July 10, 2015
“Thank you for calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline,” the outgoing message begins. “Your call is extremely important to us and we will help you as soon as our advocates have assisted previous callers. If this is an emergency…”
It isn’t an emergency and holding for an advocate seems ridiculous. I am not a victim of domestic violence. I’m the woman other women, and sometimes even men, turn to when they find themselves in abusive, addictive and otherwise unhealthy relationships. I’m a strong, healthy woman who has helped countless clients heal, evolve and transform their own lives.
Why on earth did I just dial a domestic violence hotline? My ex isn’t abusive – he is an amazing man who just doesn’t know how to appropriately express hurt or angry feelings. Right?
Of course. He’s from another culture and speaks English as a third language. Our last conversation, which perpetually spins around the rinse cycle of my mind without ever draining, was probably just a series of wild misunderstandings. But then why did it trigger so much…anxiety?
Is that even what this is? It has felt like elephants have been stampeding across my chest the past few nights. I have been crying incessantly all morning. I just can’t stop. I don’t even know why.
It’s not typical for me to feel like this. Actually, I’ve never felt like this. Not even after 9/11, or when a natural disaster devastated my community, events which shattered my heart, threatened my sense of safety and completely destroyed the comfort zones of my life.
In the future, while contending with Complex PTSD, I will understand that I have been minimizing Big T traumas for years, and stacking them like collectibles. Hence the breakdown that will eventually bring this awareness – and lead to the greatest breakthrough of my life. One which help me heal, empower and awaken very quickly, and help others do the same.
But here in 2015, I am only just beginning the extremely painful part of this She-ro’s journey. I’ve become an expert at denying my feelings, but they will no longer allow me to suppress them. My heart feels like it’s trying to race its way right out of my body, and my chest feels ready to support that choice by exploding.
My brain is lost in confusion and can’t find its way back to any semblance of mindfulness. I feel extremely fearful but cannot, for the life of me, identify what I’m scared of. Hypervigilance feels like an understatement. I do not feel comfortable leaving my home. I do not even feel safe enough to get off my couch.
These symptoms do not seem to warrant a call to a domestic violence hotline, but I guess it can’t hurt to talk with someone. As I listen to the outgoing message again, I wonder what the ratio is of those who hold and hang up.
How many people break through previously impenetrable walls of denial due to symptoms too strong to contend with, only to slip back within their confines when the compassionate voice on the other end is a recording? I suspect it’s a fairly common occurrence for first-time callers. Denial is such a pervasive aspect of abuse and the windows of clarity don’t tend to stay open for very long.
Mine are shutting again as I type. I am not in an abusive relationship, or any other type, for that matter. For the second time in two months, our relationship has become a past-tense experience.
I’m just about to hang up again when an advocate picks up and asks if I’m in danger. My ex is 1300 miles away. I tell her I’m so safe, I don’t even want to take her time from someone who may not be.
She doesn’t accept my offer to hang up. Instead, she asks questions I don’t know how to answer. I can’t make enough sense of my recent experiences to explain them.
And there’s no way to describe much of what I am feeling; some emotions can’t actually be expressed with words. Someday, I will understand that this is because most of the traumas getting triggered have roots in my childhood, long before I had the language to label them with.
Even if I had the words to articulate the reason for my call, my voice is barely audible. All I can hear is my ex, telling me to hang up. I am just being dramatic. Only people of “weak spirit” would make a call like this. He laughs sarcastically as he mocks me for being a victim.
I tell my advocate that I can’t find my voice because the memory of his is so loud. I have not yet found a way to turn down the volume on his endless loop of criticisms, insults and accusations. That’s all I need to share. She knows much better than I do what I’ve been contending with.
She knows why I got back together with him, even though the breakup had been so good for me. With glimpses of myself returning and moments of genuine happiness and hopefulness becoming more plentiful. I’d even forgotten what his rageful tirades felt like.
Until he helped me remember.
Today, this advocate will validate my experience, confirming my suspicion that I am in an emotionally abusive relationship. That is only the beginning of this particular diagnosis, and it’s already more than my denial can accept.
Tomorrow, I’ll want to pretend the conversation didn’t happen. I’ll want to ignore her advice about going “no contact.” I’ll want to chase the high that follows these ever-increasingly painful lows with my ex.
There’s only one action I can think of that might ensure I won’t take his call. If you’re reading this post, I had the courage to take it.
Welcome to my blog.
July 2020: This post was written five years ago! I’ve written an addendum beneath the link for the next old post, for those who are new to Love Without Traffic.
July 2020: That was the very first post I wrote, five years ago, based upon a journal entry. When I realized I was explaining things in my own diary, as if I hadn’t just lived them, I knew it was meant for the public. I have no idea where I found the courage to post it online and also place a link on Facebook; something in me just knew I had to.
The response was overwhelming. I received supportive messages from many people who had been in relationships like the one I was describing. Others asked for help, as if placing a call to a hotline somehow made me an authority on the topic. Boy, did I have some work ahead of me before I would become that!
I tried so many different types of traditional support and healing. None of it worked. It all just brought me deeper and deeper into my victim story, and led to even more challenging and painful situations!
I almost didn’t make it through my last bottom. I strongly considered calling it game over, but thankfully, I was too much of a people-pleaser to kill myself! At least my codependency issues had one good purpose, lol! The other thing that kept me going was THIS:
That glimmer of awareness that I was on a She-ro’s journey, and that I’d one day help so many other women heal through experiences of emotional and narcissistic abuse.
After I lost myself and just about everything I had built my life and very identity on in the process, something quite miraculous happened. I woke up to the truth that everything that I believed had happened to me had actually happened for me. As impossibly painful as they were, I needed to go through those exact experiences to let go of who I thought I was, so I could be who I am.
A woman I am very happy, honored and proud to be! I was quickly led to insight after insight and practice after practice that do actually help people heal through abuse and trauma, and create the love and lives they desire and deserve. Quickly.
I created a program that helped me take my power back from narcissists and transform my life in more miraculous ways than I can count. In fact, I’m extremely grateful today for the painful path that led here. It couldn’t have happened any other way.
Taking the long, winding, treacherous and extremely painful path has helped me to create shortcuts for others. My program has helped all my coaching clients heal, empower and awaken.
Powerfully. Profoundly. Permanently.
So if you have been struggling to leave a narcissist, or keep attracting these painful relationships again and again, I promise there is hope. I can teach you exactly how to kiss that abusive partner, the patterns that attract that personality type, and this painful part of your life goodbye. Then, you can create the peace, happiness, love and life you desire and deserve.