#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Child abuse, Domestic Violence, gas lighting, healing, Hope, Sexual abuse, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Jessica’s Story

A small piece of my story:

As a child I grew up in a home full of abuse. My dad was physically, emotionally and sexually abusive to my mom. I remember waking up to the sound of their fighting and sneaking out of my room to watch, to make sure he didn’t kill her. He also threatened to kill my mom, brother, and me. The most fear I had ever experienced was when my mom finally left him. I keep my eyes open, looking over my shoulder every time I was outside, wondering when he was going to shoot me. I was six years old.
As an adult, I repeated the cycle in my own home. My ex-husband started with psychological abuse, slowing killing my spirit, and taking any self-worth I had left away. He used my past to hold my hostage. The words turned physical for the first time when I was pregnant with my daughter. As I held my 20-month son, he put his hands around my neck and as he squeezed, he told us he was going to kill me and cut up my body and dump it in the river, saying, “No one would even notice you were missing.” Still holding my son, he pushed us to the ground and would not let us leave. He tried to get my son out of my arms, but my son would not let go of me as he screamed. This happened because he found out I was planning on leaving him. After this event, I felt that if I tried to leave again, we would have been killed.
He said no one else would ever love me, and I was lucky he did. He took control of the finances, even though I earned the money, and made sure I did not have access to the things that I needed. He opened up credit cards in my name and maxed them out, so not only did I not have access to my money, I also did not have credit. He created a situation where I had to depend on him, and reminded me that I was nothing without him. As my self-esteem made its way to the surface, he would find ways to push it away. I had no real support system, and did not dare tell people what was happening. I was scared what else would happen if I told anyone.
Through all of the abuse, I never called the police, not until he did. He called the police one afternoon and told them to arrest me for being a “whore.” When he did that, the police saw how dangerous he was. It was then that I knew they would believe me, and help me. The next time he put his hands on me, I called the police. He was arrested, and I was granted a protection order. He did violate that, and bullied me into dropping the order, telling me it was just a piece of paper and it wouldn’t protect me. I did what he told me, and suffered his abuse, control and manipulation even while the divorce proceeded on.
We did not break free from his abuse fully until my youngest daughter disclosed to me that he had been sexually abusing her. Learning this made me fear for our lives. I was convinced he would kill me for trying to protect my daughter. We now have a protection order keeping him away from us, and allowing us to heal the years of abuse.
I am happy to say I am happily married to a sweet, gentle man. Who, after six years together, has never called me a name other than Jessica. I know I am worth love and safety. I am teaching my children what love looks like, and what a healthy relationship is. I will do everything in my power to make the cycle of domestic violence end with me. I wrote a detailed, honest account of the abuse I survived in my memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy, to try to help others see that they are not alone. The link to my book is: http://a.co/72mQ7KJ

Photo Courtesy of: Jourdan Buck Photography

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Child abuse, Domestic Violence, gas lighting, healing, Hope, Love, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Jen’s Story

