I know people struggle with being “labeled”. I also struggled with feeling like I would be labeled if I revealed everything. So let me ask you a question. Who would you be if the world didn’t give you a label?
Who we truly are is found inside us and not from finger-pointing or the whispers. We are no longer in high school and you get to choose and define your life. I’m not saying every day will be easy or you just turn on a switch and your struggles go away. You will struggle but you will succeed each and every day. These labels will blind us from seeing ourselves for who we are. When you let an artificial label define yourself. Then you my friend have chosen smallness over greatness and minimize yourself. Confined and divided yourself from others. Labels only distort our vision.
It’s time to take back control of what we believe is our label. Because you are NOT a label. Even if somebody is labeling us so what! Are they even worth your time and energy to dwell on? Absolutely not so pay them no attention and live your life. You know who you are. So go out and be YOU struggles and ALL! I know I say this often but it’s so true. Surround yourself with the best, supportive friends and family you can have by your side. It’s time to rip those labels off. Let me break it down to you. Forgive me but I fail to see the logic or pride in defining myself by a label. I have a mental illness but that is not who I am! It’s only my struggle and my struggle makes me STRONGER.
Since my recent decision to share my story. I’ve also decided to seek counseling help through this journey. I’m not sure if when I really begin opening up and sharing all the details of the abuse, molestation and rape incidents. If I will start feeling depressed, anxious or triggering my PTSD. Therefore I am taking the necessary steps to take care of my mental and emotional health.
I went to my admissions appointment last week. I received a call from the gentlemen who did my admissions. He informed me that the counselor I was seeing before had a full schedule. Unfortunately, she is unable to take on anymore patient. He offered to match me with another counselor. I wanted to give up the idea of counseling. I felt anxious of the thought of having to get comfortable with a new counselor. I’ve been going back and forth in my head about this situation. I want what’s comfortable and easy. Finding a counselor that you’re comfortable with is 100% a daunting challenge.
Tonight I decided…
One of the best things I have learned through my journey is having a strong support system with positive people by your side is a MUST. I kept using the excuse that I’m an introvert and that no one understood me. Yes, I am a bit of an introvert and no one understood me because I didn’t allow anyone to close. I needed to recognize within myself when I truly needed alone time and when I need someone by my side to talk to. I can’t promise it will be easy but I can tell you from experience. When you find the right people in your life. Things become more clear and easier to handle.
Finding friends and family who can relate to you and what you’ve been through is difficult. That’s okay because we all have been through different walks of life. We can’t possibly make someone understand the shame, guilt and ugliness that we feel inside. So it’s up to us to find people who can relate. In my city I have been unable to find any support groups to attend. It made me a little sad and frustrated at first. Then I had a light bulb moment. If I’m trying to share my story with the world. Why can’t I find other people who struggle with PTSD, anxiety and depression? In 2016 we have the power of research and the World Wide Web. I’m surprised at all the groups I found, how quick I felt welcomed and how many connections I’ve made. The groups I have found are on Facebook. Go to the top of your page in the search bar and type short keywords like: PTSD support, child abuse survivors, adult survivors of child abuse, anxiety and depression support, anxiety help etc… After you enter the keyword make sure you’re searching under the “group” tab to find all the groups using those keywords. Join multiple groups to find the right ones for you. Please be discreet and do not give out your personal information. Stay safe and don’t fall into vulnerability situations.
You are NOT alone and there are others struggling who also need a listening ear just like you. Let’s build each other up. Let’s not shy away from each other and engage in what could be long lasting friendships. For a very long time I felt I had nothing to offer anyone. That’s until I started to believe in myself and the person I was meant to be.
Yes, what happened to me was horrible but it doesn’t define me. I was stuck in this vicious cycle of hopelessness. I was crying out for help deep down inside. I am not that little girl anymore. I am a strong, caring, empathetic woman who is thriving each and every day. I am on a mission and a path I never thought I would be capable of traveling. I have no idea where this will end or what doors are opening up for me. All I know is that I want to be an inspiration and empower others to take back control. You are Beautiful!
I remember my first vivid memory of what I know now to be abuse and neglect. Those who are supposed to love and protect you are actually your abusers. My uncle used to put beer in my baby bottle. I remember him and his friends laughing as I ran around drinking beer. I was so young and so innocent. Even though I didn’t know what was right or wrong. Instinctively I sensed an uncomfortable feeling as I became older. Why do cruel people like this exist in this world I ask myself!
