Resilience – too stubborn to stay down

Duncan (nobodysreadingme) said yesterday that he admires my resilience. I found that a curious thing to point out, but sweet and touching, too. It has also helped me realize, looking back, that I actually must be kind of resilient. I’ve had my flirts with depression, and I certainly get low and desperate moments with a hopeless mood that makes me feel like my whole life is shit and maybe I should die. When they are there those feelings are really strong, but those moments don’t usually last and never really have. Sooner or later I always feel like ‘fuck all, I’m not gonna do anyone the favor to just go away for good’ and that ends the depressive mood.

It’s a feeling that I have known for a long time already, and I remember having it towards my mother mainly. She made it no secret that she hated me for being alive and often said things like ‘I wish I had aborted you when I still had the chance’ and while that always made me real sad and I felt like I shouldn’t be living on one hand, I also had the ‘fuck you’ reaction. Maybe that was because I knew that while I was getting hurt, I also had something my stepfather wanted. I remember being conscious of that fact. I remember knowing that that was why my mother both hated me, and couldn’t afford to lose me, because without me, my stepfather would probably not have stayed with her.

In some perfectly weird and twisted way that gave me power. It was power I wish I would never have had, because look at the mess my life turned into because of how fucked up everything was, but even so, I think that’s where my resilience comes from. I was aware that despite all the pain it caused me I was important, even when it was in a sick way, to both my parents. I think that was what gave me the leverage to develop my ‘fuck you’ attitude that keeps me from staying down. I’m somehow too stubborn to. Weird how life works.

Anyway, I’ve made a list of the things that I think contributed to my ability to stay alive and not give in during the three major phases of my life so far:

1. The time during which I live at my childhood home (0-15)

I HAVE: what my stepfather wants, everything my mother hates, myself.

I AM: an involuntary sex object, a scapegoat, a loner, different, secretive, distrustful.

I CAN: die inside, tolerate pain, read subtle changes in people, tell which is the safer of two options, hide from harm, wait things out, distract myself.

2. The time I spent in mental health care (15-23)

I HAVE: several diagnoses that tell me who I am, myself.

I AM: a mental health case, a calculating sex object, a loner, secretive, distrustful.

I CAN: dissociate, ignore people, rely on myself and self-destructive acts to keep a certain balance, self-medicate.

3. The time after I met my real family (23-now)

I HAVE: myself, a supportive family, my mom, a good therapist.

I AM: a daughter, learning to trust and how to be trustworthy, recovering, artistic.

I CAN: think about myself and my behavior, accept my mom’s help, keep from self-medicating and increasingly from self-harming, too, let myself in for safe relationships, look towards the future.

Life sure is weird and complicated.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. daylily2011
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 12:55:28

    You are exceptionally strong and resilient! I’m glad you can see your strengths.

    When I was younger (many years ago) I also had an f u attitude. It wasn’t great for those around me who suffered my rage but I believe that attitude saved me from giving up. I’ve heard depression described as “anger turned inward.” Well, I believe my f-u reaction at the time was an outward expression of depression and that reaction acted like a protective wall for some of the hurt to not seep into my developing sense of self.

    • Lola
      Jan 17, 2013 @ 16:43:40

      Thank you, Daylily. 🙂 It’s a really good thought that depression is ‘anger turned inward’, wheras a fuck you attitude is very much anger turned outward. This ability to turn outward and not only on myself is probably good in those situations where I would otherwise drift into depression. I have no problem imagining how your fuck you reacting acted like a protective wall for you. It can definitely be a very good defense.

  2. prideinmadness
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 16:01:00

    Some people I know have often commented on how everything sucks for them and all that and when I point out that they’re still alive and going on with live they suddenly realize that, that counts for something. I have a note in my bathroom (it’s where I go when I’m mad because it has a lock) and it says, “It didn’t kill you before, why let it kill you know?” I always try and remember that. You have survived hell, you are resilient and that survival will help you get through this next process of recovery 🙂

    • Lola
      Jan 17, 2013 @ 16:40:38

      That’s such a clever note! And so true, too! I mean I have survived all the really tough shit already and what for? To kill myself? No. I may be a little crazy, but have this image of how my mother would make a triumphant happy dance on my grave. That cures me from wanting to do anything life-threatening to myself, so instead of giving in I stand up again and keep on fighting. Well, and for myself, for the good stuff, too. But when I’m really low, it’s definitely the defiance that keeps me alive.

  3. lostservice22
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 03:04:45

    Anger turned out ward in this fuck you attitude is good as long as you don’t take it too far. I have had both depression and a fuck you mind set. I took both a bit too far. my current boy friend once said ‘i am a loner and don’t like most people but you seem to hate every body some times.’ and it is true i get the mentality of ‘well they are all gonna screw me over in the end’ so i just find the fault right at the beginning. i might not be wanting to kill my self any more but it is not much healthier. .

    • Lola
      Jan 18, 2013 @ 07:03:36

      I agree with you – carried too far the fuck you attitude is really not healthy either. I can relate really well to what you wrote, because that was pretty much the way I thought and behaved towards others while I was living in group homes and stuff. I didn’t socialize because I was convinced I’m better off alone anyway (plus I struggle with social anxiety, so that solved that problem, too), so apart from the therapists and social workers, which I had not much choice about, I wasn’t interacting with people a lot. I got better after I went to live with my family, though, so now I only get the fuck you attitude in response to feeling really low about stuff, but it usually doesn’t stay around nearly as long anymore. That’s healthier. I’m wishing you that you find a way to ease it down to a more healthy level, too, even when it takes a little practice and struggling with finding out how to get there and all that.

  4. nobodysreadingme
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 09:49:12

    I’ll not bore you with my domestic arrangements, but someone whose judgement I trust said the other day ‘I know you’re no pushover. Most people wouldn’t last ten minutes living the way you do. They’d just give in.’
    So that’s why I admire your resilience, and your fuck you attitude. I’ve got one of those too. If you don’t like me, well fuck you.
    That’s a bad attitude for someone nearly 60, but hey ho. I’ve got enough on my plate without wasting time, and effort, and energy on currying favour. I don’t try to hurt or offend people but at the same time i’m not going to go out of my way to stay on the right side of someone.
    As we say over here in England ‘Bollocks to that for a game of soldiers.’
    Keep bouncing Lola

    • Lola
      Jan 18, 2013 @ 16:48:04

      Yeah, you just need something of a fuck you attitude sometimes, and it’s probably no less important when you’re 60 than when you’re 26. Hey, and there’s no contradiction in having a fuck you attitude and being polite about it. “Sir, would you kindly go and get lost, if you please?!” 😀

      • nobodysreadingme
        Jan 18, 2013 @ 20:24:39

        no it becomes more important as I get older. the attitude becomes more important.
        I know I’m an old git I wear my badge with pride.

        • Lola
          Jan 18, 2013 @ 21:34:57

          What is a git? I don’t know that word. But it sounds interesting. If a little like zit. But that’s not it, I’m sure. 😉

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