I Didn't Want To Get Up This Morning, But Then I Remembered That Things Get Better

I Didn't Want To Get Up This Morning, But Then I Remembered That Things Get Better

In baring my soul, I take back my life. I am so much more than my trauma.
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I didn't want to get up this morning.

I woke up with my stomach in my throat and my heart in my stomach. I just lay there, eyes closed wishing I could either keep sleeping, somehow send a body double to work for me, or pause time so I could go back to sleep. But alas, we don't live in a novel, so I had to get up.

I washed my face, put on some perfume, picked out a comfortable, asymmetrical, long, black scoop neck dress with a pair of black strappy kitten heels, pulled my hair into a low bun, and walked out the door to drive the 45 minutes to work.

Work was fine, the workload was good and kept me productive all day. I enjoyed my time with my co-workers, but I felt like complete crap.

I'm thankful for one co-worker-turned-friend in particular, who asked what I was doing for lunch. I had to run to the grocery store to pick up a cake for the birthday of another co-worker-turned-friend and was just going to grab lunch there. She went along for the ride and the salad bar, and I inevitably spilled my guts on how I was feeling.

She said she felt so bad and that I looked like Eeyore with a little rain cloud over my head. Which, by the way, isn't the first, second, or third time I've been compared to Eeyore in my life. So I knew it was an accurate representation of how I've been feeling for the past few months.

We got back to the office, went our separate ways, and got back to work. Then my computer notified me that she sent me a Facebook message.

I had been periodically tearing up at my desk throughout the day, so I wasn't surprised when I started to get choked up reading this. It speaks of a hope I hadn't felt in awhile. It paints this beautiful picture of a life I know that Jesus wants me to have. That God knows my needs, that things are never hopeless, and I can't give up.

I didn't know what to write about tonight until I finally just sat down, and started writing. And now, it's so incredibly clear.

I was sexually abused.

On June 14th, 2017, I recovered memories of being sexually abused by my math tutor when I was in third grade. I was eight, it started in October of 2002 and ended somewhere near the end of the school year. I had repressed it all but had this feeling there was something wrong with me.

She had been an elementary school teacher. She was a stay-at-home mom with her young daughter and son and lived directly across the street. So, when I was struggling with math it was logical that I would go over to her house and be tutored.

I always thought it was strange we would go into the basement for my tutoring sessions, but she explained it was to make sure we wouldn't be distracted by her kids, even though the basement was their playroom.

I will not expound on the details. But my childhood died with that first descent into the basement, of that spacious colonial, at the end of a culdesac.

After the "tutoring" had finished, I would give her the tutoring fee from my parents, and walk out the door.

As I shut the door behind me, I would focus on the front door of my house. I knew that once I reached that door I was safe.

I knew that once I turned that knob and stepped foot into my house, shutting the door closed behind me, I could shove down everything that I just experienced. I could shove down the confusion, the hurt, the sadness, the guilt, the shame, the disgust, and despair, and I would be met with love, possibilities, positivity, my parents, my brother, my cat, my bed, my diary, food, books, and safety.

This pattern continued for a few months until the school year was over. We lived in that development for two more years and then moved to the town where I always attended school and my mother taught at.

My mental health issues arose when I was 12.

From that point forward, I have never known a life without anxiety, and have been in the throes of depression more times than I can count.

Prior to 12, there were issues I kept to myself. Peeing my pants when I would be alone playing in my own basement, sneaking into the kitchen to eat anything I could get my hands on, or hiding stashes of food in my room. In 4th grade, I remember trying numerous times to stop eating altogether because I felt I needed to lose weight... And anxiety became a hypothetical article of clothing.

But 12 was when I first started contemplating suicide. It would ebb and flow, I would cut myself, I would see therapists, stay in hospitals, and eventually, at 16, I attempted to overdose with a bottle of Advil.

That was a turning point in my life.

I had hit my teenage rock bottom and found the strength to get better. I journaled, I went to therapy, my doctor found a good medication balance, and I finally started working towards loving myself.

Life did get better.

