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EastSide Fan #5

I am struggling. I’m so tired. I feel like I am trying so hard to keep from drowning. I feel like I am living two different lives. The me that everyone sees and the me that I hide. I’m tired of pretending I’m okay. I am not okay.
I was sexually abused as a child, raped at work by a coworker and now am in a abusive marriage. I see no way out. I feel like a trapped animal that just wants to give up and die.
I am in counseling but am not able to afford it for very much longer. My husband does not know that I go to counseling or that I take antidepressants. He also doesn’t know about the childhood abuse. He would completely disown me if he knew about either.
My heart and my spirit are broken, my hope is shattered.

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Thank you so much for reaching out, for taking the time to share something so difficult with the community. Know that you are safe here and no one is going to judge you for what you are going through. You will only be met with love, care and, I hope, the encouragement that you need right now.

You have been very brave silently for so long. The fact that you’ve been seeing a counselor after going through such traumatic events, also to make the step of taking antidepressants, really displays how much strength there is within you, even if it doesn’t feel like this for you right now. I hope that writing here could be the beginning of something different for you. Feeling heard, but even more not feeling like you would have to carry all of this almost just by yourself. I see you. I hear you. And my heart really goes out to you.

Like you, I have a personal history of being sexually assaulted both as a child and an adult. At some point in my life, it has pushed me into reliving the events through unhealthy behaviors that only increased the shame in me, which was to sell myself to people I didn’t know, when Iwas younger. My partner doesn’t know any of it. With time, it feels like I lost my chance of telling him, and the more we spent life together, the more I was walking away from the possibility to be honest about this. I fear rejection - and wouldn’t blame it for it, so I never talked about what happened either. I often feel like I am betraying him, but still want to believe that, one day, there might be a better time and space to finally open up.

The burden of secrets can be incredibly heavy, but I want you to know that having this “second life” doesn’t make you unlovable or guilty of anything. I know it feels like a trap that closes on you. But this whole situation really only shows how hard it is to talk, to shake the emotions that are tied to the memories of the abuses, to be our vulnerable selves especially with the people who are the closest to us. You are not at fault. You have been trying your best to survive and deal with how these events have affected you.

The people who hurt you allowed themselves to do things they should have never done. They didn’t break you though. The very fact that you are here today, alive, breathing and reaching out, is the greatest manifestation of it.

You have mentioned that you are in an abusive marriage, and it makes even more sense to not be willing to talk to your husband in this context. You acknowledge that something is wrong there and your vulnerability could be used against you. In this context, I think it’s a very healthy reaction and a way to protect yourself.

May I ask if you are safe at home right now? Could also your therapist be an ally to you and give you some safe guidance in times to come? It’s okay to rely on people who are safe to you, especially if you feel trapped and/or alone in this. You’ve been doing the right thing by sharing how you feel and how life has been for you. This is a major step.

You are not doomed to be stuck in abusive situations. You are worthy of so much more than being hurt. Let’s make sure to gather the pieces of your heart together, little by little, so healing will be the only way for you. You don’t deserve to live in fear, in hopelessness or with the feeling of being trapped.

We are here to listen and support you as much as you need. Please don’t hesitate to keep reaching out. Your voice is so important. You are not alone. :heart:

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I am SO sorry that you have had these awful things happen to you! My heart goes out to you for going through so much pain and fear and horror. I am so glad that you have a therapist to talk to for now.

You are so strong, and your “double life” is a way of protecting yourself, of balling up the pain and trying to keep it manageable in one place while you try to repair and live a life free of it. That takes a lot of strength too.

I am so sorry that your marriage is a further source of uneasy. Do you have any other social support, like family or friends that you can rely on? I know it can be harder in different places due to culture and stuff, but having safe people you can rely on, is important to moving forward.

Thank you for being here, for reaching out here. We’re here to support you as best as we can.
These experiences were awful, and you may still feel the effects from it, but please know that they do not define you. You are more than your past, more than these bad things.

