(names of the men have been changed or omitted)
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I look for love in all the wrong places? Strike that-I know why. My feeling of inadequacy stems from a cold and distant relationship with my teenage mother that left me starving for affection and intimacy of any sort, no matter how fleeting. That’s how I saw it anyway. Through my journey of self- realization, I know and understand that love comes from within. You must love yourself in order for others to love you; however, it is not as easy as it sounds. You must first like yourself. Which I did not…..
My ex husband
I spent years feeling trapped in an unhappy marriage where my husband cheated on me repeatedly while suffering through my verbal abuse where I never held back my hatred for him. How we managed to have some great family moments in there is beyond me. For the sake of our gorgeous daughters we somehow toughed through almost a decade – managing to hide as much of the fighting as possible. In retrospect, my ex-husband was a champ. I was a beast of a bitch when I wanted to be and didn’t make it easy. Good financial standing with a two-income household helped. We wanted for nothing and each had our ways of coping with our misery. In the middle of it all I didn’t even know how miserable I really was. I just thought this was life…some parts were shitty other parts were better.
Then I snapped. I snapped and came after my ex-husband with a knife. Apparently, this is called a psychotic break. I remember nothing of the event. Just the knife marks in my bedroom door. We’re talking Jack Nicholson in The Shining. What-the-fuck? Who does that? Me evidently. Life has never been the same. I think we stayed together a short while longer where I spent any time he was at home with my nose in a book, ignoring him and tending to our youngest daughter who was an infant at that point. Then, one day, I called my in-laws to take the baby and just walked into the ER and confessed that I wanted to die. I was immediately placed on a 72 hour hold and admitted. This was the first of my few inpatient hospitalizations.
Fast forward. (For those that are over 30 you understand what that means) I eventually went back to work and seemed stable when the divorce got finalized. I was on and off meds for depression and anxiety, never taking them as prescribed or staying on them. I either felt like I was better or that they weren’t helping at all. I was later on diagnosed with bi-polar disorder – which explained why the meds I was on weren’t working. I started new meds that hit me like a truck at night. You could run me over with a car and I wouldn’t move.
Then I got laid off and things got worse. I got evicted from the 3-bedroom house that I lived in with my kids and had to let go of 80% of my material possessions. There is no feeling shittier than standing on the curb in front of your home as the sheriff locks you out. I’ll never forget feeling like a failure. I moved into my friend’s house with my daughters. That took a turn for the worst when her drunk son was caught trying to climb into my bed while I was passed out on my meds. I was completely non-responsive. I guess her daughter in law even pulled me by the hair out of bed. I remember very little of this night. I just know I had to move. And I had these 2 little girls to think of. Shortly after I gave primary physical custody to their father.
This was the beginning of my spiral down to rock bottom. My kids kept me focused and grounded. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Idle hands and such. I moved in with a (so-called) friend and paid $400 a month in cash for my room plus loaded the fridge with $500 month in groceries, cooked and cleaned. Things were fine for a while. I was like a cat…lounging and working from my laptop at home; in pajamas till 3pm. I had recently completed a fast-track Event Management Certification and was working some pretty cool events. I even got floor seats for my older daughter and parents to the Iheart Music Festival here in Vegas.
Of course, I slept with my roommate. Cuz that’s what I do. Take intimacy (which I know is not love) anywhere it comes from just to fill that void. That constant need for someone to love me or feel loved turned into promiscuity. My little girls weren’t there to hug and kiss me every day. I craved closeness with anyone. I used sex as a substitute. As temporary as it was, it was, for a few moments, intimacy. Well after receiving a birthday gift of custom made earrings from my roommate, he kicked me out – literally the very next weekend. To this day, I wonder why it was so abrupt. Like “Get out today.” I had to call a police escort to get my meds, clothes and laptop till I could move the rest.
So, there I was stuck. FUCK! What do I do? I combed craigslist ads for people looking for a roommate in hopes that I got lucky. My friend Anna was kind enough to let me crash in an extra bedroom temporarily. Within 6 days I found a “Real World” style house. Six rooms and six strangers that all just pay the owner of the house $600 a month including utilities and a maid for the common areas. Included were a bunch of cool games – shuffle board, air hockey, ski ball, indoor basketball game, 2 big screens, pool, outdoor fire pit and BBQ. Perfect. They accepted me and I moved in. Yay. Now I’m good to go. No worrying about roommates kicking me out. I pay directly to the owner of the house.
