For so much of my life I’ve been abused and have just taken that as normal. Especially when I hear of others having similar experiences. But that’s the thing. Just because it happens to a bunch of people doesn’t mean it’s normal and doesn’t mean it’s okay, and this has been a fairly recent revelation for me.
For my whole life I just kind of ignored any negative feelings I had about my experiences and now that I have people telling me my experiences are scary or fucked up or abusive, I don’t know how to unpack those feelings.
Since I was like 11-12 I’ve gotten sexual attention on the internet but thought it was my own fault for being on the internet since they tell you it’s full of perverts. It seems like every single male I’ve been close to has made sexual advances or comments which have made me uncomfortable. I still perceive some of these advances to be normal miscommunications and not malicious, but I have felt very used and uncomfortable with my body and sexuality. I’ve had trouble undressing to take showers. I’ve felt dirty for shaving my body hair and dirty for keeping it. It’s felt wrong to even touch my own body in a sexual way. I’ve questioned every sexual encounter I have with another individual because at this point I have trouble figuring out if I actually want that attention or if I just feel like I have no choice in the matter. I get upset if people don’t respect these feelings, but I also get upset if people are sensitive to them, because while I’m aware of all this confusion I have I want to feel normal. I don’t want people to treat me differently but I need it.
Since I was a child I’ve had anxiety attacks but never knew what they were. I’m yelled at for trying to leave situations that cause me anxiety. I can’t remember ever having plans for my ultimate future - no husband, no kids, no house, no job - but I can remember thinking, even at 12 years old, that I didn’t need these plans because I was convinced I would kill myself before I got old enough to accomplish anything. I took these feelings as normal. Now when I say I’m having trouble not cutting and having thoughts of suicide, I get criticized for passing it off like it’s no big deal because I’ve been this way for so long. When my counsellor tells me a year and a half is a long time to be down I’m genuinely surprised. When he tells me a year cut-free is a real accomplishment, I feel nothing.
So I’m not subscribing to any notions of Normal or Not Normal but I think I need to be more aware of what is okay. Am I okay? Is it okay how I’m being treated? I’m tired of people worrying about me and not even understanding why because I’m so engulfed by what I’m going through that I think whatever feeling is familiar is okay, but it’s not. Just because I feel it so much doesn’t make it okay.