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"I feel like garbage today," I responded, unsure if he was asking about my day because he wanted an honest answer or if he was just making small talk. Filtering has never been my forte, so I went with the first answer that jumped out of my mouth.
To say that I felt like garbage, meant more to me than just letting him know that I wasn't feeling well today.
Garbage, for me, is symbolic.
As a child, my mother's favorite flavor of punishment was placing me on the New York City curbside, with all the black trash bags, marinating in its own grease. She didn't care if there was dog shit or slick slime getting on my clothes.
I was three years old.
She would tell me, each time, that I was garbage. A useless piece of garbage, and I was so disobedient, the trash man was going to be my new father, if he didn't dump me in the back of the truck first.
Then she would turn around and walk away, until she was out of sight. I can still feel, almost three decades later, the stunning fear of being left alone.
I'd scream...maybe for her, maybe for anyone, but in the streets of New York City, no one truly hears you.
So when I told him that I felt like garbage, that's what I meant.
Which brings me back to the time I watched my ex boyfriend, Jay, nonchalantly allow his ex girlfriend touch him on the shoulder, as if it meant nothing. She placed her hand on him...claiming him, letting me know that he was still her's, pushing me, taunting me...I guess. Because that's the healthy, logical thought process, right?
So I went back to my apartment and screamed at Jay.
He knew what she was doing, and he let her!
He screamed back.
I shoved him.
He grabbed me.
I bit him.
He's holding me down on the floor, pinning me, with fight in his eyes.
"You're nothing but garbage!" I yell, "Trash! You and her are both trash! You're fucking awful. Get off me! Get the fuck away from me! I hate you. I wish I never met you. You ruined my life. You are the worst thing that has ever happened to me," repeating the words that my own mother had said to me.
Words that eventually replaced my ability to show affection to anyone in any other way except through terrorizing them until they were traumatized enough to make me feel a little less alone.
Fights that dragged Jay into a depression and suicidal ideation...so he would know exactly how terrible I felt on the inside.
I needed to break him.
I needed to break anyone that I became obsessive over...because how could they ever truly be with me unless they were just like me?
Eventually, that relationship fell apart.
He fell apart.
I fell apart.
And I found myself in online spaces and therapy groups that encouraged me to accept myself.
Rewrite your story.
You are the real victim.
And I gave it a try. The problem with these types of therapies is that it leaves out a very crucial piece of the problem: me.
I am a victim. A survivor. But I too, have my own victims.
With my own abusers, I learned to bite back. I learned to fight back. I escaped. I no longer feel the need to yearn for their acceptance or to beg them to love me.
But abuse leaves a mark. I learned to love others the way my parents loved me...test them, hurt them, break them, make sure they are in so much pain that they're forever dependent on you for consolation.
And I made excuses for how I treated other people.
I kept telling myself that I am this way because of my parents. I'm so fucked up because of all the boys that have broken my heart or assaulted me. Of course I can't be healthy...I have borderline personality disorder and ptsd and schizoaffective and other diagnosis, one racking up on top of the other with each psychiatrist I see, as if diagnoses are girl scout ribbons I was collecting.
So what is this bullshit about me needing to accept that?
Fuck your self-acceptance and self-love.
I refuse to love this.
I've had enough of my own bullshit. I'm tired of crying about how everyone treats me terribly when I'm subtly pushing them away until they leave. I'm done with leaving behind my own trail of victims.
I don't accept the fact that I'm my mother's daughter.
I reject her. And through that, I reject myself.
Abuse and trauma doesn't get to control my life...or control every relationship that I find myself in. I refuse to mirror the behavior that past abusers have forced onto me, onto the people I supposedly love. I'm done playing stupid mind games to force someone to stay with me when I feel the suffocating fear of abandonment.
I don't trust my instincts. I don't trust my body. I don't trust these impulses that borderline personality disorder has imposed on every single relationship I've ever had.
Instead of fighting against everyone else, I'm fighting back against my own body. When it revolts with a surge of monstrous emotions, I force it back in its cage. My feelings are no longer the responsibility of my loved ones to tiptoe around. I don't break other people anymore, I break myself. I break and break and break myself until I shatter the mirrors of trauma that I keep putting on the people that love me.
Because they deserve better. And it's bullshit to tell them how much I love them too, unless I'm actively breaking these cycles so they don't, too, fall prey to this terrible continuum.
And it's bullshit to keep believing that the only way to truly recover from trauma and abuse is to accept it. I can't rewrite yesterday, but I can create a different story for the future.