Author Stories, Domestic Violence

The goodbye letter to my ex I will never send

Hey all,

I have no idea how long I have been putting this off. It’s been 2 therapists, 1 rape counselor and a domestic violence advocate ago. But they encouraged me to write a closure letter to my ex. I am to tell him everything I would have loved to say to his face but was too scared to do so.

My abuser actually left me without warning and took everything with him while I was out. No goodbye, no break up note nothing. Just gone. At the time I was still feeling like I was nothing and I was terrified how to survive and what my next steps were. He actually did me a HUGE favor. It was hard and I still struggle picking up the pieces but I am out of the toxic relationship and I’m not quite sure I was ready to do it myself.

So I’m going to just publicly write this letter since it gives me a small peaceful feeling that it’s out in the universe and I can close this part of the healing process.

You

I am writing you to have you see and read my words. It’s the closet thing to having a voice with you that I’ve had in the 6 years we were together. With you I was scared to speak. With every word I would brace for impact. If I got through a conversation without an “issue” I would walk away with a huge exhale of a breath. I used to section off the days like most people. Morning, afternoon, night is normal, but for me I would just try and make it though to the next section. Breaking out little pieces without anything made me feel I was in control of even the littlest thing.

Each and everyday you made me feel worthless. The verbal assaults on my weight, personality, how I said this or that, how I cleaned wrong and sometimes you just flat out called me names. These names and thoughts still stay with me to this day. Every outfit I put on and when I look in the mirror I hear your voice telling me that I look fat and should be ashamed of myself. My self esteem is completely depleted because of you. I cannot even take the simplest of compliments these days without downplaying it. Telling them they are mistaken instead of just saying thank you.

You have made me completely shutdown when it comes to romance. It took me a long time to even have a man come near me let alone hold my hand. I was scared that if I let any man in they would eventually want to have sex and because of you and your repeated sexual assaults on my body I hated the thought of being so exposed and vulnerable.

You have made me trust no-one. My first instinct is they are nice but they will probably turn into an asshole. I’ve misjudged little comments as full blown jabs. I take EVERYTHING the wrong way and most of the time I am at fault for starting something when nothing is even there.

You have made me second guess everything. I sometimes get overwhelmed picking out big decisions but even the small ones like picking out a damn shampoo. I am not strong in myself to choose. You made me depend on you. I had to ask you for everything. When I had to do it alone it was overwhelming.

You have made super simple things full blown triggers. Still to this day when I hear a garage door open I am overcome with panic and fear. The garage door meant you were home and things were about to get really hard.

You made me have to have hard conversations with my friends and family. For the whole time we were together I lied to them. I covered up my injury’s and used a lot of concealer. I learned how to divert conversations away from myself. My friends had to try help me after you left but also hearing for the first time all the things that happened. I hurt them as well by not asking for help.

The day you left we were going to move for the 12th time. Everything was packed and you made me run a last minute errand. Little did I know you would take the truck full of all our belongings and leave without me. No trace of our life except just me sitting in an empty room.

I wanted to let you know that you actually made me stronger that day. I didn’t even know it until 3 years later but you did. You helped me get out. You did something to me that I would dream about each night but didn’t have the means or the strength to do it.

I want you to know the fear of you is still there. Your small attempts to still reach out makes me fall to my knees in tears. I need you to leave me alone. Move on like you did 3 years ago and disappear from my life for good.

I am in a healthy relationship. I have a great job, people in my life that love me and am surrounded by others who have been there and understand. I am thriving each and every day. I do have setbacks and not so great days but they are slowly fading away but the scars remain.

Do I forgive you? I can’t say just yet. I cannot say a definite yes. I’m working on trying to do it. I know in my heart it will be easier if I do but I’m just not there. You cut deep but they are healing nicely.

Me

Author Stories, Therapy

Do you lie to your therapist?

My guess is if you you have ever been in the chair staring across the room at them with the notepad and pen in hand you have TOTALLY lied to them. Right? RIGHT? Or is it just me?

