dating with trauma

05.01.19

1:09 pm

hey there beautiful people! i want to start off by stating this post may be triggering for some. please do not feel like you must read the entire thing if you start to feel triggered. the topic is going to be to be handling trauma in romantic relationships. if this is a tough topic for you, please know that i am here for you. if you need to ever chat, i am here, and i mean that. i personally know what it’s like to try to navigate new relationships after experiencing trauma.

i will only be speaking from my own personal experiences, what i’ve experienced may differ from the next person in multiple ways.

which speaking of, that’s a good thing to take note of. there are many similarities in how people handle trauma, but there are also many differences. in my opinion, there is no right or wrong way to survive after trauma occurs. i believe people do their best just to stay alive after a lot of traumas.

if you are close to me you might know some of my history, if not, i am here to share with you. i am pretty vulnerable and open when speaking about the life i’ve lived and the things i’ve been through.

in 2013, the week of my 26th birthday, i was drugged and sexually assaulted, raped. that night changed my life forever.

i was taken to the hospital for a rape kit. something i would never wish on anyone in this world. it was brutal and i felt traumatized all over again. i did not receive much empathy from many of the people who are in a position and career to help with this exact type of thing. my eyes were opened to the many reasons why a lot of people don’t report being raped or sexually assaulted. i often think that if i could go back in time, would i still go to the hospital? i am not sure. although so much went wrong through that experience, it eventually led me to the therapist i would end up seeing for years.

after my rape, i isolated myself from as many people as possible, as often as possible. i had spurts where being around people was fine, and then other times, i couldn’t get alone quick enough. i was only able to take one week off of work after my assault. then i ended up working multiple jobs to support myself, and i’ll never forget the day i was at work (retail at the time), and it was the holidays so we had a huge sale going on. our tiny little store ended up crowded, i am talking almost elbow to elbow. it was entirely too much for me and it ended up sending me into a full blown panic attack and meltdown.

i would say it took me a good year to year and a half to finally feel like i could somewhat breathe again. before then, i leaned on vodka.. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. but once i started to feel like i was going to survive this, i realized for myself that sharing would help me to heal and grow. in 2015 i told a small group i was in at the time about what happened to me. then in august 2015 i spoke at an event that supported the organization where i was receiving my therapy.

that is just a small portion of my backstory surrounding what happened to me. one day maybe i’ll be able to sum it all up into one post, but that time is not now.

before my boyfriend i’m currently dating, i was single for almost 6 years. whenever people would ask why i was single, i would just cringe. because, for one, in general asking someone why they’re single isn’t only invasive, but also annoying. then add the trauma i experienced to that and i would just be screaming in my head. i needed to be single, then wanted to be single, then was ready to start trying to date, but there weren’t many people i was ever interested in enough to have as my boyfriend.

when i met my current boyfriend, i immediately felt something i never had before. there was this spark, and as cliché as that sounds, it is my truth. our first kiss was about 4 minutes into meeting. and man was it a great kiss.

even after seeing him the first few up i did not think he was who i’d end up dating. why? because we were both having fun in our single lives and i honestly think i just figured this wasn’t going to become more because it’d be too easy.

but 3 weeks into meeting, he became my boyfriend. we had cooked together, took a dance class together, and then drove to atlanta together all within a 21 day span.

the night before we left for atlanta i stayed at his (ty’s) place because we were leaving around 5am. we were up talking about anything and nothing when we should have been sleeping when i blurted out “what are we doing?”. this was far from my norm. i didn’t ask any man that because i didn’t really care what we were doing. but this man, i wanted to be his. i wanted more. and that was it. we became boyfriend and girlfriend. my life with him has been nothing short of incredible.

although our relationship is amazing to me, it didn’t come without tough conversations. after sealing our relationship with a kiss, i had to tell him. i told him that i had been raped and some of the ways it changed who i was and the life i’ve lived since. i told him i wanted him to know because i trust him, and because dating someone with this kind of trauma is different than dating someone who hasn’t been through it. i was received with compassion and empathy.

unfortunately, not everyone is met with this kind of grace when trying to navigate dating and their trauma(s).

i have heard from multiple people who have been told “well i didn’t do this to you, so i shouldn’t be paying for it.”  and other asinine comments. to me, these statements are nothing but selfish, and they will not help build a bridge toward the person you supposedly care about.

now, i will say, obviously (although apparently not so obvious) if someone has not had their own trauma then it can be difficult to experience someone else’s in a relationship. the term “second victim” is one i heard last year in counseling and i had never even thought about it like that. it makes sense to me though.

however, it should be common sense that the best way to try to understand someone, is to give them room for all of themselves, not just the sparkly parts. if someone is going to be in a committed relationship with another person then it is only fair to accept very part of who they are, and what they’ve been through.

