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5 Dates That Are Hard for Me as Someone With PTSD

Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Beyond the anniversaries of my assaults, there are less talked about anniversaries that are hard for me as someone struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

1. My perpetrator’s birthday.

Like so many survivors, I know my abuser. That’s how it carried on for many months. We celebrated our birthdays with each other. I haven’t been back to where we celebrated his birthday and every year so far, my anxiety has gotten the best of me. I’ve learned to surround myself with activities and those who love me during the days before, the day of and a few days after the date to make sure I don’t dwell on the calendar.

2. Our first official date.

Unfortunately, this date comes very soon after his birthday, but it also happened to fall upon a day of accomplishment for me. I tend to try to focus on and celebrate this accomplishment to remind myself of how far I have come in my life.

3. The dates of the assaults I do remember.

I don’t remember the exact dates for a lot of the abuse because it happened over the span of months, but the specific dates I do remember — such as my birthday — hit me in the face when I hear the date. During these dates, I like to make sure I am out of my house and keeping busy, but also recognizing what happened to me in order to grieve. A specific practice I enjoy is imagining a river and folding those memories into a sort of boat, then letting it flow down that “river” so it does not feel like these thoughts are stuck in my mind. I am then able to refocus myself.

4. Holidays spent with my perpetrator.

These memories are so bittersweet. I love these holidays and I have many memories I cherish on these days, and I refuse to let the one ruined day take away those sentiments. At the same time, these holidays were not completely spent in vain, but by the end of the day it would end in abuse.

5. The day we started dating and the day I finally left him.

The first is more bitter but also filled with innocence and ignorance. The latter is filled with feelings of strength and empowerment because I left him and got the help I needed — something I am so proud of.

These dates are still a struggle for me and I really depend on my support systems during these times. Remember that it’s OK to ask for help; whether it’s a few months, years, decades or whatever, your trauma is always valid. Anniversaries that don’t necessarily have to deal with assaults can be just as hard as the ones that do. Each year, I know the pain will get less and less with these dates, and my calendars will rewrite themselves in my brain eventually. Until I am OK, I will continue to reach out for the help I need but I know this will not last forever.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash