Losing Yourself in the Fog of Abuse — by Joan
[August 30, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Joan, one of our readers, submitted the following comments on how abuse works to erode one’s personhood. Many of you will identify with her description.
Someone once asked what it felt like to lose yourself. They said: “Can someone please elaborate on what they think that means and how it feels? Once you lose yourself / your spirit can you ever get it back? Maybe after you leave you find yourself again? I think I’ve lost some of what I once was.”
This was my (Joan’s) response:
You lose interest in doing what you once enjoyed, and then start to forget what that even was….
You feel you are possibly / probably unlovable, deficient and unworthy of being loved.
You experience painful things that you would have once tried to fight against, but no longer have the will or energy to do so, and instead you desensitize, disconnect and adapt to it.
You compartmentalize much of your life and start to hide many compartments, meaning that you must isolate yourself and limit even your friendships to keep it hidden.
You no longer go to sleep looking forward to the next day, and you wake up wanting to just “get through the day”.
You start to forget that you had dreams and goals because if you dare to remember, it will hurt.
Every time you start to feel “happy”, you immediately feel anxiety because you are wondering when the rug will be pulled out from underneath you.
You feel trapped and you don’t “see” your choices.
You wonder what is wrong with you.
You wonder if you are capable of being in a happy and healthy relationship.
You feel you aren’t worth that kind of relationship, and you might as well make the best of it (often for the kids).
You feel unable to make it on your own and you doubt yourself where you once had confidence.
You don’t like looking in the mirror because you see a tired, depressed and defeated person that you don’t recognize looking back at you.
You think if you just try harder, love deeper and stronger and behave better that it will all get fixed and better.
It fails and you feel you are a failure.
Something has gone horribly wrong in your life and you keep trying and trying and trying to fix it.
Then you try to just cope with it.
Then you burn out, get angry, cry, grieve and look for real answers.
[August 30, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 30, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 30, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 30, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 30, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]