It’s been 10 years since I left the worst DV relationship of my life…
They say it takes seven years for all your skin cells to renew, which means there is now no part of my skin that he touched. But I’m not healed. I may never be.
Ten years and I still jump when I hear a loud noise. Ten years, and some part of me still worries that he will track me down online, or that I will find a letter in my mailbox; a terrifying reminder that he knows where I am. Ten years, but I have psychological scars that will last as long as I do.
I try so hard to remove the reminders, but the days when I feel overwhelmed, the days when the washing doesn’t get done, when things don’t get put away, those are the days when trauma overwhelms me, and I can barely move. Ten years and I still have those days.
But they are my days. Days I can languish, wallow, heal. Days I can take to re-live the trauma, acknowledge my sorrow, cry, eat ice cream. I don’t have to hide my pain for fear of upsetting someone, of being accused of being selfish, or worse, crazy. I can be angry, or sad, and I don’t have to shield anyone from the expanse of my emotion.
When you live in DV, everything is calculated to minimise harm, to pander to someone else. “I should wash the clothes, I don’t want him to get angry”, “I should tidy, he hates a messy house”, “I shouldn’t be upset when he gets angry – he’s just trying to express himself”, “I should, I should, if only, if only, I shouldn’t have…” Being selfish is the worst crime in an abuser’s eye, because you are not submitting to his control of every aspect of your life. He wants complete control, over what you do, who you see, what you say, and even what you think. You do not exist, except as reflection of him.
So when I have days when the trauma comes, I feel it. I feel all the depth of it. I refuse to submit to an idea that my trauma isn’t real or valid, that I need to hide how I feel. I luxuriate in the knowledge that no one controls my mind or my emotions.
The journey out is wild and difficult and treacherous, but it is worth it for those days when I can howl in pain and comfort myself.
I may never be completely healed, but today, I am my own person. And that is everything.