A Letter to My Childhood Self

Dear 11-year-old Ghadeer,

You have been through so much trauma that you actively block out. You tell yourself if you don’t think about it, you won’t feel anything towards it. You were a child but you were so afraid to have emotions. You were a child but you weren’t allowed to be one. You weren’t allowed to listen to kids radio stations, you barely could watch kids channels. You were exposed to adult TV and music way too young. I don’t know how you learned about sex but I suspect it was through abuse.

You felt guilty for existing. You fantasized about bleaching your skin color because you thought only white people could have loving families. The truth was that you grew up in a predominantly white suburb, and that’s why you knew so many white people with loving families. Your friends were allowed to be kids and had supportive parents and siblings. It had nothing to do with your color or their color, baby girl. I know that you couldn’t put the blame on your family, so you found a way to blame yourself.

Your mother telling you that whiter children are cuter hurt you. Your mother telling you to marry someone with blue eyes and blond hair hurt you because you know she only cared how your children would look. You grow up to have a beautiful daughter who is half Mexican and she has gorgeous olive toned skin, just like you. She has dark brown eyes and dark brown hair and she is absolutely perfect in every way.

You were physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused growing up but your parents invalidated you by saying that it was just siblings playing. Your brothers were just being boys. You felt so much pressure to be a girly girl because that’s how you were taught girls should be.

You were so young and you felt so ugly. You had a lot of things you wanted to change about yourself. You grew up thinking as long as you have someone who loved you unconditionally and passionately, you would be fine. The truth is that you needed that from your family so that you could learn to do it on your own. Your parents told your brothers they would grow up to do big things. Your parents told you that you will grow up to get married.

You saw so much so young. You needed to process things that you had no idea how to process. You were a child. Children can’t process those huge things. You needed your family to help you but you didn’t have that. You were raised by narcissists and they made you feel like your feelings didn’t matter, but they did matter.

I am here now. I know you are living inside me and you are still hurting. I am here and I am going to hug you every day and remind you that you are loved and you are perfect and that your existence is a blessing, not a burden. Your appearance isn’t the only thing you have to offer the world. You are funny and sweet. You were a little obnoxious but that was because you were searching for the attention you didn’t receive at home. I forgive you for that. Your true self loves making people laugh and smile. Your true self has a heart of gold. Your true self gives people too many chances and ends up hurt but does it over and over, just to make the lives of others easier.

Baby girl, you’ve been through so much. There was so much trauma and emotional neglect, so much bullying, so many mean people at school and at home, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse, and so much more that lots of people never have to experience in their whole life. You keep a lot of it to yourself because you don’t want anyone to look at you differently. You have no idea the magnitude of how bad the issues you have are. You are raising yourself. A child should never have to raise a child.

I don’t even remember a lot of what you went through because your innocent child heart couldn’t bear the thought of it all. You simply trained yourself not to think about the horrible things and now they are gone from my brain. That’s okay. I know you are protecting me from a lot of information that I’m not yet equipped to handle.

I want you to know that I love you. You were always so fiery and energetic and everyone tried to put out your flames any chance they could. I’m so sorry that you didn’t get the chance to meet anyone who understood you truly. I’m sorry that you grew up alone because your family was never there for you and because you struggled to maintain friendships through all of the moving and mental health issues. I’m here for you now. It’s okay to be so energetic, you were just a child. You get better every day and you are learning to love yourself.

Thank you for surviving until adulthood, I know it was so hard. You can heal now. We are gonna do great together.

What it’s like dating when you have PTSD

In my last blog post, I explained that I left an unhealthy relationship and now I’m single.

I’ve never experienced feeling truly loved unconditionally. My family never loved me. They said they did and I believed them for a very long time. Recently, my mother (who is cut off) found out that I left my ex and she said she felt bad for him and that I should go back to him. When she found out he cheated on me, she said that it was my fault he cheated. My mother also told me she would pray for me to get cancer and that she’d tell everyone who asked I died because I introduced my ex to her and she wasn’t a fan of his race.

