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Happily ever after, takes work

by Sarah Casey about a year ago in coping
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Life happens, then you gotta keep on living...

This is the start of a story that ended.

People love to talk about abuse, about depression, about fighting to get past a traumatic event. People love stories where the victim triumphs, they get away, they defy odds and get out. The abuse ends, the mental illness recedes, happily ever after right?

But here's the thing... My story didn't end the moment I left my abusive paedophilic ex-husband. It didn't end when I finally gathered the courage to tell my emotionally manipulative mother I cannot have her in my life. It certainly didn't end the moment the doctors finally found an antidepressant that works for me.

It's my life and every day I got to live it, even though technically I reached the 'happily ever after'.

So, here's my life. I'm a twenty-nine year old mother of two. Does it count as two if one isn't born yet? Anyway, I have a beautiful daughter, Rinoa, who turns six early next year. Her sister is due, ironically, two days before her birthday. We live in Australia, Rural Queensland. A very small town, but a nice one. I've lived here since I was born here, my one attempt to move out of it ending in disaster.

I have a fresh new partner, Darien. he's sweet, kind, fun and respectful. He thinks I'm the best thing that's happened to him. I think he's nuts, but hey, aren't we all? He works in the mines nearby, in a temporary position made by the Covid situation. He temperature checks the miners as they arrive at work, making sure no one runs a fever.

I am studying towards a cert IV in youth work, hoping to make the world a better place. That and I can't work while pregnant, so why not start focusing on what I want to do with my life? Or at the very least, I can do some good as I earn money for the bills.

What a boring, workaday life right? I wish.

I am happy, really. I don't want people getting the wrong idea. I love my family dearly. I really want to be here, I really want to get better. I strive towards recovery because no matter how far I come, there is still further to go.

Every morning I must decide if I want to live. Every morning I wake up and I'm a little sad and disappointed that once again, I am conscious. The dead have no responsibility's, no worry's, no frustrations. The dead are dead and they don't have to live. Lucky bag of bones.

Mornings are not the only scar on my psyche, but they are perhaps the most consistent. Others can just, wake up, and start their day. I must consciously choose to do the same thing. It would be so easy to just stay in bed and sink into oblivion.

Been there and done that. When my daughter was one and a half, it was the darkest time of my life. I had fought so hard and so long to try and push through the crushing weight on my shoulders, that I fought to a stand still. I couldn't bring myself to move. I simply sat on the couch, staring at the tv, trying to will myself to care about anything other then feeding my daughter and changing her nappy.

My house, my life, disintegrated. I stopped speaking to people, stopped answering the phone, the door. I stopped cleaning, I stopped going out even to shop. My greatest shame, was my daughter, who I had tried so hard to live for, could not even motivate me anymore. I longed to die and it took literally everything I had not to actively kill myself.

There was no clean clothes in the house, not a stitch. The kitchen was filthy. My daughter was too. There was barely enough food to keep us going. I neglected everything, absolutely everything, because it was all my will not to get up from the couch and end myself. My sister had no choice but too step in.

She let herself in, and she hugged me, crying to see me brought so low. Her tears did nothing, touched nothing inside me. I was numb, completely gone from myself. I remember staring at her as she spoke to me, not listening to her words, just her voice. It was only when she picked up my daughter, the only reason I was still breathing, and showed me, really showed me, how far I had gone.

The light of my life, was filthy. She was in just a nappy, because there were no clothes and she was so hungry she was crying. She had sores around her joints, rashes from not being cared for properly. I couldn't believe that I had done this to my child in my depression.

It broke something in me, the dam I had kept sealed or I would drown. my sister held me as I cried, then she changed my life. She took my baby girl from me, and she told me I would get her back once I was ready to care for her again. She told me something I could not believe. That I was not a 'bad' mother, but a sick one. that she knew I loved Rinoa, but she also knew I could not care for her right now.

She gave me a list, a goal to meet. She would come back every day to check I was alive and that I had no time limit. I didn't have to change overnight, I didn't have to fix it all immediately. But no, Rinoa would not come back to the house until it was done.

For three days, I broke completely. I sobbed almost constantly, I raged, I hated and loathed myself so completely I felt I would die from it. I felt as if I would displace myself from reality, purely through the hate I bore myself. I would not wish that upon anyone. I do not know why I stayed alive for my sisters checks, except I did not want someone to have to sit my daughter down one day and tell Rinoa her mother did not love her enough to live.

So, one morning, I woke up and I made a choice. A choice to live. Not just too exist, but to actually live.

Many would say, that's it, done, problem solved. i had my wake up call and never went back to that darkness again. But that would not be true. It was hard, the hardest thing I ever did and still do. Choosing to live isn't something I can do just once and that's it. I must do it every day for the rest of my life.

During that time, it involved finally moving, finally cleaning and making the house fit for my daughter to live. It involved scrubbing my house top to bottom, making hard choices such as confronting the fact I could not keep my dog. That guilt is for another story I think. It involved admitting I needed help, in admitting that I was seriously mentally ill and I could not push through it alone.

My daughter was returned to me after a week and a half, my sisters, not just jenny, but all of them helping as could either in cleaning, in caring for Rinoa or just talking to me on the phone as I worked. I literally needed just conversation, even if it was about nothing, to keep me going.

And every day I had to decide to get out of bed and LIVE.

Not to say I never backslid either. My house did not become a perfect haven of cleanliness, still isn't immaculate, but it never got that bad again. Now, it is a healthy kind of mess. Of kids toys and clean clothes and dishes too slack to put away after their cleaned. Its the mess of a family, living in their home make.

Happily ever after. It's a great idea, but it takes work. I am far from that broken person, but they still live inside me. In the dark corner of my mind, they are there, hugging their knee's sobbing, raging at themselves, like a stain I cannot erase. Right next to the others, the multiple versions of me I had been in my life, the shattered, the angry, the guilty, the damned. They bleed, they whisper, and my happily ever after does not erase the story that ended.

It just means I must choose to Live, and to work at my Ever After.

Everyone does.

Now if you will excuse me, my daughter wants to play Mario kart with me, and I need to take advantage of these early years before she gets better at this and starts kicking my butt. I hope you all have a better day then you did yesterday, forgive yourself for your mistakes, and remember that things might feel as if they will last forever but good or bad, things will change.

Sarah signing off.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this sliver of my life helps others to understand they are not alone. That the dark is not all there is. Things can get better, and I cannot promise that things will never be hard again, but they will be BETTER.

I'm thinking of writing a series here, of various event in my life, both past and present. Good and bad. I know this was depressing but I got plenty of funny stories too. I've been kicked by a camel, trapped in an elevator with five siblings, my parents and my baby nephew, and I've been a radio announcer and DJ. So it won't all be doom and gloom.

Guess it depends how this story does!

coping

About the author

Sarah Casey

Just an Aussie mum, trying to live in the chaos of this world, longing for the day I find my dragon egg, hatch a lifetime companion and take my kids flying under a starlit night.

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