The negative voices inside my head have reared up again. I’ve been listening to them too much lately. They speak about a lot of things, but today I only hear, “You are not worthy.” It is nothing more than the guilt and unworthiness instilled in me from an early age as I grew up in the Catholic environment. I listened to all the teachings of the church, my family, and fellow worshipers. All the passages in The Bible they highlighted focused on sin. From the moment you are born, you are doomed, cursed with Original Sin, and must pay the penance for something out of your control. The guilt piles on from there. Everything you do is evil and you must repent. Do this or you go to Hell. Do that or you go to Hell. Why do they not teach of the love that God has, his forgiving nature, and his desire to help? Why can’t everyone see this? And why am I still feeling so unworthy of everything good in my life? Why do I feel unworthy to ask God’s help?
I’m not good enough.
No one likes me.
I don’t matter.
I don’t live, I just exist, an no one notices.
In the end, I always end up saying…Why bother? What’s the point? Things will never change.
These words cut my heart, my soul. They’ve circled in my mind since I was little. Ebbing and flowing. Sometimes they’re whispers in the wind. Today they scream in my face.
But they lie. If living a military life has taught me anything, it’s taught me that everything changes. It may not be in the next five minutes, an hour, a day, a month, or even a year from now. But it will change.
The problem I can’t seem to get past these last few months is that I know change isn’t always good and I’ve let myself sink into the deep hole of despair. That nothing’s going to get better. This is how my life will be forever. I can’t help my husband get better. I can’t take his pain away. I must not be a good person. Good people get to be happy. We’ve had nothing but struggles.
The hardest thing for anyone feeling unworthy is to hear the words of praise. No. Not hear the words. BELIEVE the words of praise. There’s always that nagging voice at the back of your brain that’s telling you the complete opposite. Telling you that they’re just saying these things to be nice. They don’t really mean it. And when the darkness overtakes you, the light extinguished, you start believing that negative, nagging voice.
Before we knew what was wrong with my husband, when things were really bad, I would berate myself. Everything was my fault. His moods were so unstable. But it was always my fault. At least in my eyes. We’ve learned over the years, with the help of the VA, how to communicate. It’s slow going. I still have episodes of self-loathing and guilt that I’m the cause of everything, anxiety about confrontation.
It’s been 15 years since the accident and his pain progressively gets worse. At least the emotional issues have been identified and we are working to make this aspect better. It has gotten better, though not 100%. But better. And I’ll take that.
There’s been things that have come out this last year that must have been eating away at me because I fell into the darkness, deeper than I ever had before. Every time I ever went looking for caregiver support, all I ever found was mostly people taking care of elderly Alzheimer and/or dementia patients. Or I would find support groups for families who’s soldiers have lost limbs. It’s the invisible wounds that are the hardest to understand. No one could possibly empathize what I’ve been dealing with all these years. No one lived my situation. Our lives were unique. I’ve been searching and searching for a support group that understood, but using all the wrong search words. When nothing surfaced, I knew I was alone.
How can I be the strength my husband needs if I cannot be strong for myself?
I didn’t give up my search. I knew something was wrong with me. The constant crying, the belittling of myself, the negative. I knew I needed some help to bring me out of the pit. I didn’t want to be like this. It’s too dark. So I searched again.
This time, though, I found the VA Caregiver Support Program. One little flicker of light that guided me up. I felt unworthy of asking for this program’s help because there are so many more veterans and their families that are worse off than we are. How can our lives compare to those who’ve lost limbs, or burned, or gave the ultimate sacrifice? Our problems could never compare to that. Why should I complain? I was unworthy.
It took a lot to make that first call. I cried. She listened. Then, she offered me several options. I signed up for one of their workshops. I was so afraid I’d do the same thing I always do and chicken out and not go. (The guilt I felt for leaving my husband all day was overpowering.) I made myself go. And I’m so glad I did. I cried some more, but there was a little difference in those tears, a glimmer of understanding.
I was not alone in how I felt. Though the situations may be different, the behaviors, the feelings, are so very similar. This class opened the doors for me to find more people I could connect with, that would understand me.
I am not alone.
“You are not alone!” I have to keep telling myself that for fear I will start listening to the negative voice at the back of my head again. There is always going to be a part of me that doubts my abilities, my worthiness, my strength. I just pray for strength to shush that negative voice so I can continue to be my husband’s strength, caregiver, and soul mate.
I am worthy.