Last night I went out for a night of board-gaming fun with friends. Not for the first time, I was struck by how wonderful these people are.
Somehow, I went from knowing the most horrible, selfish, deliberately malicious people to meeting and befriending some of the sweetest, kindest, loveliest people on the face of the planet. I'm fairly certain that's not hyperbole.
Where did this good fortune come from?
I don't even know where to begin. I only know, looking back, that my fortunes certainly have turned around. The people in my life now are amazing human beings. They weren't always.
I've had "friends" who made my life hell for some reason I have yet to discover. It was more than one person, though one in particular sticks in my mind. It seems ridiculous and childish to say out loud, and in truth, the whole situation was. It was very high-school mean girls. It was not the way adult women should behave at all.
Yet it happened, and I became the target of a one-woman campaign to.... what, exactly, I don't know. I do know, however, that it drove me to a low I had not experienced since high school.
I had struggled with depression and suicidal ideation all throughout high school. During that time I made five attempts on my own life, none of which, thankfully, worked. They were all failures largely due to interruption or my own (blessed) ineptitude.
High school was not a good time in my life.
Things improved a little, until this "friend" came along. I came through her emotional abuse to tell about it. Barely. At its worst, one night in an empty house, I put a knife to my throat. There was a long period of deliberation before I put the knife away. Closing the knife drawer took an astonishing amount of willpower.
Three years of no contact passed before I finally realised that it wasn't my fault at all. It took three years for me to undo the psychological damage this girl rained on me, to recognise the gas-lighting, the lying, the deliberate spreading of misinformation to my superiors at work, the manipulation...
To this day, almost ten years later, I cannot understand her; either her motivation or how she could do what she did with a clear conscience. How did she feel justified in doing that to someone? It still baffles me. It hurts less now than it did - you can tell because I'm talking about it - but it still hurts.
It's hard not to fall into the trap of blaming myself. After all, no rational person would behave that way. I must have done something to deserve it. But that is as much a lie as the friendship was. To her, I suspect, my crime was existing. There was nothing I could have done to appease her.
Am I making you squirm? I'm sorry. I don't mean to. But I have to talk about it. I have to talk about it because there are people out there going through what I went through, and they have to know that people make it through.
It was a horrible, dark time. I was ready to walk away from life entirely. My heart hurt so much, I couldn't bear it. I felt alone, isolated... miserable is not strong enough a word to explain how I felt being in that place in that time. I was totally and utterly crushed.
But I made it out. It was a fight. It was hell. But I made it out.
Now life is so full of light and possibility, there is so much to look forward to. And I have discovered that it is also full of genuinely wonderful people; people who lift you up and help, who love and support, not tear down and eviscerate. Real, lovely people actually exist. They're not just in fairy tales.
It does get better isn't just a thing people say to placate the suffering. Things actually do get better.
If you are suffering, whether from abuse or not, it is so important to get help. There are places you can turn. Help can be gotten.
If you live in the Ottawa region, you can go here. Everyone in Ontario can call here. In fact, there are crisis centres all over Canada where you can find help.
There is only one you. The world needs your stories. But you have to be here to tell them.