Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.
Complete transparency. I write this blog in the hopes of helping others and with the goal of bringing awareness to emotional abuse, since many don’t even recognize it for what it is until it’s too late (I know from first hand experience). But….I also write this for me.
Writing these posts is a therapy session for me. I do also have a therapist (which I highly recommend and I’ll go into more detail on later) but sometimes when all the thoughts and uncertainties and confusion are at war in your head, something as simple as writing it all out can make such a difference. That’s actually how the idea for this blog started for me.
It was a week or so after I found out he had been cheating on me in Arizona. I was still very much in the shock phase, trying to wrap my head around how this man I’d had on a pedestal was really nothing more than a boy who was a great actor. It didn’t even feel like real life. The more I found out the more difficult it became to understand how this could be the same person. It was all right there. All the proof, all the evidence I could dream of. There was no question. But I had been so effected and was so heartbroken that it still took me days to start to accept it. I vented all of my feelings and hurt to a note on my phone. It was overwhelming how much he had lied about and done to me. Getting it out gave me a little clarity and helped it feel more real. It reenforced the truths in my head and helped my heart accept them. He had always hated that about me…that I was more of a thinker than a feeler. But it became my saving grace and is something I now know to never apologize for.
Writing is a therapy for me and I recommend it to all of you, even if you don’t post it anywhere. As I said earlier though, I highly recommend an actual therapist as well. Being military, I’ve been bounced around between therapists a bit, I’ve seen a counselor and a couple doctorate level behavioral health providers, as things are always shifting and changing. They’ve all said similar things. More importantly, they’ve been understanding: this is something that is crucial in the beginning. Having support from someone who knows and understands what you’re going through.
My first counselor commented on how I was still smiling. It’s hard for me to show real emotion but he understood it was a coping mechanism instead of not taking me seriously, which is a response a lot of untrained people have. “It can’t be that bad. You’re still smiling.” Or “today must be better, look how happy you are!” having no idea I had been crying minutes before. But he understood. I was afraid I’d have to “act like a victim” or they would think I was exaggerating or making it up. Even having someone understand and acknowledge that gave me some relief. I could still be myself and be believed. He was concerned for me and encouraged me to move out before my ex came back. He knew how dangerous he has the potential to be.
My social worker is very professional and always has been. After listening to me recite my story she looked me in the eyes and said “I’m so sorry you had to go through that. You’ve been doing a great job so far.” Yes, it’s her job. But she had genuine concern for me and her kind response actually made me cry in front of someone for the first time since this started. She was one of the first to verbalize how awful my situation was and helped me realize it wasn’t just awful to me.
My provider at behavioral health saw me at possibly my worst. I had been struggling for a while. I felt trapped, controlled, smothered and helpless. Like a tiny boat in a hurricane. I had to find time to go and I had actually been trying for weeks. I went a few weeks ago over lunch break and sat down with him. I got about three sentences in before I just broke down and started crying. He told me it was ok to cry and I shouldn’t be ashamed. Of course I had been shamed for it before, since crying was “a manipulation tactic and it’s not fair”, according to my ex. But I cried and I was told it’s ok. And it is. You should let it out if you have to. I told him what I could remember at the time while upset. He praised me on how level of a head I’d kept and told me it was obvious I’d been thinking through things. That is something an abuse victim can’t put a price tag on. Validation that you aren’t crazy, and you’ve been getting on just fine.
That provider was moving jobs, so I got a new one at the same clinic. The circumstances were slightly different when I met her. My commander had some ideas about what was going on and wanted to be able to hear what I told her that day, so they somewhat suspended my hipaa rights. This is a military thing, so don’t be concerned about it happening to you if you’re a civilian. I was furious at first. All I wanted was to be able to talk and not have to worry about what I say for once. But I decided I would anyway. If he wanted to know what was going on, he’d definitely know after this appointment. I vented about how my ex was still controlling who I saw and where I went, how his commander was (and is) covering for him in a lot of ways, how because of this I was being treated unfairly and he was enabled in continuing to abuse me even though I hadn’t spoken to him in over a month. I told her I felt trapped in my own life and nothing I did mattered. I was looked over and ignored because of the words of a pathological liar. She listened. She heard my concerns. She took me seriously. This was the appointment when everything finally began to change.
They all helped in their own ways. One of the things they all said became less and less surprising every time I heard it. I had been in an abusive relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They said it as a fact, although as a disclaimer he hasn’t been diagnosed yet.
It’s ok to struggle. It’s ok to cry. To hurt. To feel like you’re breaking inside. Honestly, feeling all of those things is part of healing, as difficult as that may be. You will have awful days. You will feel like you can’t go on. But you will have amazing days too. Find your outlet. Something healthy. Writing. Drawing. Running. Lifting. Hiking. Learning a new skill. Getting a new hobby. Something productive. But also find a therapist or a social worker if you can. They have all helped me get to the point I’m at now, and I know they will also help you.
My anytime, anywhere therapy sessions though….those are here. Sometimes I vent. Sometimes I merely try to inform you. Sometimes it’s just hard and I write whatever is running through my brain. Sometimes I have good days, and I post them here so others know it isn’t all bad.
I hope it makes you feel like you aren’t alone. I hope it makes you feel understood.
I hope it’s therapy for you too.