Shame and Truths: RIP Jennifer
A cross post, also posted on my personal blog. Shared here, too, because I think it’s important to think about and because I miss my friend.
It’s the morning after the election. I scrolled through Facebook, and between the flood of posts from both the gloaters and the weepers, I remember that I lost a friend a week ago…and all your political banter seems like silly fluff to me when I remember she’s gone, exited at her own hand.
I don’t know precisely why she did it, but I do know this: we often carry around our dark secrets, ashamed, sure no one will love us if we come clean. We are sure opening up our suitcase of skeletons will cause us to lose our friends. They’ll think us foolish or weak, or maybe both, so we drag our nasty baggage around with us, hiding it away. The weight of it gets heavier as time goes by, crushing.
I’ve cracked open my baggage a time or two, but mostly I keep it snapped shut. I’ve given close friends a glimpse at what’s inside, and you know what happened? They asked, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Why didn’t you let me help?”
Because: I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I didn’t want to speak it out loud. I didn’t want anyone to know what was really going on with me because I didn’t want to trouble anyone. I needed to handle it myself. I needed to either overcome it or hide it away, but I didn’t want to advertise it. I am strong and asking for help is weak. I don’t know why. All those reasons and none of those reasons, maybe, and perhaps my friend was struggling with the same.
Let me crack open my baggage a little, just a peek, and see if you turn away…
I’ve been verbally abused and hit by men who claimed to be my husband. I say “claimed to be” because a true partner wouldn’t go there and/or he’d recognize his own problems and get some help. I’ve manage to wed two who did that, and I really don’t think I had a clue either time before the wedding. What does that make me? Blind? Naive? And where does that leave me today in relationships? Running away as fast as I can, or trying to control what can’t be controlled…which ends up in me being alone, which is safer, right?
Still with me?
I suck at adulting. I live paycheck to paycheck, hustling side jobs for any extras. I carry a lot of what I call “survival” debt where credit cards were used for medical, dental, child care, and things like clothes for the kid in the months where no child support came or it came, but there was not enough to cover costs like shoes for growing feet or the summer day camp field trip to Dollywood. I’ve never bought so much as a new couch or a new kitchen table. I’ve watched people build new houses and cart in their new beautiful furnishings and I’ve felt lower than low. I’m happy for them, but I quietly wonder, worry, obsess over what I have done wrong? I don’t get it. I have a wheelbarrow full of college degrees and relevant certifications, and I struggle to buy groceries most months. Sometimes when I have a little extra pocket money, I choose experiences with the people I love over a couch. Do you judge me? Could you tell me how to do it better from your comfy leather sofa?
Anyway. That’s enough for now.
My thought here was to shed some light on the things I carry around, that we all carry around, to maybe give some insight on why someone would give up on this life without us having a clue. The things we drag around fester and get heavier and heavier.
Do you believe in love? Do you believe in shame? If love can conquer all then why do we only feel the pain. We’ll miss you forever and then some, Jennifer.