needs to be told.

Mental illness is never your fault.

You will survive this too, and be stronger for it. Find someone you can trust, and talk to that person. You will get through tonight. Deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes. Right now, deal with the next five minutes. It’s okay if that’s all you can do. I don’t expect anything else out of you.

You are perfect just the way you are. Hold onto that hope.

It’s going to be okay, dear one.