I had the best, most relaxing weekend (despite the unintentional, difficult hike on Saturday)! Today has been pretty good, but it still doesn’t compare to the times when the only ones I have to interact with are my boyfriend and my cats. 🙂
I was raised in a family that had struggled with abusive people in their lives. Yet, I was taught — perhaps unintentionally — that abuse was a shameful thing for the victim to talk about.
“Don’t tell anyone what so-and-so went through — it’s embarrassing.”
“Keep the negative stuff off the internet. You’ll put other people down.”
“No one ever knew that person was having such a hard time. They have such a good spirit for never saying anything. God doesn’t want us to complain.”
Blah. Blah. Blah.
Does anyone see what’s wrong with this concept?
I don’t have this plan of writing this great self-help book or anything like that. I’m not even 100% sure why I let everything out at once when I finally broke up with my ex. Mostly it was my word versus his, I’m not good at talking, and I am definitely the less dangerous person. So, I did the only thing I could to protect myself and just laid pretty much everything out there for everyone I knew to see. And that’s when I learned an important lesson:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TELL YOUR STORY.
You wouldn’t believe the number of people who came to me in those weeks and months just to say that they’ve been through similar things with an abusive partner or relative. Some of them knew each other for years and never knew that they had this in common. It was shocking really. All because I had done something “embarrassing” by revealing a secret I kept for years.
No wonder the trend of abuse continues the way it has. If you bought a drink that was tainted and made you sick, would you hide it from everyone else? Or would you make sure that everyone knew it was poisoned so that they didn’t drink it themselves?
Why don’t we do the same thing for something that is so deadly? “1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.”*
Yes there are movements to stop abuse — that’s wonderful — but it doesn’t really seem to hit home until someone you know goes through something awful. And if they keep it a secret, how would you know?
(This was supposed to be a short “aha” moment. So let’s stop the tangent.)
Anyways, one thing I was taught in youth group that stuck with me is that sometimes bad things happen to us so that we can help others who go through the same difficulty. And the more I heard stories from friends and coworkers and their friends and family, the more I realized that something good can come from the bad by putting my story out there. It had the plus of keeping me sane when I couldn’t tell the difference between my thoughts and his voice in my head.
And guess what? I had a good friend approach me this week because she realized she was in a toxic relationship. Apparently, I was the only person she knew who had gone through something similar. (I’m sure she knows more, but once again, people don’t like to talk about it.) We were able to get together tonight and talk things out. She just needed someone to not judge and validate the decisions she was having to make.
There was a lot of prayer going on the last couple of days! It’s easy for me to talk about what I went through (mostly — there are still things most people will never need to know, and those tend to be triggers anyway), but I’m no counselor! However, I can do my best to be there for my friends. We aren’t all called to be counselors; however we are called to lift each other up (I Thess. 5:11). We at least had a good time of catching up and venting. If anything, those 5 years of pain were worth it if they keep someone else from going through the same — and I truly believe that this is what God wants me to do with my experience.
So tell your story. Don’t be ashamed that you were once a victim. It may be difficult at first. Will it scare some people? Yes. Will some people be offended? Of course. Will it be embarrassing? It can be at times. If you need to do so anonymously, that’s perfectly fine. You should make sure to stay safe. But doing so will do two things — it will help others, and it will help you heal. And those aren’t bad goals at all. 🙂
*Bridges, F.S., Tatum, K. M., & Kunselman, J.C. (2008). Domestic violence statutes and rates of intimate partner and family homicide: A research note. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 19(1), 117-130. http://ncadv.org/images/Domestic%20Violence.pdf
Lately, I’ve found myself more and more in a state of restlessness. I have a good job and a good life, but I feel like I’m supposed to do more.
1. “Characterized by or showing inability to remain at rest.”
I’m so tired of sitting all day long and staring at a flashing screen. Yes, it’s spring. Yes, the warmer weather naturally makes me want to go outside. But besides that, my eyes hurt from the computer and my back hurts from sitting. I really just need to expend some energy. Exercising after work isn’t really helping.
2. “Unquiet or uneasy, as a person, the mind, or the heart.”
