I’m beginning to realize that I’ve always let people mistreat me, even from my very first relationship in college. My mom once said to me during this time that she thought it was lucky I ended up with someone who treated me so well; she always figured my low self-esteem would lead me to finding someone who would misuse me. Thing is, and this was not some devil of a guy, he was a real dick sometimes. But I wasn’t strong enough at the time to even acknowledge that he was being a dick to me. I’d say that I spent at least the first twenty-five years in a total denial about my own life. The next ten years were spent trying to block out the realizations that were now making themselves known and it’s only been in the last several years that I’ve begun to be able to be honest with myself about my life and about me.

My active imagination has always been a tool for me. I can’t even tell you the number of cumulative years I’ve probably spent living my life as some other version of me in my own imagination. When I was young, I would use fairy tales, books or movies to model these plays in my head. Plays taking place in my own life. But I would designate different characters as my villains just to avoid dealing with the actual triggers I had in my own reality. It was my way of protecting myself.

I spent years, decades even, blocking and denying a good portion of my reality. I shoved one particular memory into such far recesses that every ten years or so I’d have to deal with the realization of it’s part in my history all over again. Like I was remembering for the first time. I’d go through almost all the normal stages of grief, dealing with it: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. But I refused to accept it’s validity. I just straight up couldn’t handle it. Accepting it meant accepting so many other things along with it.

I had to accept that I was broken.

I had to accept that my whole life was affected by one incident.

I had to accept that I’d morphed this incident into part of my identity without knowing it.

I had to accept that huge pieces of me were influenced by this one thing.

I had to accept more than just the initial incident but everything that came along with it. Every moment and movement that’s tied up in the pain.

And I had to accept that this was always going to be part of me. I had to accept the memories instead of continuing to bury them.

And I was never ready to do that.

I have to do it now, though. My mind, my memory, my psyche isn’t giving me the choice anymore. I can no longer bury it.

I think it’s because I’m married, now. I’m in a loving, wonderful, happy marriage and the areas of my brain that were so affected by this one thing are confused. So many of the instincts that I’d developed over the years were now at odds with the love and support I was getting from my husband. To be perfectly plain, many of the impulses and inclinations I had up until now were in direct conflict with the respect I was being given.

There are some answers I’m never going to have. And that’s okay. It has to be. I don’t need answers to deal with it and move on with my life. I don’t need validation or answers or understanding. Some things can never be understood. But I deserve to be able to heal. I deserve to be able to put away the shame I’ve been carrying for so long. I deserve to be a whole person again who’s proud of every part of myself.

I am stronger than I realize.

I am heartier than I ever thought.

I am a force. I am the wind and the rain and the storm.

I am everything I need to be.

And I finally accept that, too.