Emotionally Anonymous: Life & Love After Trauma

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

Suffering can teach you a lot about what it means to be human. It can teach you about the value of life, love, friendship and in not taking things for granted.

I felt alone in this world and maybe, in a lot of ways, I still do. I struggled a lot growing up, which of course, turned me into a depressed and hopeless suicidal. Maybe the correct phrase here is hopeless and beyond saving.

At times, though, even on the good days, I still want to escape my struggles — and I do.

This is why I write. I write as a form of escapism. I write so that I can understand myself with more clarity. I write because it makes me happy…. and if others can relate to what I’m writing about or feel less alone for having read my work, then I’m even happier.

Hope is a unique form of love. We can feel it even when it may feel completely inappropriate, but that’s the beauty about it. It makes us want to fight through the darkness so that we could see the light. Hope isn’t about the now. It’s all about that one day. It’s about feeling hope even though everything seems to be working against us.

As a person in recovery, struggling with PTSD, Depression, Anxiety and an eating disorder, I’m a big fan of therapy. It has taught me the biggest life lesson that I’ve ever learned.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is the one thing that’s optional. ​As hard as it was for me to understand this, it’s something that I had to learn to accept, for my own sanity. You can’t do anything to prevent yourself from getting hurt, but what you can do is change your perception of things.

After remembering my abuse, the unfortunate truth is, I let my anger, self-blame, guilt, shame and sadness consume me; the pain was unbearable. As time went on, I feared that I would become the worst parts of my abuser. So, I started becoming emotionally anonymous. I put on a fake smile when I went to work and I acted like the happiest, nerdiest, weirdest looking guy at the office. Inside? I was dying a little, every day. That pain, though, taught me something.

People aren’t born evil. People become evil because they didn’t have the right sort of upbringing and guidance. At some point, the pain probably became too much for them, so they became the very and only thing they endured. When you’re fighting a battle alone and with yourself, you’ll never win. Not truly. Not unless you allow someone to be there with you — and for me, it’s always been a therapist.

Life, pain, change, circumstances… these things are always temporary and they are a matter of perspective. I often feel like giving up, but there are things that prevent me from doing so. A good therapist, my love of writing, hope, the “what if” questions. If I’d given up during my childhood trauma, then ultimately, I would have never met a great therapist. I would have also never gotten to write this post (or write at all) or meet the people that are currently in my life that matter to me. Is my life filled with pain? Yes. Lots of it, that will probably never fully go away. I come from internal pain and darkness. I still hate myself more than I could ever imagine hating anyone, but that’s the thing about trauma. Even though the physical abuse eventually comes to an end, our mental pain never does. We have to learn to live with it and adapt. It is the scariest part of recovery, for me, to accept that.

I also come from a place of love, though. I want to help people, I’d like to make a difference in the world and I like seeing people smile. The world may be filled with people who seem so far apart, but if we look deeply into the hearts of people around us, we’re very much the same; we’re just living under different circumstances that have shaped us, as humans and we need to accept one another and be there for each other, in spite of our differences.

I quite often run into stigma against mental illness, online or in real life and quite honestly, I don’t get the stigma. It’s why I started writing about my abuse. I learned that the beauty about pain is that you can turn your anguish into art, channeling your suffering into something that touches people’s hearts. Not everyone will perceive your work the same way, but you don’t need everyone’s approval. Art is about processing your pain for you. If someone comes along the way and loves your work, that’s when you know you’re not alone. Life is about having the tenacity and courage to do whatever you need to do, to get to where you need and want to be, even if it seems like a huge mistake. It’s about taking risks, even if the risks you’re taking involves putting everything on the line. Life is never really about facts. It’s about emotion, it’s about the power of will and it’s about belief; whether or not they are rational.

There’s a demon inside all of us and that demon is a master at making us become self-critical and buying into society’s standards. For a lot of my life, I was under the impression that people around me were right. You have to work hard in college, graduate, get a high paying job and make lots of money to be happy. It then hit me. That isn’t happiness, that’s being brainwashed. The true value of a college education isn’t intangible. You know what is? Passion. Talent. The power of will. Being a self-starter. Being a leader. Having hope.

You can choose what you see, hear, think and do. Only in the name of negative thinking and hopelessness do we truly sabotage ourselves and parts of our lives. Change is the only thing that is truly consistent in this world. Change is one of the most important things we have to learn to accept in our life, because there’s no stopping it. There’s only one thing we can do. Accept change and become more powerful than it. We take change by the hand and guide it in the direction we want it to go.

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