PTSD

An Open Letter to the Girl I Was Before my PTSD

WARNING: This post contains graphic content, course language, and explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages. Potential to trigger traumatic memories for those suffering with similar PTSD experiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

I am going to be brutally honest with you.

I was beyond fucking petrified writing this blog post, let alone sharing it to my followers, to the whole internet, to the world!

I wrote an article that struck me so hard, my hands were shaking as I was typing it, and I had to stop several times to steady my erratic heart beat. My writing became so painful, drawing up the bad memories of my past, that I almost gave myself a panic attack. Because that is how powerful the experiences are I went through can be. That’s how powerful my own writing can be.

So powerful that I almost gave myself a panic attack. So powerful that I placed a fucking “View Discretion” warning at the start of the post. Because if my own prowess can trigger such an emotional response in me, image what it can do for you, the reader?

Because “An Open Letter to the Girl I Was Before my PTSD” is so honest, raw, and real that I was afraid my own honesty could hurt me. Because to me, truth is fucking scarier than the devil. That my own openness and willingness to speak out could hurt those who have influenced my life in some way. Even though I talk about the bad experiences I went through, and though I never say names, I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to place blame on anyone. Because no one is to blame for what I went through and no one is to blame for what I did to torture and punish myself. We all hurt people at some point in our lives, but I’m not holding onto some sort of grudge. To me, they’re just life lessons that have made me a better person in the long run.

I have made choices in my life that I am not proud of. I have made many, many big mistakes. I regret lots of things I have done. But my experiences have made me wiser, and my mental illness has taught me that everything is relative. That I matter. That my thoughts and feelings and everything in between matters. I am who I am and I make no apologies for it.

So in this letter, where I see myself as two separate people, I critically sort through the feelings of resent, and hate, and blame I have for my former self, the person I was before my mental illness. The writing is honest, the words are harsh, the hurt is very real, but it is the truth. And again, no one is to blame.

So this is your final warning. If you’re too afraid, close out your web browser now. But if you decide to stay, don’t feel guilty over my words. Take solace with the internal peace I am finally beginning to find after all these years of suffering in silence.

“An Open Letter to the Girl I Was Before my PTSD”

This is a hard time of the year for us, isn’t it?

It’s hard to believe over eleven years ago, you sat down on the tile floor of his hideous peach bathroom and held that knife to your wrist, contemplating if your pathetic life was worth the torture you endured every day from him.

Even though we both know now that we we’re already sick by this point, you just assumed it was normal. Blink-182 sang to us how it was harder for the kids when parents split up. Billy Talent said “It’s just a phase.” Good Charlotte begged us to “Hold On,” so you thought it was normal. It was ok to cut yourself and bleed because how else were you expected to escape the pain you endured. And when you did pull that blade, ironically “Adam’s Song” came to mind and all you could think was, “Please tell Mom this is not her fault.” It was hell on Earth, but your own inflicted pain was better than the pain he caused you.

And even though you hid it well, I truly did believe you were the better person before we were officially diagnosed with PTSD. You lived a life that I will never get back, nor will never truly live because our illness will always be at the forefront of my mind. You didn’t know any better. So you got to live.

And for that I’ll always be truly envious.

You had friends! Even though you couldn’t stay with one group of people for too long, you always had friends. From the nerds, to the outcasts, until you finally settled on those few good people before high school ended. You loved to be the center of attention, yet were thankful when no one was looking at you. You stood up for those fake friends, even when no one believed you we being abused. You had people over and hosted parties, chatted non-stop on MSN and always ran out of minutes when you bought your first cell phone.

You weren’t afraid to try new things. You had no fear, like attempting backflips on your rollerblades without a helmet. Even though you felt worthless, you had no shame, being the first to strip off to strip poker and the last to dive into a pool in just your bra and underwear. You went to parties, and despite being scared, sometimes hung out with the wrong people. You tested your limits with alcohol. You smoked when you were drunk, but you loved flavored cigars more. You got high several times because you wanted to be cool, but really you loved how it made you numb from the pain for a few hours. You traded kisses with the boys you liked and sabotaged the one stable relationship you had in high school.  

You cut up your body, blaming yourself for his failures, then wear a sweater the next day so no one would be the wiser. You put on that smile, laughed the loudest at the boys’ jokes and loved giving your girlfriends and best friends hugs and attention. Even though he didn’t love you, you wanted to show love to everyone else. And because you felt so dirty by the mental control he had over you, you gave away your virginity to a boy that didn’t matter because just for one night, even though you were drunk and high, you wanted to feel something other than pain. You wanted to feel something other than shame and resentment and guilt. You wanted to pretend to feel like you were loved, even though you weren’t.

When your friend from high school and her brother died, you didn’t admit to how much it tore you apart. You weren’t best friends, but you hung out with her when she first moved here. You liked her. But you didn’t stick with groups very long and she soon found her place. Even though you never got as close as you would had liked, you still liked her. Even two months before her death, when you two drunkenly reminisced on her first few days here, you still didn’t admit how much her death tore you apart. Because you felt too guilty. She had true best friends, and you weren’t one. But that’s ok. You were good at burying the pain, so you did.

Then your first year of university came.

You made some fairweather friends at first, people who only liked you because you held your booze well. Or maybe it was because they wanted to feel like the less fucked up person in the room. So you drank. And pretended, still laughing the loudest and defending them when they didn’t deserve it. You experimented more. You flirted with guys and kissed girls, because you were still trying to figure yourself out, yet trying to deny you were bisexual. Even though you had gay friends and your crowd was liberal, you still didn’t want to admit that you felt just as turned on with Jane as you did with John.

