Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Update: Still Not Totally Okay, But Also Not Not Okay?

I've been having a lot of bad days. I mean, healing will take time, and it's kinda hard to cope with a lot of scary feelings that just don't want to go away. On top of that, I'm having a bad flare up of pain from whatever it is that causes it. And sleep is still difficult a lot of the time. So, the more tired and hurty I get, the harder it is to keep distracted from the scary emotions and that's when the bad days happen.

But I also have days that are pretty okay? I've been trying to keep up with my Stats class for uni this semester (I'm a tiny bit behind but I'm doing what I can so I think it'll be fine), and I've managed to keep myself busy with working on some art, which is a thing I haven't done in literally yonks. (I dunno how long a yonk is but I imagine it's pretty long.) And when I feel okay, I start wondering why I felt so terrible so much anyway. It's like I forget and go, you dummy! Lying around being miserable is dumb, don't do that anymore.

I realise that I don't really have in between moods. When I'm up, I'm like yeah, I can do this!  Let's fix up the mess that is my life a bit at a time, and I get stuff done which only makes me feel even better. But when I'm down, it's waaaay down. Crying, angry, scary thoughts, and fighting hard not to self-harm down. I'm not sure I even know what those middle emotions even are. I don't know if I have always been this extreme or if all the craziness and stress of the past year has got me in a weird cycle. Or it could be the meds I'm currently on. I don't really remember what 'normal' for me is at the moment. I'm not sure I have a 'normal'.

I've been wondering quite a lot lately if there isn't something a bit more going on than simply depression and anxiety. I feel weird being like.. those are such garden variety mental illnesses, I'm not sure that's all there is to what makes me sick. Obviously, it's not to say that dealing with 'just' depression and anxiety isn't really difficult. But it's not like my therapist has ever really given me a diagnosis or anything, though obviously we talk about how those two things affect me a lot. I've always known I don't experience true mania the way those with Bipolar I do (I've seen its effects in both friends and family growing up), but I definitely have experienced hypomanic episodes. It's a milder form of mania, and actually looks a lot like functioning highly. It's a hallmark of Bipolar II on the bipolar spectrum, which is not really a 'lesser' form of being bipolar, just one that manifests differently than type I. And it's very hard to diagnose. Anyway, I have been meaning to talk to my psychologist about it, but I spent last session catching her up on everything that's been going on... but yeah. It wouldn't really surprise me, since manic depression runs in my family and that ups your chances of being on the spectrum pretty significantly. It's mostly important because it changes how my treatment might go. So yes, that is a thing to talk to my many lovely doctors about at some point soon.

Anyway, I realised something pretty important tonight... that despite how difficult things are right now and how terrible things have been this year, I'm actually still happier with who I am as a person more than I have been in, I dunno... forever. I don't... hate myself? Especially after the insane spiral down into guilt and self-destruction that happened while my friend was abusing me, it's a pretty noticeable difference now that I feel more free and less weighed down by really intense negative thinking. Yeah, I still deal with it on the bad days. It's a feature of my mental illness so it's not just going to go away. But even when things like "It's somehow my fault" or "I deserved it to happen to me" or whatever try to sneak into my head, I know that's my brain just being irrational. I can kinda talk myself out of it getting too bad, because I know realistically that I've done nothing wrong. A person treated me really badly and it still feels pretty awful a lot of the time, but that guilt I felt for SO long... well, that's mostly gone.

And I'm also kind of proud of myself overall. Not just for staying clean this long (which IS a pretty big deal of course), but that I have stood up for myself. That I recognised that something was wrong with my friendship (even though I didn't know what at the time) and that I told him enough was enough. That I have had the courage to speak out about the mistreatment, consequences be damned. (I knew it was a losing proposition from the beginning, though I didn't predict the extent he'd go to keep his reputation intact... even if now that I think back on it I should have realised.) That I had the strength to cut out a lot of people who think my abuser has done nothing wrong, because they don't deserve space in my life. That even though I acted rashly in my anger and frustration, I'm not beating myself about it. And, most importantly, that I'm still moving forward.. each tiny step at a time.

