There seems to be this misconception that you stand up to abuse, and everything’s fine after that. You know, you have this big break through, you stand up to your abusers, tell them you deserve better, and thats that. No one talks about the aftershock, honestly no one really talks about it at all. Its not something that is easily understood at all, and there are a lot of strong beliefs on the subject. You grow up being told that your family always have your back, you trust them implicitly, they’re our first heros. We are told that family is the most important thing, but what kinds of lines do we draw if they emotionally abuse us? Its hard to talk about, partially because I feel so vulnerable, scared, alone, but also because I at times feel like I can’t trust my own reality or memory. I worry that people will see me as a monster, when in reality, I just decided to stop letting myself be abused, and set new healthier boundaries for myself.
So let me tell you a little bit, more honestly, how I’ve been doing, and what I’ve been doing to heal. I started to speak a bit of this in my last post, but let me speak more openly about the aftershock.
Today after my class in the morning, I got home and slept for three hours, and spent the rest of the day in bed, not moving or talking to people. This is kind of how the first month of NC (no contact) looked. (Its now almost been three months) I didn’t talk to many people I didn’t even post on here, I blew off plans, I cancelled things, I wasn’t eating much, having nightmares and night terrors all the time. Only a couple people knew what had happened, and I wasn’t even fully honest with them. I had trouble with self-harm again (I’m sorry to those I lied to, and didn’t tell), I disassociated all the time, and just generally didn’t want to exist anymore. It had taken me a year to finally admit and stand up about how I was feeling. But I never thought about the possibility of them not being willing to have an open conversation, and apologize. I guess on some level I knew, I knew the size and weight of what I was asking them to do was too much. I held on to hope that I’d have the family I always dreamed of having, and we would live happily ever after. Unfortanately, not all families work that way. It utterly broke my heart that I was met with such a hostile response. I was accused of plotting, scheming, I was made to feel like a horrible horrible person, and that it was my fault, I’d torn our family apart. But what they couldn’t see is that tear was already there, but it was just inside me, bit by bit my heart and soul were being crushed, and there was no way I could continue to live in that pain. Every time I spent time with them I’d come home and cry. I’d be triggered, and all of the hard emotional work I’d been trying to do would reset, and I’d have to start at square one. I knew, for a while, that this was what I needed to do. But I never thought about how fucking hard it would be. I’m doing a little better now, but I still struggle a fucking lot. Though, I am starting to see the positive effects of standing up for myself, of setting these boundaries, of standing up to the pychological abuse. I am feeling more myself than I ever have. I feel safer, in a way that I don’t know how to describe. I’m letting myself be me, and see who that is. I am, for the first time in a long time, excited about what my future could hold (sometimes). I don’t feel as strongly tied with guilt and shame and the need to sacrifice my happiness for them anymore.
So why did I spend all day in bed? Because of this fucking aftershock, the heaviness of this huge change, and loss. Sometimes the amount of sadness, greif, anger, and pain I feel is suffocating. It feels like its pinning me down, cutting off my ability to breathe. Sometimes it feels really hard to get dressed and get out of bed. I wish sometimes I didn’t exist. I still some days have to use all my strength not to self-harm, and to think about something other than not wanting to exist. Sometimes it feels really hard to trust myself. There is this battle of thoughts going on in my head. Its like my voice vs. theirs. Like they planted little seeds in my head every time they made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. These stupid rotten seeds grew roots, they spread, and now that I can see they are there for the first time, I am trying to pull them out, and rewrite them. I’m learning to trust my own voice, and not the voice that is a side effect of 23 or whatever years of emotional abuse. I don’t know how to better describe these, so I’ll just list a some of them. ‘Your story is fake, you’re manipulating everyone to believe you, you’re the real monster’, ‘you don’t deserve to be happy’. ‘You don’t deserve a voice, you dont deserve love, why do you think you never got it’. ‘None of this really happened, you’re just too sensitive and dramatic.’ ‘Those things happened because of you, if you’d just been ____ enough they never would have happened’
So on. Its a battle between thoughts, and I am generally all over the place. Between feeling suicidal and excited for my future. Heart broken and happy. Confidence, and feeling like the worst person that no one wants in their life. Sometimes it feels like when I’m in these dark places that no one takes me seriously, thinks that maybe I’m not as bad as I say, or doesn’t believe me because it happens so often, so I generally don’t reach out as much, out of fear because most people don’t take me seriously. I tend to down play how I’m feeling as well, because I dont in that moment see me as important enough to care about.
So what am I doing to heal? Well, first I’m seeing a councillor, who is great and has helped a lot. I excersize, a lot. Yoga and the gym as often as I can. I work a lot, I write this, I am trying to practice mindfulness more, learn as much as I can about healing trauma, dive deeper into my yoga and teaching practice. I have dabbled in reaching out, tried to push myself to, but it is risky because if people brush me off I feel worse, and the abandonment fear is triggered. I go for walks outside, I get out of the house, I try and keep eating, I eat intuitively, practice self care by trying to listen to my body. Giving myself space and sleep when I need it. I am getting excited about Christmas, trying to make the best of what might be a really hard holiday. (I have a little tree up in my living room that my cat finds fascinating..) I made pre-emtive plans to see the therapist an extra time in December, and I made plans Christmas eve with a friend who is not going home either. I have been trying to be open and as honest as I can. I’ve been seeing a Naturopath who is helping me with intuitive eating (which is so connected to everything else, but thats a whole other blog entirely) I, most importantly, let myself feel. I feel sad, i feel angry, I feel the aftershock. And thats okay. Its okay to feel this stuff, the only way out of this is through, and without feeling it, it destructs and comes out in other ways. I also spend time with my cat, watch funny animal videos, do little fun things that make me happy, like crafting, baking, playing board games, being silly, sing and dance.
I love you all.
You’ll get through this too.
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