I took my senior year of high school at SUNY ACC, graduated high school with honors and was 15th in my class, I met the love of my life, went to Italy, became a born-again Christian, graduated college with a B.A. in Communications, married an exceptional man with a great family, acquired six beautiful nieces and nephews, and established groups of lifelong friends, started a career, and am the proud mom of two cats with big personalities.

But I had no idea what happened to me.

I had suspected I had been abused. I can't explain it, I just knew. But I felt crazy because I had no tangible proof. A few years back, my therapist and I tried hypnotherapy to try and figure out what and if anything happened. As I sank deep into my consciousness, ready to see what I could uncover, a brick wall suddenly appeared and I shot up, drenched in sweat with a pounding migraine - which lasted for two days.

I wasn't ready to know.

In prayer, I asked God to help me find this piece of myself I was missing, but for years, my memory was simply... Blank.

I have a terrible memory and have always had very limited memories of my childhood.

And then, in the middle of June, a few weeks before our first wedding anniversary, as my husband and I were getting ready to go to bed, my mom texted me asking if I remembered *insert her name here.* I instantly felt sick to my stomach. I got lightheaded and felt as if my heart was going to pound out of my chest. And then she sent a link to a news article.

I opened the link, took one look at her face and name, and a flood of memories came rushing into my consciousness. I don't remember getting into bed or how I ended up gripping my husband's embrace. The flood of memories brought the downpouring of tears, leading to a full-blown, uncontrollable panic attack.

To this day, the first thing I think of after replaying that night in my head is, "Thank God for my husband."

No one asks for this to happen to them. No one wants this sudden realization that there was a whole piece of yourself missing for 15 years.

But, I wouldn't have wanted to find out any other way. I was completely exposed and vulnerable, but utterly safe and secure in my partner's arms.

The strength and self-preservation that my 8-year-old self had stuns me to this day. And when I'm feeling low, I just think about 8-year-old me and how strong I was. When I feel like I can't go on, I think about that walk from her house to mine and think, "If I could do that then I can do this now."

In a month and a half, it will have been a year since I recovered the memories of my abuse. In that time, I began writing for Odyssey, I have written a series highlighting domestic violence in small-town America, started an online community of Survivors where we support each other and share our love of true crime (SSDGM), started training for a 5K and have learned more about myself than I ever thought was possible.

If I could sum up the past year, it would be this: Healing is not a linear process.


I've had days where my emotions look like this graphic, I've had days where I'm at that lowest dip, and I've gone weeks at its highest peak.

Today I didn't want to get out of bed.

I didn't want to run.

But I went for a run.

I shaved two minutes off my mile.

And finally shared my story.

Life gets better.

Cover Image Credit: Phoebe LaFave

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6 Things You Should Know About The Woman Who Can't Stand Modern Feminism

Yes, she wants to be heard too.

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2018 is sort of a trap for this woman. She believes in women with all of the fire inside of her, but it is hard for her to offer support when people are making fools of themselves and disguising it as feminism.

The fact of the matter is that women possess qualities that men don't and men possess qualities that women don't. That is natural. Plus, no one sees men parading the streets in penis costumes complaining that they don't get to carry their own fetus for nine months.

1. She really loves and values women.

She is incredibly proud to be a woman.

She knows the amount of power than a woman's presence alone can hold. She sees when a woman walks into a room and makes the whole place light up. She begs that you won't make her feel like a "lady hater" because she doesn't want to follow a trend that she doesn't agree with.

2. She wants equality, too

She has seen the fundamental issues in the corporate world, where women and men are not receiving equal pay.

She doesn't cheer on the businesses that don't see women and men as equivalents. But she does recognize that if she works her butt off, she can be as successful as she wants to.

3. She wears a bra.

While she knows the "I don't have to wear a bra for society" trend isn't a new one, but she doesn't quite get it. Like maybe she wants to wear a bra because it makes her feel better. Maybe she wears a bra because it is the normal things to do... And that's OK.

Maybe she wants to put wear a lacy bra and pretty makeup to feel girly on .a date night. She is confused by the women who claim to be "fighting for women," because sometimes they make her feel bad for expressing her ladyhood in a different way than them.

4. She hates creeps just as much as you do. .

Just because she isn't a feminist does not mean that she is cool with the gruesome reality that 1 in 5 women are sexually abused.

