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23 May 2012

Telling My Story: Part II

My story.

It's not pretty or eloquent or melancholically desirable. It's also not so tragic as many things in this world. Countless individuals endure tremendous suffering in their lives, and I know that my experiences are not nearly as horrific or heartbreaking as, sadly, so many in this world are.

No. But it is my story. It is incredibly important to me – it has affected nearly every part of my life, my development, my relationships with others, my view of myself, and my perspective of the world.

And I share it with you now. (Read Part I here.)

I beg you, sweet readers, to be gentle. Here I am baring myself to you, heart and soul, in the most terrifyingly vulnerable and fragile way. Be gentle. I have closed comments for this post, but if you would like to write me I would love to hear from you. You can contact me either here – it can be anonymous, but do leave your email address if you'd like a response – or email me at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail.com. If you have nothing kind to say, please quietly continue with your day and refrain from sharing your thoughts.

A small note: I have included a "jump break" in this post; this means that if you do not want or are not prepared to read a story about heartbreak, damaging mind games, emotional abuse, and depression, please skip this post and find other material to read for the day. If you are willing, please click "read more" below.

* * *

Before I continue, I would like to offer an explanation for why I have chosen to share this personal, painful story in such a public setting. Here's the thing, darlings: for years and years and years I felt utterly alone. I felt trapped, bound in a iron cage of misery that I could not escape – powerless, hopeless, and extremely vulnerable.

There are two reasons I have chosen to share this story. The first is purely selfish: I am a victim. This means that I have nothing to be ashamed of and I have absolutely no reason to keep my silence. I do not have to protect my abuser. And because of these realizations I want to tell the world my story, let it float away with the wind, and cleanse myself of the poisons that have been seeping through my body for so very long.

Secondly, knowing how deeply heartbreaking it is to struggle alone for so long against such impossible circumstances makes me want to reach out to every one of you fighting demons, big or small, whatever they may be: loneliness, depression, abuse, uncertainty, self-hatred, insecurity, hopelessness, and anything else imaginable that makes you feel small and powerless and unloved. I want to wrap you up in a warm embrace and hold you tightly, whispering again and again and again: you are loved. You are whole. You deserve happiness. Everything will be alright. You deserve to hear that, darling.

That is why I am sharing. And so - part II.
* * *


My mama is getting remarried. And I am so happy for her: she has fallen in love with life again, and is glowing with joy. She deserves this happiness.

I didn't always feel this way. In fact, it wasn't until just a few months ago that I was able to push aside the dark veil of anger, fear, deep sadness, and vulnerability that I was able to see just how much this engagement has changed my mama for the better.

My dad left when I was 17. I was so relieved. But while I hoped, even expected, for my life to suddenly be normal and healthy with his absence, I found instead that the poison he had poured into me – messages of self-hatred, being unloveable, deeply flawed, and unwanted – continued to run through my veins and my mind. 

Throughout high school, my first year of college, and my time in England I bore this secret burden. I made friends, but always kept my distance, never sharing my deep secret of emotional and psychological abuse. I trusted no one, not even myself. I struggled with thoughts of death, questioned my existence, and often considered myself a mistake that would be better erased from this earth. I desperately wanted to know why I wasn't good enough, why I had deserved such miserable treatment from those who were supposed to protect, nurture, and love me unconditionally. And the only way I managed through this was focusing on living through each day. One step at a time. One day at a time. "Let's see how I feel tomorrow," I thought. It was an incredibly difficult.

At some point, I made the decision to teach myself to love my Self again. I forced myself to make lists of things I loved about myself, to do away with apologizing for things that weren't my fault, to reflect and focus on positive things, and to really see beauty in the world around me. My father and I became somewhat closer. My brother and I became very good friends. And with time, I thought I was mostly healed.

Then an unexpected shift in my family knocked me to the ground again. In the summer of 2009 my mama announced that she was "deeply in love" with a man, T, who was the father of my brother's childhood classmate. I had known him for years. He had already been divorced twice, had three grown children, and had been close to my mama for a long time. He had even tried to "help" me with my struggles at my mom's request, something that naturally angered me. The resentment I felt for him ran very deep, and was driven even further when I realized my life was once again in someone else's hands and the hurt, vulnerability, fear, and panic that I had buried came roaring forth.

When my mama became engaged and began making plans to move into T's home just a few months after sharing the news of her new romance, I was absolutely terrified. I was so, so frightened of once again having someone who could influence my mother, who could manipulate her, who would pull her even further from my side, who could push me down again into everything I had tried so hard to escape from. I was so sure I was losing my mama. I became so desperate, in fact, that I made the decision to move in temporarily with my dad: this choice, at least, was something I could control.

Tears became the norm. A rash covered my face, brought about by stress. I was in a constant state of survival, of "fight or flight". Going to this new home for the first time at Thanksgiving, having to pretend to cope with not just T, but his son and his daughters, their husbands, my own extended family (who, so happy for my mother, and completely unaware of where I was emotionally and mentally, continually asked, "Isn't this wonderful?" and "You must be so happy for her!"), and other friends of T that were invited.

Just hours before our meal, my sweet brother drove with me to the parking lot of the Salvation Army where I sobbed for at least an hour. That day was one of the single most difficult I have ever, ever experienced.

I was completely heartbroken. Reflecting on that week now still brings tears to my eyes. And for that week and for months after, my mama and I argued; she was angry and hurt that I couldn't simply be happy for her, and I was infuriated that after years and years of her watching what I struggled with, she was completely blind to all that I was experiencing.

And for the first time in many, many years, unbelievably, I felt less unsafe with my father than my mother.

* * *

Darlings, again I will pause here after a long post.  I have already written the next and final chapter of this series and will be sharing it very soon, my loves. It is the happy ending, and I am looking forward to sharing it with you.

Big hugs.
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