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4 Years Freed and Still Healing

My actual anniversary date is February 22nd, but writing about it before sometimes helps minimize the anxiety on that day. I still sometimes think it's all just a nightmare and I'm waiting to wake up. How could someone who claimed to love you physically, verbally and emotionally abuse you over and over for years!? When I look back at the last four years, it seems like it was yesterday in some ways and decades ago in other ways. I have learned a lot about myself the past four years and I am still learning each and every day. Blogging is very therapeutic, but exhausting for me. Most of my blogs do not get published because they end up being daily journals, rants, remembering bits and pieces and all over the place with random thoughts. The posts I do publish can take days or weeks to write because they can get overwhelming causing panic attacks or high anxiety. I blog for three reasons. First, I blog for ME because it is important for my healing process. Second, for awareness to those who have not experienced abuse in case they ever do get abused, know someone who has been, or be more aware of what abuse can do to someone. Third, for those who have been through abuse or currently in abusive situations because at times us survivors can feel alone. The best way to write this blog is in four parts. So here it goes...

  1. Remembering/Reliving

I still remember most of the abuse whether physical or verbal. I wish I could tell people it goes away with time or it gets better. It really doesn't. Better, maybe? Or, have I gotten so used to reliving it, making it feel like it's better!? Anyone who has PTSD, I can relate to you. We do not have the same story, but I understand what you go through. It is so frustrating to have it come out of no where! One minute I'm having the best time, then BAM, a song, smell, picture, place or person triggers a memory or memories. A whole day or week is ruined now. How can one person do so much damage to still haunt me four years later!? It's not fair! Does he relive memories of me causing him panic attacks, fight or flight mode, or feeling frozen he can't even speak. I do not know the answer, but I would bet it is no! Nightmares reliving the abuse are just as bad. I can wake up after an hour of sleeping due to a nightmare and every time I fall back asleep, it picks up right where I left off. Now I just don't go back to sleep most times. Nightmares are a lot less frequent, but seem to come and stick around a few times a week for several weeks when they do happen. Some days, when I'm getting ready in the mirror, I can hear his voice saying the horrific things he used to say to me. Reliving memories of the abuse takes a lot out of me. It honestly feels like I have been beaten all over again. Sometimes it makes me want to just curl up in blankets and hide for days. Sometimes I am a zombie going through the motions of my day because I still work on my worst days. Other times I cry over anything and everything. Is it still as frequent as four years ago? No, but it still hurts the same. I am proud of where I am now in this aspect. I have found ways to get through my PTSD stronger and that is a win!

2. Lessons Learned

I have learned many things over the past four years. I will touch base on the main ones. I learned my kids are just as protective of me as I am them. I also know I learned I am a honest, loyal, and an empathetic friend. I learned I wasn't alone from the amazing love and support my family, friends, and strangers have shown me. I would not be who I am today without any of them. My inner circle of people have gone above and beyond to support me and show me that it is never too late for anything! I have learned better ways to cope with my anxiety and overthinking which has minimized my panic attacks. I have learned to start trusting people by trying to change the way I usually go right to overthinking bad thoughts or the worst scenarios. Asking questions to ease those thoughts has worked when asking a genuine person. I still overthink and have a hard time stopping my thoughts, but it is getting better. I have learned that I followed a pattern of attracting the same type of men. Pretty consistently dated narcissists, derpy derps, overbearing, attention seeking, douche canoes since my abuser. I have dated more than I ever wanted to date in a four year period, but I learned exactly what I do not want. Reason why the word derpy became popular in my friend group. Oh the many comical first date stories I could tell! Dating people who did not deserve me taught me my worth. Dating narcissist after narcissist made me lose progress in healing and obtaining self love; learning that helped me change what I want in a man. I bring a lot to a relationship personality wise and go above and beyond for those I care for which is hard to find. Plus, I have a great sense of humor. My next lesson follows that up with, I learned how much self loathing I have for my appearance due to the many years of verbal abuse. I also have learned I have a lot of anger towards myself for allowing the abuse to happen, allowing the abuse to go on that long, and the fact it took him cheating to finally allow me to realize I didn't need him. Some good lessons, some bad lessons, and some lessons I am still trying to figure out. All in all I am always trying to move forward and that is important.

3. Living in the Moment

Life right now is busy. Kaleb moved into his first apartment on his own end of last summer, started teaching middle school and has been doing amazing. Haley had knee surgery and is recovering ahead of schedule, graduates in May, decided to 5th year for soccer and go for her Masters, and soccer captain again. Eli graduates in June, was in Onstage again, got asked to be in the dance show, and is trying out for spring musical. My kids are successful, amazing, strong, and genuine. I am so excited to see what they do next! As for me, it has been a busy year! My softball team won our league for the 4th year in a row. World Series was here in MN. It was fun being a part of it. This Fall, 3 of my best friends got married. The first one was a 4 day up North fun filled great time. So much love shown for the couple and it was a beautiful ceremony! He is like a brother to me and I definitely gained a sister in his wife. I had one of the best roommates for the weekend and we literally laughed until we fell asleep each night. The second one I was a bridesmaid and it was the best wedding I have ever been a part of. She has been my rock and my bestie the last 5 plus years and it was great to be able to show her how much I appreciate her by being a big part of her special day. Her hubby knew marrying her meant he married her sister and me and he embraced it! The third one was another one of my rocks the past four years. My sister got to officiate their ceremony and it was a beautiful wedding with a haunted trail as a bonus. She has become family and her hubby fits right in. I also forgave someone who I was hurt by and realized some people do deserve second chances. He has become a big part of my life again after many talks from both of our point of views. As some of you already know, a little over eleven months ago, I met someone when I wasn't even looking for anything. He has been a huge part of me learning to trust because he is so patient with me and lets me ask questions if I ever have anxiety or a PTSD moment. He has never gotten frustrated, defensive or upset with me during any discussion or my need to ask questions which makes me feel secure helping me trust more and more. Any time we have had a discussion, it has stayed calm and on task which is so different from my past three exes. In fact, he was the one who suggested I ask him questions the first time my anxiety was high and PTSD was creeping in and that is how we have tackled the few times it has happened again. I can be my complete authentic self with him and that is so refreshing and comforting.

4. Goals

My first goal is to let go of the anger I still have towards myself for allowing the abuse. If I can find a way to do that, I can accomplish my second goal of self love and building my body image self esteem. Not sure I can accomplish those in a year, but I will work at it piece by piece. Third goal is to retrain my brain how to shut my brain off when my anxiety or overthinking takes over. Best way to describe it is putting hundreds of voicemails with scary possibilities in a ball and rolling it down a hill making them all play loudly at the same time over and over. There is no way to stop them until the ball stops rolling and sometimes it could take several inches, feet, yards or miles until it will stop. Some voicemails are louder than others and stand out more than others. I have gone into panic mode, panic attacks or near panic attack when the ball has been rolling for awhile and the answers I need are not able to be answered. I really want to learn how to make the ball stop rolling after a few feet. Ultimate goal for that would be the ball never to start rolling, but I know that is a long term goal still. Fourth goal is to continue to heal and have less and less anxiety and PTSD.

There is my fourth year in a nutshell. I am still reliving, learning, living in the moment, and setting goals. I am alive and I feel damn lucky to be alive and not another statistic!

*** If there is anyone in an abusive situation or a survivor reading this, please know I will be here for you! Whether you are family, friend, friend of a friend, or a stranger it doesn't matter, I will be here to listen, answer questions, help you leave if you are ready, and never judge you!

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