My journey to loving me

May was mental health awareness month, June is PTSD awareness, so I felt like it was no better time to share me, my story. I feel it is important to share, to not hide, to not be ashamed. Warning, this is a little bit more mature than I usually share. Trigger warnings are below. I became a writer to empower others. I still and will continue that, but I am going to take you on my journey. Trigger warnings include suicide, sexual assault, trauma bonding, depression, and PTSD. I sit here, eyes swollen, body shaking, tears flowing. I haven’t slept and eating is hard. My hands are shaking as I type, but this is how I heal, how I grow, how I become whole. I owe this to myself. I am going to be selfish, take back my life, my power. I will heal. This is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done. I am an onion peel that is exploding, all the trauma, all at once. I don’t know, maybe, I didn’t know how else to live. I didn’t understand true happiness, true love. I didn’t feel like I deserved it and if I let it in, it will leave. I am learning that while I may feel shattered, those pieces will be put back together. It will take time, it will hurt, I will rise. I am going to take you back now to when this journey really began, when I was a little girl, 10 years old. I had a normal life, great neighborhood friends, lots of fun, playing in the creek, putting on neighborhood plays with all the other kids. I was the youngest, so I was always the princess. Then, my mom left my dad, she had her reasons. I do not harvest any ill will against her for that part of it. My Dad & I were very close. We always watched his favorite shows, Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman, Quantum Leap. I was very much a daddy’s girl. My Dad fell into a deep depression after my mom left. At 10 I couldn’t see it. I just saw my dad. I started cancelling weekends there though to hang out with my new friends. I still have guilt about this. I must remind myself I was 10, a child, new school, new friends. One morning I woke up for school, things felt off. I went to school. While sitting in class I remember the school Counselor came into the room. I just knew it was for me. My little 10-year-old heart dropped. She walked me out, still said nothing, drove me home. Remember this was the 90’s, things were a bit different then. I get home. My mom and a Priest were standing in the living room. My mom then said your dad died, he killed himself. The next thing was, “What, no tears, that’s okay.” I never really dissected that comment until recently. I didn’t know how to cry about it. I was in shock. How does a child even begin to understand, to process that? After that I have memory gaps. Like, major ones. I remember some of the happy moments after my dad’s death, but lots of blank space. I still hold this guilt. If I went over there more? If I just showed more love? Again, I was 10! Then, my mom went through her healing journey that included being in and out of the hospital. My brother and I would go from friend’s house to friend’s house, never together, always different friends. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the start of PTSD, Abandonment fears, and Codependence. Fast forward now to High School, I would tell you more about Middle School, but honestly, I remember nothing. I started to rebel a bit. Looking back, I was lost, understandably so, but I was young, sinking. I started getting my feed from boys. I needed that to feel. I was used. This led to pregnancy at 17. I love my son, but I was in no shape mentally to have a child. I did the best I could, and I need to remember that whenever I feel like I should have done more. I was still a child. A scared, broken child. I started letting men use me again in my 20s. I never knew what real love from someone felt like. It has always been surrounded by trauma of some sort. It is almost like my brain and heart needed the trauma; it was my safe space. Sick, but safe space. I was then sexually assaulted by someone who I thought would never hurt me, a friend. We had slept together before, so my brain likes to go to well, we did it before, just do it and get it over with. Keep in mind that I had locked him out of my room, and he put a butcher knife through the door. I let him, scared, but I just kept thinking this isn’t assault because we have done it before. After a lot more spiraling I met my future husband. We are divorced now, but I do not hold him any ill will. We were both lost. We both were to blame for how our marriage ended. He had some addiction issues; I felt the need to save. Perfect match, right? He can’t leave me if I’m saving him. Hello, Codependent brain jumping on the mic! I did not know this at the time though. We got married and had a daughter. He loved my son as if he was his. Relapse happened. Again, I do not blame him, but now I am scared, in hyper save mode and losing myself in the process. Our daughter then got the diagnosis of being Autistic. Then, I didn’t really know what that meant, but it was surrounded with words of fear. I didn’t know better then, so I listened. Luckily, I educated myself and always found her perfect exactly how she is. I did go into hyper focus on her though and making sure she felt safe, happy. I neglected everything else in my life. I lost me almost completely, but then I found my voice, my writing, my purpose. I dove into that and wrote articles and then now as you all know a series. I still