“When I was 17, I met him online and he asked me out over and over. I finally agreed to go, but I knew the first day he wasn’t for me. I found out he had schizophrenia & was no longer medicated. That night he insisted he would pick me up the next day. Half of me was worried I was judging and being mean, thinking “no thanks” and the other half was kinda worried what could happen if I said no. From that day he wanted to be with me every day. Within 2 wks he had already started yelling and blaming me for stupid things, but his roommate would stand up for me…but soon, I’d be on my own. We moved in to our own place 2 months after meeting. That’s when things really fell apart. He would get angry and throw scissors and knives at me, scream and swear, call me names, threaten me, and turn the whole apartment upside down. I was never allowed to go with my friends, he’d even get mad if I talked to my mom too much. One night I woke up to him standing over me in bed with a gun pointed at my face. He thought I was cheating and he was going to make it so nobody could have me. I was terrified & I was stuck there. My brother died tragically and my boyfriend was so mean to me because men he didn’t know would hug me, that my older brother had to tell him to leave the funeral home and not come back. Shortly after that, my family showed up and moved me out. I went back, he was mentally ill and threatening to kill himself…I just knew I could help him! After all, his family wouldn’t. His dad was a decent person, he was well off, but lived 4hrs away and had nothing much to do with us, and his mom was a drug addicted prostitute who only made life harder on everyone. Finally one day, I had enough and we broke up. He moved to his mothers. THEN… I found out I was pregnant. I decided to do the right thing and tell him…surely a baby would fix them all!!! Boy was I wrong!! At 19yrs old, living on half my heart, fighting to have my baby despite the doctors saying I would die and now having to put up with mother and son making every day hard. Him always screaming, even kicking the back of my chair and sending me flying. My son came in the world, we almost lost him as an infant..and I could see, I was on my own. I mostly let my boyfriend sleep in the daytime so my son and I would be ok. When he was awake he was always mad at us..or someone…or something. At one point my son was a baby, and my Ex was mad that my sister in laws family had more money then us and he lost it. He held me and my son at gun point. He wouldn’t let me out of the house and he wouldn’t even let me make a bottle for my son. He progressively got more out of control. The last straw was when he got mad at me, I don’t even know why and decided himself we were done. I thought I hit the jackpot…until he told me that I wasn’t moving on. In fact, I was going to die…and I could chose how. He could pour gas on me and set me on fire or he could hang me with a noose. I knew my son needed me, I knew I had to survive. I quickly started telling him how much I loved him and wanted him, it was my only option if I wanted to live through the night. It worked. The next day he left for work & I knew I had to take my chances if I wanted to live to see the next day, and I called my parents. They came and got us and we never looked back.

I swore I would never be treated badly again… I moved on, a couple years later I met the man of my dreams. He treated me and my son like royalty. I quickly was pregnant, just like he wanted but I had a lot of complications. I was hospitalized for 10weeks until my daughter was born. He took a leave from work and stayed by my side, for the entire time, hours away from our families. He would cry because he missed my son. He was perfect…until we took my daughter home and got engaged. Then the real him came out. He was so mean to me, but I convinced myself I could deal with it, I wanted a family for my kids and he was only mean to me…he wasn’t as bad as my ex so it would be ok. Until Good Friday, 2011. My dad was dying in the hospital…it was 5 weeks until our wedding, and my friends decided they wanted to get together at my house and see how was I was…little did I know, my world was about to crash. They showed up and asked me to sit. They called my son to the room and they told me that he had came to them while I was with my dad. He had bruises and had reported that my fiancé was hitting him…he had even punched him in the face! He was 8 years old!! He had thrown my 1yr old daughter at a wall…. she was his own blood!! The list would go on and my heart would shatter more. I called the police and he was arrested. My children haven’t seen him since, I will protect them with everything I have. I will never understand how two men who were so very different but both swore to love me, could be so abusive…how they could hurt me and my children. That’s not love. We didn’t deserve that. Thankfully, now our life is great. We have moved past that. My son is 16 and has spent the last 8yrs or so attending rallies and events to end domestic violence. He tells his story, he has no reason to be ashamed. My daughter has grown to know the man of my dreams as her Dad. I’m completely in love with a man who will drop everything for me, OUR kids, & my mother…he’s always there. I thought I wasn’t worthy of this type of love, but I know now that I am, it’s just too bad they didn’t know it. They are missing out on some extraordinary kids, and that’s their fault, not mine.”

Thank you, Jen, for sharing your story. I am so glad you found true happiness, and you and your children are safe and loved.

You are brave.

You are strong.

You are important.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, gas lighting, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Maria’s Story

