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To the Person Who Is Loving a Childhood Abuse Survivor

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I know you struggle as well. I know you want to help. I know you want to give me the life you want for me and you blame yourself for falling short.

• What is PTSD?

The truth is, you are not falling short. If I am not able to talk to you about my feeling, or the little everyday things, or even if I make plans and don’t tell you about them, it is not a lack of trust in you. If I doubt everything including our relationship, it is not you who is to blame. If you confront me with something and I try to avoid giving a clear answer, it is not that I am lying.

I was raised to believe that I am not worthy of love and care. There is this little nasty voice in my head that tells me to shut up. It knots my tongue and makes me fumble for the words when you see screaming from my eyes. There are days I am able to open up and days I can hardly admit to myself that I actually have feelings. And sometimes, the latter follows directly after the former.

I have been fighting on my own for so long that I sometimes forget you will not endanger my freedom, like the others I had a close bond with did. I have taught myself that words have power and not answering a question directly can help me to escape being grounded once more.

So if I do not think about my answers carefully, it’s because I act on pure instinct. I do know how much heartbreak this causes to you. I know that being pushed away is hard; I have experienced it often enough and it hurts me to do this to you. I hate going into survival mode when I sense your irritation about something completely unrelated to me. I hate seeing the pain in your eyes when I speak about my doubts and my fear that I may not be able to continue our relationship. I know it sometimes must feel like I am prioritizing everything higher than you. I know it is not easy being loved with a guarded heart.

But still I have to ask for patience. I may doubt our relationship, but that does not keep me from fighting for it with all my heart. You really have helped me already. I see what we have already and I see how valuable it is. Even if there are the voices in my head telling me it will end, I will spoil it or you will leave one day, I have learned to fight them and to tell them to shut up. I have learned to trust you enough to speak about my struggles — that’s why I may seem to struggle more in the recent past.

I have learned to let my guard down, if only for a moment. But this is more than I have ever done since my early childhood. So please, try to see the little things, even if I am still a mess in the big picture. With your love and your support you have already helped me in more ways than I will ever be able to tell. Thank you!

Unfortunately, healing isn’t linear. I may have good streaks and then crumble from seemingly minor blows. But even in my darkest hours, I will keep to the hope. I will find strength to fight for the good we have. It may be a lonely fight sometimes; a fight you cannot fight with me because I have to beat myself once more. But you can help me have a reason to go on if I know you will wait for me at the end of this darkness.

Unsplash via Joe Yates

Originally published: November 29, 2018
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