In fact, this makes her stomach turn inside out to think about. She knows and loves people who have been through such a tragedy and wants to put the terrible, creepy, sexually charged criminals behind bars just as bad as the next woman.

Remember that just because she isn't a feminist doesn't mean she thinks awful men can do whatever they want.

5. There is a reason she is ashamed of 2018's version of feminism.

She looks at women in history who have made a difference and is miserably blown away by modern feminism's performance.

Not only have women in the past won themselves the right to vote, but also the right to buy birth control and have credit cards in their names and EVEN saw marital rape become a criminal offense.

None of them dressed in vagina costumes to win anyone over though... Crazy, right?

6. She isn't going to dress in a lady parts costume to prove a point.

This leaves her speechless. It is like the women around her have absolutely lost their minds and their agendas, only lessening their own credibility.

"Mom, what are those ladies on TV dressed up as?"

"Ummm... it looks to me like they are pink taco's honey."

She loves who she is and she cherished what makes her different from the men around her. She doesn't want to compromise who she is as a woman just so she can be "equal with men."

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Understanding And Embracing The Prostitute Within

Are you someone who is unapologetically her best, authentic self, and who has the strength to both follow her own heart and to support others around her doing the same?

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Ever responded to a stressful situation and wondered afterward why you reacted in the way you did? Maybe it's because of nurture: your age, faith, education background, or culture. Or maybe, it's because of an archetype deep within you—a universal way of being that stretches across all divides and affects every human.


BLINDSPOTS

Understanding what archetypes are and which ones are actively affecting you can open your eyes to what's unconsciously driving you. By knowing what you didn't know you didn't know, you can then become conscious about your choices and actions and—if you wish—choose a new way to be. So here's how to understand your inner Prostitute—and how to make her* work for you.

*I am female so I choose a feminine pronoun for the Prostitute. Replace with whatever you wish.


ARCHETYPES

According to Carl Jung, an archetype (a universal mental pattern) is a part of all humans' collective unconsciousness. The child archetype was first suggested by Carl Jung as a role (along with the other archetypes) that we all unconsciously play out in our lives. Caroline Myss, a New York Times bestselling author, has elaborated on Jung's theory, suggesting that the child is one of four survival archetypes that develop early on in all humans' lives: the child, the prostitute, the victim, and the saboteur. Each one of these is present to some extent in you and your decision-making.


OVERVIEW OF ARCHETYPES

Some of these words have fairly negative connotations, right? If someone called you a prostitute or a saboteur, you might take offense. Despite the connotative meanings of the word associated with each archetype, each archetype is neutral: they have both positive and negative sides. To best understand the Prostitute archetype, it will be helpful to have a brief understanding of the struggles associated with the other survival archetypes.

The Child includes the wounded child, orphan child, and eternal child, and causes you to stay stuck in childhood traumas, responding to events today based on defense mechanisms you created as a child. You may feel abandoned, engage in self-pity, or become very cynical.

The Victim tells you that you're never good enough or that it's never your fault—it blames you, controls you, and causes you to wait to be rescued.

The Saboteur tries to self-sabotage you and encourages you to undermine your own choices.


THE SHADOW SIDE OF THE PROSTITUTE

The Prostitute came into being as a way to help you survive and protect your inner self, strength, and integrity. This is her being: it's neutral. But like all archetypes, the Prostitute has a light side and a shadow side, and her shadow side is often destructive, selfish, and fearful.

Have you ever asked yourself how you can make that cute boy think you're more interesting or engaging than you actually are? Whether you should bother helping your classmate with the upcoming exam if there's nothing in it for you? How you can get your boss to respect you?

That was your inner Prostitute. She negotiates your power away to other people and compromises as a form of self-protection.

The Prostitute's shadow side engages in selling out yourself—your integrity, creativity, standards—either because of fear, or because of gain (particularly financial). It's not just about you compromising yourself though—the Prostitute will also encourage you to seduce or control others.

Have you ever seen a friend stay in an abusive or neglectful relationship? Have you compromised your ideals at work in order to just keep your job? Have you put on a false front in order to impress your date? That's all the Prostitute at work. Negotiating away yourself in this way hurts your core and victimizes you.


