Nourish Your Soul – Shareen Mansfield

I am so pleased to welcome the brilliant and beautiful Shareen Mansfield to The Lithium Chronicles. I absolutely love Shareen and everything that she does at Open Thought Vortex, and for everyone who crosses her path.

Welcome to TLC, Shareen.

Nourish Your Soul

by Shareen Mansfield

I haven’t written much the past few months. The last time I really wrote, my world imploded and extinguished my ability to cope with anything. Writing was supposed to be an outlet for me. In the past writing, reading, music, even watching television would snap me out of whatever this is. I don’t know what “this” is. I know I am miserable. I know I can’t keep doing this. I know I have to eat. I have to drink. I have to take care of my children. I have to take care of my husband. I have to care of my dog. I have to take care of my cat. I have to take care of my bills. I have to take care of everything. Problem is I don’t care at all right now. Maybe this is a nervous breakdown. My eating disorder is the worst it has been. I spent so much time taking care of so many people I lost the ability to recognize my own needs. Last week I was so dehydrated I lost my voice.

 

During the weeks prior, my time was spent researching a no sodium diet for my husband’s uncle. Everyone around me comes to me with questions or for support. I’m used to this. I love it, feeling wanted, appreciated, most especially recognized for what I do best. I fell apart when all my research was discarded. Ignored. Pushed away. Why ask me for help to only disregard it all? I stopped eating and drinking, driving my eating disorder back into a rock-bottom-go-to-the-emergency-room situation. I’m okay now. I’m not fantastic. I’m not wonderful.

 

To be honest, I ate a half piece of toast with a bottle of Gatorade today. That is still the bare minimum. Still unhealthy. If I continue at this rate, I will land myself back in a coma as I did several years ago. Why is this happening? I’ve had a lot of time to think about this while the doctors examined me. I’m lucky. Since my coma, collapsed lung, and that God awful septic shock ravished my body, I have been on a restricted “activity” order by the doctors. I gained weight when I stopped running. When my eating disorder reared its ugly head, this time I was overweight enough allowing me time to recognize what I was doing to myself. Why did I stop eating? Stop writing? Stop caring?

 

I blame myself for the actions/reactions of others around me. I failed to see something so simple. I always lend my support to others. Services I should charge for I provide out of kindness. I donate my time, even money to others who need it. I let myself get used. The truth is I am really pissed off right now. When someone asks a favor of me or advice, I go out of my way to make sure I am giving the best of me to them. I am pissed because I feel betrayed. I feel raped. I feel lost. I feel beaten. Turns out I do have feelings. Saying I don’t care is all a lie. I like to make people happy. No, I need to make people happy or better or sane or relaxed. My world revolves around everyone around me.

 

I’m going to be honest here. Only a few of my friends have ever done anything to actually help me. Two friends/family members knew I was hurting, wrote beautiful poems for me. Another friend texts me daily to make sure I am ok, even calls my husband if I don’t answer her right away. My oldest friend texts me “Wood” at least four times a day as an inside joke we’ve shared for over 15 years. I do feel used. I feel taken advantage of. I give so much of me so freely I forget I am disabling myself. One friend came to the hospital, even went to court with me when a friend I had to quit thought everything I wrote was about her. It wasn’t. It was creative nonfiction. I had to request a Protection From Stalking Order against her.

 

I care so much about not hurting others that on the day we went to court, despite all the “unfortunate incidents,” damage of my property, and harassing calls that had been going on for weeks, I asked the judge to dismiss my request for the PFS so that friend I quit could get well in order to have her children back in her life. She agreed to leave me alone, to not harass me only to have one of her friends later send me message on Facebook trying to extort and threaten me.

 

Let me come clean on a few things here: No one can hurt me if I tell the truth. The threats she levied against me don’t bother me because they are lies. Easily disproven by professionals and witnesses. Not even friends of mine. A random poll of people around me would disprove everything she thought she “had” on me. Why am I feeling so hurt? So lost?

 

Right now, I am not lost. I know exactly what is happening and why. I let myself be used. People I trusted never offered to donate their time to help me. Never did anything because it was the right thing to do. Never did it without tallying up what I owed if they did it. I wasn’t keeping tabs. The hours I spent, the energy, the research, even the inspiration I provided helped them while killing me.

 

What have I learned from this? I’ve learned that I stopped eating because my mouth is part of the communication process. I did not want to open or use my mouth at all. I felt I had to gag myself, even stop eating because if I don’t communicate in any way no one can use me anymore.

 

The deepest betrayal comes from those you trust the most. That’s what happened to me. I did not know how to ask for help. I reached out to another blogger/friend, a person so articulate, so brilliant, so compassionate. I reached out to say I need help. I don’t know how to ask. I don’t know what I need. I’m not eating. I am dying slowly. Within seconds she was shooting it straight. Take care of you. Whatever you need, I will help. Fuck writing, she said. Take care of you. Let’s see if we can work together to get you what you need.

 

I felt I had to ask permission to ask for help. To ask for a break. Permission to shut down, deal with my health. My fears, my pain, my real tragedies happening around me. My severe anxiety disorder off the charts as I was texting her, my heart raced to 155 BPM. I was still wearing my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor and Forerunner. I was pacing. I wasn’t chewing my nails. Chewing my nails would mean using my mouth. Instead I used nippers, shredding my fingers till they bled. Fingers like raw meat, blood on my nightgown, blood on my phone.

