We all carry wounds within us; some more than others. Some of us work hard to overcome the challenges such experiences may have left behind. Others try to walk away and not look back; most of my life I was more or less the second type. Growing up I endured physiological and mental abuse; the abuse wasn’t sporadic but recurrent–all through my childhood and into my young adulthood.
When I was 11; while staying with my grandparents in their small town; I was witness to the remnants of a massacre left by a terrorist group–an attack in which I lost friends. The next morning will forever be engraved in my mind; after having spent a whole night in hiding, listening to things blow up around me; seeing the blood on the walls and the dead bodies is something I don’t believe I’ll ever forget. I remember the look of fear my mother and her family had yet they tried to remain strong for the sake of my grandfather who was very old and fragile and for the sake of me and my little cousin. On top of that, by the time I turned 12 I had already survived multiple sexual abuse, beatings and psychological abuse.
Over time, I tried to bury the memories so deep within that I never dared to look back at them; whenever they threatened to resurface I would force myself not to think–if I was unsuccessful at doing so, I would pick a bottle of alcohol and drink until I felt numb. By the time I was 15, I was drinking more than even an adult should. I started to notice and feel that something was wrong with me; I felt like two different people–on the one hand I was the good daughter, getting the best grades, quiet and docile….on the other I would react defensively at any sign of abuse towards others and become outspoken, opinionated, not caring whom I confronted or how dangerous the situation was. I was also acting out, expressing my rebellion in unhealthy ways. That was not the end however as my troubles followed me through my first two relationships….
The first one was by far the most destructive. I was very young; late teen and lack the maturity to understand that what was happening to me was normal given all the circumstances; as such I accepted the pain and abuse which came my way masqueraded as love. The abusive was constant, day in and day out; the only good thing that I got from that relationship is my eldest daughter. Although it took time for me to “wake up”, she became my reason for leaving that toxicity behind. I was determined not to see her grow under the same circumstances I was experiencing or worst. Looking back, the part I feel the saddest about is knowing that back then leaving that relationship hurt. Am sure many people after reading what I just wrote would ask why? why would it hurt?…because good or bad I had gotten so used to his abuse, that man had become my savior. He had defended me against all the others who had abused me before, as such I felt loyalty towards him. I was so wounded and messed up that I thought his own abusive actions didn’t matter because afterwards he showered me with love; I guess I saw him as the best of two evils. All the while I hid the pain behind smiles, telling myself over and over again that a man who was so romantic with me must love me. I told myself if I tried harder all would be okay–then he would not lose his temper, leaving me emotionally broken. I left law school behind for him and all the dreams that came with it.
A couple of years after leaving that relationship I got married.
I got married following the advice of friends and family. I don’t think they were being malicious, I like to believe they thought pushing for the marriage was going to be good for me; then again maybe deep inside they knew the mess my life had been, didn’t want to deal with it and probably figured marriage would be the answer to my troubles or maybe it was as simple as believing our families were a good match.
To all who looked from the outside, my marriage was a happy one. The type of marriage most people can only dream of. Nobody knew that by then my PTSD was already through the roof. Nobody knew; nor do I believe they care to know; why I would sporadically drink, go from introverted to extroverted quite quickly or that I would cry myself to sleep trying to understand what was wrong with me.
Why couldn’t I find happiness in a life which many claimed was the “perfect marriage”? I should have been grateful right?….well I wasn’t. God maybe the only one who knows just how much I tried yet I felt that the more I tried, the more the traumas would resurface; waking me up every night like clock work. During that marriage as my PTSD got worst I quit my job at a Radio station and transferred to a corporation thinking the high pace of the job would help keep my mind busy. I was wrong; I was overseeing their “rewards” program and the day before I got a raise I quit. I remember being told I was doing an excellent job (a job many more qualified than me had applied for) and yet all I did after being told I was getting a raise, was lock myself in the bathroom and cry while my colleagues were waiting for me outside to go grab some drinks.
After that incident, I told myself maybe I just hadn’t found my calling–I refused to look in. Although law was my passion, I chose not to go back, instead I took different paths. While I studied on and off I would work from home helping my then husband ran his business but also running my own child care. I knew I had a lot on my plate but the idea of a man being the only one who contributes was not how I was raised–it may also have to do with the fact I don’t like to feel as a burden or feel useless. I was watching my own children, other people’s children and studying–I was a time bomb waiting to explode. My clients were happy, my then husband was happy or so he claimed, yet I felt broken and disconnected inside. No matter how much I tried I felt I was living a lie, betraying myself; I didn’t feel at home–I never really knew what home was; other than for short periods of time. I tried opening up to who was then my husband but it was as if there was always a wall between us. On the outside I was the strong, loving woman, who could be odd, peculiar, eccentric, abnormal– people got used to it–and if they didn’t, they hid it well or simply ignored it.
