Before I even start this post, I want to take this time to apologize to the listeners of The Clouded Mind, my friends and my family. What's written below is as personal and as honest as I can be. For too long, I've tried to be honest, but often times shied away from talking about the things that have truly been hurting me deep down. A lot of what's said in this piece has never been said in person, not even with those closest to me. I appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their day to read this. You mean the world to me.
I've had plenty of things on my plate ever since I was young; growing up, though, especially in elementary/middle school, boys are very quietly told that their feelings should be boxed away and held in so that no one ever hears them. In high school, though, I couldn't do it anymore and the more I opened up, the better I felt. Despite that, however, there are still a number of things that I've kept hidden away from friends and family over the years.
I vividly remember being at a Red Sox game with my Mom when I was about 10 years old. I was so excited in the time leading up to it, but once the day itself finally arrived, everything changed for me. I had stomach pains all day long and constantly felt like I was being held underwater, with no air being able to fill up my lungs. I used to constantly swallow when I felt nervous; my Mom picked up on this at the game and asked if I was okay or if I needed to run to the bathroom. I look back now and realize that was my first bout with anxiety. It wasn't the night at the bowling alley when I had my first panic attack, or the night of Mr. C's wake when I was uncontrollably shaking and had to lay in the cold bed of my buddy Kyle's truck while I tried to calm my body down. It was at that Red Sox game. I still do all these little things, by the way: the swallowing, the foot tapping and especially the bathroom trips. I may not deal with panic attacks anymore, but the anxiety is worse than it's ever been right now.
When I was little, I was a heavy-set kid. I often covered my body in pictures and in person so that no one could tell I was heavy. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I still struggle with my body image today; I have a problem showering, because I sometimes spend several minutes looking at my stomach in the mirror wondering how I can lose weight. I weigh 127 pounds, there's no reason for me to lose weight; I've just always felt the need to get skinnier. It takes a toll on my body as well as my mind. Being made fun of by family when I was young never helped me growing up, either. There were always things said about the food I ate, the way I ate it and how I just kept getting bigger. I had no control over it, though. I always ate healthy, played sports and did the things that pretty much every kid does. Despite all of that, my body just never looked the way that I wanted it to. In 8th grade, I finally got my growth spurt and started to look much "better," but because of everything that was said to me as a child, I still wasn't happy. This continued throughout high school and still continues today. As much as I try to be happy looking at my own reflection, I still have a VERY tough time.
As a child, my Dad and I were pretty much inseparable. But as time goes on, sometimes relationships change. My parents split up right after my Dad had colon cancer. It was, and will forever be, one of the most difficult experiences of my entire life. I never could have imagined a day where my family wasn't together. For a few years afterward, everything worked out schedule-wise. My sister and I would stay at my Dad's place (only two blocks away from my Mom's) on Mondays and Fridays, while the rest would be spent at my Mom's. As the years went on, though, my parents went from having an amicable relationship to being unable to communicate any longer. I quickly became the middle man for them to communicate. I put no fault on anyone, but it felt very uncomfortable becoming "the parent" for my own parents.
The relationship that at one time felt "inseparable" was now crumbling right in front of my eyes. My Dad often says that he and my Grandfather "grew apart" around my age, but I never tried or meant for things to turn out this way. Work does get in the way at times for us both, but I have never used that as an excuse to leave him in the dust as he often does to me. I tried my best for YEARS to show him that my sister and I didn't want to leave his side but, although I haven't lost any love for him, I've definitely lost the care and that hurts me so much. Nothing hurts more than seeing love just fade away, but I know deep down that I gave it my all. Dad, if you're reading this, I still love you and I always will.
I try my best to not give up; not to give up on this life, on making people smile or on being open. At the moment, though, I'm at a point in my life where I need a reset. I'm trying my absolute best to do that; I re-organized my room this week, recently got a new therapist and I'm trying to rid myself of the kinds of relationships that hurt me more than they heal me. I'm a very open person and sharing my story makes me feel better occasionally, but that doesn't mean I still don't think about suicide. It doesn't mean that I don't still have days where I lay in bed for hours thinking about where the hell I am and how I got to this low of a point. I will sometimes go 3-4 days without showering or brushing my teeth -- not because I don't want to, but because my mind and body just won't cooperate. I just want people to know that even if it doesn't look like it, I'm not in a good place right now...and that's okay. All that matters is that I'm trying my best, not just for me, but for everyone in and around my life. It's very difficult to be there for the people you love when you don’t love yourself. Please reach out to those you love, they may need it more than you know. Sending my love to you all.
- Charlie (@johnson_kiff)