Updated: Jul 10, 2022
Hey there lovelies!
I know it's been another couple of weeks of silence from me, but unfortunately… Life… You know what I'm saying?
So today, my post may be slightly different than what you're used to. Today, I'm giving my two cents on prioritizing your mental health…
If you're following along at all, you know my posts are normally just light hearted, self-deprecating, anecdotes about the journey to becoming a published author. In a way, that's what today's post will be about too, but like the post on trigger warnings, this one may contain some more serious situations that I'm dealing with because let's face it, we can't always be happy or funny. Today's post could potentially get a little deeper than what you're used to because I am struggling and to be very honest I can't find it inside me to write a funny little post… So hold onto your butts!
Speaking also of trigger warnings… I feel the need to say that this post may be triggering for people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse or trauma. It won't be talked about in detail, but as I'm learning a lot lately, it doesn't always take that, so read with caution.
Let me first start by saying, taking care of your mental health is SO IMPORTANT. I know it's a trend that we are all starting to jump on board and realize, but whether I'm the first or the thousandth person to say it, it's one the most important things you can do for yourself and the people around you.Take care of you. Whatever that looks like, please take time to do it. Therapy, talking, writing, walking, exercise, a day of pampering, whatever works for you, prioritize it as something you CANNOT live without.
This is easier advice to give than to take I think. I've mentioned it before, but I think it's important to mention again, I am a people pleaser. The biggest reason Rose Rayne Rivers exists is because I can't stand the thought of hurting people’s feelings. If some of the real people in my life knew about what I've written there would likely be a lot of drama.
That being said, I could potentially start some drama today. I feel like this is the best way to get my feelings out into the world, without having to confront the source of my pain head on, because I feel like confronting it head on, will only lead to more pain, more people pleasing and ultimately not be helpful for me.
So here's some backstory…
This past weekend, I received an incredibly triggering email from a person in my past that I've spent hours in therapy, years of recovery and denial, and hundreds upon thousands of tears trying to keep in my past. This person did unthinkable things to hurt me and has been a source of pain that I've found hard to ignore for almost my entire life. Ultimately, I've been able to push past it, not let that person or what they did to me control my thoughts, but on rare occasions they pop back in; either like this weekend where they purposefully did something to get back in, or in other smaller ways. But that's not the real problem.The problem is, a person in my present, a person who claims to care about me, allowed said past person access to push their way back in.
In response, I wrote an incredibly long, potentially hurtful (to them) letter/email that I haven't sent because my people pleasing nature won't seem to let me. But in an effort to prioritize my own mental health, and get it out into the world, I've decided to share it here. This blog feels safe because I know said person doesn't know who I am and the only people who do already know the amount of pain this person has inflicted on me. It's also not likely to get back to the hurtful person and if it does, maybe it's fate.
So here goes… Again, it's long and intense so hold on. If you don't make it to the end, no hard feelings…
I thought far too long about how to address this letter and the only appropriate salutation seemed to be ‘Mother.’ Because for better or worse, that is biologically what you are. If you never earned the title of ‘Mom,’ ‘Mommy,’ ‘Momma,’ you gave birth to me, and I am at least grateful for that.
I spent a long time also contemplating what should be included in this letter. It seems like way too much to encompass in one simple writing, but I will try. Not that it will ultimately change any outcome, because as of today, I'm convinced I don't know anything about you and you are incapable of normal human emotions.
I'm sure if you're reading this (and as of yet I haven't even decided if I'm going to send it) you're pretending like you have no idea what it is about. I say ‘pretending’ because I think if you thought about it, even in the slightest, you know exactly what it's about.
I'm talking about the cruel thing you must have had a hand in, because there is no way you couldn't have.
Until today, I never considered you a cruel person.
But cruel? No.
I've always dismissed your behavior as being that of someone who had a hard life. Someone who was unhappy and probably wanted attention, but I've always stopped short of thinking of you as cruel or abusive. It thought you were weak, and self serving, and maybe a little delusional and blind to the things that were happening around you, but never cruel. I never remembered experiencing any pain because you intentionally set out to hurt me, but today I'm re-examining everything I thought I knew.
Today I wonder if a lot of the pain and abuse I've suffered over my life was probably caused directly by you and your actions (or lack there of). I think I've given you too much leniency and I think there are a lot of things I dismissed or allowed you to gloss over that you did to intentionally hurt me. I also think you enjoy hurting other people and I think you get a sick pleasure in getting sympathy from the pain you inflict on others. For example, if I decide to cut you off because of today's assault, it will likely just be another reason why you can collect sympathy because I somehow wronged you.
If you still don't know what I'm talking about, let me clarify. I'm talking about the incredibly triggering email I got today, saying my childhood abuser sent me money via PayPal.