I do remember a point in time where I was very close to my uncle. It saddens me to know now that the reason was not because of love. He was is a sick individual and even though we are biologically related. He is not welcomed in my home or anywhere in my vicinity. Luckily, when I was placed in a foster home. I was saved from him and his sickening ways or so I though… I will write in a later post about my last encounter with him when I was 17 years old.
A very young child who is exposed to molestation will automatically perceive this type of sickening “action” as love. This happened to me and yes I am very angry. But I want to move on from the damaging internal feelings I have inside me. I have 36 years of long lasting effects on my mental and emotional health. I am at a point in my life where I so VERY strongly want to help others. The only way I can truly do that is by beginning with myself. Mentally and emotionally I can’t be strong and supportive for anyone, if I can’t be strong for myself. This is why I am on this journey to find myself and to be a better and healthier me.
Now as an adult knowing what happened has given me a purpose and passion in life. It bothers me knowing there are other’s like me out there. I cannot be silenced and I will be a VOICE! I know exactly what it feels like to keep everything bottled up inside and never tell a soul. This is honestly to much for anyone to handle alone. I chose to keep it a secret, I chose not to talk about it and I chose to try and ignore it. Why? Because the trauma is to much. Plain and simple.
Yes, it is possible to ignore it and you think you’re living life because you’ve buried it deep down inside. I am being very genuine when I say, I was not living my life to the fullest. There is always something inside that doesn’t feel right and eventually it manifests itself into many different things. It may become anger, guilt, shame, social anxiety, neediness, alcoholism, drug addiction, gambler, promiscuity and becoming an introvert. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert unless it keeps you from having genuine relationships or friendships. It changes the person you were meant to be in this life.
Remember I am still going through this journey myself, right at this very moment. The difference now is that I want to fight these feelings and emotions. I’m ready to fight!
If you’ve been sexually abused or molested in anyway that makes you feel uncomfortable. Please tell someone!
I was molested as a child and the emotional wounds have affected me into adulthood. I did not trust people and my surroundings. I also have issues with emotionally connecting at times. I’ve learned to shut down as a coping mechanism. I still struggle until this very day. The only difference is now I recognize some of the damage. For example, if I hear someone drop a fork (I know that sounds silly) in another room. I am instantly on high alert and asking “what is that noise?”. My tone can come across as aggressive and that’s due to being on high alert and/or scared. To some people it may come across as angry or annoyed. This is a PTSD trigger that I learned about myself.
I also get easily startled and it brought out this fire of anger inside me. Literally, I would get angry if someone came into the same room as me and I didn’t know they were entering. It’s like my mind was so concentrated on something else and just the surprise of anyone coming in made me very uneasy. Even if it was a person I knew. For those first two seconds I could feel my rage inside me manifesting. The rage was from the anxiety…
Now as an adult I sit here reflecting on my socialization growing up. My sisters and I very rarely went to school. In our household we were forced to work outside in the fields. I remember we would work outdoors in the hot sun for a minimum of 10 hours per day, up to 6 days per week. We would pick apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, cucumbers, peaches, black and yellow cherries, tomatoes, corn, weeding the fields with long hoes.
I just wanted to be a kid. I didn’t want to work under the hot sun for hours on end. I just wanted to play like other kids. Why couldn’t my biological mom understand that and want that for us?
After countless years of working in the fields; when I should have been in school. The state finally caught up to us and my biological mom was forced to register us in school. I remember walking into school…
My name is Petra and I am on a mission to help other woman by sharing my story. I will not hide in shame. I am tearing off the band-aid and unlocking the pain that’s deep down inside. My childhood years were full of abuse; mental, emotional, verbal, physical and sexual. I have very rarely spoke in depth of this part of my life.
It was NOT my fault and I am NOT ashamed anymore!
Today, I free myself of all the pain I kept locked inside. This pain changed my personality for a long 36 years.
I was angry, took everything personally, I had no personality, didn’t’ know how to joke around and smiling or laughing felt “awkward” to me.
What makes me smile today? My two boys, my fiance, my friends, my family and YOU! Yes, you reading this right now. I smile because you’re here, you’re strong and you’re amazing.
The happiest and only good memory was when I was about 4 years old. I remember living in Texas and being at my grandmothers house. She bought me this beautiful dress that every little Mexican girl wanted. I ran around in it, showing it off to everyone, skipping and dancing around in circles.
(This is the only picture I have of me as a child)
After that it seems like the world changed. I remember going to the park to play. Shortly after that we took my sister to her grandmother’s house; on her father’s side. We dropped her off but I didn’t understand why we couldn’t stay too. My sister’s grandmother seemed like a very sweet lady and inviting. Our biological mother had a way of making us feel like we didn’t “belong”. Nothing was ever explained.