As I sit down to write this post, I realize it won’t be anything special. I’m running on three hours of sleep and a boatload of frustration and emotional overwhelm. I don’t feel like I’m going to be thought-provoking or entertaining. But then again, maybe knowing someone – really knowing them – isn’t about seeing them at their best or most charming. So here I am, not really knowing why, but feeling like I should write this journal-esque post. Maybe it’s because someone out there needs to hear it.
Creating Psychology Junkie
Back in 2015, I created Psychology Junkie as a way of organizing all the typology and psychology information I’d been learning over the years. For my entire life, I’ve been fascinated by the human mind. I’ve hoarded psychology books, listened to hundreds of lectures, and watched as many videos as I could find about the brain. I enjoy analyzing people and figuring out what makes them tick…sometimes to an unhealthy degree. On top of satisfying my curiosity, psychology has given me answers to some of my deepest struggles and traumas.
So one summer night in 2015 I thought, “Let me throw all my random psychology-related thoughts onto a blog. Nobody will read it. But it might be fun anyway.” Hence, Psychology Junkie was born.
Originally I thought I’d write about living with PTSD, dealing with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, or the neuroscience of the mind. I wanted to help people who, like me, had experienced sexual trauma.
Instead, I wrote about typology.
Rehashing my past was a whole lot more murky and vulnerable than I wanted it to be. Anytime I’d start writing a post I’d start feeling nauseous and irritable. Talking about 4-letter personality codes is SO. MUCH. EASIER.
I don’t have to step out from behind the curtain if I’m just talking about you, after all.
So in that fashion, I’ve created over 600 articles about different personality types, all without revealing much about myself. Not only does talking about myself feel lame and narcissistic, but it’s also scary. I have plenty of baggage I don’t want to show the world. And besides,, who wants to hear about it anyway? In what way would that provide any practical help to anyone?
But after five years of delivering a lot of sterile, technical posts about typology, I’ve decided to try again to put myself out there. Because if I could have read a post like this a long time ago it probably would have helped me. As of now, I’m not helping anyone in the way I originally intended when I started this blog. When I started Psychology Junkie I thought that maybe I could help other people who had been through sexual trauma to feel less alone. I haven’t been doing that. I’ve been regurgitating typology information because it’s popular, somewhat helpful, and eventually started to pay the bills (and as a mom of five, the bills were enormous). It’s also fun to learn about and write about. But as important as that is, and even though I love typology, this is ultimately not fulfilling my original goal. So that’s why I’m writing this post today.
Who knows. Maybe I’ll delete it in a few days. Maybe not. I tend to have a low tolerance for putting my vulnerabilities out into the world.
Why Would You Want to Know Me?
That’s a good question. The only practical reason I can think of for you to want to know me is to find hope in your own darkness. I know that when life is desperate and painful, you feel like you’re drowning at the bottom of a well and nobody can reach you. I want you to know that there’s a way out of that dark place. You can still find beauty, achieve things, and make a difference. You can still claw your way out of that well. Sometimes it will feel impossible and you’ll run out of breath. Sometimes you’ll need to find footholds in the dark. But there’s still a beautiful life for you to experience at the end of your journey (or even along the way).
You’re not alone. That’s really what I want you to know.
If you’ve been through sexual trauma, PTSD, or loss, you’re not alone. By putting myself out here I’m letting you know that you have potential. Sometimes when we’ve been through rotten stuff in life, we feel like we’re rotten. We feel like we’re living in this lonely bubble of terror. We want to bump into another bubble and connect with someone else. But everyone else seems to be floating off in other directions. We want to feel like we’re not monsters because of things that have happened to us. That is probably one of the biggest reasons I’m writing this post. But I warn you. This might get messy. I’ve done no outlining. I’ve done no pre-planning. This post is totally off the cuff, so it might be more of a ramble than anything else.
TRIGGER WARNING: I talk about sexual abuse and rape in this article. If this could create stress or mental trauma for you, please don’t continue to read.
I grew up as a very shy, highly imaginative little kid in the Midwest. My parents were hard-working, ambitious people and I was lucky to have them. My dad was an ENTJ – kinda scary sometimes, but he loved me and taught me how to work hard and go after my dreams. My mom was a very devoted ESFP. She taught me how to be resourceful, determined, and, most importantly, how to love fiercely and loyally.
