Validation, part one: Growing Up

I didn’t start this intending it to become a novel, but it seems that it’s trying to reach epic lengths, so I’ll split it up for you guys.

Rachel @ eggsinarow had a great post yesterday. And in rereading it this afternoon, I had, well not quite an epiphany, more like a moment of truth with myself.

She talks about feeling guilty to complain, ‘because I’m not realizing that my own pain is real and important, too.’ I so identify with this. And it isn’t that I don’t think my pain is real or important, it’s that I’m afraid it’s not. I’m afraid no one else will take me seriously. Because it feels like everyone’s always been trying to fix me, without trying to understand how I’m broken.

When I was a teenager and living at home, my mom threw me in the hospital because she decided I was depressed and suicidal. I wasn’t suicidal, but I was depressed, although definitely not enough to be institutionalized. I spent over two months there, first inpatient, then outpatient.

When I was ‘better,’ I went back to school. For one day. I had to switch schools because I couldn’t handle how the other kids treated me. They weren’t mean, exactly–except for the one teacher who had told her class that I was in a home. That bitch–just different.

Fortunately, they’d just rezoned the school districts, so it wasn’t a huge deal for me to switch schools, even with it being the last six weeks of the year. Of course, my reputation preceded me. My favorite rumor? I tried to kill my parents with a toothbrush. If you can’t be popular, be infamous. It’s terribly fun.

After I graduated with honors and scholarships, I dropped out of college after only attending one or two sessions of each of my classes. My mother thinks I went for a good two months, but mostly I was just going into New Orleans and driving around every day. I didn’t want to go to college to begin with, anyway.

I was still depressed. I rarely slept. I had acne. I didn’t have any friends because we’d moved across the state the summer after I graduated. I missed my old friends.

So here’s what my mom did. She kept bringing me different antidepressants to try, but none of them worked. She brought me sleeping pills. She ordered me Proactiv. She did all these things on her own, never asking how I felt about it. And I never told her. I took the pills and kept the Proactiv in my bathroom. That was the one that hurt me the most. I mean, I had very minor acne, nothing like this horrific cystic stuff I get now, with PCOS and no BCP.

I got a job at the hospital, working 7 days on and 7 off, which was a great schedule for me. I road tripped almost every 7 off, either back to my friends or across the country. I quit a couple of times, for the big trips to Edmonton and Yellowknife. Then I had enough and moved back here, where I’d gone to high school, where my friends were.

My mother always had to fix things, but she never tried to find out what was wrong in the first place. She wanted to get rid of the weeds, but she only trimmed them, instead of pulling out the roots.

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6 Comments on “Validation, part one: Growing Up”

  1. I have this same issue with my mother. She figured if she nagged me enough to hide all my symptoms, then the disease would go away, too. Doesn’t quite work like that. All it did was teach me to put on a “happy” face when I was far from it. Which in turn made it harder for others to take my illnesses seriously.

  2. Kendra says:

    I think a lot of teens go through this and parents just want to protect their kids, but their need to “fix” often doesn’t get to the root of the problems. Even with infertility, people will try to make you feel better but no one asks how you’re actually feeling. I’m so glad that you’ve written this, it is very powerful.

  3. Kathy says:

    I am here from the future via Time Warp Tuesday!

    “It feels like everyone’s always been trying to fix me, without trying to understand how I’m broken.”

    So well said April.

    I feel that way a lot after my journey through secondary infertility and loss. After almost 4 years have come and gone since our daughter Molly was born and died, it seems a lot people in our life insinuate that I should somehow be “over” what has happened and our baby girl’s death.

    I have learned not to look for the care, support and validation that I crave from those who are not willing or even possibility capable of giving it to me. Though that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still bother me at times when those people are as you say, trying to “fix me” without even attempting to try “to understand how I’m broken.”

    Thank you for sharing this! I am on to read parts 2 and 3 and the return to your post from today! 🙂

    • aprilvak says:

      I think I learned that lesson too well, and that’s why I crawled so far into my shell to hide from everyone who could even consider not supporting me. It’s a hard lesson to unlearn.

      Thanks, Kathy!


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