There were things in that marriage that made it less than perfect but that is something only I knew. I never told anyone because I thought it was none of their business or maybe I just got used to no one wanting to hear about it. Maybe I already knew most would turn their back and be unwilling to help; maybe in fear of having to confront their own demons or the past. Needles to say after so much trying and counseling I ended the relationship. My decision to divorce cost me some of my extended family and friends (I shouldn’t have been surprised, they were very religious and by choosing to divorce I was breaking my vows). Even though I left with nothing but my kids, the criticism, blame and punishment from some didn’t stop. I stopped drinking so much, worked various odd job; some better than others; I went back to school and started to really focus on getting help for my traumas–hoping to understand more who I was and why I felt so different than most.
As therapy progressed I grew. I wanted to emerge not as the person everyone wanted me to be but as the person I am; with all my facets, my virtues and my flaws. I wanted to be real, not fake. I wanted to fight for my life; that life that was stolen from me starting at the age of 5. I didn’t want to hide anymore or to keep secrets. I didn’t want to pretend my life had been all rainbow and roses when that was not the truth. No amount of hiding, status or money was ever going to cover that up.
Therapy brought up so much anger and confusion yet the more I faced my demons, the more determined I became not to give up. I chose me over the fear of disappointing others. I made choices most didn’t understand; it was not for them to understand and now am okay knowing that. The more I grew the more outspoken and certain of myself I became. The more I grew, the more I wanted of me. There were days of total joy and feelings of hope, and there were days when I cried and wanted to disappear; feeling alone, lost and confused.
You may wonder how then any of this has anything to do with growing within your relationship; well here it is…
I am now in my third relationship; don’t get me wrong for a while there I chose the life of a polyamory, however as soon as a person got too close I would end it. I guess I chose that life style not for the reason many would assume– Real Polyamory do not need to lie or pretend; they are pretty open about where they stand. Polyamory isn’t the same as promiscuous. Polyamory’s objective isn’t sex; those who truly live and understand that lifestyle are seeking connection but are too afraid to commit due to their own traumas.
This relationship so far, has been the most confusing, mind blowing adventure I have ever taken. My partner and I both have our wounds from the past– we both had and still have things to overcome during this journey. There were moments we thought we would drive each other insane and moments of happiness and joy such as neither one of us had experienced before. We both inflicted pain to each other indirectly by our actions or inactions but we also brought healing to our wounds. We sought counselling to help us communicate better as it was clear neither one of us wanted out, we just needed to understand each other better. Couple therapy has been an eye opener for us–there is a big difference when you go to couple’s therapy yet can’t be honest about how you feel vs going to therapy with the mind set that this is the relationship you want to grow old in.
It has now been a while and I am happy to say that although we are not perfect, we have certainly grown stronger. I can only say no matter how hard life has gotten at times, WE DID NOT give up on each other. I have to admit that at times my fears got such tight grip on me that I felt as if my life was threatened, at those times it was my partner’s determination to not let go which helped us through–reminding me of how much love and joy we have when neither one of us focuses on our wounds, and how real we are with one another. There were times when I thought “this is it, I can’t do this anymore”; it was his faith in us that pulled us through.
There were times life gave him such a beating; at those times it was my turn to pick him up from the ground, my turn to show him love. It has been such a learning experience, one that hasn’t ended but one that’s been worth every step of the way… no one knows the future but for now we are united and growing.
You may ask why such growth could not transpired before with others? As the Metaphysical and Omnist person that I am, here is my reasoning….I am a firm believer that not everyone is meant for us; some people come to our lives to stay and some to teach us a lesson. Through our struggles in our previous relationships we both learnt things.
Those people were our lessons…besides as a result of those interactions, we got our kids and although it is hard to guide children who undergo divorce, it is nevertheless a blessing.
Now more than ever I believe with all my heart that only the divine energy within us knows why our lives unfold the way they do and only that divine energy knows what lessons our children have to learn out of the whole experience.
Our relationship has worked because something inside of us is a reflection of one another. We feel as if we have known each other all our lives, we have no problem exposing our shortcomings with one another; in other words we are being real!
