I watched my mom get beaten by a man easily three times her size. I saw him try to suffocate her and watched her fight for her life. Time and time again. And I said, “that will never be me.” Never would I let a man hurt me. And in the event that the unthinkable did happen and I was a victim of abuse? Never would I stick around to let him do it again. Never would I go back to him thinking he had changed.
But I was. And I did.
I don’t talk about this. For the most part I pretend it never happened. It’s just easier because, truth be told, I’m better for it. Yes, I’m better for it. I said what I said.
I’ve written vaguely about what I experienced – In both And the Horse You Rode in On and Demons I spoke as an outsider looking in, even though both highlighted some of the experiences I personally had with abuse. The purpose of this blog is for my own self healing and discovery, and to help others know that they aren’t alone. Other people experience crazy, fucked up things, too. But when I wrote those blog posts I wasn’t ready to reveal that I was talking from first hand experience. As I grow as a person, I’m becoming more and more open about what I’ve experienced and been through.
That being said, I’m still not ready to go detail by detail with you; I can tell you that I’ve experienced every form of abuse that there is, and there are multiple people that dealt it to me. Otherwise, the details don’t matter. What I’m here to tell you today is what it did to my mental and emotional health.
If you’ve been reading you know that both of my parents were alcoholics, that they dealt with various disorders, and that I hold nothing against them and have forgiven them for my childhood. I don’t want to speak ill of my parents, because both did the best they could with what they had. It does not change the fact that the choices they made and the experiences I had during my childhood did have an impact on who I was when I started out on my own and my own personal self views – which, to be perfectly frank, I was overly shy and self conscious due to everything I experienced as a child and young adult. All I wanted was to not be them. I wanted what I perceived my friends to have had growing up – both parents under the same roof, no substance abuse. . . I wanted the white picket fence. 2.5 kids, loving husband, blah blah blah.
I was in my mid-twenties by the time I got my wake up call. But not without having quite a bit of damage.
I came out of the experience thinking I was less. Thinking that I was not capable of accomplishing anything or being anyone worth a damn. I came out thinking I was unlovable, unattractive, and worthless. I came out thinking that anyone who said they loved me was lying. I came out thinking my job was to please everyone, and to hell with what I thought and felt – my own feelings and thoughts were just as worthless as I myself was. I came out without a voice of my own, without an identity of my own, and no knowledge of how to go about life. I came out suspicious of other peoples motives, uncertain of my own gut feelings, and sure that everyone had an ulterior motive. I came out not trusting a soul, not even myself.
Unfortunately, I was dealt these cards, and when I came out on the other side I was absolutely clueless as to what the fuck was going on. I didn’t know much about myself, and had little knowledge about the outside world, how to be a member of society, how to interact with other people. . . Add to that the feelings of worthlessness, and I was a complete and utter mess.
I looked in the mirror every day and didn’t have a fucking clue who was looking back, or what the hell this girl looking back at me was supposed to do next.
The only thing I knew was that I had a child, and he was relying on me to provide him with food, shelter, education and a semblance of normalcy.
I knew that I didn’t want him to experience everything I had. I knew that my life had not been anything close to normal. I knew I wanted my son to know he was loved, and handsome, and fully capable of anything he set his mind to. I wanted him to know how to function in society, I wanted him to have a chance to go somewhere and be someone. I wanted him to have self confidence and know that he was absolutely and completely worthy of whatever good things life had in store for him. And I wanted him to be the end of the abuse cycle. I didn’t want him to continue where I had left off, either as the abused or the abuser.
I had a large task on my hands, to say the least. I needed to overcome my own feelings of inadequacy, figure out who the hell I was as a person, become a functioning member of society and raise a child. I also had to overcome my past and everything that had been ingrained in me – all the feelings of self loathing and worthlessness.
Here I am, just over a decade later, and I’m still battling these demons. I’m still working on overcoming all of it. It’s an uphill battle. Every time I’m met with adverse circumstances, I’m thrown backwards. Every time I ‘fail’ at something, I think, “Once again, I’m not good enough.” I forget all of the shit I’ve overcome for an instant. I forget that now my son is this phenomenal human and while I wasn’t able to provide him with the picture perfect life I had invisoned, I still managed to raise an astounding human being – and that I was gifted with the opportunity to do it a second time with my little one, and he’s also turning out to be pretty fucking amazing. I forget that I’ve done nothing but climb my way out from the hole I was in and improved my life exponentially over the last decade. For just an instant I’m that scared girl again, looking at her reflection and seeing nothing of any worth. I’m everything I was told I was – stupid, ugly, fat, bitchy, slutty. I can’t and won’t go anywhere; No one will want me; no one will love me. . . I’m all the negative and none of the positive.
I even sometimes get these feelings when good things are happening, which is a real kicker. Everything will be going along fantastically and all of a sudden, there’s a whisper in my ear ‘who the fuck do you think you are?! You don’t deserve any of this!’
Talk about demons.
I don’t know that I will ever be able to overcome all of this. I don’t know if I will ever look in the mirror and not see that scared girl looking back, despite the woman that I have become. I don’t know if the feelings of self loathing will ever completely go away. It is quite likely that every single time I meet someone who I think I could be close to, I will throw up walls to protect myself. I have this facade of being this bad ass that can do anything, and nothing effects me or bothers me, when really every day I look in the mirror and wonder how and why I even bother. Isn’t giving up easier? Wouldn’t it be easier to just not fucking even try? The demons whisper, ‘you only put on makeup to cover up how ugly you are.’ and ‘it doesn’t matter what you wear, you’re still a fat cow.’ They tell me I don’t deserve my job, that I’m a horrible mother, and that this dream that I’m living will eventually crash down around me and I’m going to die alone, with no one by my side, because I’m not worthy of anyone or anything in my life.
I’m not ready to tell you the ins and outs of the abuse I experienced, but I’m ready to tell you what it is, day in and day out, to live inside my head. I’m ready to tell you that every day I stare those demons in the face and tell them to fuck off, to fuck all the way off, because I have worked so goddamn hard to get to where I am, and I deserve every bit of what I’ve worked for.
I’m ready to tell you that you’re not alone. That you are not alone, and that you can do this. You are loved, you are phenomenal, you are worthy of the wonderful things that are coming your way. And anytime you think any different, remember these things. Remember that other people are right there with you, beside you, battling their own demons.
It’s a steep hill to climb, but I do it every day. Every time I’m forced backwards, back down towards where I started, I brace myself and make my way back up. Every time a demon whispers in my ear I give it the finger and turn my back on it. I look at the scared girl in the mirror and remind her that a woman with courage and grit has taken her place. There is nothing and no one that will make me fall all the way back down that hill. I may lose my footing now and again, but at the end of the day I am further than where I started.
At the beginning of this post I said I was better for having dealt with what I have. I do truly believe that. I believe that had I not experienced what I did, I would not have the determination that I do, nor would I have the empathy that I have. I wouldn’t know how to find the silver lining that I find regardless of the situation.
This was another unfinished draft that I came across and was inspired to finish. I hope that it helps you as much as it helped me to get it out of my drafts and thus out of my head.
Today I urge you to face your demons. If I can do it, so can you. I believe in you, even if you don’t believe in your self just yet. You got this. I just know you do.