On the better days, like tonight where I'm feeling pretty okay, I realise that I'm actually tough as shit. Like really strong. I have every reason to break down into a crying blob of sadness and despair (and it happens), but it doesn't last. Every time there's a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, I grab onto it and start fighting again to get there. I've spent some time wallowing and the depression makes it a lot harder sometimes to see that the feelings will ever end. But they do, every time. I mean, I guess I've been at this a pretty long time. It's been a fact of my life that I've always had to push myself pretty hard to get anywhere. So, even on the worst days there's a tiny, tiny voice at the back of my mind that tells me, 'This too will pass.' I actually make a deal with myself not to act impulsively if I'm feeling really bad, if I want to self-harm or I have suicidal thoughts. I say, if I still feel this way in 24 hours, then I can act on these feelings. Y'know, in case this is the one time they finally don't go away. But obviously, the worst of it always passes. Always.

It's hard not to think about how scary a lot of this must sound to people who don't live this way. But this is just how things work for me? I guess? I haven't known anything else. But I'm still here. I'm still trying. I hold on to the smidgen of hope that someday this will actually get easier.

It's funny that for someone often so sad and hopeless, at my core I'm still an optimist and a bit of a dreamer. For a while, in my early 20s after my first trip to Australia where everything went kind of horribly wrong, I felt as if that part of me died... that my innocence had been forcibly stripped from me and I'd never be able to look at the world around me in the same way. As I struggled with my depression and it kept worsening, before I got into treatment, that continued to feel true, that I'd lost something I'd never get back. Slowly, slowly I've realised that isn't true. The positive, honest, passionate, and wide-eyed girl is still in there somewhere, deep beneath mental illness and the stressful struggles of my adulthood. I want to believe that the world and humanity are essentially good, that the bad ones among us are there but a minority, that if we all just try hard enough, we can accomplish nearly anything... that on a whole, karma balances everything out and tips the scales in favour of those of us just trying to get by and find some happiness in this weird existence of ours.

Obviously, it feels naive to me now, but I'm glad to know that not all of that is gone, destroyed by a world that's a lot more cruel and unfair than I ever wanted to believe it could be. Because I think hanging onto the part of me that wants to believe in fairy tales and happy endings is the source of my strength and resilience, not a weakness or vulnerability. Yeah, it makes me a bit of a target for people like my abuser, those who view people as things or a means to an end. But I also think he ultimately misjudged me, too. And now I've learned that much more about protecting myself from the predators, and I know what red flags to look for. I won't be taken in so easily next time.