You know how I feel like I need to chase a different purpose? Well, that would do with this part of the definition. I’m scared that I’m wasting my life sitting chained to a desk all day. I’m also scared of taking a risk. Something’s gotta give.
3. “Never at rest; perpetually agitated or in motion.”
Is that why my legs are always moving?! Ha!
4. “Without rest; without restful sleep.”
I sleep…but it’s almost never a restful sleep. I tend to wake up exhausted. I still have nightmares.
5. “Unceasingly active; averse to quiet or inaction, as persons.”
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy binging on Netflix or my favorite movies, but doing that all the time can get old. I’d rather go somewhere. (Preferably, Disney World, but that’s a bit far away and expensive.)
But. But. But.
THAT. Right. There. is the problem. There are a lot of “buts” in my vocabulary. That needs to go away. Otherwise, I’ll be sitting here another three years from now and still be regretting the ideas and opportunities I didn’t follow through with.
Someone tell me that risk is worth it! I have to support myself — money is the scariest thing. Especially because I barely make ends meet as it is. But yet, there is always that whisper saying “take the chance.” My personal life is fulfilling and happy. Is it so bad to want my money-making life to be the same way?
Apparently, I’m the most average blogger…
Life got busy, and I stopped writing. And so much has happened since then that I can’t even remember it all!
First off, my job got really busy. I ended up taking on extra responsibilities when my general manger changed jobs. I’m really grateful for the experience and extra work! But, it does make me end up feeling so tired at the end of most days, that I just don’t feel like turning on my computer at home. But hey, I know Quickbooks now!
By the time I was finally catching up with balancing the new work with the old work, it was almost time for my office to change floors in our building. Lots of work. Lots of haggling with contractors that weren’t that wonderful IMO. Eventually, the main contractor disappeared. My boyfriend and I ended up doing the last few things that needed to be done in the new office space.
In the middle of THAT, my mom and I went to Disney World! For my birthday! It was a pretty crazy trip, but we did several things on my bucket list — Yay! I FINALLY got to see Festival of Fantasy on our last day — a day that we weren’t supposed to be in the parks. Long story! It seems like every time I was in Magic Kingdom since that parade came out, it was raining. I’ve seen the Rainy Day Parade more times than any other parade, I think. By the way, the bread plate at Sanaa is AMAZING! Definitely something you can share with two people. I also realized that I REALLY need a real camera. Relying on my crap phone for everything was so irritating.
So, we got back from Disney, and I went straight into the office move which went straight into prepping for our client party (my first time organizing THAT, BTW) which went straight into Thanksgiving then the client party then Christmas parties then Christmas then New Year’s (each of which usually involves at least 3 different gatherings each night) then my grandma’s surprise 80th birthday party. *Gasp! I didn’t get a chance to breathe until mid-January — and then I got sick (of course!).
Oh yeah, I also got a second cat right before Christmas. Totally unplanned, but it was a good thing because Colin was getting lonely by himself all day. She’s adorable. ❤
And how can I forget?! My brother got engaged! I’m happy for him. I’ll be a bridesmaid in their wedding this summer. Social anxiety much?
So here I am, finally healthy again. Time to start getting into this blog thing again. Anything you would like me to write about? Let me know!
One of my biggest fears was that in getting away from him, I would lose too much. But eventually, I realized that I had pretty much lost everything because of him. The longer I stayed, the more I lost. I left when there was almost nothing left of me.
It’s terrifying to realize you have to start from scratch. But after a while, I realized that it can also be a good thing.
Rebuilding 101: How I Made Myself after Losing Myself
- I changed my hair. He liked long, blonde hair, so I had long, blonde hair. One of the first things I did after getting out of the relationship was chop off my hair. Not only is that the classic thing for girls to do during a nervous breakdown, but it was my first rebellion against letting someone dictate my life. Now, it’s short and a dark color. I’m probably going to change it again soon. Because I CAN and I WANT TO. So refreshing!
