It’s hard to pinpoint the start. One day you just become addicted to keeping secrets. You find reasons to cover up the not-so-pretty parts of life and relationships. It’s easier to hide behind a facade. When you want to tell someone and get help, self-doubt takes over and you second-guess yourself. You think that maybe what you’re going through isn’t that bad. Your heart is breaking from the sadness and the abuse but you feel that you can’t tell anyone. You don’t know how and you get stuck and afraid. But you can’t stop questioning yourself and there becomes a pattern of endless self-talk: Am I taking all of this too seriously? Maybe they don’t mean it like that. It sounds stupid when I say it out loud — who would believe me? They’ve apologized. They said that they love me. Maybe everything will get better in time. I just need to be a better person. It’s my fault. I make mistakes, too. Maybe I should change.
The above examples don’t begin to scratch the surface of what goes through the mind of someone who is being abused and is suffering in silence. The pain is part of an endless cycle. They feel defeated and celebrated by the same person. Their life is like a merry-go-round — round and round in circles. Instead of colorful horses, there’s a myriad of unsettling behaviors and strained emotions mixed with flashes of “good times”.
Tell somebody. Please.
Being isolated and not having anyone to help you objectively work through your thoughts and emotions is one of the most loneliest experiences. One way or the other, I’ve spent most of my life suffering in silence. I kept silent as a child, a teen, and as a young adult in my 20’s. Until recently, I was suffering in silence again. I know better.
I had to snap out of that. Who was I kidding? My silence may have been protecting some folks but it was killing me. Been there. Done that. Over it. Now I’m back on track and talking about it.
Thank God for therapists.
For me, the biggest difference between suffering in silence and having a voice is choosing who gets to be in control. When I suffer silently, not telling anyone about my pain, it’s as if the pain is in control. It has the power to choke the life out of me because it thinks that no one is watching. No one knows. When I speak up, I feel in control. The circumstances don’t always change, but baby, I do. I get a little stronger and I have more sass. I’m the boss. It’s like standing up to a bully and saying, no more. I like that!
How do you get started?
Well, honestly, each individual chooses how they start but I can tell you how I got started speaking up — desperation. I was drowning and it literally felt like I was about to explode. My mind was spinning, my heart was shattered and I was broken. I had to do something different so I wouldn’t lose everything.
In regards to my abusive ex, I started with pastoral couseling. I wanted someone to fix us. I didn’t realize we were beyond being fixed. After he and I broke up, the next step was telling my closest friends and immediate family. I shared small details. Nothing too alarming. I had to get comfortable saying the words. From there, I would tell more and more details as the years passed. My recovery has been slow and steady. Initially, I felt bad (almost disloyal) telling people about the things my ex had done or said. I wanted to defend and protect him. Even after walking away I loved him for a little while.
The ultimate speaking out came in the form of my memoir, MsMissy Speaks. I shared my battle with depression, suicide and abuse. I talked a little about difficult relationships in my life, my own weakness and flaws and how I transformed into the MsMissy you see today.
I don’t want to ever give up my ability to speak. As a child, I didn’t have a voice. There is no way I’m surrendering my voice now. I’m bold and beautiful and anything or anyone that gives me opportunity to question that must not be given power over me. I like where I am. I’ve graduated to confronting folks who try me. I’m not returning to bondage. *snaps fingers*
What are some ways that you can speak up? Can you start today? Maybe a good start is calling 911. Or you could choose journaling, blogging anonymously, talking to a school counselor or social worker. Tell a friend or an older sibling. You can even tell your doctor in private during an examination. Tell somebody.
If you are currently in danger, please visit my resources page and get help immediately. It’s important to be safe. There are special steps that you can take to minimize the danger. You can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or contact one of the shelters listed on my website so that you can create a safety plan.
You matter. May you be safe.
Moments with Missy™ offers specialized individual and group services. Feel free to reach out to Missy if you have questions or would like guidance. Missy is available for FREE 15-minute conversations. Email her to schedule a chat. Visit her website for more information.