The Difference between a Tailspin and Downward Spiral: A Personal Journey

I had a strange realization today.  I have been in a downward spiral since 1999...

The Year Trust Ended

In 1998, Brian and I went on pilgrimage.  We had a glorious trip, that filled me with so much hope for the future.  When we got back to Maryland, our house looked like it had been through a war.  There were holes in the walls and trash covered everything.

To make a long story short, my best friend and roommate stole my identity and my inheritance.  The family values judge didn't punish him because it would be a shame for his daughter to be deprived of a father. 

We moved to Emmitsburg.  Without a conviction, I was responsible for the debt he accrued in my name.  My faith in law and order was shattered.  Times got hard.

On numerous occasions, I came home to find dead animals on our doorstep.  I will never forget the tears I wept cleaning up their blood.  I would often come home to find our landlord in the house eating food out of our refrigerator.  I lost my sense of security.  Every time I heard a noise in the night, I was sure someone had come to kill me.

One day, the landlord kicked us out of the apartment for having a cat that he knew we had when we moved in.  We were broke, and over burdened with debt that wasn't ours and need a place to stay or we would be homeless.

We begged family for a place to stay, and reluctantly found a place with family that the we hoped would be place for us to get back on our feet.  We were wrong.  We were treated like failures, and they threw away half of my property.

At that point, I had lost everything but Brian.  I entered the one of the deepest depressions of my life.  Everyday was a struggle to get up and allow myself to live.  We knew we needed to start over.

Restarting Life

Brian got a transfer to California, and we packed what little we could into a car, a Ford Probe, and a car topper, and we headed west.  We had so much hope.

I loved California.  We moved there in 1999.  This was one of the happiest times of my life, and that happiness masked the damage I carried with me. 

It took me a long time start making friends.  I thought it was because of my age, or because I was new to area.  I know now that wasn't true.  I held the people I met at arms length, and never really let any of them know me.

This happy state could not last.  Events happened so fast.  Brian lost his job, the energy companies started gouging the state, and there was no work anywhere.  Then, Brian was in a car accident.  He was alright, but the car was totaled.  We felt we had no other choice but to move back east.  We rented the only moving van available and left the place that we loved.

I never dealt with any of wounds I collected in Maryland, and I added a new one.  I truly believed that everything I every loved would soon be taken away from me.  So in early 2004, we left California.

I couldn't stand up

My emotional wounds had taken a toll on my body.  When we stopped at my parents house, I was shocked how sick they were.  We decided to stop here.  I realize now that my desire to help them get back on their feet was a projection of my own need to get my own life back together.

I was shocked to learn that I had let myself go to the point it was almost impossible for me to stand up.  My back and my knees, which I damaged separately many years before, would not hold me up.  I had to build myself back up.

Seeing your own life as a myth

I had always told myself that the only thing that could ever make me move back to Poplar Bluff was to utterly fail at my life.  No wonder I felt I had to stop here.  I viewed myself as a failure, and in some ways I still do.

What I realized today was that I told myself I was over all that, but there is a difference between getting over something and letting go of it.

In everything I have done since the events of 1998, I never took time to deal with the wounds I collected.  Instead, I focused on overcoming the events.

I still have a hard time:

  • trusting myself.
  • trusting my judgement.
  • trusting others.
  • believing I deserve good things.
  • believing I have any talent.
  • believing I am good for anything.

After all, I trusted someone I shouldn't have.  It was my friend that set us down this path.  It was my lack of judgement that lead me to trust someone, who everyone told me I shouldn't.  If I am such a back judge of character, how can I trust others? 

I have always hated myself, and so I convinced myself that I deserved all the bad things that ever happened to me.  I caused them and brought them on myself.  Since I believe myself to be such a horrible person, how could I possibly believe that I am capable of doing anything good or great?

I thought I had worked through these things... and that is the problem, I worked through them, I didn't conquer them.

A tailspin or a downward spiral?

The difference between a tailspin and a downward spiral is control.  In a tailspin, the engine has stalled and you are falling toward an inevitable crash.  In a downward spiral, I am just going down, I can choose to go back up.

When this all started, we were in a tailspin.  Events were out of our control.  The tailspin is over.  It isn't easy to see that while in free fall, but we got the engine started again in California.  We landed here in Missouri.

I did not rise up because I thought I had.  Standing up is not the same as rising up.

Today, I rise

Today, I forgive all those who hurt me over the years, especially myself.  I let go of the past.  These are not just words.  I cannot hurt myself any more on account of things that happened so long ago.

Join me.  Let go.  Rise up.  Stand up for yourself.  Be who you want to be, not who people think you are.  This is hard work, but together, we can make it.  If you are struggling to rise up, contact me on social.  We can do anything we put our minds to.  We have proven it over and over again.

Thank you all for your support over the years.  I could not have made it through without you.  Now, let's rise up to the sun and prove our wings are not made of wax.