Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thankful Thursday: The Importance of Support

This post was supposed to be about gratitude, and I guess it still will be, in some ways. It's about support, and how important it is for us as humans to feel valued and cared for. To feel supported and backed up, to feel held by the arms of humanity, especially when we're in our most vulnerable state.

When we're tired. When we're beaten, broken. When we're sick.


When I was a child, lacking the support of parents who made me a priority, I was targeted by people who abused me. I received support instead from the court system. I was moved into a group home. There wasn't enough room for me there, either. But they chose me, took me in, and made it work. I was placed in a house full of troubled teenaged girls - I was in third, maybe fourth grade. A kleptomaniac taught me how to shave my legs in that house - she and I shared a bathroom (we had Jack-and-Jill bathrooms on that side of the house), and when it was "lights-out" and our bedroom door locks were activated by the security system, we would sneak into that little bathroom together, block the crack at the bottoms of the doors with towels, and sit on the floor, chatting into the night. I wish I could remember her name. I wish I could know where she is, how she ended up. She was like a sister to me in that house - she was the one who made sure that when it was movie night, we watched Mary Poppins because she couldn't believe I hadn't seen it.

When I was a tween, newly removed from the group home (against my will, because I had felt safer in that group home than I could remember ever feeling elsewhere) and lacking the support of parents who could understand my grief and my struggles (to be fair, this is because they were by this time dealing with plenty of their own), I found support in my friendships. There was a girl named Jewel who lived near my mom and I, just a few trailers over, and we would play this game together: we'd go to Jewel's mom and tell her that my mom needed to borrow a cigarette, and then we'd go to my mom and tell her Jewel's mom needed to borrow a cigarette. This way we had two cigarettes between us, and we'd hop on our bikes and ride over to the bank across the street, which always seemed to be closed. We'd ride into the drive-through lane closest to the building and sit there and smoke together. When one cigarette each wasn't enough anymore, sometimes we'd hit the neighbors up too.

By the time I was in my teen years, I like to think that I was a bit more well-adjusted - well, as adjusted as a kid who had been through what I had been through could be. My mom had already almost died, had lost most of the fingers on her left hand, had had bedrest because of a skin-eating infection that left a gaping wound in her body that my grandmother had to pack with gauze. The stepfather who had nearly killed her was gone to prison, and we lived with my grandmother. But my mother was in no position to be a mother, and as the years wore on, her health remained terribly fragile. Eventually, her health (and the litany of endless medications, tests, and surgeries) all took a toll on her psychological strength. My grandmother was overburdened with five grandchildren and a suddenly disabled daughter to take care of - she was irritable and she felt very strict to me. I was there with her, and she saw me fed, clothed, and cared for - I had toys and things - but I never felt welcome or wanted.

I was fifteen when my mother attempted suicide in front of me, pouring a bottle of pills into her mouth, drinking water from the kitchen faucet to wash them down. She bit me when I crammed my hand into her mouth to dig them back out, and we fought until we hit the floor. I don't know what the pills were, but they were fast. She lost consciousness. I called 911. She was taken out in an ambulance to have her stomach pumped, and I was on my own for the weekend - the only "adult" available to look after me was my 18 year old boyfriend, who stayed with me.

I sought solace in him, and in my friendships. In my closeness with my cousin, in the collection of people I build around myself - kids who "got" me, because they were in many ways as broken as I was. I sought support, and in the girl who had been molested, the girl who had been beaten, the boy who had been violated, I found understanding. I found myself, and through that companionship, I found a sense of safety I hadn't known it was possible to find. I found the truest sense of the word "family."

The family, the family I build for myself over the years, is largely still in place. My cousin, those friends - all of us still living with our own personal battles, all of us still living life working around the tender scars left by the wounded children inside us.

Those people though - those people who have been so many times lost and hurt and broken by this journey we call life ... without them, I would never have found the part of me that tries to turn words into art, into magic. Without them, I would never have been so comfortable being ME that I could accept the little quirk of personality that is my spirit-driven need to write. Without them, you wouldn't be reading this.

So, to my friends, my family, my loved ones, my readers ... to everyone behind the scenes, holding my hand and patting my shoulder, talking me through crisis after crisis ... those who encourage me to take terrifying steps into the unknown even now, for the sake of a tomorrow I'm still hoping to make it to ...

Thank you for your support. With all of my love, and from the deepest, darkest, most inaccessible reaches of my shriveled, damaged little heart ... thank you. (Even and especially you, Dana. Because this time, you count.)

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44 comments:

  1. Thankyou again from the bottom of my heart to notice that I hadn't comment in a while and go check on me. We need more people who actually care about each other in this world. Thanks for being part of my little world. Wonderful post and I'm glad you survived and made your own family. Sometimes that is what we have to do.

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    1. Aww - well I like having you here, and I'm so happy to have your support on Patreon as well. I've enjoyed interacting with you and getting to know you, so I notice when you aren't there.

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  2. Wow... This is really deep. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I hope you have been able to heal.. Much love <3

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  3. Such a deep post!I feel your pain on the lack of parental support! Been there, done that! We can only grow from it.

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    1. That's right - bitter or better, right? I'm choosing better!

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  4. What a difficult and painful life you've led from such a young age! I admire your ability to find the good things in your life and draw strength from them. Adversity has definitely made you strong.

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    1. Thanks - I like to think so! I don't always do it well, but I do try to stay positive and look for the lesson in things.