My father would tell me he loved me all the time but he manipulated me over and over. He has been on and off drugs and in and out of prison my entire life. He wants me to fit into the mold he has in his head of what his daughter should be. He wants me to be a good little girl and live at home because god forbid a woman lives on her own. I left my husband and they want me to live with them. Although I’m 23 and I have a toddler, they will certainly control me. They will want to know where I’m going and they will want me home at a certain time. They won’t let me spend the night anywhere except at home and lord knows they’d never, ever let me date. I need to be on my own.

I need to get to know myself. And I am getting to know myself. I realized that I’m actually a very friendly person, behind my fear of people. At my new job, I’ve been having no issues getting along with anyone and making connections here and there. I also realized that I’m funny and I love to laugh. I get along best with people who I can joke with all the time, even during bad times. I like dark humor. I’m also extremely insecure.

Because of my past traumas, I get attached to anyone who makes me feel loved, even if it’s just for a night. After leaving my ex, I’ve been on dating apps, looking for hook ups because that high I get while I’m wrapped up in someone else, completely vulnerable, is addicting. I fell hard for the first person I slept with after my ex (who took my virginity and was the only one until we broke up). This guy said all the right things, he was sweet and he knew exactly what to do. I honestly should have known how it’d end up. He seemed too perfect. Of course, it was all a lie. He continued to use me afterwards and I wanted him so badly I would’ve done anything for him. He’d ignore me all day long until he needed something but seeing his name pop up on my screen gave me a hit of sweet dopamine, which is undeniably the best “drug” on planet earth.

Fortunately, through my hook ups and me getting to know myself, I realized the toll the relationship was taking on me. He came along at a horrible time in my life. It was probably the day I got out of the psych ward when he first messaged me and we got to talking. He was really great in the beginning. That’s why I got so attached. Having someone hold my face in their hands, smile at me with so much love in their eyes and tell me that they can’t believe I’m real and that I’m so perfect really got to me. My ex never did anything like that. I was always, and still am, very affectionate and touchy-feely with the person I like. Once upon a time, back when I liked my ex, I was like that with him too but he was always cold to me. He didn’t like affection or physical touch and made me feel like I was bothering him. Eventually, I lost interest. Ironically, the tables turned and towards the end he tried to rekindle things by being affectionate and touchy-feely. By that point, I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t want his affection and I didn’t want him close to me. For a long time, I thought I didn’t like to cuddle while I slept but I learned that was wrong when I fell asleep wrapped up in the first guy I slept with after my ex.

Because I’ve never felt warmth and love, I’ve never had someone who wanted to hold me and kiss me all the time and tell me sweet things, I crave it. When I feel that from someone, I become very attached very quickly and I’ll do anything to get that feeling again. I’ll show up at the house of a guy I’ve never met in person before to feel love for the night. When I do that, I don’t consider my own safety. I don’t even let anyone know where I’m going. But I didn’t have any scary situations until a few days ago.

I deleted the dating apps. What I need now is to have boundaries. I can’t give all of myself to someone who hasn’t earned it. I need consistency. I don’t want someone who talks to me only when they feel like it and ignore me for days on end. My friends’ and family’s love is conditional. If I don’t meet their expectations, I’m not worthy of love. If I make too many mistakes in my own life, they will cut me off. If I head down a similar path I went down, everyone will tell me it’s all my fault, like everyone did before. I was forced into a sexual act on a bumble date and everyone told me it was my fault, that I should’ve done this or that. The reality was that I was in a neighborhood I didn’t know in a place full of his friends. But it was my fault that he forced me to give him head until I puked, and then continued to shove my face into my own puke. I should’ve acted the way everyone else would’ve or else it’s all my fault. I should’ve listened to everyone who told me my ex would break my heart, or that the last guy I fell for after him was shady. That’s what they’ll say and I know that because that’s what they have said.

My therapist and I had a talk about my craving to be loved. The craving I have for unconditional love is something I can provide for myself. I can love myself unconditionally. I can give myself a hug, as silly as it might feel. I can give myself the compliments and reassuring words that I need to hear. I can give myself consistent love. I can even satisfy my own sexual needs. I need to learn this because otherwise I won’t ever be able to experience a healthy, loving relationship.

