Suicide Prevention

You are Not Your Trauma

Suicide Prevention Month: Become A Gatekeeper of HOPE | Hope for the Warriors

Highlighting Stories of Survivors

In this story, you will read about abuse by a “boyfriend” to his girlfriend.  The phrase “You are Not Your Trauma” has stuck affected my heart so deeply.  As my heart was breaking for what this young girl has gone through, in the end…she knows Truth.  What man used for evil, He will use for His glory.  Somehow, someway, her story will give the strength to someone else to SPEAK UP and GET OUT.  Her strength and courage leaves me in awe.  I’m so proud of this young lady.

This is a TRUE story of control, manipulation, abuse and the suicidal ideations this young lady.  She is NOT a victim.  This girl is a survivor and a child of the King.  Please be mindful, if leaving comments, that I will not tolerate judgment or hateful things said.

The Beginning

I don’t even know where to begin, so I guess I will start at the beginning. I had a very happy childhood, it was normal. Until it wasn’t. When I was about 14, almost 15, I was in a courtship with a person older than me. It seemed so innocent at the time, we were almost always supervised by my parents or his.

His Capabilities

When you are 14, you start being interested in boys and all that fun stuff. So it was nice to be noticed by someone of the opposite sex. I had no idea of what he was capable of, and I am still finding out what he was capable of to this day. I honestly don’t know when it happened but he emotionally and psychologically abused me.

He also molested me. There, I said it. It’s not something I like to talk about. There are some people in this world who are super manipulators. They can play you and get inside your head and you have no idea what hit you. That’s what this person was like. A snake. That’s a good word to use, the other ones I want to use involve curse words and I do not think that is appropriate in this context. 

Fear

I was afraid. All the time. Afraid of making him angry. Afraid of him hurting me. Afraid that one misstep would be the end. That fear came to a boiling point when he attempted to force me to kiss him by holding my face with a blanket over my head and pulling me towards him. I fought like hell, and he backed off. But that wasn’t the end. I knew that he would hurt me if I said anything.

He didn’t even have to threaten me. He had such control over my mind that I knew without him saying anything. Then the molestation happened. I do not want to disclose that. And I don’t have to. I still didn’t say anything. I remember he came to my bedroom window after everyone was asleep and told me that it was best if I didn’t tell anyone. That scared me. He scared me. 

Speaking Out

But I did eventually say something. And it didn’t end, I wanted it to end. I wanted to forget everything that happened and never remember it. Maybe if I forgot it, it would go away. No, that is not how life works. Then the police were involved, that was also terrifying. Me, a 15 year old child, being interviewed by a detective (who by the way is a wonderful person and I am forever grateful for how he helped me… but it is hard for me to talk to him now because it reminds me of what happened to me) The person went away, I only saw him a few times after that.

But it Didn’t End

Even though he was gone, it didn’t end. I remember not even knowing what I liked to do. I didn’t even know who I was anymore without him. I tried to put this whole situation behind me. I “forgave” this person, but I didn’t really. Because I did not understand the scope of the damage that he did to me.

Abuse, no matter the type, changes a person. It eats away at your brain, you get paranoid. Jumpy. Nowhere is safe. No one is safe. Trust is a prized commodity. If I bestowed my trust upon you, you better treat it with respect. Because the moment you give me a reason not to trust you, you are gone. And there is no going back.

Returning to “Normal”

When I was growing up after that incident, my childhood returned to “normal”. But I didn’t feel normal. I felt out of place. My innocence was gone. I became very hyperactive. I could not sit still, chattered nonsensically, but the nights were the worst. I felt as if I needed to constantly be doing something to avoid having to be still.. The nights were so bad.. Alone at night with my thoughts, that’s when the dark would try to creep in. 

Moving On

When I got to college, I worked 3 jobs and took a huge class load. I was so depressed. I would fake being happy. Just put a smile on my face and everything would be ok. But those dark memories that I had repressed for so long kept creeping up on me. I began to have panic attacks, pain in places I had not experienced before. These panic attacks stemmed from my trauma, but I didn’t know it. 

I got a big girl job right before I graduated college. I was over the moon, I was good at my job. I met someone, he was sweet and I gave him some of my precious trust. I thought I was “happy”. But I wasn’t. Those master manipulator traits the person that hurt me had, this person had too. He would make jokes at my expense, gaslight me, and really only cared about the physical side of our relationship..

