Unraveling trauma from the past — and all the baggage that comes with it.
Abuse feels like a heavy blanket that lays across your whole body. It feels never-ending — always staying with you no matter what.
That heavyweight leaves me feeling stressed, anxious, and scared of what could happen in the future.
The abuse I endured came mainly through my childhood. I was in a toxic family that was wreaking havoc on my world. But of course, to me, all of this stress was normal. It was customary for me to hide in fear when the family came to visit–a fight was never too far away.
There have been years put in between me and my past, and in that time I have completely ignored it. I pretended that what happened to me didn’t actually happen.
But as you begin to shed the layers of abuse, you will start to understand your own history.
Identifying the trauma
Through shedding each layer, I begin to understand myself better. I saw myself struggling greatly when I tried to communicate how I feel. I have reactions to other people’s emotions that send me into anxiety — sometimes I don’t even notice it myself.
The pain has been a burden on me.
I’ve been through nearly 6 years of therapy, and I have yet to ever discuss the emotional abuse I was dealt. From that, it has taught me that it wasn’t real. That I didn’t go through hell.
The abuse made me who I am. The abuse shaped me into who I am today by modifying my behavior at a young age. Growing up, I needed to be in tune with the feelings of the people around me. If I wasn’t careful I could set off a fight, or get caught in the middle of a dispute.
I was too sensitive — and clearly overreacting. So I stayed quiet for the majority of my childhood. It wasn’t until my teen years that I was more rebellious and began to fight back.
But with so many life changes, including the pandemic, I am forced to look into the parts of my past that I wished never happened.
Knowing you are safe
Once I identified the abuse, I understood that this didn’t define me. This time that I spent struggling and wishing my life was different — it’s all in the past.
And now, at 26 years old, I can see from the adult’s perspective what was going on. I was born into a shit storm of a toxic family. There’s nothing I could have done — or my mother could have done — to stop the emotional torment; it was normal.
When emotional abuse is at the forefront of your upbringing, it can be difficult to feel safe. Still, to this day, I don’t feel safe. I have had to learn that I am now safe.
I still fear getting a psychologically torturing message or seeing the people who abused me in person. I have had to learn that I am safe — I am not a child anymore. I am an adult that can choose what I want for my life.
I can’t let the abuse stop me. I have to keep going to grow from this. I can overcome everything in my life because I know how to survive.
When your family is the root of your pain and torment, it’s hard to trust the world. I most often stayed away from people because I figured that everyone was like my family — or even worse than they were.
I was afraid to do anything that I shared being used against me later. I always was on the lookout to be free from conflict.
My family was supposed to love me and help to build me up. Instead, they chose to always tear me down, and treat me like garbage. I know how to be alone, and I know how to feel safe when I am alone. If the most important people in my life think I’m garbage then it’s hard to not believe them.
Reaching out to others, and meeting new people is a strong battle that I face every day. But slowly, I have learned to gain trust with more and more people.
But like, everything in life, I’m taking this one day at a time. I don't need to worry about making new friends or finding new social groups — I need to heal myself first.
Through all the abuse I endured in life, I have always found that a rainbow is not too far away. Good times come and so do bad times. But just because the times we experienced were horrible, doesn’t mean everything will be as bad as what was experienced.
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