I am 1 in 4 but that doesn’t define me..

By Joanne Vigneau

I have had quite an up-and-down kind of day and for reasons I can’t explain I need to try and get some of my thoughts down on paper. My mind has not been what it once was and I am no longer as sharp either so notes and journals will be my new best friend, so that I can catalogue things as they happen and as I go through each issue and each day, one step at a time. Today we have had several different issues and I feel like superwoman for surviving with my sanity intact.

I am a 41-year-old single mother of two amazing blessings that I live and breathe for each and every day. My world has always been all about them since the day they were born and I knew I would never stop loving them. Trying to give them more and be a better person and mother. So as we become more at ease and settled into the community we are now beginning to face some of the issues and things we have been putting off due to life and circumstances we can’t control. Puberty and adolescence is hitting and the hormones and mood swings are out of this world. Each of us is trying to do the best we can to navigate through our mental health issues. Learning to deal with and regulate their emotional responses to stress and social situations out of our comfort zone. You can’t grow where you are comfortable and you can’t grow without change. It’s an evolution over time and many years of mistakes and bad decisions.

When our family experienced the fracture in 2014 and 2015 it literally altered who we were and how we perceive people to be. It forced me to look very deep inside myself to figure out how this could’ve happened and what I had done that was so terribly wrong that these people would relentlessly seek out to destroy and discredit who I was and my character. It was vicious and without regard for myself or my children and what we would be going through. I was forced into making a decision I didn’t think I was capable of – could I really go no contact after fighting so hard to keep the children all close together because they were blood and how would I deal with life after they were removed?

The choice was easy after they refused to respect my boundaries and be accountable for their own bullshit, instead of deflecting everything onto me in order to get the eyes off themselves. I was emotionally raped and stripped of everything I had fought so hard to build for the kids. Ten years of bonding and building relationships… accepting and forgiving when we shouldn’t have, just in the name of being the better person and putting the kids’ bond ahead of everything else. Not anymore. We were of no regard and just a means to an end for them. I was the scapegoat and victim of all their crises, blame-shifting, gas-lighting and smear campaigning. I was the rock they depended on until they had to step up… and that just wasn’t going to happen. I was their choice for references, jobs, maid-of-honour, temporary guardian for their teenage son, but now all of a sudden I was not fit and crazy, because I could not accept a relationship between a teen and a middle-aged adult… not once but twice in the same family. I can’t raise my children to be decent, contributing members of society when their flesh and blood are above all morality and above the laws of humanity or society. I couldn’t justify keeping them near that any longer so I began to plan for our exit. In March 2015 we did just that.

I remember the sail across and it was a defining moment in my mental health and life. I chose to forgive myself for simply loving them beyond all faults and being loyal to the wrong kind of people. They forced me to look deep inside myself to fix what was broken as a lost little girl and be ok so I could move on. Not as a victim but as a survivor – a warrior who will fight your fight with you just so you don’t have to fight it alone. I no longer looked for an outside source of validation or love; I found it within myself and became my own hero. Listening to my inner voice and following my heart. I accepted that my co-dependency issues led to all of this in one way or another. They forced me to study behaviours and personality traits like psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. I never knew such people were a thing or that there were other people who had gone through what I experienced. To be used and kept in tow for personal gain and entertainment, to be discarded when no longer fulfilling their need for supply or complying with their delusional world and fake, superficial personalities. Was I so desperate to be needed that I allowed this to happen and brought the drama? Or was I a sane person dealing with an obscene amount of betrayal and deception on a very personal and deep level?

I questioned my own sanity and perception to the point that I drank half a bottle of vodka and downed a few sedatives. I smoked a joint and went to ER in crisis, asking to be seen because I wanted to just vanish. I had suicidal thoughts but no impulse to carry them out and leave my children with those as their only family. They checked me in and gave me more sedatives and I saw the triage crisis worker in the morning. Explained it all and informed her of the booze, drugs, work, and bipolar behaviours, and of what had just happened – and do you know what her response was? I was discharged immediately and she walked me to the front door to get into my cab. No follow up, no counselling, no therapy and not a single concern whatsoever.