There is a saying “When the right person for your spirit enters your life, only then you will understand why it did not work with others” I believe it did not work with others because we were not meant to be with those people. We were both young and immature; those relationships were preparing the path for what was to become “us”. There is a reason why when you are with the person that is meant for you; no matter how scare you are to dig deep… you do. You do it because you love them and want what is best for them and yourself.
People always say “trust God”, why then do we not apply the same reasoning when it comes to endings and beginnings?…if God or the Universe or whatever you call it, didn’t want you to meet someone or be part of something, life would unfold differently–it gives us choice. Life makes not mistakes…some things will work out and some won’t and that is just part of this rollercoaster called life.
Here are some hints to help you in your relationship or if you are in a relationship with a survivor:
-This is perhaps the most important; BE PATIENT. Sometimes it may feel what is happening is personal… remember is not!. Your partner is learning to trust and might be seeing you with caution and through wounded eyes. They may not be seeing you but those before you!.
-Don’t enable. Yes you can be patient and stand your ground. What you are looking for is healing; do not enable your partner to believe that a pattern of behavior that has been damaging is the norm.
-Identify where the stresses are coming from. Sometimes we get lost in it all and we lose sight of where it all originates. This happened to us!. Sit down and identify the problems. Are they your problems or are other people or situations the cause of it? Make a commitment to eliminate all external stresses and if you can’t help those, at least commit yourselves to simply walk away and ignore anything that does not contribute to your healing.
-Set up boundaries. You can make healthy boundaries part of your lifestyle. In our case, we chose to not let others influence our relationship. Avoid extra stresses by removing anything that does not contribute to your growth as a couple. Listen to advice from your close ones but remember that you and your partner are the priority; if the advise does not apply to you then let it go.
Remember those who do care for you want to see you happy and they will not be offended if you choose not to follow their advise–they understand you are your own persons.
Something else we incorporated in our lives is the rule that no matter what we will do something fun every week just for us. If you choose to go on holidays make it a rule not to speak of your troubles or children. Concentrate on you, better yet turn your phones off ( you can leave the hotel number where you will be staying in case of emergency with your children).
Get the help of an experienced professional. Believe it or not it helps. Sometimes someone else can help you explore other possibilities that may have alluded you. Your therapist will have your best interest at heart. Remember you are not there to work on just one of you; you are a team. You are there to acknowledge your shortcomings more so than that of your partners and to celebrate one another.
A good therapist who understands both of you and can see the love in your relationship will always brighten your day. For us going to counseling to heal our wounds has been challenging but also a beautiful experience; one that usually leaves us with a smile and more connected. Other times we may not be laughing but we are thicker than ever because we got to see our wounded sides, as a result we learn to understand each other better.
-Lastly remember that no matter what life brings, if your partner is choosing to see your wounds and to open theirs; honour it. Love is not just a word but an action!
When real love is there you become a better version of the previous you. Embrace the healing process. Remember if you have chosen to show this person all of your shortcomings and have chosen to be real and your partner remains there–not to just stand and watch, not just to expect you to do the work alone, not just to work on yourself– then you have someone who is a reflection of you!.
Everything that happened before were just lessons, you are both “virgin”; for virginity is not a matter of physicality but that of spirit. You are choosing to give your partner the parts of your soul you never allowed others to see… that is true virginity.. that is real.. that is the connection which cannot be broken or forgotten.
You are not broken, you are not damaged, you are a soul in the process of healing and how wonderful it is to do that with another soul who is a reflection of you!.
I am so thankful for my partner and so honoured to be part of his healing as he is part of mine! I am so thankful for life, for even on the days I feel scare, life is there to show me love, patience and showers me with many blessings– I guess its balancing itself out. My life isn’t perfect but it is real.
I wish for more and more people to take a risk and open up about who they really are and their struggles; only then we can be real with one another. I have lost friends and family to suicide and I wonder how many felt the way I did, but I also met other souls who have made it through. It is for those I lost and for the ones still suffering that I started to write–maybe then others will know that there is light at the other end of the tunnel.
I am not here to save you, you don’t need saving–you need healing. It will hurt like hell to get to a place where you can feel you are better– depending on your traumas, you may always be triggered–but maybe by reading this you’ll know what you hope for can be a reality.
Although I am not healed, I am here, I am standing. Every time I feel as if I can’t do it anymore, I remind myself of every other time I thought I could not do it yet here I am. I am not “normal” or “healed” but I am at a much better place than I was back then and you can too, but you will need to be willing to fight for you and to drop all masks; no matter what others may think…only then can we stop the suffering in silence. You owe it to yourself, for you my friend are Precious!