I sat down to paint this afternoon with only a vague picture in my mind but 2 hours later this is the finished product. There are a lot of memories in this picture. There is the significance of my current situation. And there is all the effort and finances I spent at the cost of my health that got me into this situation. I did not expect that my "new beginning" would end up like it did....
I will be honest about my experience and the story behind my art piece and I don't name names or places for privacy reasons. I will be talking about people who have hurt me and if you think I might be talking about you I hope that instead of getting upset and lashing out at me you will try to understand and perhaps "walk a mile in my shoes " before you say anything to me. I share from my experience and not because I want to hurt you even though I may be angry with your lack of actions or words etc...
My heart aches tonight. And I mean horribly. I feel like I've been trampled into the mud over and over again by the ones I considered friends in the last month. I'm struggling to clear the mud out of my eyes so I can try to see clearly enough to figure out what the next thing is to do. I'm trying to hold my reeling body upright enough to take the next step. I feel like I've been stripped naked in front of my enemies for them to kick me around however they want. I feel like everything I called mine has been stripped away(even though I'm slowly gaining access to my possessions again). I feel lost. Lost at sea. Riding crazy waves that threaten to drown me every time they get half a chance.
Today my head feels a little clearer than it did for the last month. Which means I'm able to paint again and can write a bit more than I had been. Why? Because yesterday 8 strangers willingly moved most of my belongings, most importantly, the furniture and appliances to my storage unit. It was such a huge load off my shoulders. I had asked 2 people I thought were my friends for help. The one said they're so busy working on their dream to help hurting people heal that they don't have a few hours to spare to help me move some of my belongings. The other individual asked why I don't move back to my family and said I should ask my sister and her husband to help me move my stuff which seemed ridiculous to me since they live 5 hours away. Those who know my story, may remember that I cut contact with my parents almost 2 years ago because my boundaries were not being respected and the gaslighting and manipulation was hindering me from going forward with my life.
I moved to a new area where I knew less than a handful of people. I had to get rid of so many household items that I had gathered for my future home. Projects. Pieces to fulfill the dreams that smolder in my heart. It was not a cheap move. On top of that my health was not good so it also cost me a lot in that area.
I feel like I'm right in the place I'm supposed to be. In the state I am supposed to be. So to be implied that I should move back to my sister(family) felt like the individual was trying to kick me out of the area I feel I am supposed to be. To kick me out of their life. Like as in "good riddance". I assume that they had good intentions. But it did much more harm than good. Plus I really wanted to get to know them and build a friendship but I'm not sure if that will actually happen. For one they don't seem to have time but also because of their words to me in my painful situation. I can forgive but the hurt and betrayal is still there which may hinder future interactions...and healing in an area where I wanted to pursue healing by getting to know them as an individual.
I moved 7 hours to a place I thought was safe. But the safety ended when I started setting boundaries so I can feel safe and continue healing. Then they got upset with me. I went to the doctor and got sent to the shelter when they found out about my situation. I wasn't expecting that. I hadn't even planned that. In fact, I had tried to do everything in my power to avoid becoming homeless but the trauma from all the things I've been through had basically rendered me an invalid and the situation I found myself in drained me of whatever energy I may have had left.
I went back 2 days later to the house to get more of my things and found all the doorknobs changed so that I could not access my belongings. I was essentially locked out. It almost made me go crazy with shock and betrayal. I managed to get back to the shelter and asked for someone to talk to because I was so distraught. I was invited into the office but before I could get a word out I wailed. I tried to stifle them but they kept coming. It took a bit of time to compose myself before I could even explain what had happened. It was a depth of betrayal that was worse than any I had ever experienced. It was horrible.
A day or so later I had civil standby to help me access some of my belongings. I went upstairs to gather some things but the wails came again and I couldn't swallow them. I was embarrassed that I couldn't control myself. The one officer came up and asked what's wrong and I just said I don't know what I did to deserve such treatment. I did manage to gather some things before leaving but I couldn't really think straight.