” I met this guy that I thought was the greatest thing in the world, we started dating (he was 35, I was 19) I didn’t know any better besides the fact that I was legal age to date him. Little did I know his background! We lived in Philly at the time. He introduced me to his family and the shit show started!!!! When we were together we were fine but around people he was mentally abusive to me and as time went on he started to beat me physically. I blamed it on the drinking, he was a bad drunk. Every time he drank I was getting my ass beat! At one point I finally left him, He found me and began stalking me! He went to my job and begged me every day to come back and told me how sorry he was. He made me lose my job because he wouldn’t stay away from my job… I gave him a second chance. We had a child together thinking things would change for the better… It did for a short time, but not only was he drinking he was using heavy drugs. He would leave us for days, if not weeks at a time. He would spend all the money on drugs or alcohol. I stuck it out because he would tell me “you will never find anyone like me” and “no one would want me”. He would call me fat and ugly and that he was the best thing that ever happened to me… At one point he got me pregnant again, we moved to Florida with his sister thinking we could rebuild our family and hoping he would stop drinking and doing drugs..he didnt.. I was pregnant with our second child and he puts me in jail….yes the father of our child puts me in jail 7 months pregnant with our child because he told the cops I hit him….(which i didnt) he then holds my oldest child against me for a couple of months as im pregnant and homeless with our other child living in a shelter thats infested with bed bugs. (that went on for like 3 months) He finally lets me come back, he starts calling me names- I’m a piece of shit, I’m worthless no good mother and the mental abuse goes on.. Never has he stopped with hitting me.. Ok fast forward to a couple of months later I have my daughter and we move back to the worst part of philly you can think of. This place was beyond ghetto…. again he leaves us alone at a house in a ghetto neighborhood again for days at a time (probably doing drugs) or god only knows what! One snowy day he went to “work” and I thought he took my phone I was done with his shit. So I went to his work with my kids to try to find my phone so I can leave him and he said to me “I dont have your phone” I lost my shit on him and he calls the cops and got my two kids ripped out of my hands. DCYF took my kids….he thought he was going to get the kids back that following Monday. That was the last straw.. I left him, got my life together, got my kids back, and never looked back!!!! It was hard. But I did it!! Now my kids dont even know who he is and have haven’t talked to him since!!! I am now married to the greatest guy in the world and thank God everyday I found him!!!!”

Thank you, Maria, for sharing your story.

You are strong!

You are brave!

You are a survivor!

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, gas lighting, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence: Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is sometimes harder to recognize than other forms of abuse. For me, it was becasue the abuse started off slow. In the beginning he would start off making jokes at my expense, and later made passive aggressive remarks, later turning into psychological torture. It changes so gradually, that it is often hard to notice, even as it escalates.

I heard from one woman that she didn’t have a story to share, because he never hit her. She went on to tell of some of the controlling and hateful words that were spoken to her, and as she heard herself say the things that had been said to her, she understood the power those words had.

Just because someone does not place their hands on you, or leave a bruise on your body, it does not mean they did not harm you. Words have so much power behind them. Words alone can destroy a person. Through all of the abuse I lived through, the scars I am still healing come from the damage done from someone else’s words.

Some signs you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship include when a partner:

  • Calls you names, insults you or continually or criticizes you
  • Refuses to trust you and acts jealous or possessive
  • Tries to isolate you from family or friends
  • Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
  • Demands to know where you are every minute
  • Traps you in your home or prevents you from leaving
  • Uses weapons to threaten to hurt you
  • Punishes you by withholding affection
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets
  • Damages your property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
  • Humiliates you in any way
  • Blames you for the abuse
  • Accuses you of cheating and is often jealous of your outside relationships
  • Cheats on you and then blames you for his or her behavior
  • Cheats on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatens to cheat again
  • Attempts to control your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
  • Tells you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them

I have lived through every one of the above examples, plus many more. After a while of hearing the same thing, repeatedly, it is difficult to believe anything else. The abuser knows this, and intentionally gains control by stealing your self worth. Little by little, you begin to become the person they say you are. You lose sight of who you are, and what you believe. You become what they tell you. You see what they see. You are a slave to their hatred.

All it takes is a glimmer of hope to start to see things differently. One kind word from a stranger. One look in the mirror, to remember who you really are. Layer by layer, you start to uncover the truth, your truth, and you see. You see the lies that have been fed to you. You see the damage that has been done, and you take the first step. Sometimes that first step is all you are able to take, but you know you deserve more.

Not everyone is able to see, or take that first step. But, if you are, take it. Take it as slowly, or as quickly as you safely can, and rebuild your reality. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be respected. You deserve to see the truth.

Be patient with the ones who are not able to see yet, or ever. Breaking free isn’t easy. The timing has to be just right. And, as outsiders, we don’t know when that is. Just be a friend. A safe space. No judgements, just love.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

Domestic Violence, gas lighting, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

The Truth About Domestic Violence

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’re worthless.”

“You’re crazy.

“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.

Domestic Violence, gas lighting, Uncategorized

What is Domestic Violence?

