So, never in a million years (well, let’s not start out too dramatically…let’s say 50) did I think I would base a post on a Lifetime movie, but here goes: I joined the Lifetime Movie Club the other day; it’s a pandemic and I’m desperate for entertainment outside of watching Edward lick himself. So anyhoot, I watched a doozie today about a couple of contractors, one who is trying to off this gal (shocker) and the other one that ‘acts’ crazy but is really the good guy. To make a long story short, the good guy never ever gave up on this woman he was trying to save, even when she was bad to him and told him to go away. He just stayed true to what he felt was right.
Hmmmmm. It got me thinking about giving up on people; when you should…when you shouldn’t.
J texted me again today, and I can tell he is in so much pain. He’s angry, hateful, acting belligerent, all of which I know is covering up the pain he has inside himself. No, he would never admit this. No, he won’t allow himself to try to confront it because I don’t think he would know how to handle the feelings he’d be flooded with. And no, he won’t seek out help because he needs this shield against a world he doesn’t want to be a part of anymore.
I have re-connected with an old friend from high school and we are really having some great talks, so I chatted with them about this today, and they said, “Just block him.” Of course, I could do that. Easily. But I’m not going to and I’ll tell you why. (Ma, if you are getting pissed at me, turn off the computer…the little button on the left. The one that says ‘power’. No…not that one. The other…oh…for fuck sakes, just shut the lid and turn on the TV).
It all goes back to giving up on people. Yes, he gave up on me. And yes, how it happened was wrong. And no, I didn’t do anything to deserve that sort of treatment (this is progress, peeps). However, after 3 years, half of them living together, I know him very well. I know his family and they are horrible to him (and to me, but I digress). They gave him absolutely nothing in his life but the bare minimum to survive and that was it. And yes, that included ‘love’ too. It’s truly beyond my realm of comprehension, as a mom, how you can’t show love to your own child. I just don’t get it.
I could give up on J. I could turn my back. Walk away. Cut myself off. And that means I would be like everyone else in his life. I’m not though, and I think this tenacity comes from a couple of things.
First, my ma has never done that to me. I put her through hell and back a couple of summers ago, and she bore the burden and stayed by my side as long as I needed her too. She still does. I have dumped shit on her I should have taken out on myself, and she looks at me and tells me she loves me. In other words, she has never given up on me. Not when I was at the lowest place in my life…when I was telling her I wanted to die…when I was cutting myself and she had to see the bloody bandages…never. And I wouldn’t be here if she had.
Second, what is in us as humans that we walk away so easily when people need us the most? How many times have I said to someone “GO AWAY” when all I really wanted was for them to come closer? When I was younger, I’d yell “I HATE YOU” to other kids who didn’t want to play with me (gee…I wonder why), and actually, all I wanted was to feel included.
When I was in the midst of that fucking breakdown, so many people gave up on me…backed away…ignored me. People I had known for decades at school turned their backs on me. When I would cry in my office over lunch, no one would ever ask me how I was. People whispered about me (I know this because I heard them at times), would turn away when I’d walk by, would pretend they didn’t know me. How can I even describe how much that hurt? My nephew was dead, I was finalizing a divorce, J was treating me bad, I had cervical surgery, my mentor died, a student was giving me trouble, etc. I needed people more than ever. I needed just one person at work to say: “Look, I know you’re hurting, what can I do?” If just one wouldn’t have ‘given up on me’, I wonder how much faster I would have healed?
So, how can I do that to J? He’s reaching out for a reason. Not because he wants me back, but because he doesn’t know any other way to connect with someone who understands. How can I turn my back on him when he’s at, what I believe, to be the lowest point in his life? How can I let him down…give up on him…like everyone else has?
Look, those of us with mental illnesses know we are going to have good times in our lives, and we are going to go through hell at times in our lives. Walking with someone in the sunshine is nothing. But helping them through the storm is. By not giving up on J, I’m paying forward all the times people haven’t given up on me. And that’s a debt I’m happy to be responsible for.