I mentioned that I'd had some setbacks this past week. Those blew up rather intensely on Wednesday. I have debated about writing this blog for days, despite Wednesday being one of the more dramatic experiences of this journey. I've decided to keep writing.
I missed a court appearance on Wednesday. I believed that the appearance would be waived, as the necessary paperwork had been filed. The mistake was inadvertent, although significant. However, some good soul, someone with a well-meant intention, someone clearly concerned for me, read the error as possibly intended. By that I mean that someone believed I might have harmed myself. I can't know what was going through this person's head. I can't know how or why someone I don't "advertise" it to found this blog. I won't understand the level of concern this relative stranger felt which prompted his action, but I do believe it was genuine.
Wednesday night, as I was bathing my two littles, my doorbell rang. I was home alone with the kids and the pup. I left the kids covered in bubbles and went to answer the door. My heart stopped when I realized two officers stood before me. What had happened? Who was hurt? What terrible news am I about to receive? They stepped politely into my entryway and asked if I knew why they were there. Of course I didn't. They asked me if I had missed a court appearance that day. My first thought was, "Can they take me to jail for that?" My second thought was, "Gosh, I didn't mean to, but perhaps I misread what would come of the hearing scheduled for this morning." I explained that I hadn't missed an appearance, to my knowledge and that I believed the hearing scheduled would have been removed. It may seem like a simple mistake or a huge gaff, but it sort of doesn't matter what my intent was.
The next question left me both defensive and incredibly exposed. "Do you keep some sort of blog?" Let me share the history of my blogging. I write a blog called This is Me Becoming Mommy. I started it to keep my sanity while raising two small children while keeping my intelligence from being consumed by Nick Jr. melodies. I enjoyed it. It was fun to write and it always let me spin things that probably had me frustrated or uncomfortable at the time, into stories that made even me laugh. A few years into my fun blog, I began struggling in my personal life. I started a blog called "Journey of a Highly Unsatisfied Me." I wrote two posts before a client's spouse emailed the blog to my client, with the malicious intent of harming my reputation, perhaps by making me look bad for having a personal life or a pretty photograph? I can't know, but I was horrified at what felt like a breach of my privacy (yeah, I know, it's on the internet, it's not private, but I hadn't expected it to be "used" against me). I immediately deleted that blog and its two entries and removed my name from my other blog, simply writing under "EC." Even then, the fear, that I might be exposed for who I really was, was palpable.
Imagine my more recent alarm, when another client took it upon themselves to attempt to publicly flog me by writing a scathing comment suggesting that my "issues" had just about ruined their life. Now, I have taken and continue to take responsibility for how my "issues" have impacted the people around me. I have been difficult to live with and my mental illness has wreaked havoc on my life. I was, however, still surprised that someone would be so hostile. "I will never forget or forgive what you've done," was the closing of the comment, which has since been removed. Again I was astonished that someone would seek out my personal blog (which does relate to my work in a roundabout sort of way), having to sift through pages of Google search results because it is no longer written under my name, and to use this kind of information in that way. I felt stalked. I felt scared. I felt terrorized, and it contributed sharply to my decline into paranoia. There is a system for complaining about one's lawyer's work, and this client did exercise that avenue as well, as they should have, feeling the way that they did. The blog comment, though, that was meant to punish and to humiliate, not to resolve any issues.
And now this. Again, the intention behind this crossing into my personal life was not malicious. I do know that. Frankly, I am reminded again and again that the internet is public. I know this, of course, and as I have told people for days now, that is the point. It feels GOOD to be honest in this way. Perhaps it does expose me to unwanted consequences, but hiding what I have been dealing with has been awful for me and crippling for my recovery. Hiding allowed me, for so long, to lurk behind a facade that, as it cracked, exposed me for the failure I felt that I was. At least here I have owned the truth, for what that could possibly be worth.
Back to the two officers at my door, who appeared both very professional and also slightly uncomfortable. I suppose I understand because they had no idea what my state of mind was when they walked through the door. They asked if I was a danger to myself. I said, "Of course not." We were interrupted by my two small, innocent children clamoring for my attention. Realizing this was not going to be quick, I brought them to the living room. Shaking from head to foot, I explained that we had two police officers in the living room, checking in on us to make sure everyone is safe and okay. Thank heaven my children are as young and largely oblivious as they are. How scary this might have been for them!
One of the officers remarked that I had my hands full. He had no idea. The other officer noted that anyone who was trying to harm themselves might suggest that they were perfectly fine to get them to leave. I showed them the blog. I offered my therapist's and psychiatrist's phone numbers. I gave them my husband's number and explained his absence. I was afraid they weren't going to leave. I was more afraid that they might leave and take me with them. There have been few times where what I am dealing with has really startled me, though none more than that single thought. The first time I was shocked that this was my life was when I stood in the cafeteria line at the hospital, realizing that I couldn't leave the room without escort. The second time was when I got sick on the way to my psychiatrist's office because the thought of being so close to my office sent me into a severe panic attack. This most recent event was the scariest. Partial-hospitalization, of my own volition, is one thing. Being taken away and locked up because I can't control my own mind is an entirely different concept.
The officers spoke to the people they needed to to make a decision. They were doing their job and they felt that had done it thoroughly enough. I acknowledged, in tears for the first time with them, that it had been an incredibly difficult few months, but I would never leave my children, my family or my friends with the legacy of my suicide. I was not dangerous to myself, at least not in the physical sense that they might have helped with. They left, reminding me that if I needed anything, I could call. I sobbed, in front of my frightened children, for the next three hours.
My heart goes out to the caller whose concern brought those officers to my door. I know it was a bold and generous effort, and one I'm not sure I deserve. Despite my reaction, I am grateful to know that people out there look out for each other enough to make a call like that. Sometimes I forget. My understanding goes out to the client who commented. I know their road is a difficult one as well. I feel for the spouse, so scorned that it felt satisfying to lash out at a complete stranger. And I will not stop writing, despite the knowledge that people who might feel concern or satisfaction at my words are out and quite possibly still reading.
That was the first suggestion at those close enough to me to hear this story first-hand. Why not close it to those who haven't been given permission to view it? Why not journal, on paper, and avoid the risk of someone seeing it that might use it harmfully? Is it worth it? It is. It is the one place that I feel empowered amid all of the distortion in my brain. The point was to be completely exposed, as I never feel free to do in my real life (and for reasons which are obvious now). Maybe as importantly now, I know it means something to others who read it - others who, like me, suffer from these kinds of thoughts, who felt alone, who now know that we are in better company than they might have known . . . others who might not be willing to expose themselves by asking permission to view such an intimate and intense subject-matter. I am so tired of being afraid. Writing "out loud" is the best thing I can do for myself, despite the possible consequences. I hate having to take a stand about it or to justify myself to those who question the decision, but it's what I feel is best for me to do. So I will keep writing.