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The beginning to now

Just a warning this is very long.

I’ve been struggling with this story for a very long time. Something has been telling me that its finally time to share the whole thing. Please have an open mind as you read this. Please remember that people make mistakes. Please know that I love my parents very much and hold no ill will towards them. I promise they are good people. This is for me. More importantly this is for YOU. I hope that anyone out there struggling can be inspired and realize that no matter what they are never alone. We are all in this together.
TRIGGERS TO FOLLOW
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The first time I kissed a boy I was 5. Now that might not seem weird because little kids kiss each other. They turn it into games and adults watch on and say how sweet and cute it is that little boys and girls run around chasing each other trying to kiss. Well I was 5 and he was 11. This was also turned into games. We would playhouse and hide and seek. We would build forts and go on adventures and no one thought it was weird that an 11 year old boy spent so much time with a 5 year old girl. “They’re like siblings,” they said. “Well he’s protective of her, she’s like his sister.” They claimed.

What was really going on was the over sexualization of a child. What I didn’t know at the time was I was being molested. This continued for years. kisses, some touching of places that no child should be touched or should be touching. I thought I loved him. I thought that’s what love was and for years and years I was obsessed with him. He was like family but what others saw as sibling love I saw as much more. He was my best friend, my partner in crime.

I was never scared. I never felt uncomfortable. I never thought to tell anyone because at that point I was already fantastic at keeping secrets I thought might change my life. I never thought anything was wrong with what we were doing. That’s what boys and girls do when they like each other right?

When I was 6, I remember being in the very back of my mom’s Isuzu with the boy and another kid that was the son of a neighbor. I don’t remember where we were going or why the 3 of us were in the trunk. I remember the 2nd boy asking me if I had ever put my mouth on a boy’s penis. I hadn’t and I told him so. Somehow, they convinced me that I should try it. I didn’t want to, it seemed weird to me. What me and the first boy had was special and I didn’t want to touch anyone else. But he told me that this is what friends do. So, I did for just a second. I remember the three of us laughing. I knew that boy for a couple more years, hanging out, going to birthday parties. But nothing like that ever happened again and then the next thing I knew the boy was gone.

I developed pretty early on in life. I would have boys’ comment about my body and ask me to do things to them at a young age. I was 9 the first time a boy saw me with my pants off. He was a 13 year old from the neighborhood that I hung out with a lot and one day we were in my room. Now my parents weren’t home, and he had convinced me that I should have sex with him. I don’t remember wanting to, but friends were important to me and he told me that this is what friends do. I tried to avoid it for as long as I could but somehow, he had convinced me that it was happening. He never put his hands on me. He never physically forced me to do anything. I felt like I had to. To keep my friend and so that people would like me.

I remember being terrified. I didn’t want to do it but there were a lot of things I had done in my life that I didn’t want to do that I had done. At 9 years old I thought to myself well it’s better to try and tell myself that I want it rather than fight against it and be traumatized from it. What kind of 9 year old thinks like that? By the grace of whatever higher power is out there just as he laid on top of me my dad came into my room. I was even more scared because all I could think was that my dad is going to kill him and then he will go to jail and then he will be gone forever.

I don’t remember much after that. I remember my dad yelling and dragging me into my parents’ bedroom where he proceeded to beat the ever-living shit out of me. I remember crying but not saying anything. I remember sitting in our living room afterwards watching TV. I remember my dad crying for hours and then days after. My father had never laid a hand on me. Not even a slap on the mouth or butt when I misbehaved, even though I never really misbehaved. I don’t remember the boy leaving. To this day 20 years later we have never spoken about what happened. I never talked about it. No questions were asked, and I was grateful for that. I don’t remember ever seeing the boy after that.

Now on and off the first boy would come back into my life. Things would go back to the way they were, the kissing and the touching and inappropriate conversations and then he would be gone again, and I would miss him.

During these times I would be put in a lot of situations where I didn’t feel safe. My parents did a lot of drugs when I was younger and my mom would go to Asbury Park or Newark to get them and I knew what she was doing and I was always scared for her so I would beg and beg to go with her even though I knew it might be scary. It was just the thought of something happening to her and me not being there was worse so I would cry and cry until she took me with her. I lost count of the amount of times an adult male looked at me in such a way that I would want to throw up or poop my pants. I may not have known what they were thinking but my stomach always knew that I didn’t like it. I always felt dirty.

