thought there would come a time when all of this would get better. I
just thought there would be a time when I would be able to comfort
myself. I just thought that after all those years of therapy and the
two hospitalizations and all the work I did 15 years ago that I had
dealt with the demons. I just thought that some day I would be ok.
I want to
tell someone, any one the story about a little girl. Her name is
Stephanie (but you can call her Skygarbage). She was born and raised
in Massachusetts almost 40 years ago. She is the youngest of six kids
and almost from the beginning of her time, it was apparent that her
parents didn't want to have six kids. At least they never wanted her.
I know there
are people who have gone through so much physical and sexual abuse.
Except for one awful encounter with a cousin when she was 12,
Stephanie didn't suffer sexual abuse. There wasn't physical abuse
either. There was nothing. No, there was a lot of drinking, not her,
but her mom and 3 of her brothers. There was nothing.
understood what she had done to make them not care about her. She has
never understood the words "I love you". They always bring pain.
They always bring fear. She spent a lot of time in Junior High and
Senior High School acting and singing. She kept asking mom and dad to
come to see her. They said they would, they never did. And then came
the day when they said they would supply tuition for her to follow her
dream. She was going to go to acting school in London. And when word
came she was accepted, the mom and dad said sorry, but we are not
going to give you money and by the way, we're moving to Florida and
you're not coming. Have a nice life. Hope you find a job. Hope you
find a life. And Stephanie's response to this was, "That's OK, I
understand" because it was never OK to have a negative emotion. It
was never OK to be angry. She was just never OK.
survived. She got by and six years later it caved in. There were
suicide attempts, there were hospitals. And then there was a really
good hospital where she stayed for 4.5 months. They cared. They
helped. But here it is 15 years later and after thriving, she is now
living this (and all the stuff she's not saying) and it is more real
than it ever was.
She is sooo
lucky because she has a great therapist who is in there for the long
run for this journey. He says 15 years ago she put a band-aid on the
stuff so she could become functional. Now, he says, she is ready to
face the pain, the hurt, the anger, find that little girl, and allow
her to be comforted to work toward being able to provide her the
comfort herself. It is all so very scary. There are so many other
stressors in her world in addition to this it has become a struggle to
get through everyday. Hard to get through an hour without crying.
Hard to feel worthy of the compassion being provided.
over the edge yesterday and I had to call my therapist. I have been
emailing him or calling him regularly between our sessions for the
past month. I have been terrified that if I didn't figure out how to
get through a day, a week without calling, it was all going to lead to
his sending me away. When I was telling him this fear during our
second conversation of the day yesterday, he told me this. "I am here
now and I am going to be here for you. You can call or email whenever
you need. There is this little girl who needs to feel safe and is
coming to me for that safety and we have to help her grow up and feel
safe. And if we have to interact this much to get her through this,
that is what I am here to do." This blew me away. I don't understand
this kind of generosity. I don't understand what I have done to
deserve this kind of compassion from him.
continues...So the mom and dad went to Florida and Stephanie was left
behind. Between that day, June 6, 1983 and 5 years later when she was
first hospitalized, there was more pain, more fear, more confusion and
so many so many tears. When the mom and dad left her, they put her in
an apartment. But she had no job. She never had a job. She had no
skills. Never knew a thing about finances and the way that all
worked. She got a job but it was only part time and it wasn't enough
to keep the apartment. She didn't drive, didn't have a car or license
yet. So, Stephanie couldn't keep the apartment and 5 months after
home left her, she was home-less…in New England…in November…at 18
days she wasn't working, she stayed with a friend in another town but
there was no one to stay with in the town she worked. When she asked
her sister if she could stay with her one night, the answer was
no...when her oldest brother was told by a friend that he thought
Stephanie was sleeping on the streets, the brother said, "This is good
for her. It will be a learning experience." A learning experience!