I’ll be the first to admit it that it usually takes me like 6 sessions before I go all in. The very first appointment it’s usually like a get to know you on the surface level. Hi My name is Amy and I’m having a few issues and thought it’s best to maybe come and talk to someone. I have dogs, I work here and I like doing this stuff. Totally like a dating app bio. Putting your best out there first so your not coming off too crazy right?

The next few sessions I ease into what is going on with me but not the ugly crying on the bathroom floor type stuff. It’s weird how I don’t go all in when it’s clear I’m there for help. They ask how I’m doing. I dance around and say I’m fine just sad or “off”. They dig deeper. I give a little but then it’s time to go:) Success in not having to get to the ugly stuff.

By the time the 6th session is happening I’m a freaking mess and then spill it and it’s not pretty. I’m crying, UGLY crying and they are totally going to have to restock the tissues because I’m USING THEM ALL!!

For me when I was in my abusive relationship we moved every 6 months or so. I would have to sneak around to get to my therapy sessions. During that time I would always have to start over with someone new and the cat and mouse game would start all over. My issue was I was still in protective mode and I wanted to feel better but I was scared to give up too much info for fear I would get him in trouble. Like the secret would get out. I would talk about me being depressed. How I lost interest in things I once loved. Moving all the time was hard. All the things but being abused. I would talk about it without talking about it. I always wondered if they knew or if they were going to let me bring it out on my own in my own time. Did they notice my bruises that I was trying to hide?

When I was finally out of my relationship it still took me that long to finally get comfortable with opening up about the abuse. There were some very ugly things that I knew I had to talk about but even the thought of retelling it made me want to throw up. I think I actually had to get up in the middle of a session once to do just that. YUCK!

So why do we feel we have to lie or sugarcoat to our therapists? Are we scared? Too much pain? Embarrassed? I’m sure it could be all three or at least one of them…so how do we get more comfortable with it all? We are paying big bucks for it after all.

After doing a little research I found Time magazine did a little study and found a whopping 93% of us have lied in our therapy sessions. Most of the reasons why is what I listed above.

Regardless of what your in therapy for most of us may find it weird to have someone attentive to your thoughts and feelings. They listen and don’t interrupt and when they start asking questions our defenses go up and lying seems like a way to protect ourselves.

Here are a few things to remember and help you feel comfortable while talking about uncomfortable things.

1. Remember they are there to help you feel better. You took the first step to call to make the appointment. Ease into it like I have done but you and the therapist will become partners in your recovery so you do your part so they can do theirs.

2. I usually wear comfy clothes to my appointments. I tend to bring my legs under my body and if I’m going to be sitting that way I sure as hell better not be in skinny jeans. The more comfortable you are personally, the more you will be in a comfy headspace to open up.

3. Bring a water bottle. If your a cryer like me you need to stay hydrated. I tend to get wicked headaches when I cry so stay hydrated and maybe have some Advil handy too!

4. Just always remember these guys have heard way more crazy stories that you could ever tell. As sad as that sounds you are doing a hell of a good job just for walking in the door. They are there for you. They know the best ways to maneuver around your issues. It took me a bit to understand I could not fix it on my own. Had to bring in the pinch hitter.

5. Just breathe. Keep an open mind. Speak your truth at the pace your comfortable with and know you are strong and going to come out a bit better than the day before. You got this!!

What’s the biggest lie you told your therapist?

I swear she HAD to know I was full of it but I told mine once that the reason why my eyes are puffy is because I have extreme allergies and it kept me up all night. Ugh so lame. Meanwhile I was on my bathroom floor crying all night but of course the allergy lie felt easier to say.

Any tips you have that makes therapy a bit easier I’d love yo hear them.

Til next time

XOXO,

Amy

cars ahead on road
Author Stories, Mental Health

Why I love being in the car alone..

For me and maybe many of you there is just something so damn freeing about being in the car and driving. I feel safe and protected. Just me and the open road. No fighting, no yelling, just some quality me time and it’s fabulous.

Most of you here know my past story about abuse. I was rarely allowed to do things on my own but when I got to get in the car and actually drive to do an errand or go somewhere he didn’t feel like going it was pure bliss. It was just me and my thoughts. I was in control and most of all I was free.

Most trips were small. To and from the grocery store, running to get dog food or going to the doctor. I always wish it was longer trips or I would daydream that I would miss my exit and just keep going. Nowhere to be, but wanted to be far away from where I was.