- I changed my clothes. During the relationship, I was told what I could and couldn’t wear. Nothing short when he wasn’t around. He didn’t like dark colors on me. If I wore something he didn’t approve of, a fight would inevitably start. Now, I wear whatever I feel like. Sometimes my choices don’t make sense to others, but for me, it’s just my way of proving that I can make decisions for myself.
- I cleaned house. You should have seen how much crap I threw away after the breakup. I didn’t want anything that reminded me of those years. I’m typically a sentimental hoarder, but I must have taken more than two trunkloads to Goodwill. One time, the donation guy laughed at me because it was so much stuff. I even got rid of stuff I liked. I’ll probably always miss that hoodie I picked out for myself but wasn’t allowed to buy for myself.
- I got second holes in my ears. Anything more than the single set of piercings was not allowed. Let me rephrase that. It was allowed — unless I had gone out and gotten a new piercing. Then all hell would have broken loose.
- I got tested. Most of the time in the relationship, he was doing drugs of some kind. He is a pathological liar, so I really had no idea what he was doing at any time. Thank God, I’m perfectly clean. It was such a weight off my shoulders after I got the results back.
- I went on vacation and enjoyed myself. The weekend before I got away, I ran away to Disney with one of my friends. I was allowed to go for the first 10 hours or so after I told him. But then, suddenly, it wasn’t ok. Because he wasn’t going. Because I was going to cheat on him. Because I’m a crappy girlfriend. After being yelled at and my crying for hours…He f-ed me off and drove away. I went to Florida. This was not the best trip in the world. My friend knew there was something wrong, but she was nice enough not to ask. We went the next year and had a much better time. Disney is my happy place still.
- I made new friends. I had a lot of wonderful friends who were there for me after everything fell apart. They were just sitting on the sidelines until I needed them. However, I did learn that there were a lot of people who weren’t really my friends. I come from a conservative background, but was not really in it at all toward the end of the relationship. You would think that coming back from the dead, people would be glad to see you back. But nope. She has drama. Unfriended. Thankfully not everyone was like that, and I’ve found my weirdos all over the place. The ones who turned their backs on me don’t matter anymore.
- I got my family back. As with everything else, any time away from him was not approved of. Eventually, I rarely saw my family. If I visited them, a fight would start. On top of which, my mom’s idea of making me see what was going on was to push every button I have and then some. But now, I can see them whenever I want. I think my grandma and I became even closer due to similar experiences.
- I have my own place. He was desperate to own me. I was desperate to be like everyone else and have my own family. So, he constantly dangled marriage in front of me. Of course, I fell for it and continued to live with my parents until “one day” came. It never did. I never moved. Finally, I was able to move out on my own last year. Let me tell you, I LOVE living alone.
- I paid down my debt. Between paying for his life and compulsive shopping to try to forget my problems, I ran up a TON of debt. Now, it’s mostly paid down. It’s a little higher than it was last year, but life/rent/bills ya’know?
- I’m learning to have confidence in myself. I ordered Pizza Hut to be delivered to my apartment last week. Just saying.
- I buy things because I like them. I don’t make my purchasing decisions based on what another person likes. Which means I have a LOT more Disney stuff and NOTHING frilly.
- I swear, like a lot. Eight years ago, I said ZERO bad words. And then I was expected to be the perfect angel. Now, my vocabulary is much more colorful. Not necessarily a positive change. But science says it helps with pain, so there.
- I’m much more open. I honestly believe that fewer of us would fall for the shitheads if the truth weren’t so readily swept under the rug by society. I was raised to not mention that my grandfather was abusive because it was “embarrassing.” What the hell?! When I realized that I was in a dangerous relationship, I felt trapped because one side was hurting me and the other side — the side I should have been able to run to — was judging me. We need to be unashamed to take our masks off and be able to tell someone our story. To be able to say, these are the signs, this is what I fell for, he is the bad person. Most people think I’m crazy for showing the not-so-beautiful parts of my life — for being vulnerable. But you know what? I don’t care. This is me. Get over it.