I tried to get permission to go back to the house and found out that my stuff had been all packed up. Hence why I mentioned earlier that I felt like I was stripped naked before my enemies. If the person who invited me into their home, who I had trusted as safe, was now locking up my belongings and making it hard for me to access my stuff, how can I trust them to not ruin some of my things because they are so upset with me? Plus they were handling my very personal and precious belongings; some of which was too dear to my heart to let them willingly see it, especially now that I no longer trusted them...
A week later I got permission to go back to the house with my advocate but when we got to the house we were told we need to get civil standby and so we had to sit in the car and wait till the officer came before we could enter. I managed to get some of the most important things.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to go back to the house with 8 strangers to move my belongings after all the betrayal and hurt by those I thought were friends. It touched my heart deeply. The kindness. The willingness. Being believed and supported. It made the whole situation better than I expected. Despite the fact that I broke two of my mixing bowls, one of which I used for making bread. I was disappointed but I was supported and cared about with a few simple words that kept the disappointment from becoming a huge deal and I was able to move on. I wanted to clean up the mess I made but now even the kitchen door lock had been changed so my keys no longer worked. Therefore I picked up the biggest pieces and had to leave the rest for the occupant of the house to clean up. We managed to get most of my belongings which has lifted a tremendous burden off of my shoulders. And helped clear my mind a little bit. I actually had more energy today. And I don't feel as tired which is awesome!
I also found out yesterday that I am not allowed to have my car in the driveway because the occupant of the house has told the neighbors that if they see my car in the driveway they are supposed to call the police. When I heard that, I found myself hanging my head in (misplaced) shame and fighting to keep the tears inside. The advocate who was going to go with me came out of the office(I had been standing at the door waiting till everything gets figured out and when they called the occupant of the house to get more details I had stepped back around the corner because it was too painful to listen to the conversation) and said that she has a truck and can take me if I'm ok with that to which I agreed.
On the way to the house she asked for the story if I was willing to share which I did even though it was painful. She was very supportive and believed me which was empowering. All through this situation it's been hard for me to talk about it because I was so afraid that I wouldn't be believed. That I would be seen as the bad person even though I had no idea what I did wrong to warrant such behavior from this individual that a few short months ago I had believed to be a safe advocate for survivors.
It has about made me go crazy several times but I was constantly back and forth with my therapist and counselor which helped me immensely, otherwise I'm afraid that this situation what have ended even worse than it already is...on my end, that is...
This morning I went over to the storage unit to go through my stuff because there a few things I needed and wanted including my pillow because the one I have here at the shelter is all lumpy and makes my neck miserable. As I was going through my stuff, trying to find an item that had sold on Ebay, grief almost smothered me and I finally had an idea to paint. I didn't find the item and I gave the buyer the option to wait or get a refund. They chose a refund and I lost a sale but neither have I had much control over my situation or having free access to my belongings and I felt so bad that I couldn't find it. Some of my projects are a bit damaged and even though I am disappointed I kind of expect to have some damage after the way I've been treated.
My heart aches with grief for the friends I thought I had but no longer have. The ones I reached out to for help and support only to be denied. Now the support and compassion I'm receiving is mostly from strangers. It's hard to let in the care and compassion that is being freely given but now and then it brings tears to my eyes and I walk away from an interaction with awe in my heart and not quite sure how to receive the kindness that was given.
You see, I don't expect to be believed. I don't expect to be treated with kindness. I don't expect to have people genuinely interested in my situation. I don't expect to be shown compassion or care. I don't expect to receive help or support. Or comforting words and understanding. Even just writing this brings tears to my eyes because the people who have come into my life in the last 2 weeks have been so amazing, supportive, understanding and seem to genuinely care.