I get asked a lot what domestic violence is, and what kinds of abuse is included in the definition. The simple answer is: If you feel that you were a victim of Domestic Violence, you were. If someone made you fear for your life, made you question reality, forced you to have sex (even if you were married), isolated you from friends or family, gave you a black eye, or threatened to, then you have experienced domestic violence. If you have experienced none of those things mentioned, you might have experienced domestic violence as well.

The thing is, there are so many varieties of domestic abuse that it is hard to include every incident that may be considered domestic violence.

Domestic Violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner with the intention to control and dominate another partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating, it can also happen to people who are separated. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, provoke fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and withholding access to finances. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

All forms of abuse come from the abuser’s desire for power and control.

Power and Control Wheel

Abuse can be difficult to identify, because an abusive person doesn’t always act this way. Sometimes they may be loving and kind. But if you often feel afraid of upsetting your partner, and change what you do to avoid their anger, then this is a sign that you are being abused.

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive. People are often on their best behavior at the start of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors usually don’t appear suddenly, but instead develop and intensify as the relationship grows., appearing so slowly, that you don’t even notice they are there.

It can also be hard to identify your relationship as being one with domestic violence because domestic violence does not look the same in every relationship. Every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.

Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Criticizes you, makes you feel that you are not good at anything
  • Calls you crazy
  • Gas lighting- alters your reality
  • Minimizes the abuse that is happening
  • Blames the abuse on you. “You made me hit you.” “If you didn’t do ______, I wouldn’t have _____.”
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
  • Shows extreme jealousy of time spent with your friends and time spent away
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
  • Prevents you from working or attending school
  • Controls all of the fiances spent in the household
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that frighten you
  • Controls your every move: who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or
  • Threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Destroys your property
  • Threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  • Uses weapons to intimidate you
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

Some of the forms of Domestic Violence include:

Physical Abuse

Emotional Abuse

Sexual Abuse and Coercion

Financial Abuse and control

Digital abuse

The next few blogs will explain a little about each of the above types of abuse. This is just a list, there are other ways that domestic violence could be affecting you, or someone you love. Don’t minimize the situation. If it affects you, leaves you feeling bad about yourself, or unsafe it counts. As mentioned above, every relationship is different, so every form of abuse and how it unfolds is different.

Remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You deserve to be safe and to be loved.

Reach out for help when you are ready. You are worth it.

If you are ready to ask questions, or get help for you or a loved one, look for your local domestic violence center. If you are unsure where to start, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

***Much of this information was found at: https://www.thehotline.org .They are a wonderful resource and a great place to start to find information and the strength you may be searching for.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#MeToo, Child abuse, Depression, gas lighting, Hope, mental illness, Uncategorized

Healing Trauma

 

img_7491Continued from  : An Adventure Awaits

When the show aired, a new level of healing came…but it wasn’t immediate. It took time for everything to ruminate, circulate, and eventually sink in…honestly it still is. The haze on my mirror was thick…after all, it had been gathering grime and dust for over thirty years.

When I saw my step-dad (from here on referred to as him) on stage I could not help but feel sorry for him. That was always my downfall –feeling sorry for the people who hurt me the most. I just could not understand how someone could or would hurt someone else intentionally. Why? There must be a reason behind it. That reason took away my anger, but it also took away my ability to see them as a danger.

A gift and a curse life gave me –to find the good in people. It was what kept me alive, but I now see it is also what kept me in situations that were unsafe.

As I heard him speak, I could not feel the anger I should have felt. I felt sad. I felt sad that he was alone. I felt sad that he did not understand what he did was wrong. I imagined his life now, and I wanted to help him. This empathy, or pity really, kept me from acknowledging my own feelings. It kept me from being able to own what he had done to me, to my sister, to my mom.

George sat with me as we watched the shows. His anger was visibly present. I still could not see what George saw. It had not sunk in yet.   As we talked after the show, about what was aired, and what was not, I still felt sorry for him.

“That’s what he wants. That’s what he’s always wanted.”

“Maybe, but I still can’t help it. I still remember the good parts of him.”

“After what he did to your sister? After what he did to you? Your mom?”

