I was left by my junkie parents to be raised by various other family members. The primary uncle that had adopted me died when I was 6. I went back to my parents from the age of 9 to 14. I self harmed, starting from age 9, and developed serious drug addictions when I was 14. They have continued throughout my life until now.
When I was 14 I left home and was homeless several times. I was a genuine hobo more than once. I died a few times from substance abuse. When I was 17 I got involved with another guy my age that I eventually became engaged to. I ended it because while I had quit hardcore drugs and alcohol, I was still smoking weed. I found out he had started smoking meth. He was also controlling and raped me. I was 21 when I left him. When I was 23 I ended up with another abusive relationship. He was an ex meth addict and we both were abusing prescription medications.
Our relationship ended when I was 25 and he attempted to kill me. It was a traumatic event involving swords, a pre-dug grave, lots of blood, and a will to survive I had never had before. I ended up in hospital because of him and I have injuries that will never heal. I had to go to court as a witness and I went alone. When I was unconscious the hospital notified my parents whom I had not known much since I was 14. They said I could live with them, but it quickly became apparent that they were unsupportive. I remember one day before court I was on the ground wailing and suffering my first real panic attack. Not the usual smaller anxiety attacks. My parents simply stepped over me to get to the washing machine. I left their house not long after to live in a shared house where my drug and alcohol abuse quickly returned and escalated.
I have tried to kill myself twice since then. Once I tied a rope around my neck so tight I couldn't breathe. It was rotten and snapped when I started to convulse. The other time I lined up all the pills I had and was about to induce 70 diazepam, knowing full well I would die of liver failure 7 days further. Someone had noticed the warning signs and came to see me just as I was about to start swallowing.
Recently I started planning suicide again. Another guy had come into my life just as I started making the plan better - a more thoroughly fail-proof plan to die. I love him but I have a strong fear of abandonment so I keep pushing him away. Aside from that, I am extremely depressed and suicidal. He has his own anxiety disorder. I stopped using drugs and drinking for him and for me. But I feel a huge empty void, and for the first time in my life I am facing my emotional issues and fears of sobriety.
How do I make it work with my boyfriend without hurting him? How do I help myself? What do I do? Please help me. I want to have a healthy relationship without my past abuse ruining it for both of us.
Leelou, 27-year-old woman
The first thing I note from your message is that despite your terrible childhood and youth, you think logically, can explain matters in a clear language, and use correct grammar and spelling. Given your history, this is a magnificent achievement. It shows you to be highly intelligent.
Second, you have already taken the first and most important step toward building a good life for yourself. You are now motivated to reject substance abuse, you want to build a permanent relationship free of abuse and mutual hurt, and make something of your future. I have no doubt that you can do it. It'll be difficult and a long road, but you have the potential.
Third, you've had quite number of opportunities to die, but you survived each time. To me, this means that you are here on this planet to do a job, and are required to stay alive until you have achieved it. Next time you have a suicidal thought, keep that in mind. Write it down and place it where you'll see it every day.
Of course, I don't know what this task is, except that many people who have survived terrible childhoods make sense of their suffering by devoting their lives to improving the world in some way. This can be through gaining formal qualifications for one of the helping professions, or by informally being there for people who need your love, guidance, and compassion. I make sense of my childhood and youth by doing both.
OK, so how do you take the next few steps? You and your boyfriend should both read my page on relationships. While there, look around at other pages on my website. In the country where you live, you qualify for up to 10 sessions of therapy with a psychologist, and hopefully you can find one who bulk bills. All you need is a referral from a GP. Ten sessions is ridiculously short for serious problems, but it is a start. Your substance abuse problems will be helped by working through a book: Achohemy by David Norman. If his method works for you, he'll appreciate a review!
My dear, your past is not a prison, not a weight to drag you down, but just something that happened. Now, the present you live in, this moment, is yours to shape. Do your best to be your best. When you succeed, pat yourself on the back. When you don't, that's fine. Change takes work and time.
You can do it.