I’m a 20 something living in the USA, attending law school. When I am not learning about civil rights law, you can find me in the gym lifting, playing Halo with my husband, making dairy-free desserts, cuddling my dog, and mountaineering. I love bargain shopping and timeless fashion, and I enjoy the company of my amazing friends. Growing up, I have worked a lot of random jobs, including counting parts in a warehouse and telemarketing. From the outside, I am a “normal,” and even happy, young woman.
Now to the dark side. I grew up in an abusive household with a narcissistic mother who saw me as an extension of herself and an obstacle in her marriage. My father was a serial cheater, who had more than 15 affairs before I turned 22. Growing up, I was verbally abused by my teachers and physically bullied by my classmates. Unable to deal with the chaos in my life, I was also a bully myself in elementary school, and I got into a series of unhealthy relationships in college.
I have never been the one to mourn my losses. Instead, I turn those losses into resentment and hate toward myself and others. I thought of those who are self-compassionate as losers and could not forgive or even accept my past for many years. When I realized that self-compassion and radical acceptance are not the same things as self-pity and cowardliness, but are instead essential tools in one’s emotional regulation toolbox, I started to realize that it was not my fault.
I realized that it was not my fault to be born, since I’ve never asked to be born, and my parents were immature people who ruined their own marriage through affairs and abuse. I realized that just because I am skinny, I should not take the abusive body-shaming comments from insecure women in the workplace. Even though my parents always wanted me to put everyone before myself, I should stand up against injustice, including the injustice against myself.
I also realized that I don’t need to feel threatened, every single time when an attractive woman looks at my husband with a flirty smile because I am married to a good man. I don’t need to worry about sliding into a polygamous family anymore. I also don’t need to feel unworthy because I am not the most attractive person in the room, even though it flashes back at childhood memories where my father ignored me to stare at every single beautiful woman.
I am grown, and I am safe now. I will make enough money to pay the bills; I will have enough free time to stay sane and healthy. I am living a life with purpose. But I still feel the emptiness when I am in the middle of a party or concert; I can now cry for the loss of innocence and the years of anxiety. I still remember all the years of hurt and disappointment, shame, and self-hatred.
I am trying to enjoy life as I move on from trauma, and encourage others to do the same.