There I stood, trembling on the crumbling edge of my sanity. The void that welled up within me bore full witness to the ever-darkening recesses of my mind. This strange amalgamation of confusion and profound emptiness churned endlessly as the pain of a wrecked life lurked close behind, taunting me to dive in headfirst. This indeed, was madness. – Unknown
There is a giant hole that resides inside me. It is a black hole that swiftly sucks in, with vacuum force, its prey. The hole sometimes seems satiated and quiets its rumbling so I cannot hear its typical beckoning call, a signal that all peace and harmony are to be disrupted. A deep, echoing groan emanating from the recesses of my chest. A cavity never to be filled. A chasm difficult to cross. When the black hole is summoning its force, all of my courage, confidence and contentment are the first to be obliterated. What quickly follows is my balance, my strength and ultimately my sanity. As the wind gusts pull my pieces into the black hole, I break apart and swiftly feel my components falling away. The Bermuda Triangle of my heart, my soul, and my mind are threatening all that pass over.
Recently I have heard the stirrings of my black hole. It has been hungry and discontent. My efforts to appease it, cover it, traverse it, mask it or simply shut it away have failed. I have fooled myself into believing that it was not really sucking the life out of me but that I was too tired or too overwhelmed to fight the familiar forces I could actually see from many miles away. I pretended it was just a temporary moment, a minor disturbance. Some drizzle on a sunny day. A gust of wind with clear skies. I could not admit that it was a tsunami, a hurricane, a tornado – all of epic proportions. It was biblical and frogs were beginning to fall from the sky.
I have become incredibly adept at managing my problems. I have a wealth of tools at my disposal to both diagnose and then repair any incident that comes along. I’m even pretty skilled at multitasking. I can take on a few at a time. It is like a masterful juggling act with chain saws. I can toss them in the air, catch them on their handles and never even fear a laceration. Sometimes, though, my tools are simply not big enough, strong enough or the right options. Those times, the chain saws land just a bit askew and my digits are flying off and blood and flesh are being sprayed in every direction. It is those days that I curl up in a corner and lick my wounds. I have no bandages. There is no ointment. And, if I am lucky, I might call for medical attention but, more than likely, I will watch the blood flow and pray that I don’t bleed out.
What comes from so many years of abuse and neglect is an incapability of knowing how to truly care for yourself. My young life was always about doing whatever I needed to in order to make sure that I could keep the monster in the closet. I was forever in survival mode. There was never a period of rest where I could relax and appreciate my own efforts and I never had the luxury to consider what might be good for me. What was the right choice was to endure, to maintain harmony, to be safe. For the first twenty-one years of my life, my education was about how to be a survivor and I missed all those fun classes on how to live. I never had the option of taking electives in advocacy or self-indulgence. I got my best grades in guilt, distrust and preservation.
I always expected that after a certain period of time (fill in the blank for the actual right amount of time) I would be able to move past this. After all, I left the environment where the abuse was occurring and I cut the abuser out of my life. I went to therapy, owned up to my problems and was seemingly on the road to recovery. Or so I thought. In fact, while I thought I was digging deep, all I even had access to were the readily available surface wounds -. the welts and the scars that were easy to find, obvious to the eye without the aid of a microscope or a surgical scope. It was easy to identify what sat on the epidermis. It was open and exposed. No digging, no probing, no exploring. It was all right there for me to behold. Soon, though, the scabs healed over and it seemed like I might be all fixed up. I could glance down now and then and be able to trace the lines that had faded into my skin to remember that there used to be something there. There used to be pain but now the skin was soft and smooth once again.
That’s before I discovered the black hole.
The black hole is a bottomless pit. It drains me. It literally sucks the life out of me. And, when it is in full force, I become weakened to the point that my head starts spinning, up becomes down, right becomes left and I worry that I am really truly wholly most definitely crazy. My sanity is high on the feeding list for the black hole. So, how do I manage the beast? For sure, I cannot fill it or find a tarp to cover it so how do I ensure that it does cause me to literally implode? The question that I ask myself is how much is enough to keep it satisfied so that it will not erupt, so hungry, so desperate that it eats me all in one giant bite.
My black hole is calling for me. It is advising me that it is praying on my vulnerabilities. It is reminding me that I am not some superhuman who can solve every problem that comes along for me and still have the strength and energy to solve everyone else’s. It is warning me that if I do not begin to take care of myself, if I do not start protecting that little girl inside me who still needs someone to watch over her, it will call on her next. It is sending me all kinds of messages that it is black hole season on my self. The forecast is for pain, torture and misery unless I choose to alter the weather pattern. Only I have the ability to shift the direction of the winds, pushing the storm away and quieting the black hole, if only for a short time. And, yet, I am weak. Do I have the strength to pull this off? Can I do it alone? Will anyone even help me? Will I do irreparable damage while fighting this that will cause me even greater pain?
How much is enough? When will I be able to satisfy that black hole? What do I need to do to ensure that it moves on and moves out of me? I used to believe that by being honest and working hard towards healing that anything was possible. I never understood the real hard work required for true recovery. I thought I was better, stronger, more capable. My shoulders are broad and I can carry the village along with me. And, sometimes I do. But, lately, I am realizing, with increasing fear and anxiety, that I am far less capable than I once thought. My strength is simply not enough to ward off the demons. I am no better than anyone else. I am human. I am broken. I am in pain. I suffer. And I have every reason to keep moving forward to find the yellow brick road that leads me to Oz. I have all the components of the life I have dreamed of. I have lots of tools and lots of friends with tools. I have a sharp mind and a strong soul. I have a desire to persevere. I am desperately needing to go beyond survival to serenity. I know I can set my sights on it. I have a compass and a flashlight and a telescope all that fit into my backpack.
Now, where to begin?