May is #mentalhealthawareness month.
And the month is almost over and this year I haven’t written much because I am not even sure where to begin most days.
When I wrote about escaping my narcissist, I knew I was in a fight to escape the relationship and to find my worth. I knew I was in the fight for my life. And I thought once I was out, the worst of it would be over.
Then the PTSD hit and my mental well-being spiraled in brand new directions with brand new darkness and brand new battles to fight.
After the fight to unravel from my narcissist, I spent many more months focused on feeling strong enough to be alone and to move my life forward all by myself if I had to. Strong enough to build a new home and restart my life while having to regularly remind myself that I made right choice in ejecting my narcissist from my life.
And then I started to date again and it was so hard. I was so fragile, easily triggered and afraid. I saw the worst in people, looked for their flaws and ran from them as soon as they surfaced. I tugged back and forth on people, essentially becoming as unpredictable in my relationships as my narcissist had been with me. I would recognize my behavior and pull away not wanting to hurt people while likely hurting them anyway.
And then I met ️ and he wouldn’t let me run. I remember telling him how fragile I was, how I was not ready and had no idea if I ever would be ready again. I was aware of my triggers without being able to control them. I remember opening up and begging him not to lie to me because I knew even a small lie could trigger me into a spiral of anger, confusion and crippling self-doubt that I wasn’t sure I would be able to survive.
I had no idea how many other daily happenings in relationships would make me feel like I was losing my breath over and over again. For the first time in my life, the closer I got to the person I loved, the more angry, confused and afraid I got.
This cloud of anxiety, numbness and a fiery anger settled over me. I found myself in a tornado worse than the one I just came out of. Trying to love someone new while my body violently reacted asking me to protect myself first.
I find myself projecting the doubt in these ways that make me feel unrecognizable even to myself. My intuition has always guided me and now, I can’t find her most days. Everyday comments hit me like a punch to the gut. I feel paralyzed inside my mind with distrust for the world and even worse for the distrust in myself. In the middle of a pandemic, I was falling in love and falling deeper and deeper into my PTSD. Who knew that the left overs from the worse abuse and pain I thought I could ever feel would taste even more bitter. It was like every little thing in a day has the risk of leaving me without breath, vomiting up the pain as a constant reminder of how much destruction had truly been done.
The paranoia and the endless sleuthing happening in my mind is often crippling. The paying attention to every word said and unsaid until I am so exhausted I can barely think. The fighting to get out of bed, the fighting to enjoy anything the way I use to, the near submission to believing you will never feel true joy again. The way the moments when you do feel joy wash over you like a fix of euphoria and then numbness. You hold on to those moments as long as you can, sometimes staying high for 3 days. Inevitably you start feeling the darkness creep back in and you can do nothing to stop it from coming. The withdraw from joy kicks in again and I wake up furious at the world and every one in it all over again. This is the part of the escape from my narcissist that holds me hostage still. I couldn’t anticipate this phase and haven’t even been able to find words for it until now.
So now, in honor of this mental health awareness month, all I can do is share this phase as I am in it the way I have shared the others as I tried to escape. It was time to get it out of me the only way I know how; to write it down. It hit me that I don’t ever truly heal until I acknowledge the truth of my suffering and share it with others in case someone needed to hear they are not alone. Maybe I share, to remind myself that I am not alone either. Maybe that’s why sharing is so beneficial to my healing.
I also needed to thank the people who have had to love me from a different place; from further away. I am appreciative to those who hold me up even when I have no energy or even when I fight getting up. It’s a new fight for me. One I am committed to leaning into. I will not fight myself in addition to this PTSD. I’ll do my best because that’s all I can do and some days, it’s even more than I can do. I want to love without barriers, know and unapologetically walk in my worth reinforced by those I choose to love me and by how I choose to be loved. It’s a fight I am capable of taking on in the wisdom I have gained thus far. And PTSD has nothing on a woman who is so deeply loved and cherished. If you are struggling with PTSD, know that you are not alone, not crazy, not broken. You are the type of empathetic, beautiful strength that suffers much but deserves all the joy headed your way.