Ok, some backstory first. I was in a really shitty relationship for ~2.5 years until I ended it this past June because I'd realized I was being mistreated, and his reaction to my coming out as queer (NOT intending to break up with him) was just the final straw.
I just felt really numb for most of the summer and couldn't even make sense of what happened until a few months later when I started to recall things that happened and upon looking back I realized how crappy they were, and how manipulative he was to me.
I thought I'd gotten over it. I have a new partner now, and at the beginning I talked with him a lot about boundaries and my situation and he was and is wonderful about it. Always willing to listen and help, even though my ex was one of his closer friends (until he found out what my ex did to me as well as my ex's younger sister.)
I thought I'd been doing really well with getting over this as well as my depression, but I broke down at my therapist's appointment on Friday. I feel like I'm carrying around so much pain still. I don't know why and I'm upset with myself that I'm still affected by this so much. It just honestly really, really sucks.
I'm also feeling really iffy about even labeling it as 'abuse' or that I'm being 'triggered,' or that he was my abuser. It feels like I'm not really worthy of those words, if that makes sense? I know logically that if a person sexually coerces you or manipulates you, or makes you feel inferior, it's abuse and it's wrong. But for some reason I feel like my situation isn't that bad, so I feel guilty having problems dealing with it.
[TW: victim blaming] I know logically that it's not my fault at all. But then I always think, "don't blame other people for your problems." And I know that survivors often blame themselves when they should blame the perp. But the doubting part of me thinks that maybe it's all wrong and maybe I need to just suck it up because nothing even really happened to me, and that I'm just a spiteful, hysterical ex-girlfriend making up rape and abuse stories to justify why it didn't work...
Long story short, after that breakdown on Friday and my first ever visit to the gynecologist today (where they had warning signs of an abusive relationship up on the walls. useful and helpful but i started crying reading them) I'm too wound up to do the homework I have to get done. Any tips on relaxing when things like this are going through your head?
EDIT: I just read over the guidelines for this space and let me know if something's too triggering and I need to remove it/ I need to put a warning on it.
I'm so sorry to hear about your past relationship and that you've been triggered around some of those experiences recently. I think it's fairly common for people to realize, a little after the fact, just how unhealthy a relationship was - sometimes it takes some distance to give you that perspective. I certainly have had a relationship experience like that, where it took a few years for me to realize just how bad things had been.
I tend to believe people about their own experiences - if you feel that what happened was abuse, then that's good enough for me, and I think it should be good enough for you. I know there is so much victim-blaming that happens that it can be easy to turn that on yourself, but when you feel that happening I really encourage you to take a moment to think about what you'd say if a close friend was saying the same things about a relationship. Would you say "don't blame your problems on someone else!" or would you offer a hug and your support? It can be easy to be harder on yourself than you'd ever be with a beloved friend or family member, but I encourage you to try to be as sweet and patient with yourself as you'd be with someone else you care about.
If there's a rape crisis center in your area, you could give them a call. Even if you're not sure exactly what to call what happened between you and your ex, having someone to listen and help you sort through these feelings might be helpful. I know you said you have a therapist as well, but there's no harm in exploring other avenues of assistance. I don't know where you're located but if you'd like to find a rape crisis center near you, we can help with that.
Self-care is really important right now, I think. Some things I can think of that help me relax when I'm anxious or feeling triggered are taking a nice bath (sometimes with a good book), taking a walk or bike ride, making some tasty food (I tend to bake cookies when I'm stressed), or sitting quietly with some knitting. Doing some deep breathing exercises, stretches, or yoga poses can be a great help as well. If you're having a hard time focusing on something specific like homework it may be helpful to give yourself a set amount of time to try to do something distracting or relaxing, and then trying to work again to see how it feels.
Posts: 350 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013
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