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  5. You had a tough childhood, that's for sure. I can't imagine my tween daughter smoking! I'm so glad you were able to focus on the good and that you have a support system.

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    1. Yeah it was a mess - but the smoking part is mostly just because things were different back then. Cigarettes were easier to access I guess. Strangely (in a good way), I never experimented with drugs though.

      What I'm most grateful for is that I was able to grow up and survive childhood without becoming the statistic I could have become.

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  6. Not many are able to turn negative to a positive and grow stronger by day, but you did it! Your post was so deep and it touched my heart.

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  7. It's been a pretty incredible journey that you have been on. I am so sorry what you had to go through with your mother. That would be horrible. It's tragic. It's good that you were able to build a family of support around you. And that you are still connected to them to this day.

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    1. It's definitely good to have built a strong system - I'm not sure I would have survived it all without having such a strong group of people to turn to when I need someone.

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  8. From suffering and pain comes a strong woman that is able to share her story with the world. Support is very important. Without support you feel useless and I've been there. This post really touched my heart! Thanks for sharing your story.

    www.boundbyhappiness.com

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    1. Thank you! I hope that by being so open with my own life and my story, I'm giving people like me the certainty that if they're going through (or have been through) something similar, they aren't alone.

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  9. Thanks for sharing! I am so sorry for what happened in your childhood. Will pray for you!
    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like ��
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | TREND ALERT: Off the Shoulder Tops Galore

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  10. This is such an enlightening post. I feel that support is incredibly important. It doesn't matter if your the strongest person in the world, everyone needs support.

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  11. What a sweet memory about your friend in the group home. I've been thinking a lot about relationships in that some come right on time. They may not stay for your entire life but they make a difference while it lasts.

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    1. That's one of the most important things to remember in relationship, I think - the idea that all people aren't meant to come into our lives and stay. Sometimes they're just there to teach you something, to give you something, or because they need something you're meant to give them.

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  12. I experienced abused when I was as young as 6 and in my teenage years. I blamed my family because they are too busy to check on me. But as I grow, I realized that there are people that God has put in our lives to keep us. I agree that support is really important and I believe that He always got our back :)

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    1. I'm sorry you had to go through what you went through - abuse is such a messed up thing, and so hard to come back from, and I blamed my family quite a bit as well. I was always so angry to feel like my parents didn't do enough to protect me, and I felt very ... insignificant. I felt very low on the list of priorities for the most part, which was hard to deal with. Not that I want the world to revolve around me or anything like that, but everyone wants to be important to someone, right? That's a bit of lasting damage for me, something I still have to deal with in my life.

      I'm definitely glad to have good support in my life, and that God has sent me just the right people over the years.

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  13. Oh Brandi,

    I don't even know where to begin. I guess I could start by saying, thank you for sharing this post. It was such an emotional read, a little laughter followed by sadness. I too, can relate to the cigarette thing. We used to do that too back before I knew how deadly (and gross) they are lol

    You are such a strong woman and I commend you for writing this, I know it has helped me and I can only assume that it will help many others :)

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    1. Aww, thank you. That's the whole reason I've chosen to take my blog in this direction. I hope that being so open will be helpful to people who are going through or have been through similar experiences - or at the very least, that it'll give understanding and awareness to people who aren't/haven't been through it.

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  14. What a difficult life in such young age! Wow! So hard without parent's support! Thank you for sharing it!

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    1. Well ... don't get me wrong though. I HAD parents - it's just that I had parents with issues that prevented them from being what they could have been as parents. I wish it had been better, but as a parent myself now, I have a different understanding of the reasons my parents seemed so inadequate back then.

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  15. I can't imagine not having parental support. It must have been such a trying time for you but it seems like you've turned it into a positive experience and decided to become the amazing person that you are despite your past.

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    1. Well, part of that is just growing up and having children of my own. I can understand in a whole different way now what my parents were going through in their own journeys - and I know that neither of my parents were intentionally lacking. They were both just doing the best they could with what they had at the time - we were all locked in unfortunate circumstances.

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  16. So sorry to hear you were not in a stable home when you were growing up. It must have been really tough. So good to hear you found great people who supported you and became your family.

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    1. I'm glad too - everyone needs to be supported, even if they end up finding what they need in less-than-traditional ways.

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  17. It is heartbreaking to read this story, but I am really glad you found someone in your life who was a friend to you.

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  18. I completely resonate with this as you know but I never realized the extent of how bad your circumstances were. That must have been so hard to see your mother try and commit suicide in front of you, I can't imagine how hard that was for you. You are so brave to share what you have been through with us x

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    1. Thank you, Ana. Knowing your past too and having read your blog, your comment means a lot.

      It was rough, for sure. I still have flashbacks to that, actually. If I look at my hand when I'm remembering, I can still see the marks where she bit me, and I have to close my eyes and shake it off.

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  19. You're so brave to share your story. Hopefully you will inspire others to seek help before it is too late. Tfs!

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    1. Thank you - that's what I'm hoping for. It would have meant a lot to me when I was younger to have someone in my life who had been through similar experiences. If this blog can fall into the hands of someone who needs to read what I'm saying, then that makes all the time and effort worth it.

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  20. What a deep and amazing story. You certainly have gone through a lot and your experiences will help so many people find that support they need for themselves.

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  21. Wow, after reading this post I really admire the way you've become stronger after the tough childhood experience, not many are able to do this. I'm glad you had the support when you needed it.

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