You deserve peace and happiness, safety and good things. I hope you can believe that. We’re here to remind you how very valuable you are, how worthy you are, and that you matter.

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I feel so much shame, like it is written all over me for everyone to see.
I feel like I go through the motions every day. I get up, go to work, come home, go to bed and start over.
I have family and friends and I do talk some with them. I don’t tell them very much because I am so ashamed of everything. I’m afraid they would leave if they heard my past.
I am safe, I’ve learned what I can and can’t say.
Thank you for listening.

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let me say one thing that i feel and know 1000% in every single fiber of my being:
you were innocent and did not cause or ask to be victimized the way you were.

as a child, you were 100% not at fault for being abused by someone else.
as an adult, no one would want or ask to be victimized by a coworker.

The feelings of shame should be felt by those who are the perpetrators. not you.
The feelings of shame? You don’t deserve that. You survived.

These are hard burdens to carry. I hope you can unburden yourself here.
I hope you will come to view us as friends here, and be able to speak what you need to, to start the process of healing.

Victims carry the shame but this is so misplaced and so undeserved. Someone touching a child does NOT soil or spoil the child, it stains the abuser. Nothing that happened to you as a child makes you a bad person, or makes that your identity.

You are special, and worthy and valuable.

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Hey there friend,
First off, I’m so very sorry you are struggling. The feeling of not being able to keep your head above water is terrifying, it’s like you’re always in either a fight or flight mindset. Rest is a foreign concept when you’re stuck in survival mode.

It breaks my heart to hear about your situation, no one deserves that as an adult, let alone as a child. I am a father of a little girl myself and I can’t begin to think of what it would be like knowing she was being hurt by someone.

I’m proud of you for taking care of yourself by going to counselling and getting the tools you need, but I’m also sorry to hear about the possibility of that resource being cut due to finances.

Since you do still have access to a counsellor, I would recommend you ask them for recommendations for other resources that could help your situation.
My mother was in a domestic violence situation years ago and she found a local support agency at the time it was called Women’s Space, but they’ve renamed themselves to the Hope & Safety Alliance ( https://www.hopesafetyalliance.org )

It’s disheartening to hear that the person who you married doesn’t respect you and isn’t deserving of your trust. That is a completely backwards representation of what a covenant marriage should look like.

If you are being abused, you need to do what you need to be safe. If you’re being hurt (physically, verbally, emotionally) you need to get away from him.

No one has any obligation to be in a relationship that is toxic or harmful to either party.

You deserve love, and to live your life to its fullest.

Thank you so much for sharing your life with us here, I’m proud of you. Please keep in touch and let us know how to support you.

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Hey friend,

Thank you so much for your response.

It definitely takes a lot of strength to reach out like you do right now despite feeling so much shame. Each time you connect with someone safe or safe places like here is a way to actively defeat this overwhelming feeling of shame. It is not something you deserve to feel. It is not something that should hold any space in your heart. You are not guilty for what happened. You never said or done anything that would justify any of their actions. The fault is entirely on them. It has to be their burden to carry.

How you feel though is absolutely understandable. Never have I felt so vulnerable than when I’ve been overwhelmed by the memories of past abuses and violence. Our body is our very first home, and it feels like the pain has been directly imprinted on it. Being hurt like this sometimes feels like carrying a mark that constantly exposes ourselves to the rest of the world. It’s like being without any protection or filter anymore, only with the fear of being eventually hurt again, or seen in ways we didn’t choose.

It makes sense to feel like it’s written all over you and to fear that people in your life would only see you through the perspective of these events if they happened to kow. These are valid fears. They have a reason to be. However it is also through healing conversations and getting the support you deserve that you will also learn to work on the shame that you feel and to see it differently. We, here, are certainly just starting to know you, but none of what you have shared or will share will ever change the love and care that we have for you. What happened is part of your story, but it will never define who you are.

You’ve mentioned that you are safe, but also that you have learned what you can or cannot say with your husband. It’s really good to know that you are not in danger right now. However, there is a contradiction in being in a relationship yet not being free to speak the way you want or need, which I have no doubt you’re already aware of. How do you feel about your current relationship? How do you envision the future regarding this relationship specifically?

