Trigger warning: this piece depicts abuse, please proceed with care.
I was in my early twenties. A few years had passed from when my stepbrother and I were able to move away from each other, for our shared parent’s home.
I didn’t yet know that the extreme hyper-vigilance I had when I occasionally visited my father’s home, on edge that at any moment my stepbrother would show up, was because I had been traumatized and abused by him.
My single goal in our forced step-sibling relationship was to stay away from him, at all times and at all costs, as…
In seeking therapy for complex PTSD and anxiety that had been eroding my mental health for years, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of trauma I had to process.
Some days I feel like I still have only scratched the surface. But on those days I reassure myself any progress is still progress, and at minimum at least I have the awareness to choose to be on this wild ride towards mental health.
After surviving the torment from a narcissistic, abusive partner for a decade and realizing the utter distress of my mind in the aftermath, I knew that the…
As a child I trusted adults with cultural appropriation
I was about 8 years old, a timid and young white female being raised in by an evangelical American family when it happened. A sheltered child, I didn’t know much of the outside world, life beyond our Southern culture.
My father, grandfather, and other relatives had just returned from a visit to China, for some sort of business trip. I was too young to understand the details, but I was jealous of the pictures of the beautiful things they saw in Beijing. …
There was no follow-up plan when she left, moving across the states to start her new life. Despite the pain her behaviors caused, my mother’s mental disarray was hard for me to recognize as a young teen. Instead, I focused my energy on surviving being motherless for the onset of my high school years, regardless of the reasons why.
Because she did not pass away, nobody came out of the woodworks to support us. …
Managing generational expectations while grieving
I am not a wedding singer, and I am not a funeral singer. Though I come from a long line of family musicians including a sister who is a professional, I only see myself as someone who likes to belt out songs when alone in my car, mostly on pitch.
My late grandfather loved to sing and perform, and always expected his kids and grandkids to do the same. So we followed suit. My father even gave the whole rock-band scene a whirl when he was a teen. …
“Never be defined by your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.” -Unknown
In managing complex PTSD and recovering from years of domestic abuse, I’ve grown tired of my past narrative. Though I took my power back many years ago, remorse for the life I once lived has been smoldering behind my smile.
Because the years I became a young adult were the years my identity vanished. I hardly existed for the decade of my twenties.
I was isolated by an aggressive, abusive partner which led to avoiding life events and fearing all social interactions. …
Even as a child, I understood that a mother’s relationship with her children was usually one of unconditional love and support.
Though I had not yet noticed I lacked this typical bond, I did feel an eerie distance. Especially when I saw how interactions between my friends and their mothers consisted of a nurturing, friendly connection.
They seemed so specifically cared for, instead of a bother.
I thought I had that bond once with my mother, but I fabricated this in my memory so as to not mourn something I didn’t have, prematurely. Perhaps an attempt to preserve my innocence.
Existential crises are moments that prompt us to question the meaning of our life and existence. With any major transition, especially the loss of a loved one, strong feelings of existential anxiety can arise.
Recently, a consistent character in my life that I’ve known since birth contracted the pandemic virus and was crashing towards death. This impending loss led me to contemplate remnants of what I used to believe.
When I was asked to pray for God to spare his life, my reaction of uneasiness and opposition swung a wrecking ball into all I was taught in childhood.
“Unhealthy boundaries are often characterized by a weak sense of your own identity and your own feelings of disempowerment in decision making in your own life.” -Stephanie Camins, MA, LPC
I had never felt in control of my own life. In abusive environments, I learned to accommodate everyone else to barter for love, and I became stuck there when I was told that setting boundaries or claiming what was best for me was selfish.
So I sacrificed my identity and removed all boundaries, attempting to avoid rejection, abandonment, and hurtful retaliation.
Feeling responsible for meeting everyone else’s needs prompted me…
This piece depicts abuse that may be triggering. Please proceed with care.
A vulnerable, neglected teenage girl meets a mysterious character, who must be her soulmate.
Romance? I had no idea what real love looked like. Strategic hints of attention and love bombing seemed romantic enough for me to fall for him. It was a very hard fall.
I was still spiraling from my mother abandoning me, left to live with an aggressive step-brother, orphaned emotionally by my father, and grappling with a toxic evangelical past. I was desperate for love. …
Mental health advocate, anxiety juggler, abuse escape artist, maternal aura. Personal stories. Some hints of humor. A diamond in the rough is still a diamond.