Inside the Mind of a Domestic Violence Survivor: What I Want You All to Know

I’ve learned that a woman with a tough past needs to be treated with patience. She needs time to breathe, to heal, to rediscover herself. A mistreated woman will reject love countless amounts of times before she gives in because she has lost the sense of what it is like to be treated right. But the beautiful thing about her is the wisdom she gained from her past and the endless capacity of love she has to offer.

Like many young adults my age, I have struggled my entire life to discover who I really am. We get it set in our young minds that we have to discover exactly who we want to be before we are ready to be adults. Once I began college, I felt like it was finally my time to be whoever I wanted to be. I didn’t have to be the “quiet girl” anymore. I could be the studious science major, the crazy sorority girl, the perfect balance of smart and crazy sorority girl, and everything in-between. I was many different variations of myself throughout college. At first I was inexperienced and shy, then I was wild and outgoing. All of the variations of Sydney that I became, began to add together to form the Sydney that I wanted to be. These variations of who I was becoming was the last time in my life that I could experiment with who I was. It was still okay for me to test the waters of my life. It was okay for me to go to Taco Bell at 2 am with my best friends. It was okay for me to finish an entire bottle of wine in one weekend. It was okay for me to miss class once and a while because I wanted to. These things were okay. Because it was the last time in my life that I didn’t have to be an adult yet. It was the final time in my life where I could learn about being responsible, but not have to dedicate my entire life to being a picture-perfect human being. In the end of my college career, the Sydney I wanted to be was finally becoming a real image. I was happy with myself, who I surrounded myself with and the decisions that I made with my future life. When I finally felt that the many colors of Sydney that I had added along the way of my life, was finally becoming the final painting of who I wanted to be, my life came crashing down around me.

When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.

I wasn’t ready to be an adult. I wasn’t done having fun. I wasn’t done being young and the perfect amount of crazy. I was happy with who I was. I was happy with all of the experiences in my life that had created someone I was happy to look back at in the mirror. But what happens when you’re abused, is that who we are, gets taken away. I was suddenly forced to enter a world that I had no choice on entering. I didn’t get to chose my path this time. My abuser chose it for me.

Victims of abuse are forced to change who they are when we are least expecting it. I am not the same Sydney you met in high school. I am not the same Sydney you met in college. I am not the same Sydney you called your best friend for three years in college. I am not the same Sydney you’ve had a crush on. I will always have those tiny pieces of my past that added to the painting of my future self, but I will never be the Sydney that you knew. I became a part of a world that not many people belong to. That’s why I’m here to tell you what you have to know about that someone in your life who has been a victim of domestic violence, abuse, or trauma. Our minds are forever affected by what we’ve experienced, and the person you once knew will forever be altered. This isn’t our choice. We did not become this way on purpose. We long for the person we used to be. But one day in our lives post abuse, we begin to realize that this is who we now are. We are not bad, mean or psycho, or overly-emotional, or manipulating. We are us. We are still your daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, best friend, crush, wife, girlfriend, neighbor, loved one. We are just being forced to enter a new world that will forever have an impact on our personalities. Our abusers have left scars on the puzzle pieces of our life that created who we were as individuals.

When I look in the mirror I do not see the same Sydney that I saw before. I do see someone stronger. I see someone that’s sad, but someone who has grown up to be more mature than most people my age. I see a girl who has quickly learned what’s important to her in life. A girl that knows what’s worth fighting over and what’s not. A girl that wants nothing but to be happy from here on out. The only thing holding me back is the people in my life that don’t understand what I’ve been through. The people that cannot seem to understand that some of my actions have something to do with the year of my life that I was abused by the one person I thought I loved most. My mind and perception of myself has been forever altered. I didn’t choose to be abused and I didn’t choose to become a different person because of it. But you can choose to learn to love the new Sydney. You can choose to understand the person in your life who has been through this tragedy because I bet they want you there as much as I want everyone to stick around in my new life.

What You Need to Know About The Person In Your Life Who Has Been Affected By Domestic Violence:

1. We are never going to love the same way:

So here’s the thing with broken hearts. No matter how hard you try, the pieces never fit the way they did before.

Our perception of love was shattered. The fairy-tale love stories we have grown up imagining in our minds has become a figment of our imagination. The one person we gave everything to, turned around and stabbed us in the back. The one person we trusted with our whole heart, that we claimed to love more than ourselves, hurt us. They convinced us that love was this abuse. How they treated us was love. This is what abusers do. They manipulate people. They chose women who they know love with their whole heart. They chose a certain kind of woman who they know will give their everything to anyone they love. They seek out a woman who they know will try to save them. They love to be saved. They love to play the victim and trick you into staying. They made us forget what real love is. They made us forget what it is like to be treated right. They made us believe that they loved us and that this was all okay. Altering our perception of love was their way of keeping us reeled in. It is not until months or even years after we escape the abuse that we realize that it, in fact, was not love. I still struggle to believe that he didn’t love me. So no matter how hard you try to convince us that you care about us, we are not going to believe you. He fooled me into thinking that he loved me with his whole heart, that he would die for me. He then fractured my face in two places. So now that is what love is to me. Love is hitting your girlfriend in the face. So no, I’m not pushing you away on purpose. I’m not acting crazy because I’m crazy. He was crazy. He did a damn good job at making me think that abuse was love. I don’t know what love is anymore. I don’t trust anyone to love me anymore. He has taken over my mind with a plague of distorted thoughts. We need to learn how to love again. Give us time to do so. 

2. We are never going to trust anyone as much as we used to:

He told me he loved me. He told me he would do anything for me. He told me he was nothing without me. He told me without me, he would not be okay. He told me I was the only thing holding him together anymore. He told me we were going to have an amazing future. He told me that him hitting me was not abuse. I believed everything he said. Victims are not stupid for believing their abuser’s words. No, victims are trusting someone that they love. Victims are people who would do anything for someone they love. And we do everything for that person. The person who has promised us so many broken promises, but we continue to put our faith in them. So what happens when this trust is broken? It becomes nearly impossible to trust again. We aren’t going to be able to trust people for a long time. This isn’t your fault. This isn’t our fault. This is his fault. No matter how many times you tell a victim of domestic violence that you care about them, they are not going to believe you. We’ve heard that someone cares about us before, but it turned out to be a lie. So it is going to take time to learn to trust someone again. It is going to take a long time to put our faith into someone once again. This doesn’t just go for love interests. This goes for friends and family as well. I have found that even my friends telling me they love and care about me makes me skeptical now. I’ve begun to not trust even my best friends. It’s not that I don’t want to trust them, but I physically cannot. Even small phrases such as “I’m proud of you” or “I miss you”, I begin to not believe. Because my abuser made me believe that I was not worthy of this love. He made me lose my trust in anyone. The only thing that will bring back this trust, is time.

3. We may freak out over small things, but most of us have some form of PTSD:

Trigger: A trigger is anything that sets you off emotionally and activates memories of your trauma. It’s particular to you and what your experience has been. Triggered, we revert to the feelings and behaviors we had in the traumatizing situation.

Someone reaches out to hug me. I lean in to accept the harmless act, but something inside me twitches. A part of me goes black. I am back again. This hand reaching out towards me no longer belongs to the person reaching out towards me at the moment. It belongs to him. And I flinch. My world comes back into focus and I remember once again I am safe. This hand is not him. I am able to sink into the arms, but still a part deep inside of me, is quivering. 

I’m laughing with someone. I say something funny. Their hand comes up to high five me. And again, I sink back into my dark place. I am there yet again. The hand is his. And I duck again. My body is bracing for impact. But again, I am pulled out of my dark place and realize I am safe. But yet again, a part inside of me is still shaking. Still fearful that this hand will turn around and make impact with my face. Much like his did so many times. 

I am laying down. Leaning on someone I trust. We are laughing. He is telling a story. I begin to poke fun at his tale, a common trait of mine. His hand comes up to grab me, in a joking manner. Yet again, I am back to my dark place. Shaking. But this is deep inside. I show no sign of it on the outside. He probably has no idea. But for a minute I am struggling to catch my breath again. He’s not going to hit you. He’s not going to hit you. 

Someone’s telling a story. I’m sitting in the passengers seat of the car, listening intently to them describe this moment of their life. The story is building up. They’re getting excited. Their arms begin to flail in the air, expressing their excitement. Yet again, I flinch. For a moment my heart freezes. I try to laugh at their words. But I’m still frozen for a second. I have to tell myself again. I’m okay. I am safe. They’re not going to hurt me. 

