It’s not pretty. It’s downright ugly. It affects lifetimes. Yours, theirs, and ours. You can break free, but it always has a hold, somewhere, deep down. When you least expect it, the old thoughts and beliefs shine through. There are times when you think there is no way out. These thoughts will win the struggle. Is there ever quiet? Do the thoughts they fed you ever really leave?
Fear floats around, circling every free space, and slowly seeps in. Will you ever be able to walk down the street without looking over your shoulder? Will your voice ever speak without a slight quiver, as you wait to be called yet another name? Will the self-doubt ever fully leave?
Why is it that for every step forward there are so many steps backwards? A weight as heavy as a sack of bricks drags behind as steps forward are taken, slowing us down, but never fully stopping us. The pull backward causes friction in the world around us. People don’t understand why we can’t let go. They don’t know the fear that we have grown accustomed to. They don’t understand that after hearing years of the same insults and put downs it’s not that easy to shake out of our heads. They see the smile, but they will never know the pain it hides.
They don’t understand why we can’t accept a compliment. They don’t get why we don’t see how amazing we really are. They don’t look into the same mirror that we do. A tainted mirror, showing us the monster they made us out to be. Not only did we hear the words that were spoken, now they are all we see. We blink our eyes a few times, and our true self emerges, only to be whisked away to the shadows. No, we are much too broken to see the truth, to see the beauty that everyone else sees.
This is our poison. The elixir they made us drink still circulates our cells. How could we not still believe these lies, when they became our reality?
“You’re such a fat slob.”
“No one will ever love you.“
“You need me.“
“You’ll never be anyone.”
“You don’t know how to have fun.”
“You’re a whore.”
“You’re lucky I love you.”
“The kids don’t even love you. They won’t miss you. No one will. They won’t even notice you are gone.”
The list is endless of the hurtful things you are made to believe about yourself. Your dreams disappear. What do you have to offer anyway? You give up. Withdraw from life. Withdraw from the people you love. You don’t deserve their love anyway. You put your head down, and you accept that this is your life. You see other couples, and you long for what they have. They look like they really love each other. Jealousy flushes your face as you imagine a life of happiness, a life of love. And then you remember. All the things he said come rushing back. Maybe he’s right.
The constant nag of the what ifs fill the silence. What if I had never went on that date? What if I never returned his call? What if I dumped him when I knew? What if I left him the first time he called me names? What if I had left him the first time he hit me? What if I was strong enough to see my worth?
What if he killed me? Or…what if killed becomes kills? What if I will be his prisoner for all eternity?
And that is when the anger kicks in. Rage.
No. He does not have that right to take any more from me than he already has.
No. He does not get to haunt my thoughts.
No. He will not destroy the hope that I have left.
The what ifs are just a product of his abuse, of all of the abuse I have ever endured. The what ifs keep me paralyzed, and I refuse to give in. I refuse to stand still. I refuse to remain quiet.
Unlike many others, I am free. I was able to make my escape once he was arrested. And, I am in counseling to work through the PTSD his abuse caused me. I will have good days, and I will have bad days. I will honor the lessons, and learn from the life of Hell I lived. I will turn my anger into action. I will not be silenced. I will fight back with information. I will share my truth, and I will not hold anything back. Secrets have no power once they are exposed.
I will speak until my voice stops trembling. I will go to counseling until I can see who I really am, not who I was made to believe I am. I will allow myself to get angry, and sad. I will feel everything, and anything. I will not minimize the trauma I went through.I will work through the guilt I feel for not leaving sooner.
I will not stop being me. I am a survivor. I am a fighter. I am an advocate.
My voice will be the voice for all others. My voice will be for the ones who cannot get away, or never did. My voice is strength, and my best weapon. I will turn my anger into good. I will be who I was never expected to be. I will learn to be my best self. I will shake the words I was forced to believe out of my head. I will see myself as others do. I will love myself. I will cherish the real, genuine, safe, honest love that I found, because I am worthy of it all.