Warning: This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post and includes content that may be triggering. My ex-fiance stalked and harassed me, and twice the justice system failed me by denying a restraining order simply because he didn’t lay hands on me.
Last month, I started attending a small group at my church. We started reading a book called, “Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life,” and it was really opening my eyes to some of my strengths as well as my weaknesses. I’ve since had to stop going because we discovered it didn’t fit with Hubster’s work schedule.
One thing really struck me as I was reading it. I learned that instead of having emotional boundaries that are like gates, allowing people to come in as well as letting parts of myself to come out and participate, I’ve built emotional walls. Fortified ones. Ain’t nothin’ sneakin’ outta there, kinda walls.
I let others share with me all the time and am eager to learn about their lives and help them out. But when it comes to sharing about myself, being vulnerable, allowing people to be in my life? Oh heeeell no!
My experience with domestic violence caused me to shutter myself in, lest someone break my trust again. That happened five and a half years ago. Why haven’t I moved on yet?
I’ve been asked that question before. Several months ago, I was exposed to pictures of my ex. I had destroyed all pictures of him and hadn’t seen his face since I ran into him at Walmart the night before my wedding in 2009 (crazy coincidence, huh?!). When I saw those pictures of him several months ago, I nearly had a panic attack. I had to leave, and I cried for a while. The fear and emotions came flooding back and I was powerless against them.
Someone asked me why I reacted that way. They thought I had gotten over it and moved on in a healthy way. The truth is that you can move forward with your life and the immediate pain and fear subsides, but the trauma will always remain. Trauma never leaves you. So here I am, more than five years later, and I am an avoidant.
I’m an avoidant. Unable to say yes to help from others, unable to let people into my life to have a relationship with me because of that trauma. I am a work in progress, but will forever be tainted by that emotional pain. I shut down to personal questions. My mind literally goes blank with an inability to let anyone in.
I can keep the evil out this way, but I also cannot let the good in. Our boundaries must have gates. We can protect those gates fiercely, but we have to build them before we can fortify them.
I’ve reached the point where I mostly feel complete apathy toward my ex. To be honest, I really don’t care if he lives or dies. I have no feelings either way. Apathy. But when I think about how his actions still affect me and my relationships, sometimes I still hate him for what he did to me. I wonder why he did it. I wish I didn’t wonder because I’ll never get an answer. But I do wonder, and maybe I always will.
Click here to visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website.