My trauma is a seed that started early in the pit of my stomach and grew. I am not my trauma. But as I grow older, I am beginning to notice the lessons it is offering, and the light it is showing me to shine through. My trauma is something I swallowed whole, silently and without even realising. I couldn’t see the scars being formed then, until I now stand here present and feel them deeply. The meaning of the word trauma is something that has only come into my psyche very recently; only now, at 27, I sit here and begin to think back of certain things that have happened thus far to get me to this point. I now lie here in India reflecting, nearing the end of a mentally challenging but life altering trip; where I have learnt many things about perseverance, patience (or lack thereof), and a lot about myself.
I have been abused by three people in my life. Firstly by my father, then by my ex and then by my mind; all who secretly knew that they feared a woman who is stronger than them.
Since I came face to face with my mental health after a breakdown a few years ago, a strong journey of self-discovery and unpicking of what is and what was began. I had depression during most of my university years, but for about a solid year at the final stretch I suffered greatly from crippling anxiety, which became part of my everyday life. I feared the world was not safe and could no longer protect me. At times it would take me hours to leave my flat, resulting in some days and nights where I just wouldn’t. Although trapped in my own mind, I watched a lot of Greys Anatomy that year and cooked myself hot food which fed me greatly, for cooking was and at times still is my only release.
There were clearly immediate factors that I could easily put my feelings down to; I felt stuck at university in a city I hated at this point, with people I felt didn’t love me. I knew I was unhappy, but digging deeper never even felt like an option. The role that my younger years may have had to play is something I never thought about until now. Could this have also been a delayed reaction to past feelings of fear, neglect, abuse and sadness? Years of masking and pretending to be okay were slowly, but finally, coming to a head.
I spent my teen years not seeing my mother (another oppressed but strong and beautiful woman, although at the time I feel she did not know it) but instead spent my time wondering which mood my father would come home in. His tendency to switch moods and the control he held over our household weighed strong. This fuelled my head with worry and it did so for many years, until my mother’s voice finally shone bright when she told him to leave when I was 16.
It was three years later that I would then cross paths with my second abuser, someone just like my father, who lived to tell me I was ugly and I believed them. That person planted seeds to purposefully make me feel bad about myself. For a short while those seeds sat in my stomach and slowly chipped away at my soul and at my being, leaving not much behind. They’ve stayed with me for years. They’ve caused pain, uncertainty and self-doubt. But when it was time, those seeds would become weak; I would wake up, grow taller and life would course through me again.
Moments that stick out greatly in my mind in that relationship were being told I couldn’t dress or act a certain way, or even look how I look because apparently nothing suited me. I have a shaved head which he looked down upon. I wore too much makeup, I drank too much (at this point I know why) and I wasn’t good enough to exist. In their eyes I could have been better. I’m confused now why I stayed clung to their every word, but it’s something you can’t explain. It is brainwashing at its finest.
In my head I would say afterwards…”Excuse me, since when were you me and able to tell me how I should look, be or behave. Your bullshit screams from the hills.” But you become mute in the moment, which is a scary thought now. It’s a shame I didn’t know that at the time but boy do I know it now.
I now shave my head with pride, as part of my self-care. A bi monthly renewal which represents clarity and cleansing, I feel empowered and proud to be living in my vessel. My lesson being, always do what you want to do. Second opinions of how you want to look and express yourself don’t matter. Whatever it is, do it for you.
My third abuser is my mind who causes worry and fears the unknown. It’s known for its anxious and fearful state, overcrowded nature and ability to make you think the untrue. Abuse is a trait we are used to seeing in others, yet what is harder to see is the abusive relationship we have with ourselves.
The things people say stick with you, sometimes no matter how hard we try to shake them, even when you know deep down that they are false. Even though these negative thoughts may seem unavoidable, don’t listen because those people do not own you, they do not see you and they do not know you.
For me, after a long road of back and forth, I am thankful that they are becoming quieter and quieter, with strength and daily mantras reminding myself that I am worthy and I am lovable.
There are good days and bad. Although more good of recent. Oddly now I am thankful for those seeds however painful. Understanding that pain has begun my journey of self-discovery, self-care and self-love, which is so damn hard at times. It’s sad to me that the relationship you should cherish the most from birth, the relationship with yourself, is the one hardest to attain in your adult years. We learn numbers and words at school but we don’t learn self-love, care or admiration, which should come above all. These things are seen as vain or self-involved, so when people shut us down we are confused on how to react and it feeds our ongoing doubt. But this is not okay.
I’m on a journey to attain my own trust and respect which means that those happy moments that happen in between I can actually be present for. Because before you gain that I think it’s near impossible. Until you learn to look after and put yourself first it just can’t be. I’ve accepted the challenge to be kind to myself always, live my true self, and to step back when it doesn’t feel right. Speak up. Flush relationships that feel toxic and rise to be the strong person I am. Be you always. You are good just the way you are. The people who want to bring you down fear your rising. Don’t let them plant their seeds. Rise up. Let the blossoming commence and continue because you are it.
This isn’t for you my abuser. This one’s for me.