They say that time heals everything. I stared at my doctor as she spoke to me about the state of my mental health. She said I needed to stop living in the fictional worlds I kept creating and face reality. Truth is, any mental illness among African Americans is seen as a sign of weakness. In my weakness I found strength in writing. I needed the escape. I couldn’t tell her this. She had a job to do. I was there to learn to overcome and adapt. I used to write about how screwed up I was when it came to messing up every relationship I had ever been in. Either I was too passive or too aggressive and I never meant to be either of those things. I just didn’t know how to escape the idea that had haunted me for so many years.
- Would the next person be abusive?
- Would my children face the same fate?
- Would anyone even believe me?
- Would they just say it was my fault?
These are the questions I would ask myself. I never understood growing up why I found myself ignoring my feelings and placing everyone else’s above my own. In foster care I was told that I was too passive. How else would someone of my past know how to behave I found myself wondering? After leaving home and joining the service, there was no difference. I only spoke to my abuser once on Christmas leave and naturally he said that he’d find me but I had a plan that he wouldn’t if I could help it. The only person that knew was my sister because I told her and my brother because he walked in on it. Something about that situation made me never want to date men again. He promised he wouldn’t do it again after the first time but it happened again and then my family moved away and I never had to see him again. I didn’t thinking about dating, it just wasn’t something I was interested in and when it finally happened, I was more interested in dating the same sex. The curiosity had been there for awhile, I didn’t act on it until I was away from home. I had this gray area where I would date men and be with women. I never called myself a bisexual but some of the men I dated did. I enjoyed my life and knowing what I knew, I cared more about drinking the pain away than reliving it.
Moving on wasn’t easy in regards to the flashbacks. One raised voice to loud, often led me to be off by myself. In public I’d try to pretend that I was great. I wanted to be in relationships but it was hard to trust. I trusted the women I messed around with more than I trusted the men that I said I loved. My husband told me he was different. It wasn’t wasn’t easy in dealing with my flashbacks or mood swings where I wanted nothing to do with him sexually. When you feel like that’s all people are after you for whether they are or aren’t you tend to shy away from it. He wanted more than that but I couldn’t see all of that at the time. He was very touchy and that was different because I didn’t care to be touched a lot. I’m also afraid of the dark and he likes the dark. Somehow he still put up with me and eventually got me a nightlight. I still get flashbacks from time to time but he understands more now. I took the advice of my doctor and became more vocal. Moving on after abuse is anything but easy and you want someone who will be patient and understanding because it takes time to heal. Sometimes it takes the right person outside of family or your spouse/significant other to help you heal and overcome the fear of abuse being repeated. There is life after abuse. It just took me fifteen plus years to learn that.
Peace & Love