Now I had crushes on boys just like any young girl, but I never thought I was good enough for them, so I never acted on it. All my friends that were girls were so much prettier than me. They seemed so much more mature and desirable even though they were only a year older. It was during this time that I first started feeling ugly. Like other people had something that I didn’t. That I didn’t deserve or couldn’t have certain things because of the way I looked and the secrets I kept.

The scariest night of my life was when I was 12 years old. Now I’m pretty sure that’s the right timeline but it’s been so long, and I’ve blocked so much out. I was an awkward kid. I was quiet. I went through puberty much earlier then everyone around me. I was taller than my friends even the guys, I had quite a large chest even for 12 and I would hide it under sweatshirts and baggy clothes. I don’t know why it was always so important to me but looking back now I think I was just trying to hide myself from people, from men.

My mom was going somewhere, and I demanded to go with her. I was wearing a blue Yankees sweatshirt, jeans, and white shoes. I sat in the back of the car and she was driving. We stopped and picked up two people along the way. It was nighttime.

The man that was sat with me in the back was a friend of hers. I don’t remember much about him, but I had seen him before. I must have felt comfortable enough around him because he had his arm around my shoulders, and I didn’t think anything of it. I couldn’t tell you how old he was just that he was an adult.

We drove around stopping at a few places. I remember driving down main Street in Bradley Beach passing the quick check that’s there. I remember the radio being on and I remember being tired. I remember his arm moving to around my stomach and my heart beating out of my chest. I remember his hands touching my bare waist. The next thing I remember is being parked on a street in long branch outside of someone’s house down the street from my middle school. I can’t remember if I was asleep or I was just pretending to make the situation easier. The next thing I remember is the man sticking his hand into my jeans and underwear.

I didn’t make a sound. I didn’t move. I didn’t even open my eyes. I just sat there as yet another man touched me in ways no child should be touched. I didn’t know what to do. So, I did nothing. I remember thinking I’m 12 years old, I’m someone’s child. What type of person does this?? I thought about how devastated my mom would be. How if I spoke up, she would probably try to kill this man and then she would go to jail and then she would be gone forever.

I remember pretending to wake up and him removing his hand and that’s all I remember from that night. I’ve never been sure if he really thought I was sleeping or if he knew I was awake.

Now though I never saw him again over the next few months my mother would get phone calls from him from jail and he would always ask to speak to me. He would say hello. He wanted to know how I was doing and how school was and then I would find some excuse to get off the phone and I would go to my room and I would cry a little, but not too much because I didn’t want anyone knowing I was upset. He used to send her letters and she would mention that he asked about me. My stomach would turn.

Eventually the calls and letters stopped. It would be almost 10 years before I started talking about that night with friends, swearing them to secrecy.

Later that year I met a boy. A son of one of my mom’s friends I think he was 16 at the time. We hung out any time I was over there, and we talked, played video games did what friends do. One day he told me he liked me, that I was Beautiful, that he couldn’t understand why I didn’t have a boyfriend. I remember being shy. I didn’t like getting compliments from people. I said thank you. He asked if I liked him and even though I didn’t, I didn’t want to lose a friend, so I lied and said yes.

The next time we hung out he asked if I would have sex with him. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to; sex was not something that ever crossed my mind. So, I made up a lie. I told him that I thought I was too young for sex but that when I turned 13 that I would. He thankfully took that as an answer and didn’t bring it up again until after my birthday. He said well your 13 now so you owe me something. I owed him something? I remember thinking how crazy that sounded. Yes, I had told him I would, but did that mean I owed it to him. I made up more excuses, over and over again and it never happened. I never saw him again.

The boy from my childhood would come around. He would hang out with me, take me places, buy me things. But nothing else would happen. We would sometimes joke about the things we did as “kids” but that was it. I remember feeling ugly. I didn’t understand why we didn’t do the things we used to. I figured he didn’t love me anymore and that made me sad.

When I was 14, I kissed a boy. This boy was a very good friend that had known me my entire life. I had always had a crush on him, but I never thought he saw me for anything more than just his best friend.

