My Life After Surviving Abuse

Hazel Collins

My early life was perfect. I had a loving family, pets, and a home where I felt safe and happy. My grandpa was the world to me. He died in September of 1997. Sometimes, I think my mother died with him. My mother was once someone who took nausea medication to make sure she could administer my insulin, who made sure her babies knew she loved them above all else. But after my grandpa passed in a work accident, she deteriorated in front of me. Slowly, she became angrier, more withdrawn, and disinterested.

I didn't understand what was happening at first. I was too young to really comprehend. Twelve years of physical and mental abuse later, I escaped.

I thought that once I was out that I would be fine. I had adapted to the abuse. Of course, I could thrive in a place away from it, and I did- for a while. I immediately went to work and worked long, hard hours so that I could fill my time (and mind) with busyness and not the past. I left that job two years later and, when things were finally slow enough for me to think, the past came back to hit me like a ton of bricks.

It has been so, so hard to keep my head above water at times. When it first hit, I cried for days on end and still do sporadically. This is all part of healing. I hope by reading my story you will find yourself feeling less alone.

The first year, I focused on being the best at everything to prove to myself that I wasn't a burden like my mother said I was. I needed to be good enough so I could contribute in a meaningful way. This resulted in anxiety and a crippling fear of failure that prevented from trying new things. I was scared to make friends because we had no shared experience; I came from a home where it was commonplace to go hungry, and they came from mostly good homes.

I eventually let people come to me, but slowly. Anyone who tried to rush to get close obviously wanted something and I couldn't trust them.

I finally ended up making some friends that are very dear to me now four years later.

The second year was chaotic and I took my ability to handle it as recovery. I've weathered worse storms, it was nothing in comparison. I was in a relationship and couldn't see how the depression and PTSD from my upbringing were hurting the people I loved the most.

I wish I'd seen myself clearly before putting him through all of that with me- long, tear-filled nights wondering why I wasn't enough and if it was okay to be so raw, emotional, and broken.

I hope he knows that because of how supported me I was able to see that I am deserving of love and care regardless of my flaws. He showed me that the walls may have kept the hurt out, but it kept everything good out, too.

I was finally ready to admit that I needed more than just therapy. It has been hard. I've hurt several people in my healing process, cried many tears, and tried plenty of medications to find what works for me. I'm coming up on a year since I went back, and have made a lot of progress in coming to terms with what happened to me. I'm learning to let go of my anger and process the pain instead. I had to let the fire consume me to learn that I was a phoenix. Now it's my time to fly above it.

What was a turning point in your life? Who helped you get there? I would love to hear about it in the comments.