Sunday, September 28, 2008

I am a Survivor

This past Friday was a very emotional day for me, and I am not just talking about my reaction to the US government’s $700 billion bailout. *insert shrieks of terror here* There were two incredible posts on this day from Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers and from Christine at the Happily Ever After blog that brought major tears to my eyes. The Book Smugglers had this wonderful interview with Lisa Kleypas posted. Lisa visited and was so incredibly gracious to respond to our comments, especially mine. For me this was a dream come true because she is one of my idols. Christine posted her thoughts about Lisa’s book, Blue Eyed Devil, and her reaction after reading the book. Her post was such an inspirational and passionate telling of about her own past and why the book affected her so.

Blue Eyed Devil is such a book, that after you read, you have such a visceral reaction to it. I was one of those readers, who after I finished reading, sat there as I could only stare off into space because Lisa had touched upon a very uncomfortable topic for me, which is abuse. And because of Ana, Thea, Christine and of course Lisa Kleypas, I have found myself to be brave enough to talk about my experience with abuse here. I was once a victim of abuse myself, much like the heroine Haven was. Not only does Blue Eyed Devil touch upon spousal abuse, but other forms not too many people may be aware of. There is emotional and mental abuse and of course manipulation. The abuser holds all the power because their victim becomes a shell, a person without individuality. The abuser has gone deep down in their victim’s psyche and ripped out their soul. I was once this type of victim.

I was never in a relationship where I was physically abused, but for ten years I was under the control of my abuser who used manipulation and emotional attacks to bring me to my knees. This person was my so-called best friend, who I had known since I was five years old. Our relationship spanned a decade from age nine to about nineteen. If it weren’t for me going off to college and finding a great support of people there, this person may still be in my life and I would be dead. I would be the walking dead and would still be that shell of a person who needed gratification from the one person who wanted to take it all away.

During this time I was friends with this person, her goal was to become the only thing that matter in my life. She tried to make me alienate myself from my family and others who cared for my well being. She would put these seeds of doubt in my mind, saying that she only cared because I was so strange and weird, that only she understood me. At the same time she would say how lucky I was to be her best friend. And she never failed to mention on almost a daily basis how stupid, fat, ugly, how no one cares if I lived or die, I was. She even gave me a nickname. She would call my her chunky chicken and would call me this in front of others. If I ever tried to stand up for myself, she would have others attack me or she would go on the attack in ways where I would almost be crawling back to her for forgiveness. This was a never ending cycle between us. I allowed her to have all the power over me. If she said to do something I would rush to do it. I agreed with everything she said and made sure I kept quiet because if I said something she thought was wrong, she would say in a scathing way how she felt.

Why I didn’t just walk away from this person? How did she have such power over me? The reason is because I had very low self esteem. I never felt I belonged anywhere and that even included in my own family. And because of this, a person comes along who seems to accept you, and you take any little crumb they throw your way. You latch on, allowing them to treat you the way they see fit. I let her take ownership of my soul. I basically handed it to her on a silver platter.

But I became a bit manipulative on my part, which helped damage myself, rather than hurt her. I thought if I became an ugly person on the outside, she would drop me. I began to gain weight, a lot of weight. I made myself so unattractive hoping she wouldn’t want to be seen with me. Well, that backfired because she was a very attractive girl and by her having this dumpy girl with her, made her look better. I had become a person I no longer recognized. I would look in the mirror and see a person who was a stranger to me. Instead, I stopped looking in the mirror all together. Not until a few years ago would I begin to look at myself in the mirror again. I had become someone who would keep her head down and not look anyone in the eye. I became silent, afraid to talk to anyone unless they decided to talk to me in return. I would sit by myself in my room and cry almost every night thinking of ways to escape this situation I have placed myself in. And it is pretty scary at the age of thirteen to think of suicide when a girl’s thoughts should be of happy things such as boys, bubblegum and makeup. They only thing that stopped me from harming myself was the thought of eternal damnation, because I am Catholic and killing yourself is the worst possible crime in my religion. Also my mother became a great source of inspiration to me. She helped me realize that I matter and no one has the right to decide who I am and where I belong.

Even though I knew my mother was right, I still stayed with this person for many more years. Not until I graduated from high school and would go off to college, would I break free from the chains she placed around me. I can’t say what made me finally decide to break away. I think it had to do with me coming to the conclusion that my abuser also had low self esteem who felt she was unworthy. Everything I saw in myself, I began to see in her. She slowly began to break down before my eyes. Her manipulations had become pathetic attempts, and finally I decided I would no longer allow her to control me. I became stronger and finally after ten years I was able to walk away. Also around this time I had found a great group of people who accepted me for who I was, one. My very first day of college, I met my closest and dearest friend. She changed my life in so many ways. She is the one, other than my family, who has known me the longest and to this day we are still very close. Funny how one person can make you feel so horrible, while another can raise you up and make you feel important.

Finally, I was able to look back at myself in the mirror. I began to do such simple tasks such as brushing my hair and putting on my makeup. I finally realized that I was beautiful and special, and no one would tell me otherwise ever again. I began to smile at myself in that mirror, hold my head up high and look people in the eye.

Now everyday I make it a part of my daily routine to take a minute to look at myself in some sort of mirror and smile because, I was able to survive .

I am a survivor.

<span class=


Maria Lokken said...

Wow Katie - thanks for sharing your story. You are a survivor - and it's a damn good thing!

It's remarkable how many people can be in a 'mentally abusive' relationship and not even be aware of it. Well done for having the fortitude to get out and move up.

Jill D. said...

Katie, You have come so far. I am so sorry for what this person put you through, but look how strong you are now. You are an inspiration to me and to others. Thank you for this very moving post.