We are laying on his bed. I feel safe in his arms. I don’t question my safety when I am around him. I’ll spare you the details and let you use your imagination. His hand comes to my face, once again, I flinch. My insides tense up and I forget to breathe. But I’m okay. He’s not the one who’s hurt me. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. 

Whether it’s a song he danced to, a place we ate at, a word he used a lot, even his name, anything can trigger me. It suddenly sends my body into a state of shock. You would never know from the outside unless you know me well enough. But deep somewhere inside, hidden within the deepest walls and darkest corners of my being, I fear for my life again. I remember him. His face. His emotionless eyes. He looked like a zombie, hungry for more power, for more blood. But his own being was no longer there. They were crazy, hungry eyes. They haunt my dreams and my every day life. He will always haunt me. I will always be triggered. Something inside of me has changed. I do not feel safe. I cannot trust anyone.

We were victims of a form of trauma. We experience flashbacks and nightmares  much like many other victims of trauma. At first, I didn’t even think it was possible for me to experience PTSD. I didn’t think that what I had endured was intense enough to experience something that others experience after enduring such terrible distress in their life. However, studies show that 88% of women who survived domestic violence live with PTSD. I began to realize that I wasn’t the only one who could be experiencing something so intense. I’m not the only one who experiences:

  • Intrusive memories of abuse
  • Loss of interest in other people and the outside world
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Depression
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, fear, despair, guilt or self-hatred
  • An inability to imagine a positive future
  • (domestic shelters.org) Find Domestic Violence and Abuse Help, Information and Stats. (n.d.). Retrieved July 04, 2017, from https://www.domesticshelters.org/

PTSD for victims of abuse is not a joke. It is not casual, or nonexistent. We think of veterans when we think of PTSD. Their PTSD is real. I can’t imagine what they must experience, seeing all of the hurt they’ve seen in their lives. But it does not mean that our PTSD and our triggers are not as grave. It is very real. We have nightmares and bad memories and triggers. We were hurt and we have scars. Some physical scars, but some on our hearts. These are still real scars. So no, we may not have been at war, we may not have been in the twin towers when a plane hit, but what we fear is still real, rational, and out right scary. 

4. Putting us down for little things can destroy us in an instant:

We are used to abusive words. We are used to not only physical abuse, but emotional and verbal abuse. These usually go hand in hand. Our abusers convince us that we don’t deserve anyone else, anyone better. They convince us that we are so worthless that no one is going to want us besides them. That’s how they rope us in and keep us trapped. Of course, I didn’t notice this until after the relationship. Looking back on it, I think about how much he made me feel so worthless. He made me feel battered, stupid, ugly and unlovable. He jabbed words at me to put me down, to make me feel like I would never be enough for anyone. Not only in relationships, but between friends and family. Abusers are masters at isolating you from friends and family and trapping you in a bubble filled with their toxic presence.

The biggest trigger I have had of these feelings recently has been with friends. Before, petty fights with friends were something to brush off. I was upset for a few days and got over it, knowing their words were only spoken in the heat of the moment, they could never mean it. But now, now is different. Maybe he was right. Maybe I am shitty. Maybe I am a terrible person. Maybe I only think about myself. Maybe I’m selfish. Maybe I’m just downright scum of the earth. Once you hear something enough, especially from the people you love, you start to really believe it.

So yes, when your petty words hit my brain, they not only trigger me to this dark place in my life, but they only sink deeper into the cuts that he dug in my heart. Your words only make me believe that what he was telling me, was right all along. What everyone is telling me was lies from his mouth, is now coming from your mouths. So it must be true. So be gentle with your words. Watch what you say to survivors of DV. Small insults that may not seem like much to you, reach down to a deep dark place in our heart that once only our abuser could access. You may not know it, but you just may be someone’s trigger into the realm of self doubt and sadness we experienced when we heard his same words. 

 5. NO, we do not overreact and we are not seeking attention:

Dont worry, our abuser has told us many times how much we overreact. How much we are blowing the situation out of proportion.

 “It’s not abuse”.  “I’m not abusing you”. “You’re overreacting”. 

It took me months to even accept that what I had experienced was domestic violence. Still to this day, I have doubts that maybe I just overreacted. Maybe I did blow it out of proportion. I try to attend group, but I sit there and think “I don’t belong, I am not damaged, I am not a victim of abuse”. But as I sit there even longer I begin to realize that yes, I was abused. Yes, what happened to me was terrible. It’s even hard for me to type that. I don’t want to admit that it is true. To me, others have been through way worse. But he just trained me to believe that I am overreacting. I am blowing this out of proportion. His voice still echoes in my head. 

So when I hear someone say “you’re seeking attention”, “you’re overreacting”. It sinks into my skin like warm water rushing over my skin, but instead, it is sharp words. What we all experienced is different. All varying levels of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. However, how we continue to live with our scars is our choice. We need to find ways to heal. But we cannot heal if we do not speak out. We cannot heal if we do not begin to accept that what happened to us was real. Our abusers mastered making us feel like our feelings were not reasonable. Our fear was not real. We are not overreacting. We are not seeking attention. We are simply trying to accept what happened to us so that we can heal our wounds.

6. We are going to have different priorities in our lives:

Abusers seek out victims who dedicate their everything to making someone happy. They find people who they know are going to give up everything for someone. They know that we love deeply and unforgivingly. They know that someone like this will stay around. Abusers are weak. They feed off of our strength. They know that we will always come back. We will always put them first. We will always try to save them. 

I stayed with you for so long throughout the bullshit because I was torn between not giving up on the person that I loved, and coming to terms with the fact that the person that I loved no longer existed inside of the body that I stared at everyday…it takes a while to believe it. 

 So after time and time again of saving this person who cannot be saved, this person who played the victim, who cried wolf to keep us tied up in their tangle of narcissism, we need to put ourselves first. I never put myself first before in my life. I am just bay type of person. And I am not unlike many other woman who are abused. Many of us have this similar trait. This is why we stay. Because we want to save everyone. We want to take care of everyone else. 

Once we escape from this trap, this life of not caring about ourselves, we finally get to put ourselves first. Our priority is now our own happiness. It is one of the only ways to finally heal. 

This means that our priorities in life will change. I am sure you are used to us being selfless and completely devoted to theirs happiness. But now we must do a major shift. We need to protect ourselves. We need to protect our own happiness. We almost completely lost sight of it once. 

Not only will we begin to put other people on the back burner for our own safety, but we will begin to prioritize different things in life. I realized what really is important. This dark experience was a flame inside of me that suddenly sparked, lighting up corners of my life that I had forgotten, that had began to grow eerie, silky cobwebs. I realized that life is short. Fights are not worth it. Family is most important. Girl friends are more important than cute guys. Hard work is going to be what drives you to success. Every small moment counts. Being sad is no longer worth it. Happiness. This is what matters. 

And so I begun my journey into mindfulness. Into the idea that being aware of everything in the present moment and being aware and accepting of ones feelings is what can lead you to a certain peace that most people never achieve in a lifetime. What interested me in this state of being was the idea that you are being completely aware of your own feelings and accepting them. Mindfulness can make us happier, healthier and more stress free. It connects us to our own selves as well as the world around us on a deeper level. Throughout this journey I have learned that my main priority is ME. My second is family. My third is friends. My fourth is being accepting and nonjudgmental. My fifth is making sure that small things in life do not lead to huge negative impacts. My sixth, which is so much like my old self, is putting a smile on other faces, which will in turn, put a smile in my soul. My priority is no longer anyone else before me. One day it may be again, but for now my own happiness has taken the front seat. 

7. We need time and patience, we cannot just “let it go”:

Hurt

Someone not many people can say they have met 

They think it 

But they have not met the hurt I have met 

Not the hurt who shakes me to my core

Not the hurt who rained down on my life like the embers of a wildfire 

Not the hurt who left cracks in my soul deep enough to bury any happiness that ever existed inside my soul 

(Sydney Shibuya) 

I have been through something traumatic. I need time. I need patience. I need to heal. It is not easy. Nor do I think it will ever be. But healing does not work that way. Healing cannot knock down the door and kick hurts butt. Healing is slow and steady. No I cannot just “get over it”. It is going to follow me for the rest of my life. It is going to impact the way I view myself, the way I feel about myself. It is going to impact the relationships I have with men. It is going to impact the way I trust. It is going to impact the relationships I have with friends. But healing will not come fast. It’s not meant to be that easy. Hurt is meant to shake us to our core and make us feel like we can never move on. But it builds a strength so deep inside of us that not many other people have. If we “just let it go”, we will not heal properly. We will fall into the same patterns. We will fall into a deep dark hole of despair and depression. Yes, we know other people have experienced hurt. We are not trying to take that away from you. But this is a hurt that has thrown us into a new world. We see the world with new eyes. We see humans with new eyes. We are different and our bodies and souls need time to catch up with us. Give us time. 

