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It Took Over 20 Years, but I’m Finally Becoming Myself Again

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence or emotional abuse, 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.

You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Working through childhood trauma can be difficult, especially if people were dismissive of it when it occurred. In fact, many people carry around trauma for their entire lives because they’re too scared to speak up or too ashamed of what happened.

• What is PTSD?

In my case, multiple people dismissed my story, and the subsequent years I spent in therapy during my teens did very little to address the severe trauma I experienced. Thankfully, all that changed nearly three years ago when I finally started seeing my current therapist, who specializes in trauma work. For the past year, my therapist and I worked our way through what I considered a “trauma deep dive” to wade through years of adverse childhood experiences and rediscover myself — the version of me that is authentic and free. 

It took over 20 years, but I’m finally dismantling the past — I’m finally living in the present.

I evaluated all the ways our history impacted my daily life. I wrote down all the false narratives I clung to — narratives you constantly reminded me were true. Then one by one, I deconstructed them and rebuilt them with the truth. I learned to see myself not as that little girl who “wasn’t strong enough” to stand up to you, but rather as a brave human who made it to the other side.

In fact, I wrote out everything exactly the way I remembered it, and then I crossed out every part of it that was wrong. I pulled each lie out one by one until there was nothing left but me. No more thinking I brought it all on myself or thinking I deserved it. Instead, I’m forging forward with a new outlook and elevated self-esteem.

It took over 20 years, but I’m finally taking back my body and my mind — I’m finally calling the shots.

I took a time machine back to those memories so I could reclaim the power you once stole from me. I went back there day after day until I was no longer afraid of hearing your name. I no longer felt your hands clutching my throat — I could finally breathe. By reminding myself of every detail of you, you faded out of sight, until you ceased to exist even in my dreams.

In fact, I served you an eviction notice, effective immediately. No more letting you live inside my head rent-free, no more living in fear. I can wear what I want, do what I want, and be who I want because I told myself you never owned me the way you claimed.

It took over 20 years, but I’m finally becoming myself again — a person worthy of love.

I accept myself for who I am, both the shadow and the sun. I no longer feel consumed by my memories, no longer a prison to my mind. I’m living. I’m laughing. I’m finally, finally free. I’ve stopped constantly looking behind my shoulder or reassuring myself that your hand is no longer there. Instead, I’m letting myself dance in the streets, smell the roses, and slowly sip my coffee.

In fact, I’m finally letting down my defenses and allowing people in again so I can feel their love. No more questioning their motives or wondering when the rose-colored glasses will fall off. I can give my heart away freely without feeling like it’s tainted or weighed down with my own shame.

It took over 20 years, but I’m finally becoming myself again, and I truly like who I am.

Yes, it took longer than I ever imagined and yet somehow I’m shocked I ever made it here. It took two long, painful decades, but I’m finally becoming myself again — and it’s someone I absolutely love. 

No matter what you’ve lived through or where your shoes have been, I hope you know that doesn’t take away from who you are whatsoever. And although it may not feel like it just yet, you can overcome your past and forge an incredible future completely on your own. I know this because I did it — I overcame my childhood trauma and healed myself… It just took a little time.

Originally published: April 8, 2022
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