In therapy today my eyes got watery, but nothing slid down my face. Crying is a sign of weakness, so I have told myself from a young age. My parents are not emotional people, for the most part; they are stubborn, laid back folks, not afraid to raise their voice when duty calls. But crying? We don’t do it, at least not in front of each other, and rarely behind closed doors. I’m more the type to sit in an empty parking lot, white-knuckling the steering wheel, and scream as loud as I can. Sometimes I say a word instead of just an open mouth spew of nonsense noise. FUCK is common. It flows from the bottom of my soul so easy, FUUUUUUUUU—only to have a strong ending—CK!
Why did I cry today at therapy? I have a friend whom I love very much. She lives far away from me and is going through a hard time. She needs urgent help and is refusing to get it. After weeks of emails, texts, phone calls, and researching crisis hotlines, safe homes, and the sort; I’ve decided I have to back away. She doesn’t want my help, and it hurts.
My therapist said, “Can you change it? Did you cause it? Can you cure it?” She mentioned where she pulled this from, and I’m sorry I cannot recall the reference.
I believed I could change her direction, which is why I tried. Then I realized, I was wrong. There is only so much I can do for someone before they need to get themselves to the finish line.
For the past few days, I haven’t been able to carry my body up to bed by a decent hour. My house grows quiet at 9 pm, and it’s the only time I can be alone. When life taxes me beyond the normal bend, I reach for solitude; even when means suffering the next day. I flip through Netflix, thumb through social media, read a book; sometimes I’m doing these things just to go through the motion. I’m not paying attention to what’s in front of me. I can’t stop myself. The night goes on, and I get angry with myself for not heading to bed. Before I know it it’s midnight, and my body feels cracked out, eyes burn; I’m a slug. The next day I live in a cloud, fuzzy and half awake, I get short and snappy with the kids. I hate when they feel the brunt of my mental health. My short fuse yelling at them when they don’t deserve it. Words leave my mouth, and I hear the tone in my voice, I hold back knowing it’s not them. Retreating away from my family is where this could go, it has before. But it won’t this time.
The difference between now and a year ago is my level of awareness. In the past, this behavior could go on for weeks, even months. After a few days of going through the motions, I catch on. I understand it wasn’t just once to finish a book, or I drank coffee too close to bedtime. I see I am staying awake at night to be alone, a self-torture that allows me to retreat into myself and close out others. It’s as if I want to drag myself down because there’s only one direction from the bottom, and that’s up.
I don’t have to hit bottom anymore. I’m stronger than that.
Unfortunately, I think my friend needs to get there, and she was taking me with her. It’s not her fault; I blame myself for staying on this ride as long as I did. Even after I’ve provided her with resources for healthy steps forward, she continues to fight her demons and refuses help. I love this person; she won’t believe me anymore when I say this. I may have lost a friend forever which cripples my heart. After trying to help to no avail, the only thing I can do is step away and heal myself.
When it comes down to what’s important in life, it’s these three little people who look at me with bright eyes and direction. I have to be present and healthy to be there for them. Sleep, eat, hydrate, stay active, and listen to myself before I buckle under pressure.
To my friend, I’m sorry I couldn’t do more for you. I hope you recognize how smart and amazing you are, and get yourself the help you deserve. You can do this, and when it’s done, I’ll be at the finish line cheering you on.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
If you text the word NAMI to 741741 you will reach someone to counsel you via text message. I tested it out myself. They respond quickly, talk you through what’s going on, and provide you resources when you’re ready. It’s anonymous and low pressure. Don’t want to make a phone call or walk into an office? Try this. You don’t have to be alone.