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I'm Not Sorry for Needing You After I Experienced Trauma

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I’m not sorry for focusing on myself, for being self-involved for a certain time period, for needing you when I suffered a trauma and didn’t know how to cope.

• What is PTSD?

I’m not sorry that for a month after my PTSD I wouldn’t leave the house until someone was able to leave it with me. I won’t apologize for not going to the store with you when you asked me to, even though you thought it was the most ridiculous reaction to my trauma. I no longer feel bad for losing you as a friend, because a real friend would at least try to understand, try to help, try to care more. I wasn’t asking you to move mountains, I was just asking for understanding and support. But you found that I was too selfish, too self-absorbed, too out of tune with the world and that I needed to “just get over it.” If you had been a real friend, you would have understood why I was being that way, you would have researched my diagnosis and worked with me to be better. But you weren’t, and when you left my life after 15 years of being great friends, I was sorry. Sorry for all the above. But now? Now I’m not sorry at all. Now, I just miss your kids, and my son misses them too.

I won’t apologize for yelling at you. Not after the silence I received for weeks on end. I won’t say sorry for standing up for myself, for telling you what I thought, for saying the truth of the matter regarding our friendship. I won’t say sorry for telling you that I never once left you hanging when your self-destruct button exploded, but anytime I needed anything from you, you didn’t deliver, you didn’t even seem to care most of the time. I thought you did because you used to be very protective of me, you would call me whenever I needed you, you would take my side of the fight even without knowing what the fight was about when I had one with my husband. I thought you had my back, I thought you were the very best friend, I thought I could always count on you; it’s why you were my maid of honor at my wedding. I’m sorry I lost you as a friend, because you
did bring me such good laughs and amazing memories, but I won’t apologize for expecting in return what I gave to you time after time after time and calling you out on it when all I received was silence. I will never apologize for yelling at you and calling you out about the roles in our “friendship.”

I will not repent for what I cannot control. I will not allow myself be told that I am lazy, that my mental illness is something that I can “just get over,” that I just need to go back to work. I will not say sorry that I am depressed, that my anxiety is through the roof when I’m out and about by myself. I will not apologize for telling you that I cannot go out to the bars with you because it’s too dark and crowded and loud and just the thought of that brings me close to a panic attack. I will not regret taking care of me first for the first time since before I can even remember. I am not sorry for finally putting myself first before anybody else, and not allowing you to make me feel as if I’m selfish for doing so.

You will not make me feel small like you have my entire life by acting as if I don’t matter. I will not allow you to make me feel insignificant in our family dynamic. I will not say sorry for standing up for myself and my family to you. I will not stand for your belittling comments anymore, because I know, despite my PTSD, that I am better than what you tell me; that even with my PTSD, I am better as a person despite you and your comments. And so, I will not ever apologize for standing up to you. Never again will you hear me say the words “I’m sorry.”  For once, it’s your turn.

To those whose friends or family is making you silent, making you doubt yourself, making you feel belittled, for those who feel like your feelings don’t matter, that your mental illness is “silly” and “made up” and that you’re over-reacting, you are not.

To those who feel like they need to hold onto a friendship and fight for it despite their unsupportive nature towards your mental illness, whatever that illness may be, let them go. It will hurt for a little while, but it will be better than you in the long run. To those who feel like their pre-emptive strike on a person you love before you understood your illness was in the wrong, re-analyze and only apologize for the parts of the strike that weren’t true, that were just said in anger, but do not allow yourself to apologize for the truth.

For those fighting mental illnesses who feel as if you give everything and get nothing back and have been doing so for years, you are not alone. I gave my everything to everyone and hardly received the same reception, and when I called them out on it, they didn’t like it and they blamed my mental illness and that I couldn’t “just get over it.” They tried to find a reason besides themselves to blame for my behavior, and they used my PTSD. And though that pisses me off sometimes, and especially at the time it happened, I was able to get over them and concentrate more on allowing myself to take care of myself first.

Taking care of you first, especially when you have a mental illness, is not selfish. Say it again.

Taking care of you first is not selfish.
It is exactly what you need to do.
It is exactly how you will survive.
It is exactly how you will find the moon in a night full of darkness. And I can promise you, when you allow yourself to be bigger than what they make you feel, you will feel better, no matter what mental illness you may have.

I’m not sorry for the friends I have lost. I feel like they lost me. I’m not sorry for not allowing a family member to make me feel smaller than I am anymore. I’m stronger because I finally see that they don’t see me for who I am and what I stand for. I’m not sorry that I have PTSD. I wish more people would try to understand mental illnesses.

I’m not sorry. For anything. For everything.

At all.

Lead photo courtesy of Unsplash

Originally published: July 5, 2019
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