Back To Where I Started From

I invite you to come with me for a ride back to 1986…

I was still just a little girl, excitedly awaiting my 12th birthday. We celebrated that day by going to the mall, seeing a movie together as a family and then out to eat for some Mexican food, a favorite of mine even back then.

It was a hot summer here in Cleveland and my dad was on his yearly vacation from his job, a smoldering, dirty warehouse that distributed car parts. My loving, stable and very Catholic family (my young brother and I attended a Catholic school and went to church every Sunday) were headed to a local amusement park the day after to carry on the celebration.

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My now vintage dog tag necklace even mentions (for some reason) that I was a Catholic.

My father started to have chest pains while we were at the amusement park. My mom called me back from the giant water attraction called The Wave and told me that my dad was being taken by ambulance to the nearest medical clinic.

After a couple of hours of observation, the clinic allowed my father to leave so that we could go home, shortening our previously fun-filled day. I wasn’t mad, I was only worried about my dad and prayed that he would be alright.

It wasn’t the first time that he’d been sick; he’d had a bad heart from a young age.

About 2 miles away from the clinic, my father started convulsing in the passenger seat of the car that my mother was thankfully driving instead of him. After she frantically pulled over into a parking lot, I ran from the car and into the busy street, flagging down someone to help us.

It’s a miracle that I hadn’t been hit by a car, but thankfully that didn’t happen. A kind woman and her young son decided to stop.

As my mother drove us back to the clinic as fast as she could, the good Samaritan did CPR on my dad, who was having the final heart attack that would end up killing him.

My younger brother, my now deceased mother and I had witnessed my father dying.

Right in front of us. The memory is permanently etched inside my mind.


I never doubted that God existed when I was a kid. From an early age, I learned about how much He loved me. I read my Bible stories and said the Our Father every morning with my class, before we even saluted the flag.

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This is a photo of me wearing my Catholic school uniform around the 2nd grade. I know…pretty snazzy.

I was a child of God and he was good! I said my prayers daily, I did my best to love and obey my parents, I tried not to terrorize my kid brother too much.

I was a sweet, kind and gentle little girl, who had made her First Communion and went to Confession on a weekly basis, repenting all of my petty childhood sins, like smacking my brother and talking back to my mom.

But after watching my dad die, that all changed.

How could God let my beloved daddy die in such a traumatic, horrifying way?

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If He was so good, why would He do such an awful thing to us?

It didn’t make sense. When I went back to school two weeks later to start the 7th grade, not only did my classmates treat me like I was suddenly made of broken glass, I also found myself angry and disinterested at church every day.

If I had had the understanding of what sarcasm was back then, I would have rolled my eyes and said whatever when our priest came to class every Friday to start readying us to make our Confirmation, our promise to continue to be devout young adults.

I believe that my mother was also angry at God for taking her husband away from her, leaving her alone to raise two young children. My dad was 50 when he died and that’s what I remember hearing the most from people, what a shame that Michael had to die so young.

Slowly, we stopped attending Mass and other church functions. Once I graduated from St. Rose and it was clear that I would be going to a public high school, my mom withdrew my brother and sent him to the public middle school as well.

Our affiliation with the church and God ultimately ended.


My teen years were rough. My mom wasn’t around much, she was enrolled in community college studying for her nursing degree. Before my dad passed, she had been a stay-at-home mother.

My mom had loved to drink her beer back before she had met my father and so she started to party again, probably to numb her pain.

My brother and I became accustomed to that lifestyle. We adapted. To say that our lives had taken a 180º would be an understatement. Without my father to keep us on track, the O’Leary household did a major flip-flop.

My brother and I began our journey away from what we had been raised to believe.

I’m not talking ill of the dead. I forgave my mother for those unstable years and she knew that before she died. Trust me, my mother was the sweetest, kindest and most sincere person that you could ever hope to meet. She spent the rest of her life trying to make it up to me and my brother. She was an absolutely wonderful mother, but also human.

She did the best that she could with what she had at the time and the circumstances that she found herself in. If I had been in her position, I’d probably had done the same thing.

There’s no way of knowing, but if my dad hadn’t died, I do believe that I wouldn’t have started down the dark path that I would soon find myself traveling on.


By the time that I graduated from high school in 1992, God was mostly a distant memory.