I could see there was nothing I was going to say to explain it. I didn’t even really understand it myself. “But, he didn’t understand what he was doing.”

“Did you not hear him only admit to what he was charged with? He knew what he was doing then, and he still knows.”

As George’s words hit me, I saw it. I saw that he did know. He admitted to only what he had gone to jail for. Nothing else. My pity turned to anger. For the first time in my adult life I could see him for who he was.

That’s when it shifted. That’s when the mirror started to become clearer. Nothing was what it had seemed. Nothing. It got worse before it got better as I went back through my life with this knowledge. It is life shattering to realize that your whole life was a lie. You are not who they told you you are. So who are you?

Who am I?

What if all of my memories were a lie? What if my gram wasn’t who I thought she was? What if I didn’t really know anyone as I thought I did? These thoughts took me down. Back down to where I had fought so hard to get out of.

When I was ready to stand back up, I saw the world differently. I saw myself differently. I understood that the trauma I had gone through as a child was worse…much worse than I had accepted before. Not only had I been abused physically, sexually, and emotionally…I had been forced to live in an alternate reality…and forced into believing that it was me that was damaged. This belief was still haunting me, causing me to see who they wanted me to be, and keeping me from seeing who I really was.

Imagine for a minute that your eyes are blue. Beautiful, sky-blue.

“Your eyes are brown.”

“No they aren’t, they’re blue.”

“No, they are brown.”

“No. My eyes are blue.”

“Don’t be crazy, they are brown.”

“No! They are not!”

“What, are you color blind? They are brown.”

“I am not! I know they are blue, I can see them.”

“Stop being difficult. You just want to make everyone out to be a liar, when we all know you are the liar.”

“No, I am not! I know my eyes are blue.”

“We all know they are brown. Tell her.” A nod of the head.

Maybe they are brown?  “They are blue…I think…I thought…”

“Go on, look in the mirror…see…they are brown.”

“Maybe I don’t know my colors. I do have brown eyes.”

“See, we told you.”

What color eyes did you have again? The above scenario is how my entire childhood was, and followed me into adulthood, when my ex-husband took over.

What I realized was that every person who had ever hurt me, had been introduced to me by my mom. My dad, step-dad, the man who raped me, my ex-husband…all were sent to me through her. Each and everyone of them shared this connection. As I took this in, I realized that the lies they told me were all similar, almost as though she had handed them the book, How to Keep Jessica in the Dark.

I learned who I was from that book. I saw myself only how they saw me. I beat myself up because I could not see myself in any other way. Even after traveling on my healing journey, even after being with people who told me how they saw me, even after sharing my story with others and hearing praise and encouragement –I still could not see what they saw. 
 
The spell that book carried left the day my mom died. It has slowly been lifted off of me, but the roots of damage are deep. I have to live each day shaking free from its hold over me. I look in the mirror, and I still have to take a cloth to clean the dust that settled back over it. It takes effort every single day to re-learn who I am. 
 
When I understood this. I understood why. I understood why I have such a hard time pushing the negative self-talk out of my head. I understood why I cannot accept praise, or kind words. I hear them, but it doesn’t feel right. It feels foreign. Slowly, I start to see a glimpse of who I really am.  
 
I had thought when my gram died, I did too. And maybe that is accurate, but I was not officially reborn until my mom died. With the spell lifted, I am now learning how to live without the lies, without the hurt. A whole new world. Each day is a new day.  
 
I am not who they said I was, and understanding why I believed all the lies so intently, I am able to forgive myself a little more. It was ​that ​bad, and I do not have to pretend that it wasn’t. The freedom that came from this helped me see how much I really did need to heal the past trauma. I had done a lot of work already, but new work was needed. It was time that I gave myself permission to love myself.  
 
The thought of being free from the spell, from the lies, from the negativity scared me. What if I was not worth getting to know? What if I was not worthy of love? What if the lies were the truth, and when everything is fully lifted, I will see that I am broken.  
 
Anxiety lingered as the days to go to Onsite grew near. My heart pulsed out of my chest, fluttering at the top of my throat. I couldn’t sleep. What if I wasn’t ready? If not now, when? I had been held hostage from my real life, my true life for too long. I was ready to try. 

Continued on: Trauma Camp