 

I had thrown my phone outside earlier in the evening. Placed my MacBook Pro in the composite bin shortly after that. I wasn’t going to write or communicate. I felt someone had raped me again; this time the rape was of my mind, my advice. I knew I was giving more than I was getting.
Luckily, my husband saw me sobbing in the corner of our bedroom. Watched as my dog whimpered, pawing at me, licking my tears as they gurgled and sputtered out of me. Luckily, I trusted my friend, I reached out to others who knew me, really knew me. I asked for help for the first time in my life. That’s it. I reached out to find several hands ready to pull me out of the fire I was burning in.

 

Today, today is an okay day. I know I am not “well.” I know I have to set alarms to eat, drink, sleep, rest, cook, thrive. I added “thrive” there at the end. In order for me to thrive I have to stop giving so much of me away. . . I’m an all or nothing person. I am working on the middle now. I want to thrive, see my children, feel them, connect with those that matter to me.

 

Starting today I end my fear of asking. I end my fear of saying “No.” I start fresh, expressing myself as I always have, with honesty and humor. I don’t have to throw myself away to be me. I just need to recognize that I am more than “useful.”

 

I am allowed to feel overwhelmed.

 

I am allowed to break.

 

I am resilient.
shareen
Shareen Mansfield is the founder and publisher of Open Thought Vortex Magazine. When she isn’t pounding the pavement into submission with her excessively lovely feet, she spends her days redefining what it means to be an ally, survivor, mother and friend. Basically, she’s all-around awesome. Her work has recently appeared in Role Reboot, Raising Mothers and The Honeyed Quill. You can find her every Friday on Facebook and Twitter co-hosting #LinkYourLife with the verve of a social media dominatrix.

19 comments

  1. Shareen,

    First of all I want to say thank you for allowing me to feature this piece, I am honoured that you would choose TLC to share these powerful words in this part of your journey.

    I am happy that you reached out to someone who did say, “Fuck writing” because and made it clear that they were your friend. I wish I had known, please always reach out. You are allowed to break, you are resilient, you are fucking amazing. I love you.

    Love you so so much you fierce warrior woman.

    That mouth of yours is wonderful, please don’t lose your voice, and don’t ever let “them” tell you different.

    As for that horrid woman, I’m happy the order is on her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shareen, I’m having some difficulty finding words for the mix of thought and feeling this piece stirs. As one who has, if not to the point of physical and emotional collapse, disregarded my own needs and best interests in being the helper and supporter, and been on both sides of that experience of betrayal and feeling used, I resonate to all of it. It is true that if we allow ourselves to be depleted we cannot be there for others as we want to do. So, take care and let yourself be cared for. And, Nicole, thanks for bringing yet another amazing writer to our attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! It’s so sad. I allowed this abuse of my love /loyalty to continue to be depleted long after this was published. After a period of time I realized how much damage I was allowing to happen. That’s when i let it all fall away . I broke my chains -let that person go and feel the fresh , crisp air. The fog has lofted. I’m on my way to healing

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this openness Shareen. I love you so much. Your words ring so true for me. I wan’t you to know that you are always in my thoughts, and even though we have never met face to face I consider you a dear friend. Your truth is powerful and it will be heard! Take it easy xxxx mwah xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It sounds as though it took something pretty drastic to get you from your maelstrom to a place where you feel able to put self-care on the list of things you ‘have’ to do. I’m glad it’s there. I’m glad you added “thrive”, and I truly hope you do. I’m so glad you had people around you who you could trust, who reached in and helped to pull you out of the darkness.

    Your voice matters. Your communication matters. Some people will always be bastards and there’s no way of mitigating against it or predicting it ahead of time, but we ALWAYS need people like you to ensure that silence isn’t allowed to condone their atrocious actions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. The saddest part is the person who “triggered,” the episode is oblivious to their actions . In fact, they continued to take advantage of me . I allowed it b/c love, friendship and family blur lines. That person is has now started passive aggressively writing things that hurt me. They hurt only because they used me up. When I stood up for myself this person -who I trusted – chose to write me off & made it clear that I was not important to them . I blame myself for being a sucker. This person will not grow or even hear my POV. Instead, they will believe their own actions were justified. Draining me dry. ❤️Lizzie

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Shareen,

    Reading this brought me to tears. You are an astonishingly wonderful person. I hope you never have to experience that or anything like it again. If you do ever need someone to reach out to, I am all ears and would love to listen to anything you have to say. The world needs more people like you in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s this inner balance between care of self and care of others. Often we are so compassionate toward others because we long for it ourselves. I’m similar to you in this inner balance and found my earlier life riddled with friends who were narcissists or sociopaths. On one hand, I tried to love the unloved in the world only to get hurt the most by such. Then I recognized that the truth was, I felt unloved and thought by reaching out to difficult “friends” it would heal me. It did not. It only wounded me more. I still keep my open and loving nature, but I love myself fiercely first. Then, if wounded sorts try to hurt me, I don’t even allow for the first swipe. Love yourself fiercely, and you will find that balance my Beautiful Warrior Friend! Brave words, beautiful writing. Keep that mouth open!

    Liked by 1 person

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