All The Right Things

I thought I’d done all the right things, yet in the end those things didn’t/don’t matter.

When I was young, I had these fantastic dreams of how successful I might be. An astronaut. The CEO of Disney. A politician. A philanthropist. I thought (and told by society) that if I worked hard and was a good person, I could do anything, I could accomplish anything.

So I dedicated myself to trying to be perfect. I studied hard. I was nearly valedictorian – getting my first B only after I had to leave home my senior year of high school to escape abuse.  I worked hard in college to graduate with honors in Psychology, Economics, and a minor in Political Science. I worked my butt off in law school (though academically I was put of my league) and to pass the bar.

While my peers partied, I didn’t touch alcohol or smoke weed out do drugs.  I didn’t date. Instead, I focused on being a figure skater and pilot (I flew Cessna 172s and Piper Cherokees for a little bit). I worked all sorts of jobs when I was young from a skating coach to retail to personal assistant to babysitter.

In my professional career, I tried to go above and beyond. I stayed up late and worked from hospitals when I was sick. Every position I held, I threw myself into completely talking every failure personally.

I tried to contribute to society by getting involved in public service – giving back where I could. I tried to be a good friend. Fiercely loyal and caring.

I wanted to be a good daughter, but I was difficult.

In the end, it didn’t matter.

I don’t mean to make myself sound like a saint. I’m deeply flawed – impatient, unforgiving, bossy and worse. I grew up with white privilege and was incredibly judgmental for a long time of those who didn’t live up to my ideals.

Still I tried to do all the right things.

But good grades, hard work, extracurricular accomplishments, trying to be good didn’t save me from abuse. It didn’t save me from physical illness. It didn’t save me from poverty. And it hasn’t saved me from my mind.

Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, Diabulimia, mental illness doesn’t care about any of that.

I’ve tried to do all the right things there too – CBT, DBT, ACT, schema therapy, sensorimotor therapy, prayer, inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient, group, individual, medication (I am working toward EMDR but as of yet I am not stable and ECT is contraindicated).

Why then does my mind keep breaking?
Because all the right things aren’t the answer.

But what is?

Perhaps I deserve my circumstances. Perhaps I didn’t or haven’t tried hard enough or done enough of the right things.

Or maybe there just aren’t any answers.


2 Responses to All The Right Things

  1. dawn says:

    I hope you can get some relief soon. You are a smart, compassionate person. Sending warm wishes!

  2. Sherry aka @cacadia says:

    It really “sucks” to discover that our American ideal of “hard work will equal success” doesn’t always work and that doing the right things rarely protects us from pain. It takes tremendous emotional maturity to realize that we are all flawed and need one another to survive.

    Don’t let the labels become who you are though. You are Erin a bright, caring dedicated woman who is living with the natural result of emotional trauma and physical illness. I don’t believe that “things happen for a reason” sometimes they just happen and they often have little to do with you. How we respond to them is also colored by our access to resources and emotional support and not to something innate about who you are.

    Even though I only “know you” from twitter and conferences, please know that not only do many of us care about you but that we also understand the pain you are in and believe you can survive it.

    I hope you have someplace warm to stay over the holidays.
    Sending you hugs for now.

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