As our friends said before, you are absolutely deserving of love, safety and respect. There is so much more for you to experience than a life limited by avoidance and shame. You have a story to tell, a voice to use, a peace of mind to find again.

I’m rooting for you. :hrtlegolove:

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You’ve gotten so many amazing replies, I feel I’d just parrot them but I this stood out to me. I can relate to feeling like your “stuff” is just on a neon flashing light over your head.

It’s like… you feel so much weight if all your trying to keep quiet and away, but it also feels like every breathing thing on the planet knows and sees it. It’s exhausting, and I’m so sorry you’re carrying that weight. You do not have to carry it alone.

I’d imagine it is very hard to keep pieces and versions of yourself hidden, always trying to remember who can know what. I’m glad you have learned the things that can keep you safe. Thank you for reaching out here. I hope you can feel comfortable using the anonymity of this forum and the internet as an outlet. Maybe even as a source for resources others my have picked up along the way.

I know things in our life can feel so isolating and like we’re just shut out and have to keep silent. You’ll find nothing but love and support here, with however much or however little you wish to share in the future. <3

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Thank you everyone for the replies! It is comforting to know so many people care about me and my story.
I have always felt like I was l trying to earn my right to breathe. Like I am never quite good enough. I feel worthless.
As far as my marriage, it is what I’m used to. It is like the frog in water analogy. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. But if you slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death. If it would have been like this at the start, I would have left right away. Then we had children and I thought it was better to stay but now I realize how much damage I did to them by staying and it breaks my heart.
I had a few hard things happen (2 deaths and my daughter leaving) in February and June. I spiraled down into a deep pit. I seriously considered taking my life. I knew how I was going to do it. If it wasn’t permanent, I think I would have. I started cutting as a way to “see” the pain I was feeling inside. I’m still cutting on a daily basis.
There are days I just feel so empty. I’m afraid to talk to anyone about it because I don’t want to scare them off or judge me.
Anyway, thank you for listening.

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i’ll reply more when I’m off work, but I wanted to reply quickly so that you know I see you, I hear you, you have SO MUCH worth, and your life and your feelings are valid and Important to me.

I’m glad you’re here with us!

Talk more soon!

Hey friend,

Thank you for reaching out in the first place and sharing about your life here. Encouraging each other, especially in face of the obstacles and hurt that life can throw at us is what we’re all about here. You’re doing the hardest part by sharing what’s on your heart and being so honest. That’s something to be really proud of, especially if it’s something you not necessarily comfortable with.

As far as my marriage, it is what I’m used to. It is like the frog in water analogy. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. But if you slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death. If it would have been like this at the start, I would have left right away.

The frog analogy speaks a lot for itself. Honestly, I think that’s the kind of “non-decision” that we could all make, especially if there are children involved. There’s no shame in trying to hold on to something or someone you’ve learned to trust at first, or invested a lot of yourself in. I’m not a parent myself, but I can understand why there was, at some point in your life, a kind of choice to make between a perceived stability for your children and the possibility to leave your husband at the time. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect choice in that kind of situation. You’ve done what you could with the cards that were given to you.

Then we had children and I thought it was better to stay but now I realize how much damage I did to them by staying and it breaks my heart.

You’re not a bad parent for staying. You were seeking what was the best for your children. And when you’ve spent time with someone you have learned to trust, it can be really hard to notice the changes in their behavior, or even accept that it’s there at first. I’ll use the word “abuse” because that’s the one you used in your first post, but that’s exactly what abuse is about. There’s a time when you realize that something is wrong… but that time can really happen later on in life. Still it’s not your fault. You didn’t cause the situation. If your husband is abusive, then it’s his responsibility, as a partner and a father, to face that and seek help.