We kissed one night, and I mean really kissed. Now we had kissed plenty of times before as kids playing those silly games I talked about earlier. But this was different. I was 14 he was 15, I was sleeping over his house and we were cuddling. He kissed me and he seemed just as nervous as I was. But I wasn’t scared. It didn’t feel wrong, I didn’t feel like I had to. I like to think of that night as the first time I kissed a boy. That night I had my first real “age” appropriate sexual experience and I remember feeling safe. I remember thinking maybe this could be the start of something. Nothing ever came of it. He is still one of my best friends who I love very much and I will always hold dear the events of that night and how it made me feel like maybe it wasn’t so wrong to like boys. That maybe boys could be safe. We recently spoke about that night for the first time just a few weeks ago. He admitted that he liked me so much back then, but he was scared. He wished he would have spoken up. Maybe things would be different if he did.

When I was 17, I fell in love and I lost my virginity to the boy I was dating who was 18. He was kind and gentle and loved me and didn’t make me feel like my body was his or that I owed him anything. He made me feel good about myself. He made me feel beautiful. That was the first time I actively measured my self-worth according to someone else’s love. Then he broke my heart into so many pieces it felt like I was dying because I kind of was. I would begin to slowly kill myself from the inside out and the trauma of losing that love and the things that happened after setting me on a path that still haunts me to this day.

I developed an eating disorder. Not only was I too depressed to eat but I had convinced myself that I just wasn’t good enough. That I was too fat for him. That maybe if I were thinner someone could love me. I dropped 60 pounds in 2 months. I weighed 152 pounds at 5’10 and though I knew I was sick. I thought I looked amazing.

I started cutting myself. At first just to feel something, I would walk around feeling like a drained zombie and most times I couldn’t even cry. I felt full of emotions I couldn’t get rid of. Then I found that it helped relieve my anxiety. With every slash I felt relief. I felt the weight on my chest disappear. The blood didn’t bother me, the pain for days after didn’t bother me. I only knew that it made me feel better and as long as I was careful and as long as no one knew it would be okay until I could feel better and I could stop…I didn’t for a long time.

Over the course of months this boy used me because he knew I loved him so much and wanted him back in my life so badly that I would do anything. We continued to sleep together even though he had a new girlfriend. I will always regret that, and I believe karma has gotten me back tenfold for that, but I was just a love-struck teenager, I didn’t understand what I was doing. Those actions just made me feel even more worthless. Now what I have come to realize is that yes, he was wrong, I was wrong, but he was just a confused teenager just like me. I no longer blame him for the hurt he caused. We speak from time to time.

With my huge weight loss and some confidence, I began to give parts of myself away to people that didn’t deserve me. These were not bad guys. They were all age appropriate. I never felt forced or guilted into it, but it did kill a piece of me every time. I wanted these boys to like me, to find me attractive because I liked them, and it had never really worked like that for me before. For them to be showing me any attention at all was huge for me because I didn’t think much of myself. I didn’t think I was worthy and so I gave them parts of me as appreciation for that.

When I was 19, I met a guy and I slept with him 3 hours after meeting him. He was 24 when we met. We dated for almost 3 years during which time he was verbally abusive and cheated on me with over a dozen people. He did this because I wouldn’t experiment with him. I wouldn’t have threesomes and I wouldn’t cater to other things he proposed. Over those 3 years we had a lot of sex. Sometimes I wanted to and sometimes I didn’t. When I didn’t want to, he would guilt me into it or try to get me into the mood and almost every time I would give in. I would give in because I loved him, and sex is what people do when they love each other. I loved him more than anything and I still wasn’t good enough for him to want just me, that broke me. I didn’t find out about all the people he had slept with until the very end of our relationship. We haven’t spoken in almost 8 years.

I’ve had issues with sexual relationships ever since.

Over the years my anxiety, depression and self-loathing just grew and grew. At 21 I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, major depression, and panic disorders. This did not come as a surprise to me. The very first time I ever remember being anxious I was 4 and my mom was going to steal a toy I wanted from the store. So, to hear from a professional that that is exactly what it was almost a relief.

The 6 months after my diagnosis was particularly hard. I was working 2 jobs, going to college, my first long term relationship had just ended. My grandfather and uncle passed away, super storm sandy devastated the coast and nothing felt like it was ever going to be okay again. I don’t think I had ever felt lower in my life, I drank too much, and I made some really bad decision. But something happened, I hit bottom and then I picked myself up and I kept moving. That is a pattern I have continue. I go go go and I deplete myself, I hit bottom, I keep going. That’s just what I’ve kind of done my entire life actually.

