As I have already spoken of a few times now, I am working on some documentary-esque videos for other entities. Well, one of them brought up an excellent point about me having this ugly backstory, and this bright present, but no “arc.” So, I had the opportunity of sharing a non-bias struggle with him. Once again, I wrote something that I would like to share with you, before it is filmed. Enjoy this real, human, honest side of the story – a side that I haven’t spoken of much, and has already healed me more since writing it down the first time.
I stayed with my boyfriend for many months after I quit selling myself. We were together before, during, and after the prostitution. Of course, he didn’t respect me at all. I mean, why would he? I thought moving to a quieter place, in a smaller town would change things. We were away from all that, but he started becoming more and more abusive. I didn’t leave though. I also started self-harming. I was so unhappy, but I was trying my hardest to make things work. When I felt like everything was falling apart, I would cut myself. People would notice the bite marks he would leave on my face, or the clean lines of scabbing from the cutting on my arms, and bluntly ask what had happened. There was always a story. I doubt they ever believed it. I bet they were just testing me. I was testing myself too. And I was failing, every time. I hated lying about it! I hated when he would come in the room and say “Hey, if my family asks you what that is on your face, tell them […], because that is the story I’m sticking to also. Cool?” Wow…I literally felt like a pile of poop. Seriously. But, I had been so used to being used, that I couldn’t break out of the mold on my own. Finally, he actually reached the point of punching. He hit me in the face only one time, and I harshly threatened to leave. Well, then he beat the living daylights out of me a couple weeks later. I finally left, but I wouldn’t have done so without a very convincing, few-hour-long phone conversation with my mother, which didn’t end until after 3am. She was sure an angel, and wise in her ways.
I didn’t want to move back in with my parents. They lived a clean and sober life, and I didn’t want that. I didn’t deserve that kind of life. But, I had reached the point where I was tired of sleeping around with acquaintances, and alcohol and drugs weren’t as fulfilling as they once were. I was in a place where I was ready for a change. After having nowhere else to go, my parents allowed me to move back in with them. Sure, I was grateful for their selfless service (especially after how I treated them before), but I was still incredibly unhappy. What happened to my life!? Just a couple short years completely destroyed me, and I was only nineteen years old! I thought everything was so messed up…and I just wasn’t in my right state of mind…
One of my first nights in their home I was sobbing like a baby on my mattress in the middle of the night. I was done… The closest object to me that could serve me best was my phone charging cord. I took it in both hands, wrapped it around my neck enough times to where I knew it could be strong enough to do the job, but still have enough ease for my tight grip to stay. I pulled tighter and tighter. I was shutting down, and I could feel the pulse of my heart beating on the back of my pressurized eyeballs. …And then…one thought came to mind – just one. And that’s all I needed. There’s gotta be more than this…
What it was, I didn’t know, but it was enough to loosen my hands, and help better tears flow – tears with just a tiny trace of hope in them, unlike the tears that foreshadowed my depression-filled attempt. I didn’t tell anyone about the episode for some time. It was sacred to me.
In the following weeks, my mother would spend the time bearing her testimony about different things that have worked for her in her life – prayer; religion; God. Little did she know I would be listening while I was still buzzed from a little get together I had just come from. It didn’t matter though. I felt something nudge me from her words. Something sweet, and soft. Well, I was also attending church at this time, due to the rules in their household, and felt that same something I just couldn’t deny. I still wanted to hold onto what I felt I deserved, but I knew it was time to follow my gut, and give it all up. I did so, but it wasn’t an easy transition.
I think what made it more obvious than anything, that I was finally on the right path, was that my ex-boyfriend kept showing up randomly in my life!! I hadn’t seen him once after I left him, and before I made the decision to quit all my destructive ways, and then I saw him four times in a one to two week period! No way! And, I couldn’t resist…
He was my Kryptonite. I mentioned earlier that I was so done with sex, but he wasn’t. Especially not with me. My countenance was changing, and I was denying his sensual affections, which I know just made him thirstier. But, I wasn’t leaving. It was so hard to let him go a second time, but my bishop (after I finally opened up about who it was that was giving me the most difficulties as I was striving to change) gave me the courage I needed to.
Well, remember, I was only nineteen years old, at this time. After being sober from all that had previously proved to be wrong in my life, for about seven months, I started really getting out again. And I had just turned twenty. The culture of having a good time without drugs or booze was really weird to me. I think my old habits were just lying under the surface, and I was still finding people who partied harder than everyone else. Granted, it was sober partying, but I still was attracted to the group that was as eccentric as me. I also have gotten along better with guys than with girls for many years leading up to that point. So, I was staying up way too late, and hanging around many boys. After more than one episode of getting way too close to messing it all up again, I realized I needed mental help.
