Not Myself

380 22

It’s been a while. I got a break for a few weeks – we weren’t at church for 2 weeks, then we showed up in the beginning of December (and he wasn’t there). Then he showed up in the middle of December, and I was exhausted.

We were at church for three days this week, and he was there for all three days. It would have been four if we went today, but we didn’t. 

In those three days, I noticed a pattern – one that has been occurring for a while now. I felt anxious beforehand, but every time we reached the church, my mind shut off. The anxiety (I have no other word to explain it) was still there and I was shaking, but I also felt this fog. There were many layers between me and the outside world. I didn’t feel fully present. The stress settled into my shoulders until I had a headache. It was hard for me to breathe, and my heart was pounding for hours. It was painful and exhausting.

After these services, I was very tired. The nights were the worst. I had a few moments in which I cried, couldn’t stop shaking, and dealt with negative spiraling thoughts. I got out of those moments, but they were rough.

Even now, I feel exhausted and disoriented. I don’t feel like myself. I’ve struggled with acknowledging these feelings. I’ve tried to distract myself in any way possible, and I haven’t talked to anyone about how difficult this has been. I know I need to acknowledge these feelings, and I’m trying to take it slowly. Writing this update is difficult, but it’s my first step toward acknowledging all of it. I’m meeting my friends tomorrow, so talking to them might help me feel more grounded. I want to tell one of my friends about this, but I don’t know if I’m ready. 

I’ve noticed that religious holidays are difficult for me. These holidays are a reminder of how I’m at church more often/for longer periods of time, and I put up an act. I spend time with family and keep in touch with my friends, but these holidays still take a lot out of me. 

I feel like I’m going backwards. This year has been really hard. The rough moments from this year felt like the worst I’ve ever experienced. I’m aware of the positive things from this year; there have been so many that never fail to surprise me. I’m trying to remember those things and slowly feel like myself again. 


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22 comments

  1. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi music2799,
    I’m so sorry that this year has had a lot of downs, but like you said think of the positive things. I know it can be difficult. You have over come so much. I remember when you couldn’t even go to church because you were worried and scared. I know you still get anxious and that’s okay you are allowed to feel the way you feel. Just remember you are never alone and you can always write in or message VOICE to 741-741 for immediate help. You are strong and you are brave. Never forget that. I hope 2020 has been treating you better. Thank you for updating us, I’m sorry things are hard for you right now.
    -Alyssa

  2. jcas120 Volunteer

    Hello Music2799,

    Thank you for coming back to share your story with us. You are very brave for sharing so much of your life with the community.

    I am so sorry to hear about everything you are going through. It can be very difficult to go into an environment that you don’t feel comfortable in so often, especially if someone there abused you. You are heard and we believe you. I am thankful you got a bit of a break, but I am sorry to hear that you had to see that person again.

    It was really interesting to see your self awareness show up and noticing that pattern. While these emotions may be stressful, you have incredible insight and I hope that this skill you have can lead to you getting the peace you deserve. The anxiety you feel sounds rough and I want you to know we understand. You are very brave for being there even when you are uncomfortable and don’t feel safe.

    I hope that your friends do help you feel more grounded. Choosing whether or not to tell your friends can always be a difficult choice and I am confident you will do what is best for you. Holidays sound especially tough for you and I hope that now that the holidays are over, you can get another needed break.

    I know you may feel that you are going backwards, but I can assure you that you are not. There is never a step back in a process like this. Sure, there will be some days where you might feel like you lost progress, but you haven’t. Each day you complete shows another step closer to achieving your goals and bringing peace into your life. I hope that this new year is kind to you. We are always here to show you love and support when you need it!

  3. blashea Volunteer

    Hi, I’m sorry that you are feeling this way. I want to say that I’m proud of you for writing this update and for pulling yourself out of those dark places. I know both must’ve been difficult. You are so strong and brave. It’s common to feel like you’re backtracking, but never forget how far you’ve come! You have so much to be proud of yourself for. I hope things get better for you.

  4. Knina7 Volunteer

    Hey music2799,
    I am happy that you were able to get a break from him for a few weeks. I also am happy that you are able to place what you are feeling. It may be easier to talk to someone about it. Have you tried Journaling since you last posted? Hoping that putting your feelings on to paper may help clear your mind. I am happy that you were able to pull yourself out of some spiraling moments, it takes a strong person to do that. Thank you for updating us and we are always here for you.
    Sending Love and Hope,
    Kelly

  5. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi there,

    Thank you for giving us an update. I am always happy to hear from you. I am glad you received a little break from seeing this person in church. and I think it is great that you are starting to acknowledge the pattern of how you are feeling. This could be the first step in helping you find a way to cope with this hard time. You are so strong! Keep pushing through, i know you can get through this. I hope posting updates here is helpful for you. Please come back as often as you would like. <3

    Sending lots of support,
    -Natalie

  6. Lizzi

    Hey music2799,
    I’m so sorry for how hard things have been for you this year, and especially these last few days. I’m sorry that you’ve had to see him at church again. What you’re experiencing sounds so exhausting. It sounds like you might have been dissociating, your brains way of protecting you from all these emotions. I’m glad that you were able to deal with the negative thoughts and get yourself through that. Thank you for sharing with us, even if it was hard to write. When you’re ready, it could be helpful to tell your friend so you have more support, but remember that it’s completely up to you when you tell people or not.

