This is an article I wrote for forwardwalking.com and can be found HERE. It was published back in April at a time when I wanted to remain anonymous. And sometimes I still do. My experiences are so close to my heart and I fully believe in only sharing your story with those who deserve to hear it. Recently I have felt a pull to share parts of it, publicly. To speak the truth about what I am going through. I am not sure why. Maybe because I know I am not the only one. Maybe I want to connect with others who know first hand what I am talking about. Maybe I want to shed some light on PTSD. Maybe I want to have an open dialogue about abuse. Maybe I want to share my thoughts about understanding our abusers and that there can be rehabilitation for all. So here is to taking ownership of my story. And borrowing the words of Brene Brown, my story matters because I matter.
It was 4:15 in the morning, and these were the thoughts running through my head:
“How did I become ‘that woman?’ Why do I still want to be with him? That is so sick. I hate myself for still loving him. I shouldn’t still love him. I shouldn’t want him every second of every day. I shouldn’t be missing him. What is wrong with me? He hurt me. He made me believe I was stupid and worthless. He told me no one would ever want me. And look at me now. He is right. Who would want this hot mess? I am unlovable. He was the one who taught me that I was unlovable. He played games with my mind. Made me think things were my fault. He manipulated and controlled. And yet… I still miss him.”
I had sobbed. I sobbed until I could no longer breathe. I cried until my heartbeat was in my head. I was weeping with everything I had in me. I was weeping because I couldn’t seem to stop my mind from replaying over and over what he had done to me. I was weeping because I missed him. I was weeping because I missed myself.
Once I gave everything over to my grief and the tears quieted down, I began breathing. Three deep counts in. Four slow counts out. Repeated until I could think a little more clearly. Then I reached out to a friend who softly reassured me that everything would one day be okay again. And four hours later, I was sitting in my therapist’s office for our weekly session.
My boyfriend was a mine field. When we were together I never knew what would set him off. One wrong move. One false step. But that is the thing about mine fields. You don’t know where the mines are hidden. So every step is the same. And every blow is damaging. He and I are no longer together, so I don’t have to walk his field. But now a field lives in me.
“I was strong enough to leave the relationship, which means I am strong enough to heal from it’s residue. I am more than the debris the abuse has left in my life.”
That is part of my “911 Meditation” that I call upon when I feel fragile. And when I feel broken, I reach out to my war council–the people who I can trust with my story. My war council speaks truth to me when I cannot speak it to myself. I write. I run. I listen only to music that lifts me. I breathe in and I breathe out. I pray to my Creator and all that is higher than me. I give myself permission to grieve and to feel my emotions.
And it hurts. And I am healing. And my healing hurts.
One of the biggest helps is receiving help. Professional help from my therapist has been invaluable. He is helping me rebuild the roads and walls and the beautiful cities inside myself that my abuser attacked, destroyed, dismantled, and then reconstructed for his own benefit.
Another huge help has been learning how to forgive. Beautiful healing has taken place as I have allowed myself to forgive myself for becoming “that woman”–for allowing someone to treat me so poorly, and for allowing myself to love him despite it all. Healing comes as I learn to forgive God for letting me be in this situation, for not stopping my abuser or changing him. And it comes as I allow myself toforgive my abuser, recognize his illness and pray for him and for his personal healing.
My healing is not complete. I do not know when it will be. I understand that healing takes time and commitment. But every day I choose to believe that healing is possible. I choose to believe that I am worth it. I choose to believe that I am loveable, and that someday someone will love me with the healthy kind of love that I deserve. And I will be able to give that love back because I am healing.
So, to all those going through something similar: breathe, rise up, and reach out. Speak truth, and hear truth. Because you are worth it. You are worth it. You are not unlovable. You are not trash. You are not crazy. You are strong. You are worth it. Breathe, rise up and reach out.