“Like most things, the word ‘survivor’ means different things to different people. To me, it means being alive, coming through ordeals that no one should have to and being better for it. It means never giving up and fighting for others. It’s learning from the hurt and making a life, even when you’re haunted from the past. A survivor may have many phases of life that they will have to stand strong and battle. Often a survivor isn’t met with only one battle, but many.
I believe my survivor story is not over by any means. I am currently in extensive therapy for PTSD. I am facing things I have had buried for a long time, some of which has been forgotten. I am revisiting the pain so I can heal, not forget. The idea before was just to forget. This is not for me anymore. For the first time in my life, I have a real chance of happiness. I have a real chance of healing and a bright future.
Here I am, an adult with a list of health issues a mile long, including heart disease (which I was born with). Yet, I feel more alive each day. Happiness is a word I have reclaimed. My life is not something I just make it through now, it’s something I look forward to. How did I get here? Well, I was born a SURVIVOR. I almost died at birth. They lost my heartbeat and had to take me out in an emergency C-section. At 2 years old, my weight was equal to a 1-year-old and I was extremely malnourished. Then again at 5 years old, my heart was not working correctly. Honestly, it was all God’s protection! You would think all those close calls, I would have kept on a straight path. Even these close calls didn’t keep my life on the straight and narrow.
After years of abuse from my mom, my nana passing, Mom going crazier, and Papaw’s Parkinson’s disease advancing–I became more and more angry and rebellious. Thankfully, God was there protecting me! I had so many people that prayed for me. My grandparents loved the Lord and spent many hours in prayer for me my entire life. I have been lucky to have people that loved my grandparents to pray for me so much in my life, even when they didn’t know the entire story. The love they had for me kept them praying and today, I can say fully it was those prayers that brought me through.
I’m begging her not to leave me. She can hit me all she wants if she just doesn’t leave afterward. What can I do to get her to stay? Please don’t leave me. Then suddenly I wake up. I’m wrapped in the arms of the man that loves me dearly, drenched in sweat, and so very scared. Scared he will leave me, scared I’ll end up all alone. Do you see how the past turns into the present life of PTSD survivors?
A memory I often think about when I am sharing my story is a time when I was about 22 years old and my mom was trying to have me committed to a mental hospital. After a 24-hour sit in the ER, a doctor came in to speak with me. She ended the talk by saying, ‘There is nothing wrong with you except the fact you need to get away from the influence of your mother.’ Maybe she was right. While my relationship had begun to get better around the age of 26, it wasn’t truly until I left my hometown at 29 (12 years ago), that my relationship with my mother began to heal. I had the power for once. I was the one leaving. I know that may sound crazy but in that small idea, it gave me what I needed to feel like I had the control of my life for once.
My story is a little different because my relationship today with my childhood abuser is one of love and forgiveness. She is my mother, but not the mother she was when I was a child. When she began going to church again and cleaned herself up, she told me she had no memory of my childhood. I have chosen to believe her, for I have experienced some of that myself. The mother I know today, or for the last 13 years, is not the mother I knew for the 28 years before.
Here is some of our story. When I look back through pictures, I look like the most loved baby. The creepy thing is the pictures stop at age five. I have pictures from my 5th birthday party, which I remember so well. I was ‘whipped’ so hard before that party I did not even want to go. I could barely sit down, and my mom had invited almost every kid from our church, whether they were my friends or not. There is a picture of me with the family members that were there and I am literally gripping my Momo’s (a distant elderly cousin) hand so hard. I didn’t want her to leave me alone. She was my safety person. I have a smile on my face but I am very pale and if you know me, you know something is wrong.
After those pictures, they just stop, like I died or disappeared. I always wondered why the pictures just stopped. Other than a church or occasional school function photo, there is just nothing. I do remember a lot of good times, but not exactly good memories, with my mom. I don’t really have any with her until I’m much older. 90 percent of my good memories are because of my grandparents. I loved them and they loved me so very much. If only they could have protected me from my mom. We were just all so afraid of her.
