Dear spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, soulmates, long-time partners;
It is not always about you. When we hurt, we need space. Sometimes you marry us or get into a relationship with us and you do not really know half of what we have gone through.
Sometimes you are so enamored with us that you don’t stop to think “can I really handle this” or “do I really know what I am getting myself into?”
We who have been affected by trauma at some point are plagued by it for the rest of our natural lives. We see it during the day, we see it in our dreams at night. We feel it, taste it, think about it (even when we don’t want to).
We are triggered by it: Every. Single. Day.
Trauma does not just go away. We can’t “pray” it away. We can’t think happy thoughts.
Some days are better than others, yes. Prayer helps us refocus, but it does not remove our pain.
When you decided to be in a relationship with us, you didn’t just decide to hold our hand, kiss us, make love to us, hug us, parent with us, watch movies with us, cook with us, share our bed…you decided to be PART of us.
You decided to be one with us. Our pain, our suffering, our dreams, our nightmares, our tears, our lack of hope, our lack of faith, our strength, our weakness, our whole selves.
You decided to be ONE with us. This means you have chosen to embrace us and help us unpack the emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, and/or physiological luggage we brought with us on this new journey.
The day you said “I do”, or you decided to be with us, you really decided to listen, to hear, and to feel who we are, what we are all about, what we are made of.
The day you said these things, you chose to be a part of our healing process.
No, you are not our therapist, our psychologist, our medical doctors, or our spiritual leaders. You are our partners and this means when we go to the therapist, psychologist, medical doctors, and spiritual leaders, you are there with us; not always physically, but emotionally, mentally and fully.
Sometimes we come to you as damaged goods; feeling we are nothing, and we have no purpose. And we need you to be there….sometimes without saying a word.
Because when we are hurting we do some “crazy” Shit.
Personally, when I am hurting I do 5 things that helps me get through (starting with the least frequent.)
- I Run: I run away. I run away from anyone who knows me, has seen me before, or wants to get to know me. I don’t just run away in my mind, I physically get off my butt and I leave. My wife and I have been together for four years and I believe I have run away at least 4 times (about once a year).
- Why do I run? I run because I feel so much pain I don’t want anyone else to be a part of. I run because I am confused, I am hurt and there are not enough words in the world that can make me feel better in that moment. I run because my brain needs to release endorphin to help me process what I am feeling. I run because it feel good to move, it feels good to leave. I run because I am scared of staying. I run because I have control over myself when I do. I love to feel the breeze on my face as it dries my tears. I run because I am in a race against time. I have survived and I am trying to beat my own emotional clock. I run and it is not about you.
- I Hide: When I was a baby I was thrown into a closet with other babies. I was not well and I was not expected to survive. The closet I lived in for several years became my home. As an adult, the closet is my best friend. I feel secure. I feel safe. I open my eyes and see darkness, I close my eyes and see darkness. I can win this battle because everything around me is dark and we are on equal footing.
- What do I do in the closet? I cry. I cry for hours. I rock back and forth. All memories of my childhood comes back. I sometimes physically hurt myself. I swear a lot in the closet. Smells, sounds, feelings come back to me. I feel as though I am that young child again. And then I fall asleep. I hide and it is not about you.
- I Judge myself: I grew up with narcissistic parents who judged and controlled everything I said and did. So part of my hurting included verbally hurting myself. When I am hurting, I judge myself. I talk about how worthless I am. I talk about how I should not be in the relationship I am in because they don’t deserve this broken person that I am. The deserve better. I talk about my body and how it is not the way my adoptive mother wanted it to be. I talk about my face, my color, my academic intelligence and how I should not have gotten to where I am now. I talk about how bad of a person I am. I talk about how I am a burden on my wife and how if it were not for me, we wouldn’t owe money for green card processes and medical bills, and food, and clothing. I talk about how I should not even be alive, and how life is better without me.
- Why do I talk like this? I’m dying inside. I feel insufficient. I feel as though I am a burden and that I should not be here. I feel at times that my a-mother was right and that I would have died in Haiti had she not “saved me”. I feel like I am nothing. I judge myself and it is not about you.
- I entertain myself: The one thing I can say is that I am extremely crafty. I can play the guitar and I can also make jewelry. When I am hurting I will sometimes pick up the guitar and just play. I’ll sob, and strum the guitar at the same time. It is then that the best songs are written. Sometimes I will put on music in the background and make a few earrings, not for anyone in particular, but I’ll make them. I mentally get into a space where making things helps me begin to remake myself.
- Why do I entertain myself? When I was a baby, and a toddler, and a child, I had to find ways to entertain myself. I could not walk so running around in the orphanage was not an option. My speech was delayed so having a conversation was probably not possible. I spent hours at a time staring up at the ceiling. I can imagine I saw angels up above and I smiled. I imagine the angels gave me kisses and held my little hands as I moved them in a dancing motion to their glorious singing. I entertain myself and it is not about you.
- I write: I write because it frees me from my mental cell. Often I get so depressed that the only thing I can do, besides crying like hell, is write. I write because it frees my soul. It gives me another avenue. It gives me an “out”. Writing for me is like being emotionally murdered. When I write, I am risking my adoptive family’s wrath. I am risking death threats (yes, very true). When I write, I put myself out there to be judged, to be hated, to be loved, to be understood. To be questioned.
- What do I write? I write everything! I write comedy, drama, memoirs, realistic fiction, historical fiction, songs, poems, blogs, and so much more. I write from my heart, from my soul, and sometimes from my mind. I write and it is not about you.
Sometimes spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, soulmates, long-time partners, we are hurting and we just need you to be there for us when we return from our:
We just need you to be there because you promised us you would.
And we will be ok cuz We Got This!