Rebuilding after Losing Myself

 

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.

 

Rebuild

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Flashbacks and Reminders

So, this week has been…um… interesting? I’ve noticed that the more I’m stressed with work, life, etc. the more I tend to have flashbacks and guilt. And the last few weeks have been STRESSFUL! Also, I have had really strange dreams for the last several weeks, and I’m exhausted. I don’t know if the stress is causing the dreams, or the dreams are making me stressed. It’s the chicken and the egg conundrum I guess.

Anyways, my town has movies in the park in May, so I decided to go to the first one. I’ve been going to these for 3 years now. Unfortunately, this time, I ended up waiting for the movie to start for over an hour and then leaving as soon as it started.

I had been waiting for half an hour when these two messy-looking guys came and sat in front of me. One of them was quiet, and the other one wouldn’t stop talking.

The loud one’s behavior started to seem eerily familiar. Then I realized that he was acting EXACTLY like my ex. Loud, boisterous, overly friendly, overly talkative, and making threats disguised as jokes. I immediately realized that, like my ex, he was completely high on at least one drug.

And then I couldn’t get the past out of my head. And I felt my anxiety start rising.

So I checked to see where the event cop was and tried to mind my own business.

Then Loudmouth started drinking. Someone told him he wasn’t allowed to drink without a wristband. Loudmouth started a nonsensical fuss about food stamps, and the guy left him alone.

Loudmouth got louder. Then he brought out the cigarettes…also not allowed. He told his buddy that if the cop came up, he would “bust his skull open.” And then he put his lit cigarette in his nose and stood up in the crowd. He spun around, basically challenging anyone to do anything. Of course no one did.

Anxiety turned to fight-or-flight response.

Loudmouth got louder. His companion even left. So Loudmouth started talking to himself instead. He was even yelling about how he wasn’t dead yet and he couldn’t believe he was gonna do it.

Folks, I’ve seen this many times before. I can guarantee you that right before he sat down in front of me, he took something. He had no teeth – maybe it was meth. Could have been heroine. Could have been a mixture of prescription drugs. All I know is he had a spoon, with his keys, on a necklace. He was freaking WEARING the spoon he uses for injecting himself!

So here we are… me sitting alone with a drunk, wasted addict in his high point… 10 feet away from me.

And I couldn’t find the cop. Anywhere.

And I know better than to rat out someone like that in front of them. Five years of fear knocked that right out of me. So I left. I messaged the facebook page for the group so they could remove the guy, but I wasn’t sticking around. I didn’t even see the first 5 minutes of the movie.

Anyways, it was a learning experience for me. I learned that I can still spot a user in 5 minutes or less. I learned that that kind of behavior causes flashbacks. I learned that I have no patience with that crap (that’s a good thing). And I learned that the rage is still there…I actually visualized hurting the guy. That’s part of the reason I left tonight.

Everyone else noticed Loudmouth and looked away. I couldn’t. It was too much. I want to say that I’m all better. That it’s been almost 3 years, and I’ve completely moved on. In many ways I have moved on, but sometimes, the past hits me hard.

To be continued…

A Pigeon Story

The strangest things can help you in ways you’d never realize. If someone had told me before last night that a pigeon would help me face my fears, I would have laughed. But knowing my life, I should just expect these things.

You see, last week I started following a wildlife rescue called Izzie’s Pond (they do great work. Check them out!). Last night, they reached out to see if anyone could transport a pigeon to their home. Long story short, I didn’t have too much to do anyways and ended up volunteering.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The town where the pigeon was is the very same place I avoid like the plague because that’s where my ex lives. And I do whatever it takes to avoid him even realizing I still exist. This made me a little nervous. But I had that picture of that sad little hungry bird, and I just had to go anyways. But who knew that the pigeon would be located off the same road I drove almost daily for over 4 years to get to that same ex’s house. And I did this ALONE! In the DARK!

Granted, I did play it as safe as I possibly could. But I was afraid to get out of my car, not because I was meeting a stranger to pick up a bird in a box, but because of where I was. I DID get out of my car though (pretty sure pigeons can’t open doors by themselves, lol). And then I high-tailed it out of there 20 mph above the speed limit. But still, I did it. By myself. I needed that. I’ve gotten so tired of anxiety. It will probably always be there. But I do not have to live my life in fear.

And you know what? That pigeon will never have to live in fear again either. What I didn’t tell you was that he is a racing pigeon. Like me, he was “owned” and controlled by someone who didn’t really care about him. The poor thing is emaciated. But somehow, he got free, found some people with half a heart, and will live out the rest of his life fat and happy. And that’s a great ending, don’t you think?

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35