Michelle suffered tremendously in relationships due to her lack of self-love hindering her strength to put up boundaries and use her voice.
Insecurities created by my past
We all have a story. Mine includes being bullied in middle school and within my own family transforming me from an outgoing and energetic kid to one filled with anxiety, self-doubt, and fear. Every day for four years of middle school, I was bullied by two kids; a boy and a girl. The girl often got physically abusive. From a young age, I was taught that I wasn't good enough. I was taught to sit pretty and shut up. My opinions, thoughts, and feelings didn't matter. I was taught to fear confrontation because others were stronger than me and could hurt me. I became too scared to stand up for myself knowing I would lose. I was taught that others could do what they wanted despite how it hurt me and I had to accept it. All of these "lessons" later affected my relationships because once someone showed that they loved me, I would become deeply scared to lose them and would do anything to hold onto them, including getting jealous, becoming possessive, and suspecting my partners of betraying me. I became very mentally unhealthy. So when my partners would act in ways that validated those unhealthy reactions, I blamed myself for being crazy. I doubted myself and remained in unhealthy relationships thinking I was the one who had to do better. Yes, my mind was sick and I had a lot of healing to do, but I wasn't always at fault, I was just easier to convince.
Taken over by the monster
When my illnesses get triggered, I lose complete control of my thoughts. A trigger can be something you say, you do, or even don't do. I describe my anxiety as being a voice in my head. This voice criticizes me, convinces me of the worst, creates non-existent scenarios, and makes me believe that everyone is against me. The voice turns the darkness it fills my mind with into something so real that I rage and defend my beliefs despite sometimes being wrong. The voice feeds on my fears, on my false beliefs of myself, on my lack of self-love and lack of confidence. It screams at me until I believe every word it tells me. When this happens, it's like I get possessed by a raging monster who goes into attack mode. I have no more control over my body and mind. I feel like my soul is restrained in the back of my head and I am watching this monster take over me and my life. I'm hearing the words and feeling my lips move but I can't stop the words from coming out. I am watching the monster rip apart the people around me. Sometimes he takes me over for a few hours; others a few days. I can never overpower him. Only when he calms down, I get my body back and by then, I have a huge mess to clean up within my relationships. I am left to pick up the pieces he shattered. I didn't adopt this definition until a few years ago when I had a severe episode and took some time alone to calm down. I realized that I felt like two different people. I felt powerless. I hated who I became.
It's not always my fault
The severe episode got triggered by the fact that my then-boyfriend would have a girl sleeping in his bed while he slept over at my house. His roommate's friend was visiting the house and had nowhere to sleep so he offered her his bed. He had known this girl a while and she had flirted with him in the past clearly showing interest. He saw nothing wrong with the idea of her being in his bed while I didn't deem it appropriate. To me, his bedroom was private. It was his and no girl should be in it, especially not in his bed. From his point of view, he was with me, sleeping in my bed and I shouldn't be bothered by it. He struggled with his emotional side and wasn't very good at communicating with me about my anxiety and insecurities. He would always dismiss my feelings and tell me to get over whatever situation I was insecure about because I was overreacting. This always worsened my triggers and therefore my reactions. In the end, I felt like he was being insensitive to my feelings, didn't prioritize our relationship, and was choosing her comfort over my sanity. While this situation may have you siding with him, you have to keep in mind that he had tendencies to roam around dating sites to "make friends", he would tell me. He would stay up until the morning hours chatting with girls saying he couldn't sleep and they had messaged first. He had a tendency to be a joker with an immense dirty mind which could come across as flirting to other girls. All of these things, I was supposed to accept because I should trust him. That girl sleeping in his bed was the end of my rope. I was already suppressing so many triggers because I was expected to give him freedom within the relationship that it took just one more thing for the monster to take over. And then, he would tell me that I needed to calm down; to get over it; to deal with my problems; to stop being insecure; to stop being jealous. I would believe him. I would take on the blame, take on the responsibility, and truly believe that I was being out of line. My mind was sick therefore I would believe him when he'd say that my mind was out of control. Even in the events of having proof, boyfriends would still succeed at making me second-guess myself. Then I would hate on myself, ask myself why I was being so out of control, why I was a monster, and would spin in circles trying to change always slipping up, again and again, hating myself. I felt worse when I failed. But it wasn't always my fault. I was fighting a fight I was set up to lose.
Love is supposed to heal
I never denied that I had illnesses to heal. I knew I was in the wrong many times. I was jealous, possessive, unfair, manipulative, and became very attached to people. Space in a relationship was extremely hard for me to give since I struggled to trust. I've been abusive and can own up to that. But a lot of the time, I feel like my anxiety was trying to warn me. When I would confront the other, they pushed me away, mocked, dismissed, and blamed me. Many times, others would use my illnesses against me convincing me that I was creating the monster within, not them.
If you are a mental illness warrior, know this; Love heals. It doesn't make you feel like a monster. It reassures you; listens to you; compromises with you; finds solutions with you; communicates with you; tries to understand you.
Love doesn't take your illnesses and use them to control you <3
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Michelle Brady