I personally came from a home where there was a lot of abuse happening. But through the perspective of the child that I was, and now the adult that I try to be, the most hurtful are not the memories. It’s the seemingly impossibility to find closure with my mom, because she is not ready to face the fact that she was abusive. Which is exactly the opposite of what you are doing right now. The words you have shared are the testimony of how much you care about your children and have only their well-being in mind. How much you want the best for them. Sometimes that includes facing things that are very painful, situations that are very chaotic. But it’s also the very first step to free yourselves from it and finally start healing, at best together. It’s when you see how things are, from the outside, that you can start making your own decisions, and not follow the ones that were made for you.

You don’t have to be perfect. How you feel about the past really shows how much you are a good parent. It probably sounds a bit like a paradox because when we start digging into our pain it feels like an endless pit without any exit door. There’s all this guilt and shame and regrets that come all at once. But without this awareness, you wouldn’t be able to even start considering to change the narrative. To reinvest your present as it should be. You wouldn’t have started to see a counselor. You wouldn’t be here, reaching out and sharing your voice.

Please don’t let regrets consume you. Through this pain that both your children and you are feeling, there might be healing to find, even if it would take time to get there. Never have I seen my dad being more of a dad than the day he told me that he was aware of the abuses I went through, and confessed how it was a struggle for him to be a dad himself. I don’t know how your relationships with your children are at the moment, but I truly hope for you and them to finally create, at your own pace, the relationships that you need and always deserved. It is never too late for that, even if there’s been a lot of hurt before, and its consequences to carry in the present.

As for the decision to stay with your husband, is it good for you now to stay with him? Because in your analogy the frog may not be aware of the water slowly boiling… but you are. You have that awareness. You’ve been using some very strong words to describe it, and I think that it’s a real power you got there. Getting used to something that consumes you and contains you into being someone you’re not is not something you deserve. Not even when your daughter was living with you. Because even if you made decisions for your children, you’ve also always been part of the equation and have needs to be met. Your needs matter. It is never too late to leave, and certainly never too late to live either.

I had a few hard things happen (2 deaths and my daughter leaving) in February and June. I spiraled down into a deep pit. I seriously considered taking my life

I’m grateful that you are still here today, that you didn’t listen to these voices telling you that it would be better to disappear. Losses can make us feel so helpless and I can only imagine how this has impacted you on the top of all the things you are already working on and trying to heal from. There is hope though even if it’s hard to see it. If you don’t have any left, rest assured that we’ll keep having hope for you as long as needed. I think you’re very aware of how things are, of what is fair or not, and feeling that deeply really hurts when it seems like all the odds are against you. It sounds though that you are on your way to start reconsidering what have been creating some false narrative in your mind for too long. Once again, reaching out and opening up as you do is a major step in this direction.

This world needs you. Your children need you. Your friends need you. We need you. And I hope we’ll be able to help you meet your own needs too. <3

I started cutting as a way to “see” the pain I was feeling inside. I’m still cutting on a daily basis.

I’m sorry that self-harming has been part of your life. You can be sure that no one here is going to judge you for it though. It doesn’t make you a monster, or weird or anything like that. It only makes you a human being who’s been trying to cope with some very rough and intense emotions, all of it by themselves. It’s about surviving there. Nothing else. And if one day you share about it with someone who happens to judge negatively or look at you in a weird way… then that would just mean they need to be educated about it, so they would understand more.

Sometimes we start using unhealthy ways to cope because they produce an instant relief of some kind, or a feeling of control for example. When you “see” the pain, you’re kind of controlling it. There’s something reassuring with that, especially when you have to deal with the impact of past traumas, with memories and feelings that can just overwhelm you anytime, anywhere, with anyone. The way I was dealing with it at first personally was a bit for the same reasons. When you choose to have your own catharsis on a daily basis, it’s a bit like you’re acting out before your own demons start being present… because at least, YOU are the one who set the rules?

It’s never too late to unlearn it though and trade cutting for healthier ways to cope, some that are non harmful to you and won’t create more pain on the pain in the long run. It also takes time. Ideally a good support - which you can absolutely seek here too if you’d like to work on it with us. There’s a workbook that HS provides called Rewrite (heartsupport.com/resources) that’s absolutely worth checking on. You can explore it and work on it with us if that can help too. No pressure though - just know that it’s a possibility and there are steps to take in order to break down the cycles you could feel stuck in.