Another “Charmer”

Now this person was a real charmer, he decided to break up with me a few months before we were going to get married. I remember being so distraught… that beloved trust I had given him, was disintegrating. It tore me to my core. It took so long to be able to “get over” him. I should also mention that I don’t trust. Shocker. I know. I am very distrustful of people that I do not know, especially men. I make it a point not to be alone with men if I can help it, I do it almost subconsciously. I don’t even really think about it anymore. 

Spiraling Downward

Then I lost my job… I was so sad, so hopeless. I don’t even know why I lost that job. I had to move out of my apartment to another one. I didn’t have hardly any money after that move because it took almost all the money I had saved. My depression was at its height.

My parents had to give me money to get by. I didn’t want their money, I didn’t want to ask. But they gave it anyway. I ended up searching for jobs and couldn’t find one. I interviewed for several and nothing. I ended up going back to a part time job just so I could have some money for my rent. And that was a comfort to me, going back to something familiar.

But my panic attacks, my anxiety, my depression, was almost insurmountable. At this point, I thought there was something wrong with me. I had everything when I was a child, there was no reason for me to be this way. What is wrong with me? 

The Unexpected

I ended up finding a different job. I had to go away to training for weeks on end, only coming home for the weekends. At the time, I was dating other people. But no one that was what I was looking for. And I dated some really weird people. But at that training, I met my forever love of my life. Definitely not expected.

He is unlike any other man I have ever dated. He had no idea the mental anguish that I suffered on a daily basis. I ended up marrying that man, still with this awful job that caused me to be physically ill because I did not want to be there. I still have flashbacks to that job and the horrible things I saw there. It was a dangerous job, unexpected. 

Because I felt like I had to walk on eggshells around everyone, I was constantly on my guard (which is normal for me, but this was an actually dangerous situation) for anything to happen. And that is just not the way that anyone should live. I got another job that I have now and I am so thankful for that job. 

Getting Help

It was also at this time that my now husband encouraged me to go to counseling. And I did. But I didn’t go for the right reasons. I was fresh married, so we had a lot of getting used to each other. I was learning to trust again. And that was hard. I did tell this counselor what happened to me, but it was never the focus of what we talked about. It was helpful for the time.

I was medicated from my very first big girl job, and that seemed to help a lot. However, I was on a lot of meds.  A lot. Too much and it affected me big time. I felt like a zombie. I felt numb. It was not an easy feeling. I quit going to that counselor because I thought I was all better now. 

Panic Attacks, Flashbacks, Intrusive Thoughts

Fast forward a few months, at home. Panic attacks run rampant. It got so much worse. I would lash out at my husband and I didn’t mean to. He knew what happened to me and one day I asked him if he thought it affected me and he said it did. That struck me.

My panic attacks were so severe, that I would feel like I couldn’t move. I would scream and cry in fear. For some reason, my brain would revert back to those fearful times and make it seem like they were happening all over again, even though I knew I was safe. I would just see his face. The one that hurt me. He never left. He was always there.

I had the most intense flashbacks that I have ever had. And I realized.. I wasn’t like this before this happened to me. I wasn’t hyperactive, I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t anxious, I didn’t deal with intrusive thoughts or compulsions. I didn’t obsess over every little thing. I didn’t have panic attacks. I realized that he caused all of this. But what was I to do? I constantly felt like I was not enough. 

Suicidal Ideations

Eventually, I went off my meds because I thought I was better… big mistake on my part. I was fine for a while, but then, I became numb. I didn’t care for the things I liked to do, I didn’t want to do anything but lay in bed all day long. My pain and my anguish was so overwhelming, I didn’t think there was a way out.

Some days I would feel everything, some days I felt nothing. I was suicidal. I didn’t want to do it, but the thoughts were there. It would sit on my brain for hours. And hours. And hours. I was in so much pain. In such a deep, dark tunnel where I thought no one could reach me. I was ashamed of what I felt. When I told my mom and my husband, I was afraid that they would be angry with me. But they weren’t. They worked out a safety plan with me. 

When Most People Think of Suicidality

They think well that person is selfish. That person is crazy. That person needs to be in an institution somewhere. I hate all of that. It is not ok, this stigma that surrounds people who have suicidal ideations. The people that are suicidal are not crazy. They are hurting. They are in a mental anguish that you will never understand.