My body was used to doing one thing and one thing only, when I was in a dark place with a boy that wanted to use me. I was good at what I did, and it’s like my body just unhesitantly clicked into autopilot. All that was what I learned from my mental health counselor. He gave me tools I needed to stop, which is what I wanted. I think my absolute biggest struggle in turning my life around was reprogramming my body. They say old habits die hard. I quit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes cold turkey and never went back, all without any addiction recovery programs. Those were not an issue for me. Apparently the biggest issue was figuring out how to stop being used. Strange, huh?
I remember messing up big time, and crying to my bishop. Even then, I felt like I wasn’t “punished harshly enough.” After enough counseling, and proper tools, I started acting in a way that was in accordance with how I truly, truly WANTED to act!
I honestly had to treat myself as a teenage girl, under strict guidelines. I had many rules I adhered to, and I read them from a little card often. That little card stayed in a very accessible place in my wallet for years. But! It did the job!
None the less, I still didn’t mentally heal as quickly as I changed my habits. I was still uncomfortable around most men I encountered. Even to this day, I get creeped out by some men. Those men could be complete strangers to me, and lead a good life! But, perhaps it is if they are in a certain age bracket, with a certain style, or may they have a similar look or smell that I once saw or smelled on an old “client,” I am just bugged to the point of disgust. It gets a lot better with time, and I am still trying to tell myself that they are human, and that I have no right think mean thoughts about them. I will tell myself positive assumptions about them, in my head, to help me give them the proper respect they deserve. But, it sure has been a long time coming. I think healing from sexual sin may just be more difficult than healing from almost any other. And especially after having so many negative occurrences with one gender at practically all ages, and ethnicities, it is very difficult to just have as normal a perspective of them as I give to most everyone else.
I try so hard to just love everyone. Quite frankly, I do envy those who easily and fiercely love all they come in contact with, no matter what! I strive daily to be that kind of person, but it is definitely a task for me. I have done the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” thing plenty of times in my life. I hope it proves to work in regards to this challenge for me as well. I have no doubt it will, so long as I try every day, and never give up!
Another change that has posed a major challenge for me was, of course, loving myself. I honestly don’t think I truly did, until this last year. Once again, I pulled a “fake it ‘til you make it.” And, quite frankly, if I truly loved myself, and understood my worth sooner…I wouldn’t have married who I did… But, remember, everything happens for a reason… Without all my struggles in life, I wouldn’t have been able to understand, forgive, and love him as I do now.
So, just loving myself and being myself really was a major struggle I had. Getting back to dressing up, like a woman, as often I did my freshman year in high school was something that only recently started happening again. My perspective on dressing up, truly dressing up, head to toe – all out – had changed after my unhealthy relationship with my ex, and I really wanted to dress frumpy for a while. I think part of it was that I was so used to my controlling ex telling me to not dress so nice to where I would receive honks from cars on the side of the road as we walked. But, another issue was the looks I would receive from people. I realized when I dressed up I was more noticed, and some men had the look of lust on their face. Even if it was just a small degree I could still see it, and it took me back to bad memories… It wasn’t until these last couple weeks that I really got back to my roots of looking nice, and very ladylike, as often as possible. I have only just barely reached the point where I am ready to do that without feeling guilty for doing so. It is not my fault if I receive certain looks for modestly dressing up the way I wish to. And I should not judge those glances anyway. We all get to practice our agency in public, and that means they do too. I need not change my ways to avoid something I cannot control. I am sick of the grunge look coming first in my wardrobe, and I am moving forward!
This last year has proven to be quite rewarding. After experiencing even more hardship, and on a completely different side of the spectrum, I have strove so hard, day and night, to do whatever it was necessary to truly be HEALED!! I have read books, opened up to people about everything! Prayed harder and more often than ever before! You name it! But, it has all paid off. I finally am just being myself, and loving it – loving me!! Honestly, I am pretty sure that all has just happened, all of the sudden, over the past few weeks… Who knew it would take years and so much effort every single moment of every single day to get to a point that should have just been! I have been observing females very closely for years to understand how some of them are just so confident! I couldn’t understand it! It’s like my mind literally could not fathom that concept! I tell you, it has been an every day job, but I am pretty sure I am finally there! And it feels AMAZING!!!
So, there you have it. All the back story of the transition, arc, struggles, whatever. You name it, it’s there. It’s tough, it’s human, it’s raw. But, it’s there. This is real life.