was not facing my problems though. Not digging into those traumas. I was struggling watching him sink. I couldn’t save anymore. I was hoping to find me again. Maybe even be brave enough to face my past. After my separation from my husband, I met someone. I felt alive, loved, safe for the first time in a very long time. I felt like I didn’t need to save. We were together for many years. He encouraged me in my writing, and it felt like he was helping me really heal. I now realize that was me, but, that darn codependent brain of mine gave him the credit. I felt safe. I felt nurtured. I felt like we belonged together, we fit. I could grow with him. It felt like we were growing together. Now, we get to why I am writing this. This relationship crumbled and when I say crumbled, I mean soul shattering, absolutely crushing crumble. I found out about some hiding that was happening while we were together, while I was feeling safe. I started to feel left out of his life. I gave all of me to him. I nurtured him, loved him, was patient, showed him the real, true me. I thought he showed me him, but I still felt the guard. I wanted him to love me the way I loved him. The last year of our relationship was me living in fear for when he will abandon me, I knew it was coming, I felt it, I felt the secrets, but I didn’t leave. I craved the push/pull, the little bits of love he was giving, when he would take care of me. The smiles, touches, laughter. I was holding onto that first year and half of fun, love, encouragement. He told me my ex was a big reason why we weren’t moving forward. I wanted him to feel safe, so I continued to be patient, ignore the pain that this was causing me. Ignored the secrets. Made excuses. He was definitely having a difficult time, so I allowed our relationship to stay secret, I wanted everyone to feel safe. After years of secret that is why he left, my ex. I tried to understand. It hurt more than anything. There was never a physical threat. I know that. I tried to convince him of that. I just wanted him. Why didn’t he want me back? My eyes were closed, and my heart was being served up to get crushed. He did break up with me, but being me, afraid of abandonment, I continued to text, talk, kiss, see him. I needed to be in his arms. I thought there was still hope. I loved him. He kept telling me he loves me, will always be his, he misses me, all of it. Push away, pull towards. I found out some things I needed to say, that’s when communication came to a halt. Just gone. I know there was pain on both sides, but it went from I love to nothing. He got mean, cold. I felt like trash that was easily thrown away, replaced. I don’t hate him, I don’t think I could. I just hate the hurt. I was in a trauma bond of spiral. Not sure if that was intentional, but it is real. I didn’t know what that was, so I wasn’t recognizing it as it was happening in that last year. I don’t know if he was recognizing it. Like I said, I do believe he loved me. I just wanted to love and be loved. I now know I deserve more, so much more! I think he knew that too. In my healing I am trying to see that this is not a me thing. I did nothing wrong. I loved, trusted, was honest. That doesn’t change the hurt, the feelings of betrayal, the spiral, but it wasn’t me. I am hurt & those feelings are valid. I feel like he gave up, that I was not enough to get help for, fight for us. He told me I am a part of him, we had a connection, but I still felt like I wasn’t enough. I see the red flags now, the gaslighting. I see the reality. Doesn’t change the hurt or the fact that I love him, but I see. Once the pain subsides, I will be able to take this and learn. I wish that things ended differently. I wish I wasn’t now scared to be loved, to feel worthy of happiness. I wish we were able to talk, but I have to try to be okay without. This now brings me back to the beginning of the hardest journey I have gone on. My journey, my true journey. I did start therapy after the breakup. Thank goodness, because the real trauma of that relationship didn’t begin until months later when I started putting everything together. My eyes were open. Full of tears, but open. My nightmares are significant, flashbacks, insomnia, poor appetite, fear of going places all heightened, but I am now ready to face all my trauma that goes back to my dad’s death. The fear of being abandoned. Not good enough to stay. This relationship made me feel not good enough, alone. I made myself feel that way, because I allowed it. I was made to feel pathetic, like the crazy girl who wouldn’t let go. I know now that it was the trauma bond, the push/pull. It kept me in the spiral until I was fully discarded. That was the emotional kick I needed to face my PTSD, Codependency & learn to love me. While I hurt, I know I am strong, I know I deserve the best. Talking with my therapist I see how I talk about my past in facts, not how it made me feel at the time. This is something we are working on. No more repressing. My dad left suddenly unexpectedly. I repressed. Then, the person I loved left suddenly, unexpectedly. All of the feels & trauma hit. I tell people when I meet them to always shine. It’s my turn to believe that in myself. I am just beginning this journey. If you have something you want to talk about, let me know. I am here. We all deserve love, kindness, to feel whole. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Photo by Dede Doering

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