8. We have a hard time loving ourselves, and are going to continue to have a hard time loving ourselves, but someday we are going to love someone again and we have a lot of amazing love to offer: 

Love

Is a talent 

We thought we mastered

Until we realized we were no good at such a fragile thing anymore

Hearts ripped from our chests

And stomped into the ground like a threatening bee

How can one expect us to love the same

When the love we gave

Was never handed back to us in quite the same state it was given 

(Sydney Shibuya)

Like I’ve said many times before in this post, we are going to be terrible at love. Once it was something that we were so good at. We gave our everything to it. And it came back and smacked us across the face, literally in my case. Even loving ourselves is extremely difficult after being shamed and put down. Our abusers crippled our ability to love ourselves and anyone in the future. That’s their way of staying in control. Their way of being able to manipulate us until the end of time. Long after we have began to forget their face or the sound of their voice, when we attempt to love again, our doubt will surface. The doubt that they planted there. 
So love. Well it’s always going to be damn hard for us. We thought we knew how to love. We thought we gave it everything. And it got thrown back into our faces. Our trust has completely vanished into a dark abyss. We no longer have love for ourselves. He ruined that. Crushed that. Made it seem like we are it worthy of love. Not even our own. And made us think we are not worthy of anyone else’s love. So loving is going to be hard. Really fucking hard. 

But I’ll tell you one thing. Once we love again, we are going to be able to offer so much endless love. Because that’s who we are. That’s what go us in trouble in the first place. But that’s always going to be who we are. Our scars and battles are going to turn into strength. And one day we are going to love full heartedly again. 

9. If you decide to hurt me after knowing what I’ve been through, I’m probably not going to be too fond of you, a fair warning:

If you’re someone who has been around for all of the hurt that I’ve endured, and seen me at my lowest low, but still decide to treat me like shit. Well, we’re gonna have a problem. To know that someone has endured something so mentally battering, but to still continue to beat me down, you have no room in my life. I am not sure what kind of people think it’s okay to continue to beat down on someone so scarred. But I’m going to end on the note that no one of such sort is a priority in my life.  We have already been beat down. No one deserves to do it again. 

To recover 

Not sure how it works

Or if there is a right way to do it

But I do know I have to try

Because if not 

I am going to continue to evaporate 

Into thin air like the fog surrounding me by the river

Slowly but surely until I am no longer real

No longer existing 

So I must find a way

To stitch myself back together 

(Sydney Shibuya)

Why You’ve Ruined Me: Why I Don’t Feel Like The Same Person After Your Abuse

Since September I have felt trapped in my own mind. My feelings have been kidnapped, yelling from inside my head, refusing to give up, but resisting my constant effort to bury them. A part of me that I locked away in a tiny corner of my own brain and refuse to let loose. I put a smile on my face, but inside I want to scream. I hear the same sentences repeated at me over and over. I start to feel numb when I hear the same words trickle over someone’s lips.

“I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

“I’m so sorry he was an ass.”

“I hope he’s going to jail.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“Didn’t you see this coming?”

“How did you not see this coming?”

Over and over and over on repeat.

I smirk at the common responses to my sob story. These words mean nothing once they hit my brain. I watch everyone’s mouths move but the words hit me and turn into alphabet soup. The reaction that appears on my face is merely the reaction I know is expected of me. I actually want to scream. I want to scream at the top of my lungs until the ground is shaking. But I smile. I smile and I take a deep breath that fills my lungs until I can’t fill them with any more of my warm breath. My reactions have purely been what I think is expected of me. How much longer can I go pretending that it doesn’t hurt when someone asks me how I didn’t see this coming? Every time I hear someone say how terrible of a person he is I cringe as if they were insulting me and not him. Does anyone realize that I’m about to explode?

The tears have built up inside of me like the water behind a dam. I’ve tried to force them out but they won’t budge. I continually sit myself down and try to cry in hopes that some sort of human emotion will leave my body but I can’t seem to achieve it. I sit on the cold floor of the bathroom and run through the night over and over. I play the night through my head trying to spark an emotion but no tears leave my body. I feel a dark hole in the pit of my stomach. My body shakes. My mind is yelling at me to forget about the darkness and pain. But I can’t seem to cry. For months and months, I’ve tried to get this feeling out of my body. It needs to escape but it is continually trapped in the dark corner of my mind.

It is eating me alive and I can’t seem to shake this monster from inside of me. It’s become a part of me. A parasite living inside that I can never shake free. Some days I feel like Sydney and some days I feel like this monster. This heartless, emotionless monster that will never to be able to learn to love. No matter who says the word love to me it slips off their tongue and into a rain puddle. Into a deep abyss. It’s a lie. No one loves me. Who could love me? This monster that’s grown to be who I am. No one can love that. I don’t deserve to be loved.

You convinced me I don’t deserve that. You convinced me love is not real. It does not exist. It is a figment of our imaginations that we teach ourselves to believe in. You convinced me I’m not worthy of it. Day and day again I get beat down. I wait for someone else to care about me but you’ve ruined me to a point of no return. There’s only so much you can beat something up until it’s damaged to no end. If you continually swing a bat at a helpless chair, the chair is going to cease to exist. It is going to fall into a million little pieces. Eventually, the pieces won’t be able to be placed back together again. The chair won’t be able to be sat in. It won’t be able to be placed in a classroom. It won’t be able to be cherished by another. The chair will be nothing. It will be thrown away. Tossed to the side of the street waiting to be taken away. You beat me down to a million little pieces. So many little pieces I won’t be able to be put back together again. When someone tries to cherish me, love me, use me for something good, I won’t be worthy anymore. I won’t be useful. I’m not a full person anymore. I’m only a million little pieces, waiting to be picked up and placed back together to be loved again. I’m scared I’ll never be able to be placed back together because of you.

I push people away because I no longer have trust. You stole it from me when you stole away my confidence, my strength and ability to love. You stole it all away from me. You stole away my ability to feel emotions. I try so hard to feel something towards you but I have no more feelings left in that corner of my heart. A piece of my heart that once held you has shriveled up and disappeared, ceasing to be a part of me. It has left a gaping open hole, that no one else can seem to patch back up again. The second someone comes along with a piece of a heart to pass along, my heart rejects it, turning away and turning it down.
I am happier, better and stronger without you. But something is not quite the same anymore. The part of me that knew how to love and the part of me that knew how to let someone love me. I lost all trust. Everyone is out to hurt me. That pushes people away. Telling people you don’t trust them from the moment you meet them, sends them running. No one wants to hear someone thinks they’re a terrible person when they did nothing of the sort. But that’s what I do now. I tell everyone that they’re the asshole, that they’re the bad guy, the untrustworthy one. But no one else is. It was you. Someone tries to hug me and I flinch, in anticipation of a fist coming towards my face. Someone tries to high five me and I duck in anticipation of a sort of pain I can faintly remember now. Someone tries to kiss me and I fall into their lips, but in the back of my mind, I’m scared. A tiny voice screaming inside saying “don’t trust them”.  A tiny voice trying to convince me that they too are going to hurt me. Someone tries to hold my hand and I pull away, not wanting to be touched by someone else who could use their own hand to hurt me. My body goes into shock when someone tries to show any emotion towards me. I don’t like to be touched. My body freezes and a rush of memories return to the front of my brain. I didn’t only lose my sense of trust, but my sense of security and safety. I don’t trust anyone to care about me. I don’t trust anyone to tell me the truth. I don’t trust anyone to not hurt me. 

So I walk through my days as Sydney on the outside, but deep down I am different. Deep down I am not the compassionate, overly-loving and kindhearted Sydney. I am cold, overly sensitive, scared and fragile. I used to have so much love to offer. I was so passionate about everyone that came my way. Now I’m scared to love. I’m scared to show compassion and emotion. This was a part of me. It made me part of who I am. But you stole this away. You stole a part of me that made me me. At this point of my life I have figured out who I am. I decided who I want to be and I’ve worked hard to become that person. You stole a piece of me that I’ve already decided I wanted to keep. I am no longer my full self and I want that part of me back. I don’t want to flinch when someone moves their arm. I don’t want to cry when someone tries to touch me. I don’t want to be scared to walk through life fearing no one can love me again. 

