It took guts to heal publicly. I knew when this journey started that I would become someone else. The only logical thing to do was share it with anyone that wanted to read my journey. It was at the start of my healing journey that the courage of others helped me see that I would make it also. Reading their stories reminded me of my own courage and how to tap into my inner strength. This blog is my story. The story of how one woman found all the pieces and put them back together to find who she is on the other side of healing. The journey has not been easy at times. More days than I can count were spent on my knees begging for it to be over, but each time I found a little more strength.
We heal for ourselves. We share our journey for ourselves. Each person that takes the healing journey goes through a transformation. They do not come out the other side the same. Most that I speak with find they are lighter and feel a new freedom. Healing is contagious; we see that freedom and crave it for our own soul. If you are struggling, remember the bravest thing we can do is claim our own story. You have the strength to put the pieces back together.
I am preparing for what I view as the fight of my life. This fight will finally secure my freedom from my former boyfriend. I was granted a protective order a month ago, but he has appealed it. I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the abuse, manipulation and depravity of that relationship. My attorney has needed me to go back through texts and emails to gather evidence to secure my freedom for good. During this process, it all became clear. Many times, I have wondered how an intelligent and successful woman fell prey to this man. The answer is simple…gas lighting. Gas -lighting is a tactic used to make individuals start to question their own perceptions of reality. It is dangerous and has a profound impact on the psyche.
When I left that relationship, I was a shadow of my former self. Abusers break you down a little at a time while making you dependent on their toxic love. Leaving an abusive relationship and seeking help to heal is like going through deprogramming. Your mind is so scrambled in the end that you trust nobody including yourself. My former boyfriend would do things to make me feel unsafe while claiming they were cute. While I was in the relationship, he sent me pictures via text that he had taken of me sleeping or dressing. Pictures taken without my permission or knowledge I have learned that he would send these to keep me suspended in fear. It was covert blackmail. Another text that I had forgotten about was him talking about sleeping in my panties. That text was sent after our break up. I understand now that these things were to remind me that he had very intimate and personal items of mine and to remind me that anything could be used to humiliate me.
I am stronger now and do not give a damn what he uses to try to hold on. He used my secrets about being raped 20 years ago as a tool to manipulate and later shared them publicly. Many people in the small town that I live in were privy to the details of my sexual assault and the abuse I endured as a child. When I step back into court, I will be asking for my freedom. I left the relationship over nine months ago, but the harassment continued. If he was not contacting me directly or my friends, he was spilling one more secret or detail of my personal life to bait me. I always fell for it and would unblock him and try to rationalize or tell him what he wanted to hear. God, I was so desperate for my privacy and freedom. My privacy has always been very important to me. Having my privacy violated repeatedly was the most damaging. Beyond the emotional abuse and torture, it hit the hardest.
There are days that loud noises still send me straight to “fight or flight” or my central nervous system has not realized the threat is over and I experience psychogenic seizures. My biggest fear is that I will never get this monster or his actions out of my head. My life can be going along great with months of not being triggered and then something will set off the chain reaction. Lately, I am being triggered constantly, because I have to relive every detail to build a case to win my freedom from this man. I will always know that I was free the day that I walked out, the trauma brain is still learning
I have been faced with something that I find to be unacceptable. My abuser has appealed the permanent protective order. We will be going to court for what will be a public mudslinging match. My attorney feels this is another vain attempt to cover my abuser’s depravity. I was not even aware this was possible. I understand the appeals process, but it should not apply to protective orders. Protective orders are granted only when threats and harassment have been proven. The toll it has taken on me is immense. My healing progress has been set back a couple of months. I am angry. I had finally stopped looking over my shoulder. My thought is that victims of abuse and stalking need to know the law will protect them. I ask each of you to research your state laws on protective orders and write your state legislatures. Ask your friends, family and followers to do the same. If you have a website then post about the need for reform concerning protective orders
I was appalled yesterday to receive a letter from the court informing me that my abuser had filed an appeal on the protective order. The terror that enveloped me was horrible. My central nervous system immediately began to display the twitching that had been a part of my CPTSD. I could not allow anyone to touch me for the rest of the day. The involuntary muscle twitches and jerking are uncomfortable at times. It was my brain’s fear response. My body flashing back to every event in the form of cellular memory. A series of panic attacks followed long into the night.
My abuser has managed to stir something up about every thirty days to remind me that he is still out there. It isn’t like I will ever forget that he is out there. I have been mastering reclaiming my personal power. This man will not torture me any longer. I will do whatever I have to in order to protect myself from any further damage by this man. He had the control in the relationship, but I am no longer that woman. Today I am stronger and wiser. I know my worth and will not allow it to be touched by dirty hands. We can go back to court repeatedly, but I will never go back to him.
