Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

The road to recovery that I began when I left my abusive relationship has been nothing short of a surprise. As a clinically psychology major, I should have known better, but it’s always so different when it’s you. It’s one thing to sort someone else’s problems, but staring into your own soul? That sucks. You are blinded by emotions, unable to think rationally.

I thought it would be an easy fix. I didn’t need therapy. Sure, I went to a domestic violence specialist initially, to catch the drips from the wounds that were still bleeding. After a few weeks though, I had eased back into a “normal” lifestyle. I outgrew this therapist quickly, who was able to slap a band-aid on the worst of the trauma, with a casual mention that I probably had PTSD. Not that she wasn’t a courteous professional, but it was crisis intervention, which stops being effective once you’re no longer in crisis.

For several months, my trauma was a silent partner. My husband was the only witness to my frequent panic attacks, which I figured would get better eventually. I was able to swallow anxieties that worked diligently beneath the surface, chipping away at the few shreds of confidence and self-worth I had left. I thought I was getting better, but I was only delaying the inevitable breakdown.

I was surviving purely on stress. I was so used to functioning at high levels of anxiety, that anything else seemed unsafe. It’s actually very common for trauma survivors to refuse help in recovery, because it’s terrifying. The stress is comforting, because it’s familiar. It’s hard to imagine living without it. When in trauma, you develop certain coping mechanisms that are great for survival and not so helpful for every day life. But setting those habits aside is one of the most difficult tasks I’ve had to face.

I’ll always be grateful to my husband for carrying me through the darkest days, and I owe it to my firstborn child for forcing me to deal with my demons. My family deserved better, and after a few months of therapy, I realized that I deserved better too. I was obsessed with being a good mother and a good wife, which was all a diversion from actually focusing on myself and repairing the damage that had been done.

So, trauma, although we’ve been close friends for a while, I don’t need you anymore.

I don’t need to hide from relationships or social gatherings, as if I would expose my disgusting self to the world. I have nothing to hide. There is nothing shameful about who I am or what I went through. I’m not a horrible person that people will hate or judge. I’m deserving of kindness.

I don’t hear you whispering self-doubt into every decision I make. I’m not stupid. I can make good decisions for myself and for my family. And guess what? I’m a damn good mother. I’m not raising what my abuser was already calling worthless, ugly children, before they even existed. I’m raising a beautiful, smart daughter, that is healthy and vibrant.

I don’t need to worry that every argument my husband and I have will result in a failed relationship. I don’t need to beg forgiveness for mistakes I haven’t made, or to appease someone else’s insecurities. I can stand up for myself, and I know that I won’t be knocked down, physically or emotionally. I have worked my ass off to build a wonderful partnership, and I deserve love and respect.

Of course, trauma will always be with me. I’ll carry the memories and the lessons forever, but trauma no longer owns me. I’ll still face challenges and uncertainties, and there will be days when trauma gets the best of me. But overall? I don’t need to lean on the crutches of trauma anymore.

I am safe. I am loved. I can’t prevent every bad circumstance and I won’t always make the right choice. But I am inherently human and there is nothing wrong with that. Will my trauma dictate parenting choices, especially as my kids get older? Definitely. But there is nothing wrong with that either. Because I get the final say. I get the choice as to how my trauma influences my behavior, while still recognizing that it exists.

I’m not at the end of this journey, but I’m happy to say that I’ve made it very far from where I started. I have motherhood to thank for pushing me into what I needed, but my entire self has benefited. I was always a good mom that loved her daughter. The problem was, I couldn’t see it. Now, I see that I’m a good mom, a good wife, and most importantly, a person that can stand alone.