Survival/Coping Mechanisms

I'm reading an amazing book right now. It's called Hush by Nicole Braddock Bromley. I'm only about half way through it but it's helped me understand my situation more. Brandon has been reading it too and I'm thankful for his support. Through her words he's able to understand the things I can't explain. The first chapter in I wasn't sure I'd be able to get through the book. I felt a bit of panic several times, and I'm sure I'll experience more. I also feel, I don't know, like I belong to a community of people who are struggling to get through life with this burden. Obviously I know I'm not the only person going through this, but it's almost never talked about. Even after the secret is out you keep things quiet and tucked away in the farthest corner of your mind. It's been crazy reading a book that so perfectly explains my thoughts. She's given statistics of abuse survivors and it's just disgusting how many people are hurt this way. So many people are lost and feel so lonely. It's hard to take the steps to a healthy life after abuse and I'm lucky I had a great counselor and lots of support through my teens. Brandon is so supportive and has never made me feel like I need to just get over it. I often think it's been so long since I've dealt with Drew that I shouldn't have my issues anymore. I ignored my pain because I was afraid of giving into the victim mentality. But I am a victim and I have to get comfortable with that fact otherwise I'll never move on! I was reading last night and this paragraph really stood out to me.

      "In order to survive the effects of abuse, they detach themselves from their intense feelings of hopelessness, anger, and shame, often through unhealthy coping mechanisms. But the problem is that you can't be selective in the process; you can't choose to shut yourself off from some feelings and not to others. When you detach yourself from the pain and hurt, you cut yourself off from joy and happiness as well."

I survived by completely shutting everything out. My mind just checked out when things would happen with Drew, and it'd check out when he was messing with my head and making me feel stupid for my emotions. You know when you catch yourself just staring into nothing and your mind is completely empty? It's similar to that. But, for me, a tidal wave of silent anger, sadness, guilt and frustration joins in with the emptiness. Does that make any sense? I have a point I'm trying to make but it's really difficult to put it into words. When Drew was abusing me I had to go to a place in my mind that was completely empty. Over time, that place was filled with the emotions that I had during the abuse. It turned into the place I go when I face a problem in a relationship. When Brandon and I have a disagreement, it doesn't matter what the topic is, I immediately go to that place and I just can't connect with him. It's gotten better over time, but it's still so hard. My coping mechanism was/is food. I was given anything I wanted. I could have any snack or meal whenever I wanted. I loved/hated food. I never felt good after eating, but while I ate I felt great. I started putting on weight in 1st grade. Kids told me all through elementary that I was fat and ugly. So I'd go home and eat. Food was my comfort. In 4th grade I started to get really depressed and I remember one day I just kept eating. By the end of the day I was sick and my mom took me to the hospital. She didn't know I'd been eating so much because I was super sneaky. When the xray came back showing I was constipated I was so embarrassed. I vowed to stop eating like that. A few days later I was back at it. It continued until I was 12ish. I stopped eating for the most part and exercised like crazy. But I always thought about food. If I caved and ate something I hated myself for not being able to resist and I'd go walk an extra two miles. I spent a few years with a small figure, but I never stopped struggling with food. To this day I have issues with it. I put all the weight and then some back on by my early 20's, had babies, then was too depressed to do anything about my weight. Last year at a women's retreat I shared with the ladies that I struggle with food. It was embarrassing to admit it. I know y'all see me, you know I'm not small. But I never wanted to talk about the struggle with food addiction because I hated acknowledging that I'm a big woman in front of people. I hid my addiction from Brandon too. It wasn't until last year that I told him about my struggle. We'd been together for 13 years but just didn't have the courage to tell him. A few months before I turned 30 I realized it was time to do something about my self confidence. So I asked my hair stylist if she'd lighten my hair. That was a big step. A few months later I pierced my nose. That was exhilarating! Then in May I was driving back from a camping trip with a new friend. We stopped at a hiking trail and went to check it out. Towards the end of the trail there was a pretty waterfall and we took individual pictures in front of it. When I looked at myself I was disgusted at what I saw. I was the heaviest I've ever been. And the first thing I wanted to do was check out of reality and eat my feelings. But seeing that picture made me mad. I hated what I'd done to myself. I had to do something about it. I didn't want to spend my 30's hating myself anymore. I didn't want to tell Brandon that I had nothing I liked about myself. I've told him so many times that I can't see what he sees in me. I knew he hated it when I would talk like that. But when you habitually tell yourself you're disgusting, you don't look like you should and nobody really thinks you're pretty so you should just eat whatever you want because there's no point in caring, you don't realize the damage you're doing to the people around you. With his encouragement I've slowly made changes. I still have my moments, but I've stopped giving into the self-hate. Since the beginning of June I've lost 30 lbs. I have a goal to lose 20 more by December. I was worried for a while that if I didn't reach that goal I'd revert back to old habits, but I know I won't. Taking the step to stop hating myself was hard. But it gave me the courage and strength to face my past and accept that I can have a brighter future. I no longer feel I have to keep silent.


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