I started this one back in October 2017, it stat in my drafts folder until now…
We were about 45 minutes into group. We had joked around and caught up before check in, we checked in and we had started sharing what was going on. I had shared. I had gotten feedback, support and praise. Everyone made me feel better about the decision I had made earlier that day. But, this isn’t about that. As we made our way from person to person, stories were shared and we supported each other through the journeys.
Group is a safe place, it is the closet thing to IOP that I have found yet. Everyone there has there own unique misfires in the brain, yet we are all the same in the fact that we are the misfits, the ones people struggle to understand.
As discussion continued, we continued to circle the room landing at the young lady who was leaving early to head out on her date. In an attempt to easy any anxiety she expressed, we made jokes, we had fun, we laughed. Then, then someone reminded her that even if the company sucks, at least she would get a free meal and we moved from light hearted fun to a conversation about the well established gender roles when it comes to dating.
The free meal because she was the lady going out with a guy. Things about going dutch and questioning what girl would pay the way for the guy. There was more after that, but I couldn’t tell you what it was. I remember laughter and banter across the room as I sunk into a hole, as a bit my lip to hold back the tears, while I hoped my face wasn’t giving my discomfort away.
I was that girl.
I could have said pineapple and made it all go away, but I didn’t. I didn’t say anything because I was too ashamed.
It was the fist time I felt terribly uncomfortable in group. I felt like what had happened was wrong, both the nine years of my life that I was that girl and the discomfort and the shame I felt sitting in group. In many ways, neither is okay and both are. So here is to trying to sort it out, here are the things I think future me might say to me now if she could.
Remember that day sitting in group, the first time ever you felt uncomfortable and like you wanted to crawl into a hole. That time you were too embarrassed to speak up? It is okay. That embarrassed ashamed feeling you felt, that’s okay too.
For nine years, that was your life and you were that girl and that is okay.
You know what, because you spent nine years supporting yourself and someone else, you are so much stronger. You are confident in your finances. You can manage your money and when it all fell apart, your wallet was better off.
It was frustrating and it yeah, at times it really sucked. It was hard to not have the money to go out with friends. Remember the that one time you agreed to go to an away derby game, even though it meant taking off work AND you had no money? Remember being to embarrassed to tell anyone the reason that you were looking for a ride home after the game was because you couldn’t afford the hotel room for one night? Or all the times that things you needed or trips you planned for ended up on your credit card because he has something else your money was needed for? These are the reasons people laugh. These are the reasons that the idea of a girl footing the bills in a relationship is asinine to people; because it can go so terribly wrong. You feel embarrassed because it did.
It is okay.
Sure there is all that stuff about how all your experiences have made you who you are today. And sure, right now – right now it is hard to find any solace in that statement. Right now, you don’t see your own self worth. You don’t see the beauty you radiate inside. You do not see what a wonderful person you are. You don’t see or grasp how much people love you.
Right now, you are missing the sunny days and each day has a looming dark cloud. Right now, you are fighting your own battle and it is leaving you feeling disheveled, scattered and defeated. Right now, you look in the mirror and wish you saw a different reflection staring back at you. Right now, you are feeling all the the things you have kept bottled up inside. Right now, you are tackling your depression and anxiety. So, it is okay that you do not see who you are right now, in time you will.
Remember when you were in IOP and during the processing portion the girl sitting to your right began talking about how she wasn’t sure she wanted to continue her relationship with her boyfriend. How every time she tried to end it, he guilted her into staying. Your nine years of experience and courage to share allowed you to help give context to her situation. You had a direct relation to what was going on, you had lived it in different shoes, with a different boy and different parents that supported childish behaviors to continue. You helped.
Maybe you’ll never stop feeling shame inside when people talk about the role reversal in relationships. Maybe you will never be able to stomach their comments about how backwards it is or how it is something that should never happen. But you know what, maybe that is okay. Maybe that sicking feeling, that shame, will protect you from it ever happening again.
You are so much stronger than you realize, so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. You are beautiful. You have people who love you and you are always deserving of a happy life. Bright days will come, just hold on – you can do this. I know you can, because you did.