I need to point out… I call him that because that is all that he is to me. I have told you in the past, but because it seems you don't understand, let me be very clear.
He is not my family.
I am not a vengeful or hateful person, so therefore I don't wish any harm on him, but I ‘nothing’ him. He was my family maybe once upon a time, but he isn't anymore.
I don't love him or hate him, I nothing him.
Or at least that is what I'm trying to do. If he fell off the face of the earth tomorrow I wouldn't care. I don't ever want to see him, speak to him, hear about him, hear from him or want anything from him ever again.
Let me also be clear about this fact:
I do not care how any of that makes you feel.
I am a mother. I understand the unconditional love of a child. I can imagine that if you were the kind of person who experienced love like a normal human (which I'm not convinced you do) you would still love that person regardless of his abuse of me.
But I don't.
I don't love him or care about him. I choose to try not to actively hate him because that is bad for me. My lack of hate has absolutely nothing to do with him, his actions, or you. I choose to try not to hate him because hate is a cancer and I don't want it infecting my soul. I also refuse to let him have that power over me.
But understand this—I won't forget what he did to me.
I never will.
And having you repeatedly ask me what that was is far from ok. I remember growing up, you told me his father abused you. I never asked how. You told me a couple things but I would never in my wildest dreams think of trying to force you to go into gruesome details about what he did to you. Because I believed you. That's it.
If one of my kids came to me and told me what I told you, I would believe them. Full stop. No exceptions. Would I maybe wonder exactly what happened? Maybe. Would I ask? Probably. But if they obviously didn't want to go into detail, or felt uncomfortable sharing, I would respect that.
Women should believe other women, most of us wouldn't lie about these things. It's unacceptable. The point is, I believed you. The end. Period.
And that's how it should be. And that’s what you should have done for me.
I know you pretend to believe me, and you say you do but you don't. Not really. Because if you did, you wouldn't ask me to tell you details that are obviously too painful for me to remember or talk about. Because if you believed me, you would count me lucky to have been able to block some of the most terrible memories out. Because if you believed me, you would know trying hard not to remember doesn't make the abuse any less real. It just means I'm coping with the trauma in the only way I know how. It means I've figured out a way not to let it consume me, or my life.
And as a mother, if this happened to my kid, I would be unbelievably grateful if they were able not to have to remember every gruesome detail.
And let me be clear, I remember enough.
I don't remember every detail but I know it was him. I know what he did to me and I think about it more than I will probably ever admit. Also, I think if you were honest with yourself, you know you should have realized that his behavior towards me was not that of a normal brother. It was too close, too protective, and disgusting. The people who truly believe me, say that in hindsight they saw that too. I think I tried in a lot of ways to tell you what was happening, but you weren't watching or listening. To be clear, I’m not blaming you for his behavior, but I think you forced yourself to discount some truly horrible red flags so you can feel better about something you missed. But it isn’t about you, it’s about me. As a mother, I know it would eat me up if I had missed something so horrific. But no matter how much guilt I felt for missing it, I know that the person truly suffering is the abused.
And in this case, that’s me. I have an incredible amount of shame about it. For how long it went on and not feeling able to stop it, for not being able to find anyone to confide in, and for not standing up to him. Those are feelings that I will grapple with probably forever, but you make it worse by trying to force me to talk about it, shift blame to other people for your own sick motives and for not believing me.
Let's get something else clear while we're at it. I will never believe that you believe me.
It's clear you don't.
If you believed me, you also wouldn't consistently bring my abuser up to me.
Hearing you tell me how wonderful his life is going, how happy he is, what a wonderful son he is to you makes my stomach hurt. It's painful. And cruel, and I have expressed that to you. Multiple times. Every time you mention his name my head pounds, my heart races and I feel a rage I can't express. Getting an unsolicited email with his name in it, telling me he sent money to my kid was unbelievably vicious. I believe he did it as a way to hurt me and you helped him. You are the only person who could have or would have told him about it, because I have blocked him. It was a shot that he took at me to hurt me, I will believe that no matter what anyone says, but you let him. You told him about it which is a terrible truth to confront. I don't understand what kind of person would do that, let alone what kind of mother.
I know that I'm guarded and I don't let even the people closest to me know what I'm struggling with, but that has a lot to do with all the shit I went through as a kid. And a lot of that is your fault. The person who was supposed to love me unconditionally made her love conditional. It made me into the kind of person who chose to just always be ‘fine’ and never allow anyone to know my true feelings for fear of being rejected, not believed and unworthy of love. I struggle with crippling self doubt, and an amount of guilt that shouldn’t be there because logically I know I've done nothing wrong. But I know I choose to keep my feelings inside. I know it’s not healthy, and I won't do it this time. What you allowed to happen to me today left me a complete wreck, melting into a puddle, crying uncontrollably in the shower for a long time, and if I’m honest it wrecked me maybe more than it should have.
