It is 3:00pm and I’m in my pajamas eating a dark chocolate orange and enjoying the silence of Jon’s apartment, aside from the steadily clicking keys on my computer keyboard.
I’m suddenly overwhelmed with this immense feeling of intense gratitude and contentment.
Guys, life has been crazy lately.
A few weeks ago I received news that a family member that sexually abused me when I was younger, sexually abused another child. That same week I had just started a new job and was trying to balance it with my other two jobs, stressing about affording Christmas, and noticing that some of my Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia symptoms were increasing.
Fast forward a week and my great-uncle passed away. My mother and grandfather had surgery on the same day (they’re both fine and recovering well). And, I’m still struggling to cope with the news about my abuser. My abuser contacted me while intoxicated towards the middle of the week and I didn’t really experience the full effects of speaking with him until the next day when I seemingly couldn’t stop crying and ended up skipping all of my classes for the remainder of the week.
I sat down and thought about writing a blog post about the reality of dealing with psychological symptoms that follow sexual assault, but I didn’t.
Instead, I sat down and I talked to my significant other.
Jon has been so understanding through everything. He has always been careful and kind and forgiving no matter the circumstances when I am going through something difficult. Over the summer, coming to terms with a new and scary chronic illness challenged our relationship in a multitude of ways. All of a sudden I was this terrified little girl that couldn’t leave her house for a meal or an adventure. We definitely struggled with communication, but ultimately, he helped me move past my anxieties about my symptoms and before I knew it, we were picnicking in the park on Sunday mornings and visiting the zoo on rainy afternoons.
I think the hardest part about confiding in anyone, especially those you’re close to and whose opinions matter most to you, is the idea that you could be rejected or misunderstood. That’s what stopped me from talking to him about how strongly the assault affected me, because I didn’t feel like my emotions or thoughts were valid. But, they are. For those of you that are going through similar things or have been there, know that what you are experiencing is real and valid and that you will recover and persevere.
For me, talking to him really helped, even though it took such a long time to work up the courage to. But, I’m so thankful I finally I did.
Yesterday was our two year anniversary. I have a stomach virus or something, not entirely sure, but we had to postpone celebrating until later this week. Last night wasn’t the most amazing night of our lives. We got into a disagreement about something trivial and I had to eat rice for dinner because my stomach is so finicky, and anyways, the night ended with one or both of us crying into the shirt of the other.
There’s something so beautiful and raw in expressing pent-up emotions, to just lay it all out on the table to be dealt with and to be understood.
This morning we woke up, he kissed me gently before he went to work, and he surprised me with Chic-Fil-A for lunch. I climbed back in his bed to study for finals, and to type this blog post in absolute appreciation for our relationship, for him, and for this life.
Our relationship isn’t perfect. We both have our faults, as humans, and we both have our faults, as lovers. It’s natural to have a push and pull in every relationship. However, it’s not so natural for the push to become a shove and the pull to become a tear (always remember that). I’m thankful that we’re able to communicate and find new ways to surprise each other. I’m thankful that we’re still in love after two years together. And, I’m hopeful that we’ll be in love and living in happiness for much, much longer.
There are a lot of things that I’m uncertain about in my future. I’m graduating college in about five months. I’m not sure where I’ll go to get my Master’s degree, where exactly I’ll be living, or how I’ll be making ends meet. But, I know that I’m capable and I’m excited to see what happens next, preferably with him by my side.
Earlier today an older gentleman holding a vase of red and white flowers knocked on the door to Jon’s apartment. The note read “no message,” and I couldn’t help but smile and chuckle at the endearing gesture after calling him and hearing that he’d left a message after all.
“Happy Anniversary, I love you.”
It’s the little things.
After a few weeks of dredging through emotional sludge, I’m feeling more mentally grounded than I have in quite some time.
I’ve been focusing on mindfulness and it’s really getting me somewhere.
When I start to feel anxious or out of control, I tell myself to stop and breath. I take in my situation, my surroundings, and realize that I’m not out of control at all.
It’s this mindfulness that’s getting me through finals week, and bringing me into Christmas break.
It’s this mindfulness that’s allowing me to express gratitude even in uncomfortable situations like disagreements, fighting this stomach bug, and knowing that my abuser is still out there.
It isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a start to feeling better and doing better.
I think, considering, I’m doing just fine.
A reminder: Be gentle, kind, compassionate, and caring to yourself and those around you this week and every week. College kids, be strong and determined as you conquer your finals and know that academic stress is temporary. I love you all, and I want you all to succeed.