Life After Abuse: The Adult Version

Abuse is a tricky thing. A therapist once told me that the things that happen to you often will not surface in memory until your first stable, intimate, safe relationship. The bitch of it is, is that just when you start to feel great about life and things are looking up, here come the memories. The awful realizations of things that happened to you that you didn't understand until now. And holy shit does it destroy you.

Suddenly you are sad often. You are confused about why you are having these feelings when everything is going so great. You feel guilty because of your sadness in times when you seemingly have everything. The nightmares start and you don't know if they are reflections of what has happened or if they are just nightmares. Now on top of being sad you are tired, oh so tired. Tired from not getting good sleep, tired of the confusion, tired of feeling sad all the time and not having a way out.

The shittiest part about adulting is that you are required to work and pay bills, which can be depressing in itself. Most jobs are not rewarding or self-fulfilling; all they lend to your life is a paycheck. A paycheck in exchange for a majority of your life each week. And if you have children, that makes things even harder. Children need your love and affection and time and energy. Raising children and having a partner requires a lot of emotional withdrawals with very few deposits. You are drained. Possibly in the negative. How do you fix it?

Then there are the triggers. Certain smells that make your skin crawl. Certain noises or phrases that make you wince but you don't know why. Sometimes you self medicate. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, alcohol, weed, anything you can get your hands on. Anything to feel GOOD, even if it's only for a few hours. You long to feel happy again. And for the record; addictions are often started as a way to mask deep pain that a person has no way to deal with. Don't judge people with addictions. They are hurting in ways that you will never understand, and furthermore you will never be able to help.

Abuse in a previous relationship always involves sexual abuse but it is rarely talked about because people assume that you consented to all sexual acts when you committed to or married your partner.Issues with intimacy arise. Even though you love your partner, and you are attracted to them in so many ways, there are things you can't do. Places you can't touch, things that can't be said. There are times when you may have flashbacks that will make you want to curl up in a ball and cry, right in the middle of intimacy. And that  is the most awful, guilty, gut wrenching feeling in the world. 

Adulting after abuse is one of the hardest things one can do. Many of us don't survive it. There are overdoses, suicides and heart attacks that take us out because we just can't handle it. We need help. But we must ask for it. We must confront our abuse with someone who is trained to help at our side. A counselor, a psychologist, someone who not only understands the sadness but understands the trauma. It is hard. It is dark. But after you tame the monster, there is a sense of victory at the end. You gain the control back. You feel empowered. You can conquer things again. 

This will all be done in your own time. Do not let anyone tell you "it's time to move on" or "you should let this go by now". Surround yourself with supportive, understanding people who will hold your hand and let you go through things at your own pace. This may mean you will have to cut some toxic, life sucking people from your life. You do not have time or energy for drama. You do not have the ability to take on other people's chaos as you are fighting your own war. Do not feel guilty about this. You must take care of you before you can help others. No one can make withdrawals from an empty account. Take the time to fill it up, no matter what that means.

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