I sometimes (very rarely) get angry out of nowhere. I check myself pretty quickly. Am I hungry? Am I tired? Am I cold or hot?
The answer is always no.
And then I realize that current Vene is fine. Current Vene is a fighter and every day she kicks ass. But 2011-2013 Vene is still not ok. And no one has ever mentioned so much as an “I’m sorry” for what they did to her.
When D left in the cruel and (as usual) abusive way he did, I plummeted so fast that nobody wanted anything to do with me. No one checked up on me. No one brought me soup or made sure I wasn’t drinking myself to oblivion. No one made sure I was getting out of bed or showering or paying bills or breathing even.
I got out of the mental hospital September 16, 2011, after attempting suicide. I’d fought so hard to get out and suddenly I was home alone and separated with no husband or food or common sense and no absolutely no one checked on me. I got stoned for the first time in years that night and D FaceTimed me. He wanted to show me his new apartment. The apartment he’d secretly rented behind my back that was now full of the things he secretly packed and moved while I was in a drug induced coma at night. He had posters up on the walls.
I ran to the bathroom and threw up and cried giant sobs. He eventually came over and I made him lay down in the guest bed with me until I fell asleep exhausted.
God, those were lonely times. D had been so good at making everyone think it was all my fault and isolating me from the people in my life that I was bereft of friends and family from before I even knew what had happened.
Everyone blamed the bipolar disorder. I was a mess and no one, not even D, with the patience of a saint, could fix me. It was all lies. My mood swings and depression were not a result of a medical condition. I’d been abused to the point of no longer having control over my emotions. I just laid on a couch as one day bled into the next, incapacitated by psychiatric medication. At night I would watch “It Gets Better” videos on YouTube and cry.
Almost everything that happened during that time was unnecessary. Breakups are always hard. But mine was so brutal I woke up crying and feared sleep because the dreams were torture.
I made one friend during that time. A woman from Junior League (I know…I know…we all make mistakes). She had been through a divorce and took pity on me. She met with me and made me care packages. I didn’t know why she cared about me at all but it was incredibly touching.
In my usual yenta mode, I put her together with one of D’s friends and then managed their relationship. But eventually I had to bow out because she was spending time with D and I couldn’t stand to hear what was going on with him.
Calming old Vene down is easier now than it used to be. Usually, the obvious just needs to be pointed out. All those people who disappeared? They came back. Not because I begged them or changed, but because eventually the swelling from the blow went down and I went back to being the real me.
But it still hurts to this day. It’s one thing to feel alone and another to actually be alone and pitied and counted out for the count. Not just by some. Everyone counted me out.
So on days like this, when I am in NYC and am completely unrecognizable to old Vene, I say a silent prayer of gratitude to whomever is listening. Thank you, I say, for kicking my ass so hard I did the only thing I could do. I got out from underneath that blanket and threw it on as a cape. I saved myself and became my own hero. Because even if old me was hopeless, my hero knew that someday I would get to this point where almost anything was possible.
How many years did I suffer needlessly when I could have been here, on top of the world? How much time was wasted because no one cared? Not even my parents. I don’t know how to describe how alone and reviled I was. There aren’t words for the depths I endured, my lungs crushed from the pressure so very, very far down.
When people tell me they’re so glad I got better, I want to kick them in the crotch. Because they sat and watched it all play out with greasy hands in popcorn buckets, just waiting for me to collapse under the weight of misery. They did nothing. I didn’t just “get better.” No one just “gets better.” So you can demean me or be glib about what I went through all you want. Once there was someone who tried to take away much more than you ever will. And I left everyone speechless in my wake. Underestimate me at your own peril. I don’t lose. Ever.
Don’t believe me? Look at the bipolar disorder. I don’t get depressed or manic or out of control or suicidal anymore. I confronted my trauma and I grew from it. When anger bubbles to the surface, I write and hang out with friends, listen to music, cook, go for a walk, go on a date, see a movie or an art exhibition, or just breathe. I’m awfully good at breathing these days.
And D, wherever he is in this world, is most likely quoting The Big Lebowski and listening to The Bouncing Souls and being the exact same person he was when we were dating. Me, I’ve lived ten lives. And now I’m creating things that inspire others.
Some people are spectators and others gladiators. That’s just how the world works.