In my life I have been through a lot of shit.
I’ve dealt with alcoholics and addicts in damn near every aspect of my life.
I have suffered pretty much every type of abuse:
- Sexual abuse from the age of 4 to the age of 12 at the hands of one of my cousins
- Physical abuse from the same cousin for just as many years
- I’ve been a victim of rape at the hands of a so called “friend”, I was 17 years old
- I can’t even begin to list the people responsible for the verbal, mental, emotional abuse I’ve endured over the span of my life.
The worst of these was/is by far the verbal, emotional, mental abuse. The wounds from these types of abuse are so much deeper than the sexual and physical abuse, and for me even the rape. There are so many different ways to inflict these forms of abuse on people:
- Making someone feel “less than”
- Name Calling
- Constant teasing and putting down
- Turning a blind eye to damaging life events (sexual, physical abuse)
- Victimizing an already suffering victim
- Defending the abuser rather than the victim
- Doing nothing
- Taking away someone’s voice
- Ignoring person or problem
- Repeated abusive behavior
- No remorse
I could go on and on, but this is a start. As damaging as sexual abuse, physical abuse, and rape can be; it’s how it’s handled after the fact that is the most damaging piece in the long run.
- Did anyone believe the victim?
- Did anyone come to the defense of the victim?
- Did anyone advocate and fight for the victim?
- Were any changes made to assure the safety and security of the victim?
- Was the victim offered help to cope with what they were left to deal with?
- Was the victim allowed time to process, speak openly about what happened, to heal? Or was the victim left to deal on their own because the reality of it all was too difficult for everyone else to face?
The above list of ways to inflict verbal, mental, emotional abuse and the above list of questions become so deeply rooted in the mind, body, and soul of the victims when these things happen or when the answers to the above list of questions is no.
As some might guess, everything I’ve written is based on personal experience. I’ve spent the majority of my life stuffing shit down, pretending none of it bothered me, and building a wall so that I didn’t have to feel everything I was feeling. I rebelled, I smoked, drank, did drugs, broke laws, went to juvenile detention, sought love in all of the wrong places and ways (note to others who are hurting at the hands of abuse: sex is not love. Love is not found in sex but rather sex is found in love).
I am nearly 38 years old. I’ve been in one unhealthy relationship after another. I’m currently single and have been for the better part of the last 5 years. I’ve been in short relationships here and there, but nothing longer than a few months.
I live alone in my one bedroom apartment and have for 7 years. I have no pets, not even a fish.
Over the course of the last 7 years I’ve come to have a deep love/hate relationship with being alone. Some days I absolutely love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Other days I miss companionship, but history has shown me that I am not currently suited to be choosing partners.
With the exception of 1 beer over the summer, I haven’t drank in almost a year. It’s incredible how much your social life falls off when you stop drinking.
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last 3 years, when I started seeing my therapist. I would say the most I’ve learned has taken place in the last year. In part because I haven’t been drinking but I think mostly because I was tired of the person I was and wanted to start becoming the person I feel I am in my heart.
When you make a decision like that you begin to evaluate many different parts of your life, at least for myself. I made a commitment to myself that I would start to peel through all of my shit. As I mentioned, I started seeing my therapist about 3 years ago and she has been amazing. She has been incredibly patient and understanding. I’m sure from her point of view it often seems like I’m not doing anything to help myself and I’ll admit there have been times when I wasn’t doing much to help myself. More often than not though, when it might appear that I am not doing much to help myself, I am actually in my head trying to prepare for something I want to do but fear and insecurity holds me back. I’m trying to coach myself on how to take the next step. I most likely won’t take the next step, but I am doing work in my mind to get that much closer to taking the next step.
I currently live a pretty lonely life. I go to work and I come home. I have therapy about weekly and some weekends I go visit my parents. About the only person I talk to on the phone is my mom, dad is usually present for the conversation too. In the event I would do something outside of work, therapy, parent’s, and home I generally do it by myself. I’ve done a pretty good job of isolating myself and becoming somewhat of a recluse. Which would be great if that was the life I wanted to live.
The life I want looks something like this:
- Daily yoga w/ one class a week to meet others with an interest in yoga
- Daily meditation w/ one group meditation a week to meet others with an interest in meditation and mindfulness
- Join a Drum Circle
- Go on one weekend-week long meditation/mindfulness retreat a year
- Take multiple weekend trips around Minnesota and neighboring states
- Go on one real vacation a year
- Weekend gatherings for dinner, coffee, dessert, and/or happy hour with like-minded people and good conversation
- Spend more time doing my hobbies (writing, photography, and cooking) and meet with others who have the same or similar hobbies
- Be more of a minimalist
- Find a healthy lasting love to share the rest of my life with
- Finish my Undergrad Degree
- Become a Life Coach
- Start and finish graduate school and become a Licensed Professional Counselor
- Live a happy healthy life
I’m not an anti-social, lonely, recluse because I want to be. These things are a result of the deep rooted effects of the abuse I’ve endured:
- Feeling “less than” “not good enough”
- Low self-image and worth
- Developmental Trauma (AKA C-PTSD)
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of failure
- Fear of the unknown
- Feelings of unnecessary shame and guilt
- Emotional and mental exhaustion
- Feelings of being unwanted
- Feelings of being unloved and of not being lovable
- Feeling insignificant
- Feeling like an embarrassment
- Feeling like I don’t matter
There is not a day that goes by when each and every one of these things doesn’t shadow over me. They weigh me down. They hold me back.
What’s done is done and all that’s left now is to heal. But the healing part is the hardest. It’s facing shit you don’t want to face. It’s peeling back the layers of shit you’ve stuffed down deep for years. It’s acknowledging that these terrible things that have happened have actually happened to me; it’s letting go of a “story” I tell and owning it all as MY story. It’s embracing it, it’s feeling it, it’s processing it, it’s coming to terms with it, it’s accepting it. It’s KNOWING that none of it was my fault, it’s KNOWING that I didn’t ask for any of it, it’s KNOWING that it wasn’t okay, it’s KNOWING that no one should ever have to endure such pain, not even me, it’s KNOWING that what was done to me had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the abusers.
I’m pissed about how my life has turned out to this point. I’m pissed about the shit that happened to me that I didn’t ask for. I’m pissed that no one seemed to care then or now. I’m pissed there will never be any validation. I’m pissed there will never be any apologies.
I’m pissed I’ve had to suffer through all of it on my own. I’m pissed that I have to go through the healing process on my own. I’m pissed at how paralyzing all this shit has been on my life. I’m pissed. I’m PISSED. I’M PISSED!
And it’s KNOWING that it’s okay to be pissed off about all of it!
And it’s KNOWING, somewhere down the road, I will be free to be me.