You Got to Know Me at the Wrong Time, Sorry: An Open Letter

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Dear whoever,

It’s been a niggle for a while now and I feel I have to get it said, let it meet the air, make it more real for a moment and then let it dissipate.

I’m making this an open letter so that perhaps others may benefit from this and also to ensure that you feel no pressure to read it. It’s just there – on a blog somewhere, not in an inbox with expectation and it’s cool if you or do not read it. This letter is not by any means clamouring for your attention and doesn’t use your name or too many specifics. It simply exists to be interpreted and that’s it.

I’m sorry you got to know me at one of the worst possible times in my life. I’m sorry we made such head way with our relationship, only for it to become less than what it should by events in which I had no control over.

You got to know me when someone I loved passed.

You have to try and understand that the me you knew from that day onward, wasn’t the best me. What you saw was a collection of raw emotions and without me able to check them, they ran wild.

All of the neatly boxed up bits of me that I struggled to keep so gracefully in order, broke free and feasted on my grief and revelled in their new-found freedom. They chose not to show their own faces, but rather hide behind the mask of another trauma I had been looking at and reassessing with your help. It appeared that one thing was being used to deal with another. Retrospectively, I think the reason my grief hid behind an old hurt was a self-preservation measure. I think my mind was trying to protect me from the reality of facing what I lost. It was merely tipping the emotions and reactions into a much less important receptacle so I could deal with it bit by bit. The human mind is an incredible thing, even when it’s trying to be helpful, by ultimately being unhelpful.

The old trauma – look, it did need to be gone through and I am pleased that you helped me do that. I am not sure that I could have come to the conclusions I did about it without you. I discovered for the first time how strong I’d been all the times I had thought I was weak. I realised, much to my absolute horror, the depth and variety of victim I had been. I am glad you were there to help me.

However – I had a much bigger fish to fry – whether I knew it or not. There had been a reason that I was able to find myself caught up with the perpetrator of the old trauma so easily. There was a reason I endured so much suffering at the old trauma’s hands, were any other person would have walked away (run away screaming in the opposite direction, more like). I was back then, and up until this person’s death, been in a relationship much worse than that already.

The old trauma pales in comparison to what I had already gone through. Massively. The old trauma was a mere drop of rain during a monsoon.

I tackled the old trauma back in the day and then when we were getting to know each other, with the same resilience I had learned to have.

My mind, finding it easier to deal with the old trauma, turned all the feelings of grief, fear, anxiety, illogicality, sadness and worry into ghosts from the past. Really, they were born out of what had happened to me in a different sort of relationship and now, the grief for its antagonist was causing them.

If I hadn’t had that loss, then I think the version of me you would have gotten to know would have been way cooler and calmer. Instead, you got a scared, overwhelmed version that was unwilling to admit that I was fantastically hurting over my loss. You got me when I was dealing with something terrible, but in reality, that terrible thing was not the old trauma.

Do you want to know what I really think about the old trauma? If I would ponder on it, I would say that I think that the main villain of the piece is a joke, I have long since forgiven them and that I wish them well. They are merely a snowflake landing on my nose that I can swot away, comparatively. Not even an irritation. I’m too strong and too powerful a woman these days to find human pond scum even remotely worth a glimpse. It is what I thought when we met and it is what I think now – more so in fact. At the most, it is forms part of my life story and makes the odd tweet or blog post about being young and hurting (like countless other people have experienced since the beginning of time) and will one day, be the cautionary tale I tell my daughters about how to spot and avoid it all. It’s basically the bad haircuts of life experiences – it’s nice to have it in your life as a lesson, but it’s not essential. It is important to understand that it is the experience I relate whenever I mention it – not the person involved.

I tried to empty my head of that old trauma, to give you every single thought, worry and memory I had in my possession as a sort of compensation. I hoped that something I could tell you could in some way help you, as those memories were dusty, old and unused by me. I’m sorry if that became too much. I was just trying to find a way to help you if I could and be there if you needed me.

 

You got to know me at one of the worst times – for my mental health.

At the time, I was still going through the incredibly unhelpful GP-led care stage that is unbelievably frustrating and not very helpful for a lot of people with long-term mental health issues. I was eventually given a mental health nurse, who just kept changing my meds every few weeks, which wasn’t great. I had a partial diagnosis, but I wasn’t getting well. In fact, I was feeling much worse after my loss.

Grief makes anyone struggle, but when you already have mental health issues and that kind of grief hits you, it becomes extremely overwhelming, just as it had when I lost my twins. It did for me, but in piecemeal. Bit by bit of me became soggy and leaden under the weight of my loss.

I often talk openly about many painful things in my life that I have experienced. The loss of my twins and my two miscarriages, good/bad relationships or experiences, as well as my mental health. Mainly because I hope that what I say could maybe help someone and partly because in this day and age, people are talking more about these things than ever – I want to join my voice with theirs. I won’t be owned by my experiences, but rather grow from them.

I eventually got a psychiatrist, who has managed to help me find the best way of caring for me and all is pretty much going great! I feel like myself for the first time since before my loss, which is such a big sigh of relief. In terms of work and in general terms, I am considered (rather than registered) disabled due to the longevity and scope of my illness. It was difficult to adjust to that label at first, but then I realised that it actually protected me in lots of ways and I’ve learned to be okay with it.

I will always have feelings to sift through when it comes to that grief, like all other grief’s I have experienced, but that’s life. I can now do so without having to pretend I’m upset about one thing, when really, it is completely okay to be upset at the real issue and own it in that way.

I couldn’t have done any of all the above without the most incredible man ever – my wonderful husband. He was there for me, looked after me, listened to me and made me feel like I could do it. He helped me realise where my feelings were really coming from and helped me shove them back over to their side of the fence. I am beyond lucky to have such a great man in my life!

Now I am just back to being, well, me. I am so sorry once again that you had to see me at my most vulnerable and anxious. However, I have to thank you for being patient and being kind.

I hope you can forgive me and understand that I have nothing but love and respect for you.

TC & BW

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