I am not sure if I’ll ever get this part of me back. The real me may be buried deep in my mind in a tiny corner. I’ve tried to reach in and pull it out, but I can’t seem to find her. You have morphed me into a person I no longer recognize in the mirror. A person who’s left eye is smaller than her right and who’s ability to love and be loved has been stolen away. You have changed me. I am scared I will end up pushing everyone away. But maybe I will reach deep down and find the corner of me that needs to explode. The corner of me that needs to release some deep emotion that was locked away. The part of me that doesn’t know if she hates you or not. The part of me that wants to hate you but gets confused. The part of me that still can’t cry about what happened that night. Maybe the real Sydney will come back one day and I won’t have to blame you for my unhappiness. But for now I do not see the lift of happiness approaching. 

I am not who I am and not who I want to be, but I do know I am better than you and will always be stronger than you have ever been, even when I’m not 100 percent myself. One day the tiny million pieces will be placed back together again, maybe not exactly the same as before, but still placed back together stronger than before. 

Being A Woman: Why Your Abuse is Only Making Us Stronger

Being a woman means being strong. It does not have to do with physical strength, but with emotional. You men may have the physical strength to knock us down, to beat us up until we no longer recognize who’s staring back at them in the mirror. But women, we have the emotional strength. We have the emotional strength to rise above your physical strength that knocks us down.

You may have the power to make us think that we’re worthless, ugly, sluts. But what you don’t know is your words, your scars, your bruises, they make us stronger. The pain you cause us is the fuel to our strength. You knock us down 9 times, we come back 10 times stronger. The more you beat us up with your words and your fists, the more we come together and the more we put up a fight. You’re building stronger more beautiful women. You think you’re ruining us. You think you’re getting in our heads. You think you’ve knocked us down one last time, but we will always come back a tad bit stronger than you.

So go for it. Call us crazy and obsessive for caring about you. Tell us everything is our fault when we all know it’s yours. Call us whores for having guy friends. Call us sluts for talking to one guy, meanwhile you’re talking to five girls. Make us think we’re dirty for kissing someone. Tell one girl you love her, and take the other out to dinner the same night. Make us think we’re not worthy enough to be treated like royalty. Make us think we’re less then you. Make us think we’re worse than you. I dare you.

Because you don’t know how much stronger you’re making us. When we’re 18 your words seem like the end of the world. They crush us and push us down and make us cry into the shoulders of our friends. But once we’re older, oh boys do I have a news flash for you, we pity you. We pity your worthless efforts at knocking us down. We know when you’re trying hard to make us feel like nothing. But we’re old enough now to have learned. We’re old enough to recognize the sad, pathetic efforts at making us feel like women aren’t worth it. We’re old enough to know we are beautiful. We are amazing. We are smart. We are courageous. We are warriors. We are worth it. 

Being a woman means recognizing your efforts at making us feel all these things, and rising up against it. Being a woman means being mature enough to smile at someone who’s done us wrong and then walking away. Being a woman means gathering up enough courage to tell you that it’s not our fault. It’s yours. Being a woman means not needing a man. Being a woman means standing up for your friends. Being a woman means loving yourself and your body. Being a woman means forgiving your abuser.

Being a woman means being a mother. A daughter. A sister. A cousin. A wife. Being a woman means being a teacher. A chef. A scientist. A doctor. An inventor. A mathematician. An astronaut. Being a woman means being an athlete. A soccer player. A volleyball player. A golfer. A basketball player. A football player. Being a woman means being a voter. A politician. A supporter. A protester. Being a woman means being strong. Having courage. Having physical strength. Having emotional strength. Having the strength to rise above. Having rights. Having dreams. Having confidence. Courage. Beauty. Grace. Power. Class. Patience. Love. Passion. Desires. Understanding. Strength. 

No matter what we go through we will always have strength. A growing strength inside of us that never ceases to disappear. No matter what we hear or what we feel. No matter if we’re hit with words or with closed fists. We come back as warriors. We haven’t given up yet. We’ve only grown stronger and more united. Your words and your scars and your bruises can’t knock me down. Your harsh words and scars and bruises and efforts to ruin me have not broken me. They have made me feel worthless and stupid and scared. But you don’t deserve to make me feel those things. You don’t deserve my pain or my sadness. You don’t deserve to break me. I am fearless and strong and powerful and you don’t deserve to take that away from me. No one deserves to take that away from any woman. We are warriors and we rise above anything that comes our way. You cannot break us. You only make us stronger.

She’s been through hell and came out an angel. You didn’t break her, darling. You don’t own that kind of power.

Why Being Your Own Valentine is Better Than Any Man 

valentines

Our entire life is dedicated to finding someone else to spend it with. We constantly worry about finding the perfect person and we sometimes forget to worry about ourselves and our own happiness. When we’re younger we don’t realize that we have to learn to love ourselves fully before we truly invest in loving someone else wholeheartedly. The panic of finding a partner for life sets in at such a young age, when really we should be focusing on ourselves. It truly takes hitting rock bottom with someone in order to realize that life is not about finding someone to love but learning to love yourself. If you have no love for yourself, then how can you be expected to fully love another? Our young lives are when we should be going out with your girlfriends, making mistakes, bonding with siblings and family and focusing on yourself. Once we’re older, we have to focus on jobs and making someone else happy. If you don’t take your young life to make yourself happy, then you run out of time once you do find your special someone. Once you find that person, your job is to make them happy. If you don’t take the time in your young life to treat yourself and your soul and your mind, you’re never going to get that time back. So why not perfect yourself as an individual before finding someone? Besides, if you don’t love yourself, then how can you expect someone else to love you full heartedly?

I don’t regret any relationships I had in my life. They have all taught me so many lessons about love, life, and relationships. However, I do regret being so obsessed with those relationships. I was convinced my first boyfriend in high school would be the one. We planned our future and worried about colleges and being close to each other. Little did I know it wouldn’t even last until Junior year. I invested so much time and effort into the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in a committed relationship you should be investing time and energy and love into it. I just wasn’t ready to dedicate that much effort to someone when I was so young. Even my second relationship in high school that lasted until sophomore year of college wasn’t a mature relationship. To this day we still talk, and the level of maturity between us now after taking time away from each other to grow is incredible. We both have taken the time to learn about ourselves individually. We’ve both had different experiences that have changed us as people. Now we have a better relationship than I ever could have imagined. You should never regret your past relationships. They shape you and mold you and teach you. They help you grow and teach you lessons you could never learn on your own. They are part of you, just as much as those previous partners are part of your life forever. Just remember that it doesn’t have to work out. Some relationships are meant to be lessons. Some are meant to teach you what real love is. Some are meant to teach you what real love isn’t. Some are meant to teach you that you still haven’t learned to love yourself enough.

Taking time in your life to grow and focus on yourself is the key to being in a healthy relationship in the future. It is the key to living a healthy life in the future. None of us have found who we truly are by 21. I see myself change from day to day. I see my friends grow and change from week to week. We experience small things that can change our lives in the matter of a quick second. These experiences that we face on our own is what shapes us as individuals. We need to face these experiences on our own to truly figure out who we are on our own. What happens if later on in life you lose your partner? What happens if they’re not the one? You then need to face the world alone once again. If you already know how to face the world as an individual then you’re prepared for anything that comes your way in the future. We all constantly strive to find ourselves, but why not take the time to find ourselves now? We see adults still trying to search for themselves. Why don’t we take matters into our own hands when were young and find ourselves now so that we can experience life to the fullest, forever being content with who we are as a person. That gives us the ability to fully love life and anything that comes towards us. If we embrace who we are now, we never have to wish that we were someone different. Society wastes too much time on our image and trying to perfect yourself. We constantly worry about perfecting ourselves and making the best versions of yourself possible. But imagine how much time you will have to love life if you’ve learned to love yourself already. Love yourself now so that you have time to love everything and anyone that comes at you down the road.

