I spent most of my early adulthood, and a good chunk of my 20s, living in fear.
I wasn’t afraid of anyone hurting me physically — the adults that had abused me as a child no longer had that power over me.
The remnants of the mental, physical and sexual abuse left these deep pits of despair and panic that could be triggered in any number of ways. Certain songs. Specific smells. A turn of phrase. Specific holidays. All could trigger something inside of me that felt uncontrollable and would lead to me behaving irrationally, causing myself harm, binge eating, or just curled up in such a state of panic that I couldn’t move.
I’ve recently noticed how I’ve changed and how little I’m triggered. I wish I could say that I was never triggered, but I don’t think that’s realistic. What I am proud of is that even when those things do happen, I’m able to deal with them in healthy ways most of the time.
I was recently thinking about something my step-dad did while we were growing up, and it was a normal “step-dad” thing, not one of the “evil monster” things, and I realized that’s where I’ve grown the most. It was possible for me to think of that memory of my childhood and actually enjoy it. I’m grateful for that.