It is unacceptable for victims of stalking and abuse to have to worry about a protective order being challenged. Seeing my abuser in court caused more psychogenic seizures and weeks of CPTSD symptoms that I had not experienced in months. It is an absolute rape by the judicial system. I was forced to sit feet away from a man that tortured me mentally beyond words. The court now feels that he has rights. My protective order was granted and partially as a result of a powerful letter from my doctor explaining that seizures, nightmares, panic attacks and extended periods of disassociation were just a few of the things that I experience at the thought of contact from this man.
We wonder why more people do not leave abusive relationships and the answer lies in the judicial system. A system that should be protecting survivors of abuse and not abusers. Appeal should not apply in cases of protective orders. Protective orders are granted only when there is a threat to your physical or mental well-being. The evidence must be there to support the case. We will go back to court and I will fight for my freedom from this sadistic man once more. I will never stop fighting for me.
Tomorrow is the final hearing for the permanent protective order and my head is swimming. I did not know how much Complex PTSD would change my life, but I knew one day that I would be at peace with it all. The road has not been easy. Fear is a powerful drug. Yes, a drug, because I think we cling to our fear when it is the only thing familiar. When I began flooding, it was like waking up in someone else’s life. I have claimed that life as my own without the shame. Trauma is one of the only things that causes profound brain changes and it is for the survivor to learn to live in that brain without being stuck in your own head.
Healing is not all sunshine and daydreams. It is a constant journey that requires focus and courage. It takes courage to face what you survived and the courage to forgive yourself for believing the lies. Trauma puts lies in our heads about who we are and jades our perception of the world around us. Forgiving is not required and everyone has their own thoughts about it. My thoughts are simply that I wish to live free from the bondage created by the depravity of others. Sometimes the best place to find your true strength is on your knees. This journey taught me to pray or cry out in desperation.
I still have triggers, but they control my life less. My psychogenic seizures are less frequent and the hope is that once the protective order is in place, I will not have another one. Do I have fear about seeing my ex-boyfriend in court? Yes, but I feared living like this forever far more. I know that tomorrow when I walk out of court that he is will no longer even be on my radar. The anger has turned to indifference and the love that I had for him is now an illusion. In my heart I will always know that if it were not for his sadistic games that I would have never learned that the only way that I knew love was unhealthy. The door to me was opened and I chose to walk through it.
Love would never ask you to sacrifice your digniy, self-respect or personal safety. I learned this from a man that I was dating. He was well liked and respected, but I knew the monster behind the man. Even after our break up I endured close to a year of torture and harassment until a preliminary protective order was put in place over a month ago. This man harassed my friends and family to try to gain information on me. He public ally shared my sexual assault and childhood abuse in the small town that I live in. His actions forced me to go public with my healing journey. Prior to that I had always been a very private person. Setting the story straight from my perspective was my way of taking that power away from him. Abusers thrive on control and power. It is their driving force. I lived in fear for a long time until I finally saw him for the weak man that he was a few months ago. In many ways I am glad that he exposed my childhood abuse because I was finally able to remove the shame. I give him no credit for that because he choice to stop being ashamed was my own.
If you are reading this and think that the man or woman that is abusing you will change, they will not. If you are waiting for it to get worse before leaving, do not. If you have sacrificed your peace of mind, personal safety, self respect or dignity, that is your sign to leave. I know how hard it is to leave. Love is a powerful drug. What I will tell you is after leaving him and getting my head right I realized it was a toxic love. Toxic love usually starts out exciting and full of passion. Often that sexual passion continues but the abuse escalates. You are smarter than you think and braver than you know. You have the power to walk away and coming from a woman that did, it will take you on a journey to yourself that you never dreamed possible. Abusers need to break you down to keep control. Maybe the person that you are involved with has told you that you are stupid or unlovable, I am throwing down the bullshit card on that one. Love is not supposed to hurt. This is coming from a woman that broke the cycle of abuse and co-dependency, so it is possible.
When I started this blog, I had such a need to claim my voice back. It was my way of speaking my truth. Old wounds are no longer a controlling factor in my life. It has brought me to a place of peace. I did not think it would liberate my soul in so many ways. It consisted of months of cognitive behavior therapy, talk therapy and a great deal of pain. Through that pain, I reclaimed the little girl within myself and walked her into the light. A few triggers remain, but they have become manageable these days. I want to encourage you to walk the path of healing. Healing is possible. The events never disappear from your mind, but they do stop controlling you with focus and hard work. This blog started a Face book page and that page is in the early stages of becoming A Petal At A Time Foundation. The foundation will eventually offer mental health treatment for those without insurance and support for those recovering from addiction and their families. If you have not liked the page then please check it out.
My wounds were caused by my father’s alcoholism and the alcoholism of a man that I fell madly in love with a year and a half ago. My son also lost his father to suicide because of addiction. Addiction has affected my life in major ways and I decided that impact should finally be a positive one. Addiction and untreated mental health issues often go hand in hand. We can all help remove the stigma of mental health struggles by speaking openly. Speaking openly removes the feeling of shame that many experience