This deep love and respect that you have for yourself will then reflect on anyone you choose to love in the future. If you enter a relationship with confidence in yourself and your ability to love yourself and anyone around you, then the lack of love will not be what holds you back. We’ve all entered relationships that lack so much love. But think back on them now and you may see that the lack of love may not have been with each other but within yourselves. You cannot fully love someone else until you love yourself. So take the time to spoil yourself. Take the time to discover who you are as an individual. Take the time to think about yourself for the last time in your life where you may have the time to only focus on yourself. Dedicate everything to yourself. Take yourself to froyo. Go to yoga. Buy that Kylie LipKit you’ve been eyeing for weeks. Find yourself. Make mistakes. Drink an entire bottle of wine because why the hell not. In the future, you might have to get red wine even though you only like white because your partner despises white. So drink all the white wine now because one day you’re going to have to share that bottle of wine. Take this day to love yourself more than you could ever love anyone in the future. You’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. You’re not forced to stay by anyone else’s side forever. But you do have to put up with yourself forever. So make sure you love yourself. Make sure you love yourself with every inch of your being because one day you will find that special someone when you’re ready. If it’s at 20, 30, or 75. Make sure you’re happy with who you’re spending the rest of your life with. None of us deserve unhappiness. So take the first step to loving yourself today. I promise it will be one of the best decisions of your life. Valentine’s day is a Hallmark holiday anyways. Also, go buy some red velvet swirled dove chocolate that will most likely be on clearance tomorrow because why not. You only live once, so love yourself because no one can love you more than you can love yourself.

Lots of love, XOXO

Sydney

If I Could Talk To You Right Now: A Letter To My Ex Boyfriend 

This was extremely hard for me to write. But one of the biggest things holding me back has been the fact that I have no closure. This letter isn’t meant for anyone else but him. It’s what I wish I could say to his face even though I may never be able to. It isn’t going to be the closure I need to move on, but it’s better than nothing. So here it goes.

Dear Jeff,

If I was writing this a month ago I would tell you that I hate you. I would be telling you that you’ve ruined everything. You ruined my senior year of college. You ruined my grad school applications. You ruined my eye. You ruined my ability to ever trust someone. I’d tell you how much I’ve been in a fog. How many times I wake up from having nightmares about you every morning before I leave the house and think about your crazed face all day. In class my head feels like it’s inside of giant grey cloud. Everyone around me is seperate from my little cloud. They’re all below it, where everything seems so much easier and so much brighter. But I’m constantly in this grey cloud. Some days it’s light grey and sometimes dark. It depends on the day. But I can’t help but feel trapped no matter how light grey the cloud is that day. I want to be down where everything else is but I feel physically trapped where I am. My mind is the center of it all. It’s a whirlwind of sadness and stress and fear. And in the center of it all is you. 

I wonder what jeffs doing right now.”

I step onto the streetcar.

“I wonder if he’s sorry.”

There’s nowhere to grab onto. I wish people would move over.

“I wonder if jeff is thinking about me.”

I get off the streetcar.

“I wonder if jeff is angry.”

I hate walking through crowds.

“What would have happened if I wouldn’t have gotten hit by him that night.”

I walk between student after student trying not to bump into anyone.

“I miss him singing musicals in the car.”

I hate passing by his old dorm. Brings back so many good memories.

” I miss him laughing at my jokes.”

That girls shorts are so short and it’s cold out how is she not freezing.

“I miss him holding me at night.”

I sit down at my desk and try to organize all of my pens.

“What if he never gets charged with anything??”

I need to pay attention today I NEED to do good in school. I can’t get distracted.

“Should I even be mad at him? Yea I should…he’s bad, terrible stop thinking about the good memories. Think about the bad. The bad times.”

For a second I remember that I’m in class and I need to focus. I try really hard to bring my mind back to the present. It’s so  hard to get out of my little cloud filled of you.

You’ve ruined every day of my life since that night. I don’t even feel like a human being anymore. One of the worst parts is that I still don’t know what happened. I don’t know why you hit me and that haunts me everyday. I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember what you said. I don’t remember you hitting me. But I do remember trying to protect you. Begging them not to arrest you. Begging them to not tell anyone. I tried to protect you. And I will never know why I got hit in the first place. My story is a blury, cold night filled with black holes of empty time. I have no last memory of you. I have no closure. I have no idea if you’re sorry or not. I don’t know what you did that night. I don’t know where you went. I don’t know what you were thinking the next morning. I will never know. And I will have to live with that following me for the rest of my life.

I won’t have answers. And that’s your fault. This is all your fault. It’s yours. Not mine. I can finally say that with a hundred percent confidence that it had nothing to do with me. I may have not been the perfect girlfriend all the time, but I was pretty damn special. I bought you food when you couldn’t afford to eat. I cooked you dinner even after I got home from school and work. I did your laundry. I drove you everywhere. I took you on a family trip. I bought you clothes because you told me how sad you were that you didn’t have enough money to buy anything new since high school. I wrote you letters. I did your homework. I read over your essays. I always gave you massages after you had a long week. I went to all of your dance shows, three times a week. I paid for so much of your stuff. I tried to get you help for your emotional problems. I tried so hard. I did so much for you. So so much. And look where I’ve ended up. Look at what you’ve done to me after everything I’ve done for you. How? How could you have done this? I’m still trying to understand but can’t seem to wrap my head around it.

Are you sorry? Are you sorry for telling me how much you loved me. Are you sorry for building up dreams inside my head about are future. Are you sorry for all the money I wasted on you. Are you sorry for how much I spent trying to make you happy. Are you sorry for how much pain you put me through? Do you even know what you’ve put me through? Or do you think you’ll get away with it? Do you think it’s my fault? Do you think you didn’t do anything wrong? Or do you know? I hope you know how much wrong you did. I hope you know just how much you’ve ruined me.

But I didn’t write this letter a month ago. I’m writing it now. And now I’ve worked through this. Now I feel human again.

Now this isn’t your fault. But I haven’t felt human in years. My anxiety has weighed me down for most of my life. The cloud above my head used to not be filled of you. But was filled with irrational worries and fears. I’ve done bad in school and stopped trying to make myself happy. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t felt like my head was inside this cloud. While I was convinced you had ruined my life I was scared to drive in the car because all I could think about was how easy it would be to crash it. How easy it would be to turn the steering wheel a bit too far and drive off the side of the road. I secretly hoped the car that almost hit me had hit me. How easy it would be to finish all of my pills at once. How easy it would be to not wake up in the morning. How nice it would be to get rid of all the thoughts of you that had ever existed. All the bad memories and the good memories would just be gone. But about two months after I was convinced you had sent me into my last downward spiral of my life, I finally got rid of that cloud.

Thanks to you almost ruining me for good, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. I have never felt so alive. I wake up happy in the morning. I go to yoga by myself, for myself. Remember how we wanted to meditate and work on ourselves? Yea well I fucking did it without you. I take a bath every night and go to bed feeling happy and relaxed. I can actually fall asleep before 2am. I don’t stay up late at night worried to see your face in my dreams. I don’t go to bed panicking about school. My planner is organized for once in my life. I’ve been doing all of my homework and go to all of my classes. I actually wake up for class. I know what’s happening in class. I put my phone away and pay attention and enjoy it. I go to work and love it. I love working with my student. I care about those kids and it makes the hours fly by. I enjoy life more than I ever have before. I workout, I eat healthy. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt like I was out of my grey cloud and down on the ground where everyone else is. I feel like everyone else for once in my life. And you cause that.

Instead of thinking you ruined me I can say that you brought me out of my cloud. I’m finally fucking human again thanks to you. I feel normal again. I feel whole again. I feel happy again. I’m close to my friends again. I don’t want to sit in my room alone. I go out and make myself happy. I finally can focus on myself. I don’t focus on anyone else’s happiness as much as I now focus on mine. It’s about me. And I’m so glad I FINALLY realized this. And it’s because of you! So thank you jeff. Thank you for bringing me back down to my lowest point in my life because if I had never gone that low, I would never know how to pull myself out. Way out. Out of the darkest and worst parts of my entire life. Not just the areas you impacted, but my anxiety in general. I can finally say I feel human again and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve never been this happy. And it’s not a lie. It’s not a fake feeling. It’s real. So thank you jeff. Thank you for bringing me down to my lowest point. But thank you for teaching me what real love is and what love isnt. Thank you for teaching me that I need to love myself more than anyone else. Thank you for teaching me not to give too much to someone, because they can turn against you in two seconds. Thanks for always telling me that we’re going to change the world. Because now I know that I can change the world. Not you. Just me. You promised me we were going to change the world together. But now I’m going to do it Jeff. I’m going to impact people in ways you could never imagine. Look how far I’ve already come. Take that.

