Our mental health is so much more important than we know. It is what helps us function in our everyday tasks. But what happens when our mental health is damaged by domestic abuse? What toll does our brain take when we are impacted by any type of abuse? And how do I keep it from interfering with my daily functions?
Being a domestic abuse survivor, I can honestly say that I understand first hand the affects that abuse had on my mental health. Damage that to me seemed irreparable, had cut wounds so deep, it was going to truly take healing from the inside out to repair this damage. Sometimes we fail to realize that scars are ugly and unsightly, but just underneath it is healing. You just have to let it heal slowly and naturally. Let life, time and some work on your part heal you. Picking at the scar yourself and wanting to hurry the process only causes the wound to reopen. I had suffered physical abuse as a child, so I had already accustomed myself to associating love with pain. As a young adult, I experienced abuse from my first relationship. It was subtle but had begun the ball rolling for relationships to come. Without knowing, I was already dealing with mental health issues and I began to let my insecurities and my self-doubt be the reason that I accepted abuse.
At the age of 21, I was involved in a very abusive relationship. The abuse also began slowly. My abuser isolated me away from family and friends. Keeping me close so that I had minimal contact with others. At the time, I had also begun to get involved in heavy drug use, to help numb the pain of my own anxiety. This only made the situation ten times worse.
Experiencing physical and verbal abuse together are a deadly mix. Mentally my brain began to find different ways to cope with the abuse. Whether it be in drugs or other reckless behavior. The physical abuse was extreme. I experienced being strangled with remote control wires, being stabbed with dull knives, being bitten until I bled, lit on fire while I slept. I had broken ribs, broken nose and a broken eyebrow bone. I could go on and on. But more than the physical pain, the emotional and verbal abuse is what left behind deep, agonizing scars.
I was humiliated in so many ways. Being constantly told that I was worthless, that no one else will ever love me, being spit on. So many humiliating moments that are burned into my mind. As I think about these events even now, it still brings back those feelings. I am now okay with them and find healthier ways to process them. The hardest thing for me to accept out of all of this was the fact that I ultimately allowed this into my life. I willingly chose to overlook red flags. I tried to justify why none of it was my fault. But in the end, I had to take full accountability for my part. Because only then could I move on and begin to live the life that I deserve.
I wish I could say that things got better from there. But as someone with BPD, I found myself in different abusive situations. Never like the one I experienced, but always in the same type of abusive relationships. I allowed myself to go through a lot of verbal and mental abuse, because of my own insecurities, low self esteem and self doubt.
As the years went on, I put each relationship and each scar behind me and moved on with life, so I thought. I wasn’t putting it away, I was avoiding it all. I could never accept the fact that I had some part in what happened to me, I was the victim. Or was I? Realizing that I wasn’t was the hard part. As I take more of a look inside myself, I started to really realize that I had choices that I could have made along the way that could have changed the outcome of many of my situations.
Now that I decided to take this new journey of finding myself and rediscovering my true self, I have had to take a long hard look at myself and accept my faults and what better choices I could have made. One of the most important steps that I took was to seek professional help. Finding a therapist who can help you truly work through all the emotions and traumas that you have not dealt with is a great way to start rebuilding yourself. Having someone to talk to (therapist, friend, family, etc.) that sees things without judgment or from a complete outside perspective helps to release those deep dark hidden emotions that are hindering you from moving forward and allowing you to completely let go.
I believe that knowledge is power and the more that I know about my disorders, the more prepared I could be for what is to come. I began reading and watching videos on my disorders and continue to fill myself with valuable information that will help me become a better me. I have become desperate to find what is going to make me truly happy and put my soul at ease. I have embarked on a mission to find complete fulfillment. Not a peace or happiness from an outside source but from within. This journey has helped me grow in so many ways. In my new relationship, my boyfriend has already been through this journey himself. Helping me patiently get through all of my issues and showing me how he was able to overcome his demons. It has provided a support unlike any other relationship I have experienced. Having someone finally love me enough to see me mentally free and happy has been a gift from God. For me, understanding that my disorder does not create my borders has been a difficult concept to grasp. But the more I see my value and what I am capable of accomplishing, it gets me one step closer to my ultimate success. Fully loving myself and being able to do anything that I set my mind on.