When I look back on my childhood, I remember many happy times. I am the oldest of three, I have a younger brother and sister. We would go camping up North every summer as a family. We danced, played sports and had lots of family gatherings. That all changed when I was in grade 2 and our parents sat us down and told us they were splitting up… in that moment I felt relieved. From a young age I knew that my parents weren’t happy together. The three of us moved in with my mom and my dad got his own place. It wasn’t long before they got back together and we all moved into a new house. A happy family again…not really though. I understand now that there were various reasons they got back together at that time and they thought they were doing the right thing.
I recently started therapy and I’ve been reflecting a lot on my childhood. What happened in the years after my parents got back together was the starting point of a long list of traumatic experiences, addictions and self destruction.
I was made fun of a lot in elementary school. I was different. I was called fat, weird, I actually remember one boy calling me an orangutan because my arms were a little hairier than other girls my age. I remember having a crush on one of the popular boys, he was usually nice to me, unless his friends were around. Then one day he asked me out, and of course I was shocked and excited. Until a few weeks of being his girlfriend I found out it was all an elaborate joke that everyone was in on. Obviously I was crushed.
That’s just a little bit of back story, where my feelings of worthlessness arose from. I slowly started to isolate myself more and more in my teenage years. My home life was chaos and fighting. I started to cut myself and wore long sweaters in the summer to hide my arms. No one ever noticed. Then I developed an eating disorder. It went on for years without anyone noticing. It made me feel like I could control something in my life. There was so much chaos around me, but my body was mine.
When I was 18 I met him, he was my first. Our relationship went on for 5 years, on and off. It was toxic, but at that time in my life he was all that I had. So I kept going back, despite the abuse. My memory is a little foggy when it comes to the exact time line of when everything occurred. I remember feeling like I was nothing without him, and at that time I had no one to turn to at home so I needed him, or at least I felt like I did. Throughout our relationship I defended him to my friends and family, even to myself. He made me feel like I was crazy, like there was something wrong with me. One night when I was 20 years old, I left a bar crawl I was at with my friends because he wanted to hang out with me. Once I got home, he told me he was out with his friends and didn’t want to see me. I was in such a dark place at this point, and I was drunk, everything seemed too overwhelming. I just wanted it all to go away. So I downed a bottle of pills and woke up some time later in the hospital. My dad had found me unconscious, he saved my life that night.
I was put on suicide watch, but it wasn’t long before I signed myself out. I didn’t get the help I needed. I continued to be with him, but now I was also drinking heavily. I was an alcoholic until I was about 25, booze was my best friend. It took away my anxiety and my pain. I didn’t have to think. People liked me when I was drunk.
I’m not completely sure when this next event happened, but It was when him and I were living together. Things were so volatile at my parent’s that I had to leave, so we got an apartment. We were out of town and we got into an argument so I took a bus to my best friends house. We went to a party. I was really upset so of course I was getting hammered, my usual go to.
The group of girls I was with went to sleep in our tent, I was about to pass out, and then it happened. I was sexually assaulted. All I remember Is saying no over and over again while he was pulling down my pants and underwear and not being able to stop him because I was so drunk. Then I blacked out.
The only person I told was my boyfriend and he didn’t believe me, he said I was lying and called me horrible names. When I got home all his stuff was gone. I didn’t tell my parents, or my friends. I felt like no one would believe my story. I was hopeless.
After that I was either getting drunk or working, or both. I did anything I could to avoid the thoughts in my head, the pain, the memories. I was self-destructing. I got back together with him a few more times, and made another suicide attempt. After finally cutting my ties with him, I got into another horrible relationship. After he cheated on me a few times we broke up and I just used men for sex and continued my reckless drinking. Then finally I hit bottom, I quit my job and decided that I had to change. I started therapy and enrolled in a yoga and self realization course. I fell in love. I started working on myself, facing my trauma, examining my pain, sitting with it. I rediscovered my passion for art and even started selling my work. I moved in with my boyfriend. I thought that I had finally found my “happy ending,”I thought the work was done….but of course it wasn’t, and it never will be.
I was still carrying the pain from my past, I starting falling back into old habits, putting others before myself. I didn’t love myself, I didn’t trust myself, or my new partner, or anyone else for that matter. I was always filled with anxiety and worry. I was afraid of being happy, because in my experience it always turned into pain. I thought It was inevitable that I would be cheated on and abandoned. So I always thought the worst, I sabotaged myself, I robbed myself of any joy I could have felt.
Then a few months ago, my worst fear became my reality. I found out that the person I loved betrayed me. What I thought was my life completely shattered. All of my past trauma resurfaced, I started having flashbacks again, I couldn’t leave the house without having a panic attack, I couldn’t go to work. I felt like 20 year old me again, hopeless, afraid, worthless, not enough.
The difference was that this time, I asked for help. I recognized that I was going back down a dark path, I was afraid of how I felt, I didn’t want to lose myself. This time I wanted to survive. I made the choice not to give up on myself, and after over 10 years of living in a state of constant anxiety I am finally getting the help I need.
I am on a journey to find my truth, to live from a place of authenticity. My experience with dealing with the aftermath of trauma has taught me that, no matter how far you fall, how lost, terrified and hopeless you feel, there is always a way. There is as much light as there is darkness, and you can find it within yourself. You might have to dig and claw your way to it, but it is always there. I am not lost, I am in transit. This journey is uncomfortable, painful and terrifying at times, but in order to have a healthy relationship with life, I first need to heal myself. I want to feel joy and peace. I want to help other people by telling my story.
You are not alone.
I know it isn’t easy to ask for help or to be vulnerable and face your pain.
It is Brave.
I am Brave.
I Am Cassie and I Love and Accept Myself.