Wow, you guise. I’ve been receiving some awesome feedback about the guest post I did ( “One Day” ) for Carla Louise’s blog – both there, on my reblog, and in my private messages.
It’s an amazing feeling to have others connect with your writing; and from what one blogger commented today – to receive some credit for helping them feel stronger. Ladies that have considered sharing their own stories, or more in depth portions of their stories and have not yet built the courage it seems.
At the beginning, I felt much the same. I’ve become used to sharing and being much more candid about my story over the past couple of years… But two years ago, the wounds still felt fresh as I ventured to let it out.
So I thought I’d write a post about the process I went through… Maybe that will also reach others that feel they need a little more courage. Maybe this will make those people realize that it’s normal to feel the way they do, and it is something that can be worked through if they want to (no shame if they don’t though 🙂 )
First, I wrote it just for me.
I decided to write my life story for my kids. I got to the time frame that I dated Wyatt, and I hesitated – though the first several chapters had been written in just a few slow night shifts. I got to Wyatt and I stopped and stared at my laptop for a time.
I decided it needed to be recorded regardless, so I let the tip spill out. I wrote about the first time he hit me, I wrote about a few particulars about the relationship; without going into much detail. I wrote about the break up that turned verbally nasty.
Just writing it down in the first instance gave me a feeling of release.
At this point I had no intention of publishing this story anyway. I figured by the time my kids would actually read it, I’d have plenty of time to gain more confidence in talking to them about it first.
Eventually, I sent the finished manuscript via email to my best friends, proud of my accomplishment. Unaware that they were unaware of the previous relationship. I figured I must have told them at some point in the sixteen years we knew each other – but I hadn’t. They had enough perception to think I must have gone through something of that nature, but I didn’t bring it up, and they didn’t ask.
This made me realize I had, in fact, never told anyone.
Secondly, I decided I needed to let it out in the open – to an extent.
I told my husband via a letter, because of the chicken shit that I am. I decided to tell my cadets, the very age group that I was in when the relationship happened, though I still didn’t go into much detail. I wanted them to know my story so they could know I would understand if – God Forbid – they’d need someone who would understand. Then I told some church friends – slowly broadening the circle that knew. Slowly working through the process, as I cried frequently for a few weeks. Feeling the pain over and over again, while simultaneously slowly starting to feel a more full release.
Thirdly, I admitted to myself how bad it had actually been.
After the majority of my tears dried I sat back down to write. This time to write out the full story, no holds barred. Again, I did this for myself, no intention in ever sharing the gritty, most painful details.
I had had a hard time referring to myself as a victim of abuse because I rationalized that it wasn’t that bad. It could have been worse. Never mind I was sexually abused and emotionally abused… I had rationalized to myself that he didn’t physically abuse me THAT often. I was never seriously injured; though bruises remained.
So I had made myself write it all out. Ten pages typed in black and white stared back at me from my computer screen. I filed it away electronically not intending to make it all known, not at that point in time at least. But I knew at least that I had finally been fully honest with myself.
Fourthly, I widened the circle. I made it public.
Eventually, at the encouragement of friends, I published that first manuscript. At first I was nervous, given some of the content, putting it out in the world… But I received good, personal feedback, from other ladies that could understand. I started to realize I might be able to help a wider audience by relating my experiences.
I started this blog partially for that purpose and partially to have a platform for my writing/my book.
It took several months of consideration and trying to work up my own courage to let out the more full version. I decided to put it on the blog. I split it into sections, 5 or so posts… and then I let them sit in drafts for awhile. Still too chicken shit to publish them…
Then I started reading other people’s stories. I thought it was so brave of them. I wanted to be brave too. I wanted to help others the way these posts helped me. One such post made me realize I did, in fact, have the right to call Wyatt an abuser. I started to realize that I shouldn’t be self conscious or feel ashamed… The shame shouldn’t be on the abused, it should lay with the abuser.
I pushed the nausea down from my throat and ignored the stone in the pit of my stomach and started to publish these drafts – each day hitting the publish button with some trepidation… and working my way up in order of intensity.
I felt an ounce of pride and that I might actually be brave after all.
(These posts have since been made private – though the content has been put in the second book, so it is all still available to the public.)
Lastly, I work through it almost daily.
I started to understand myself more, realize why I am the way I am in certain situations and become more conscious of behaviours that have their start with Wyatt. Things I can work through to change in myself.
I no longer feel fear in letting my past be known. In fact, by this point I come to expect that people know so there is no shame in the discussion of it.
I started with my martial arts – Kickboxing, BJJ – which on another level make me feel braver and stronger.
This journey has taken me two years by this point – this is after approximately sixteen years of denial, shame, and hiding the past from others. The journey isn’t always easy. It starts with fear, trepidation, nausea, all the negative emotions you can think of really… it is not immediately quelled either. It’s a work in progress even now sometimes… But lemme tell you:
It was worth the struggle, it was worth the fight.
I’ll be here if you need the encouragement to start your own process.