I’m also a middle child for whatever that’s worth. Yep, the one who never did anything first or last. Lots of trauma there – thanks mom and dad 😉 😛
As a little INFJ I used to hide behind my parent’s legs whenever we’d go places where there were people. I remember seeing other kids playing but never feeling brave enough to pursue them. Sometimes when I did get up the nerve to approach other children I’d become overwhelmed and start crying in the middle of everything. As you can imagine, that was pretty awkward. Have you ever cried in the middle of a whopper hopper full of bouncing children? It’s not pleasant I can tell you.
As a kid, I thought everything about me was odd and subpar. My skin was weird. My teeth were too gappy. I was too out of touch with reality. I walked funny. My voice was too high. Etc, etc,. I was your typical socially anxious kid who spent more time in my imagination than in the real world.
Around the age of five, I started to experience sexual abuse. This went on for eight years. I kept it a secret largely because I was told not to tell anyone, and I was ashamed of what had happened and believed it to be my fault. My feelings of weirdness increased. The real world felt harder and harder to fully live in, and my imagination became my safe place. I used to beat myself up about this. “Why do I waste my time imagining realities that will never exist?” But then I thought to myself, “Why does it matter if my joy comes from the imagination more than the real?” The joy in the dream can be real. The feelings that I get from the daydream are real. Life is so short and fleeting anyway. Why does it matter if the happiness I feel comes from a fantasy life instead of a real one?
As the sexual abuse got worse my self-hatred became overwhelming. I developed these long, drawn-out prayers that I would say to myself compulsively hundreds of times throughout the day. They want something along the lines of “Dear God, please help me not to get pregnant. Please help my eyeballs not to fall out. Please help me not to die in a car accident. Please help me not to swallow any bugs when I’m getting a drink from the sink. Please help my parents not to die. Please help my siblings not to die. Please. Please. Please….” the list went on and on. This, of course, made it even harder to spend time around other people. If I had the urge to say the prayer, I knew I HAD to say it. I couldn’t not say it, after all, or my parents could die, I could get pregnant, and my eyeballs could fall out – possibly all at once.
I thought about suicide a lot. My imagination became infiltrated with disgusting memories of my abuse. I stopped daydreaming because I stopped seeing any potential anywhere. I was ashamed of myself and my body and would spend hours preparing before I had to go anywhere. I remember not knowing how to shave my legs, so using tiny scissors to cut each hair off of my body. I thought if I could make myself look as good as possible on the outside, maybe it would cover up the ugliness I felt on the inside.
My teen years were full of stupid mistakes driven by my insecurity and shame. I was so embarrassed about myself that I learned to put on a persona to fit in with people. I pretended I was more experienced than I was, bolder, braver, and everything I thought people wanted me to be. I tried to be someone I thought people would like and accept readily (not someone who cries in the middle of a whopper hopper). I made up stories about myself, pretended I knew things I didn’t and was generally a first-class idiot. I still lay awake at night sometimes replaying embarrassing things I did as a teenager and feel my cheeks get hot with embarrassment.
No matter what I tried, nothing I experienced as a teenager could erase the shame I felt from eight years of sexual abuse. I still felt worthless and unlovable, particularly for who I really was. I knew that my “friends” only knew a mask I wore – but they didn’t actually know me. I was pretending for everyone around me, including my family.
18-year-old me. Super happy obviously.
Because of my nonexistent self-esteem, I mostly dated people who were abusive or manipulative. I’d give them second, third, fourth, and fifth chances to be better. But inevitably relationships left me feeling empty and used. At around 20 years of age, I went on a date with someone I wasn’t attracted to at all. But I was lonely, and he seemed mildly interesting. Halfway through the date, I knew I had zero attraction to him. I just wanted to get home. But on the way back, he pulled over and raped me in the car. He was angry at me afterward, which is typical for date rapists. They blame you for the shame they feel from hurting you. I’d been through this charade many times, so I shrugged it off. It seemed no worse than stubbing a toe at this point. I was already at such a low point that I didn’t think things like this couldn’t really push me much lower. But that changed. This person ended up threatening me in ways that were much worse than anything I’d experienced before. It wasn’t just one time. He sexually molested me in an ongoing sense over the course of a year. I believed that I had to please him to keep someone I loved safe. And pleasing him was difficult because he had a strong and demented sexual appetite.
