We Are Not Our Worst Days

Hey, y’all, this post is entirely about emotional abuse. If that’s too much for you I totally get it, please take care of yourself, I’ll see you in the next one.

I’m not really sure how to ease gently into my point for this post, so I’m gonna go back to Journalism 101 and put the bottom line up front:

No matter what we think or feel, we are so much more than the consequences of our worst days.

This sentiment has become really, really important to me this afternoon as I’ve come very quickly to the realization that I need to get back to therapy. I went for a while in 2019 but I now realize I wasn’t ready then. After today I’m ready.

See, earlier today I had an idea for a blog post which I quickly turned into a tweet thread because I was afraid to write about it in this longer format. Well, I posted the thread, but I quickly deleted it because I was embarrassed and felt a weird shame about sharing it. I’m writing this now because there should be no shame in my experience. I did nothing wrong. So I’m putting the experience out there for real this time.

Here’s the gist of the tweet thread from today:

When  I was 20-years-old I was trapped in a situation of extreme emotional abuse for just under six months. I was with the abuser 24/7 during that time and only escaped when I was transferred to work with someone else. In those months I was controlled, physically threatened, and made to truly believe, with no uncertainty whatsoever, that I was absolutely, totally, worthless. Those months stripped me of my identity and left me a shell of who I was before. It was the closest I have ever come to hell.

For some reason even writing those words feels dirty, like somehow like I’m attention seeking, or whining, or making a big deal out of nothing. But that’s not true. It’s almost 10 years later and those wounds are still fresh. I deal with the effects of those months in every moment of every day. So I’m writing this post.

Let’s pick back up from when I deleted the tweet thread this afternoon.

After I posted (and deleted) the thread, I felt terrible. My anxiety spiked through the roof, my depression threatened to drown me, and I was headed down a very dark road very quickly. But, then, sitting in my car during lunch, I saw this tweet by one of the few people who had had time to interact with my thread. I don’t know if it was directed specifically at me or if they just decided to share at that moment but, man, it was like looking in a mirror. A really scary mirror. Here it is:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I’ll admit it, when I first saw that picture I cried a little. Until that moment, when I had described my experience over those months to the two or three people I’ve ever told about it, I described it as “almost like an abusive relationship.” For years I had been either unwilling or unable to acknowledge — to myself, to others, out loud, or in private– just how bad the situation had been. But this picture somehow forced me to realize it hadn’t been “like” an abusive relationship, it was abusive. The relationship wasn’t romantic but it was, in reality, a relationship. And I had been abused. And that made me feel very, very small.

“Mentally Abused.” “Broken.” “Weak.” “Victim.” These words flooded my mind. “Is that really who I am?” “Am I some broken victim?” “Am I really that worthless?” For a few minutes I believed it. Those were a long few minutes.

But then I made myself look at the picture again, and a bright light burst through the gathering dark.

Suddenly, as I sat staring at all of my most hated personality traits collected in one picture, so many things became clear. For some reason, I could now clearly acknowledge the exact day I first experienced depression symptoms. Instantly I had clarity as to why I’m so terrified of conflict and why I always feel the need to apologize for things that aren’t my fault. These are things I have always known on some level, but for some reason I now understand them. I’m not weak, or a victim, or worthless, I was simply put in a terrible situation and now bear the scars of survival. And that understanding feels, well, not good, but better.

But I think the most important thing that has come out of today is that I’m suddenly able to connect again with the kid I was before those months. This realization that the negative effects of that time don’t have to be “just who I am now”, that there’s a reason for them, and that I can work (and I think it’s gonna be a LOT of work) to face and reduce them, gives me hope for the person I really want to get back to being. Because right now I feel like two different people –“before” Ian and “now” Ian– and I don’t like that. I want to just be me.

So, yeah. I don’t know why this all happened today, but I’m glad it did. And I want you to remember that, regardless of whether you’ve been through something similar or not, we are so much more than the consequences of our worst days. With work, patience, and more work, we can turn those terrible things into something that resembles a positive in our lives. Or at least that’s what I’m gonna try to do.

Thanks for reading, you’ve got this,

-Ian

18 thoughts on “We Are Not Our Worst Days

  1. Ian, thank you so much for sharing your story. I admire your courage, and I want you to know that your feelings matter. I often have the same feelings you described throughout this post for various reasons, but with the general perception that my feelings also don’t matter. For me, throughout the last year, I’ve spent countless hours researching and reflecting on healthy, positive changes I can make in my life that’ll help build me up and teach me to love myself again, the good and bad, the light and darkest of my entire story. If you ever want to chat about life or would love to hear about some of the resources I’ve been using, I’d love to share more with you, but I also want to respect your journey and privacy. I appreciate you, and you will overcome these demons and ghosts of your past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joshua 😊 It’s DEFINITELY a journey, and today everything feels very fresh and raw, but I’m looking forward to finally making the progress. I’m writing your name down and will definitely reach out when I need help 😊

      Like

  2. Ian, thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. I know how hard that must have been to open up about something so vulnerable & sensitive as this.
    “we are so much more than the consequences of our worst days” spoke to me & it will be something i repeat to myself regularly because it’s such an important & strong reminder. 🙂

    for what it’s worth, i am sorry you went through something like this. but i’m proud you are able to speak about it & spread the awareness because i’m sure there are plenty of people who have gone through this or something like it that has affected them in some way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 😊 my mantra for Twitter and this blog is kinda becoming “well, someone has to talk about this stuff, might as well be me”. I really appreciate the support 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think sharing your story is another step towards your recovery. It can be so difficult to share those types of stories and takes a lot of courage so good for you! Your story has the potential to encourage others onto the path of recovery and bettering their lives, so be proud of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for having the bravery to confront this and share. There are many insights in this piece which give me a useful perspective on my own experience.

    I’ve had a very similar journey over the last couple of weeks – suddenly finding myself needing to deal with a period of what I now realise was abuse. Writing about and sharing my experience has been at times unbearably terrifying and vulnerable, but also enormously healing for me.

    I truly hope that you can find your way through this and make peace with yourself and your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you’ve found some light here. You’re right, putting this out there has been terrifying, but I’ve gotten enough messages like this one to know that it’s worth it. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. Good luck on your journey 💜

      Like

  5. Thank you for having the courage to share your story! You are absolutely right when you say “we are not our worst days.” We are also not weak, worthless or victims, even when someone make us feel like we are. We are the ones who survive those experiences and help others find the strength to survive their experiences. We are the ones who give others strength by sharing our stories. So again, thank you for sharing your story and your strength!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They say that talking about things or writing about them helps in the process of trying to figure out why you feel like you do when something like this happens. But I know that not everyone wants to talk about emotions because some (especially men) see it as a weakness. Your courage to talk and share your experiences will (I hope) help many who find themselves not able to talk about it because of fear of it, making them look weak.
    Thank you for standing up and talking about it, Ian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the support, Hugh. You’re right, having this out there is REALLY scary, but if it can help someone it’s totally worth it. I figure someone has to talk about this stuff, it might as well be me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for doing so, Ian. I can’t imagine how many people out there are scared to talk about their experiences of being mentally abused, especially men. It’s a little like talking about things like testicle or prostate cancer. How many men are scared of going to the doctor or talking about it to somebody? I’m guessing many.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for having the courage to share your story, talking and writing are vital to recovery as hard as that journey is.
    “We are so much more than the consequences of our worst days” is something everyone will need to remember at some point in their life.
    Keep going 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s