My Abuse Story
Part of it
I was born to loving and very giving parents who wear their hearts on their sleeves. My brother and I are the same.
I learned from a young age by seeing my parents be bullied and intimidated by people in our lives.
Bullying was never looked at as abuse though and still isn't, even though it is.
In elementary school I was abused/bullied and pushed around by a few people, and I watched my brother get severely abused/bullied by others from a young age.
The worst part was that educators, parents, and adults around us were not there to nip it. They were part of the problem because they let it happen.
As I grew older, I continued to be pushed around, but it wasn't until after my neck injury that I was abused by people. People are nasty and downright mean. I was pointed and laughed at. I was told, "You're just trying to get attention", "you're faking it", etc. I went through gaslighting.
I was in a relationship where I was called dumb a lot.
A little later in my life, I had a boyfriend who was abusive and I really didn't see it until later. I was trapped, and conditioned to stay based on the previous abuse I had been through.
I learned to shut up, and put up. I learned I didn't matter, and that if I stood up for myself, there would be consequences and more abuse would follow. I was taught I was the problem when in fact, I wasn't. I lived in fear, and still do at times. I learned to feel unsafe since I was very young. The way I responded to abuse left me over thinking everything and people pleasing to make anyone comfortable even if that meant sacrificing myself. Speaking the truth is never easy. No one really appreciates it even though that's what people say they want. Honesty. It's a funny thing. Honesty comes with consequences, both healthy and negative.
That relationship ended, but I continued to go through some abusive friendships, or lack there of.
I had one "friendship" where I felt as though I always had to please her and how dare I cancel a plan if I was sick. She would be livid. I felt I couldn't be honest with her. That relationship did end and one of the reasons was because I simply told her how she made me feel. I know it was not meant to last.
The way I have handled abuse in my life lead me to very unhealthy patterns within myself and within my healthier relationships. I was confused a lot.
I also witnessed different types of elderly abuse on both sides of my family towards my grandparents. This was very difficult, and a story for another time. I didn't know at the time, but I can say that I have witnessed my parents being abused as well by people in their lives.
In one incident, I had a long time friend who always spoke up and was honest with me, even if she was disappointed about something. Since I was conditioned to believe I was always the problem, and had a skewed perception and hypersensitive system to feeling unsafe, any little bit of resemblance to the abuse I had gone through triggered me to be highly affected and charged.
Her honesty translated in my body and mind as a threat. I couldn't handle it at the time, and I simply ran. "Fight, Freeze, or Flight" response happened and I took flight. I handled it wrong. I see now that her honesty and concern about what I was doing in my life at the time was an opportunity to be honest with her and not be afraid of an abusive consequence. I cut that relationship off, and in the process I missed an important lesson, and I hurt one of my best friends, badly. No matter how pushy I felt she was or how afraid I was of conflict, I didn't tough it out or give her the chance. I didn't give myself a chance. We lost many years together after, and the whole time, I felt awful over it.
In 2017 I think, I reached out to her. I just had an urge that I needed to be responsible for my part and own up to the way I handled the situation, regardless of anything. The trauma responses I had for years, the fears of her rejection, or anger, or anything. I just needed to release it and apologize. I had thought about it for a while, and even though reaching out to her was terrifying, and of course she was angry and hurt, I learned a lot and I am so thankful I took that step.
We have had many long conversations and I am sure more will be had, but we have rebuilt a relationship again. The open and and honest conversations no matter how hard have been the best for us. I have always loved her even when I was hurt or angry, but the worst part was I gave up because of the trauma I had around abuse and I never knew it at the time.
I learned ....
to be brave
to override the fears
to be honest even if it's a trauma trigger for me (still working on this)
just how much the abuse in my life left me to unhealthy responses and coping skills
I lacked support growing up
conflict is a trauma response for me.
so much more.
In 2012 I had another experience where I was at the trolley alone on my way to college, and a guy approached me and sat down next to me. He touched me on my face and I froze. A maintenance man was nearby and I think he knew what was happening, but I was terrified so I didn't scream or anything out of fear that he would hurt me. The experience shook me and I have been greatly affected by it due to my past experiences of trying to speak up for myself during times of mistreatment and abuse.
People who abused me taught me it wasn't okay for me to push back and I learned to freeze.
Abuse is not always life threatening though.
I have had friends abuse me by leaning on me too much. Some never ask how I am. It's as though I am just a robot there for their service. This is emotional and relationship abuse.
I have also had people get mad at me for canceling plans because of my illnesses. They have twisted stories to make me feel guilty.
People many times mean well, but they are not aware of their behaviors unfortunately. This is the grey area of abuse.
This type of abuse is very normalized in society. People are living their lives hectically so much that they are abusing their relationships.
People say they want honesty, but are not willing to value it or hear it in their relationships.
What Has Helped Me
My husband has helped me so much to recognize when I am continuing unhealthy behavior patterns that stem from the abuse in my life.
This has helped me to be more aware of myself in order to make the proper changes.
I am continuously working on breaking habits that have been reinforced throughout my life.
Being aware of triggers Knowing I can't change others, but I can change myself
WORK ON CONFIDENCE
Noticing my body and physical reactions.
Practicing speaking up in both non abusive and abusive situations, even if I am fearful that people will twist the situation or get mad at me for speaking the truth (friends and family included).