Victim vs. Victim

This blog used to be a personal one where I would lay all my thoughts out bare just like this, before I turned to fiction and poetry instead.  I’ve done a poor job of keeping it updated as my mental health has deteriorated. I haven’t written in months (I’ve relentlessly edited, but I’m sure you can tell I’m pretty rusty), so if you’re new and you’re not used to these kinds of posts, I guess I’m sorry?

The last few months have been incredibly difficult for me.
I’m on the verge of publishing my novel, my master’s course is picking up steam and I’ve found myself in a consistently high-pressure job.
All of that has taken a backseat, though, to my romantic relationship. I won’t go into specifics out of respect for my partner and their privacy, but what I can tell you is that I have really struggled to trust them, and I couldn’t even tell you if it’s more the result of patriarchal indoctrination telling me that other women must always be seen as a threat (I’m not a naturally jealous person, I consider myself a feminist and a self-aware one at that who can call out her own internalised misogyny when she sees it), or the result of my past experiences with the subject of my book – I promise this isn’t just a plug – but either way I have spiraled into depression and paranoia.  I’ve blown up over the tiniest things and jumped to conclusions when I didn’t have all the facts.  I’ve been negative and argumentative and immature, I’ve played the victim and I have begun to feel like a different person. I haven’t felt like myself in a very long time.
A good friend of mine once told me that I’m a victim as a noun (because of the contents of the book) but don’t have to be a victim as an adjective, which was mind-blowing to me at the time. In the last few months I have let the noun affect my perception of myself and became the adjective, too. It’s easy to convince yourself that your paranoia isn’t unfounded when you’ve been hurt in the past, and it’s easy to think that ‘gut feelings’ are always right, but they’re not.

I’m not sure what my purpose is with this – I think maybe if I admit my wrongs publicly, in that I have failed to communicate openly with my partner, that I have ignored all the signs of trustworthiness in favour of signs of disloyalty, let my anxieties and need for control overrun our relationship and I have simultaneously smothered and pushed them away, I can start to heal and start to repair the cracks I forced open and have this post serve as a reminder, to myself and to you, to simply take a breath and think things through, however briefly, whenever you have a negative thought about your loved ones and their behaviour. You are not always the smartest person in the room, and you don’t need to know everything. All you need to know is that you are loved, and if you truly are loved, loyalty is a given, not a favour. That’s where faith comes in.

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21

I turned 21 today, and I have a lot of thoughts about that.
Stranger Things season 2 also came out today and I also have a lot of thoughts about that but I’ll discuss those with my friends when everybody’s had a chance to watch it.
Today, I have legally, in the view of every country in the world, become a free adult, and boy has it been a journey.
I’m not going to write about what I’ve learned in the past 21 years, because I wrote a whole book about that (pls buy it when it’s ready I worked really hard on it and cried a lot), so I’ll just discuss this past year alone.

As I approached 20, something shifted in me, and everybody around me felt it, mostly my boyfriend at the time. We’d been together almost 5 years, but it had to end, and when it did, I was afraid. This was the first time since I was 15 that I’d been alone, and I didn’t know how to be alone in a world that wasn’t populated by bored teenagers. Instead of growing up and learning how to be a single 20 year old woman, I reverted back to being a 15 year old girl with the confidence, experience and perceived knowledge of a 20 year old woman, which was a recipe for disaster, to say to the least.

In the past year, I have learned a lot. About how the world works, and about myself. I have fallen in and out of love at the drop of a hat, numerous times, in the last 365 days. I went through some shit, like, loss, on multiple levels.
I lost my arrogance, in that my beliefs were rocked to their very core and I had to overcome things I never thought would happen to me.
I lost my definition of myself, and had to start creating a new one from scratch.
That meant that I also lost friends, because this year is the year I finally started becoming the person I want to be, and that person refuses to be walked over or disrespected.
I lost my dignity a number of times, but I also lost my fear of losing my dignity.
I have been hurt so many times in the past year alone and yet I’m not afraid of opening up anymore. When I was 15, I was terrified of people, and of the mere idea of love, because all I had known was betrayal and heartbreak (buy the booook). I have experienced those things thrice over in the past year, but here I am, still willing to let people in.

I also gained a lot, though.
I gained the most incredible friends I could have hoped for, and a new appreciation for life – in the past few months I’ve literally only thought about killing myself once which is an insane record for me. (I’m not going to sugarcoat what it’s like to live with depression and PTSD, if that sentence made you uncomfortable, I’m sorry but I wont partake in the brushing under the carpet of mental illness anymore.)
I gained confidence in my abilities to do whatever I set my mind to, and this year was the year that I did what I’m passionate about.
I organised a music festival (with the help of said incredible friends), I wrote a book (ahem), I started writing music again and for once I’m actually proud of it, and I gained the ability to stand up for myself, to push for what I want, and to say no.

20 was the year that I followed my dreams, and I’m hoping 21 will be the one when I chase my aspirations.

Six Years

Here’s the thing about emotional abuse: the scars are invisible, but they run deep. Real deep. And somehow, despite how long it’s been, they remain fresh, always.

On New Year’s Eve, it will be six years since the end of my romantic attachment to the person who abused and manipulated me. Unfortunately, that date doesn’t mark the end of my suffering at their hands and words, but it’s all I have to hold onto as a milestone.
Six years, and yet, I am sitting in my room this morning, six days from turning 21, sobbing silently, as I recall nothing but the good and happy memories of that relationship.
I am furious with myself for remembering the good times so fondly. I am full of anger and bitterness but none of it is towards them. It’s all for me, for allowing myself to fall so low.

I had avoided Kesha’s latest album for a long time, knowing that a lot of the songs were about overcoming similar experiences to the ones I’ve had. I didn’t want to have to confront these feelings yet again, as I am wont to do at least once every few months when something in my brain makes me have a dream or a nightmare or a memory of some kind, and reminds me that I am still not over it. But I decided to listen to ‘Praying’ this morning. I’d heard it on the radio but only ever absentmindedly, not really paying any attention, but today I really listened to it, and something in me snapped.
Aside from a single vengeful line, this song perfectly encapsulates my feelings towards that person and about halfway through the song, it felt as though a jolt of electricity had erupted from my heart, ran through my spine and was spreading out like spider-leg tendrils, into my gut and up into my head and it felt cold. I lay in my bed shivering from this internal coldness, letting my mind flick through snapshots I didn’t even know I had, and sobbed until the shaking made me warm again.

I live in constant fear of other people because it was so easy for me to give all of myself to someone who I shouldn’t have trusted. I have major control issues because I can’t stand the idea of ever letting myself be controlled again. But I’m alive and breathing, and I am loved, and I am looking forward.