**trigger warning – I speak about C-PTSD, triggers, and abuse**
“I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke.” That quote, from a TV show of all places, has been a mantra of mine since the moment my late-teenage self heard it. It landed in my lap at a time in my life where I was beginning to realize that my first and only long-term relationship that I was in was stripping away all of my innocence layer by layer. I was years deep into the relationship at this point, but only now was I overcome with the realization that it wasn’t a normal first-love relationship. Sure, it was saturated with first-love clichés, but it was also riddled with heavy emotional and verbal abuse paired with intimidating manipulation.
The abuse I endured within that relationship is a darkness that I have still failed to fully grasp years later despite the countless hours of therapy, various medications, a handful of diagnoses. However, I am continuing to make progress towards my eventual goal of feeling healed. I am realizing that just because you have a visible scar does not mean you are not healed.
After being diagnosed with C-PTSD, I have been exhausting a lot of my time and effort trying to identify my triggers and then immediately manage and cope with each of them. Due to my C-PTSD, there are long periods of time where I can not recall any memories whether those memories were pleasant or full of abuse. I like to interpret that as my brain trying to protect itself from any more trauma, which in turn brings me some sense of comfort. Despite my brain’s best effort, at least part of myself still recalls what happened during that time because I have been triggered by things related to that time period. After I become triggered, the memory is no longer hidden from me. Not only is it not hidden from me, I seem to relive it. All five senses of mine transport me back to that moment of trauma.
I am a person that has made a bad habit out of trying to apply logic to situations where logic cannot be applied. So of course, I became infuriated at the fact that I cannot remember all of my trauma. If I could recall it all, I could identify and then manage what I believe would possibly be triggers for me. Obviously, there will always be moments in my life where I believe I have protected myself from all triggers and despite all of my precautions a trigger blindsides me. However, I still would gain a sense of control, and I would still have a chance in this fight.
The obsessive desire to want to remember all of my trauma has been an unhealthy fixation I’ve had to suppress for months now. Years ago towards the end of the relationship, I began to notice my memories weren’t necessarily registering within myself, and I would save online conversations I had with him. I knew I had a tendency to become blind to his abuse, so I saved the conversations to remind myself that this abuse was real. Throughout the years I have slowly erased memories of him from my hard drives. I have wiped my college laptop clean, I have deleted every photo of us together, and I thought I deleted all of the conversations. But I didn’t. I sent myself one of the conversations on Facebook. So when my obsessive desire to identify all of the abuse I went through began to kick in, it stumbled upon this message — and that conversation.
It was a conversation between us about a year before we officially stopped talking to one another. I could immediately tell it was towards the end because my innocence was gone. Every word I was typing was soaked in bitterness. Within that hour long conversation he attacked and insulted my intelligence, my independence, my class, and my physical appearance. He called my well-deserved anger towards him “a front that would last a few more minutes if not less.” He told me that within the years we have been together there were only three days where I lived up to my full potential and his standards for me. This conversation only lasted an hour. Sixty minutes. And I didn’t even remember this conversation. I remembered the times where I was unable to catch my breath as I processed what had just come out of his mouth. I remembered the times he urged me to take my own life. But these day-to-day conversations slipped through the cracks. We would talk for hours each day. From the time I woke up to texts from him to the time I fell asleep on the phone with him, we were talking. We did this for four years. That is over thirty-five thousand hours. I realized I’m never going to remember all the abuse.
This is bigger than me. This is not something I can apply logic to or try and control. And because of that, I need to focus on tending to my open wounds enough that they transform into healed scars. I am not going to come out on the other side in pristine condition despite the fact that I’ve been fighting like hell to come out unscathed. Parts of me will always be matted with scar tissue. And that’s okay because I was able to survive. No, I won’t ever live up to his high-standards for me. I’ll have scars, I’ll have triggers, and I’ll have bad days. But I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what he broke.