It was right then and there that I knew that I had to cut ties or go insane, and I refused to give up on my kids like that, so we left. I was stripped of my soul, and the core of who I was then was used against me to cripple me into being quiet. I regret not fighting harder for those young adults who were lost to a world of lies, inappropriate sexual relationships, and exposed to a whole darker side of life by the sheer abuse of power by the older adult to groom and lure these lost and broken souls into their beds and into being their new supply of adoration. I wasn’t crazy after all and actually they were the disordered ones and the ones who needed the most help but would never seek it since they are narcissists. They are never to blame, never accountable and will never change. I had to learn to swallow that pill too and it was a rough one. I mean, how can a human being be such an evil being? Simple, because they lack a moral compass to guide them or a conscience when they hurt or harm others. They hold themselves above the law and are often very conceited and shallow people. They see no wrong in exploiting people or the system. I mean, that’s what it is there for, right?

Now I have to relearn every behaviour and coping skill I have been taught over the years and completely change the way I think and how I react to things that happen. I no longer seek for praise or an outside source to put myself in a position to be the one who saves the day. I have to teach myself to say no and that not every battle has to be fought. I do not need to save everyone. My son’s emotional regulation issues have taught me that much. Pick and choose your battles. My kids have taught me more about life and emotions than anything else ever could. I had to be a parent to understand my own journey and why and how things happened so I can make sure I do not unintentionally do the same thing to my own children. I will never look back and say I spent too much time with my kids. They won’t say that I refused to listen to them and hear their emotional needs and validate their feelings. I may have been a fuck-up my whole life but I can turn that into knowledge to be there for my kids. Like I wished someone had been for me. It is so defeating to share my experiences and what I am going through with my family when I am still made to feel like an attention-seeking drama queen instead, seen as the hurt teenager who was crying out for her mother’s time and attention but could never get it.

All the physical things were done and mom was there in every other sense of the word except to feel, emote or express her feelings. Never allowing us to grieve or get counselling and never being allowed to discuss our feelings or emotions. It was a terrible period and I was very alone although I was surrounded by people. But they were just there and nobody every cared to talk to me or ask me why or what was going on. They say the children who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways and I can see that now. I was an undiagnosed bipolar teenager who had just lost her dad and her mother had checked out of parenting and became the boss lady and everyone else’s rock but not mine. I understand now why she did those things and it was her just trying to cope with life and stress the best she could, however, it doesn’t mean I can’t learn from her mistakes and share my stories with my children so we can learn from it and use it as armour and a tool to be proactive when life happens and the bad stuff hits. I have made it my purpose to make sure my kids always feel important, loved beyond measure and happy inside with themselves as the unique individuals they are. Their mental health and self-esteem are the most important things to me as they try to get through puberty and their own needs and issues.

My point here is that until you release yourself from the prison of your own mind and thoughts, nothing on the outside is ever going to make a difference. Sometimes bad shit happens to good people and good shit happens for the bad ones. C’est la vie! I am grateful for the experiences and hurt for what it taught me and the treasures and strength that I discovered were inside of me all along.

I see many friends struggling with addiction, mental health problems, relationship problems and self-esteem issues but let me just say this: you are enough. You are not alone. And you can get through this. It does get better with practice and patience. Living well with depression is hard and a lot of work but so worth the result of the pure quality of the people in your daily lives and who you surround yourself with. Never quit, and if you fail you aren’t a failure until you quit trying to get back up again. We are all warriors and we are all just here to love and be loved in return so let’s be better humans. Authenticity is free, and having a few genuine people in your life is better than having a hundred irrelevant people to keep you company!

I am enough, I am ok alone, I am not broken and no longer wish to be fixed but embrace the fact that I am a sensitive person and that is ok too. If you never adapt or change then things will always come back around full circle. We can’t change the past, no, and it’s not about living there either. It is about learning from it so we can change and let go to move on in a healthier, more content way. Just my thoughts, since it is all about mental health and sharing your thoughts and experiences I thought I would try to share mine – if it makes sense at all!

It costs nothing to love but will cost you everything if you do not love at all!

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