  7. candyappleb Volunteer

    Hi music2799,

    I’m sorry the holidays have been so stressful for you this year. I understand the foggy feelings. I agree with a previous comment. It sounds like what you’re experiencing is dissociation. Being mindful of these feelings is a good thing. Sometimes all you need to regain your footing is to speak about how you feel. We’re always here to listen to you. I hope now that the holidays have passed you can find a bit of relief. Please remember if you need someone to speak with immediately you can always reach out to our crisis text line by texting VOICE to 74174.

    All the best,
    Becca

  8. Ashley Day Captain

    Hello music2799,

    You deserve to have a break from church and his presence. Your self-awareness never fails to amaze me; recognizing that there has been a pattern of your mind shutting off and noticing that religious holidays tend to be difficult for you are two excellent topics to explore. Having to endure spiraling negative thoughts can be unsettling and working through those thoughts certainly isn’t an easy task. Echoing Mikayla, I would agree that it sounds like you’re experiencing dissociation. As she said, grounding techniques tend to help (shorturl.at/bhAS3 – Here’s one grounding technique that I find to be helpful). Your stories always demonstrate courage, hope, and resiliency. I hope you return to feeling like yourself soon.

    Thank you for providing an update and taking the time to share your feelings with us.

    Ashley

  9. tayestlack Volunteer

    Hello love, thank you for coming to us with your story. I’m sorry the holidays are tough for you but remember you should focus on yourself during this time too. Maybe take some time to relax and focus on your feelings and perhaps make note of your moods and thoughts during this time and make note of any patterns. Or maybe try to distract yourself with friends and family to try to make this season more enjoyable. We’re all here for you. Keep your head high and keep fighting. Stay strong

  10. Thomas Volunteer

    Hi music2799,

    Thanks for the update. I’m sorry the holidays have been difficult. The holidays can be a pretty exhausting time generally and with all of these added challenges I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it can be. But you’re not going backwards. These challenges are part of healing. Remember, healing is never a straight line. There are highs and lows and everything in between. Take things a day at a time. Seeing your friends is great and once you’re comfortable you can tell them more, but operate at a pace that’s comfortable to you. As a new year begins, remember that you’re still here. You’ve perservered and stayed strong. You can do this and you’re not alone.

    Thomas

  11. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you for coming back to share with us. I am so sorry that you had to see him so much, and I understand that holidays can be difficult. They are hard for me, too. And it makes sense that you felt exhausted, and you shouldn’t have to go through that. I hope coming here to share helps, and that talking to your friends will help, too. We are here for you, and we support you.

    Erin

  12. mikaylaanne11 Volunteer

    Hi again music2799,

    It’s good to hear from you. I’m sorry that this has been a particularly difficult holiday season. We’re always here for you and are ready to talk if you need us. I think it’s good to focus on the positive things from this year and to try to use those memories to ground yourself.

    It sounds like the feelings you’re describing might be dissociation. Dissociation is kind of a way for your body to go into self-preservation mode while still maintaining an appearance of functioning as normal. People will describe it as a sort of detachment or “floating above one’s body” or generally being incapable of becoming fully present. I experience dissociation a lot, and even after identifying what I’m feeling, it can be hard for me to re-ground myself. I think that, with how much you were around religiously themed places/events/etc. over the holidays, this stress might have sent you into this kind of foggy headspace as a way of preserving yourself. I think that acknowledging these feelings and sharing them with us and your friends is a great way to bring your mind back down into your body.

    Hope you’re having a good start to the new year! We’re here for you any time.

  13. Breanna Grunthal Volunteer

    Hey music2799,

    Thanks for coming back and giving us an update. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling, and it makes sense to me that the holidays are more difficult. I know church is especially difficult, so I’m proud of you for making it through this tough time. Remember to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Healing is a journey with many ups and downs. Things will look up. I’m glad to hear you’re considering talking about this with a friend, and the social support can be super helpful. Remember that you can do this on your terms – telling who you want to, how much, and when you’re ready. Keep you chin up, and we are here for you! Stay strong <3

