Stigma Fighters : Alyce Raven

I’m 41 years old and grew up as an only child in a family where violence, neglect, drugs and verbal abuse had a big impact on our lives.
My father was addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs and was violent and abusive. He was also loving, creative, passionate, a wonderful musician and always wanted to make me happy- during his good times. I love my father with all my heart. I hate what his cold parents did to him during his childhood. And probably what their parents did to them.
My mother fell in love with a good looking, talented, charismatic  young man and left her home country to be with him. His demons lived with them from the beginning. He numbed his pain with alcohol, and then became violent. Everybody loved him for his wit, his skills, his looks, nobody knew what happened behind closed doors. And when after years everybody knew and my mom and I had run away only to return several times, nobody helped. This was the 70s and 80s, people didn’t really talk about these things.
When I had just turned 13, I as the last person in the family turned against my father. I called him out on the drinking, didn’t answer him when he was drunk and didn’t keep the violence a secret. On halloween 1986 (we didn’t celebrate halloween in Germany then) I saw my father for the last time. We got into an arguement, I don’t even know why. He said that I don’t have to put up with him for much longer and thinking my mom and I finally would move out I said “Hopefully.” Later my parents took me to spend the weekend at my grandparents’ house by myself. I had never asked for that before. As they walked to the car, I looked at my dad and thought “I have to tell him I love him,” I thought about yelling, but I didn’t. While I was gone, my dad committed suicide.
I went back to school a week later, functioned and graduated as one of the best in my class. I went on to med school. And then, 10 years later I had a breakdown. I was diagnosed with PTSD and borderline personality disorder and treated for many years. And maybe the therapy helped. I can resist the urge to self harm. Sometimes I think before I do something and sometimes I almost feel like a regular adult. So- the therapy has probably helped.
Once a preacher (and I am FAR from a believer) said about the stigma of suicide: God has a way for each of us to go, and suicide is the way for some of us. For some reason that helped me.
Another time a woman whose husband had committed suicide said he had left a note asking her to let him go. And I realized this is what I can do for my dad now, let him go. If he was here and told me that living hurts so much that he can’t take it, I would tell him it’s ok to go. I wouldn’t want him to stay for me.

I have a son who is 12 and looks exactly like my father, and like my father he is a very talented musician (unlike me) and he has a tiny hole in his heart. (not dangerous) He was due on my father’s birthday, but I was induced earlier because I couldn’t handle celebrating that birthday again. And then this little soul came, calm and wise from his first day, looked at me with my father’s eyes and had a tiny hole in his heart, like my dad who had a broken heart. Still today, my son is a  wise, calm and a child with a very special personality. Like he has been here forever. He is my life. In all my pain, I have been blessed with him. It is my mission to make sure I break the cycle of violence and that seems to have been in our family for ages.
I’m not with his father anymore, I coudln’t handle being loved like that. You get addicted to pain, don’t you?
This is something I just don’t go out in public with. In my real life, I’m the pretty, witty woman with the good job who doesn’t take shit from anyone and runs her life with her son and countless pets. And part of me is. But really, this is nothing you overcome. I have learned to live with my demons and to function. And then sometimes they go all crazy on me, and being there for my son in every way he needs and taking care of the rest here takes all my strength. I get up in the morning and can’t wait to go to bed at night or hell even in the afternoon if my son is at his Dad’s house. I try not to take tranquilizers because I have been addicted and gone back numerous times, I love them. I love how they make the demons go to sleep. And they are easy to get, the psychiatrists at the hospital I was treated in for PTSD and borderline since 1996 change all the time and somehow their communication isn’t so great.
Anyway, hey normally I’m funny and witty and sarcastic and maybe rude. And then sometimes I wish I could just not exist for a while.
BUT that’s normal, that’s me, I know this. I have been medicated to take the peaks but it took my wit. I am a fast thinker, in terms of humor but also at work and suddenly I was all… mediocre. I wsn’t as sad which I guess is good but I wasn’t anything else either, I was just there, it was pathetic. So this is me, I’m impulsive, extreme and annoying but also creative and smart, and I can’t have one without the other so I chose to let the demons stay because they take stuff I need if they go.
So yes, I function, with all my scars and my demons. But without them, who would I be? On good days I think “eh, I’d be a plain someone”, on bad days, I’d like to try to live without them. I’m addicted to pain.

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  • http://traumadad.blogspot.ca/ Trauma Dad

    I understand this on so many levels, even though we come from different stuff. “I chose to let the demons stay because they take stuff I need if they go.” I hear you there. I really do. It’s also worth considering that you can tame those demons and use them for other things. Personally, I think it sounds like you’re doing very well. Use what you can to stay alive. Demons or not, you will be yourself. But to destroy a part of ourselves does indeed destroy the whole of ourselves. It is better to stick it out and try to transition over time. Much love and hope to you.