But the second semester came and you realized you needed change. So you made friends with those five girls, loving each and everyone of them individually. They turned you into a better person. They encouraged your binge-drinking, but you finally felt you belonged. You all had similar experiences, you all felt the same at some point. But still, you denied your past for the longest time because you felt like you needed to preserve them from your fucked up childhood. So you went on trying to be happy. You lived. You met a guy you fell hard for, but who was too cowardly to return the affection or just didn’t care, but you slept with him anyway because you wanted to. You thought it would help change his mind. And when it didn’t, it broke your heart. Your girlfriends helped you get through it, and stopped you when he tried to come back into your life a year later.

But you kept moving forward. Trying to bury it. Trying to hide it. It nearly killed you, but you did it anyway. You lived. Finished your first year with flying colors, got a summer job at the only place you ever found peace with. But you stopped caring. You were slowly starting to die inside. Every time you woke up hungover, it weakened your resolve. The one night stands started to make you feel like a whore, even though they were consensual. Your heart was breaking. You hated the girl you saw in the mirror everyday. But you were good at faking happy. So you faked happy. And no one was the wiser.

Then your mother was diagnosed with cancer before you went back to university.

You blamed yourself. Over and over. It was all a cosmic sign. Something terrible had to happen again. It was how you saw the world. Peace was short lived. So you hated yourself more, too afraid to look in the mirror somedays. You still faked it well, but you didn’t know if you were going to make it.

But then you met him.

And your world was shaken to the core. He was kind and sweet, a little cocky at first, but it was all to impress you. Someone wanted your attention. And you didn’t know how to respond. So you tried to be yourself, nervous as hell and awkward as sin. But he stuck around and when he asked you to be his girlfriend, you were ecstatic. This was new. You were becoming new. You learned that you and a guy could hang out without expecting “something” in return. You learned you could sleep with a guy who still wanted to hang out with you the next day, and every day after that. You learned that sex was scary sober, but way more enjoyable. He was honest. He was real. He was becoming your everything.

And that scared the hell out of you.

Because who wanted the girl who hated herself so much that she would mutilate herself, treat herself like dirt, and run when the fear became too real? Who wanted the girl that drank because she liked herself better drunk than sober? Who wanted the girl that was so mentally damaged that she was afraid to trust anyone ever again?

But he did. He wanted you. He told you “I love you” and meant it. And when you finally broke down in his room that night, confessing what he did to you and what you went through, there wasn’t a single ounce of judgement. He just pulled you into his arms and said he would never let anyone touch you ever again; if he ever met him, he would literally kill him. Because you deserved better. You deserved to love someone who truly loved you back.

And even though you were turning over a new leaf, everything you bottled up inside began to resurface, bursting at the seams, demanding to be acknowledged. You tried to keep it at bay, but the waves were too strong for you to control. Only this time, you were fighting it alone. You and him were stuck in a long distance relationship. Even though your friends were still around, you felt too guilty telling them what you were going through because you hid a significant part of your past from them. You were mentally dying inside, becoming too consumed by the fear. Overwhelmed with the devastation. The fake smiles weren’t working anymore. The fake happy-go-lucky persona was too hard to perform. You were slowly morphing into someone else.

You were becoming me.

But we both know what happened afterward. I struggled with the mess you left behind for me to clean up. I was left in the wake of a storm that I thought I would never recover from. A refugee of my own self-destruction. For the last four years, I hated you. I was resentful that you could fake smiles and pretend to be happy. I was angry because you got to live the life in the beforehand, in bittersweet ignorance, and I was living in the aftermath. You got to have all the fun while I had to blindly sort through what you buried. I was jealous.

But now, four years later, looking back, I was so foolish to be envious of you in the first place. I was wrong. Because it wasn’t me getting the shitty end of the stick, it was you. You were living the lie. You weren’t truly happy. Yes, there were peaceful moments you looked back on and did find solace in, but you weren’t happy. You were fucking miserable. You were lying and denying who you were. You constantly pretended to be someone else because you felt like you didn’t fit in anywhere. You were too afraid people wouldn’t like the real you.

If anything, you should be jealous of me! Because I’m living in the aftermath of your mistakes. I get to be open about who I truly am as a person. I can openly talk about what I am going through without fear of judgement. I can admit to my mistakes and take the criticism that goes along with it. I can handle people telling me I don’t matter, or my illness don’t matter, or that I’m a fake poser looking for attention. I can take it. I can Tweet, “Hey! I’m a bisexual living with PTSD who doesn’t believe in God” and find more support than hate. And even when the hate mail comes, it doesn’t hurt me because their words don’t bother me anymore. They don’t matter anymore.

And even on my worse day, I am way happier than what you ever were.

But to the girl I use to be, I do say I am sorry. I am sorry you went through what you did. I wish you could have had the courage to stand up and fight him. I’m sorry you had to cut yourself to feel release. I’m sorry you got drunk and high to numb the pain. And I’m sorry you were so untrustworthy that you destroyed relationships with good people, people that could have been in my life now. I wish you could have been open about who you were, and I’m sorry you found your true friends when it was already too late.

You had to live a lie, whereas I can be open about who I truly am. For that I am truly sorry. Though I can’t say I pity you, I am empathetic.

Because without the girl I use to be, I wouldn’t be the woman I am now.

 

And as always,

Fight the good fight.

-Amanda xo

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