    Sending love and support,
    Bre

  14. Jess Volunteer

    Thank you for continuing to update us. I’m sorry that you’ve been dealing with this and that it’s affected your enjoyment of the holidays. You don’t deserve to have to keep seeing him and dredging up these memories. It’s good to hear that you’re trying to do things on your own timeline and you’re not trying to rush yourself into anything. I hope being with your friends and family still helps in some way. It’s amazing that you’re taking that first step by acknowledging how you feel here. If you’re not ready to tell your friend, don’t force yourself. It will always bring anxiety, but make sure that you’re not pushing yourself too hard. Keep moving forward the best that you can. In the meantime, we are always here for you. Stay strong and keep fighting. <3
    -Jess

  15. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi music2799,
    Thank you for continuing to share your story with us. I’m sorry that you’ve been dealing with this. You didn’t deserve any of it, and it’s not your fault. Remember to do everything on your own terms and your own timeline. You don’t need to tell your friend if your are not comfortable with sharing that yet. If you need anything, let us know. We’re always here for you.

  16. sam Volunteer

    I’m sorry the holidays are so hard for you. It can be the toughest time of year. It sounds like you’re experiencing some dissociation which is really scary, but you’re not alone in that. A lot of people who have experienced trauma go through the same thing, so it’s probably a good idea to talk through it with someone like a counselor. I hope being with your friends continues to help you. We are always here for you, too!

  17. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear music2799,
    I am so sorry that you are experiencing this…please make sure to take care of yourself. As Megan said, it sounds like you are disassociating when you have to go to church and face your abuser. This is your body’s way of protecting itself, but it isn’t supposed happen repeated or for prolonged lengths of time. This may be something you want to talk with your therapist about the next time you go.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  18. dzreid Volunteer

    Music2799
    I’m sorry that you’re struggling. Our minds are so uniquely made. So often, our minds are used to protect us from things we’re not ready or able to handle. I’m sure this is hard for you. I think spending time with your friends will be good. As far as sharing with a friend, I guess ask yourself if you feel comfortable doing so. The friend ( if you choose to share) may respond with silence. This could be simply because they are giving you the space & time to share. Hopefully in time, the anxiety will lessen. You shouldn’t have to live in fear each time you get near the church. You deserve to walk in holding your head high & not file with anxiety. You didn’t deserve what happened to you! Thanks for sharing! Keep on keeping on
    Dawn

  19. Megan Volunteer

    Hey music2799,

    I’m sorry you had to be at church for so many days lately, I know how you’ve expressed how hard church days are for you. It sounds like what you are experiencing is actually a very common trauma reaction called dissociation (it can also be separated into depersonalization and derealizaiton if you want to look at it in more detail). In short, it is like a feeling of disconnection from the present, the world, or yourself. Things that help with these kinds of feelings are called grounding techniques (see https://www.beautyafterbruises.org/blog/grounding101 or https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques#mental-techniques for some examples). Remember to take your time for yourself, whether that’s to process these feelings or to figure out if you are ready to talk to your friends or not or whatever you need to feel better. It can be hard when you feel like you’re going backwards, but know that healing is not linear. There will be ups and downs. It’s a good idea to try to focus on the positives. Maybe looking at pictures or videos of good memories will help you with that?

    I hope you feel better soon. We are always here if you need us,
    Megan

  20. sfmbelle413 Day Captain

    Hey there music2799,

    Everything you’re feeling in completely normal. Our bodies like to protect us, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed. I believe our brains try to blur the outside world for us so we don’t have to feel as much pain. It can be confusing and scary, though, too. If you’re feeling those spiraling moments and need immediate help, our friends at Crisis Text Line are there 24/7. You can reach them by texting VOICE to 741-741.

    Taking the step to acknowledge these feelings are huge. Distractions are a great way to help your brain rest a little bit too. Please remember to do everything on your time. There is no right or wrong timeline. We can tend to go backwards sometimes too, and that’s completely okay. Please keep focusing on the positives and keep fighting.

    Sending light your way,
    SFM

  21. musicislove

    Hi music2799,

    I’m so sorry you’re struggling right now. It’s understandable why you’re so exhausted and hurting, having to see the person that caused so much trauma is so difficult. I’m sorry you’ve had to see him so much lately, you shouldn’t have to deal with that and I’m sorry you can’t avoid it right now. I hope now that the holidays are mostly over that you can get a little bit of peace and that seeing your fiends is helpful, whether you tell one of them what’s been going on or not. Remember that your journey is yours and you decide who you tell what. It’s good that you’re trying to focus on the positive moments from this year, try to be kind to yourself, like you said, this year has been really hard, you deserve some gentleness. We’re always here for you and you can come back to share whenever you need or want. Good Luck,

    Delaney

  22. Solongago Volunteer

    I am sorry. Holidays are hard for many people. I can understand why religious holidays tend to be really hard for you. I am proud of how you are noticing your feelings. Writing about them can help make them manageable.

    Try to be gentle with yourself during these holidays. It is completely understandable that you feel this way, and try to respond to your feelings by giving your body what you need, if that is sleep, or good food, exercise, or a little distance and quiet time — self care.