***Trigger warning for eating disorder, physical abuse and substance abuse.***
Yesterday I posted a thing on FB about strength. An instance in which I had used my strength to basically tell a loved one that he couldn't break me. It wasn't just strength though. It was pure exhaustion that led me to stand up for myself. In that moment that I had feared so much, actually happening to me, I found myself done with it. Thoughts raced through my head and then silenced by another. Whatever happens it doesn't matter. I knew that should I get beaten or hurt that I would make sure this man gets held accountable. I knew that should he do worse God would hold him accountable. I was sick of watching loved ones suffer through it and not do anything. I remember thinking that once I got through this I would run, walk, or crawl to the nearest neighbor if I had to, and I would do something I never did. Ask for help.
But he released me. He grunted and walked away. My whole body felt spent and numb. The second he left I cried. I can't even tell you why. But I then had to stay in that house, in that room and carry on.
I took that post down yesterday. I didn't want to think about what other people thought. Which absolutely sucks, because I posted it to be strong and for others who may be bearing the weight of such trauma, to know that they are not alone, and it doesn't define them. But I lost my strength and I fought for it every minute after posting it.
These Irrational thoughts included:
What if they think I'm broken.
What if they think I want pity.
What if they think I'm lying.
What if they think I'm dramatic
and the worst,
What if they think I deserved it.
I wan't to make one thing clear. I know where some of these fears stem from. I think I am broken because several ex's told me that I was damaged after opening up about my past. I assume people will think I desire pity and think I'm lying because my mother called me "one sick puppy" when I told her what transpired (Even though she had witnessed similar behavior). I think people will think I'm dramatic because when I finally ended up in the hospital for self inflicted cuts, burns, panic attacks, and an eating disorder. My mom said I must do it because I "Love the attention."
I don't blame my mom for any of this. She suffered abusive from a relative and had to remain silent for years. I don't know how I could have done that. She is strong in a different way. The abuse she endured...I can't imagine living with that fear and yet I can. There were nights where she would remember and just cry. When she finally told my sister and I we never let her go through that alone again. Our hearts broke for her.
And this is why things are complicated. I sat next to my father and told him what mom had told me. About the past and abuse. He looked at me and said "I know, but it is in the past. What do you want me to do about it?" In one way this man was absolutely right and in another completely wrong. I wanted him to be appalled and be there for her. But he's right in one way. My mom needed to let go, not of the memory but of the pain.
One plus one never equaled two in my house. My sister came home with black and blue marks covering her body. An image burned and branded into my brain.
"Don't tell mom and dad" she would say." He only does it when he's drunk and I love him." Turns out her boyfriend threw a TV at her while she was walking down the stairs. Not a flat screen. One of those old school box ones. "You still have those pills from getting your jaw reconstructed?"
She meant Oxy. "No." My mom didn't even let me use them and I had flushed them for this exact reason.
"Fine." she would say finding the advil and pouring a handful of pills into her mouth. "This will do." My sister would hug me, i'd ask where she was going. "Back to his house." She looked at me before leaving. "They still giving you trouble about your weight?"
She looked reluctant. "You could always do what I do, just not eat and if you eat too much stick two of your fingers down your throat till you throw it up."
"I'm ok." It would take years till I took her advice and instruction. At that point she would be over her own eating disorder.
A friend checked in on me recently, and I vented away. I told her the worst and darkest things that happened, the ones that are too gross for me to share. Those rougher spots that I fully understand were something I never should have gone through.
She said what all have said. I should talk to someone.
I have talked to therapists before. It honestly didn't work. I wanted it to, my sister and I were referred to family counseling multiple times after having one-on-ones when we were younger or after school evaluations. Each time that happened we were removed by my mother from any counseling.
In my college years I would return after a couple of episodes of depression and two that landed me in the hospital. I was rushed to the ER, they thought I was having a stroke. It was a panic attack. I was prescribed Xanax, and referred to counseling. Seeing my sister in her younger years with pills I didn't take them. Counseling was a joke. I remember everything I said be brushed off to "everything comes down to bad parenting." Where maybe that should be validating I was still in college and had to live with them.
"Aww, would you look at her." My dad fawned over my niece, who was modeling all the cute outfits I had spoiled her with.
"Lets try the black one." I said scooting her away to the bathroom to change.
We came out, she was in this simple black dress with a cute headband that came with another. She smiled brightly and gave the dress a twirl.
My father grinned. "Look how sliming that one is. Wow."
My niece who calls my dad papa giggled and said "papa," laughing still, "stop it."
Yeah, I thought. Please cut it out. She's 5.
But he didn't stop, instead he told my mother to look at her. "She looks so skinny."
In my mind I'm praying this will be the final remark. But no, it's not.
"Wow she's really lost some weight, she looks so elegant now."
"Dad." I say as my mother says, "yes, I get it."
"What, I can't sing her praises, she looks so pretty now."
My niece giggles liking the compliments. I remember this feeling. Feeling special, not understanding why it upset my mom. Thinking that she just didn't understand our relationship.
I took my niece home that night, "What makes you beautiful?" I asked in the car.
She laughed, "I don't know Auntie."
"You are beautiful because, you are kind, you are patient, because you are warm and because you care about other people." I kept going. "You are even beautiful when you are sad and when you are angry. It doesn't matter ever how you look, how much you weigh, you will always be beautiful as long as you are true to yourself, and kind to everyone. Don't ever change any bit of how you look to please other people."
My niece giggled and told me I was silly. But then she sighed and said "Auntie."
"What?" I asked.
She smiled "I think you're beautiful, and mommy, and my brothers."
I parked the car and looked at my niece smiling. "Thank you, you should tell them when you go inside."
My niece's smile brightened and she ran inside with her dress and new coat. "Mommy" she yelled leaping into my sisters arms. "You're beautiful."
My sister hugged her tightly back, I could tell she was surprised by the compliment. "Aww, thank you, you are too." They held that hug, both of them for a minute and I watched my sister feel the love she had so freely given all her life come back to her. My niece kissed the tip of her nose and my sister laughed and beamed back at her.
You know what was pretty? The smiles on both their faces. You know what was beautiful? The love they shared.
When my friend had told me I should talk to someone, I told her that I had struggled with therapy in the past. That I really understood things now and that I had my faith.
Faith keeps me calm. Faith drives me. Faith tells me I'm not alone. Faith protects me.
As long as I walk in my Faith with God, I shall be ok.
I'm not knocking anyone who goes to therapy, but I feel heavily that all my answers to all my fears and concerns are written in the bible.
And when I get mad and ask God why?... which happened. I remember what his own son had to go through and guess what. He rose again, renewed and restored.
So I take pride in my journey. I am a fighter. There is forgiveness and there is hope.