Since then I’ve had a few relationships, I’ve had a few "hook ups " there were good times and bad. I always gave it my all but there was always this stuff in the background. My anxiety always got in the way. My insecurities got in the way. Though the reason why things didn’t work out weren’t always my fault, I always felt like something I did pushed these people into the direction they ended up going.

I always felt so blessed to have them, so shocked that people like them saw something in someone like me. Some of them felt the same way about me and it baffled me why anyone would think of me that way. I guess they in turn probably felt that too. I always held on too tight. I was always afraid that if I let up or let my grip go just a little that I would lose them. I’ve learned that all I did by holding them so close was to suffocate all the beautiful possibilities of what could have been. Whether it was because it scared them or they just stopped feeling the same or they just never felt the same I will never know, but I will never stop feeling like something in me drive them away.

I’ve said in the past that I try to be as vulnerable as possible. It’s something I started when I first realized the gravity of what I had been through.

I’ve been told that simply isn’t the best idea. That it leaves me too open, it sets me up for disappointment and yeah, I’m sure it does, but I just can’t imagine being any other way.

I guess the point of all this was to explain something about myself. To explain why I am the way I am. Why my heart is so open, and I feel so much. Why I cling to things I’m afraid of losing. Why my anxiety takes over a lot of the time. Why I take things so personally. Why I love with all of myself. Also, why I can be cold. Why even as someone that feels so much, I sometimes can’t feel at all in certain situations.

I know I’m a rare person. I see the good in people when it doesn’t seem like there is any there. I push people who I know can do better. I throw everything into caring about a person because I feel that’s what people deserve. They deserve to know they are cared about and loved no matter what. I’m extremely patient, kind and understanding. I don’t get sick of things easily. I work very very hard and put my all into whatever job I have at the time. I don’t judge much, who am I to judge anyone else?

I can also be selfish. Sometimes things just need to be about me. I can obsess and dwell. I can be a bitch, sometimes as a defense mechanism and sometimes just because. I can be overwhelming at times. There are times when I drink too much. Times I put my foot in my mouth or act obnoxiously. I talk too much; I say too much. I’m nowhere near perfect. Even though some people have claimed that I am. But I try to be good. I try to be good because I know if I stop trying, I could go to a dark place very quickly.

I have to see the hope and the good. I have to dream of better days. I have to be completely open and overbearing with my feelings because that’s the true me. I have so much inside of me, and I have to let it out and I know sometimes it can be annoying as hell and overwhelming, but I have to say how I feel. I have to believe that things can be better. I have to believe that even though terrible, horrible things happen to people every day that they can overcome those things. That the world can’t possibly be as horrible as it seems. That even after all I’ve gone through, at my own hands or at the hands of others that I can overcome it all and have the life I have always wanted.

I just want to love and be loved, unapologetically.

I’ve often said it’s a miracle that I am the way I am, and I get the feeling that people don’t utterly understand the weight behind that statement.

I am a walking talking miracle.

I may not love myself the way I should, I may abuse my body and my mind from time to time, I may be a bad friend here or there and I may tell a lie or two but the me that’s here today could be a much different person and it would have been easier to take a different path but I didn’t.

I chose the love and the hope in life and because I can’t love myself, I make sure that everyone else knows how much they are loved whether it be by me or other people.

I make sure that I am the light because I know that the darkness is always waiting for me.

I hope one day I can learn to love myself as much as I love everyone else. That I can show myself the respect I show others. That I can believe my own words when I say that EVERYONE deserves to be loved, that EVERYONE is worthy of greatness. That EVERYONE can have all the happiness they want as long as they reach out a grab it when it comes along. I want to be free of it all. I don’t want to be scared anymore. I want to be the strong women people see me as, the women I know I am.

I know there is a great life out there waiting for me and I hope in being honest and finally letting all of this shit go I can find it.

Thank you

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@Danilovenj

Thank you so much for being so open and vulnerable about your story. I can tell that you are a truly incredible women, and very intelligent. I’m sure you know this, but the events of you past do not define you. I am so proud of you for seeking the help you are so worthy of.

