Tuesday, March 8, 2022
I posted this in Beyond Momma a few years ago and then took it down, thinking maybe it was too personal to share. But in retrospect, I think it deserves a place in the world. Maybe my words can help someone else, and maybe my experience has a greater purpose. Sharing it does not make me vulnerable or ashamed. It makes me stronger. 

Did you ever come across something you wrote years ago that suddenly defines who you are, decades later? Maybe even a photo of yourself or a keepsake from another time in your life? I recently came across a story I wrote while I was cleaning out a box in my bedroom. I have boxes of ‘stories,’ sitting around here and there, pieces I started and never finished, and pieces, like the one I'm going to talk about, that I wrote just because I needed a voice. It was written in 2000 from my dog’s point of view. Writing from his perspective let me reveal something that I was afraid to talk about in my own voice. It didn’t have a title at the time, but I have since called it Wounded, named after a song by Third Eye Blind. 

This post is part of an editorial section called Beyond Momma, where I share personal thoughts and stories. You can check out more of Beyond Momma here.

I was going to share the actual written story here, but it's kind of long and rather personal. But I think its message is important, and after re-reading it, I wondered how many other people out there (especially women) endure something and then just bury it and move on, because that's what we do. But do we ever really 'move on?' Whatever it is that you pushed down inside sort of hides there, doesn't it? And it can either fester or bloom, but it affects who we become and how we act, whether we realize it or not.

My story, 'Wounded,' was about an awful guy I was dating. I stayed with him because I was lonely at the time. I lived alone and he provided companionship. He wasn't mean all the time, so I often made excuses for his behavior. I lacked self-confidence and he manipulated how I thought and felt. "No one makes you feel anything, Debbie," he would tell me. "If something I say makes you feel bad, it's because you're choosing to feel that way." See what I mean?

In this relationship he would say things to me like, "why do you act so stupid all the time?" or "just keep standing there with your mouth hanging open." He loved to call me names like "selfish," "stupid" and "dumb." If I argued about his choice of words, he'd respond with, "Get over it." He also told me to stop babying my dog. "He's just a dog- he's just an animal. He doesn't need toys or a dog bed. Why do you bother?" One night he got into a fight with a stranger at a bar and he was so angry that when we were  leaving, he shoved me out the door. I can still feel how his hand felt as he pushed my shoulder - a rough shove that I haven't felt the likes of since. One of the last straws for me was when we were at dinner with friends and I picked up my fork to eat. He was a chef and very particular about food and dining manners. Somehow, picking up my fork (before our dinner companions picked up theirs) upset him. "You'll have to forgive Debbie," he said to them loudly with a sarcastic chuckle. "She was raised with animals." 

Why share this now? Why here? Well, first, this is Beyond Momma and that's what I do here. We chat about stuff, and sometimes it's serious stuff that I'm hoping you can relate to. Second, I think this story is important because back then I didn’t think much about abusive relationships- mental, verbal or physical. But I know now, looking back (this was more than 20 years ago), that’s exactly what it was. It brings me some clarity now, although I'm still a little embarrassed by it since it's something I never spoke of to anyone else- something I held on to and carried with me all this time. I don't want other people to experience that kind of abusive behavior. If you're with someone who acts like this, I hope you recognize it and get help, or get out. I was lucky to have realized all of this quickly, and I was not with this person very long. If you're in a relationship like this, I'm telling you right now- you deserve better. 

One thing I want to point out is that we should try not to play 'trauma poker' when it comes to our experiences. Meaning, maybe you're reading this thinking, 'well that wasn't so bad, what I went through was so much worse!' Or, 'you think your experience sucked? I had to endure something even more horrible.' Playing 'trauma poker' (thanks to my friend Dr. K on Instagram for introducing me to that term) is partially what causes us not to share our personal trauma and makes us feel like we need to hide it (as in, "well, I won't talk about this because I'm sure what others have gone through is way worse.").  So if you're reading this thinking, 'this is nothing,' then you fail to understand why I'm sharing this at all. 

Now I can openly discuss this icky part of my past with you (no more festering!) and tell you that I am proud of myself for getting through it, and ever so grateful for what I have today- my good, kind, loving husband, our beautiful son, my supportive parents, my wonderful family members. And I am so grateful to my beloved little doggy (who has been gone 11 years now) because he endured everything right along with me. 

Post play list: Wounded by Third Eye Blind, Save as Draft by Katy Perry, Praying by Kesha, Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson (there were a lot of songs playing for this one! It was tough to write). xoxo

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