Then I decided to get a tattoo….
Talk about the wrong turn of all wrong turns in life. Again, why do I do this to myself? So here I am with this great setup, cool roommates, and I decide that it’s time to get my shoulder tattoo covered up. I got it at the age of 16 and it was horribly faded. I go get it outlined and think nothing of this dirt-bag with some shitty tattoos of his own. He tells me I have to come back for the color which I do. I don’t know if I was in a good mood that day or he was just a good conversationalist but we seemed to hit it off. We text all day and night. Then some friends of mine wanted some blow. (Remember people – this is Vegas. People aren’t shy about asking for drugs or talking about them.) Chris just so happens to have the hook up and I’m on the road with a friend back to his place to buy it.
Let me back up and tell you that he lived in the scummiest weekly hotel in Vegas. At the time, I was unaware that people actually live long term in these places as their actual homes. Not temporarily. They can only afford week to week and can’t get approved for actual apartments or houses. Growing up the way I did I never had to experience this so I was naïve to it all. I was slightly put off going there to get my tattoo work done but I had already had the outline done at his friend’s house and decided to let him finish.
I can’t explain why, after 2 months of knowing this loser of all losers, who fed me a crapload of BS that I ate up with an extra-large spoon, I moved into his crappy weekly apartment. With all of my furniture and clothing. Why do I do this to myself? My lame need for love no matter where its coming from. This is what not loving yourself can do. I clearly hadn’t realized my own value as a person and looked to others for validation. Not a good move. The next few months were a blur of drugs, sex, psychosis, hearing voices, not being able to distinguish reality from my mind, clearly not on my meds and with very little contact with my kids. This was one of the darkest times in my life that I only recently have forgiven myself for. Chris was very abusive – but that’s a story for another time. I ended up homeless with a bag of clothes on a bus to Los Angeles. A dear friend from high school picked me up at 4am at the bus stop. They had an empty room for a month that I could crash in while I tried to get it together. I reached out to my parents who would not take me in.
So, after bouncing around family members houses in LA for a month…I went back to Vegas – and moved in with a guy. A 26 year old guy. I’m 36 at the time. Why do I do this to myself? That one is easy. I was homeless. I was scared. I was desperate. There is no other explanation. We both knew that from the jump. I managed to stay with him for 3 months before walking out. With only 3 things – cell phone, ID and social security card. I walked and walked for hours pointed towards a hilltop. I had no idea what I was going to do. I called an old friend. He picked me up.
My friend brought me to a bar where he and his friend were drinking when I called. That night I ended up moving in with his friend as a roommate and continued with my therapy. I told his friend that I DID NOT want to have sex with him and that it ALWAYS ruins things. I tried my best not to be attracted to Brian. But in the end, what did I do? I slept with him anyways. Why do I do this to myself? Well that answer is evident by now. I got sucked into a whirlwind romance with that man and actually thought he was my happy ending. Everything became about him. About keeping his house, his business and bills up and I lost myself in the process. I didn’t even realize that everything I had worked so hard for in my latest, more structured outpatient therapy program, was lost on this man. His needs being met became my focus. I wasn’t getting paid to work for him or clean his Air BB. I was promised 30% of the Air BB earnings which he never made good on.
Five months later, he wants out and I am miserable trying to do anything to make him want me as much as I want him. One day Tami, my dear friend, shot herself in the head. The very next day he broke up with me (again) and I lost it. I was sitting with a glock loaded and cocked debating whether or not to shoot myself. Instead I checked myself into the hospital. I received medication and got released from the hospital with nowhere to live except with three men, 2 of whom use drugs. This kind soul, Tee, who I consider my family now, took me in. Weeks into therapy, I have learned to forgive myself and love myself and not need the validation of others, for I am a beautiful soul that has lived and learned.
I met this hippy guy who within 5 days wanted a relationship. I agreed. Why do I do this to myself? I don’t anymore. We ended it a couple days later. I am learning to stand alone and be comfortable in my own skin. All that I need is to love myself, my daughters and my family. All else will fall into place. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.
This time around I have learned to value myself and my inner peace. I have learned to love myself. Being mentally ill is harder than you can imagine. Our self-esteem and core belief system about ourselves is a direct result of our formative years and experiences in our lives. You’ve all heard this phycho babble right? How about this? Dialectical thinking? Some else’s truth can be different from yours and also be true. Have more compassion for those things you do not understand. Someone may have not learned to love themselves yet….