On the really cold days I would let my car warm up a bit longer just so I could stay in the car longer. On the hotter days I would jump in and let the heat wash over me like a hug and pretend I was on a tropical vacation.

I tried to run errands every chance I could just so I could get that quick little vacation. I craved it somedays. As excited as I was to get into the car the disappointment was just as great when he said he was coming with. I wanted to scream..”GET OUT, THIS IS MY TIME”

I’ve had some of my best thoughts in the car. Mapping out my life goals and how to get to them. Wild and outlandish business ideas were made and then I would laugh and think could I really get away with that?

But I will tell you my most memorable and life changing drive was when I drove from Illinois to Florida in February 2019. That was the day my life changed. I was driving away from the last 6 years of abuse. My freedom ride. I was scared but I could not stop smiling. Comparing myself to what a shelter dog must feel like breaking free from the kennel. Each state line I was giddy because it was one more state in between him and I. As the distance kept getting wider so did my smile.

It took me 3 days to drive. I started scared and alone, not knowing how I was going to make it with just what I had in my car. By the time I hit the half way point I had a plan on next steps once I arrived in Florida. By the 3rd and final day once I saw that Welcome to Florida sign I knew I was going to be ok. That cross country drive was just what I needed. No distractions, just me and my thoughts and nothing but time to get my life back.

That drive will always mean so much to me. Seeing the change in myself mile after mile is something that helps me remember how strong I can be. It shows me on my down times that I CAN do it and I WILL BE OK.

As I write this I am planning a road trip through Utah, Nevada and California. I work in a ski resort town do I am needing some warmer less wet weather:)

Have you all taken any life changing road trips? How has it changed you? I’d love to hear about it.

XOXO,

Amy

Author Stories, Mental Health

My in real time mental breakdown starting in 3..2..1

Hey all,

So what you are about to read is extremely hard for me to post. I’ve been gone for a few weeks due to me relapsing into a deep state of depression and panic attacks triggered from my abusive past.

During my worst meltdown, I decided to write out all that was going through my head. My worst thoughts, the panic rambling, the trying to understand and getting more and more frustrated.

I promised myself that I would not edit or alter my words. What you read below was me in real time writing my exact thoughts. No filter. No spellcheck. Just raw painful emotions. I’m fully exposed here and this is just as terrifying as the episode itself.

Why would I share this? Because it’s real life. I’m just one of many who battle mental health issues each day and below was my day to battle.

Here we go.

Feb 20th 2022 at 2:35am

What the fuck am I doing up again? I’m so tired but I’m wide awake and I can’t sleep. My head feels so heavy. It’s like my body and brain are so disconnected. My body is barely moving. Exhausted. My damn brain is telling me all the things I hate about myself. Right now I believe every word. I want the words to stop. Each word is flashing like a neon light.

Worthless, stupid, idiot,fat,ugly,broke,selfish

It feels like one of those scrolling news feeds on CNN or ESPN. Constant and never ending and I can’t shut it off.

I’m on the bathroom floor. It’s cool on my skin. I want to cover up. I’m embarrassed being exposed even though I’m the only one here. I want to wear so many layers to hide but I’m too fucking lazy to get up off the floor.

I hate that I’m like this. I’m so embarrassed. Everything is falling apart. My body, mind, relationship, money. I feel like a piece of shit not worth being here. I’m more of a burden than a asset to anyone. C has not spoken to me for a week. He left for Florida and has not called since he left. My heart is beating out of my chest and it’s hard to breathe. He can’t handle my past very well and doesn’t understand my future is still traumatized. I need to stop letting it interfere. It’s ruining everything. My ex 3 years later is still in my head hurting me. I’m not allowed to be happy. Please god make the pain go away. I can’t take much more.

My heart hurts like it’s going to explode. I can’t calm down. Writing this down is keeping me alive I think. It’s making me look at the words. I hate words.

