To the woman who is hiding her pain in plain sight. I see you.
Trust me with the most certainty that after experiencing many different types of abuse and toxic situations in my 28 years, that I know the pain in the silence of your presence. I know you are being abused.
And it pains me to say this, but I cannot help you.
Not until you decide that you are ready to be helped.
From childhood until my twenties, I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by the people closest to me. The people I trusted and learned from. These traumatic experiences have impacted me as a woman, partner, and parent.
I know what it is like to go on enduring the pain without telling anyone. It's a lonely road.
But the longer you wait to do something about it, the worse it will be for you.
I know it is hard to hear the truth, especially when you love the person who is abusing you.
Even more, I know you already know the truth.
And though you may not think you show it, I can just FEEL it. You want to be rescued.
There were multiple times in my life that I knew staying with someone who was toxic was wrong. But I wanted to hold onto my promises, my commitment to the relationship, or just stay frozen with fear rather than see what could happen if I tried to run.
When my own mother was the abuser, I was just a child. For years though I played with the boundary line. I got more outspoken over time against her.
And I planned out how I could escape through the window with my sheet or wait until she was passed out to run out the back door. But I knew that side gate lock would jingle in the night. I knew the back screen creaked. I knew even running behind the garage would present me with a tall gate to climb into a neighbors backyard.
Eventually, when I got brave in my teen years I just decided to walk down stairs and leave out the damn front door. But I still ran once my feet hit the side walk. I ran once 2 towns away to stay with a friend, during the middle of the night when I had school the next day.
I still have nightmares even a decade later about being stuck in my room or the basement, with many obstacles between myself and the door.
Later, they reversed the mirror causing me to take on their behaviors like a chameleon just adapting to my surroundings. Then they would accuse me of being what I saw wrong with them. Whether it was "mood swings", "anger", "paranoia", "negativity", or "shame". What they usually felt or acted out like was now how I behaved. And I could not deny being that way. I had become someone I did not recognize. So I wilted and I hid.
I hid when I was out around familiar faces. I pushed away from hobbies and activities I once loved. I stopped being myself.
And when the people I had called friends or the family remaining that I had pointed it out, I denied it all.
DAMN well knowing I had changed.
When they pointed out my partner being abusive, I denied it.
DAMN well knowing they were right.
I defended my abuser.
OR WORSE, I lied for them. I covered the tracks of the people who hurt me all in the name of love.
I also felt such shame and self hatred that I did not want to face what would happen if I took a step forward. If I actually called out my abuser. Or if I said I wanted out of the relationship.
Who would love me? I was broken and bad. I was emotionally scarred. I was damaged goods.
It took me so long to come clean with myself and then with other people. To get help and then get out of those relationships. Often, it took until the people who abused me got tired and left to find another play thing.
That makes me feel the most shame. Even though I cannot go back and change anything. I wish I had made the choice earlier to leave. And I wish I had the wisdom I know now, to tell my younger self what troubling effects would happen if I stayed. And how much I would regret the things I did while loving people who treated me like I was unlovable.
It is time.
I have been sensing your inner phoenix and I know you want out. I do not take it personally when you make excuses. And I am hear for the long haul. I know you will KEEP making excuses and covering for whatever is hurting you.
But you cannot be silent forever.
I wish, truly, that I could liberate all the suffering people of the world who are caught up in a toxic situation and desperately want to break free.
I am empathetic, but like a shelter dog I also still wince when someone comes too close.
So I can only feel sad for so long until I seriously want to shout at you to RUN.
I need you to know that it may fool so many people when you smirk and "pass" as fine.
And you are genuinely just trying to keep your shit all together, tucked in a neat little bow. Because once that ribbon gets undone, you will unravel completely.
All will feel lost when shit hits the fan and the dominoes roll.
But that is just your trauma brain lying to you.
You are experiencing a normal, unfortunately potent symptom of abuse. And your lack of trust in everyone keeps you distant from the people you love so that you will not slip one day and flash a clue. A cry for help.
As I dedicate myself to this healing journey of mine and I advocate for survivors of trauma, I also vow to actively space myself from anything that will hurt me. And that includes people who absolutely do not want to help themselves.
What I do commit to is providing resources.
An extended hand.
I once wanted to be a clinical social worker and was set to get my Masters Degree so I could help people and advocate for the same sufferers of what I had gone through.
I now realize that being surrounded by triggers all the time and trying hard to "rescue" people that are mostly not ready or in a place to act on the advice I give would have been detrimental to my own health and well being.
In order for me to grow, boundaries have to be set in place. And I cannot be willing to break them for anyone.
You are going to come to that cross road too.
Chances are, it is right up ahead for you.
And once you decide you are no longer willing to entertain pain, you will NEVER again have a reason to remain silent.
Published by Jean Soto JS Jaded Savior blog: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Soto, mother of 3 and wife, is a writer + artist in the Hudson Valley, NY community.
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: email@example.com
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