On one of my worst nights, I caught a cab home from his house and found myself locked out of my home in the pouring rain. I curled up on the floor in the garage and tried to figure out how I could keep going like this. I’d been sodomized three times to the point where I had blood running down the backs of my legs. I was pregnant by then and was in a lot of physical pain. I laid down on the floor of the garage, soaking wet, shaky, and overwhelmed by my own self-hatred. The only reason I hadn’t committed suicide is because of the baby growing inside of me. But what kind of a mother could I be to this baby? How could I possibly offer her anything good? It was at this point that I gave up. I couldn’t protect anyone. I couldn’t keep all the plates spinning by nailing myself to the ground. I felt completely helpless and paralyzed.
But what I didn’t realize then was that giving up could be a good thing. It was gradual. It was scary. It meant letting go of control and letting life take care of me. It meant putting the welfare of my loved ones in the universe’s hands instead of feeling like it was my job to keep everything going. Because it wasn’t working. I would inevitably only hurt myself and the people I was trying to protect by playing this part. I told my abuser that I was done playing his game and he would have to do the thing he’d threatened to do since the beginning. And as it turns out, it was all a big bluff.
By the way, I know I’m being vague about some of this. That’s on purpose. There are people I love who I don’t really want knowing all the details of this story in-depth. Bear with me.
What you can learn from this part of my story
Rapists and narcissists are major bluffers. They’ll make you feel that the only option you have is to give into them. They’ll tell you that they’ll hurt you or hurt someone you love. They’ll threaten to destroy your life, your reputation, and/or your career. They’ll manipulate situations to make you feel responsible for what they’ve done to you. Rapists and narcissists will punch you in the face (literally and/or metaphorically) and make you feel like you need to apologize for getting in the way of their fist. They’ll cry after they rape you. They’ll rage after they rape you. They’ll tell you that you did things that you didn’t do. One time someone started raping me in my sleep. When I woke up screaming, they told me I’d instigated it myself and that they had no idea I was sleeping. They were so convincing and persuasive about it. On top of that, they used the fact that I had severe PTSD as a way of convincing me that I had been so out of it that I hadn’t realized what I was doing.
Rapists like people with mental illnesses and vulnerabilities. They’ll use all your biggest vulnerabilities and struggles to manipulate you into believing what they want you to believe.
So I want to tell you, if you’re reading this and you’ve been in this situation, call their bluff. But first, get somewhere safe where you’re not in danger. Go to a friend’s house. Go to the police. Lock the doors. But take the risk. They probably don’t have anything they can use against you, and even if they do, the shame of them revealing it will be nothing to the pain of fracturing your own spirit. You are a strong person. You probably don’t feel like it right now. But the very things that make you feel vulnerable and afraid are the very things that can eventually make you strong and powerful.
When you actually stand up for yourself, many times rapists and manipulators will back down because, at the end of the day, rapists and manipulators are huge cowards. They go after suffering people because they know how to manipulate your insecurity and shame in their favor. They go after suffering people because they’re too scared to face rejection by fairly approaching anyone. They feel small and weak so they cover it up by being brutal and sadistic.
I wish I hadn’t waited so long to stand up to my abuser. I wish I’d called his bluff SO much sooner. But maybe I went through that so that I could write this article and someone in the same position will read this and decide to stand up for themselves. Even if it’s just one person, that would make it all worth it.
But what if I can’t or didn’t stand up for myself?
Maybe you’re somebody who didn’t stand up to your abuser. Maybe you never went to the police. Maybe you feel shame because you let things continue. Maybe your life is at risk. If that’s the case, please scroll down to the bottom of this article for some helpful phone numbers you can call or text for help.
It is never too late to give yourself a second chance. Unfortunately, when it comes to rape, our legal system is a mess. You do the best you can to cope, but please don’t be angry with yourself for becoming paralyzed. I certainly didn’t stand up for myself on countless occasions. And I’m not angry at myself about it anymore. I did the best I could.
Sure, we’d all like to believe that in dire situations we’d respond like Captain Marvel and knock out our opponents before they have a chance to blink. But real life isn’t a Marvel movie. In real life we freeze, dissociate, or get stuck in analysis paralysis. In real life, we’ve been so manipulated that we really feel like we have to go through with terrible things, or else the worst will happen.
