A very few of my closest friends and family know my story, but I have never published it because I have never quite recovered from the trauma. I know a lot of people don’t/can’t understand the lingering, haunting symptoms of trauma that drag on for years. I can’t say that I understand it myself. What I do know is that when I hear “just get over it” or “forget him and get on with your life,” those things aren’t helpful at all. In fact, they exacerbate the pain I feel, because I become even more isolated when I hear things like that. It gives me the feeling that my friends don’t care, even though I know it isn’t true. Emotions aren’t rational though.
So I’ve stuffed myself inside a box, because it’s safe here in my box. Nobody can hurt me here: not my friends who don’t (care to) understand me; not my family who seem to pass judgment on me; not new people I meet because I won’t let anyone get close to me. Nothing comes in. Nothing goes out. I don’t like it in here, but I can’t find my way out either. That’s metaphorical, of course, but sometimes I do feel like I’m blocking people emotionally.
How did this happen? I fell in love – even that wasn’t real – with a narcissistic, abusive psychopath. It ended with the attempted murder of my son. That’s both the long and the short of it. Details really aren’t important. What’s important is we both escaped with our lives (so far). Yes, I still fear he will come back for us. I guess that fear will never go away. That’s the life of every domestic abuse survivor: perpetual fear. I can’t dwell on it though.
That was more than three years ago. It took me nearly a year to recover from Stockholm syndrome. I am finally having fewer PTSD symptoms, because I’ve found a great therapist.
I often quip about why this is taking such a long time to recover. I’ve always considered myself a strong woman. This man whittled away at me constantly. He completely isolated me. He watched over me. I had no privacy, no vehicle. When we met, I was strong. Over the course of our time together, I became a nothing: not a human, not even animal. I was his thing: plaything, cook, clean-up, vile garbage. Battery-operated would have suited him (me) better. Battery-operated would never disagree, so I stopped disagreeing. I stopped talking. That was wrong too. Nothing was ever right.
I am back on the road to strength, and with that, I am working to help others regain their strength.
One in four women is being, has been, or will be in a domestic abuse relationship in her lifetime. That means we all know someone affected by domestic abuse. We all have a sister, mother, daughter, cousin, aunt, friend suffering at the hand of another human. Do something. Speak to them about it. Ask questions. Point them to a shelter.
Support organizations that help women if you can. Talk to others about this epidemic! Talk to male friends and ask them to speak out against abuse. It is not okay to abuse!