- I allowed myself to be loved. This is probably the biggest thing that has helped me in the last few years. I went from a fake love that constantly told me that no one else could ever love me, to feeling more love than I even realized existed. And not just romantic love. My coworkers looked out for me when I was being stalked. My bosses let me cry and loaned me a phone when he took over my phone number. My friends listened to me vent or let me just be quiet. They got me away. My boyfriend showed me that I was beautiful, that I was worth something, that I was worth time/love/effort, that I have a mind of my own and can make my own choices. He never asked for anything back. He still doesn’t. He has been so patient with me. There is still a part of me that thinks I don’t deserve it, but I am oh-so-thankful that my walls haven’t dissuaded the people who really just wanted to give to me and show love to me.
Life isn’t always sunshine and roses. Today was a low day. I still have regrets. Memories come back at the worst times (dissociation much?). I still feel vulnerable. I still feel fear sometimes. I still don’t sleep. I still have nightmares. I still have panic attacks. I still have this ridiculous need to apologize constantly. I have a hard time committing to anything.
But, slowly sometimes, I’m rebuilding myself from the ground up. I’m growing. I’m healing. I’m learning. I’m sharing my story. I’m finding others who have been through the same thing. I’m 5 billion times happier than I was just 3 short years ago. And one day, I’ll get there. Wherever there is.
Well, right now, things are good. I’m happy. Work is annoying. But hey, I got to go to the beach for a day and a half.
Honestly though, I’m ready to get away. Not just on vacation. But away away. To a town with stuff to do. Seriously… My city talks big, yet I hate it worse than I did when it was small. If I’m going to live somewhere with bad drivers and hot summers, I might as well move closer to Disney, right?
Maybe one day.
At least I need a vacation to Florida. I want to go to Disney World and Universal. Ten days would be a dream! I need some ideas of a business I could start on the side. Hmm…
(I meant to write part 2 right away, but life got busy… So here you go.)
When my ex accidentally sent me a friend request on Facebook, I sort of freaked out. It’s been 3 years since I broke up with him, yet he will never get the point. So, I’ve given up and just ignore when he tries to shove himself into my life.
This time, though, I don’t know, I got so angry. And then my mom found out and started messaging me all about him and his continuously expanding arrest record. She was trying to help, but she doesn’t understand. I NEED TO KEEP THAT PART OF MY LIFE AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit weakness, but even after all this time, there are parts of me that I struggle to regain control of. Recently, that’s been my guilt. And the sudden reminders of the past brought it on strong.
I grew up with the guilty treatment being used against me. I was never the most rebellious or independent-acting person because I would inevitably end up feeling guilty about it. By the time I met my ex, I was just used to it.
He used this tactic on me so many times, I just started accepting the blame for everything. He was tired? My fault for running late at work. He stood me up? My fault for assuming that, after checking 3 times, we were still going out. He got hooked on drugs? My fault for stressing him out/not telling him not to/being a snob/insert more ridiculous reasons here.
Anyways, I eventually learned that nothing that was happening was really my fault at all. They were HIS decisions and HIS actions. That was a big weight off of me that helped me leave. It’s not something I learned from society… They tend to think differently. Blame-shifting runs just as rampant as always.
Fast forward to this year. Somehow, my guilt complex decided it wanted to come out and play. After hearing about all of his arrests, my guilt started saying, “Maybe he was right. Maybe you gave up on him too quickly. Maybe he wouldn’t be where he is if you had stayed. Maybe he is only doing this cause he has nothing to live for anymore.”
I really had no answer to this. I’m very good at torturing myself with maybes. It wasn’t that I wanted to go back to that at all. It was just me wanting to prevent bad things from happening.
Then I realized… Every single one of these doubts was a condemnation he had used against me when we were still together. These weren’t creations of my over-active imagination; these were inventions of someone who wanted nothing more than to own me.
I can’t feel guilty because I didn’t cause any of this. In fact, I was pretty darn close to the perfect girlfriend. I NEVER said no.
So, I’ve taken ownership of my guilt again. It’s freeing really. No more what-ifs. No more allowing others to control me through guilt. No one is allowed to have that kind of power over me. I’m not perfect, and I’m not really good at not feeling guilty about everything, but I’m trying. And sometimes, that’s all any of us can do.