Wednesday, June 29, 2011

True healing

I am well. Not all well, but really well. I am still seeing my counselor. I have grieved my mother's death and dealt with much of the fallout.

I thought my brother and I were getting closer after my mother's death, but when I made an off-hand reference to one of several times my mother admitted to her part in the abuse when I was growing up, he verbally attacked me in public. When one of my very good friends stood up for me, he attacked her as well.

I struggled for months with what to do. I tried to reconcile, but I did not go to the lengths I went to with my mother--lengths that left me far more hurt than before my attempts. He clearly wanted to blame me, not reconcile. I was finally able to chalk it up to his own grief and let it go.

With a great deal of help and support, and with--I strongly believe--no small amount of spiritual intervention (I am one of those people who believes G-d is at work in the world, though maybe not in ways we'd expect, or even hope), I have a sense of who I really am, an idea of maybe who G-d wants me to be.

My counselor offered this in her interpretation of kibud av v'em--honor your father and mother: "Parenting, at its root, means helping your child become the best person s/he can be. So the best way to honor your parents is to be true to yourself, and become the person you were meant to be, the person G-d created you to be." I needed to hear that, right then. It finally clicked.

I feel like I am finally accepting who I am--who I really am--even with my flaws, my mistakes, the possibility that severe anxiety and/or depression may once again visit. And I am okay. Yes, I can do better; there's always a place for introspection, evaluation, and improvement. But my core, my essence, my Yiddishe neshama, is accepted and loved, and I am worth loving and worth acceptance. I don't have to disappear from my makom kavua because someone else is more worthy than I am. I can sit in my fixed place (where I have sat for sixteen years now) and invite others to sit with me.

This is all a huge change in perception for me. And for the last 17 days (it's that new) it has stuck. I pray it sticks forever.

In fact I have felt so accepting of myself that I have toyed with the idea of dashing my anonymity (whatever of it I have left) and coming out, so to speak. I didn't when I set up this blog because I feared what others would think, that I would lose my credibility, my job, my friends, if I owned up to what was really going on inside of me: the depression, the anxiety, the fear, the hurt, the wounded child.

Now, I don't worry so much about what others think of me because my opinion of myself is the one I have to live with (did I just say that out loud?). And for the past several decades, it's been a pretty negative one. Perhaps because it is a more positive opinion now, I am going through a sort of honeymoon period. For that reason, I will give the idea of "coming out" some time. There still may be things I don't want to admit publicly, under any name other than Rivka.

Any advice?


Daniel Saunders said...

Glad to hear you’re so much better. I hope it stays that way.

I would advise against removing your anonymity. I used to blog about mental illness under my own name, but then I started to worry what would happen if I started looking for a job. These days it is not unknown for employers to Google prospective employees and see what trace they have left on the internet. Sadly, many people are still prejudiced against mental illness and will react negatively on seeing something like your blog. That was why I took down all my public posts on mental illness from my Livejournal. You may not be looking for a new job now, but you may in the future.

Ezzie said...

Ironically, just yesterday someone was visiting and asked if I knew how you were, from knowing that we both read this blog. Your timing is incredible, and it's great to hear you are doing so well.

I am not anonymous, and generally favor people not being so, but certainly there are exceptions and there are reasons why someone could or should be. In your case, only you can make that decision for yourself, but I would consider what is to be added by giving away that anonymity and what potentially is lost. That doesn't mean you can't tell others who you are, allowing them to understand you better and to show you are okay with who you are, but declaring it publicly - does it add? Or just lead to potential headaches or limitations? As your blog is more personal and is your way of expressing how you feel on occasion, perhaps you wouldn't want to feel 'stuck' because you aren't comfortable with writing about an incident or the like.

That said, if you are okay with opening up like that, more strength to you!

Rivka said...

You both bring up very good points. (And may I say WOW and THANK YOU--I didn't expect responses so quickly! [I'm not sure I expected any].)

It is true that there are things I probably could not write here if I knew that anyone/everyone from my public life could find me here and know it was "me." My brother, for instance, more or less follows my public life (he leaves scathing comments like bread crumbs). I would never want him here!

I think I will just enjoy the feeling of accepting myself, challenges included, even if the rest of the world might judge me as harshly as I used to judge myself.

Rivka said...

Daniel: I wish I knew how to erase that stigma. I admire those who can become advocates and activists on behalf of people with mental illnesses, but I also know that isn't where my passion lies. The best I can do is this blog.

Ezzie: Synchronicity, perhaps? :-) I've thought about updating here for a while, but today I felt compelled (not in a bad way).

I am humbly honored that people continue to follow what I write.

Todah rabah.

Scraps said...

First - I am happy to hear you are doing so well. Keep it up! :-)

It is unfortunately true that there is still quite a stigma attached to any form of mental illness. If there are people you know from this blog you want to have more contact with, maybe consider doing so privately rather than a public announcement of your identity.

Personally, I found that when I knew more of my audience, it hindered my writing. I was much more comfortable when no one knew who I was. Do I regret it? Not necessarily. While I lost my (semi-)anonymous little corner of the internet, I gained real-life friends, some of whom I am still close with. It's a trade-off, and one you have to consider all the angles of.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

I'm so glad I keep checking in here. I'm sorry your road has been filled with such pain, but it's a huge relief to see that you are better off now.

My opinion re: anonymity: Start a new blog if you want to blog publicly, and let this one remain, anonymously, as an important lesson on depression.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I am so glad I stopped back here to see if there was anything new. It sounds like you are doing quite well.

Rebbetzin's Husband may have the right idea. There's no rush to decide. Like my dear friend and colleague Mary Louise B. used to remind me, 'everything in the fullness of time.' When you're ready to make a choice, you will.

God bless you and keep you healing!