I think you are right. You are a miracle and I do believe that one day you will be loved completely, just as you are, and for all the right reasons. I am sorry that people have taken advantage of you over the course of your life time but you are priceless and no one can ever take your worth away.

Even now, you are so loved and I am honored to have heard your story. You are awesome and very inspirational. I hope you have a good community of support around you and if you don’t, that is what HeartSupport is here. We are here to encourage you and cheer you on as you continue this journey.

I wish you only the best from here on out and I hope that you get to live out the best life you can possibly imagine.

Much love,
Sarah

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You totally are! Thank you for sharing your story. It is so powerful to share and to come out knowing that you are a miracle. You go!

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Thank you for sharing these parts of your story, @Danilovenj. While reading your words, I felt for you. And I hope sharing this has a kind of cathartic effect - or anything that would bring you to your next level of growth.

The way you describe yourself in the last part of your post reminds me of a song of Sleeping At Last. Maybe you already know it! :


Learning to love ourselves like we’d love others is a deep struggle for many people. I don’t know if that’s even possible. But I do believe that self-acceptance is, at least, absolutely needed and worth it. We can’t give our oxygen if we’re running out of it for ourselves.

I think acceptance goes along with acknowledging your own story, to reflect on what you want to keep with you and which burdens are not necessary anymore. Congratulations on doing this through this post. And thank you for your trust, for taking the time to write down all of this and to share it here. :hrtlovefist:

Take care - :hrtlegolove:

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Thank you for taking the time and the encouragement <3

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read the whole thing and keeping an open mind. I do indeed know the song. I love sleeping at last so much and that song means a lot to me.

I’m doing my best to work through it all. Therapy has been great and I’m actually taking the heartsupport master class and let me tell you, we are only 2 sessions in but I couldn’t be more hooked or more excited for the things to come. <3

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@Danilovenj wow. You are a warrior. A survivor. A miracle as you so rightfully put it. Thank you for using this space to be vulnerable about all of the pain and trauma you have endured.

I cant even imagine being nine years old and having to think “I should just let this happen because it will be less traumatizing that way” At nine years old you were looking out for yourself and everyone around you. You were taking care of yourself and trying to take care of your mother. All you wanted was the love you were giving to everyone and in exchange for the love you gave you were abused, that’s horrible, and I am so sorry that happened to you.

After experiencing that for so long, I am sure there was a moment you thought “maybe this is just normal” and I’m so glad that you have found a safe space to learn that no it is not normal and yes you deserve to be loved for who you are and not what you can give people.

I have been sexually assaulted as well and it broke my heart into a million pieces and made it insanely difficult to trust. That was two experiences in my 24 years, so I can’t imagine how difficult the countless experiences you have had have made it trust and open up to others. I am glad that you are learning about what you deserve and it’s okay that it’s a process. After years of abuse, it makes sense that healing and reworking your brain would take time. It makes sense that you would sometimes use your body to feel loved, because that’s all you knew growing up. It makes sense that you would have moments of darkness, because you’ve endured so much.

You are truly amazing, and this community is lucky to have you. You have survived so much that no one should have to endure, and what’s amazing is that you are not just surviving you are moving to a place of thriving and impacting others in a positive way. That is what a warrior does. Survives, fights and creates a better world for the people around her. that is who you are.

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@taylorpalmby Thank you so much for your loving words of encouragement and understanding. It has been a very very long road and still very much a work in progress but I know thats okay. This is probably something I’m going to be working in for the rest of my life. Having patience with myself has been the key factor in my progress, also I literally would not be here without my friends, therapy and people like you that are such bright lights in this world.

I am so sorry you have had multiple experiences as well. No one deserves to be put into these situations and it is so heartbreaking but they have made us such strong women and I only hope that my strength and my story can help others in their journey’s.

I am honored to be a part of this community of such vulnerable and good hearted people. May everyone we continue to find strength and courage in eachother <3

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@Danilovenj

Reading these stories are hard to read. Sometimes, I think I have nothing to cheer someone. They gone through worse than me, so what right do I have to add? All I can do is love. I don’t know what anyone is going through. Which is okay. I don’t have to know ever single detail. You are loved by this community and God. Keep moving forward. You are healing.

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