Life After Abuse

I’m an abuse survivor with DID who coped with the poor hand I’d been dealt in unhealthy, dangerous ways. It began in childhood with stress/emotional eating, isolating, escaping into books, movies – anything that helped enhance the fantasies I’d create to bear the weight of the pain already so deeply scarred into my soul.

I was raised in a toxic home of domestic violence. Each and every single day was filled with abuse and violence that was severely traumatic. I’m also a survivor of long term sexual abuse, ritual abuse, incest with neighborhood children, family friends… Needless to say, I had to grow up fast.

The older I grew, the worse things got. I was bullied at school. My only friends were books, pets, dolls and fictional characters. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that nowhere was safe, all people were bad and there must be something wrong with me. I don’t belong, I am unlovable, dirty, rejected. The worst part was not knowing why I was treated this way. I would never wish this sort of life and the mindset that comes with it on anyone. What a shame that this was my programming, my inner voice, my worldview as a child. My heart still breaks for younger me every day.

Once I entered those…wonderful…teenage years, things got worse even still (hard to believe, I know.) The kids at school got crueler and so did my parents. That’s also the time my coping skills got some new additions such as drug/alcohol experimentation and regular use, promiscuity and self-harm -not to mention the acting out behaviors involving explosive anger, seeking negative attention, and shoplifting. I was a bigger hot mess than a soup sandwich.

I had so much pain within, if I came across something that helped to numb that pain, best believe it became a regular part of my routine. I had become a slave to my coping mechanisms by the time I was 15, probably sooner. My life continued in a downward spiral until my early/mid 20’s. The person I had become was built upon a foundation of false beliefs instilled by the abuse messages. For far too long I let my coping mechanisms define who I was (eg: I’m just an oversexualized, broken cutter. I am who I am. This is who the universe meant for me to be and that will never change…)

Finally, the pain and memories could be repressed and suppressed no longer. All of my coping mechanisms stopped working. The pain had become greater than the payoff from them. I hit rock bottom. I lost all faith and hope. I attempted to take my own life in the summer of 2016. After surviving my suicide attempt, I came to understand that I truly must have a purpose. A spark of hope returned, but I was still drowning in a dark, black sea of sorrow, depression, fear, unexpressed dissociated emotions. I could deny it no longer.  I needed help, but more importantly, I wanted help. I desperately needed someone beside me, shining like a lighthouse to lead the way back home onto God’s path for me, but there was no one there to help, no one who seemed to understand me, no one to be my lighthouse… That is, until I met Margie.

At just the right time, I came across Growth and Healing Wellness Center. After a lifetime of abuse, I developed a sense of reading people very well. From the get go, I could tell that Margie is a safe person. She’s always warm and welcoming. Not once in her presence have I ever felt judged. She speaks nothing but life and positivity. She is a difference maker.

I told Margie of my past and what I was currently experiencing that lead me to her office. Shortly after our work together began she gave me the diagnosis of DID that changed my life for the better.

I have been working with Margie on treating and resolving the DID, learning to grow and heal despite my circumstances and how to reconnect with the real me within for ten months now. In this time I have changed astronomically, more than I ever thought possible for a “lost cause” like me. I have stopped cutting, drastically lowered the voice of my inner critic and worked through many layers of grief. I am now loving and gentle with myself and am starting to believe all the kind and positive things Margie says about me are true. The best part is, this is only the beginning; the best is yet to come! Margie has restored my faith in myself and has given me hope that finding the authentic, miraculous life I had always dreamed of is possible.

If you’re someone struggling with any of the feelings and/or coping mechanisms I’ve once struggled with, I want to let you know that there is freedom to be found. I came to realize that those things were me helping me survive in the only ways that I knew how. Rather than completely hate the person I was, I thank her for helping me survive and gently let her know that I don’t need to live that way anymore. That the abuse is over. That I am safe. That I have made the choice to create my own life, not the life that my abusers created for me. A healthy, safe, peaceful life, the kind of life that I was always meant to have. I know that I was never meant to have the past that I have, but I do have the choice to either let it hold me down for the rest of my life, or to find the truth of who I really am and use that past for the greater good. I had to choose between death or life. I chose life.

A message for those who have lived through abuse: I know how scary it is to begin to feel again. How terrifying walking through the foggy memories and uncovering the truth can be, and how lonely it can feel at times. How much it hurts to feel what they (alters) feel, to experience what they have lived. At times in the beginning my system (my whole self) and I were at a standstill. I had a hard time letting go of my pain and the unhealthy coping mechanisms because, for me and my system, it felt like, “look at everything we have done to ensure your survival. Now all of a sudden you want to stop using all of these coping mechanisms we’ve put in place to keep you safe and help you numb? Does everything we’ve done mean nothing to you??, etc…” As much as I’ve wanted to walk away from all this, I came to learn that the only way through it, is to go through it. Please don’t give up. Please don’t let fear keep you from your miracle. Please honor yourself and all that your system has done for you. I can guarantee that by doing the work, taking suggestions, thanking them for all they’ve done in the past, channeling the numbness and acting out into healthy expressions, showing all parts of you that you’re safe, that there’s a better, healthier way to live that will give you a sense of peace and a new beginning. This may never manifest in your life if you allow the fear to keep you stuck. Your greatest miracles are on the other side of your biggest fears.

On this road, I have come to learn that I was given my story to show others that a life transformed and a mind renewed is attainable. I have been given the blessing of getting two lives in one lifetime. From experience, I’ve learned that the harder it is, the bigger the blessing will be on the other side of it. To quote Will Smith, “Fear lies. God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror. On the other side of your maximum fear are all of the best things in life. Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

It is an honor and a privilege to have a woman like Margie walk beside me on this painful, beautiful, liberating journey of healing. Her radiance is contagious. She sees the best in me always and her constant, consistent encouragement and loving kindness has taught me to believe in myself and has helped me move from the victim mindset to one of a survivor. As we continue on this journey I know I will evolve from survivor to thriver. Her genuine love for people is truly unsurpassed and inspiring.

I believe the calling placed upon my life is to help people heal and grow from the things I have survived. My passion is to be the person I needed when I was younger to those who need that helping, loving hand to guide them back on the right path. I desire to be a Margie to the world.

Where I once felt profound guilt, shame, hatred, I now feel blessed that God has given me a story filled with a myriad of different hurts, habits and hang ups that so many can relate to. It’s almost like no matter who you are, what you’ve been through, by hearing of my own personal experience, you can relate to one bit of it or another, then can see the strength and hope given to me by others, and know it really is out there for you, too. Like me, you may have to fight for your victory, but I can promise you, that the victory is there, yours for the taking!

This recovery work is by no means simple, but I have come to learn it is easy, especially when working with such an incredible, highly qualified professional like Margie. I believe this combined with a genuine commitment to self to really dig deep and do the work is the key to gaining the types of freedoms that should have been a birthright. By working through my false beliefs and removing the illusions of control and security my character defects and coping mechanisms provided, I have finally taken the first footsteps on the road to complete freedom from all the junk of my past. I am living proof that growth and healing can be found for all of us, no matter what curve balls life has thrown our way.

~ Jeni T. (client from Growth and Healing Wellness Center)

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