I forgive you for what you did to me. Because look at what it’s done to me. I’m finally me. So I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Not sure how many future endeavors will be possible for you, but I do wish you luck. I wish for you to find the happiness I’ve found. I wish for you to find help and peace. I hope you find someone in the future to love as much as I loved you. I hope you learn from this what love is, and how to love wholeheartedly. I hope that girl gets treated as a princes. I hope you think back to this point in your life and learn so much from it. You do deserve happiness. I wish that you find it. But you do need help before you find it. And I hope you can realize that you need that help. Please get it. For you too can change the world in your own way. But for now I’m going to focus on my own happiness and be glad that I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me. And thank you for pulling me out of my cloud. I’ll forever be grateful for how much you’ve ruined me because without that, I wouldn’t finally be me again. So as much as you’ve thought you’ve brought me down, you can never bring me down again.

You maybe tried to bring me down. But I’ve never been higher. Sucks to know that, doesn’t it?

“She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.”

The Night My Life Changed 

“I don’t even want to do anything tonight, ” he said. I was annoyed. I had planned so much for him tonight and he didn’t want anything to do with it. No one even wanted to come until I begged them to. I had to message his own friends myself and ask them to come out for his birthday because no one wanted to. I picked him up a bit early, as usual, and he came over to my apartment. He was so whiny. “I’m not in a good mood” he snapped at me more than once. I was doing so much for him and he couldn’t even shut up to appreciate it. At this point, I just wanted the night to be over. I was already exhausted of his nagging and pouting and after all, it was a Wednesday night. I had been excited to do all of this for him, but at this point, I was ready to get in my pj’s and go to bed. He continued his nagging the entire time I was getting ready. One thing after another bothered him. I put down my mascara and went over to my bed where he was sprawled out. I laid down next to him and tried to hold him as close as I could. “I just want you to be happy”. It was true. I just wanted his happiness.

I didn’t care if anyone even ended up coming, I was determined to make it a good night for him. I found it a rather special night since we started being a “thing” per say around his last birthday a year ago. I figured we had made it so far, and it had it’s ups and downs, but I still loved him. Yea he hit me a few times, but he assured me it wasn’t abuse. We sat down together and looked up the definition of domestic violence. Yea, that’s right, I was dumb enough to sit down with the guy who ended up breaking my face, and researching his abuse. Of course, he was going to convince me what he was doing to me wasn’t abuse, that it was normal. So I stuck with it.

I continued to get ready as he laid on my bed. I would continually hear a moan or a groan, but I ignored it, knowing that if I brought it up, he would explode. I felt like I was walking on eggshells. Everyone was coming soon and I had to put on a smile. I had to because I had essentially begged everyone else to come that night. If I looked unhappy, then everyone was sure to leave. I couldn’t let him down like that. I had to make it perfect. I tried to cheer him up once more before the night started. He agreed that he was in a bad mood and that he would try to make an effort. It calmed me down for the time being. Everyone began arriving and he began drinking. And I mean drinking. One after the other faster than I could fathom. In the matter of an hour, he went from making me feel like crap, to treating me like a princess. He started touching me and hugging me and kissing me. He never does this in front of everyone so I’m thrown off, but I let it happen. The night seems to be a blur. I follow him everywhere, continually feeling the eggshells under my feet. I lose him for a second once we get to the bar. I see him walk out from the bathroom with someone and I know exactly what he was doing in there. I brush it off and continue to try to please him. After many drinks out, we go back to his fraternity. I feel a bit tipsy but mostly just delirious from my drowsiness. He’s extremely drunk but I brush that off as well, it is his 21st after all. I pretend not to be bothered by his obnoxious drunkenness that I’m oh so used to.We walk up the stairs and I make a beeline for his room.

I’m so tired. I have school in the morning and I’m ready for bed. I grab my sleep shirt in the corner and take off my shorts. My eyes get heavy as I try to tuck myself into bed. He starts to yell. I am so delirious I am not sure why he’s upset now. I felt it coming all night since he started it in a bad mood. I tried to ignore it and roll over but he threatened me. He begins to raise his voice and yells at me to get the fuck out of his bed. I try to ignore it once again, he’s just drunk. But this time he yells at me again, saying he’s going to call my mother. “I could have any girl in my bed right now” he laughs. “I’m calling your mom to get you the fuck out of here”. He starts laughing to himself. The heat starts rising in my face. How dare he threaten me with another girl?  How can he say he’s going to force me out of his room after all I did for him tonight? I try to get up from his bed but I feel pushed down. Everything goes black. I have a flash of a fist coming towards my face. And black again. Another fist coming towards my face from below. And black again. Panic. He’s panicking. My eye my eye why does my eye hurt? My eye hurts and I don’t know why. He’s standing over me in the bathroom stall. “I’m sorry I’m sorry” he’s begging. I’m leaning over the toilet and letting him pat my face. I don’t know what’s happening. Where am I. Who am I with. Why does my face hurt? Black again. He’s panicking. But I feel okay. A weird sense of calm washes over me. I fade to black once again.

I’m cold. I’m so cold. Water is washing over me and it warms me up but only for a minute until a new wave of warm water hits my skin. I hear a bickering of voices in the background but my mind blocks it out. My mind is focused on the warm water washing over my face. My mouth has a metallic taste but I can’t seem to figure out why. I still haven’t come to the conclusion of why I’m standing in the shower, but I know I don’t want to leave. I feel safe. The voices start to meander over closer to me. I start to feel people’s hands rubbing my back and I flinch. I realize who it is and I let them take me out of the shower. The second the warm water leaves my face a rush of pressure hits my eye. It starts pulsating and beating fast. What happened? What on earth happened to me? I get wrapped in a towel and taken down the stairs. It starts to hit me where I am. I’m only wearing a shirt and underwear. I don’t even realize it at the time. I’m walked down the familiar steps that I’ve walked down way too many times. I start to see the lights outside. It still isn’t hitting me what’s going on. My mind is protecting me from the pain of remembering what I just went through. I’m walked into the kitchen and sat down in a chair. It’s weird being in here without all the flashing lights and the people. It’s so dark. I can barely see a thing. I wonder how everyone else can see without the lights on. A cop approaches me and sits across from me. There’s the weird familiar sound of cops buzzing all around me. Their stern voices can be heard from the doorway. I can’t see anything around me. I have no sense of peripheral vision and it makes me feel uneasy. Someone’s hand rubs my back and I sink into it, feeling a tad bit safer. The cop sits down in front of me. I feel the pressure in my eye build up and feel water dripping down my face. The water reaches my mouth and I realize it’s not water. Its blood. Why is there blood dripping down my face? Instantly I know exactly what happened. He hit me. I don’t know how or why. But I know he’s in trouble. My mind goes instantly to him. Is he okay? Where is he? I want to hold his hand. The cop starts asking me if I want to press charges. “No please no” I beg him. “I don’t want him to get in trouble I love him”. The cop explains to me that he’s going to jail whether I press charges now or not. I can’t make this decision right now. It’s too fresh. I’m still not sure what happened to me. I just know that I love him. “Please don’t” I beg. I notice a girl staring at me from behind the corner. I feel her eyes feeling sorry for me. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m that girl. I’m the girl everyone will feel sorry for. I don’t want to be pitied. I beg the police officer to not press any charges. I beg and beg. I’m not coherent in any way. I don’t know where he is. I panic and panic What’s going to happen? He’s not going to be okay. He’s never going to forgive me for this. The water and blood continue to drip down my face. I start to get cold again and wish that I was standing in the warm shower. I try as hard as I can to remember what happened before the shower for the police. But no memory is coming to me. I try and try to remember but the only memory that seems to reach the forefront is the memory of the warm water. I feel heavy hands on my shoulders and I know it’s my dad. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed to be sitting here in this position. I don’t want my dad to see me like this. “Where is he? Is he ok?” I don’t even know if the words are coming out of my mouth but the thoughts run through my head on a continual loop. I don’t want him in trouble. All I can think about is him. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. I’m still confused as to how everyone else can see with all of the lights off. I think I’m okay. I’m not in pain so I must look okay. Every other time he hit me I was okay so this time must be the same. Everyone is overreacting. I wish everyone had just left us alone to figure it out. I can’t believe they took him away from me. We could have just talked about it. They don’t understand. My dad walks me out, wrapped in his jacket that I’ve now ruined with my wet hair. I quietly and non-discretely look around for him. He has to be somewhere. But I can’t find him anywhere. My dad hurries me to the car so we can drive to the emergency room. I’m not really sure why we’re going but now I start to think that maybe my face is a lot worse than I think. I am so out of it that I don’t second guess that I’m walking into the emergency room in my underwear. My memory cuts off again. Black. I’m cold. I’m staring at the ceiling.

