I’m learning to cope with a very non-Hallmark version

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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.

And redefine what prayer means

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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.

I began…

This is how I am learning, the hard way

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“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…

Because brainwashing is that powerful

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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. …

I was not “fine until you asked” and now I know why

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If emotion rises from the pit of your stomach to the top of your throat and leaks out of your eyes when someone asks, “Are you okay?” You aren’t alone.

I’m not talking about the routine conversation staple when people ask, “How are you?” without expecting a real answer. Good, how are you? In moments when we know this is just a polite greeting, we can hold it together and keep responses brief.

Do you really want to know how I am?

But when someone truly notices us, picking up on emotions we try hard to stifle, and asks intentionally…

I can explain, but I want to stop explaining

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I figured that having a history of long-winded family members, who never come up for air or know when they’ve gabbed too long, made me predisposed to being the same way.

Always discussing, elaborating, and explaining.

I remember a congregation of eyerolls and stir-crazy people listening to my father, an ex-pastor, when he would preach for two hours straight. Or even longer, on a bad Sunday. Lunch was calling everyone in the pews, but my father called louder. He had a lot to say and everyone needed to hear it, more than they needed lunch.

The dice keep rolling

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When I signed up for therapy, my plan was to ambitiously blast through all my traumas, as fast as I could. Just rip off the band-aid!

I wanted to minimize the time it would take to heal myself into some sort of whole, sane human product. But unfortunately, I have a lot of baggage and a lot of trauma.

I anxiously tried to cram a bunch of trauma into cliff notes, unleashing as much as I could, only to discover that the “ripping off a band-aid” technique revealed an open arterial laceration underneath.

The result: emotional hemorrhaging.

I didn’t want…

A poem on recovering from abuse

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Hypervigilant eyes search,
yet never find a formation.
I hear you so loudly, so clearly.
Circular doubts fight this as imagination.

Out the window, something moves.
It’s not you, it never was really you.

When we met, another shape took form.
Handcrafted Papier-mâché layers
designed an enticing invitation
with charm glistening, distracting, entrapping.

Layers never revealed
what lied beneath (all lies).

Only time tells, with too much time.
With thousands of hours I added up how
your presence was the only consistent contributor to my aching.

Hollow I felt when apart, but the hollow…

I was already on my way to body dysmorphia

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For the few years my mother was married to her third husband, I didn’t get to know that stepfather very well.

I mainly knew he was a nightclub owner, noticeably on steroids, and bold.

My sister and I alternated between our parents’ homes until my mother and her new husband abruptly moved out of state, leaving us behind. They claimed bankruptcy forced them to relocate, but really, my mother’s untreated mental illnesses were secretly taking over the narrative, prompting her progressive absence in my life.

By summer, they arranged that we travel to visit them, the first of only a…

I thought it was a superpower but it’s my complex PTSD

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I incessantly analyze my experiences.

In some ways, this has been helpful in processing my history of traumas, but in some ways, this makes it impossible for me to just be. I struggle to accept the present moment and actually feel what I feel.

My compulsive need to figure it all out is a gnawing desire, one that is extremely uncomfortable to consciously try to stop. Oh, please don’t make me meditate. There is so much momentum in my mind, that I fear the ricochet of a sudden halt in my thoughts.

Because I have to get one step ahead…

Scarlett Jess Perrodin

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.

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