I went through traumatic events, but I’m not saint. I bottled up my emotions and only took them out in the form of anger.
I was a bully.
I’m admitting it full out, right now.
In middle school, I bullied the girls on the cheerleading team. I bullied the girls that seemed happy. I hated seeing them happy. When I became a teenager, I bullied my sister. I put her through so much physical and emotional abuse. I am ashamed and disgusted with myself, and I want to shut my computer and walk away from this. But I can’t. I have to talk about it.
Growing up, my family always told me I had anger issues, and it made me… well, angry. Despite the emotions I was feeling, I didn’t feel I had anger issues. I just felt trapped. Alone. Like no one heard me.
I became a mental health advocate through learning to cope with my own mental health, and wanting others to make sure they never have to go through these dark illnesses alone. But I also did it for another reason, one I’m just now starting to learn.
I was abusive to my sister.
As a kid, I was mean to my brothers. I was a little devil, and I know what I said hurt. But as a teenager, I took everything out on my sweet little sister. We joke that she has small boobs because I punched her in the chest so much… but it’s probably somewhat true. It’s not a joke.
I slapped her. I yelled at her. I’ve said things that would make me cry if someone were saying them to me. When my sister transferred high schools, we got into one of our many arguments and I told her she was Rutherford County trash. I told her she would never leave this town.
Let’s stop there.
I mean, what kind of MONSTER says that? I was her older sister. I said that to my baby sister. I really said that. I let her believe it. I didn’t say it because I believed it. I said it because I knew it would hit her where it hurts. I wanted to put a damper on her dreams because I had one on mine.
I let her struggle with her depression herself. I was in college, away from it all, and I let her wallow. I let her suffer. I would tell her, “Just be happy!” or, “Just think positive thoughts!” or, “You have to get over it.” You know, all the words you would HATE to hear when struggling with an illness. I am disgusted with myself. She was in a car accident and I didn’t reach out to her. I am ashamed. In hindsight, I was really struggling to accept my own depression and anxiety, but what a shitty person I was. It’s no excuse for the way I treated my sister. Someone I loved deeply.
I don’t know how my sister continued to thrive under the shit I put her through. She’s the toughest woman I know. She may be stubborn as hell, but she fervently sticks to her goals and works hard to get what she deserves. I don’t know how she learned to forgive me. Maybe she hasn’t all the way. I know I haven’t forgiven myself all the way.
When I think about what I’ve done to her (and to my other siblings), I tell myself that I am scum. I’m the actual trash here. I don’t deserve happiness. I treated so many people like they were nothing. How could I allow myself to be happy? To be successful? I let them believe and feel that they were nothing, when in reality, I am nothing. I don’t deserve to be a mental health advocate. I can’t stand up here and preach when I’ve committed terrible sins. Who am I to help others? Who am I to be an advocate?
But I have to take a step back. Negative self talk is not going to get me anywhere. I can’t put my life on hold for things I did when I was 12 or 16. Imagine saying, “I would love to take your job offer, but I can’t because I was an asshole when I was 19, so I don’t deserve it.” Or, “I know my passion is helping others realize the importance of mental health awareness, but I was abusive to others while struggling with my own mental health so I should just go dig myself a grave instead. Thanks for the offer!”
I can only forgive myself, process the emotions now, apologize, and do what I can to make it right. Whether someone takes your sincere apology is up to them. And you have to accept that they may not take it.
I understand why I was that way as a child. I held everything in until I couldn’t. It felt good to inflict the same pain that I felt myself on another person. It’s so messed up, but it was all subconscious. I needed help. I still need help. I will always need help.
I became a mental health advocate because I can’t take back any of the things I did to my siblings. I can’t take back the mean words I’ve said. I can’t take back the hatred I lashed out on people I love. But I can help others now. I can help others see and accept their depression, their anxiety, so that they don’t bully others. So that they don’t inflict pain on others.
To my readers and to the followers who tell me I inspire them, I’m sorry if you thought I was a saint. I’m not. I am far from it. I have hurt others, including people I love. I have done the exact opposite of what I preach. I struggle with feeling like a terrible person. But I’m learning to reverse the damage.
I can’t Benjamin Button this shit, but I can make sure the people I do love know I actually love them and I’m sorry for my volatile reactions. I can make sure I spread awareness to those struggling. I can try my hardest to prevent little girls struggling with mental illnesses from lashing out at others and start processing their emotions.
I have made mistakes, and I am owning up to them. I am facing my past so that I can make a difference in our future.