What It Means To Love Me: A Trauma Survivor

A girl, me, who has lived through trauma has lived through a situation where my body, my mind, my self was not her own. Where I felt disjointed, ripped from myself, safety, and sanity. It was a moment, an experience, a something where my trust was smashed, my worth was gone and all there was was pain.

Me, who has lived through trauma is the girl who was pushed into the deep end of the pool when I didn’t know how to swim, but somehow found my way to the ledge anyway. I walked through a forest fire and didn’t succumb to the smoke, but dealt with the burns and made it out in spite of the flames. I found herself in free fall but refused to break upon impact.

I survived. I did.

But the thing about trauma, is that even when it is over it never really goes away.

And sometimes trauma is loud. Sometimes it’s the monster banging at the windows and screaming gutturally and demonically inside of nightmares. It’s nails on a chalkboard and an earthquake that rattles everyone’s floors. It smashes everything in its wake and forces, no, demands that everyone acknowledge its terrible, terrible presence. I won’t have any choice but to sit with hands clapped over my ears making sounds that are barely human because I just wants everything to stop and it won’t.

But other times, trauma is quiet. It’s sneaky.

It’s the feeling that I am being watched or that I am walking down the street with the word ‘victim’ painted on my forehead in red and everyone is privy to my secrets. It’s the nagging fear that if I go to sleep my dreams will be anything but restful. It’s the little whisper saying, “You will never be whole again,” that itches its way into the back of my mind and repeats over, and over, and over. And you won’t even see it because I convince myself that I am the only one who knows that it is there.

It’s the feeling that I am a 100,000 piece puzzle of black and grey and everyone staring at the mess realizes that putting me back together is simply not worth the effort.

So when you love me, who’s gone through trauma, you’re saying that you see the worth in helping me bandage the wounds. You’re saying that you see the worth someone else tried to bury. You’re saying you are not afraid of the bad days and you see the beauty in the good days. You’re saying that a lot of things may scare you, but trauma isn’t one of them.

When you love me who’s battled trauma, you’re really saying,

“Love, let me help you heal because I believe you can.”

Loving me who has managed to make it to the other side of a traumatic experience is like deciding to restore an abandoned house. I have the framework and the good bones, but you may need to spackle holes someone else left behind on the the walls. I have the  makings for beautiful, light-filled windows, but you’ll need to replace a few of the cracked panes with new glass. I have the door frame, I just need a door.

I’ll make a lovely home one day, but there needs some care in order to make a space where both of you can fit.

See, loving me with trauma in my history is not some choose your own adventure or some level in a game you need to beat. It takes time, it take patience. It’s not something you ‘win at’ it’s something you deal with day by day. It takes a level of commitment because reality is, loving me is not simple.

I am inherently complicated. I am stained with memories I wish I did not have but that I will never be rid of. I am pieced together and the stitching may be tighter in some spots than others so you have to be careful to not unravel me with one careless tug.

But I am brave. And I am strong.

And when I realize that you are choosing to love me, and not hurt me, I will love you back with the same kind of tenacity that it took to walk through fire.

And I will hold out my palm and show you the burn marks and instead of apologizing for bothering you with their appearance, I’ll trust you to hold my hand anyway.

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