What the Hardest Part of Living With Trauma Is for Me
Lately I’ve been feeling disconnected from the people around me. I’ve been feeling alone and isolated. This is how I’ve spent most of my life. Even when there are people around me, I feel there’s a barrier between myself and others. I can laugh and smile and engage in small talk, but I never show my true self. When I was younger and has less social experience, I found social interactions to be very confusing. I would watch what other people did and mimic them. I think the only place I was ever myself as a child was when it was just me and my siblings. I’d play with them and feel comfortable, but otherwise I was always on guard, watching to make sure I didn’t say the wrong thing.
As a teenager, it was even worse. For most people, these are awkward years, but they are years many people figure out their values, how they think and what type of person they want to be. I’m not saying the process is done for people by the time their teenage years are over, but it’s definitely a start. However, I felt stunted during this time. It’s one of the few times in my life where I had friends, but I never showed who I truly was. I changed constantly from one friend to another. I was a chameleon, always changing to fit the situation. My personality was fluid due to fear of rejection, so even if I didn’t agree with what my friends did or said, I would still follow along. I don’t think this was because of peer pressure — I think I missed an important step in the developmental process most people go through because of the years I was abused. I had no idea who I was or what I liked or didn’t. I had no idea how to disagree with someone and be confident in what I was saying.
I’ve been realizing lately how truly stunted I am. I’m an adult and I have little capacity to make and keep friendships. I am blessed to have an amazing husband. He is my best friend and with him, I can be almost who I truly am and I worry less about rejection. I am lucky to not be completely alone, but there is no one else. I have no girlfriend I can complain to, shop with or have coffee with. There is no family member I feel comfortable enough to open up to when I’m having a hard time and explain why. Even with my husband, there’s a disconnect, I don’t quite click with him 100%. It’s always as if there’s a glass wall between myself and other people. I think that glass wall is made up of shame and secrets and insecurity. It prevents me from fully touching others and allowing myself to be embraced by them. I feel weird, separate and alone.
To me, this is one of the worst things about trauma, the eternal feeling of loneliness. To never have anyone understand what I am going through and the level of depression and despair I frequently fall to. I don’t think the English language has the right words to describe the agony of abuse and how it changes someone forever. For me, trauma is a life sentence of walking alone with your experiences, rage, humiliation, shame, fear and depression.
That is the gift trauma gives us. I am alone and have accepted this is the way my life will be. I accept that I am stunted, that I will never be in sync with people. I know I can adapt, but not in the same way as someone who has not experienced trauma can adapt. Sometimes I think that’s why I write (I have a blog as well), because I hope someone will read it and feel less alone. I think loneliness is so corroding to our souls and minds. It’s like rust on a car, it breaks us down and we fall apart. So even if just one person reads this and realizes there’s someone out there like them, saying this and sharing my story is worth it.
Getty image by Grandfailure