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Dear Younger Me: There Is Freedom Past the Abuse

July 14, 2018

Today is the last day she will ever lay her hands on you.

You and her go hand in hand to be surrounded by friends just hours after it happened. You wipe away the tears and push down the idea her putting her hands on you wasn’t normal. You start to think you deserved it and just needed to be better next time. You promise yourself you won’t make that joke again because it upset her. You put on a smile and sit next to her, swallowing the trauma that occurred. You disassociate and force yourself to forget. You sit there, joking and laughing. You smile so forcefully for photos, clutching the woman who just left bruises on you. You go home with her later and comfort her while she cries about hitting you. She apologizes again and again. You accept it and wipe away her tears just as you wiped your own tears earlier, the tears that she caused.

In two months, you will talk to her for the last time and you will feel so free. You will put down your phone at the end of the abusive strings of texts and you will never be subjected to that again. This is the first time you recognized you deserve better. You slip your phone into your pocket, stand up and walk back to your dorm room with tear-stained cheeks. You call your friends and go get your nose pierced. This will be your first act of genuine self-love in over a year and a half. After your friends return you to your dorm room with hugs and promises of a better tomorrow, you go to bed believing them. This is the day you start to heal a wound that has existed for far too long.

You will start to unravel the web of lies she had spun for you: that you are worthless, deserved to be hurt, alone in the world without her. You unravel and untangle the way you were able to ignore her abusive and manipulative lies. In time, you will be able to go places without looking over your shoulder. You will stop jumping when you hear your phone ring. You won’t fear the safety of being in love again.

I know one day I will be able to pass this day without panic and deep sorrow. Until then, I mourn my ability to trust freely and blindly. I mourn nightmares that don’t end with me having bruises. I mourn life without the heavy weight of the trauma of abuse. Nonetheless, I hold myself in the mourning before brushing myself off, my head high and remembering how far I have come.

In three years, you will be so much happier than you ever imagined possible. The flashbacks come less often. The weight becomes lighter because you have more people to help you carry it. You will learn that you aren’t alone.

You learn to love yourself so fiercely and independently.

Unsplash image by Lua Valentia