My memory cuts off again. Black. I’m cold. I’m staring at the ceiling. In movies they always make you feel like you’re trapped. Laying down on a hospital bed and staring at bright yellow, blinding lights. That’s how it is right now. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know why. I feel stuck. Trapped. I can’t move or speak. I hear nothing around me but the buzzing of some machines and the soft hum of voices in the distance. A sense of panic sets in before I settle into complete darkness again.

This time when I come too I feel the pressure. My eye feels tied down to the back of my head. I start to feel pain surrounding my mouth where the iron taste of blood lingers. Too much air seems to be hitting my teeth. My lips are holding my mouth open too wide. I wonder how my mouth is even swollen. I feel cold hands on my arm and flinch. I feel like I’m stuck in a paralysis and no one knows that my mind is racing. The world around me is spinning and buzzing but I am still. I am still but my mind is a constant racing thought. Everyone around me seems to be oblivious to the fact that I’m conscious. The nurse yells at me to stay still but I don’t remember telling my body to move. She pins my arm down harder and I internally flinch from the pain. She stabs a needle in my arm and I lose consciousness again.

I come to once again but still feel paralyzed. I try to remember where I am once again. I can only focus on the bright yellow light above me. I fade out of it again.

Pain. It hits me at once. I come to again. I realize I need to pee. It’s been hours since I’ve gotten up. Who knows if the sun is up or not. I try to sit up and the pressure comes rushing like a boulder down a hill to my face. My eye feels as if it’s about to explode out of my own face. I slow myself down and it seems to take years for me to sit up. A nurse walks me to the bathroom. I try as hard as possible to avoid all reflective surfaces. I stare down at the ground as I feel everyone’s harsh stares. All eyes are on me as I walk down the hallway of the emergency room. Once at the bathroom I look straight to the ground. I can’t look at myself. I can feel the pain now and know that it can’t be pretty. I realize the reason I thought the lights have been off had been because my eye is swollen shut. I’ve been walking around in the darkness. It feels as if my eye has been clamped shut. Warm fluid runs from it down my face and I try to hurry to avoid the mirror. I catch a slight glance of myself at the sink and my stomach sinks. I look down as fast as possible. I leave the bathroom to find myself lost. I have no idea how I got there and not a great memory of why I was there. I try to go in a direction that felt familiar. I find myself at the end of a hallway and in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. A crew of nurses are working to resuscitate an older man and I stand in shock. What am I doing here? I’m frozen. The world around me gets darker and darker. I feel like I’m dreaming and I forget how to work my legs. I’m a bloody zombie walking around in a hospital robe. A male nurse rushes over to me. “You’re not from this unit” he snaps at me. “I don’t know where I came from,” I tell him. He tries to convince me that I wasn’t in the emergency room but I am pretty certain that I was. I start to believe him until he grabs my wrist and realizes that I was indeed from the emergency room. I tell him once again that I have no idea where I came from or what I was doing there. I somehow return back to my bed and have no memory of how I got there. I lay back down and again, fade into darkness.

I try continually to reach back into my mind and pull out the memories from that night. I haven’t been able to regain any of the blackouts. I’ve tried over and over again, but have never been successful. I am still not sure what lead to him hitting me. I am not sure how it happened either. I will never know what happened that night to make him react like that. Some parts of me wish I could talk to him just to ask what was going through his head. Another part of me wants to know if he’s sorry. But I know that I need to move on in my life without those answers.

I suffered two orbital fractures. There was a fracture along the bridge of my nose and another on my orbital floor. My eye was swollen shut for more than a week. I avoided all mirrors for that time and didn’t see how bad my eye was until I looked back on the police report pictures. I don’t remember the cat scan from the emergency room. I barely remember the doctors coming to check me out. I don’t remember them taking out all six of my earnings for the cat scan. I found three of them in a hospital bag later covered in blood. I found the other three recently in a bag he had given to my friends to give back to me. All of the earring backs were completely bent at a 90-degree angle. I don’t know how or why he took them out that night. My eye was recessed into my head by 2 millimeters. It was visually smaller than my right eye. I had to wear fake eyelashes for months because my left eye looked so deformed. I had surgery about a month after. The ophthalmologist told me I needed immediate surgery. The tissue in my eye could get sucked into my fracture and result in dropping on the left side of my face. I was at a high risk for double vision. He also wanted to fix the recess of my eye and bring it forward. The surgery was cosmetically successful. However, since then I have had eye pressure and pain. I am due for a cat scan soon with an ENT and hopefully, there is no infection and it is healing well. I have a small scar above my eye that always reminds me of him. I thought it would fade, but it is still there.

We are still dealing with the legal side of it. It seems never ending, but I am strong enough to not give up. I can’t say too much about that besides the fact that it has been following me for months and months. He has been lingering around in my life for months and months. Some days I think I can’t do it anymore, but I also remind myself that he can’t do that to me. The rest of my life will be defined by this night. I think about it every morning and every night. He haunts my dreams at night and my day dreams during the day. This night has changed me and will haunt me for as long as I live. It has changed me physically and emotionally. I cannot remember half of the night. But what I do remember plays back in my head like a broken record. The dark memories creep up on me when I least expect it. I disappear into my memories and completely lose myself from the real world. When I see him in court I freeze. My stomach turns into knots. My palms turn into a sweaty mess as I attempt to calm myself down. He brings back a rush of memories, half of them a black mess. As I sit there in his vicinity I get cold. So cold that I’m brought back to that night. The cold. The water rushing over my skin. The happiness I felt in the warmth of the soothing water before I realized what had happened. When he had hit me so hard that I was completely out of it. When he had hit me so hard that I had no idea where I was for two days. When he hit me so hard that a block of memories left my mind forever, to be forgotten and buried by a black curtain for the rest of my life.

Living a Nightmare: A Very Real Look Into My Nightmares About My Abusive Ex-boyfriend

dvnightmare1

“Sometimes in the middle of the night I can feel you again. But I just miss you and I just wish you were a better man” Little Big Town

I’m waiting outside to be picked up. I’m nervous but excited. A car pulls up. It’s red. I get in and it’s him. I’ve missed him so much. I get in and buckle up. He puts his hand on my leg and smiles at me. I’ve missed him so so much. We laugh and joke like we used to. We go to pick up lunch. We hold hands everywhere we go like we used to. I miss his presence so much but can’t remember why I haven’t seen him in so long. I can’t figure out why we’ve been apart. Our day continues and I feel so happy. I forgot what it felt like to feel like that.  I forgot what love felt like. But then I start to feel uneasy. I feel uncomfortable and nervous. All the sudden it hits me. I remember that he hit me. I remember that he had me bloody and bruised in the bathroom stall. I remember the emergency room. I remember my surgery. I remember the restraining order. I finally turn to him and say “don’t you remember? Don’t you remember what you did to me”? He smirks. He always smirked the exact same way in real life. He smirks and he whispers “Yea I remember”. “I can’t be with you again you hurt me” I scream. He keeps driving. He doesn’t let me out. I can’t get out and he’s laughing. I keep yelling that he hurt me but he doesn’t care. “Why don’t you care”?! I shout at him. “Because I’m a psychopath”. I wake up drenched in sweat. Panicking. I search around me frantically because it feels like he was right there. I feel him all around me. I can’t shake the feeling of him being near me. That feeling follows me all day long. It feels all too real. Every. Single. Time.

“I was trapped in that nightmare

shaking

trembling

terrified

afraid

scared.

my nightmare didn’t happen just once.”

As hard as I try to forget what happened to me and who did it to me, the one place I can never seem to forget it all is in my dreams. He’s in them every night. The dream is always different, but they are always way too real. It takes me a whole day to recover from one. It follows me all day like a dark cloud hanging over my head. It’s like a dream that feels real, but 900 times worse. Every dream starts the same. We get back together and we’re so happy. I miss being around him so much. We could spend days or hours together, it always changes. After being back together and being so happy again, I start to feel weird. I start to remember what he did to me. But once I remember it’s too late. He knows I remember and he thinks it’s funny. He thinks he’s tricked me and starts laughing. Once i remember everything he did to me, it’s too late. I’m trapped and I can’t get away from him.

