Sometimes…actually most of the time…the passage of time gives us a different perspective about things that happened in our past. And that usually is a good thing because we are prone to telling ourselves the same stories in the same way over and over and over again without stopping to think about whether or not what we remember is actually true. That story becomes part of our mythology. We accept it at face value and that allows it to shape our lives and outlook. Maybe we are the victim in our story or the hero. Maybe we feel as though we deserved what happened to us or the other person deserved what we did to them. So, from that day forward, the event in question stealthily molds who we are…or at least who we believe that we are. Perhaps you were a victim of domestic violence just as I was. For many years, I felt anger, guilt, and shame about what happened. Every relationship that I entered into was tainted by the time I spent in that marriage. I was unable to completely trust anyone…I was always suspicious of their motives. My self-esteem and self-worth were pretty much nonexistent so to prove to myself that I was desirable and worth something, I was in and out of relationships but was afraid to commit. I hurt some very nice guys who loved and cared about me because I didn’t love myself and didn’t trust their motives. How could they possibly really care about and want me when I was undesirable and unloveable? Eventually, I met a man with whom I had no intention of being in a longterm relationship. I tested him. I distrusted him. I pushed buttons. I basically gave him every single reason to run away from the relationship. One day, when I had really pushed every single button I could find to push, he took me by the shoulders, stared into my eyes and said, “I will not hit you to make you feel better about yourself.” It was like a very hard slap in the face. I had been so busy living the story that I didn’t stop to think about the aftermath of the event and how it was affecting me. Or whether it was even true. Was I really unloveable and undesirable? Was I responsible for what my ex-husband had done to me? Was I really damaged goods? No. No to all of that. I was a victim when it happened and telling myself the story kept me a victim. The new relationship that I was in helped me to see the truth about my story and I began to step out of its shadow. I realized my worth, my desirability, and my lovability. Day by day, layer by layer, I unearthed the real story and was able to begin moving away from it. I discovered the woman that was not a victim. I realized and rejected all of the lies that my ex-husband had beaten into me. I wasn’t “cured” overnight and after all of these years, I still have doubts and feel less than adequate at times but I reject those feelings based on my revised story of what happened all those years ago. I think that I will always have moments like those because memories always have a way of sneaking into and affecting our current reality. Oh, and that man that helped to begin realizing that my original story was basically filled with lies, I’ve been with him for about twenty-seven years and married to him for almost twenty-four of them. We don’t need another person to realize that our original story isn’t completely factual. We can figure that out on our own if we really want to do so. I was fortunate to have met someone that was patient, loving, accepting of my weirdnesses, and loved me for who I am. I began to see myself through his eyes, not through the distorted lenses of my past stories. Also, I began therapy which really helped me to peel away even more of the layers. I was diagnosed with PTSD and depersonalization/derealization which are directly related to events in my childhood and the abuse that I experienced in my first marriage. On top of that, I have clinical depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. I deal with all of these diagnoses daily. I actually do pretty well but during times of extreme emotional/mental stress, they can do a number on me but I have coping measures and I now know what’s happening unlike in the past. I really encourage anyone that is dealing with their past stories to find a good therapist to help them get through the process. I should have done that much sooner than I did but it is what it is. So, just remember, your past stories aren’t always what they seem. Peel back the layers to discover the truth and use what you find to heal. We are so much more than our past. We are amazing and magical and deserve to live that way. Don’t settle for less!
Beautiful post Donna. Glad to see you blogging. I look forward to your story being fit into your new being. Gentle hugs.