Life

An Open Letter to my Abuser’s New Family

Dear new family of his,

I’ve been thinking of writing this for months. Words tumbled in my mind over what I could possibly say. What words could even begin to encompass the feelings and thoughts that I wish to convey. And, honestly, I’m still not entirely sure.

I had given up on the hope of writing this. At first, this was meant to be private, sent to only his new girlfriend. At first, this was meant to be a private plea for her to save her girls from his vicious warpath.

And then, I watched a two part autobiography on Elizabeth Smart. I’m sure that you’ve heard of her. But, if you haven’t, google her. Read about her strength, and about the hell she went through. She gave me the words needed, and the courage to not hide away.

I know that you have an inkling of what he’s truly like. Don’t pretend that you don’t. Don’t pretend that you haven’t felt the fear that he’d lash out at you. Don’t pretend that you havne’t felt that shiver of dread when you hear his voice. I’m sure that you’ve also seen the side that he shows most people. The side that makes it so you don’t think people would believe you. The side that makes him seem like a great guy, and so easy going.

He’s not.

And, I believe you.

I wish I could say I simply suffered underneath the fear, the depression, and more for just 17 years years. I wish that finally getting away from him ended it. That I moved on, and let it stay in my past. The truth is, that’s not how my life went.

My 29th birthday is 2 days from now, and I’m still suffering, all these years later. His actions, his lack of compassion, and his words will haunt me for the rest of my life. I will never escape the consequences of a lifetime of knowing him.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with PTSD, something that I’d been suffering with for years, it seems. I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, OCD tendencies, and severe anxiety. Fast forward, and I had a near break down. I was almost to the point of checking myself into a hospital. I went to group therapy, and had binge eating disorder added on to my ever growing list.

Every single one of them can be tied back to him. His voice echoes in my head to this day.

I had my potential stolen from me. I had my life taken. I had my dreams dashed before I even knew what I’d be missing. I wanted to go to Duke University. Instead, I dropped out of high school. I wanted to live a full, fun, outgoing life. Instead, I’m terrified of going out, I’ve never been to a club, I’ve never done things that most people my age have. I missed out on so much happiness because of him.

“You haven’t seen him in almost 12 years, move on.” Oh, I wish I could. I wish I could move on. You have no idea what that would mean to me. When you are raised around someone who devalues everything about you, who is controlling, vile, cruel, and is there all the time? That’s your inner voice.

There’s the nightmares.

There’s the medication to be able to function.

There’s the fear of crying in front of people.

There’s the anger that comes with the memories.

There’s the mourning for a life you never had the chance to live.

There’s the mourning for your dreams.

There’s the lost hope.

There’s the lost faith.

There’s the lack of trust.

You still have a chance, I hope. You still have the chance to get far, far away from him. There’s hope for the innocent lives that he touches. I barely survived to this point, and it’s only a matter of time until he’s responsible for someone’s death. Either by murder, or driving them to suicide.

He has shaped every aspect of my life, and some days I don’t know why I bother trying to reshape it. It’s so hard. It’s incredibly difficult, and painful to try to fight the memories, to try to make it through the day. When the main thing you feel is pain, you wonder what the point is.

My kids push me through.

Save yours from a fate that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Save them from years of pain. Save them from years of self-loathing, from possibly bad coping skills, from searching for the acceptance they’d crave.

Stand up to him, and show him he isn’t the all mighty lord he sees himself as.

Show him that people are willing to put a stop to his abuse.

I used to pray to a God I no longer believe in that a heart attack would kill him. Clearly, I never got my wish. So, give me this. Don’t let anyone else suffer because of him.

Don’t let Robert win.

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Life

Hello, sailor

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I’ve mentioned before how much I suck at relationships. Pretty much of all kinds.

In 2008, I met Anthony at work. He was the one training me. At the time, I was in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. Just 2 weeks later, and me and my cat were packed up, and living with him. He’s been through so much shit with me it’s insane.

From day one, our relationship was looked down on. Why? Because I was 19, and he was 42. Simply from them looking at us, they judged. We were called disgusting, people would glare, leave the line we were in, and I’m sure people talked among themselves.

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That’s our very first picture together.

He’s dealt with my highs, my lows, the days where I want fuck all to do with anyone, and everything in between. Talking about putting up with someone, man.

On November 15, 2013- I remember because it’s the day before my birthday- I was finally given diagnoses that made sense. Before then I was scrambling. I told him what my therapist had told me, and he didn’t even blink. He knew life would get harder before it got better. I can barely put up with myself, yet he does it, and has for over 9 years.

For 4 months after my rape, I didn’t hold his hand, I don’t remember kissing him, or sleeping curled up next to him like I had for years before. Not once did he get upset with me. He let me go at my own pace, and still does. I wasn’t big on physical contact before that, and it just made it worse. He understood how it effected my anxiety, and to this day, if I see a man in a military uniform, I freak. We were in a gas station, and about 5-10 came in. I told him I couldn’t do it. He simply handed me the keys, told me to breath, and that he’d be out with our drinks in a minute. He pushes me to be more, but never, ever, does he push me out of my comfort zone.

I can sit here and know with 100% certainty, that if he hadn’t saved me from that relationship, I wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t be alive. He literally saved my life. Still does.

I’m on birth control for migraines. That’s $10.
I’m on thyroid pills because I only have half. That’s $10.
I’m on Trazodone because I don’t sleep well. That’s another $4.
I’m on Vyvance for binge eating. That’s $50.
I’m on Viibryd for anxiety/depression. That’s another $50.

