Content note: this post discusses abusive relationships and mental health problems
Recently, I have come to understand that I am an easy target for abusers; that there are some thinks about me that make me ripe for victimisation at the hands of some shitty people. Really, it boils down to two things which are kind of about me.
Firstly, I’m an easy person to not believe. I don’t follow the generally-accepted survivor script. I just don’t fit the bill. I’m aware I’m not exactly likeable–obnoxious, rude, loud, petty, spiteful, downright fucking appalling company at my worst–but that’s the tip of the iceberg. I react to trauma in a way which isn’t exactly obvious to a lot of people. I lost the ability to find words. I minimise what happened. I act like I’m fine. It’s how I cope. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to make it a think, I’d rather pretend it was nothing at all. I’m the first to defend my own abusers, because I want to act like it’s no biggie. And also, because of my other issue.
The other thing is, I have a tendency to think the worst of myself. I am riddled with self-doubt and self-hatred pretty much constantly. This makes me very vulnerable to gaslighting. I have found myself thinking I am a perpetrator in some situations, where in fact I have later processed to understand I was the victim. Basically, I think I’m a monster, so it takes very little work to convince me of that. I kind of believe the phrase “psycho bitch” was invented entirely for me. Therefore, anything that happens to me, I think I probably deserved it, or I instigated it somehow and I’m just getting what’s coming. Also, I scare myself. For a very long time, I was scared to even instigate sex, because I thought I would probably be being coercive if I articulated what I wanted. I still sometimes find it difficult to play an active role in sex because a part of me is convinced that what I want is something nobody else would want to share with me.
On an intellectual level I know that none of this is true, that these feelings are all symptomatic of the fact I am a depressive who has been through some shit. I know I’m better than I think I am, and I know I didn’t deserve any of it, and I know it’s just the mental talking. But nonetheless, even with this knowledge, I feel it. And on top of that, I feel guilt that I’m an easy target, that I somehow let this happen to myself, over and over and over again. I think I’m fundamentally broken, that what is “me” is tarnished, and I’ll never do human correctly again. Despite all the evidence, I feel this and it won’t go away. I look at my current relationships–functional, long-term, and happy–and even then I wonder when it will all go wrong.
Last night, I tweeted about all this. Something surprised me: that other people felt this way. I’d never even imagined that, thinking myself singularly fucked-up. So I suppose this post is for all the other easy targets out there, because I can dispense advice far easier than I can take it.
It’s not your fault, it’s theirs.
You’re not the one who’s in the wrong, they are. Your self-critical nature helps you be a better person, but it’s easy to play on.
That’s not your fault, it’s theirs.
You don’t have to speak out, seek accountability, out yourself as a survivor. We lack the nuance to check in, to find out what’s going on with you, to give you the opportunity to speak out.
That’s not you fault, it’s theirs.
You feel guilty, crazy, terrible, unarticulable badfeels.
That’s not your fault, it’s theirs.
Perhaps if we tell ourselves this often enough, it’ll sink in.