BY BRANDON MINIA
Now that a year has passed since my experience with emotional abuse, I’m still rattled at just how bad the fallout can get. It still feels surreal no matter how long it’s been. And five years down the road, I’ll probably still be thinking the same thing.
My anxiety reached its fever pitch last week, hitting all-time high levels for the first time
in a while. An unanswered text can leave me nervous. An accident that displeased a friend can follow me for a long time. Asking to see a person has never been so frightening.
I know exactly what causes me to experience these spells of anxiety. No one forgets being chastised for asking to hang out when the other person is tired. It’s impossible to forget the feeling of humiliation when someone turns your feelings of anger around so that you look like the bad person, despite the fact that your anger is very well justified. No one forgets being violently pressed into believing that you were overthinking something that you were right about all along about…
No one forgets any of that. It follows you. And just when you think you managed to hide from the storm, there’s a leak. Maybe the roof is drippy. Maybe a draft is creeping through the walls. Or perhaps you just can’t sleep because you still can’t stop thinking about what happened.
During the onset of my anxiety and depression, when both of my abusers were still in my life, I was scolded by them for not trying hard, despite very obviously trying my hardest. I had counselling, I pushed myself to finish my undergrad, and I tried to reconnect with some old friends (whom both of my abusers hated). I even tried to socialize with new friends despite my lack of energy but it still wasn’t enough for them. They told me I was being overdramatic, that I wasn’t making any progress, or that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. They told me that I was taking my friends for granted because I couldn’t feel better, even though I got all the help I could.
I still remember them watching me and doing nothing when I fell out of my car during a violent anxiety attack. I can still feel how cold the concrete of the underground parking lot was underneath me. I can still see the dim and aged incandescent lights above me. I wore jeans that I was just about too big for, I wore a jacket that wasn’t warm enough for the winter with a black and white plaid scarf, and I still had my old iPod. That fucking bullshit never leaves you. None of that. Especially considering how much I loved the both of them.
Different people do different things to try to cope with their anxiety. I’m lucky enough to finally have a safe social circle that would never abuse me, but the fear is still there. Sometimes I find myself being overly nice to overcompensate for a lot of the things I’m paranoid about. Even when a friend does something rude that accidentally triggers some bad memories, I pretend it doesn’t affect me – mostly out of fear.
It’s not normal to fear interaction with someone you love. Ever. I’m reminded of this every time I force myself to talk to someone despite fearing them lashing out at me just like my abusers did during moments of conflict. It’s still a strange and surreal feeling sometimes to be treated civilly rather than with aggression when I make a mistake, and as sad as that sounds, it’s a reality I may have to face for the rest of my life.
It’s not guaranteed there will ever be a happy ending to this story. Besides, it wouldn’t do me any favours if I constantly hoped for everything to end like a Disney movie. It’s simply the end of a story arc. And in this new chapter, everything is affected by what happened to me in the past.
The only thing I can be happy about for sure is that whatever brought me here is over. Despite a week of anxiety, I have gone through much worse. This will pass.
24OurMusic – http://www.24ourmusic.net/author/brandon/