[TW: Child Abuse]
Growing up, I was abused by both of my parents. While my father sexually abused me, my mother physically, verbally, and emotionally abused me. In those times, I had no idea what was going on. Yes, I dreaded going home but I figured these events were “normal” and I tried not to question my experiences. It’s not until more recently that I’ve been truly understanding what was done to me or more so, what was taken from me. And I realize that no part of my upbringing was normal or fair. As you would expect, I wasn’t allowed to talk about these awful experiences. I was constantly silenced and belittled. It’s to the point where now as an adult, I’m often afraid to defend myself or speak up for what I believe in because I’m afraid people won’t care to listen. My parents’ treatment also feeds into my quiet and shy persona because I was never allowed to embrace my individuality. I had to abide by mother’s strict rules without question. It’s safe to say that my upbringing broke me down in ways unimaginable. And now, it’s up to me to process my trauma and heal from my experiences. Meaning, it’s time to make myself a priority.
I’m in my early 20s now and I recently got diagnosed with PTSD. I also live with depression, anxiety, and I recently overcame an eating disorder. My mental health conditions affect me on a regular basis. I never quite know how my day is going to flow because I could be feeling fine and dandy one second and by the next, I’ll be shuddering at a painful and scary memory – thus, prompting me to enter the dreaded memory lane. This process is emotionally draining and more often than not, I have to force myself to process what triggered the memory, understand how it makes me feel, and make my peace with the pain before I can move on. If not, I’ll end up having a terrible day and continue to further suppress my trauma.
If you’ve taken an intro psychology class, you might remember learning about the four attachment styles we take on as children. Not surprisingly, I formed an anxious-ambivalent attachment style with my parents and have carried that into adulthood. This means that on top of already doubting my worth and lovability, I need my partner to constantly provide affection and reassurance in order to feel loved and appreciated. I now recognize how unfair that is because I shouldn’t count on anyone to validate who I am. As a human being, I am worthy of love, acceptance, affection and every other good thing that I desire. Also, I don’t have to do anything to receive this love. I deserve it simply for being alive!
This realization has been life changing for me but again, my mental health conditions make it difficult to believe that I am worthy. It’s a daily battle. However, this means that I must constantly work to remind myself that I am worthy of everything I desire. Fortunately, I am ready and willing to put in the necessary work to advance my healing progress.
More recently, I learned that I can’t fully process my trauma and heal while being in a romantic relationship. One reason is because I must overcome my need to be accepted and validated by others. I must work on accepting and loving myself. I must believe that I am already whole and complete and that no one is going to come save me. And I am okay with that. I am okay with spending the next months or years being single if that means I get to find myself. Again, this epiphany has been valuable to me especially because I would have never made this decision a year ago.
The old me settled in relationships. At one point, I stayed with someone who was constantly cheating on me. I was afraid nobody would ever love me if I let him go. I held on to him because I didn’t believe I even deserved to be loved. But now? It’s a different story. Although my mental health conditions challenge me on a regular basis, they have also taught me how resilient I can be and that I can overcome these experiences. And I’m not going to lie, there are days when I long to have a romantic partner; however, in those instances, I diligently remind myself why I am choosing to be single. I am choosing to be single because I deserve to be my own priority. I deserve all the good and love that I want and guess what? I can give myself that love! I can be the person who I am looking for. I don’t have to wait for anyone to come save me because I have my back endlessly. And I am okay with that.