Most people when they hear PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) they think of the men and woman who have been to war. What they don’t realize is somebody who has been in an abusive relationship may develop PTSD. I must admit that I was one of those people until recently.
You see I was in an abusive relationship from 2002 to 2011. We met in high school and it didn’t start out abusive but it didn’t take long for it to begin. However in the early years of our relationship I did not see the signs. It started out with me having to call him on my way to and from work and sometimes he’d either call me at work or show up to make sure I was there. I took this as him being caring. As time went on the control became more. He would call or text me numerous times when I was out with friends. He would accuse me of not being where I said or accuse me of cheating. It got to the point that I would rarely leave the house because I got tired of the constant calls and texts. As more time went on he would put me down a lot. Make comments about my parenting, make comments in regards to my body , just overall make me believe I was a bad person. A few times things would escalate to the point where cops would be called. He would push me, slap me, choke me, rip my clothes. Many times I would say I was leaving him and he would tell me if I left he would end his life. He promised me things would get better. They would for a little bit but then things would be bad again. I started to believe I couldn’t leave him because what if he did end his life? I also started to believe that I wouldn’t be able to make it without him. He made me believe that I could never make it on my own. I believed I was a failure and that I would never be with somebody again because who would want to be with me? After all I was a bad mother, fat, ugly, stupid and a failure…or so I thought.
In 2011 I got the courage and strength to leave. He sent me many messages telling me how horrible of a mother I was for taking the kids away from him and that I could never make it without him. I spent many days and nights crying and started to think maybe he was right. I started to not eat like I should. There were days I would not eat anything at all. It’s not because I was purposely not eating. I just was not hungry. I also became worried that he would come to where I was living and do something to me. I was scared when I would go to the store. Always looking around to see if he was there. I became a very depressed and paranoid person. Despite him saying I couldn’t make it on my own, 2 weeks after I left him I had a full time job and 2 months after leaving him I had a place of my own. I was doing it! I had to face him every other weekend though when we would exchange the children and this was hard. It was almost impossible to fully heal and move on.
I started seeing a therapist in 2015 because the crying and worrying a lot was still happening. It didn’t help that some court things were going on the courts took away his visitations. Now the worry that he would come for us was even stronger because he blamed me for not being able to see our kids. Which was not the truth. You see he is an alcoholic and it was not safe for my children anymore to be around him. When I saw my therapist she told me I have anxiety and depression. She told me to see my regular doctor to get on medication. We started one and that one caused suicidal thoughts. So I was taken off that one and started on another. It was trial and error for a little while until we found one that worked.
In 2017 I started a new relationship. I was finding that it was hard for me to trust him and I would worry that he would get mad and hurt me like my abuser did. I was scared to tell him how I felt about anything. I had a hard time opening up. My abuser still was not able to see my kids so those fears that he would do something were still there. He would text me still and tell me he would end his life or tell me how terrible I was.
I had to see a new therapist due to moving and this is when the term PTSD was said to me. Apparently it’s normal to have a hard time in a relationship after being in an abusive one. I found myself having flashbacks even though my current boyfriend was nothing like my ex.
It is now 2019 and my therapist and I are still working with me learning to cope with PTSD. Journaling my thoughts has become something that helps. My boyfriend can tell if it’s been awhile since I’ve journaled because my mood changes. I start to become distant with him, and shut down. I become more emotional and irritable.
I am finally able to start healing because earlier this year the courts took away parental rights. I do not have to hear from my abuser or see him anymore. I feel as though my life can finally start moving in the right direction. After being in a dark, dark, place and living an emotional roller coaster for many years this happiness is something I need to get used to. There are times where I still think I’m a bad mother or a bad person but I know deep down that’s not true. So when I’m having those thoughts I simply write it down in my journal and move on. It takes some practicing but with time it’s getting easier. I see my therapist every other week and she truly is a blessing in my life.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope this helps those in similar situations.