That's not me.
I don't cry…
I am a warrior.
So that's what I reminded myself. Like always. I dried my own eyes, dusted myself off, and now I'm writing this letter because I want you to hear this...
What you did is unforgivable.
You gave details about my personal life to my abuser. There's no way to sugarcoat it, that's what you did. So let me say it again so it can sink in.
You gave details about me and my kids to my abuser.
How would you feel if I did this to you? Honestly, I'm not convinced you know how to react normally, so who knows how you would feel, but to me it's inexcusable. I know you've talked about my kids with him before, and I have dismissed it. You have made excuses and I've accepted it, but no more. I'm done being your doormat, I'm done listening to your bullshit about how it's ok because… I'm done. I can't do it anymore. I don't think I get enough out of our relationship to allow myself to feel this way.
If you can't manage to keep my personal life to yourself, then you won't have access to my personal life anymore. I'm done shedding tears over your hurtful behavior. I'm done hoping you're going to change. I'm done.
I can't continue to allow you to have the power to hurt me. I can't continue to be on guard for the next hurtful thing you might send my way. I can't allow myself to be triggered by the way hearing his name, seeing his name makes me feel. I can't. And I shouldn't have to. I think any decent mother would listen to the requests of her child in this situation because good parents put their kids first.
It’s what I do, and it’s what I should expect from my mother, but I know that’s not going to happen, and I am done holding my breath hoping it will. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask you not to continue to subject me to my abuser. I don't think it's too much to ask that my abuser know nothing about my kids.
I can't be more clear with you. I've told you, my husband has told you, hell even my oldest daughter has told you, I don't want to hear about him, I don't want to know about him, I don't want anything from him EVER.
He abused me.
He stole my innocence and nothing you say or do is in any way ever going to make me forget that or want him in my life. Period. End of discussion.
So that's it.
Again, I'm sure this letter will do nothing more than be something else you can point to that says, “look how mean my kids are to me,” or “poor me, everyone picks on me,” but I don't care. I cannot and will not allow you to continue to force his abuse on me. Period.
If you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’re wondering what it all means. Well, honestly I’m not sure. I know for right now I’m done. I need a long break. I need to not have to worry about what will happen or stress about what you might say or do next. I’m not even sure if I’m planning to send this… it has been incredibly cathartic in a way I didn’t expect it to be and I’m not sure if sending it to you will help me in any way.
I know what your response will be. It will be some version of what I’ve already said. You’ll get sad and try to convince me I have it all wrong. You'll manipulate me by convincing me that I am in some way injuring you. In the end I’ll likely end up putting my own feelings to the side to appease your sadness because that’s another thing that I learned from you early on. The only way to make people love me is to do exactly what they want, regardless of what that means for me. I basically can’t stand up for myself because if I do, I’ll be alone and unloved.
People only love me for what I can give them.
That’s what you taught me.
And it’s gone on for far too long.
It’s an ingrained character flaw that I can’t seem to break out of, but I hope and believe that as a mother I broke the cycle. I watch my kids prioritize themselves and it makes me practically giddy. I watch them carefully weigh their own wants with whatever everyone else wants and arrive at an answer that often gives everyone satisfaction, but it's their choice. They don’t do things for people for the simple reason of pleasing them, they do it because they want to and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of them for. If I have done nothing else in this life, at least I know I’ve done that.
I can’t tell you what will happen further in the future, but for now, I think I just need some space. I need to heal, and I need to not worry about you. I need to worry about myself.
My mental health is more important to me than yours, and I need to be okay with that before I can be around you. I shouldn't have to listen to a song telling me I'm a warrior on repeat for days and weeks before I see you. It shouldn't be this hard. It just shouldn't.
I need to accept the fact that I got dealt a shitty hand but that doesn't make me shitty. I am more than who and where I came from and I have an opportunity to be happy.
I just need to be done. I can't keep continuing the cycle. I need to be healthy because I have people who need me and that's more important than a person who tries to drain me of my sparkle. And to be clear, I'm convinced that this is why you did this. You thrive on drama, you need it to survive. You weren't getting it from the usual sources so you had to push the one person who has always taken a neutral stance and tried to give the benefit of the doubt over the edge. And let's make one more thing certain, when not one, not two but four people all agree that the problem is you, it is probably you.
So take this as you will… Do with it what you will, for now, I'm done.
So that's it folks… That's my wordy, crazy, rambling two cents on prioritizing mental health. You are important. Prioritize your own needs because you can't do anyone any good if you aren't good.
Rose Rayne Rivers
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