Many in the Peer Community know me for two things: being involved with music and being dedicated to destigmatizing the experiences of hearing voices, seeing things others don’t, special messages etc. that are usually labeled as “psychosis.” I am very open with sharing my story and can get candid about many of the difficulties I’ve faced in my life. However, there is a big part of my story I tend to skip over in public spaces. I was in an abusive relationship for seven years, from the year 2008 until 2015.
There are many reasons for me omitting these seven years from my story, whether it be unprocessed trauma or the general shame with admitting I let someone mistreat me for so long and truly believed it was just the hardship of love. This past Saturday, February 18, I celebrated a milestone, it has been seven would-be anniversaries that I have no longer been in this painful relationship.
February is always difficult, our anniversary used to be on Feb.18. So what used to be an exciting day turned into a “traumaversary.” As the day approaches, everything in my life starts to seem off. My emotions seem to careen out of control throughout the days, traumas that I thought were already processed and done with come up out of nowhere, and old memories can resurface with a simple lingering scent. This year was really no different, I was trying to hang in there. As things seemed to pile up, I even had a small crisis moment of no sleep for a few days and was feeling like I was stumbling through everything in the first half of February. I’m quite good and just continuing on in life during crisis due to years of having no support, but it's still as difficult as ever to get through. Somehow through all the haze, something hit me - I have spent as many February 18th’s apart from him as I did with him at this point. Something about that realization began to lighten the load.
My friend luckily invited me to a retreat for her birthday from the 19th - 20th and so after spending the day of my traumaversary celebrating my dog’s birthday (she turned 14 on the 16th!) I drove to the middle of nowhere to stay in a lovely little room with my dog and new friends. Being in nature gave me some time to reflect and have some perspective. I generally hate thinking that anything bad happens for a reason, but I do believe in creating reasons. I decided to try to pull some lessons out of my experience. Here are a few of them:
As difficult as this experience was, it ultimately is part of my path that led me to the peer movement and support for my hearing voices and special messages. I have learned so much from those around me and I feel like I have finally found the love, family and community that a younger self so craved. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to share much about those seven years of my life. I’m still working on being able to even tell my therapist. But I am happy that I have found space where I can be my authentic self and be able to share about my experiences without being judged. I hope that my story and takeaways help others to deal with anything similar they may have experienced.
My last thing to say is that if you are in a relationship and you feel that you are being treated in a way that belittles you, hurts you, crosses your boundaries and things happen that you feel you cannot share with your friends and family; I urge you to find the courage to leave. There are resources like the domestic violence hotline, there are shelters for those who are suffering domestic violence. And even if you haven’t had hands laid on you, you can still be abused verbally and sexually. It’s important to talk about these things with trusted family, friends or professionals to see if they see something you don’t. You are worth love and adoration from those you love. Things can improve and when one door closes you have no idea how many can open. Sending love to all.
By Corinita Reyes
National Domestic Violence Hotline