My mom has very limited memory of my childhood. I have chosen to not bring it up too much and not ‘inform her’ of the truths. However, when she will say something that she ‘remembers,’ I will tell her if it happened the way she remembers it or correct her about how it actually happened. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen a lot. One thing she does remember and brings up a lot, that is hard for me to swallow, is this one time–yes, ‘one’ time. I don’t know how she only remembers this one time. I was about 9, and I am not even sure what I had done to make her angry but she had cornered me into our walk-in closet and she was using a thick man’s belt to spank me. Halfway through, I decided to defend myself, and I hit her back. The one and only time I ever fought back. Her words will always echo in my mind. (Of course, she doesn’t remember this part.) She said, ‘Your dad thought he could hit me, but you will never hit me. I’ll kill you first.’ I started begging forgiveness but it was too late. My face became her main target. I don’t know what would have happened to me if my Papaw hadn’t pulled her off me. She was a 400-pound woman. I was a 9-year-old child. She had me by my pigtails or ponytail and was repeatedly hitting my face. This was not the beginning of her hitting me in the face but it was the first time with a fist. This is why I can’t stand for my face to be touched in any way, even by the people I love the most.
My mother and I don’t talk about that period very often, but she was talking about when I was a baby, and I was feeling all kinds of ways. I needed to say something. I felt like I was going to bust if I didn’t. I said to her, ‘Mom, I looked like I was so loved in all my baby pictures and you sound, right now, like you loved me so much when you tell this story. Why did you stop loving me?’ With that broken cracking voice that you never want to have when you are addressing someone, she replied with tears in her voice, ‘You did nothing wrong baby. I was sick and stupid. I loved you, but I was just so messed up.’
Life is very strange. I never say I had a bad childhood. I had loving grandparents that loved me so much. However, I had to grow up so fast. My nana was so sick, I had to take care of her starting from 3rd grade and on. She had a list as tall as I was of things wrong with her and literally bags of medicine that changed monthly at times. Most of those pain pills would just sit there until I learned that I could take them to keep the pain from the ‘spanking’ from hurting so bad. The abuse continued almost daily until I was around the age of 13. This is when I tried committing suicide the first time. I was hospitalized. I was in the hospital for almost 3 weeks. My mom came and saw me every night. I was shocked. There wasn’t very much abuse after I went home. I had a lot of anger, plus I was hardly ever home. I would stay at friends’ houses as much as possible. I would even stay places that I wasn’t exactly comfortable at, just to be away from my mom.
It makes me really sad to think about all the lost time I had with my grandparents. When I was 16, the physical abuse stopped altogether when a friend saw my mom slam my face into the side of our house, breaking my nose. He told her that if she ever hit me again, he would tell his dad. His father was a father-figure to me, and my mom was semi-in love with him, even though they were only ever best friends. That moment was a good and painful moment at the same time. The fact that she stopped was wonderful but it was hard to swallow that she stopped for a man and not because she loved me. There was a period of time where she didn’t even know where I was, or if I was going to school. My friend’s parents could answer those types of questions about me better than she could.
I moved through life thinking that I was no good for anyone really. My mom would tell me often that my grandparents thought I was ‘special needs,’ although not quite such a PC word was used. This made me so sad, as my grandparents were so good to me. They were my world. I only wanted to make them pleased with me. Somewhere I become convinced I would never be smart enough to hold down a job, so I better learn how to be a good wife and mommy. I did love to write though and I spent a lot of time doing it. I wanted to write a book one day or publish my books and books of poems I wrote. It was all I ever wanted, other than being a mother. I didn’t even care about my grades, and no one else did either. Yet somehow, I graduated 8th grade with Honors. In high school, I skipped more days than I went. I didn’t get my diploma until a few years after my friends got theirs. I did it through a school at home because I had dropped out my final year to take care of my grandfather, who had a heart attack. Then years later, I would go on to get my Associate’s degree in Business and my Bachelor’s in Social Services and Management.
I survived those young years purely because God was keeping me alive and the fact that my grandparents’ love kept me going. So many people ask why did they not step in. My mother had my grandparents convinced that if they said anything to child welfare, that she would take me and run, or give me to my father, who they were told was a sex offender. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it was what they were told and what I was told from a very young age. My grandparents didn’t know the full extent of the abuse, but they knew enough and it hurt them. It is why my grandfather took me with him as much as possible. I was a regular at the lumberyard with all the old guys, sitting around, talking shop. I loved those days. I learned to pray early on. Did I mention I have a faulty heart? I was in and out of doctors, hospitals, and test rooms my entire early years. Here is the kicker: No one could hit me on my back. I could not play certain sports because they might ‘rough me up too much.’ I wasn’t allowed to ride fair rides, the list goes on. BUT SHE COULD THROW ME AROUND. Through all of this, I just wanted her to love me. I wanted a mom that wanted to be my mom. I wanted her to see me as a gift, not as a hassle.
