By Guest Blogger: Mary Mathieu
TW: Mention of abuse, neglect, suicide, and self-harm
I am Mary Mathieu, an abuse, neglect, and suicide survivor. Over the course of my life, having a voice has been next to impossible for me because even when I found the courage to speak out, no one heard me. I was taught that any needs I voiced would not matter and that I simply existed to please those around me. Rather than experiencing the unconditional love that parents typically provide their children with, I quickly learned that “love” was only given if I met perfection. I needed to be perfect to be loved and as we all know, no one is perfect, so I ended up going without the love I knew I needed. Due to this longing to be loved and lack thereof, I would attempt to end my life more than nineteen times. A dozen different therapists, hundreds of medication changes, and four inpatient stays later, I still am not fixed as they all said I would be if I would just do what they told me to. Mental health professionals and even a DCFS social worker all saw me as broken by indicating that I was the problem that needed to be fixed. Rather than hearing my cries for help, they told me it was my depression that was causing the abuse and conflict going on at home, not my parents. After hearing my parents say something similar several times, I truly believed that I was the problem, and that the world would be better off without me. Luckily, because of the many amazing teachers in my life, I was able to learn that it was my situation that needed fixing, not me. They, along with the family I have found at my current university, are the reason I am still alive today. I genuinely mean it when I say that I could not have made it this far without them.
I share all of this not to say that things will be perfect after you recover because recovery is a continuous journey, but because things do in one way or another get better. I have been where you are at currently many times in my life. I understand that things seem like they will never get better and that you truly believe that the fight is not worth it because it requires so much energy and effort, things that you currently do not have because you are exhausted and fed up with fighting for so long, without any hope in sight. I was and am that girl even though I am now recovering from a lifetime filled with trauma. There will always be both highs and lows in life, but when you are surrounded by good people, you are reminded that love will carry you through the darkest of times. Coming to college was the best decision I ever made, because I now have a family filled with friends, professors, and faculty who love me for me. I do not need to be perfect anymore. I am able to be vulnerable, to share my story freely and authentically without judgement. These people are my reason for fighting, along with my amazing emotional support animal, Dakota. The chapters of my past have limited me, but now I am writing my happy ever after. Since I started college, I have attended my first concert, went out of state for the first time, visited a beach, ice skated, and participated in so many amazing other activities and events that I never even dreamed of doing before because I never was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All hope was lost until I found my people. Please hold on because your people are out there. They need you, just as much as you need them. Hope is real. I am proof.
Mary Mathieu is a college student at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois studying English, Theology, and Psychology with hopes of being the next Jazz Thornton one day. Writing is her voice, and she aspires to make a difference in the lives of fellow abuse, neglect, and suicide victims and survivors by providing a survival guide she knew she needed growing up. She aims to help others know that they are never alone, and that hope is real.