no one asks to receive a trauma. no one wants the scars that can’t be physically seen. no one wants to feel all of the emotions that come along with trauma, only to be met with more trauma by others not accepting them and realizing that this is already so hard.

i remember going to therapy and seeing all of these pamphlets that i could give to others that is supposed to to teach them how to word their speech when speaking to a victim of violence, how to handle supporting me. i browsed over those papers, but never took them home.

i do not think it should be the responsibility of the victim|survivor to educate others. would it help? of course the answer is probably yes. do i try to educate others, absolutely. i mean, here i am writing about it. but this is by choice, not demand. just because i am able to gain healing through sharing my life with the world, does not mean it is for everyone. i believe survivors should be able to heal and deal in their own way. i have always been a lover of writing and words, so this is not only to help end stigmas and educate, but it also provides healing to my wounds.

everyone i know is perfectly capable of picking up a book, googling, asking others, and so many other ways to learn what victims of violence go through. i do wish more people would educate themselves. it is disheartening to me that sometimes it feels like even when i do try to help, it falls on deaf ears or shoulders that fall flat.

when you respect and love someone, it is absolutely your responsibility to listen to them without judgement. when someone tells you that you have hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you did not. you do not get to only love the pretty parts of someone you are trying to build a life with. accepting your partner will not always be easy, and someone with trauma(s) will need you to broaden your mind and have good listening ears.

but, when you do choose to love someone wholeheartedly and let them know you accept every bit of them even through their trauma, you will get to see how badass we really are. we are resilient, beautiful, worthy, compassionate, empathetic, brave, incredibly strong, and you get the gift of having someone who has already fought through hell to be here. remember that.

if you have experienced trauma, please know, this does not make you any less of a person. you are enough. you are perfect. you deserve the world and someone to help you unload whatever baggage you might be holding onto.

xoxo,

L.A.

unbelizeable

2.15.19

2:04pm - belize time

so we are currently on our boat ride back to land. we came to lamanai city to go to the mayan ruins today. WHAT. AN. ADVENTURE.

let me just say this, i am SO proud of myself (& my babe) for pushing ourselves WAY outside of our comfort zones & fears during this trip. i am amazed at the freedom i allowed myself to have to experience so many new things. 

yesterday we had a 90 minute ride to go cave tubing, but once we arrived we decided to join in with our new friends (caitlyn & todd) and go ziplining through the rain forest! IT WAS INCREDIBLE. i do NOT like heights, but i was dang near fearless after our practice line! 

the views from the ropes were just.. i don’t even have a word! the water below was so green & blue! all of the palms that were more feet than i ever realized they could grow. 

cave tubing was so fun & educational! and don’t let me leave out the fact that i walked far carrying my intertube - we hiked an extra 10 minutes to be able to tube through 2 caves instead of the normal 1 that most get to. which also led to me peeing in the jungle.. shrugs. babe cliff dived after our hike with caitlyn & todd. i climbed onto the cliff.. then climbed back down. i conquered ziplining & my head said no more girl, haha. no but really, i am so proud i am experiencing all of these things while pushing myself, while also knowing when it’s okay to say “thank u next.” lol.

today we just saw the ruins, and my are they beautiful & TALL. but we conquered them like beasts! i can still hardly believe i took our leader’s hand & let him guide me to the highest top of pre-classic ruins! the view overlooking the lagoon & trees.. WOW. 

it almost seems silly to me to try & blog about this trip because nothing i jot down will do it justice, not even halfway. 

our tour guides have been so fun, hilarious, informative & amazing people in general. i am so grateful to have met strangers turned acquaintances & hope i get to see their familiar faces again in this lifetime, sooner than later if i get my way.

on the way to the ruins by boat we stopped several times to view crocs, many different kinds of birds - if you know me very well, you know i’m terrified of birds.. welp, not anymore! from fear to fascination! woo hoo!, and we saw some really neat greenery - including the coolest to me - the snake cactus! [look it up!] 

i am trying so hard not to think of going back home to the states. if i could stay here for a long long time, i would in a heartbeat. this trip has been so much of what my heart + mind have needed, without even knowing it. i am already yearning for what’s next. what else will set me on fire this year? i hope these feelings last a lifetime, i have a great sense that they will. 

belize, you are bonita! thank you for everything. 

xoxo,

L.A.

p.s. today - march 14th, i am still so sad to be so far away from belize. it truly touched my life in so many amazing ways.

the sleeping giant

2.14.19

9:34am - belize time

in belize, we are riding in a caravan right now on our way to ziplining & cave tubing. the scenery on this trip is so beautiful, just stunning. so much greenery, palm trees, random horses on the side of the road. it’s insane, insanely gorgeous.

