It Gets Easier...Right?
I am lounging on my couch after a long weekend at work and I am reflecting on the past few months in my little abode. I intentionally picked an upstairs apartment because I knew it would allow me to feel safer. For the most part it has worked. I finally sleep through the night and can even walk out to my car without always looking over my shoulder. Yet, even in the safety of this usually serene place I can't seem to get past the terror that hits me when someone knocks on my door unannounced. It is nearly impossible to explain this, but I'll try.
PTSD...that's what my counselor said. I thought he was off his head shrinking rocker. After all it's not as though I've fought in a war defending my country. But these little situations are beginning to add up.
I grew up with a step father who taught me to defend myself and with a mother who told me the horrors of her own ordeal with an abusive husband. And I have to admit that I grew up pretty cocky. I knew I would never get myself into that kind of situation. I told myself that I could see a guy like that coming from a mile away.
So you can imagine my dismay when I found myself in just that kind of situation. You can be one of the most mindful and intelligent persons on the planet and still be no match for a sociopath. To say that I had no idea what I was in for is an understatement. Even in the midst of hell it wasn't until I was taking empathy training and learning about the patterns of abusers that I even realized that I, myself, was in fact being abused. At the time it was only fear tactics and verbal assaults, but to be honest, it is exactly those things that I can't seem to get over. It isn't what is seen. When you are physically assaulted you can watch your physical self heal. But when it's internal I'm not entirely sure it's something you ever fully recover from.
I was prey.
I was loved, honored, and cherished. Then I was demeaned, humiliated, and physically assulted. My world is still off it's axis. But I know that God is in control of the world. I still desperately want to believe that everyone has redeeming qualities, yet after being terrorized by a person who has no moral compass or conscience I'm not sure this belief applies. How could it?
I can forgive someone who doesn't seek forgiveness. With my heavenly Father's help I have stopped hatred in its tracks. However, what I can't stop is my heart hammering in my throat when I see a bright yellow vest and a hard hat (he designs roads), or my blood pressure rising when I see a car that resembles his, or driving past the house we shared on a road I have to drive on, or when I'm sitting on a couch with someone yelling at the television while watching a game, or the shear terror that hits me when someone knocks on my door unannounced. MSU and Cowboy's paraphernalia make me physically sick to my stomach. Seeing Navy uniforms and/or combat gear does the same. It might not make any sense, yet it is my reality all the same.
Most days I can get by with my usual amount of paranoia. And even that is lessening somewhat (at least on good days), but for every step ahead it is just as easy to get sucked ten steps back with even the simplest of everyday occurrences.
So I am asking for understanding and a little patience when I don't answer the door when clearly I am home, or when I don't answer your call because I don't recognize the number. It may not always be this way. Then again, it might.
I am the eternal optimist. So I am holding out hope. Paranoia aside, I truly love my life. I know that I am blessed. I have chosen to use my experiences to maybe shed light on things that sadly too many others know all too well.
Domestic violence... those words are nearly impossible for me to type. Yet, it is something that I survived and shouldn't be ashamed of. Because I did nothing wrong. Because it's shaped me for the better in some ways. Because it doesn't define me.
Because I am here to write and talk about it when others are not.