What’s your damage?

I don’t feel like writing today.

That is a major clue that I’m heading back into a deeper part of my depression cycle. I’ve been cranky, irritable and not sleeping well. My pain tolerance has diminished and the only time I’m even close to comfortable or pain free is if I’m in a prone position, knees and head supported by pillows.

These are the times when the self-disgust rise and voices from the past taunt me again. The voices from my childhood that called out in sing-song ridicule at the local pool, “Fatty, fatty, two by four, can’t fit through the kitchen door!” followed by gales of boyish laughter. The duet of my middle school crush and his mean girl friend serenading me with the Jell-O theme, “watch that wiggle, see that jiggle,” followed by their laughter as I rushed to the nearest bathroom to hide the tears.

Memories that I wish would stay as inaccessible as the fading memories of my children as babies replay themselves. Lunchtime at a new school in the urban ghetto of Houston in 1980, trying to find a place to eat. Shunned and turned away by the Hispanic girls for being too white, but not accepted by any other group either. Having my given name distorted and being called lesbian at another new school just because it sounded like my name.

My God, I am 43 years old. these things happened when I was 8 – 13 years old. Why do these things still hold such power over me? I feel ridiculous, ashamed of myself.

I realized a long time ago that some of what I went through was racial, although I’ve never felt or considered myself as anything other than, “white.” Growing up without any cultural connections to half of who I am has had significantly more impact than I ever realized or understood. Intellectually I knew I was half Mexican, but in my minds eye I was just a darker shade of white who tanned easily.

I came to believe all the teasing and taunting that told me I was fat. I wasn’t fat, I was half-Mexican and had a different physical structure than the other girls. They didn’t understand that and I didn’t understand it, either. So, I bought the lie. It became a foundational part of my self identity. It became my self-fulfilling prophecy, and now I really am fat. To the point that it makes all the physical pain worse.

Over the past few years I have also learned some of the stories about things some of my peers and tormentors were going through. It surprised me to discover that their picture perfect lives were filled with trauma and drama as bad and sometimes worse than what I had been going through.

I know there came a point where I couldn’t take anymore and I would strike back or presumptively lash out. I became physically violent toward those who would verbally abuse me. As I got older I learned how to become a verbal warrior and cut people down with my intellect and language skills. I guess in self-defense, I turned into a bully. The unfortunate thing was I took it out on those who had never done me harm.

I’ve really tried to move beyond all of this. I don’t want to keep letting my past constrain my present and define my future. I’ve forgiven my tormentors, at least I’ve tried to let go of the resentment and bitterness from what happened. It seems as though I’m stuck, though and am not able to pull myself out. I think I’m getting unstuck, bit by bit.

Yesterday I read this post on The Maniac’s Path. It highlights one young lady’s courage in confronting her bullies and society at large in how we treat those who are different and attack them for going through the things they don’t choose for themselves.

In the post there is a link to a half hour special broadcast that talks about her story, however it also highlights what one school and its students are doing to combat bullying by making inclusion the focus and priority. It gives me hope for what Luna may encounter as she grows up and enters the social shark tank that is the school system.

Gratitude Day 18
I am grateful that there are people who understand that changing the social structure that bullying has grown and thrived in isn’t about shaming or ostracizing those who bully, but is about finding ways to honor and include everyone in on the conversation. We can’t tolerate bullying behavior and attitudes. However, it is important to realize that those who bully are often wounded and damaged people trying to protect themselves from additional pain.

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19 comments

    1. Madeline,
      Thank you very much. I wrote that a couple of days ago and nothing else until this reply, so, yeah. Thanks for stopping by and reading. I appreciate your feedback and enjoyed your article on boundaries.

      Be well,
      Kina

      Like

  1. I was bullied at school for a while and by other people in my life and took on their assumptions of me too. It has took me 52 yrs to accept me and realise I am a good person. When we change our personalities, such as Dina above was saying. These people have won as they have changed the structure of who we are. As you said they are not pain also too. We can change at any moment in time, we just have to give ourselves permission to and start beleiving in ourselves. We are capable of great things and I believe we all have a gift that is unique to us. We just need to find it and put it to use. I have learnt to use this episodes constructively and it was one such episode that led me into a pit of despair. However, it also led me to taking the plunge and becoming a full time writer. Which after much soul searching about what I wanted to do became my saviour. I couldn’t function in the normal world so I wrote and my writing brought me back to life. It’s easy to find your joy the thing you were meant to do when you now the right place to look and how to identify it. What makes time go by, what do you lose yourself in. That place is where your gift is, go and claim it, its yours and it is waiting for you. Thanks Kina fior another insightful post that makes us think.

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    1. Athena,
      So glad to have you pop in and offer your perspective. It’s a fact that we have to realize we are capable of changing and stripping away the layers that have accumulated over the real “we” over the course of our lives. Going through those painful, difficult and challenging things where we first may believe the lies we and others have told us, in the end turns into the very thing we needed as a catalyst to grow beyond our false limitations. They, then, can be seen and accepted, not just in the negative but reframed and expanded to be understood for how we benefitted as well.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  2. I commend you for all the self awareness…surely as much as depression seems to settle in, we know that isn’t the case when you’re able to find strength/passion in other people’s examples…right?

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    1. DRM,
      The self awareness has been a long time in coming. The depression is ever present, it’s just that some days I have an easier time than at others in choosing to not succumb to it. Those are the days when I have to work hard at just seeing what is okay right in front of me. Some days the energy and the capacity to make those choices aren’t necessarily there and I just try to hang onto the knowledge that it is a cycle and I will come through it and just keep breathing.

      Thanks again for visiting and commenting.