I came out of my childhood into adulthood and somehow my relationship with my mom got way worse before it got better. There are too many other people involved to even begin to talk about it, but let’s just say it involves her love of herself, men, drugs, alcohol. It involves me trying to cover the pain of my grandmother’s death, my mother losing her mind, drug dealers making me pay for my mom’s deals–until I felt like I was going crazy. These were the years I was never sober. I was always on something to help hide the pain. Then finally one day, I saw what I had become and wanted it no more.
I was 24. I was not going to waste my life anymore. I sobered up, I cleaned up my life, and by 26, there was no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking any kind, and very little contact with my mother. I was enrolled in college online for my associate’s degree. I survived a very dangerous 26 years. For a moment, things were good. I had even managed to lose about 200 pounds. Then I would go and make a few bad life decisions, go into a deep depression, a few suicide attempts, and like that, I was back up over 700 pounds.
Then I met my now ex-husband. Have you ever been told that abused or people that have PTSD run right into the arms of the same type of people that have hurt them? Well, that is exactly what I did. He was selfish, controlling, dominant, verbally abusive, abusive in the idea he played with my emotions, which at times, led to physical abuse. I let things like him being a doctor, young, sexy, and us having lots of things in common cloud my judgment on his personality. He knew exactly what to say to win me over. So, after cheating on me, his abusive nature, and two miscarriages in our fourth year of marriage, ‘Finding Evie’ was born. I needed a way out. The beauty aspect is the way I dealt with a lot of my pain and emotions. It may not be for everyone but for some, it is an out. I always say, ‘Be your own beautiful,’ because, to me, this is a statement about who you are, not what you look like. Beauty truly comes from inside. How you act, how you love, how you are. Then it is displayed through your smile, eyes, skin–this is your own beautiful. With the help of finding myself, I found the strength to move forward with my life, even when I was scared.
During year 6 and a half, although it broke my heart to leave my ex’s family that I loved more than life itself, I left and have not looked back. A year and a half later, I am now in an established, stable, happy, loving, trusting relationship and I have found the true meaning of happiness in. Right after I moved, I reached 20,000 followers, and my mind was blown. The reality of the fact that more people follow me on Instagram than people live in my home town hit me that maybe I was destined for more than I ever imagined. I may never have my name in lights or be on the best seller’s list, but I have my little place here on the internet that is all mine.
Since then, the number has risen, and my mind gets blown so often when young girls reach out to me telling me their stories and how something I said touched them and made them feel like they can do something they thought they couldn’t do. When older ladies reach out to me and say they feel so much of what I am saying and how they wish they had the strength to come out with their truth, I talk to them, telling them it isn’t too late. Or the women that are my age, running from their pain, their truths, needing compassion, encouragement, and needing to know it gets better, even when it feels like it never will. This particular wake-up moment is the reason you’re reading my story now.
Here I am, 41 years old, divorced, a survivor of child abuse, sexual harassment, and domestic abuse. I have survived several suicide attempts. I am a non-active alcoholic, former prescription addict, and battled a lifetime of eating disorders, a huge list of health, and mental health issues. I am a PTSD SURVIVOR! If you get nothing else from my story, get this: you don’t have to have some ‘great story’ or some ‘amazing life’ to be a survivor. You can be alive, existing, and doing better than what your abusers did to you. You can live a life without causing others pain, and THIS makes you a survivor.
So, for my words of wisdom–A survivor can be a once upon a time thing, but in my experience, it is a reoccurring event. Like a cancer survivor that has to replay the situation every few years, or a teacher each year going through the first day of school, or a mother each time they send a child off to college–survivors are multi-leveled. Just know that you have a survivor in you, no matter what you have to get through, big or small.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Evie Noor from Massachusetts. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Twitter. You can also follow their journey on their YouTube channel. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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