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Why My Mental Illness Made Me Push You Away

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Over the last year, there has been so much I have wanted to say to those closest to me, to those I pushed away when I felt it was safer for them and me. The thing with me and my brain is, at times, the emotion feels too much. So, instead of talking, instead of letting people see that emotion, it triggers my guard to shoot right up. I could sit here and beat myself up for hours about the fact I didn’t realize this, the fact I lost people who just couldn’t cope with it…

Or, I can sit here and honestly say what I feel about it. While it might be too late for some people, it is about what I do now. It’s about talking honestly, investing in therapy (for me, anyway) and about cracking all of that stuff I never thought to crack decades ago, when I was a child. So join me, stop beating yourself up, stop feeling frustrated at what you lost or missed out on and instead, start now! Make a commitment to yourself to change this. However hard it feels, I guarantee you will be stronger.

So, here is a part of what I feel…

I am sorry I let you down — that I invested my time in fixing others. It wasn’t fair and wasn’t right when what we had was so perfect. I did this because life got so much for me and I found it easier to not feel my pain and deal with what was actually happening but to focus on everything else. I have always been the strong one people relied on. This, to me, is sometimes easier than admitting I am not OK.

I am sorry I pushed you away so many times that I ended up self-destructing. I thought you would be better off without me.

I am annoyed at myself for not focusing on us and realizing what I had. I hate what I became — that not-fun girl with so many barriers up, guard raised, losing control and constantly on-edge. I was irritable and sad but didn’t realize it when it was staring at me right there in the mirror. Every time I looked in the mirror, that same blank gaze came back at me and I didn’t really know what to do with it. I didn’t mean to distance myself from you; it just happened.

It took hitting that absolute low to realize what I had lost. I got so used to putting on that face every day, pretending like life was OK… but inside, I wasn’t OK. I was really struggling. I felt pain so many times but I kept switching it off. Part of me is scared it is too late to fix all this but I know the kind of fighter (and slightly stubborn) person I am.

Sitting on a train, waiting to go to a school for the day with those tears streaming down my cheeks, and I feel trapped. Feeling so much pain and it just won’t go. I hate the fact this has happened and that I feel I lost so much of what I had, what I wanted in life.

I don’t blame you for what I went through, for what life threw at us, even though there were so many times my defense shot right up. Times when I got angry at you, when I just didn’t know how to express myself. I think part of it was because I also hated feeling pain — 29 years old and unable to express myself in a healthy way when I talk about the power of talking so much.

I am so sorry for hurting you, for having my guard up and for not being able to fully give myself to you all the time. I hate how much control he has over me still, 13 years old and he still controls how I feel, and so many of my actions.

Something was stopping me — maybe my past, or something inside me. Whatever it was, I want to find out.

I want to get rid of that part of me and have a fresh start.

I often daydream about what it could be — the guard that goes up, that distance, that fear of being hurt and being so scared of what I think is inevitable that I just push and push and push. I think about how patient you have been, but also maybe all the time we lost together when my guard was up.

But, whatever I do and however I act, the thing I do know is that it’s you and only you I want. Every single bit of you. When I think about us, a smile comes across my face. I get scared because most people just go. They leave. Whether I have pushed them away or not, they just go and it’s always a fear that will happen again. It’s not because I don’t trust you but because of this deep-rooted fear I have.

All I ask is that you don’t go, you don’t give up, but instead, you help me see that my past has no power over my future, over our future.

I am sorry for putting my guard up. You deserved better, but please know that things will and can get better. When you are sexually abused (and I know I cannot blame everything on this), it makes you fearful; so many things make me afraid, make it hard for me to trust. You have to know it wasn’t just you that my guard was up around. It was around so many others, too; my friends, family… I thought this was just easier.

Acknowledging this and having a plan in place to move forward with it all will not only be good for all those closest to me; it will also make me stronger. It doesn’t make me weak that I struggle to feel pain, but what I do know and have learned recently — well, been reminded of — is that it’s OK to feel things. I am stronger now than I have been for a long time.

Photo by Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash

Originally published: August 21, 2019
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