If I don’t learn to love myself, I will always choose the person who does show me love and affection over myself. Even if that love and affection comes with abuse. That’s what I’m used to. Growing up, “I love you” always came at a price. It always felt weird to say I love you to my parents or my siblings. “I love you” was a phrase that was hard for me to learn how to say truthfully. But now it’s something I say all the time because I want the people that I love to know that I love them. Even with my ex, I told him I loved him several times a day. Despite the fact that he said it back, he didn’t show it. And now I have a hard time trusting “I love you”s. It’s hard for me to trust words so I rely on actions and then when there isn’t much action, I panic.

I need to set boundaries. I need to slowly learn to love another person and not attach myself to them at the first sign of warmth. I need to learn how to give myself the unconditional love I crave so badly. I need to be able to recognize that sometimes people who are using, abusing, or manipulating me can show me affection and warmth and that shouldn’t be worth more than my own sanity.

That’s what people mean by “love yourself first”. It doesn’t mean that you are narcissistic or that you are having a good time. It means that even when things are bad, you choose to fill your own cup before you sacrifice pieces of yourself for others. Connections and socializing and love and relationships are incredible and necessary for the social creatures that humans are, but you’re worth too much to give chunks of yourself to people who don’t deserve it.

My life is either falling apart or coming together

A lot has happened to me in the past couple weeks. Quarantine has been immeasurably difficult. I have been living with and coparenting with my ex husband, the father of my daughter. He continued to emotionally abuse and manipulate me. Us being home together all the time gave me no reprieve from him.

Here’s the thing. While I’m working so hard to work through my traumas and to learn ways to manage my depression and anxiety, it’s really hard to make progress stuck in a situation where I feel small when I go home. I described trauma work like being dragged across cement and at the end you feel stripped bare of your skin, feeling completely raw. That means you’re beginning to process things. Trauma work isn’t easy or comfortable. I’ve been going through that regularly with my therapist and in group but I come home to an unhealthy environment and it isn’t helping me get better. I’ve made a lot of progress. I can recognize when I’m in a crisis and I can evaluate what I need in the situation. But sometimes I can’t connect the dots. For example, I had a mental breakdown because I wanted to wax and I heated it up too much so it was too hot and it took too long to cool down. The truth behind that is that I wasn’t upset about the wax. I was upset about something my ex had said to me earlier that day.

I came to the conclusion that I needed to leave him. I couldn’t wait any longer, I needed to get out of that situation. I moved out of state to stay with my best friend until I can get on my feet. I had to leave my daughter back home with him, which was quite possibly the hardest part. Outside the airport, I hugged and kissed her and she cried when I put her back in her car seat. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I stood outside the car door window and she looked at me, pouting with tears in her eyes. It was heartbreaking. On the way to the airport, my ex was giving me a speech about how much he “loves” me. He also ended it by letting me know that he had cheated on me (for the second time) just a couple months ago. When that happened, it was right before I went in to inpatient because I was working so much, paying most of the bills, taking care of our daughter more than he did, while also juggling school. He would give me crap about dishes in the sink or my daughters snacks strewn all over the floor. He would tell me I wasn’t taking good care of her because I can watch her and look at my phone at the same time. I wasn’t allowed to have my own personality. All I was to him was basically a robot there to meet all his needs and disregarding my own.

That landed me in the hospital. I slowly started to realize, through all of the therapy and groups and medications, that I was being abused. I’d convinced myself it was normal. It’s a running joke that everyone hates their husbands, right? Everyone gets stressed out at the thought of him coming home from work? Everyone has panic attacks at the thought of him having a day off? Well, I was wrong. Being irritated at your husband for leaving stinky socks on the ground is not the same thing as being treated like an object.

So while I was going through a very, very difficult time in my life, he was having sex with his coworker in his car at two in the morning to celebrate her birthday. That’s cute, huh? I was basically living my life just to make him happy and he still went behind my back and betrayed me. He never was interested in me for who I am. He just wanted someone to help him with everything.