The only thing she learned is that cement is hard and cold to sleep
one day an angel came from the most unlikely place, a clerk in a store
she went to often. He was a man with a wife and a new baby and he
took her into his home for a couple of weeks and made sure she got to
her job and helped her find a boarding house to live in that she could
afford. It is so sad but Stephanie cannot for the life of her
remember his name! He was just an angel sent her way.
went along for the next few years and then it all started falling
apart in 1988 when an employee she had to fire at a restaurant she
managed (she came far with that part time job) threw a pot of hot
coffee in her face. It opened floodgates of emotional and physical
pain and she couldn't get it back together. She went into a hospital
and lo and behold the mom and dad came to the rescue! Up from Florida
they flew! The hospital was not a good place. The doctor she had
talked to her parents without her permission. They were going to make
decisions about her life 5 years after dumping her! Stephanie left
the hospital AMA and tried to kill herself that night. She was
found. After the joy of the stomach pump, she met with a much nicer
doctor, the mom, the dad and another sister. The dad said in front of
the nice doctor, "Do you know what this is doing to your mother?" To
which Stephanie did NOT respond, "Do you think I give a shit what this
is doing to the mother?" The nice doctor's jaw actually dropped open
at the dad's statement.
Stephanie pulled it together, took a few weeks off, went back to work
but the beast had been released and wasn't about to go away that easy.
She had moved to a new town, was still working for the same restaurant
chain, as an assistant manager, not a manager but she just couldn't
keep it together. She tried to kill herself again. Failure once again.
But this brought her to a hospital where she stayed for 4.5 months.
The parents tried to get through to the new nice doctor but when the
call came, he talked to Stephanie instead of calling back the mom and
dad. Stephanie said he could not talk to them and he didn't. But, boy,
the mom was tenacious. She kept calling and calling and calling.
Stephanie worked with the nice doctor and they, together decided it
would be ok to sit down and meet with the parents.
and the dad came to Massachusetts and met with Stephanie and the nice
doctor. The mom and the dad said they thought all the trouble was
because of their moving to Florida and not taking her. The mom said
Stephanie could have come to Florida if she had done a better job of
keeping her room clean! (I guess Stephanie missed this conversation
between the mom's bouts of drinking and drugging.)
were surprised to learn the pain went back a bit further. You see,
when Stephanie was 11, she went to her big sister (who was 18 when she
was 11) and was very upset about the mom's drinking. The sister went
to the other sister and the 3 brothers about this (Stephanie was the
only child living with the mom and dad at that time) and the brothers
came to the mom and dad. Stephanie was sent to her room on the far
side of the house. There was much arguing and fighting that Stephanie
did not hear. But what she did hear the next day was that the brothers
and the sisters would no longer be welcome in the house and they did
not want to see Stephanie. You see, Stephanie's real pain was that
from the time she was born she knew the mom and dad didn't want her
and then when she trusted the sister with her pain about the mom, it
lead to Stephanie destroying the family.
It is a
struggle she thought she dealt with 15 years ago. It is not. It is
still there. There is a husband and two wonderful stepchildren. The
husband has many of his own issues he just started dealing with and he
is trying but he doesn’t have the capacity to give Stephanie what she
needs. The struggle continues. She tucked the pain away for a long
long time but it is back and the little girl who never felt love, who
never felt compassion is screaming for some attention.
today I am trying to work with her to help her feel safe amidst the
turmoil in her own head and the turmoil from without. The Beast is
driving more often than not these days but I trying to run
interference for that little girl. I am asking for some of her needs
to be met and I have found a therapist who keeps saying yes and is
meeting some of the needs I can’t for myself. And then I found the
strength to take a chance and reach out at BTB and the last week I
have been living a world full of yes!
little girl is still so afraid, so terrified that if she risks showing
her vulnerability, risks asking for help, risks allowing herself to
feel the compassion coming her way that it will destroy her forever.
The Beast is a powerful force of one. She is hoping the army of
compassion at BTB and with her therapist will be a force of greater
power to allow that little girl to grow to the woman she was never
allowed to believe she could become.