A few days ago I took some time to read through the blogs here and was deeply moved by what people have had to go through. More than that, I was very surprised at how familiar all the stories were. I could see a pattern that ran through the different types of abuse (emotional, physical and verbal). It’s still very amazing to me that women go through similar abuse in spite of race, culture and geographical location. On the other hand, that gives me hope. It shows that we can help each other, we can heal each other and with our voice (and writings) we can deliver future generations from having to deal with what we dealt with.
I live in a part of the world where certain things are not spoken about. When it comes to emotional wellness, awareness is close to zero. People look at you as an alien if you talk about how issues in your past have shaped the present and would destroy your future if help doesn’t come.
For the longest time I didn’t know that I was broken. I noticed patterns in my life but I just didn’t understand why I was that way. Why I couldn’t trust. Why I couldn’t stay in long-term commitments. Why every time I saw a man yell at a woman (even in movies) my skin would tingle. Why I lived in constant denial about how I really felt and had to fake a smile almost always.
What I have come to know as my abuse started when I was really young. It was the constant verbal abuse, which was a way to ‘correct’ my erring ways. The kind of talk from a loved one that took away my power and made me feel I wasn’t worth anything. I didn’t know anything so why bother, right?
Through school I was the quiet one who only spoke to her journal. It’s little wonder I believed him when he said no one would care for me like he did. Time and time again when he would threaten me or hit me for ‘bad bahaviour,’ I felt I deserved it. And to leave? That could never cross my mind. I had given him my virginity and dignity there was no one else who would accept me.
And so it began. Constant put downs, threats, slaps, intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking, chasing me in the middle of the night, isolating me from friends and family, the list was endless.
When I finally had the good sense to leave for fear of my life, I jumped, head first into the arms of another abuser. This one would beat me up like an animal with a belt. When I think back now, I cannot even understand what I was thinking then. Maybe I was a confused teenager who just wanted to be loved and didn’t have the slightest idea what love looked like. He would lock me up in the bathroom with the lights off for being disobedient to some instruction. When I was done crying, I’d sit still and pray. I’d pray for death because I wasn’t sure I could continue to live. I didn’t think there was another way or that I could ever escape from him. He said he was going to marry me and the thought of going through all of that as his wife was enough for me to want to take my own life.
I was a coward. I didn’t have the strength or courage to take my life. I felt he would punish me somehow, for taking my life. I was trapped in my own mind. I stopped living and existed only in my head. Life started to seem unreal. The drugs and booze helped paint my illusions and kept me from day to day. Seemingly happy but very broken inside.
Years after those experiences, I thought I had done a good job in suppressing the memories and tried to live a normal life in normal relationships. As each relationship ended, I heard the same thing. “You are an angry woman.” “You are very bitter.” I didn’t have any staying power in relationships. I couldn’t trust men and didn’t want to. I was very selfish but seemed like the kindest woman. If the relationship looked like it was going wrong, I was out. If he proposed to me (that happened twice) I would freak out and run. I was emotionally unavailable but always needed to be with someone to feel I was worth anything.
Sometime this year, I got sick of myself. I got sick of these patterns. I was looking to grow and live my authentic life but I felt as though something stronger than me was holding me back. The more I tried to push against it, the stronger it felt. Friends and family had their own translations of what they thought the problem was but I know they didn’t have a clue.
Then I broke down. Very openly too. I couldn’t for the life of me, understand why I acted out in so many ways. I hated men, all of them. And I was on a mission to ‘destroy’ everyone that had hurt me or any other woman. Luckily, I found help in the strangest places. Online. Through stories by strangers. I started to read a whole lot on abuse and it’s patterns, effects, and traumatic burden on victims. I started to learn that I could heal myself by applying myself to growth and by stepping out of denial. I started to counsel my own self and talk to those whom I felt could help (total strangers mainly)
I realize that, sometimes, the people who have known us the longest are the last to detect that something is wrong. They want to say ‘oh common, suck it up and stop overreacting,’ without ever realizing that something is screaming for help on the inside. Even when you dare speak (like an online platform) others want to shame you into being quiet and making silly jokes about something that has caused you deep pain.
This year, I started to heal and I know I have come a long way. I broke down completely and had nowhere else to turn but up. I prayed, I cried, I cursed, I hurt and I allowed myself to start building again. Each day comes with its new challenges but never again will I go back to where I am coming from. I have decided to heal with others. As I learn more and more about abuse and its long-term effects, as I use what I learn to grow, I also use that information to reach others like me. I started a talk show on radio in June that deals with abuse in all forms against women and I blog about my findings and experiences. I continue to receive emails from women like me who live normal lives but hide behind masks. We are total strangers but we connect on a level that reminds me I am doing what I came to earth to do. I am using my story, my hurts, my mess, my pain to help others like me find their path to true freedom and healing. Nothing gives me the kind of joy I feel in connecting with others to say “it’s ok not to be ok but you don’t have to stay there, there is another way.”
Thank you Melanie for this opportunity to share on your platform. Thank you so much!