You are not worthless. You are loved right as you are. It may take some time (a little or a lot, it doesn’t matter) before you would get to the point of actually feeling and embracing that truth, but I can tell that it’s a journey worth the try. There is a lot of beauty and strength within you, a lot more than you probably imagine. No one get to take that away from you. <3

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hi again,

It’s always challenging o handle this situation when they are kids involved. Parents try to protect their kids sometimes from all that is going on, but sometimes they have no clue what is really looks like from the child’s eyes.

Please don’t beat yourself up about that. I’m sure you did what you thought was the best the first couple of times.

Also, being in such an abusing relationship means that when you do start to take care of yourself it feels SO SELFISH because you never were allowed to look out for yourself first and foremost. It’s terrifying the first time you do it because of the guilt and fear and insecurity.

But just keep making the best decisions you can.

We’re here for you to chat or to bounce off ideas or just listen as you need!

This can’t be more true. I moved out of my xhusband’s parent’s house in the beginning of 2007 and for a long time it was hard for me to buy basic essentials for myself. I had to ask him for famine hygiene stuff and hope I didn’t get yelled at because I was using all the money he need for cigarettes and his expensive hobbies.

I felt I was being selfish. God when I think back I just want to rage…

So, don’t feel like you’re being selfish because you’re not.

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Thank you to everyone! Your support means so much to me. I have read and reread your messages over and over. It’s easy to read but harder to really feel it.
I’m having a rough day. I am tired both emotionally and physically. I used to love to sleep because my mind would shut off but lately I’ve been having dreams and nightmares.
I just want someone to hug me and tell me I’m going to be okay.
Again, thank you for listening!

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I think you’ll find many people in this same that know exactly how that feels. On some level we know it to be true four ourselves, because we can say it and truly believed it for others, but there’s a wall or blinders or something in the way of our own life.

I’m sorry even sleep is being robbed from you. Losing your one guaranteed peace is… well exhausting to say the least! I am really greatful that you chose this space to open up a bit, and also kept chatting. We’re always here to listen anytime!

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Sending friendly thoughts your way today. I hope you take care of yourself as much as possible lately.

You will be okay, friend. Little by little, by keeping to use your voice as you’ve been doing here, by considering the different options that you may have to better your life environment, by taking little steps but also resting when you need it. What happened to you, your relationships and what’s haunting you don’t define you. It is part of your story and of what’s on your mind, but you have the ability to regain power over it and own your life, with the right help as well.

It’s okay also if what we have said here is something difficult to be felt. Learning to love ourselves and actually embrace the life within us is a learning process. It takes time. But that process doesn’t have to be done just by yourself, and that’s why we are here too. To remind some truths when we tend to lose sight of it, as our mind can wander in some pretty dark and hurtful spaces sometimes.

You’re not alone. You’re loved. :hrtlegolove:

Hey there, just wanted to see if there was any update on your situation? Is there anything I can do for you to help your situation?

Thank you all so much!
Danjo-I appreciate you asking!
I’m doing okay. No changes to my situation.
In September, I was placed on unpaid administrative leave, I was able to go back to the clinic I worked at before but get over $8 less an hour. My husband is also now placed on unpaid leave, because he is union, he can’t get another job yet. So, I am the only income. (That is why I won’t be able to continue with counseling). My husband keeps saying things like-we might be homeless soon and things similar to that. He knows how much it upsets me because I am working full time but keeps doing it. I have offered to get a second job. I do have side jobs that I do to make some extra.
Also, last week in counseling, I was able to talk a little more about my childhood abuse. The person who abused me used to sell me to his friends to use. My mind is bombarding me with so much, too much to think about. It’s like an artery was cut and I can’t stop the bleeding. I can’t shut my eyes without seeing everything. I was a prostitute. Money was exchanged for my body. I can’t get that out of my mind.
I don’t know what to do.