Tactics of Manipulative Control

I'm posting this list on the blog because it's such a good summary. I'm stealing it from this Tumblr post, but the source of the information is a great book I think I've mentioned before, "In Sheep's Clothing" by George K. Simon. I experienced nearly all of these from my abuser.
Minimizing: Turning mountains into molehills (the character disordered and/or perpetrators do this; neurotics do the opposite). He trivializes the nature of his wrong doing. He tries to convince you that you would be wrong to conclude that his behavior is as wrong as he knows you suspect. 
Lying: Omission, distortion. Your abuser/manipulator will stop at nothing to get what he wants; therefore, you can and should expect him to lie. They have refined lying to an art. He will withhold a significant amount of the truth from you, or distort essential elements of the truth, to keep you in the dark. He uses smooth, calculated omissions to deceive you. 
Denial: “Who Me?” He poses as the humble servant. Your aggressor refuses to admit he’s done something harmful or hurtful when he clearly has. This “Who Me?” tactic invites the victim, you, to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It’s also a way for him to give himself permission to keep right on doing what he wants to do. He uses this maneuver to get you to back off, back down or maybe even feel guilty for insinuating he’s doing something wrong. 
Selective Inattention: Refusal to pay attention to anything that might distract him from pursuing his agenda. He actively ignores your warnings, pleas or wishes and refuses to pay attention to everything or anything that might distract him from going after what he wants. 
Rationalization: Excuses. Justifications. A rationalization is an excuse your aggressor/abuser makes for engaging in what he knows is an inappropriate or harmful behavior. This can be very effective, especially when he makes just enough sense that any reasonably conscientious person is likely to fall for it. If he can convince you he is justified in whatever he’s doing, then he is freer to pursue his goals without interference. He will often use shame and guilt to coerce you into buying his rationalizations / excuses / justifications. 
Diversion: Distraction. Changing the subject. Dodging the issue. Throw you a curve ball. A moving target is hard to hit. When you try to pin your manipulator down or keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior you don’t like, he is expert at changing the subject, distracting, dodging and throwing curves. He utilizes this maneuver to keep the focus off his behavior, move you off track, keep you off balance and maintain his freedom to promote his self-serving hidden agenda. Confronting a manipulator is like trying to nail Jello to a wall. 
Evasion: Your manipulator uses vagueness to avoid being cornered on an issue by giving rambling, irrelevant responses to a direct question. He deliberately uses vagueness to confuse you, to make you think you have an answer when you don’t. When he is not responding directly to an issue, you can safely assume he is trying to give you the slip. 
Covert Intimidation: This is your abuser’s use of veiled threats to keep you, his victim, anxious, apprehensive and one down. The abuser is adept at countering arguments with such passion and intensity that he effectively throws you on the defensive. A manipulator primarily intimidates you by making veiled threats. This way he can threaten you without appearing overtly hostile and aggressive. 
Guilt Tripping: “How could you think that of me??!” “How could you doubt me?!” Your manipulator keeps you self-doubting, anxious and submissive. This is one of your aggressor’s two favorite weapons, the other is shaming. Aggressive personalities know that others have very different consciences than they have. They also know that the hallmark qualities of a sound conscience are the capacities for guilt and shame. Your manipulator is skilled at using what he knows to be a greater conscientiousness in you, his victim, as a means of keeping you in that anxious, submissive state where you doubt yourself and your perceptions. All your manipulator has to do is suggest to you that you don’t care or that you’re being selfish or cruel [in finally calling them on their abuse] and you immediately start to feel bad. Whereas you can try until you’re blue in the face to get your manipulator to feel remorse for his hurtful behavior, acknowledge responsibility and admit wrong doing, to absolutely no avail. 
Shaming: Your abuser uses subtle sarcasm and put downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in you. He shames you to make you feel inadequate and unworthy so you will defer to his dominant position. 
Victim Stancing: He plays the victim role to gain sympathy, evoke compassion in order to get something from you. He also uses this to play a false one down position to you in order to disarm you. If your manipulator can convince you that he’s suffering, then you, being a caring, sensitive soul, will want to relieve his distress. 
Vilifying the Victim: Your abuser makes it appear that he is merely responding to and defending himself against YOUR aggression, making you, the victim, feel like the villain while he masks his aggressive intent and behavior. 
Servant Role: Your manipulator cloaks his self-serving agendas in the guise of service to a noble cause; he pretends to work nobly on your behalf while concealing his own desire for power and dominance. One hallmark of a covert aggressive personality is he will loudly profess his subservience while fighting for dominance. 
Seduction: He charms, praises, flatters you and overtly supports you to get you to lower your defenses and surrender your trust and loyalty. Your manipulator is particularly aware that to the extent you are emotionally needy or dependent (that is, vulnerable, which everyone is to some extent), you will desire approval and reassurance and a sense of being valued and needed above anything. Appearing to be attentive to these needs can be his ticket to incredible power over you. He melts any resistance you might have to giving him your loyalty and confidence. He does this by giving you what he knows you need most. You don’t find out how important you really are to him until you turn out to be in his way. 
Blame Shifting (Projecting the blame onto you): Your aggressor is always looking for ways to shift the blame for his abusive behavior away from himself. He is expert at finding scapegoats in subtle, hard to detect ways. His willingness to blame you for his abusive behavior is in itself an abusive act. At the very moment he is engaging in the use of this tactic or any other he is in the act of aggressing. 
Feigning Innocence: He attempts to convince you that any harm he may have caused you was unintentional or that he really didn’t do what he’s being accused of. This makes you question your judgment and sanity and to doubt your right to call him on his abusive behavior. He adroitly uses the look of surprise or indignation, or the sudden gasp at being so accused. 
Feigning Confusion: Your abuser acts like he doesn’t know what you’re talking about or is confused about the issue you’re bringing. Plays ‘dumb’ to get you to question your perceptions, sanity, etc… 
Brandishing Anger: Calculated, deliberate display of anger he may or may not feel in order to intimidate, coerce and manipulate. 
When somebody uses these tactics frequently, you not only know what kind of character you’re dealing with (covert aggressors, manipulators, abusers, Narcissists, Anti-Socials, Borderline Personalities, etc…) but precisely because the tactics are both tools of manipulation as well as manifestations of resistance to change, you also know that he will engage in his problematic behaviors again. You can give up your fantasy that in time he will change and things will be different. Nothing will change until he decides to stop fighting and start accepting. As long as he’s engaged in utilizing these tactics, it’s clear he doesn’t intend to change. 
In Sheep’s Clothing, by George K. Simon, p. 96-112 
Freedom’s NOTE: And of course, with an abuser, especially a “professional” abuser, it is never appropriate to hang around in the abusive relationship hoping he will change. The point in the paragraph above is that as long as he’s aggressing, he has no intent to change. Realizing this could prove helpful to us in letting go of more denial about the abusiveness in the relationship and any hope we may have of reconciling with the abuser and picking up where we left off: namely, being abused by him again but calling it ‘love.’