I left my daughter with him until I get on my feet because I want her to be in a stable environment, not sleeping on the couch at a friend’s place. It was very, very hard to make that decision and I miss her more than I’ve ever missed anyone in the world. After dropping that bomb on me, he made sure to call my toxic, abusive family and let them know I’d be in town. They know exactly where I am. They know who I’d stay with when I needed a place to stay. And they are possessive and narcissistic and believe I should be a good little girl and stay with them, where they know I won’t be able to “embarrass the family”. They also would love to get their grimy claws on my toddler so they can wrap her up in their toxicity and fill her up with the same traumas I grew up in. Not on my watch. My daughter is far too precious to me to leave her with them.

Last night, I was just so drained and heartbroken. I’d left my daughter, my cat, the man I spent four years with. I came to this place, so close to my toxic family. I was afraid to vent to my best friend because I convinced myself she had enough problems of her own and I didn’t want to burden her. I couldn’t control my crying and I told her that I was thinking about going to the hospital. I wanted to cook for her family as a thank you for letting me stay with them. While I made dinner, I talked to her and was honest with her. For the rest of the night, I didn’t want to be alone so I asked her to even sit in the bathroom with me while I took a shower because I was afraid to spiral on my own. That night, I felt that I need to disconnect and focus on myself. I disconnected from social media (though I’ll likely share this just to let everyone know what’s going on).

I need to prioritize getting myself together and getting on my feet. I don’t want outside influences, such as my ex and his friends or my family, to remind me of the past when I want to live in the present. I’m tired of being in a constant disassociative state where I feel like I’m not really experiencing my life, I’m watching someone else do it for me. I want to be stronger and healthier, for myself and for my daughter. I don’t want to instill in her the same traumas I had growing up with mentally unhealthy people who refused to acknowledge there was an issue. I want her to grow up with a mentally healthy mother who can teach her how to be mentally healthy herself. It seems like the bare minimum, but in this day and age it can require more effort than anything else.

So I may or may not vanish for a bit. Not like I have loyal followers on this blog I started earlier this month. Just thought I’d update. Thanks for reading.

Welcome to my blog!

I’m Ghadeer and this is my first official blog post. I’m someone who loves writing and has been doing it since I was a child, so I’d love to be successful in this endeavor.

Motherhood has been a huge change for me, as it is for all first time moms. Going from no children to one child is your life flipping completely upside down. I’m someone who has struggled a lot with mental health issues. Me being a first time mom, married to someone who was mentally and emotionally abusive, and spreading myself way too thin, things ended up coming to a head.

I fell into a deep depressive state but I put on a nice little show for everyone so no one knew but me. At work, they just thought I was lazy. At home, I forced myself to give my daughter what she needs and do what I could around the house. It was never enough for my husband. All that and going to school part time took it’s toll and I ended up in the hospital. I was admitted in-patient to a psych ward. I was lucky and ended up in a good hospital. Minnesota apparently has the best mental health facilities in the USA.

I wasn’t going to work, I wasn’t doing schoolwork, and I wasn’t responsible for meeting my daughter’s needs. My husband came around every day during visiting hours and only told me how hard it was on him for me to be in the hospital. As if it was all my fault. As if I should have just sucked it up and moved on.

Being in that place, I realized how bad he was for me. I wanted to repair it, though. I wanted to change his mind. When I was discharged, I went through two partial hospitalization programs. The first one was a regular one out of the same hospital. I was the only new mom in the group. Everyone else either didn’t have kids or their kids were already grown up. The second one was a lovely mother-baby program. My daughter was too old to bring into the group (<12 months), but I was surrounded by new moms. That was where the real healing happened for me.

I decided to end my relationship with my husband. I needed, and still need, to work on myself. I’m doing a lot of trauma work currently. I wanted to start this blog to talk about mental health and parenting. Being a person who struggles with their own emotions can cause you to struggle with your child’s emotions, which will create a cycle. Let’s break the cycle together.