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Hello again,
I understand what you mean by the abusive husband, based on the scenario above. If he’s on leave, why doesn’t he offer to go get a second job? Since you are the one who’s currently working, logic would say he should go out and help the finances out.

I must tell you that you are completely wrong. You were a child. A child cannot consent to sex. Period, end of story. One of the best things to remember is this: A child could be naked in front of someone and beg for sex, and an adult is supposed to say no, and turn and walk away from a child. Period. End of scene. That is the responsibility of the adult. It is not the responsibility of the child. Anyone who is an adult has to learn to restrain themselves, learn what is wrong and right, and the burden of correct behaviour is on them.

That said. YOU were not a prostitute. You were a child. You did not sell your body for money. Someone forced you and used you.

This does not change your worth or value - you are a worthy individual, and nothing that you have been forced to endure, or have experienced, will ever be able to break down your value or worth.

You survived such great horrors, and yet you’re here and fighting, and able to share with us and trust us. That is so huge and so amazing, and I thank you for that.
I wish we could magically take away those memories and give you some mental peace. You’re loved so much here, and you matter to us.

What can you do? I’m not a professional, but I think the first thing to do is to know that the child that went through those things absolutely didn’t deserve that, didn’t ask for that to happen, didn’t cause those adults to do what they did, and that you were innocent.

My mind is bombarding me with so much, too much to think about. It’s like an artery was cut and I can’t stop the bleeding. I can’t shut my eyes without seeing everything.

I’m so sorry that people treated you that way. They didn’t have the right to subject you like this. You were just a child. When we are young we naturally expect the adults around us to protect us, to provide love and safety as it is their responsibility.

When I first had memories of past abuses, and whenever I remember something new, it was exactly as you describe. Just this constant flow of overwhelming images and sensations in my body that I couldn’t control. It felt like my entire body and mind were taken in hostage and used against my will once again. Whenever the nightmares and images of the past hit me again, I tend to feel hopeless and wonder when it’s going to stop. It is certainly the most human reaction we can have when dealing with the reality of something that should never happen. Which is also why it’s so important to not stay alone while processing these memories.

Our bodies carry the memory of these traumatic experiences. There’s a hurt, fears and distress that manifest themselves sometimes as raw as it was the first time we felt them. You are not losing your mind and you are certainly not losing yourself either. The very fact that you can name these memories as such when it feels really raw again is already a way to gain some power over it, even if it feels like it’s still out of your control. You are learning to look at your past and your story while knowing that you are not there anymore. When you talk about what happened, you’re in the process of replacing these memories where they belong - in the past - and you give the signal to your body/mind that it is not happening anymore. Of course it’s not a realization that happens instantly. It takes time. And sometimes the pain is so deep that it’s hard to believe that we actually are in a process of healing. But these are some major steps that you’ve been taking, and I want to encourage you to rest and take care of yourself as much as possible while navigating this rush of emotions.

Did your therapist share some advice or techniques with you in terms of just learning to cope when you feel overwhelmed by the hurt of these memories? If not, we can surely discuss some of them here.

I hope you know that what happened doesn’t define you either, and there will be a time when you will feel whole again. As you are now starting to unfold these memories with your therapist, it’s like opening a door with a lot of intense things behind that were waiting to be seen and processed emotionally. It’s a sudden explosion that can be very draining and make one feel hopeless. With time, you will find clarity and heal these wounds, one by one. There’s nothing in what happened that would make you broken beyond repair. Although your pain is real, valid and deeply felt. You are not alone, friend. We are in this with you. I’m so proud of you for starting to name what happened. These people didn’t break you. They don’t get that power. They will never do.

As for your job situation, this is yet another weight on your shoulders, and I’m so sorry it’s affecting the possibility for you to keep seeing a therapist. Do you think you could benefit from some cost reduction or financial aid to keep seeing your therapist?

I hope you are hanging in there as much as possible. Thinking of you. :hrtlegolove:

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