They need love and support, not to be told they are selfish or crazy. Not to be brushed off as oh well you can’t be that depressed. I was told by some people well you don’t look depressed. You don’t have anxiety, you can’t. Look at what all you have, you can’t be depressed when you have all of this. Just exercise. That will fix it. LET GO AND LET GOD. Ughhh how I hate that phrase. 

Just Listen

Letting it go is not easy. It doesn’t work. If it worked, then I would have been “cured” a long time ago. My trauma would have just disappeared if letting go worked. But it doesn’t, so do everyone around you a favor and stop saying that. Just. Stop. Take it out of your vocabulary, Also, while you are at it, take out this one too: “God won’t give you anything that you can’t handle”.

God gives us stuff we can’t handle so He can be the one to handle it. I have had to let myself be weak so God can be the stronger one. And that is not an easy thing to do. So stop saying all these fluffy phrases because you have no idea what people around you are walking through.

Unless you are willing to walk through the fire in their place, just be there as a support. But don’t tell them everything will be fine, don’t try to fluff things up. Just be there. Just listen. Without judgement. I repeat: JUST LISTEN. 

Fast Forward

Now that my soapbox is over, fast forward to the beginning of this year. I had the realization, the a ha moment that my trauma caused all of my pain. All of my mental illness. All of it. So I made the courageous step to seek out a trauma counselor. And she is wonderful. I bonded with her immediately. She understood. She didn’t judge me like so many people have. She listens. She lets me cry, she makes observations that just make so much sense. She tells me that I need to re parent that 14 year old because she is still there. Desperate for help. She helped me with my safety plan.

I had the support of her, my mom, and my husband. I got closer to Jesus… He helped me realize that even though I was going through a dark tunnel, that he was there. He would pull me out, he was right there the whole time. And it was Jesus who really pushed me to get into trauma therapy. While it is hard to revisit those awful things that happened to me, I feel more at peace than I have ever felt before. I got back on my meds..

Good and Bad Days

I have good days, and bad days. But more good than bad. Trauma processing is something that needs to happen. Because when trauma occurs, our brains do not file those memories away the way that it is supposed to. So I have to revisit every memory and refile it properly so I won’t be as affected. It will always be there, it is a part of my story, but I no longer have to fear it. God wants all of me, even the parts that I don’t want him to have. He has brought all of those fears and all of those memories into the light so I don’t have to hide them anymore. 

Seek Help

So.. for those who are reading this that are in pain and suffering. Seek help and you will find it. You don’t have to go through life alone. If you are suffering, come talk to me. Or find someone you trust and talk to them. If you need medication to get by, then do it. Ignore the stigma behind being medicated.

There are a lot of smart people in this world that figured out that mental illness is caused by brain chemicals not being balanced. So meds are there to help you balance your chemicals. Do not beat yourself up for taking meds. Just don’t do it. I did. And it isn’t worth it. It is there for a reason, there is no need to feel ashamed about taking medication.

If you need to go to therapy, then do it. It is not easy, but don’t feel like you have to give your whole life story the first time you meet your therapist. If you don’t like them, find someone else. Get to know them, make sure they are a good fit.

You Are Not Your Trauma

Do not lose hope. Even when you think there is no hope, there is always a sliver. Know that you are not your trauma. Know that you are not your past. No matter what you have done, know that you are loved. If you think no one else loves you, come talk to me. If I am the only one, then so be it. You have someone that loves you. Your life is too precious to be taken so soon. You have a purpose in this world, you just may not have found it yet. Don’t lose hope. 

Listen Without Judgement

And for those who are reading this who are fortunate enough not to have any trauma or mental illness.. This is for you. Listen without judgement. If someone trusts you enough to talk to you about really hard shit, do not take that for granted. They are reaching out to you, take their hand and walk with them.

Don’t fluff up the situation. For Pete’s sake quit saying let go, let God. Just listen and try to put yourself in their shoes. If someone is acting strange, not like themselves, don’t ignore that. Strike up a conversation. Ask them if they are alright. They may lie, but don’t ignore the warning signs. Keep talking to them, let them know that they are loved and appreciated. Let them know that if they need someone, that you are there for them. Just listen and love. Get rid of your stigma against suicide, mental health, therapy, and medication. Educate yourselves. The more you know, the better prepared you will be. 

Resources

If you or someone you know is being abused, PLEASE reach out.

ChildHelp Hotline

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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