I went stumbling on one of my internet journeys earlier today, and it set me to reflecting on my life. All of the things that have happened to me, that continue to happen, and that likely will happen in the future based on who I’ve grown to be. It’s not a fairy tale. They usually aren’t. But I realized there is one important piece of advice that I can impart. Something I suspect won’t seem like much help to someone in a similar situation as my own. I know I certainly wouldn’t put much store by these words if I wasn’t the one saying them myself. And indeed I wish I had more than just words to give you. But hopefully they’re enough to at least help you through the darkest of your days.
So let me begin by saying that I come from what some people would call a dysfunctional family. Others might call it a broken home. I just call it messed up. I won’t go into too many details because I believe my parents deserve some privacy in their lives, but there’s been any number of different varieties of abuse handed out from all parties. Myself included. I won’t sugar-coat my life and it’s struggles. This is meant to help those in the same type of situation, and it will never do that if you don’t understand the situation in the first place. Alongside the abuse there’s been financial struggles. My parents are in debt over their heads, adding tension and all sorts of other problems to the ones we already had.
I’ve blocked out a large portion of my early life. I have bits and pieces here and there, of both the good and the bad, but from what I can make out, life was generally fairly simple for me. A lot of things worked themselves out without my personal involvement. But the problems still affected me. There’s nothing like being less than ten years old and trying to physically separate your parents so they won’t argue, despite the fact that you’re probably only about a tenth of either of their strengths. I had an older brother, so generally at least it was two against one, but even so we rarely succeeded. I learned very early on to handle failure and move on. So I guess score one point to me. Yay.
The years passed and the problems only got worse. On top of the family problems, I became an outcast in school. It was not my decision, and I can directly connect my home life as the cause for my being ostracized. But I’m not trying to place blame. I’m simply saying that any aspect of your life will affect another aspect. Possibly even every other aspect. Nothing can be perfectly compartmentalized. Thank god I had my small group of friends, who either didn’t realize what was going on or didn’t care. Without them I could have turned out much much worse than I did.
But without feeling welcome in the real world (teenagers can be huge asshats), I turned more often than not to the internet. The soft glow from the screen bathing me in its safety an comfort. It was there I found my closest friends, the ones I felt most comfortable talking to about my hideous situation, and the ones I could most easily forget about it with. My situation never improved, but I was more able to ignore and distance myself from it. It became habit, and I avoided letting myself get truly close with anyone or fully trust them.
I still to this day struggle to trust people, but that’s not wholly my family’s fault. Some failed relationships have really hit close to home. I gave everything I had to them all, in turn. But through it all, I’ve come down hard on myself. Always ready to blame myself for any number of problems, always ready to give my own blood if it will make someone I care about smile. I have very little I can speak of as accomplishments in my life as a result. In fact, I still haven’t moved out from my family’s home at 28 years old, because I’m still giving them all the help I can, including working two jobs and seeing almost none of the money myself. But money is nothing. If my help were actually moving us all forward in a positive way, then it would be a small price to pay.
Through all this though, I still see a glimmer of hope in my own life. It’s buried deeply, and seemingly had no place in the rest of the things surrounding me, but (and here comes that all-important piece of advice)…
It does get better.
My life has been steadily improving as the years press on, and the more incredible the circumstances or the way you deal with them, the harder your struggle will be, but seeing the positive is the only thing that will truly help. I can’t even begin to explain it, unless you’re already in your own transition period, in which case I don’t have to. But that’s as simple as I can make it. Life will improve. Not on it’s own, not by a long shot, but it will. You’re going to have to fight for every inch you gain, and for every three steps forward, you’ll likely be forced back two and a half, but progress is progress. And at the end of it all, you will be a better person for it.
Now, you might ask: who am I to say these things when I haven’t even freed myself from the mire I find myself in? And I would say I fully understand and agree. You don’t have any reason to listen to me. Other than the fact that you want to. Because we all need hope. A very dangerous commodity to be sure, but handled properly, it can be the single greatest tool in your arsenal. But hope’s fickle nature is an idea for another day.
For now, if you need someone to remind you just how strong you are, just remember that I do believe in you. I fight my own fight for you.