a few minutes ago we passed some mountains in the distance & when you stare at them you see a figure of a man. our driver said they call him “the sleeping giant.” 

i snapped some photos (one posted below) & then i kept staring at him & thinking how appropriate to see something like this on this particular trip.

last weekend my depression decided to fight its way back into my space. i had been doing fairly well, even with the changes of moving a few weeks ago. but alas, here came the roaring giant that is depression. sunday i spent the day on my couch crying. monday & tuesday i slept so much, feeling numb & feeling everything. it is exhausting & really takes a toll on my body, draining any energy i have. 

but yet, here are we, my boyfriend & i, in one of the most beautiful places i’ve ever seen in my life. in the quiet moments i feel it, it’s lingering. 

but while exploring our resort yesterday & speaking to so many new (super kind) people, i felt my head lifting. 

i have been praying for God to conquer my depression, i literally asked Him to stomp on it, squish it dead. and i believe He will.

the timing of this trip probably seems to most that it was planned because today is valentine’s day, but it wasn’t. this day just happened to fall in between the dates that worked for us. 

don’t get me wrong, the resort is VERY romantic & i am glad to have that for babe & i. it just wasn’t our sole purpose of being here. for christmas we decided we wanted to gift others what they wanted, and what we wanted most is to travel more while we can. so here we are.

my sleeping giant may not be as beautiful as the one i just witnessed, but my God is bigger & absolutely beautiful, so i am believing in Him that these ashes will be turned into all things beautiful. and regardless of how long it lasts, no matter how many times it comes back, i will keep praising my God the whole way through, for He is ever faithful to me. 

i feel peaceful right now simply from just letting these thoughts go from my head to my writing. 

i am excited for today’s adventure & depression can kiss my tush. 

xoxo,

L.A.

IMG_0122.jpeg

happy 12

11.21.18 7:22pm

....i’ve been debating for days, weeks really (maybe even months) rather or not i’d want to write today, whether or not i’d actually even physically be able to.

being a birthmom can often be an odd place to be in life. 

just a few days ago i was trying to explain to someone how i’m grieving, but they didn’t get it. at all. they said “but she’s happy & healthy!”. they are right, she is very happy & very healthy.

but that doesn’t wash away the grief from a birthmomma’s heart & soul. and what a weird grief cycle we have. 

usually when a person is grieving, it’s because someone has died, the funeral has come, their body has been laid or spread to rest.

but not here, not this life.

my daughter is very much alive & i am very much grateful for that. 

i am also very much hurt that i am not her parent & often feel i lose my placement of where i fit in. 

i once read another birthmom write that adoption from the birthparent is a dichotomy - “a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely differently.” that hit me right in my chest, right into my very core of who i am & what it’s been like going through adoption on my side.

i experience joy & pain, grief & happiness, feeling empty while never being more full. it is all of things, all of the time. 

some days, some months, some years are better or easier than others. it is a winding road that i assume never ends. a winding road that sometimes passes places i wish i could never leave & then some places where it feels like i’ve got a flat tire in the middle of the night on the creepiest stretch of road where i don’t feel safe at all.

being a birthmom for me has been every bit of torture as it has been joyous. any ounce (more like gallons & gallons) of pain i’ve experienced since relinquishing my rights as a parent to the most wonderful daughter in the world is something i would NEVER trade to re-do our life.

since being a young age i always imagined motherhood as the time in my life where i would have to be COMPLETELY & WHOLLY second to the human i’ve created. and i still stand by that. 

today i have been trying as hard as possible to push down all of my feelings. i woke up early this morning feeling a tidal wave & tried to go back to sleep asap because i refused to cry. 

last year i made 21 social media posts about our adoption & i always think back to one i wrote shortly after midnight. i was in the livingroom because i didn’t want to wake my partner with my sobbing. i could hardly breathe. i was beyond distraught & it had been quite some time since i was so succumbed by the pain that can come with being a birthmom. but i found some relief, some healing in writing about it in the very moment. 

i am not sure if i’d ever call myself an adoption advocate, as that seems so much bigger than what i can possibly hold as my own adoption is already heavy. but i can say with certainty that being a birthmom has changed my outlook on so many beautiful things in this life & my gratitude is endless. 

when i think about my daughter i often think about her as an infant because i was blessed enough to parent her for 10 months before she was adopted. those moments i could never take for granted & i hope these moments never fade in my memory. the smell of her. her curls. the way she rolled on the floor. the way she loved watching the lion king & anastasia. the way she fell asleep no matter where she was & even if she was sitting up. the way we would spend every single morning in my bed for at least an hour giggling & “talking” to each other before her morning bottle. the way she made the funniest faces while i cleaned her ears after bathtime. the clothes i so carefully & specifically picked out for her before her arrival. she was the last baby born before my grandpa & my great-grandma died. she was born on my grandpa’s livingroom floor. everything. everything about her is LOVE. she is all i could’ve ever hoped for in a daughter & so much more.

i hope this 12th birthday of hers has been everything she’s hoped it to be & i look forward to celebrating her every year. she is the sweetest, most beautiful human i know. 

happy happy birthday my beautiful girl.

i love you to infinity & beyond. 

xoxo,

L.A.

it's okay, to not be okay.

