My story, like so many others, began when I was young and naive. I saw people as kind and good-hearted. I trusted everyone. I wanted to help everyone. I was a carefree little girl with a soft, kind heart – worn boldly on my sleeve.
Then, trauma came. As each trauma occurred, that little girl got more and more wounded. I started to identify as if my trauma was my ONLY story. I shared my pain with many others, which I know now is what led to more trauma. I thought by being vulnerable, by being open, by being honest that I would find someone who loved me. Rescue me. Turns out, that isn’t how life works.
There are no knights in shining armor. There are no white horses. There are no saviors. There is just more pain, more trauma, more abuse, and more manipulation. Wounded people attract wounded people. And many wounded people hurt others, just like I did. And just like they did to me. The only way to heal wounds is to walk through them. Not around them. And not run through them.
I hated myself for the people I hurt along the journey to healing. I was so broken, so desperate for love. I got involved in many bad things with many bad people trying to find what that little girl needed. The worst part was, my babies got dragged through that journey with me.
I had my first daughter when I was two weeks shy of 17. I was determined to be everything to her. And for a while, I was. My oldest daughter was about 12 when I stopped being a good mom. She was in the midst of early adolescence, one of the hardest times of a child’s life. We were very close until I decided to wander off into stupid land. So there she was 12, trying to figure out life, trying to understand herself. And her mom jumps ship. Two years later, when I got my shit together, it was too late.
I tried everything I could to repair the relationship. I still try. But I can’t blame her for being afraid. After all, that is what I have done – blocked myself off from the world so nobody could ever hurt me. That is what many people do. It is protection. And it is hard to focus on the good when the pain from the bad is still present.
I was never very close to my son. He always wanted to be at his grandparent’s house. I tried to help him grow to be a decent man, but I was not successful. And it is no wonder… every man I had a relationship up until that point wanted something from me. Let me just say, they never wanted to be that rescue hero I was looking for. They wanted to use me and dispose of me. How in the world could I teach a boy to be a man when I had never known one?
My youngest, my baby. She was 3 when I went into the “shitty mom abyss” and 5 when I returned into my role as a mom. She doesn’t know anything else but me being an involved (sometimes overly involved) mom who sacrifices everything for her kids. And I mean everything, including myself.
After a series of failed relationships and more pain for my kids, I made the decision to stay away from men. To go back to school, stay out of relationships, and make myself something that everyone would be proud of. Be an example for my kids, and be an example for every other person who had been a victim of trauma. I was going to take all my pain and make it have value. I was going to win.
And I did just that. Seven years without so much as a date. A bachelors degree while working full time and being a single mother to three. A masters degree. Then another masters degree. Then a bunch of licenses, certificates, training, and private practice. A flourishing private practice in which I spent my days helping people recover from trauma and addiction. A private practice in which I teach people to love others and themselves. Where I teach couples to have healthy relationships. And I am really, really good at it.
The overwhelming problem is that I hated myself. I could forgive myself for everything and understand everything from my past. But NOT my kids. I could never forgive the pain my kids experienced because of me. I deserved to be punished forever. After all, why did I deserve to be happy when my kids weren’t?
The other problem is, that little girl was still inside of me. She died long ago, but her broken, frail, abused body still resided inside of me. I was just a shell for her. This adult body was a shell for a dead little girl.
Throughout my healing, I kept trying to revive that little girl. I kept thinking that I just needed to get that little girl back. The girl I was before all the pain. The problem is, you cannot revive the dead. You can be reborn, but not revived.
Today, I buried that little girl. I realized that all of the things I have done throughout my life have been for one purpose: to be loved. The problem is, how do I love with dead parts and hatred for myself? How do I take in love believing that I am the sole cause of my children’s pain? The answer is, I can’t. Better yet, I couldn’t.
I am a product of my past. I am a product of being a victim. Victims make more victims. It doesn’t make us culpable. It makes us human. Asking a victim to have no symptoms of pain is like asking a newborn to get up and walk. They don’t know how. They haven’t learned it. And they won’t learn it if they don’t have any examples. And they won’t learn it if you lock them up. And they really won’t learn it without some pain and failure.
Today, I forgave myself.
Today, I gave closure to my past.
Today, I buried a little girl. The one inside of me.