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Breaking Things Down (Part 1)

This is something I've wanted to do for a while, but finding the energy and brain space is tough. I'm going to try and talk about the communications I received from my abuser while we were still friends in the context of abusive mentality and abuser dynamics, because I think it's important to understand that subtle or otherwise, these things come up all the time in our interactions with others... but being blinded by reasons and justifications doesn't make any of it okay. I've posted a lot of what he and I both said in this previous blog post (linked for all necessary context), so I'm not going to reproduce everything here.

Email 1:
There really isn't much to say from my part that I haven't already communicated to you. The only problem I had that personally affected /me/ was the stress (in the context of already being stressed) that I was feeling because I felt like all my options regarding you, you're health, and our friendship, were in some way massively deficient.
This seems reasonable on the surface, but it's a twisty way to get the focus OFF him and back onto me, by denying and ignoring things not related to his agenda. Though he had established himself as a carer/support person, it's still disturbing he is alluding to the idea that he needs to 'fix' me and/or us in some way. Relationships of all sorts need to be a two way street.
You do have a problem with self-regulation, because you (self-admittedly) react in ways when anxiety/emotional brained that when you calm down you understand were not helpful/in your best interest, etc.
By "self-admittedly" he's referring to the fact that I was already gaslighted at this point to take on the burden of guilt for everything going wrong. To be fair, it wasn't a huge push.. my anxiety and depression do already make me think that I'm a "burden" and "difficult to deal with", etc. Plus, it plays on the societal acceptance of the idea that rational=good and emotional=bad, something abusers use to their advantage all the time. My abuser particularly was covert aggressive (good description of this type of abuse lives here) or (as described in this blog post) a Water Torturer type abuser. Basically, this means he stays calm and in control at all times while provoking emotional responses from the target, thus being able to claim they are "overreacting" and "irrational", etc. to invalidate their emotions.
And you do have a problem with dependence, which, other than being observable, you've said as much yourself when you've calmed down.
 Look, this doesn't even explain a damn thing, which goes to show just how much of a gaslighting lie it was. "Being observable" is not actual evidence of anything, neither is the fact I admitted to it at any point (because... gaslighted). What he really disagreed with was now that I trusted him and accepted him as my main source of support, it was unacceptable to expect ANYthing from him that he did not want to give... and since I did expect him to actually give a shit about me and got angry when his behaviour showed otherwise, it was obviously asking too much. 
Now, whilst I accept my part in not being vigilant enough in trying to help you, to not let it become a dependence thing, the communication was /impossible/ until after you spoke to [REDACTED] on Wednesday. Because you were both in denial about the problem and quite defensive/hostile about it. 
Basically, I disagreed with him and therefore I was in denial and hostile. This is an attack designed to put me on the defensive. By putting the burden on me once again as the one with the problem, I'm pushed to either accept his views or at least have to continue defending myself (probably with some anger at the accusation), which would allow him to again call me "unreasonable". He also would often consult with friends about things between us to subtly prime them to agree with his view that I was overreacting or wrong in some way, so that when I spoke to others for outside viewpoints, it was assured I would be led back to his thinking and more likely to succumb to his control. I don't think he outright would say, 'I am right, she is being emotional and is wrong', but I do think he often played off, again, unwritten social rules. In this case, it's partially that being overly emotional is a 'bad' thing and also that he had to keep distancing himself from me because I was 'too much' (Mmm, mental illness stigma).
So whilst I accept that non-communication might be triggering for you, I do not feel responsible for being the trigger. Nor, given the context, do I think it's fair of you to try to tell me I'm responsible for.
Huge red flag. People who actually care about how they are affecting you do not tell you they are not responsible for the harm caused. Even hurting someone inadvertently, most of us would apologise for what happened, because it sucks to hurt a friend and you try not to do it ever again. Abusers, however, never ever take responsibility for their actions and their effects. It is a major thing that MAKES someone an abuser.  (see #9 in this post). And not only does he not care that his behaviour was causing me some massive and stressful anxiety (after I had set it as a hard boundary between us), but he then again turns the guilt and blame BACK onto me to make me feel bad I brought it up in the first place.
Now, if after calming down and maybe talking to [REDACTED] or [REDACTED] you realise that much of what you've just said was in no small way disturbing, I'm happy to ignore it. Either way I haven't taken it personally, or let it impact how I feel about you.
He's Very Kindly (sarcasm ahoy) forgiving me for being angry at him about him causing me a lot of undue stress and anxiety. How very nice and big of him. How very manipulative.
However, until you get perspective on the situation from a third party I'm not going to discuss this further with you.
And he ends with a good dose of stonewalling, or shutting down any further communication on the topic so that a resolution or compromise (other than accepting his views) cannot be reached. It's used to retain control of the situation and frustrate the person on the other side, and is another huge red flag when it comes to attempting to have a healthy relationship with someone.