If this is where you are right now, I want you to realize that you are not what has been done to you. Don’t feed yourself the narrative that your abuser fed you. You’re not dirty. It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t because of what you wore. You didn’t “ask for it.” You are worthwhile, valuable, beautiful, and full of potential.
Take a deep breath. Step outside yourself. Look at yourself as if you’re an outside observer. What would you tell that person? If someone came to you and told you about their experience and it was exactly like yours, would you blame them? Would you tell them they asked for it? Would you ask what they wore? Chances are, you wouldn’t. But we’re often our own worst enemies when it comes to abuse recovery. We’ve assimilated the lies and insults of our abusers into our own narrative, and it’s crucial to break that narrative.
I didn’t realize when I started writing this article that this was the direction it would take. I feel like I’ve just been run over by a truck. That’s why I don’t write about this stuff very much. I hate writing about this. I’d rather NOT look back. But maybe there’s a reason for this and I have yet to understand it.
Because I’m so tired at this point I’ll skim over the rest of my life rather quickly…
I became a single mom when I was 21-years-old and in that relationship found an inner strength I never knew existed. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my child. I found a steeliness that before this had been dormant. In the process of becoming a mother I learned to respect myself more…most days anyway. That’s still something I’m working on fixing.
Life still wasn’t pretty all the time. As a young single mom with PTSD I had a lot of bad days. Some days I felt like I was doing more harm than good by being alive. I had flashbacks around people. Sometimes I’d be so afraid during these flashbacks that I’d pee my pants in the middle of a crowded room. Sometimes I would start crying out of nowhere, not even knowing why. I’d get up dozens of times at night to look out my window, check the locks on my door, or make sure nobody had broken in. I was highly agoraphobic and stayed away from people for fear of doing something embarrassing.
I mean, writing about this is embarrassing enough. Why am I even bothering?
I’m putting myself out there like this because so many times we feel so ashamed of everything we are. Everything we do becomes another roadblock of shame that keeps us from really living. When I was having panic attacks around people, I felt like I was the only one who’d ever done something so embarrassing. When I was locked into a van being raped and held down, I felt like I was the only one who was going through this. The shame kept me paralyzed. It kept me locked away from the world. A world where other people had experienced similar things and survived.
I’m telling you all these things about myself because I want you to know that you’re NOT alone. You can get free from this trap.
What’s the point again?
Guys. Life is messy. I thought of giving up so many times. I hated myself so many times. I worried that my life was causing more harm than good. I still struggle. I have depression, PTSD, and issues with codependency. These aren’t things I’m proud of. But I’m working on them. I still make mistakes. I stress eat too much. I get self-righteous sometimes. I can be a nuisance to live with. But I’m a good mom. That’s one thing I’ve learned about myself. And I’m fiercely loyal. There are moments in each day when I find a reason that life is beautiful and worth all the dark moments I’ve lived through.
So if you’re someone who’s struggling, who feels alone, ashamed, and like you don’t have any options left, please let me tell you it’s never too late. I feel like this is cliché. I feel like this is something everyone’s heard before. But I know how it feels to be so low you think everything you touch will crumble. I know how it feels to live in terror 24/7.
Please keep fighting.
Some night you’ll lay down on the grass and look up at the stars and enjoy the sound of the wind whispering in the leaves. You’ll feel small in a good way. You’ll stop feeling old and beaten down and rotten. You’ll get in touch with the little kid inside who never got to chance to really BE a little kid. You’ll feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. You’ll learn to love other people even when you’re in pain. You’ll enjoy the smell of summer rain, the orange haze of the sunset, and the hug of someone who loves you even if you’re a mess. Someday maybe you can share your story with someone and change their life because, even if only for a moment, they’ll feel less alone
Your story is worth telling. Your life is worth living. You are valuable. You are beautiful. You are strong.
Essentially, that’s what I want you to know.
If you are someone who needs to escape an abusive relationship here are some resources I want to share with you:
For domestic abuse help, call the National Domestic Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233. You can also text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 – This is a good option if you can’t speak safely.
For sexual abuse help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member from a sexual service provider in your area can be there to help you right away. You can also access 24/7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org
If you’re feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Thanks for sticking with me through a little segment of my story. Love you guys.
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