When I began opening up about my past, most people were surprised. ‘I had no idea,’ they’d say. And why would they? It was all hidden abuse; no scars or bruises to tell the story.
Even under the influence of my abusers, I was a pretty smiley person. In fact, for a large part of my life, I wasn’t even aware that what I was experiencing was called “abuse” because it was all I’d ever known. I had grown up thinking that the anxiety and insecurity I had were just part of everybody’s lives.
As I got older and started to interact with others more, I began to become aware of how how unhealthy the relationship dynamics were in my family. And through developing healthy, external bonds with other people, I began to see the difference between what I had with them and the toxicity of what I had with my family.
Once I began to start telling my story of abuse, I started receiving messages from people I know. People that were suffering in toxic relationships with partners or parents. It turns out quite a few people in my circle were living the same pain I was living—and I didn’t have a clue!
It’s easy to cover up emotional pain—at least for a little while. No foundation required. Just put on a smile, or say you “had a bad sleep”.
If you’re worried about someone, ask them. If they’re persistent in telling you they’re fine, ask again. Let them know you’re concerned and why. Look into their eyes, and tell them you’re here for them.
They may brush you off. They may also confide in you if they are ready. But at the very least (and most importantly) they’ll remember.
I can recall all the people in my life who showed me that kindness. People who reached out, and gave me a hug (whether physically or emotionally). If I had your addresses I would send you all thank-you-notes because you may well have saved my life. As it is, I’ll let the cosmos send you my gratitude. And I’ll pay it forward by asking others