The many faces of Perseverance Blog Series. I thought it would be nice to take the filter out of our daily lives and to be able to relate to many different people about struggles that we each face. I am learning everyday to embrace the struggles we go through, instead of fearing them. I am learning that everything we go through is putting us on our path and helping us grow. I am learning that even when its uncomfortable and hard that we are learning so much about ourselves and that our struggles are shaping us into a better version of ourselves. I hope you gain guidance, inspiration, and support from this series – Alexa
What made you want to share your story?
I wasn’t fully confident on wanting to share my story, but then I looked back at the times where I have felt alone. I saw an opportunity there. I hope that this helps someone else to know they are not alone.
Childhood emotional neglect. Post-traumatic stress syndrome. Panic disorder. These words have become a part of my life now. I truly wish there were enough hours in the day to recount my entire life so this could all make more sense, but there isn’t and honestly there are some parts that I am okay with revisiting just the one time with my therapist. I spend large portions of my life helping others. Whether it be my friends, my family, coworkers, strangers. You name it, I’m there. I never wanted to take the time to focus on myself. While I never recognized that, I see it now.
I noticed myself rapidly deteriorating about two years ago. I knew that I was never your typical girl. I often felt alone in crowds. I felt guilt almost constantly, and I had an incredible sadness to everything in my life. The more I reached toward success, the more I felt pain. I was confused over this. I couldn’t understand or comprehend the things that I felt or why I felt them. I didn’t even know what triggered these feelings. I haven’t always been this person that I worked so hard to become. I am one of the good ones, and even though I believe that about myself I don’t FEEL good. I would torture myself over, and over again as if I was fatally flawed.
There are so many parts of me that wish I had sought treatment for the way I felt years ago. I always told myself that maybe I would be different, but did I truly want to be different? I feel that I do love myself, but I don’t know how to do it the right way.
At 23 years old I have seen the good and bad. We moved around a lot because my parents weren’t financially able to live on their own. We lived with relatives on and off. My dad was never home because he had to work a lot, my mother was just distant and selfish, and my grandmother found solace in drug usage. I loved my grandmother, more than anything, but for the people who stand up to my parents things don’t go well. She was quickly cut out of our lives, never to be seen again for reasons that I was too young to be certain of. Looking back, I notice now that over the years my parents cut out every person who ever told them that they were wrong. This still hurts me because it wasn’t fair. That wasn’t my choice, and unfortunately now I can’t go back and fix that. Cutting out the people that challenge them is a trend for narcissists.
I don’t have happy memories of my childhood. Childhood emotional neglect is invisible, and as a child I didn’t have the emotional understanding of an adult. I didn’t know that I was suffering, and I didn’t realize that it would affect my life as an adult. When a parent is not emotionally attuned to a child, there is no mirror held up, no positive reflection being shared with the child. Developing a positive sense of self, then, becomes more challenging for the child. CEN is the blank space, and it is commonly over looked because it silently does the damage. My parents never showed up for me, and they still don’t to this day. Yes, my parents provided food and a roof over my head, but they never truly showed up for me. There were never hugs, I love you’s, words of encouragement, a good job, you’re amazing, bedtime stories, laughs, family. There was cold, empty, lonely, anger, hatred, discouragement, insulting, yelling, fighting, and blame. The first time I ever considered taking my own life was when I was 10 years old. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I asked my mother if she had ever considered taking her own life, and she was angry that I had asked. She wanted to know why I would ever think of such a thing and told me never to speak that way again. I was hurting, and no one could see it except for me. My mother didn’t help me with my first period, she didn’t teach me about boys, she didn’t braid my hair, she didn’t help me dress for prom, cheer me on. On my wedding day, she didn’t come to the hotel and help me get ready, not that I expected her too because she was never there for me at any other point in my life. My parents showed up to my wedding, and left early. You wouldn’t think that these things hurt THAT much, because I know what I can expect from them right? I thought that same thing too, but it hurts immensely. Every single day. In ways that just simply don’t make sense to others. I wish day in and day out that my parents would pick up the phone and ask how I am doing. That would be enough for me, if they could just choose me ONE TIME. I try to tell myself that people are only capable of giving what they can, and that’s it. I find this to be true until I watch them give and maintain the relationship with my siblings, but they don’t have that regard for me. I wish I had them in my life now more than ever, as an adult I find myself needing advice, direction, or just a tremendous want for my parents to say, “you’re doing great and everything will be okay.” A few months ago, I began treatments for infertility, and this was one of the most painful moments of my life, and I wanted nothing more than to pick up the phone and call my mother but I knew she wouldn’t be there for me. I struggle every day, because I wonder why they don’t want me.
When I realized I needed help, it was because my attendance at work was slipping and one of my coworkers had asked me if everything was okay because I was so suddenly distant. I was becoming disengaged from the world. I couldn’t find joy in things, and it was affecting my marriage. My husband couldn’t understand why I was in this dark place, and I couldn’t find my way out. What he didn’t know is I have carried this heavy darkness for my whole life, so he was not able to fully understand the pain I was in because I felt that I couldn’t tell him. Something happened to me, and it changed me. I never faced it, and I had never dealt with it. I wish so badly now that I could go back and scoop up the little girl that I was and take her away because she deserved so much more. I knew that this secret could change lives, and hurt people that I loved. It would hurt me, so I put it away year after year until I ran out of places to put it. I was so far gone that I could no longer repair the damage to myself. I was so alone in this, and I know that part of me always would be. In that realization, I decided to try therapy. I spent day after day researching local therapists until I found someone, and I made the appointment to go.
I broke my silence at my first session, and I can’t explain how it felt to pour it out. One of the best feelings in the world was sitting in front of that woman. That woman that felt warm, loving, and kind to me. She was a stranger, but she cared and that was not something I had never known. I was a victim of sexual abuse at a very young age, and it continued for 8 years. I have forgiven a long time ago, and even accepted that this happened to me. I could do that on my own due to the circumstances surrounding the abuse. This person is a part of my life, and it will always have to be that way. Though I had done those things, I was still defined by what had taken place. That was the part that I needed to heal. PTSD was effecting the way I reacted to situations in all aspects of my life, and my panic attacks were also tied to this part of my life. I didn’t acknowledge that, I just hid it from myself because it was easier than facing my pain. There are only a select group of people that know this about me now. Three to be exact, and I know that this can never be known by all the people in my life because it would be catastrophic. Therapy has helped me be okay with that along with many other things. I still have my good days, and my very bad days. I am learning to cope with my past, and to look at my life in a different way. A new way, one that will help me no longer feel pained and empty. While I am by no means out of the darkness, I can see the light. Please believe me when I say this, it’s there. You must fight for it. This life is so worth it, and I encourage you to live it completely. Define yourself, don’t let anyone or anything do that for you. That may not always be easy, but I promise you it is worth it.