10.13.18 4:40pm

it’s been one month since i’ve turned 31. i don’t like odd numbers, but for some reason i like the idea of being 31. maybe it’s because at 30 i was just finally 30 (i was the one in a million people excited to turn 30), but being 31 i’ll feel IN my thirties? i think about these things. weird? maybe, idk. idc.

this past week has been hellish for me. i missed work the last 5 days. i could feel something was completely off sunday, but i kept brushing it off. i’m okay, everything is okay.

but everything wasn’t & isn’t okay. i’m not okay. 

monday morning, while getting ready for work, i was more anxious than usual - which if you know me is quite a lot because i’m a naturally anxious person as is. but i kept feeling lightheaded & so at one point i sat down & put my head between my legs. i tried to get back up & finish my hair, but i knew it was coming. 

by the time i walked to my side of our bed, everything was going black. 

that was just the beginning. i called off work (i don’t chance driving after i’ve had a blackout episode) and slept for a good portion of the day. one of my very best friends was getting married that evening (yes, on a monday.) so i pulled myself together as much as possible. their ceremony was beautiful & we left shortly after eating. i had long looked forward to drinking wine, dancing & celebrating my friend in her new chapter, but the best i could do was drink some iced tea, tell her what a stunning bride she is & go home to rest some more.

tuesday i had an orthodontist appointment, and thankfully my lady doctor was able to get me in right after that to see me. 

we spoke about my anxiety & depression at length. she prescribed me two meds. so now that’s what i’m on a new path with.

after that appointment i went to interact - a center for sexual assault survivors here in raleigh. this was my second visit - my first was the day after the ford/kavanaugh hearing. i have to go at minimum three times before i can join the next group therapy session that starts in january. this will be no issue, as my triggers from my ptsd have been so heightened in the past month. i would give almost anything to see my therapist from back in indianapolis. i know i can still contact her, but not having face to face is just not the same. i need someone to see my facial expressions and to sit there with me. i am glad that interact is available - i’ve heard good things about them & they have proved so far to be what i’ve heard - a safe place, a place where i can fall apart + talk about all my broken pieces.

this day was so long. i rested once i got home.

wednesday i slept until 2:30pm & then laid there until i went back to sleep that night. 

thursday, i went to cary to handle something with my work & hr department regarding intermittent time off for the next 12 weeks as i take care of my mental health. 

i also made my bed thursday, that was a win for me.

yesterday (friday) i made my bed, hung up some clothes & showered. big day. then i laid in my bed watching tv & playing candy crush. i don’t do well having idle hands. 

i’ve lost 5 pounds, which is a really big deal to me, especially after weighing the most (outside of being pregnant) i’ve ever weighed as an adult. i’m trying not to stress about it, but it’s there in my mind. 

yesterday marked one year “officially” with my boyfriend, and what would have been an evening filled with something cute planned, was an evening filled with me laying here. 

there are so many things i “should” be doing or worried about, but i physically can’t right now.

depression + anxiety don’t give two shits about what i ought to be doing & what i want to be doing. depression + anxiety have consumed my life this week. 

today i put on some mascara & did my hair (kinda). i said to myself “i look human, instead of like a sasquatch.” but being real - when i was putting on my mascara i put the wand down & looked at myself. i looked different. i don’t know how or why, it was weird. but maybe it just is. 

i have barely spoken to anyone this week & i miss it, but don’t miss it. i want to be alone, but not left alone. depression really does some odd things to one’s mind & body. it has for the time being stolen my bubbly personality & replaced it with a silent woman who needs some solitude + grace, some rest + forgiveness.

i’ve wrestled with depression + anxiety off & on for 12 years now. i’ve witnessed what it can do to me, like poison is racing through my veins.

but i’ve also witnessed myself rising again. i will take my medications how & when i need to. i will continue seeing my doctor & my case manager. i will continue writing in my new journal i started this week. i will be okay, just not today.

in my journal, i’ve been writing how i feel each day & what today has brought with it.

today i feel, a little better than i did yesterday although still tired. i also feel hopeful, for when i get my other self back. until then, i’ll be gentle + patient with who i am now.

xoxo, L.A.