Back to the painting...the mountains stand for the 7 hours traveled to what I thought was a safe place, the first safe place I ever had in my life. The lights in the windows is for the welcome I received. The dark upstairs window is for the beautiful room with its white furniture and the pretty floral curtains that I called my bedroom for 3 months. The prettiest room I ever slept in. But now locked out of. The blooming trees and flowers are for the first time I came to this house and I felt safe as well as all the hours of effort and goodwill of my heart that I spent working on the flowerbeds after I moved in because I wanted to help my "friend" with no strings attached. The dark side window is for the garage where all my belongings were locked into, out of my reach. The fence and gate with the big padlock stands for the locks being changed so I could no longer access my belongings. It also signifies all the great hopes I had for a new beginning in a new place for a better life is all wiped away and I find myself in the shelter surrounded by strange people and I don't feel very safe. The person walking away signifies the people I thought were friends that I could count on, that have turned out to not be friends. Perhaps I expected too much. But I will also acknowledge that I didn't expect any more than I expect myself to give to a friend if they were to find themselves in a situation needing help like I did....
Not only has this been an extremely painful situation and experience which I will be grieving for some time to come, but it has also triggered painful memories.
Memories of having no voice.
Memories of having no choice.
Memories of being helpless.
Memories of having my belongings taken away. Locked away. Where I cannot reach them. As punishment...for being a child and being protective of what was mine. Punishment. Cruelty. Deprivation.
Memories of not being allowed to eat with the rest of the family. As punishment. Punishment for just trying to survive. Punishment for a child not meeting adult requirements.
So many memories. So much pain. So much deprivation. So much loss.
And now as an adult, having it happen all over again. My belongings locked away. Being deprived of my food.
It feels like punishment.
It feels like I did something wrong.
It feels like deprivation.
It feels like I'm being shamed.
It feels like I have no voice.
I have tried so hard to figure out what I did wrong. But the search is fruitless. I keep being told I did nothing wrong.
But...loyalty dies hard. I'm loyal to those I care about. Not to the point of turning a blind eye to wrong but to be supportive and help when I can. To be present. To be available.
I know what it's like to be alone. To have no one. No one to turn to but my Father. He's been there over and over, everytime that I once again lost all my friends because I made choices that they didn't like or whatever. It's happened so many times that I expect it to keep happening. Friends. No one. Friends, I dare to hope. No one. Acquaintances I consider friends and I give them a chance and make myself vulnerable. No one. I cannot continue this cycle. I'm too tired of pouring my all into relationships. I have nothing left to give. If people reach out, then they do and I will interact if it feels safe to do so. If they don't, then they don't. I don't have energy to chase relationships anymore. I've been through so much (and learned so much) that the stakes are high. The smallest red flag will cause me to hold people at arm's length until they have earned my trust or proven they're just "fair weather" friends.
I don't know where my life will go from here but at least somebody believes me and strangers are willing to help me. I start a job on Monday but it remains to be seen how it goes as I already have cold feet about it. For one I'm not sure I can physically handle it but I'm going to at least try. A little income will help a lot.
This is now almost 3 hours since I started writing and 5 hours since I started with the painting. Now it's time to go find some food to put in my stomach...
It feels good to have put my situation in words and painting. My mind feels a little clearer even though the grief and anguish lies not far below the surface. I feel so alone in the world and yet not alone. I think I have had more supportive people in my life in the last week than I've had in my entire life. It feels good. It feels empowering. Despite the misplaced shame, fear and hurt and the messages from the past that swirl through my heart and mind:
-I must have done something wrong.
-Now all the neighbors see me as a bad person because she told them to call the cops on me if I show up.
-Nobody will believe me.
-I should have expected this.
-I must have done something wrong to deserve such punishment.
-Maybe it's just all in my head about my family being abusive and I should move back there.
-I dont feel wanted.
-I feel like an outcast.
-I expected too much.
-I am too much. I need to squash myself down so maybe friends will stay.
Of course these are all wrong but a lifetime of horrible experiences causes me to believe such things and drives me to find some reason or fault to blame myself for so life doesn't hurt so much. Somehow it's easier to punish myself than to put the blame where it actually belongs...
Anyway, I'm trying to learn to listen to and respect my body's needs and it wants some food so I will stop and hope that down the road my story will help someone else not feel so alone in their painful situation...
If you have any similar experiences you'd like to share please let me know in the comments. Please, no criticism or judgement. Just care and compassion. It may help another hurting soul in the future and plant a seed of hope to another who feels alone...