COME BACK TO THE LIGHT

The flip side of the shadow self is seeing how the Prostitute can radically transform your life if you embrace this archetype and use it consciously and wisely.

In this way, the Prostitute creates and strengthens self-confidence and integrity. Have you ever met a man or woman who had the strength to leave behind toxic relationships? Who was able to freely express her wants and principles in a self-empowered way and know her own boundaries—but who also does not try to persuade other people to compromise their own selves? Who refused to manipulate others to gain their favor, admiration, or support, no matter how it might have helped him get what he wanted?

That's the Prostitute as she's meant to be manifested in a person: someone who knows how to protect and best use her energy and resources, who is unapologetically her best, authentic self, and who has the strength to both follow her own heart and to support others around her doing the same.


NOW WHAT?

How do we move away from the Prostitute's shadow side and live in her light side?


BECOMING AWARE

The first step to any sort of growth is awareness. If you're not aware of a problem, you won't know how to fix it—you won't even know there's a thing to be fixed. Begin noting when in your life you are trying to mitigate other people's impressions of you, or when you're trying to control someone else's actions or decisions. What are your standards? What standards are you willing to compromise on (with your time, your morals, or your body) in order to protect yourself or to get your own way? What are you willing to give up (in relationships, personal standards, job security) in order to be safe or not make waves? Note when you're breaking your integrity to achieve some end, the people in your life who use you and drain you, and when you're ignoring your gut.


WHAT'S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?

The next time you're on a date or with friends and start self-censoring to make yourself seem more appealing, reset. Take a deep breath, and just be yourself.

A coping mechanism that I find helpful is asking: what's the worst that can happen? Last week I was out on a date with this crazy cool person I really like and I started to talk about a subject I get really excited about and then hesitated, unsure if we were "there" yet in our relationship. Maybe this is too much, too soon?

Cue coping mechanism above: "What's the worst that can happen?" The worst that can happen, I thought, is that this person decides he doesn't like me and doesn't want to see me again. The Prostitute's response to that: well, if you being you makes him not want to see you again, then it's a good thing you figured that out sooner rather than later. And if he does want to see you again—then he wants to see someone who's genuinely, authentically you.


CHECK IN WITH YOUR GUT

The Prostitute is a gut-based archetype rather than a mind-based archetype. Writing ways to encourage someone to follow their intuition is a little like writing ways for someone to learn how to dance: you can give them tips about timing and write out the basic steps, but at some point, they just have to get in the ring and experience it.

So when you're making decisions, check in with your gut. If it's not hellyeah, then maybe it's a no. If I find myself making a pros and cons list about whether or not I want to hang out with someone or kiss someone, I know it's not a hellyeah for me. And that doesn't always mean it's bad, or that I shouldn't give it a shot—but it does mean to stay attuned to your body and heart, and don't override them or scorn them for being silly or irrational.


YOU CAN'T HEAL WITH THE SAME PEOPLE WHO HURT YOU

Toxic relationships with someone you love are probably the hardest to walk away from. Understand it doesn't need to be a judgment upon them; maybe they're not a bad person. Maybe it is just you. And that's okay. It's okay to make decisions that are just for you. This is your life. Ask yourself: if your best friend was in an identical situation, what advice would you give him?

You cannot heal in the same place, by the same people, who hurt you. If you're spending your finite and precious energy on people and tasks that just drain you, you're not using your energy as you best could: to fully empower your own self so you can go out and change your own corner of the world.


COURAGE

Your inner Prostitute can seduce you to lead a life out of fear—selling out to protect yourself, selfishly get what you want, and manipulate others. Or your inner Prostitute can be an empowering force in your life—filling you with courage and determination, respect and appreciation for both your own boundaries and the boundaries of others, and protecting you from being manipulated or controlled.

Standing up for yourself to others, and standing up to yourself when you are trying to manipulate someone else, will surely be difficult at times. By embracing the Prostitute archetype that resides in each of us, you will be able to become aware of her encouragements within you and implement her empowerment, strength, and willpower in your life.


GO FORTH

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