My eyes are burning from my tears. I have a huge rash on my neck and chest that is starting to itch. Last time I scratched until I bled. I’m going to not do that this time. I did hit my head when I was falling to the floor. I’m sure my head will continue to pound until tomorrow. I hate that I am so pathetic. Why cant I be strong like I used to be. Or was I ever? Was I always this shitty? I’m spiraling out of control and nobody is here to catch me. I don’t blame them.

I feel like screaming “please help me”. I want someone here to hold my hand. To speak softly to tell me everything is going to be ok. But I’m so alone. Sometimes I think I’ll die alone.

I think that is scarier than anything.. dying alone. I’m an only child. I don’t have kids and my relationships are spotty at best. Who will be there for me? Am I worth taking care of?

I want to go to bed so bad but I know if I get up off the floor I will start spinning. My vertigo is in full force once I hit this manic state. If I move to quick I throw up and fall over. So here I sit.

It’s been over an hour now since I’ve been in here. My heart rate is slowing down and I feel I can breathe better. The feeling is coming back to my hands and feet. They always tingle when I’m hyperventilating. Popping the Xanax once I got to the floor was a good call. I hate taking it but it’s works so well for me. I wonder if this will always be my life. Crying on the bathroom floor ashamed and popping pills to calm down.

I’m finally getting sleepy and I’m both mentally and physically exhausted. I’m wondering if I should write these attacks down more often. I helps me focus on this I guess even though I’m rambling. I’m going to try and get some sleep until my alarm goes off at 7. It’s going to be a long day.

So there you have it guys.. Whew! I hate reading that to be honest but it’s my truth sometimes and that is ok. I do want everyone to know that I am ok and no need to worry. I am on the right meds. A support team that just needed a breather and I’m doing much better.

I will always be a work in progress and some days are WAY better than others. I am pretty proud of myself for the courage to post this. I know everyone says you are not alone but you really do have allies out there, I am here fighting right along side with you. We can have better days and as long as we have others to rely on on the not so great days we will be ok. All you need to do is reach out and ask.

Love to all,

XOXO

Amy

Author Stories, Mental Health

The dreaded silent treatment and what to do when they will not speak to you.

I have been through this so many times that I can’t even tell you a number. And each and every time it hurts like hell. When I was going through it I always felt like I was invisible, insignificant and not worth much. Why wasn’t he speaking to me and trying to work this out? Why does he shut down and ignore? Doesn’t he see how much this hurts and it’s making me go to places in my brain I do not want to go.

Well…

They do know. They are trying to hurt you and yes, they are trying to make you slowly go crazy. The silent treatment is a form of abuse and it’s a way for the abuser to control you.

How many times have you felt the need to apologize just to keep the peace? They flew off the handle, but you’re the one being punished. You feel like you have to apologize to make them feel better knowing damn well you did nothing wrong. I am realistic here and let’s just say you did make a little mistake you should be able to talk about it in that moment and it should be ok. Sincerely apologize and keep it moving. That’s how it should work.

When you are in a toxic relationship this could be a daily or weekly occurrence. You start to question if you really ARE the problem. What is so wrong with you that you make him so mad all the time. The answer is nothing. Every couple will fight…it’s going to happen but how you treat each other in that moment is what will make or break a relationship. Being heated and maybe saying something you shouldn’t happens. We are human, that’s normal, but saying something hurtful to your partner then shutting down and ghosting you is not.

So what is the Silent Treatment and what can you do to help your mental health while going through it.

The silent treatment is when your partner, parent, friend is hearing what you say, write, text and they purposely ignore. It’s a control tactic they put in place to make you the one that is struggling with the silence. I will talk about Gaslighting in a future post but this is a form. You are the one that is the problem and they want you to know that they are not happy. They want you to be the one groveling back and saying sorry first. To admit you messed up. To beg them for forgiveness. It’s all about having the upper hand and making your point of view and feelings pushed back and non existent.

Some woman I talk to will not think of the silent treat as abuse. They say they are not getting hit or they are not being yelled at and called names..it’s just silence. I completely understand there are levels to things. Each of us has a story for sure we could tell. But what the silent treatment actually does to your mind and body is 100% real. You may not have a bruise or a screaming partner in your face but you do actually have long term effects from it.

So what does it actually do to you while you are going through it. Well some studies have actually shown that the silent treatment triggers the brain as it would if you are being physically hurt.