Email 2:
Look. You are going to calm down at some point, maybe vent your shit at someone or whatever. Then you are going to freak out because you will think you've just destroyed our friendship. It's a pattern. And I like to think I have a pretty damn high tolerance for that kind of thing. But you are walking on very thin ice, tracing the circumference of my no drama policy.
 Let us begin with a threat. The cycle did keep repeating itself, because abuse is a cycle, and there would always be some way he'd try to control me that pushed just a little too far, so I'd get angry at him. Then the gaslighting and self-blame would kick in and I'd go crawling back, asking for forgiveness since it was the only way to keep things status quo between us. This is how abuse works (the only thing he didn't do was get violent with me, obviously, but everything else is true).
So, in the event that you do at some point realise that you are being completely unreasonable
Because I was always unreasonable if I was angry at him. Blame was always put squarely onto my shoulders.
You are very dear to me and I value our friendship. However, I'm /not/ willing to deal with this amount of drama, from anyone. So if you do in fact want to maintain our friendship, this has to stop.
He said I was dear to him and he valued our friendship in that exact phrase many times as reassurance. A weirdly particular way of putting it and I don't believe any of them were ever sincere, it was always just to placate me. And then there is another threat.
No more expectations of how I should or shouldn't act, no more trying (intentionally or otherwise) to guilt trip me over how /you/ are feeling or into me spending time with you (I say trying because I /don't/ feel guilty in any way). No more emotional venty outbursts at me for what you perceive I've done wrong but inevitably, and usually after talking to someone like [REDACTED], realise that you were, in fact, being unreasonable. No more drama, period.
Basically, stop trying to fight against my control in various ways. You can see how he twisted my valid complaints about his behaviour into things I've done wrong to him. He often accused me of being emotionally manipulative and guilt tripping, when in fact, he was doing these things constantly to me by trying to force me to accept the blame and responsibility of all our problems. By framing my actions in such a drastic framework, it, again, attempts to make me go on the defensive and also feel shame for trying to hold him responsible for the way he was affecting me. This is a list of demands that I had to adhere to for the friendship to stay intact, and yet he couldn't be held 'responsible' for the one thing I asked him to do to make me stop feeling terrible all the time. This is one of the main abuse dynamics, where the abuser must be free to do whatever they please without consequence, but you cannot do anything that the abuser dislikes within the relationship. And of course, again, I am unreasonable for being angry that he did not care about my feelings one bit.
If any of this continues after this particular incident, I intend on cutting communication with you for as long as it takes for you to fix your shit so we can go back to being friends without the drama. Hint: this will be measured in months, maybe even years, not days/weeks, to give you some perspective.
The threat in full, with added consequences of not submitting to his demands. Also, for someone so invested in fighting mental health stigma and mental health advocacy (it's his job at a non-profit, even), the phrase "fix your shit" is very demeaning and out of character for his usual "I'm such a nice, understanding guy" facade.
I don't want to talk about this with you, it is not open for discussion. I want our friendship to work, but if time apart is needed then so be it. This is the last time I will deal with it. At a minimum, I don't want to talk to you at all until you've calmed down and got some perspective.
And again, more stonewalling so that the only possible resolution is his resolution.

The second email was one of the last before the friendship dissolved, so it might make ultimatums seem more reasonable (though everything he took issue with was not an actual issue except that I kept getting mad at him for treating me poorly instead of shutting up and taking his crap). Still, he sent this after I had already expressed that I no longer wanted to continue being friends because of how he was acting. He attempted one more go at regaining control over me, but I'd had enough at that point, as you can see in my reply in the blog post linked at the beginning of this one. The issues I state in my reply were all the true issues as I saw them, instead of the ones he kept pushing on me to make me at fault and more compliant to his control. Never once would he address anything I wanted him to address, and instead derailed every argument into what he felt the problem was (aka Me).

