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Who Do You Turn to If You're the 'Rock?'


Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

 

Throughout my life, I’ve always been the rock of my family. The glue trying to hold everyone and everything together. I’d spent my whole life being the one everyone else went to with their problems.

My mom has struggled with depression, bipolar disorder and and addiction to alcohol. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been the only one able to talk her off the edge. I can’t count the amount of times she has told me that I’m the only one she can truly talk to and be honest with. My siblings come to me to vent about our parents and their downfalls. They also vent to me about their struggles going on in their lives at the moment.

In my family, I’ve been the boulder buried half deep in the ground, the anchor pressed tightly into the ocean floor, the tree stump with roots that stretch miles below the ground. Always there. Unmoving. A constant to daily passersby. With signs of my own withering too subtle for the human eye to see.

I was always there, even before I realized. Even at 10-years-old, when my mom tucked me into bed and asked if I would please get my two-year-old brother a cup of juice in the morning if she wasn’t awake. When I asked her if everything was alright, she just looked at me and said she loved me.

I found out a few days later that she had tried to commit suicide, but failed that night. She took a lot of pills that would’ve killed her had she not consumed so much alcohol that it made her sick. I was asked not to tell.

Being 10, I didn’t understand that my mom’s attempt wasn’t my fault. Shortly after, my stepdad went to prison for drugs and my mom moved to a different town struggling with her own drug addiction. I went to live with my father, resentful of my mom because I wanted to go with her.

I spent my life striving for perfection, my parents hardly had to discipline me. I hardly asked for anything. I didn’t want to add to the problems. I got almost a perfect 4.0 GPA in high school and went on to get a 4.0 GPA in my four years of college. I lived with my mom and stepdad throughout my college years. They were no longer struggling with drugs, but they drank a lot of alcohol and their fights would get violent. I spent those four years trying to diffuse their fights and prevent the violent ones from happening. After their fights, I was always asked not to tell. I was asked not to tell about their drinking habits. My strive for perfection grew and grew, I could not be something they fought over, I couldn’t add to the many things they already had to argue about.

I graduated college and moved out; moved over 1,000 miles away from my entire family. Being in the most safe, stable place I had ever been for my entire life, I started to reflect on myself. I started to realize how dark and numb my mind was. I started to realize that everyone else could come to me, but I had no one to go to. All of my relationships were those that the people came to me for help. I was the strong one, the perfect one, the helpful one. I was the one people could trust, but I had no one I could trust in return.

I spent my entire life building this flawless façade, masking the true brokenness inside of me. I spent my life hiding my own darkness, masking my own anger, concealing my own deep sadness.

The signs of my withering were too subtle for anyone to see.

I had an excuse for being as skinny as I was. I weighed 85 pounds as a junior in high school. My mom was skinny and small at my age too. The burns on my forearms that appeared every few months were just accidents from cooking breakfast or straightening my hair.

No one noticed. And I don’t blame them. I pretended to be perfect, I built this giant perfect image. I had no one to blame when I woke up one day with no one to talk to. Because when you spend over a decade telling everyone that you’re fine and you don’t need help, sooner or later, people stop asking.

I still haven’t talked with any of my family or friends about my anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and occasional struggle with self-harm. They have enough problems of their own and I’m afraid it would break their hearts. I still the hold the weight of everyone else’s secrets and my family’s private shortcomings. But I’m on antidepressants because I’ve realized the weight I’ve carried is too much for my hunched shoulders and quivering knees. It can be the hardest thing to admit
that you need help, but it is also the most worthwhile thing you can do for yourself before you collapse beneath the weight.

Are you considered the “rock” in your family? If so, who do you confide in? Tell us in the comments.

Photo credit: PredragImages/Getty Images