A recent study at Perdue University shows that the silent treatment triggers the anterior cingulate cortex which is the same area in the brain that triggers physical pain. 1400 participants in the study also showed extreme bouts of panic/anxiety attacks, depression, erectile disfunction and unitary and bowl issues. Different levels of emotional stress could lead to more serious health risks, such as eating disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, blood clots and cancer. Just because they are not laying hands on you this is STILL a form of abuse and should be taken vary seriously.

I have totally been there. When it first started happening it would consume every inch of me. If they were in the house I would talk, cry, have panic attacks and feeling so low about myself that going to a dark place was easy. I just wanted the pain to stop. I would always say I would rather have them yell and me because at least I was being seen. Sometimes I even thought that I’d rather get punched because the physical pain subsided easier than the emotional.

If they left the house or not around me I would rapid fire texts off telling them how I feel, how bad it hurts and I’m so sorry I hurt you and please forgive me and blah, blah, blah. Why the Fuck am I apologizing when they were the ones inflicting pain. I always did it though. I was desperate to be seen. To be heard. To be acknowledged, and understood.

The more he did it to me the crazier I would become. I was playing right in to what he was telling me. Your too emotional, Why are you so crazy, You are the reason why I need to leave he would say. Was I? I was crying a lot, having panic attacks, am I the cause of all this? I would tell myself awful things and start to believe I really was the problem.

So what are things you can do to power though the silent treatment and remain calm as to not damage your body and self worth.

Make sure you know for sure if it truly is the silent treatment. Some people really do need a cooling off period.Most rational and an effective form of communication would be to say ” I need a break from this but we can talk about it later” This shows that they really do care about the topic..but maybe they just need time to collect their thoughts, calm down and come back to resolve the issue TOGETHER.

Calmly state your feelings verbally or in writing. Let them know that the silent treatment is hurtful and draining. Let them know exactly how your feeling and don’t leave anything out. Make sure he knows what his silence is doing to you and how it’s effecting you mentally and physically. If you feel strong enough you can stand up and let him know you will not tolerate this behavior. Please only do this if you feel safe.

Step back and control the urge to keep talking. As much as you want to keep talking it’s best to fall back a bit. If you calmly expressed how you feel and they still did not respond then you need to let them be. Even though they are not responding they ARE seeing your messages and with every crazy text it just makes them feel more in control. They know you are hurting and that’s exactly what they wanted. If you say your peace and then stop you are not giving them the satisfaction of watching or hearing you break down.

Put your mental state first. You need to take care of you during this time. You may be crying or going crazy on the inside but please try and remember your self worth. You do not deserve this and the only person that will take care of you is you. Take a shower or bath, go for a walk, work on something you can’t do much of because of your partner. What brings you joy and a distraction? I personally take a hot shower. I allow myself to cry a little bit alone and then I try and tell myself all the things I do well. Give yourself a pep talk. You ARE worth it.

I know not everyone has the same situations. I’m fully aware the consiqences that some of these can bring. First and foremost I want you to be safe. If you really can’t express the hurt and pain it causes you then it’s best not to say anything. Meanwhile use that time to work out a plan in your head on how to get out. When I was at the worst point with my ex I would use the shower as an escape to be alone with my thoughts. I could never tell him how I felt because it would end badly but he could never take my internal thoughts away from me.

Bottom line is that the silent treatment is NEVER ok. If you have a mutual respect for each other it should be ok to talk things out opening. You should never feel like your being punished. That your words do not matter. Cooling off is fine as long as there is a time you can talk later. I know it’s so hard to process when you are left with nothing and no idea when it will end..just know you deserve better and deserve a partner that will always listen to you if it’s good or bad.

Author Edit:

Wow! After reading this again I can feel the anger and hurt I still have when I think about it, I’m 3 years removed and sometimes a trigger can set me back a little bit but it’s all about a process and everyone is different. It’s good to be open and honest with yourself about how your feeling about certain things. My truth is that this set me off a little bit. I can sense it in my writing and how I said things. I can feel the panic and pain I had during those times. Time to take a shower and have a little me time with my thoughts.

That’s all for now.

XOXO

Amy