Carolyn Jean said...

What a story, KB! Thanks for this generous post! I agree with Jill, knowing you now as such a strong and vibrant woman, it only shows how far you've come.

Abuse comes in so many forms. I'm so sorry you had to go through that!

little alys said...

I swear, the four of you are going to finish me off and I'll collapse from dehydration due to constant weeping.
You are such a wonderful, strong and beautiful person and I am so happy for you to have survived such a long and horrid experience. I'm sorry you had to go through it, and am so glad you're alive too or else I'd be so sad and lonely now. *pout*
Thank you for sharing.

Ana said...

OK. I know I am supposed to be crying right now and I am sure I will get to it at some point. (how could I not? you are awesome).

Right now though, I totally want to pick up a fight and punch the chick!

Thanks for sharing Katie, I know how hard it must have been to click on the "publish" button.

A big hug and lots of kisses.

JenB said...

*big hugs*

Lhuke and I love you very much. :)

Brie said...

Thanks for sharing a piece of you, Katie. ((hugs))

Patty said...

Katie, your story is an important one for people to hear. It is also cathartic for you to tell it and VERY brave to put it out there for everyone to see.

I've read most of Lisa's historicals, but I haven't read Blue-eyed Devil yet. Like Haven, I was a woman married to a man with a mental illness who was emotionally and verbally abusive. Our marriage lasted 3 years. I left with scars, but fortunately, I found the strength to leave before I had become too mired in feelings of self-loathing and depression.

I re-married a wonderful man and we just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. I laughingly tell him his hobby seems to be spoiling me and our daughter- kind of like one of Lisa's heroes! There are happy endings!

Aymless said...

(((HUGS))) Me luuurve Katie!

(((HUGS))) for everyone since everyone should gets a least one hug a day.

Now have to go find some kleenex.

Christine said...

Oh, Kate. I'm glad that I was able to inspire you to make this post today. I agree with Patty in that sharing your story like this is cathartic. Reading Blue Eyed Devil was cathartic like that for me, as was making my post on Friday.

In your post, you asked Why didn't I just walk away from this person?

I think part of that is because, as Lisa Kleypas stated in the comments at the Book Smugglers blog on Friday, persons with narcissistic personality disorder create a mental prison for their victims, which is built up slowly over time practically unbeknownst to the victim until the damage of the abuse is so far gone.

You are indeed a survivor and by posting your story, you may just be helping someone else who hasn't yet found their courage to stand up and stop abuse directed toward them. I'm so proud of you for finally getting out of the abusive relationship you were in. Thank you for sharing.

Love you!

orannia said...


I think you're amazing katie - not only to survive what you went through but to overcome it, and to realise (and accept) your inner and outer beauty.

When you're young and still discovering who you are (and yes, it's an ongoing journey :), a lot of how you see yourself is by how others see and treat you. They are your mirror since you're still understanding the concept of 'self'. And to have someone warp how you view yourself on a basic beyond cruel. And what makes it worse is that you crave their acceptance, the time they deign to spend with you, but you never realise that it's just crumbs and it will never fill the emptiness...

Reading BED has let me identify what is wrong with me....with my childhood. It's scary how patterns can be so easily repeated, even as an adult, how we can let people bully and manipulate us. I just hope that I can face my journey as bravely as you and Christine and others have done.


Sarai said...

Thank you for sharing this story of hope with me. For the last 9 years I was in a similar situation with my ex and I have to say seeing how well you are now gives me hope that one day I can be like you and come out on top.
Thank you again for sharing with us and I am very happy that you are a survivor

Katiebabs said...

I had hoped my story would allow others to share theirs because no one should be ashamed. But what I went though has made the person I am today and honestly, I wouldn't change anything because I wouldn't be who I am now :D

Bridget Locke said...

Wow...just wow. Cheers to you my friend for being strong enough, not only to tell your story, but to have survived it as well.

I suffered from verbal and physical abuse as well from kids I went to school with. I was tall and smart and different and school was literal hell for me. I would go to school every day sick to my stomach knowing what I faced every day. I still think about it and shudder.

And that you had the strength, not only to get out of that relationship, but to move on is awesome. So, cheers to you! :)

Ciara said...

*HUGS* You are so brave and so very strong to live through that and be the courageous, compassionate, witty woman you are today. Thank you for sharing your story!

Leslie said...

Katie, just the fact that you posted this shows how far you have come from that young, abused girl. (((HUGS)))

Stacy~ said...

Wow Kate, it takes a brave person to share their experience with so many people. You should be so proud of yourself for reaching out to help others and for surviving such a relationship. It's true that there are many different types of abuse and many different ways it happens, just just in a marriage. What you went through is no less valid.

For what it's worth, it's definitely made you a stronger person, and look at you now. You have so many people who care about you and are proud when you shine. And you do, like a beacon. Thank you for being the wonderful person you are :)

Kristie (J) said...

I think we often have toxic people in our lives that suck the life out of us and sad and hard as it can be, it must be done.
Sounds like your 'person' was worse than most. It's good you got out of it and went on to be the 'real' you!

C2 said...

I'm late but big hugs to you! People like that are hard to get away from. *shudder*

(((KB))) <---from me and Mhiller and Bhubba, too

Marg said...

Thanks for posting your story Katie. I do really connect with your story. I too put on weight to stop my abuser but the difference is that I have never managed to get it off again.

It is astonighing that so many people that I know in my life have suffered from abuse of one sort or another, or in some cases, like my own, more than one type.

Congrats to you for being able to fight your way to a better life.

Anna said...

I just discovered your blog recently. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. It was very touching. You are a very strong person, never forget that!