My brother and I partied ourselves now, while my mother worked the night shift at a nursing home as a newly graduated RN. We drank, smoked weed and acted like little hellions. All of our friends knew that there was no adult supervision at our house, so they took advantage of it.

Thinking back on it now, it was mostly a harmless era in my life. Nobody died or got hurt. We just did our own thing and all I wanted to do was have a good time.

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Both still awesome in moderation.

I wanted the boys to like me and after a few dates, I realized that unless I was willing to have sex with them, their interest in me flat-lined quickly.

So I began sleeping with almost (not all) any boy who showed even the slightest interest in me. I had little respect for myself. Occasionally, I’d have a speck of Catholic guilt come from out of nowhere, but then I’d drink it down with a Screwdriver or stifle it with a cigarette.

In fact, I’ve done so many wicked things over the course of my adult life that I’m going to keep the details to myself.

I have already asked forgiveness from God for my many sins.


I got pregnant when I was 22 years old after dating a guy 3 years older than me for less than 2 months.

My instincts told me that he wasn’t such a great guy. Ironically, I was just getting ready to break up with him. I decided to stay and try to have a little family of my own.

He wouldn’t let me get my daughter baptized when my mom asked him about it.

My mom was a wonderful, hands-on grandmother before I even gave birth. Our newly formed bond never faltered and this was when she started thinking about God again, I think for the first time in many years. She wanted to get B baptized behind his back, but I was too afraid of him to allow it.

It was around my mid-20’s when I also started thinking more about God. But I was still angry. When anyone would ask me what my religious beliefs were, I’d either say that I was a non-practicing Catholic or agnostic.

In my mind, He had failed me so many times, how could I ever believe in Him again?


I stayed for 6 years with my daughter’s biological father, until I was finally done with his physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse. After many atempts to escape him, I was finally able to leave and stay gone for good.

My mom, aunt and best friend Fran helped and believed in me. I was so scared, yet proud and thankful to have a new life! I was still young, in my mid 20’s and I planned on steering clear of abusive men.

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And that’s when I met my ex-husband, which you all know as asshat.


There’s no doubt in my mind that I was married to an evil, Godless man.

I got so ensnared into his web of darkness. At first I wanted to save him from his demons, but my plan backfired. Instead of redeeming him and teaching him how to love, I allowed him to taint what little light and grace that I had left inside of myself.

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I laughed at his inappropriate jokes and his heretical behavior. I brushed aside the feeling deep down that there was something very sexually deviant about him, the overtly sexual way that he talked about woman.

He broke my heart multiple times and was rarely remorseful. I defended him to family and friends for his anti-social behavior, always hoping that one day he’d be the man that I hoped he was, if only I could love him enough.

I felt that I had to be loyal to him, that somehow I’d be able to get through to him and free the good man that I just knew was caught somewhere inside his tormented soul.

He was/is a guitarist for a black death metal band. The lyrics he wrote were always disturbing and in hindsight, extremely evil.

In the beginning of our relationship, after I’d told him that I really didn’t care for that type of music, he assured me that it was just a fake persona. I believed him, but now I really wonder if that’s the truth.

When I became sick in 2011, I started to really ponder the entire God thing again. I began visiting different churches in the area (I was so afraid to enter a Catholic church due to the fear that I’d burst into flames) and when I’d tell him where I was going, he’d heckle me.

“Tell God I said hi!”

“Have fun with God!”


It took my father dying to turn me away from God.

It took my mother dying to bring me back to Him.

My boyfriend Steven reminds me of my youth, when life was full of hope, love and possibilities. I knew that the next man in my life had to be a Christian just like I am.

He is a good, honest and decent man. My mom loved him and I’m sure that my father would approve as well.

It’s been a long, weary, tiresome journey, but I don’t regret a minute of it.

Because it’s brought me back to where I started from.

And this time, I’m not turning away from God. I’m embracing Him.

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To My Ex-Husband

letter-writer


To my ex-husband,

All I ever wanted was for you to love me until I was me again.

And I didn’t think that this was too much to ask.

I should have took more notice of the way you’d complain about wanting the old me back.

Where did she go? And I didn’t have an answer, because my mental illnesses took over and kept me their prisoner.

Do you realize just how paralyzing that was? I struggled so hard to be that old version of myself again, but it was a long battle, not to mention an impossible one.