These are not the communications of someone who ever truly cared about me, but they are pretty good examples of how subtle psychological and emotional abuse manifests.

It still baffles me that the people defending him believe that any of the above is acceptable, but then again, they probably believe him that I'm 'crazy' cause I'm mentally ill or that he just couldn't cope with dealing with me anymore (protip: relationships work on communication and compromise... not abusive actions like control and stonewalling and manipulation).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I'm Not Okay Right Now, But I Will Be (Someday)

I want to be the sort of strong, confident person that just doesn't care what other people think, especially since I know there's nothing I can do to make anyone see the truth. Rationally, I know I just need to focus on me, and forget about everyone who's bought into my abuser's lies.

Rationality doesn't make it all hurt less, though. Or make me less angry about what he's done.

I also know I can't just make myself snap out of this funk. Healing takes time. But I'm pretty tired of existing between the two states of either miserable or numb. Numb is still more ideal, if I can keep myself busy or distracted enough. The problem is that I can't manage it all of the time, of course. I'm also really tired of all the tears and fighting off the urges to self-harm. It's pretty exhausting.

I did have a good and much-needed session with the psychologist this week. She's treated me for 5 or 6 years now. She probably knows me better than anyone, other than myself. I think it was good to hear her reassurance that the me from earlier this year, the one who was in constant crisis and self-harming quite badly, isn't the real me at ALL. That was my abuser inside my head. I was in a super vulnerable place and he pushed all the right buttons.

Like, I know I'm an intensely anxious and reclusive person, so probably a lot of people (esp those neurotypical types) find that weird. So it's not a huge push to think that maybe the crazy, weird chick is super extra crazy. Certainly an easier leap of faith than to accept your friend has done something pretty terrible to someone else. I don't really blame anyone for falling prey to my abuser's manipulations. I know just how convincing his slippery silver tongue can be. And you can't ever have really known me as a person at all to believe I am the thing he says I am, so yeah... it's no huge loss on my side of things, really.

But it still hurts, and I am still very angry.

My psychologist asked if I felt like anything was left unresolved, and it was a very easy answer of Nooooo, definitely not. And that felt pretty good. I mean, I was really quite ragey and angry at him for a while, obviously, because he hurt me and continued to hurt me and gave zero shits about it. But I'm so grateful that the AVO stuff is settled and I can give zero fucks about his continued existence. All of my lingering emotions mostly centre around how easy it was for him to turn many people against me. I think getting over that will just take some time.

I guess I am kind of angry about people taking his side, even if I don't really blame them. I mean, this whole situation is just so fucked up, anyway. I guess it's the final insult, on top of everything else he's done to me.. because that is pretty much just how these things go.

Jokes on me thinking people would care more about someone abusing me as opposed to my anger at being abused by someone. Not like any of them bothered to ask me if I actually cared about having him back in my life (a. NO b. I told him to fuck off, not the other way around? Seriously, people), or asked me why I was so angry (to be fair, I was still confused on this point for a while), or even stopped to think about how unusual it was for me to even be so angry in the first place (have you met me..? If you haven't, fine, but I don't really do anger).

Enh, whatever. I've done my ranting.. there's no point continuing. I can run myself round in circles all day getting worked up over everything, but I know shouldn't bother. But this is my life.. this is kind of all it is right now, just... aftermath. A whole lot of emotional chaos and nothing that can fix it but time.

Because even if everyone who's been sucked in by my abuser's masterful pity performance suddenly changed their mind and realised I was right, etc. etc.... it still wouldn't magically heal what's been left behind. I still have wounds and I still have scars simply because one person went on a power trip with my life and my well being.

So yeah, I have a lot of strong emotions going on at any given time, and I know they won't simply go away. But even though it's still a struggle now, I also realise that it will get better and all these things will eventually pass, and someday I will be the strong, confident person I want to be... because I've survived and I'm still surviving, with the help of some very real and healthy friendships. Y'know, the kind that don't hurt and feel super shitty all the time.

I can get better, but the fact my abuser has 'gotten away' with mistreating me means that he will not. I'd much rather be my weird, emotional, anxious self with all the conscious and empathy of a good person than to live my life capable of such cruelty. I guess, in the end, the joke's on him, because at least I can learn from what happened and be a much stronger person for it. I can escape him and his influence, but he is stuck with himself forever, and living your life having to dominate and 'win' at everything is a very lonely place to be.