Those all get refilled the beginning of the month. That’s nearly $125 just for me. Thankfully, my birth control and thyroid meds are 3 month supplies. That’s not including my copious amount of doctor’s visits- primary, therapy, and dermatology. One appointment is a $12 copay, plus gas.

It all adds up. I have the worst luck when it comes to health, and he just shifts life to work around it. I’ve spent years saying I’m sorry for things that I had no control over, and I still do. He doesn’t need me to, though. He gets that I get worn out, he gets that I get overwhelmed, and he gets that half the time I can’t even explain to him what’s going on in my head.

I spent ages hiding that something was wrong. I spent years pretending that I didn’t need help. That’s what you do, right? Because being mentally ill is seen as wrong, or dangerous. He’s the first person that’s truly seen me at my worse in real life. My online friends have seen it like that- but never the need to curl up with my stuffed pig, Herbert, put in my headphones, and squeeze my eyes shut.

I’m still fucked in a lot of ways, but I’m better than I was. I don’t feel as broken as I once did.

I’ll never be completely okay. I’ll never know what it’s like to just live without having to plan and overthink, but I have him to help with that. He lets me ramble, and pulls me back when needed.

He bought me a necklace with an anchor and it says ‘I refuse to sink’. He’s my lifeboat.

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About Me

Diagnoses One: PTSD

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.National Institute of Mental Health

Many people equate PTSD with soldiers, when in fact, most of the people who suffer from it are survivors of childhood abuse. I’m one of the latter.

I’ll refer to people involved by the first initial of their first name- unless two are the same, then one will be the first letter of both their first and middle names.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it all started, but I know it was when I was very young. R came into my life for good when I was about two years old. I know that for as long as I can remember, I loathed him and feared him.

He drilled it into my head how I should behave- because I’m a girl. For years, he mentally and emotionally abused myself, and my mother. I wanted to go to Duke University from a young age. It was one of my dreams. I was a girl who loved fun, loved hanging out with my friends, had many dreams, and hope. Over time, R chipped away at that. Little by little.

I didn’t know what emotional and mental abuse were until years later. Even then, I never put the two together with how he treated us. I could do nothing right. I was in the wrong for everything. No crying, no speaking up, etc.

Years came and went, and I started acting out when I was about 13. I didn’t care. Nothing anyone did stopped me. There was this hole that I couldn’t fill.

The first time I cut, I was 14. Nothing major. I don’t even remember why, to be honest. Little did I know that would be my first addiction. Every day for 5 years I bled. Every day for 5 years, I called myself weak for not going deeper. For not just ending it all. Oh, I planned. Over and over. I planned how I wanted to die, and was always too scared. What if I failed? How much shit would I be in? Was all I could think.

The last time I saw, or spoke, to R…I was 17. Just hearing his voice made it feel like I had rocks in my stomach.

Life got worse. And worse.

When I was 18, I was living with J. I blacked out. When I came to, the bathroom was covered in blood, and I was in the middle of it. J was pissed that he had to clean it up, and bandage my arms. Not once did he show any type of concern for me.

The first time I tried to get clean, I was 18. It’s hard. People don’t connect cutting with addiction, but it is. The longest I’ve gone without since then was 2-3 years. That’s it. 14 years I’ve been struggling with this. 14 years of being an addict to something that I used to turn to when I could hear R in my head. Putting me down, mocking me, and more. When I could hear him screaming in the other room, over the music blaring from my headphones.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I was diagnosed. I didn’t think before that that I’d ever be told I’d have that. Just like many others, I associated PTSD with war, and the military. I was wrong.

It does involve a war, a war in your head.

I saw his picture one day, and had a panic attack. I haven’t seen R in 11 years, and he still reduced me to that. I shut down, and it felt like my world was coming down around me.

I’d always held this gut feeling that he’d done more, but never voiced my thoughts. I was wrong. I had to be. No one would believe me. No one would believe the mental case, right?

Finally, I did. I told my mother about the thoughts I had, and had it confirmed. He’d also sexually abused me. To what manner, I’ll never know. I don’t remember much before the age of about 6-7. It hurts to try, so I don’t.

Finding that out hit hard. In fall of 2012, I was raped by someone I thought was a friend. With those two things on my shoulders, I went through what I’m sure many did. Blaming themselves. Thinking they deserved it. I still struggle with thinking anything different.

I know that I need to face these things to move past them, but all I want is to lock them away and forget about them.

I’m still a victim. I live every day with the consequences of one person. I’m scared, and I’m broken. The smallest things can send me spiraling into a mess of a person. Leaving me in a state of depression and suicidal thoughts for days. Anger overflowing at the life that I once wanted. The personality that was buried, and died somewhere along the way. Thoughts race through my head, adding fuel to my rage.

How is this fair? How can he live happily while I have to fight to make it through the day? How can he walk into public  while being such a monster, where the thought of being around more than a handful of people scares me more than I can describe? How can he be so happy when I’m far from the mother my kids deserve? The mother I hoped to be? Why does he get to actually live, while I have to think every action through. Will drinking this finally be the time I become an alcoholic? Will I fall back into smoking? Will I relapse again? Will I have a panic attack while shopping? Will tomorrow be a bad day? Will tomorrow go fairly smoothly?

I am constantly on guard. And it’s not fair. I finally sucked it up and asked for help.

I don’t expect to be some outgoing person. All I want is to live without all the shit that comes from years of abuse. To be able to get my license. To make phone calls for myself. To get a job. To not need to walk away from doing dishes because the knives are right there. I want to live! Not just fucking survive.

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