      Be well,
      Kina

      Like

  3. I can so relate to the beginning of your post. I go into “hibernate” mode for 6 weeks every fall and spring… Except this year I’ve not really come out of it. I keep making excuses for why this year it’s lasting longer than usual and why it’s not depression but I think soon I will have to either drag my butt out or accept that I’m in my 1st real depression in years.

    As to the “tapes” ah yes, those lovely tapes we hear in our heads that come back again and again to haunt us. After 30+ years of therapy I can usually catch the tapes before they play for more than a few minutes and I have responses/new tapes to play over them but boy it is annoying. I will say that as you get better at noticing them sooner, stopping them, invalidating them, you can feel a momentary victory after the frustration of “tape again”.

    Good for you for recognizing what is going on and not giving in to it. Be proud of yourself for each victory no matter how small it feels.

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    1. Hey Tasha,
      The seasonal affects on depression really do exacerbate the problems. Aaargh! If you have access to treatment resources, please do use them. There are so many of us who are struggling not to kill or die without treatment. I realize that you utilizing your resources has as much effect for us as someone cleaning their plate helps starving kids elsewhere, but you don’t need to keep yourself suffering unnecessarily. As for not giving in, I’m afraid I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Still working on that part of the process.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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      1. I am trying to use my resources. Therapist, psychiatrist, family, I just have not been up to being love bombed by the online network I’ve spent the last few years building. But I am working on changing that. Catching up on emails has reminded me how unfair it is for me to drop out of sight. It’s an ongoing process. I had it down for a while and then the accident set me back. I know I’ll get better again but I have to accept that sometimes something will throw me off. The question is how hard and for how long. This time is longer but not hard so it’s progress as I’d prefer long hibernation to suicidal. Stepping back and reading for a few months is not bad… Used to be it was step back, deep and/or suicidal depression… And I’m not beating myself up. Frustrated a bit but not letting the tapes play just accepting that it happened and working on pulling out. We can do this Kina. My therapist is teaching me acceptance and it is making such a difference.

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        1. Tasha,
          Doesn’t it seem odd that we can see the shades and levels of lessening darkness as progress to be grateful for, when those outside of us may incorrectly assume we haven’t moved an inch forward?

          I certainly understand the hibernation and it’s near compelling need.

          I am realizing that I have such difficulty receiving the love and care that others may offer because I feel I’ll equipped and overwhelmed at the two way reciprocity of it all. I don’t like being the psychic vampire taking all the care and concern others have to offer while feeling like a bottomless pit and not being able to return or pay that care and concern forward.

          If I thought there was a love bomb waiting for me I might avoid it for those reasons.

          I truly appreciate you taking the time to share this with me. We are moving forward and I’m grateful to have you in the journey with me.

          Blessings,
          Kina

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          1. Yeah some of my friends have a hard time with the “well it’s progress”.

            I know I give a lot back so it’s more that being love bombed actually takes a fair amount of energy and I’m still pretty low at the moment. It took many years for me to accept I’m deserving.painful exercises, having people remind me of what I’ve done for them so I will accept the love/help. And I still have days when I can’t accept the help/love because I’m not deserving. But part of the work included my friends learning how to slap me around for that stupid thinking.

            It helps to know others are on the journey with you. We are not on it alone. We may have had different experiences… But we’ve also had many of the same. And we’ve all found different ways to deal. By sharing feelings and new ways of coping we can help each other. Your journal has become a safe place for others, like me, who may not talk about this much. Thank you. 😀

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          2. I’m glad it feels like a safe space for you and others. When it seems like so many can’t, don’t or won’t try to accept, with or without understanding, having the encouragement and support of those who do get it is invaluable.

            I feel like because our wounds and damage are “invisible” and there isn’t an obvious deformity or disability, we are expected to “heal” completely and start acting normal or in ways that make everyone else comfortable and not have to expend the effort/energy to meet us where we are.

            If the mental/emotional/psychological effects of the damage suffered while our brains were developing could be seen as physical affects, with deformed, twisted, or missing parts then it would, perhaps, mean others might find it easier to see how hard we fight and how much we have gone through to achieve the level of healing we have and accept us as we are instead of continually blaming and criticizing us for being the way we are.

            Sorry, I’m feeling a bit maudlin and frustrated.

            Blessings,
            Kina

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  4. Your post today really resonates with me. I am also half Mexican, and when you wrote, “Shunned and turned away by the Hispanic girls for being too white, but not accepted by any other group either” I just nodded my head vigorously. I also always considered myself “white” – my other half is Spanish, and my relatives on that side are all very fair skinned. But I inherited the voluptuous Mexican body and the awkward chubby adolescent phase. I was made fun of so much for my weight and homely looks. Verbal abuse cuts deep and can stay with you the rest of your life. Most of the time the abuse comes from someone who is even more hurt than you are – but it doesn’t make your pain any less.

    I have also felt what you feel – stuck in the past and trying to chisel myself out, bit my bit. You’re very brave. I hope you’re able to get some sleep soon. Sending lots of hugs and positive thoughts your way.

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    1. Veva,
      I’m sure there are a lot of us who grew up feeling disconnected from ourselves because we didn’t understand how we fit into the families and cultures we were raised in when it was obvious to everyone who saw us that we were different from them. It’s a very difficult thing to not know or understand what the things are to be proud of and grounded in whatever those differences may be.

      Sleep? Meh, I think it may be overrated. At least that’s what I try to tell myself so I don’t go into a jealous rage whenever I encounter someone with better sleep patterns than mine.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

    1. Diana,
      It’s difficult to imagine you as a mean girl, although, I guess we all have that capacity in us. Whoever we used to be and for whatever reasons we acted that way, I am seriously grateful for the maturation process.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

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