Photo Credit: Aarón Blanco Tejedor, Unsplash.com

Written by Angelic Muhammad
November 8, 2019

Trigger Warning: This article speaks to sexual abuse. 

All of my life I’ve been fighting . . . even while in the womb. When my mom was pregnant with me, the doctor told her there were three true knots in the umbilical cord and either I was going to die or she was. The doctor asked my mom who did she want to live, and my mom said “we’ll both live.” I was born blue on September 23, 1980. God blew life into me; my fight wasn’t in vain, and therefore, my life isn’t either.

Today, we’re both alive. During my mom’s entire pregnancy she was sick, fainted a lot, and was mostly bedridden. Most likely, due to these difficulties, is why I have scoliosis and a learning disorder.

I continued experiencing trauma. As a child, I was sexually assaulted by my cousin and molested by my godsister. During my sophomore year of college, I found out I was pregnant after I slipped on ice as I was on my way to school. Three months into my pregnancy, my son’s father left me. Seven months into my pregnancy is when he decided I was property. The first time he tried to rape me I didn’t know what to think as this was the first time I had ever seen this side of him. I was scared. The first time was an attempt but he succeeded many times thereafter. No one on campus knew what was going on. No one knew the stress and depression I suffered. I never sought help.

The last time he raped me I became pregnant again. I was in grad school, three months pregnant, and working as my baby died in my womb. I had to wait two weeks until it dissolved. I didn’t tell anyone because of the guilt and anger I felt. I blamed myself. I didn’t want people to see me as a victim. I didn’t want others to say it was my fault, even though that’s the way I felt. I didn’t think anyone would believe me–he was an officer of the law.

Silent Symptoms of Trauma

Never receiving counseling, I unknowingly became a “people-pleaser.” I always had to seek the approval of others, especially my mother. I never thought I was good enough. I allowed those thoughts to hinder my growth no matter how much instructional education I had. No matter how many people praised me or said I inspired them, I thought they were wrong because inside, I was dying.

I couldn’t see myself the way others saw me. I was running through life trying to perfect things. I didn’t know how to accept myself as I was unconsciously blaming myself for the things that happened. I didn’t feel good enough and as I grew it became worse. I recall calling my sister all the time saying I wasn’t a good mom. She would sarcastically tell me to cool down and gave me positive feedback but I’d reject it because of my internal feelings.

I didn’t know how to say “No.One of my co-workers said to me, if anyone asks you to do something, just say “NO.” Every morning she would sing to me, “Just say no.” She was able to see I was running myself ragged, but I didn’t because of the lack of self-love.  

Helping others became a crutch–because it was easier.

Boundaries became an issue. What’s funny is, I’m a therapist, and never looked at my actions and realized what I was doing was all stemmed from the trauma I experienced.

The Power of My Voice

My turning point was when I was able to tell my son’s father’s family what he did to me. It was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. No matter how many speeches I’ve given, no matter how many times I’ve told my story, it was never authentic because I was still hiding.

I had my “a-ha” moment: “I don’t have to continue to live in my own turmoil.”

I was able to uncover the root of my pain and the demise of my growth. I started to look at the pieces of my life and mend myself back together, one stitch at a time. In mending myself back together I had to start with my conversation. No matter what happened to me, I deserve better. I had to feel and live those words every day. I now say, “I’m more than enough.”

In my own turmoil while counseling, I realized I was crippling individuals and making them dependent on me to create my purpose to feel needed. I was hindering their individual growth because I didn’t know myself. I was in an unconscious pain because I failed to realize I didn’t want to be vulnerable or be the “victim.” I was a survivor of nothing. I was too busy being strong but truly weak–weak to my own circumstances.

I finally let go and sought counseling. I learned to say NO, set boundaries, and I no longer let people make me feel uncomfortable. No one around me understood my internal trauma because they didn’t understand trauma. Many believe once you’ve experienced a trauma you’re “okay” after a few months. Yet, that isn’t true. I’ve written two books and have degrees in the field, yet I was suffering because of what I didn’t want to face.

My trust for life had been broken many years ago and I carried that burden. I don’t regret my path, as I’ve learned many lessons along the way. I now know what a survivor is and can effectively assist other individuals. 

Ask yourself, is living in your own turmoil worth your life? Seek help with someone who specializes in your situation. 

Trauma is something you experience. You are not your trauma.

Photo Credit: Aarón Blanco Tejedor, Unsplash.com