Friday, 9 August 2019

If It Helps

In the spirit of Emma's What are we doing about it? post today, here is my small contribution. This might not change anyone's mind, but I'll put it out there anyway, just in case.

Recently, I was discussing how I am a bit of an insomniac and can have quite a bit of trouble sleeping. My husband was tossing out ideas to help and I was like "well you know I think it's because when I was a kid, at night when I was sleeping was when he said he was going to kill me."

Apparently, I tossed that out like it's a perfectly normal thing. Even all these years later.

I did not have a happy childhood. I had an immediate family member with a pretty severe mental illness that resulted in a lot of ups and downs. You really never knew what you were going to get, or even if it was based on an event that actually happened. The bad days were more frequent than the good.

As with all things mental illness at the time, you didn't talk about it. The clues were there for teachers and other adults to see, and looking back it was probably common knowledge. Some tried to intervene but the tools to do something about it were not there.

On the even sadder side, along with the good people trying to help, there are a lot of not so good people out there who are also really good at identifying children who are vulnerable.

The thing I really want to emphasize and think is very important for people to consider is that as a kid I knew I was often unhappy, scared, angry, even suicidal. But if you asked me why, I would have never been able to tell you, because I didn't know what was wrong.

Without any other context, I thought my life was normal. I was sure that my friends with seemingly happy lives were just extra good at hiding things and thought I just needed to be tougher or better to be like them. I thought there was something very wrong with me to be so anxious and unhappy. A direct question asking whether everything was ok at home would have been met with an "It's fine" from me.

It would have never occurred to me that I had any rights, or that I mattered to anyone. I had zero idea about what behaviour in adults was acceptable and what wasn't. I had no clue this wasn't simply my cross to bear for being a bad person. I might have even argued with you if you offered the opinion that things at home weren't safe or acceptable. I truly believed it was all normal.

I was a pretty smart kid in many ways - I managed to look after myself and get honor roll grades throughout school. But still, I DID NOT have the tools or maturity to understand much of what was going on in the adult world or how to deal with it.

I'm not writing this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I AM writing it in the hopes you might consider taking a stronger stance in supporting education and  legislation, (and yes, things like SafeSport) to help provide minors (or really anyone who needs help) with options and rights and positive experiences. Discuss mental illness freely and don't stigmatize it - it is a disease like any other. Consider that sometimes victims might not know they were a victim until well after the fact. Consider that those who said nothing at the time may have simply not had the knowledge, tools, or support to do so.

Lastly, just try to listen and be kind. It matters.

Thank you.

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20 comments

  1. Thank you for being brave enough to share this, your words have a lot of power to put things in perspective for people that need to hear it <3

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  2. thank you for sharing <3 there is always so much more going on that we'll never see and never know, and maybe never understand either. it's so important to try tho.

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    1. Your post was so well done...There is so much we can all do to make things better.

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  3. This is so sad, but pretty on topic with what is going on in the equestrian world right now. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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    1. Yes, the whole narrative of "if it really happened, why didn't anyone do/say anything at the time? He seemed like such a nice person!" definitely inspired this. I wanted to remind everyone that especially when it's children that are involved I can see it being very easy for things to be hidden and go unsaid and it taking many, many years to come to terms with things. <3

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  4. Thank you for being brave enough to share. Once, chatting with friends, I tossed out casually how my mom always said I was stupid. The look on my friends face made me realize that this is not ok. Funnily enough I have three university degrees. Mostly paid for by scholarships. So yeah, I get how abuse can feel normal. And how we stuff down anxiety and suicidal thoughts because that’s what ou need to do to survive. ((((Hugs)))) I think you’re awesome and one day want to meet you and your ponies.

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    1. <3 Any time, I'd love to meet! Your experience mirrors mine...I'd say something matter of fact and the look my friends would give me would suddenly make me consider it was very, very wrong. I'm so sorry, I'd like to hope one day no one will have first hand experience with those feelings <3

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    1. I worry it's oversharing, but I think the time is past for not discussing such things.

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  6. Wow, beautifully articulated. While it's a terrible experience to go through, it's great to see you have been able to develop and sustain a rich and rewarding adult life. I've read your blog for a long time and I had no clue.

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    1. Thank you. I don't know if it's the healthiest approach, but for a very long time I've had the mentality that I now have this second bonus life that's all mine to live as I choose, basically a gift. I won't pretend its all perfect and that I'm strong every day or don't make dumb mistakes, but I'm grateful that for the most part, the past remains the past and my life is full of fantastic people (and horses!) :)

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  7. Such a great post, such an important perspective to be shared. I wish this post could be shared widely, as so many need to hear it. So many simply don't understand.

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  8. ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™❤️๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’œ

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  9. I think we could all develop a bit more empathy and know that some people don't share what they are going through and don't assume that everyone's life is hunky dory. We all have some burden we are caring. Some kids are better at coping than others.

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  10. What a brave post - thank you for your courage. We have no idea the battles others are fighting, kindness is critical.

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