I slowly and methodically pushed the “post” button, uploading a raw photo of myself that I captioned “just me.” Afterwards, I sat there and stared at the ocean as it slowly washed onto shore in the fading sunlight. I had done it. I had shown the world what my soul really looked like. I was done hiding behind the so called appropriate photos of the smiling girl I was trying to be. There was so much more to me. That evening, as I sat on the lifeguard tower, depression had set in once again. I was so very weary of it. If you were looking in, from the outside, you would say my life was good. What I couldn’t understand was why I was still so messed up?
I reminded myself that rejection did not say anything about me. It was a basic clarification that the person rejecting me was not meant to be in my life. The self-talk was proving ineffective, though, and with each rejection came self-loathing that was unbearable. I tried to tell myself that my abuser’s words were not true and that the right people would come into my life and stay there. The right people would not walk away. But my husband’s words were always in the back of my mind.
“No guy will ever want you! Look at you!” “You can’t do anything right.” “When are you going to lose some weight?”
These words were poison. They cut to my inner being for years. Some of them still do. Obviously, he was right. Here it was, five years later, and I was still alone while he was married again in less than a year. Sometimes I was ok. Sometimes I would have fun with my friends, ride bikes, hang out, and carry on. Sometimes, however, I was not ok; but, I would pick myself up and put a smile on my face. I was good at ignoring the turmoil inside. I had years of practice doing that. Put on a happy face and take on the world. Although many of those around me thought I was a happy person, in truth I wasn’t. The moment I found myself alone, everything seemed to darken and I felt completely lost and fragile. I was tired of pretending to be someone I was not. I was tired of being strong.
As part of this blog, I’ve been taking a walk down memory lane. For all the memories that I prefer Facebook keep hidden, it is interesting to be able to see what I was posting. It is a small window into my life at that very moment in time. There are so many things that I have since forgotten, such as pictures that speak volumes and quotes that put my feelings to words better than I could. As I was traversing through 2014, I had no idea how much growth was actually going to occur. This year proved to be the year when I would truly let go of my past and strive for a better future. It was the year that everything turned around.
The summer before, I had hit rock bottom. Anxiety and depression had moved in and seemed to be unpacking for the long haul. It took this turn of events to persuade me to get some outside help in my quest for happiness. I had believed that I had it under control. For four years, I had been living on the emotional high of my freedom from him. It never occurred to me that there would be ongoing ramifications to the years of suffering I endured while living in an abusive relationship.
But even after months of therapy, which provided me the insight to understand why I thought and felt the way I did, I still struggled with learning how to actually deal with all of it. Rejection, and the fear of being alone forever, were my triggers. It is hard to explain this to someone who has never experienced it, but I can assure you that the fallout was very real. My mind was full of irrational thoughts and my reactions were, very often, borderline insane to outsiders. But, to me, they were the reality of the life I lived and, although I knew that they were “abnormal” reactions, I had no idea how to change them.
It was an ongoing battle; a battle that I won in the end! By August of 2014, I had posted the following:
“A physical, emotional, and spiritual reboot are about to occur in this girl. Excited to see what transpires when old bad habits are broken, new healthy habits are formed, and roadblocks I’ve allowed in my life are faced head on and removed for good. I am ready!”
In upcoming posts, I want to touch on how the year of 2014 brought me from the girl in the photo to the girl who wrote the above post. We all deal with different roadblocks that keep us from being the best we can be. It is my continuing hope that my story will help you overcome yours and that, together, we can grow into the individuals we are meant to be.