Today I was watching a video about a woman who was strangled to death by an abusive ex-boyfriend. I had to shut it off before the story ended because it triggered so many horrible memories for me. I thought I was okay, but sitting there thinking about that poor woman led to remembering the times when my ex tried to strangle me. Crying and panicked, I fled to the garage so my children would not be frightened. The panic was overwhelming me and as I tried to push the memories back down, they pushed back just as hard.
I remember what it feels like to be strangled — the burning in my chest, the panicked and racing thoughts as I struggled, the pain in my eyes, the buzz in my head that grew more intense the longer I couldn’t breathe. The pain is unimaginable — the fear is something I can’t describe. I wish I could forget, but I don’t think I ever will.
Atticus found me in the garage. He held me as I sobbed. He knows he doesn’t have to say anything, he just rides the wave with me until it subsides. Sometimes that takes a while as one bad memory triggers another. I was standing there with my husband cycling through the memories of all the times I thought I was going to die at the hands of my ex and I told Atticus that when I look back, I really don’t know how I survived. God was intervening and protecting me, but I don’t know how I physically survived some of his attacks. Other women die, but I survived.
Tonight those appalling recollections linger. When my mind cannot readily dismiss negative things, they become more like mind ghosts — they haunt me. The past is not my playground – I don’t choose to visit it anymore, but sometimes the memories surface whether they are welcome or not. They leave me weary, and sometimes feeling fragile.
I’m not who I was — you won’t find a victim living in my skin anymore. Unfortunately, there is no delete button to remove the atrocities of my past, but choosing to dwell in the now with the people I love helps me overcome when those really bad memories occasionally surface.
I continue to be a survivor.