A few months ago my sister called me with some bad news. She said that she…
I know the title of this post sounds like I’m an all-knowing preaching-Patty but I believe I have a wealth of knowledge on how not to live life therefore I feel I am within my right to dish out advice on the subject. It is an area of prestigious expertise that I am well equipped in although it’s probably best not to take advice from me after what you are about to read. I have had my fair share of silly, stupid and quite frankly dangerous endeavours therefore not only do I feel I am owed a doctorate in bad decisions, I feel it is my duty to tell my stories in order to direct others away from the tragedies of my past.
Why would you want to expose yourself and tarnish your reputation so publicly, I hear you ask? Well, I’m working through “dealing” with my feelings (annoying) and as a lot of people in recovery know, one of the main feelings we have to work through is shame. Specifically shame related to the things we have done in the past. And the way I have chosen to cope with that is to become so open, so raw and so honest that my shame has no choice but to be felt. You see, I’ve been pushing it to the side for too long and my years of therapy has taught me that repression of feelings doesn’t equal digression of feelings. So here we go…
When I was 15 I drunk so much vodka that I head-butt a curb and cut my head open. I don’t remember it but I was told that I was carried back to my friend’s house that we were drinking at (I had only made it a few steps down the road) and sat in a chair in the kitchen whilst my friend’s mum tried to stop my head from bleeding. I couldn’t stand up properly and was having to be held up. During this time I kept throwing up so was having to be carried from the chair to the sink. After throwing up (maybe the third time?), I leaned over to my friend’s dad and tried to kiss him but ended up dribbling on his arm instead as he tried to lift me back onto the chair. The next day I woke up in hospital because I had gone unconscious but all I remember is being annoyed at the Dr for having a go at me for drinking too much, he said I could have slipped into a coma because of my head injury but I felt annoyed at his loud piercing voice because I had woke up with the worst headache of my life.
At 16 I ran out in front of a car whilst drinking in front of a group of my friends because I felt like doing it. In fact, I would often self harm in these ways; cutting, hitting myself, banging my head on things, running in front of traffic, getting into fights, overdosing. I thought these were all symptoms of me being an awful person. I felt so much shame about my actions upsetting others, I thought there was something inherently wrong with me, I didn’t realise that I was suffering from a mental illness which was exacerbated when I drunk alcohol. It was easier when I started blaming alcohol but became harder when these things happened sober, too.
In more recent years, I have gone through two abortions, which, after the first time, I thought I would never do again, let alone be able to actually live through it. I had complications (both times) that resulted in me being hospitalised. The rhetoric around women having abortions is particularly disturbing when there are still laws banning these procedures being done safely. I still suffer from flashbacks and have trouble coping with my periods since then.
This next story is something that I have never openly written about before. I have told people close to me but it is always difficult to say how I truly feel because it is definitely up there with the things I am most shameful about. It also involves other people so I feel a sense of responsibility to preserve their dignity, but I won’t name any names. All I intend on doing is telling the story from my perspective with the hopes of relieving some of the pain I feel. I had an affair with a married man. A married man who was also my friend’s dad (did this really surprise you after my earlier story?) . I can’t justify or explain what was going through my head when this happened because I have dissociated from my old self so much that I don’t know who that person is anymore. There is no ‘right’ way to admit that. Perhaps I hate myself that much I will openly type this ready for the world to tear me down but it has been weighing on me for too long and I cannot suffer in silence anymore. Everyone who knows me knows I’m not the private type so why would I choose to be now?
I don’t tell these stories to shock although believe it or not, there are more things that I have done that I could retell that would shock you but that isn’t the point. Neither do I tell them to ignite a sense of sympathy or appraisal for being ‘brave’ and opening up. I don’t see me typing behind a screen as brave or anything of the sort. I tell them because I want to tell you, to highlight the title of this post, how not to live your life.