I am mostly me again, but I’m certainly not the same old Merry that I was back in 2011.

Because I’m a stronger, updated version of myself now, partly because of the hell you put me through.

I read and hear from many sources that I need to forgive you, but that’s something that I’ll never be able to do. I will never wish you well, nor will I pray that someday you’ll see the light. That’ll never happen because you’ll never admit that you did anything wrong.

Your evil superpower is an ego the size of your ass.

You’ve caused me far too much damage for forgiveness to ever take place.

Because of your early subtle and then later insidious abuse, I have a persistent voice in my head that tells me that I’m not worthy of love.

That I’m not worthy of empathy and human kindness. That being mentally ill is something to be ashamed of, ostracized and mocked for.

I have a deep river of anger and hostility towards you. I wasted 15 fucking years of my life, the entirety of my 30’s, with a cold, heartless, lying, cheating son of a bitch. Those are years that I’ll never get back.

They are now all lost to the hands of time. All I have to show for those precious years is a greater understanding of how to detect an abusive person and then steer clear of them.

And I will not allow myself to be treated like human garbage ever again. I deserve so much more than what you were ever capable of giving.

What do I wish for you?

I wish that someday, when you become sick yourself and you’re scared shitless, that you end up alone in an ER somewhere, desperately hoping for some reassurance from your beloved that you’re not a miserable burden, better dead than alive.

Do you remember that day? That awful day when I tried to kill myself, but you couldn’t be bothered to follow the ambulance to the hospital to comfort me?

I still cannot wrap my head around it. What sort of human can do that to someone that they claim to love?

I suppose someone like you, because that’s exactly what you did. Such cruelty is absolutely disgusting and everyone that knows would agree with me.

My mother despised you, by the way. Your heart hurt when you learned that she passed away, eh?

Save the bullshit for someone who might believe you.

I hope that someday I run across your mind and you experience even the slightest twinge of regret. And if that day ever comes, I hope that you can feel my hatred for you over the miles that gloriously separates us.

I pray that your new soon-to-be wife wakes up one day to discover that you’re also cheating on her, because like you told me in a sad attempt to rationalize your deplorable actions, you have a sickness that makes you want to fuck as many women as you can.

Because of course, you’re the victim.

I really hope that she has the nerve and determination to kick you out of her home, just like I did.

Because of you, I have many years worth of therapy ahead of me. And I hope that each session, when I speak your name in an effort to finally redeem and recollect my sense of self worth, it burns your soul.

Whatever is left of it.

Your ex wife,

Merry

Mental Health Is Like A Teeter-Totter

When I called this past Monday about making a psych appointment, I was given two options.

Option A: Go to the main campus of the hospital system I’m currently using for my healthcare and wait for many hours in the ER. 

Option B: Wait until September 11th, the first available appointment for a psych evaluation at the smaller and much closer office building.

Since I’m not currently experiencing a mental health crisis, I decided on option B.

Mental health is a precarious thing. It reminds me of a teeter-totter. It goes up and it goes down, sometimes so quickly that you’ll lose your balance and fall on your ass with a loud thud.

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Look, a therapy dog!

It’s not that simple getting help, as you can see from my options up there. Either I am in serious trouble and need assistance right NOW or I have to bide my time until I can be evaluated.

I can tell you what I need, a decent therapist.

I need to talk about what I’ve gone through the last few years with someone who isn’t too close to the situation. This time around, though, I won’t follow any doctor(s) or therapist blindly like I have in the past.

Perhaps I’ll even allow the doc to give me a booster med that is specifically used for major depressive disorder. I know that I want to stay on Effexor, because without it, I’d be curled up in the fetal position on I-71 South towards Columbus.

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A strange thing happens when your trust has been broken numerous times by people you once thought had your back; you begin to follow your instincts and tap into your own shitty experiences instead.


I’m hanging in there.

I miss my mother dearly and I cry often. It hurts not having her to talk to and share news with her, good and bad combined. I’ll start to think about those last few days before she died and how she didn’t even look like herself lying in that hospital bed on comfort care. The sound of her breathing, erratic and desperate. Even while actively dying, she didn’t want to let go.

All I can do is continue to move forward. I want to make her proud of me and keep on living my life.

And that’s why I need to fight back hard to stay put on that teeter-totter and try not to fucking fall off.