“The most frightening nightmare of all is neither of monsters, ghosts, lost teeth or great falls but the simple lovely awful dream of a lover who loves you no more.” Beau Taplin: My Lovely Nightmare 

I’m walking to class. I can’t seem to find the entrance to my classroom, but I’ve had the class all semester. I keep walking to the wrong building. I can’t find the right door. I keep circling the building but I can’t find the door anymore. I finally go in through the back of the building even though I know it’s the wrong door. I push my way through filing cabinets. I walk into what seems to be an office. For some reason it seems like a legal office but also a help center office. I’m not quite sure but the people know me there. They greet me. They hand me some papers at the front desk. It’s a police report. I feel like I’ve been out of it, or away for a few days. I read about what happened to me. He hit me, I went to the hospital, I was covered in blood. I keep reading. Page after page it’s mostly stuff I know in real life. But then I get to a picture. This picture then transports me inside it. I’m standing next to him. He’s laying in a hospital bed. He’s hooked up to so many wires. His mom is standing over him crying. They can’t see me but I’m standing right next to them. I put my hand on his but he can’t feel me there. I’m standing in the past. I can’t do anything to save him. His mom starts getting more and more upset. He’s gone. He’s dead. His mom is crying and yelling. I snap back to the office. I am staring at the picture of him in the bed. I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the heart. I have never felt such immense sadness. I can’t breathe, I’m sobbing. I throw the papers down on the floor and run out. I try to go see him but it’s too late. It happened two days ago. He’s already gone. I check his mom’s Facebook to see if he really passed away. He had. I was crushed. I couldn’t stop crying. I had lost him. I never felt a sadness like that before. I couldn’t believe that i had lost him. I tried to do something for his family. I found them and they started yelling at me. I couldn’t understand why. I loved him. I was just trying to help. His mom began yelling at me. I killed him. I was the one that killed him and it was all my fault. I ruined her son. Her Facebook feed was covered with my face. She was sharing my blog saying that I wrote it for attention. She ended up writing a book about how I killed her son and ruined his life all for attention on my blog. But then I woke up from that dream. But I was still dreaming. Like inception. He was actually alive. I was so torn apart about thinking that I had lost him. I was so sad that I could have lost him that I made my way down to the office again. I talked to my prosecutor about dropping all the charges because I was so upset about not being with him. I tried to convince them that I loved him and wanted to be with him again and they had to drop all of the charges. When I woke up I was drenched in sweat again. Pretty bad this time since the dream seemed so incredibly real. I was somber all day because I felt like I had lost him all over again. The whole day was like having my head in a cloud.

It’s like he still has some hold on me even though we have no communication anymore. He still has the power to ruin my day. He still has the power to make me miss him all day long. I hate that he has this power and he doesn’t even know it. He ruins my days without even trying. Just the mere memory of him can drag me down for an entire day. He distracts me from work, school, driving, eating. Sometimes I drive from point A to point B and have no idea how I got there. The entire time I just replay the dream over and over again. It’s like I live in the dream throughout the entire day. The only way to get out of the dream is to go back to sleep and hope that I don’t have one about him that night.

I’m driving. I know exactly where I’m going. I don’t know how I know, I think someone told me. But I can picture exactly where he is. I know which apartment is his. It’s across from Taco Bell on Speedway. I pull into the parking lot. I can see him in the window from outside. I’m not supposed to talk to him. I have a restraining order against him and if I talk to him I could ruin anything in evidence. I know that but I can’t help it. I sneak inside and count the number of windows all the way down to his door. He opens the door and sneaks me in. He hugs me once I’m inside. It feels so good to be in his arms again. He hurries me in the corner and says I have to hide. His family is visiting and staying in his apartment. When his mom comes in she starts to yell about me. She says that I ruined his life. I exaggerated about everything for attention. He tries to argue that I didn’t that he’s the one that hurt me. He tries to tell her how stupid he was. She doesn’t listen. Finally  they turn the lights out to go to sleep. He comes by the bed that I’m hiding next to and gets under the covers with me. He holds me and it feels so safe. I’m about to fall asleep when the lights switch on. She knows I’m there. He tries to run me out of the apartment and into my car. He tries to hurry me into my car but I don’t want to leave him. He urges me to go. I beg him to come with me. I need him I can’t go without him. He promises that I can come back for him once his mom leaves. But he forces me in the car alone and I have to drive away watching him stand in the parking lot alone. I can’t stop crying and I feel so alone. I’m so mad that I had to leave him.  The whole next morning I’m just as sad.

I know my subconscious is telling me that as much as I miss him and want him back in my life, he’s not meant to be in it. I always try to get back with him because naturally, I still miss him. Your mind only thinks about the good memories. It conveniently always seems to ignore the bad ones. So every night I go to bed and my mind replays all those tiny good moments. And when I’m asleep those good moments are just enough. They’re just enough to make me incredibly happy in that moment. Because in reality I’d give anything to just have those good moments back. But then my subconscious remembers how much he hurt me. Not just the last time, but every emotional and physical scar he left on me in the course of our relationship. Once I remember what he did to me, I snap out of it and try and get away. But I can never escape in the end. To me that’s my mind telling me if I ever tried to go back to him, I would never be able to escape. Something way worse would happen to me before I could. I’m lucky something way worse didn’t happen to me in real life. But I’m glad my subconscious knows to shake me out of it.

We’re standing in my kitchen. We’re dancing around cooking dinner like we used to do. He’s twirling me around when I stumble and fall into his arms. I look up and him and smile. Everything seems so right in this moment. It all seems to go back to normal. But then I remember. I remember what he did to me. It hits me so fast. When I realize what he did to me, I try to tell him. “You hit me Jeff”. But he just laughs. “I know” he says. I try to get away but I can’t. I try to ask him why he did it. “Why did you do it? Why?” But he just smiles and says ” Because I’m a psychopath and that’s what I do Sydney”. 

We’re driving again. This time tensions are high. I’m trying to talk to him but he won’t listen he keeps turning up the radio. His hand is on my thigh and he’s caressing me in a loving way. He turns over and smiles and I try to smile back. We’re driving for a while and everything seems normal. I seem happy for a bit. It seems like real life before everything happened. I keep trying to ask him what happened but I get scared. I don’t remember the night everything happened. I don’t remember why he did it. I try to ask him. He tells me it doesn’t matter. But WHY did you hit me? He assures me it doesn’t matter. I can’t figure out why it happened. He says don’t worry. He loves me. And we keep driving and listening to music as he rubs my hand. 

I’m not sure if I will ever remember what happened that night. Looking back at pictures has brought up a few new memories but I still can’t remember why he hit me. Other times he had hit me I was fully conscious. The last time it happened seemed like a huge dark blur. When I look back at pictures, all the lights were on behind me. But in my memory, all the lights were off. In my memory it was so dark I couldn’t even see anyone in front of me. So it’s natural that not knowing why he hit me is going to haunt me in my dreams. It’s like he knows the answer and I always try to ask him in my dreams but he just laughs. I still may never know why. These dreams are like a huge tease. I feel like I’m back with him, but I’m not. I’m about to get answers, but I don’t.

They say that nightmares or dreams that repeat themselves, or have repeating themes, are extremely important. They are trying to tell you something. I hate to say it out loud or even write it down in words, but I still love my ex. I still love him so much more than I ever wish I had the ability to. But that’s normal. Of course, when you tell someone that, their reaction is always the same. “You’re insane, how the heck can you love someone like that after what they did to you”?? But I can’t help it. So listening to friends and family give me the same answer over and over again isn’t helping. I have to figure it out on my own. I have slowly begun to realize that these nightmares are my way of figuring it out for myself. Every time in the dream I realize, he’s no good, get out. But I can never escape. That’s my answer right there. I can’t love him like that ever again. If in some parallel universe that final night never happened, somewhere down the line he would still find a way to hurt me just as bad. I tell myself, well what if he didn’t hit me that bad that final night and we worked our relationship out after that? UM FUCK NO! That’s crazy talk. He would still find a way to hurt me. But I have to figure that answer out for myself. And slowly along the way I hope that these nightmares continue to help me realize that. Because nothing feels as real as waking up and feeling like I can’t run away from him. Eventually I think the nightmares will subside, but for now I will let them run their course. It is just a way for me to heal my own wounds. I will let the happy memories continue to exist only in my subconscious and try to bring the rational thoughts about our relationship into my reality the next day. He will always know what he did to me and he can never change that. Not in my dreams or real life.

“I drag myself out of nightmares each morning and find there’s no relief in waking.”