DeSha shares more of her personal story in this episode. She talks about her relationship with a covert abuser, shares red flags, and reflects on the past with compassion and wisdom from a place of healing and growth.
TW/CW: Developmental trauma, PTSD, abuse, abusive relationship, depression, chronic illness, suicide, addiction, substances, childbirth, pregnancy, abortion, Postpartum Depression, weight loss.
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Loving people can make serious mistakes and are capable of being abusive, even if they don't mean to.
[0:10] *Intro Music by Ramshackle Glory*
Thank you for joining me. I’m Hecate and this is Finding OK, a healing podcast for survivors of sexual assault and abuse. In this episode, I want to bring you the more personal side to DeSha’s journey. We talked for a while and she shared her experiences with a covertly abusive relationship. This talk is about a year after the end of the relationship. She's done a great deal of healing with EMDR therapy, which is covered more in part one. If you haven't listened to that episode, I highly suggest it. This episode is much more about her story and her reflections. It's our hope that this helps others feel less alone in their own journey.
And this brings us to. *sound of singing bowl being struck* Trigger and content warnings for this episode include the following: Developmental trauma, PTSD, abuse, abusive relationships, depression, chronic illness, suicide, addiction, substances, childbirth, pregnancy, abortion, postpartum depression and weight loss. Check in with yourself and make sure you're all right to continue.
I'm really lucky. I'm really, really fortunate that the phrase “trauma therapy” even came up for me in my experience. I had seen a couple different therapists beforehand, and while it was comforting, those were talk based therapists. There's a thing called trauma brain and it just gets everyone kind of reacts differently. But it just gets kind of foggy, not clear, easily distractable, can't really focus, can’t escape the memory in any form, whether that be you're seeing visions of like pictures or remembering it, you know, the what you've seen or for me, I had an issue with remembering what I heard. So for those of us who have heard nasty things said about them, it's all very real. Those are all signs of trauma. Having things constantly haunt you and not being able to escape a memory or a perspective that’s just not actually bringing joy or healing, constructive, forward moving, think “forward moving” or “floating up to” there’s basically a level of peace. And so if we're not at peace about certain experiences and supercharged events in our lives, we can't find a peace, we can't stay at peace or we just don't feel safe or paranoid. All those things are signs of trauma. Hating being in in a crowd and having things come up, a sign. And it's OK because apparently “We Are Not Our Brain”. It's OK. It's not our fault anymore. Sometimes things happen during extreme phases of fatigue, like just big things happening, caretaking for people and then getting out of it and being fatigued and unable to process what's happening. That's OK. That happens. And actually that's a large part of what happened to me.
I think it would take a very long time to really tell my story in a way that actually fully made sense to people, even though I had experienced neglect as a child, emotional neglect primarily, meaning my parents struggled to connect with me and to hold emotional space. I had a kind of a military style upbringing, kind of like how boys are told that they can't cry, “don't cry”, you know? “Only girls cry”. And that's that's a wild idea! That seems highly inaccurate. Yeah.
That's like a majority of what happened for my experience in my youth, which apparently leads to PTSD and other chronic situations later in life. There's been quite a few studies to be able to correlate that. It wasn't until I got into my early twenties I realized how afraid I was of choosing the wrong kind of male partner because I would spend a lot of time reading psychology magazines and thin little books. And I had been to therapy before in my adolescence and some of the things they teach people about how dysfunctional and chaotic families, how they work, being able to understand that the truth was for me, I didn't have a real example of a woman or a mother who chose a partner who was able to not only self regulate, but be able to connect and hold space.
So there was a lot of much of there was more so an abusive nature involved. And my mother, unfortunately, somehow just attracted people who were complicated. And to my knowledge during the time I was growing up with my stepfather…I do think it's important to understand that what we're what we see with neuroscience, if you look at brain scans and you can see that pain, whether it be physical pain or emotional pain, registers nearly identical, identical to nearly identical, the way it registers and the way we can see it happening. So that whole myth of “if that person isn't physically hitting you, they're not hurting you”. It's just that now, it's a thing of the past.
Yeah. Emotional violence is a thing. Being violent does not have to be someone making physical contact with another person's body, obviously, like throwing things, whatever.
So I actually thought, DeSha honey, you don't know anything about anything when it comes to men, watch out and you might attract one just like your mama. That's that's what I was. Pretty straight up, so I was really reluctant, I was really reluctant to get romantically involved and I ended up falling in love and getting swept away, you have a very natural caretaking ability. And I want to do that. And I want to nurture and I want to emotionally connect and I want it so or more. So I wanted it so badly because as a child, my parents wouldn't. And so I was. It's kind of like when we go through things and you get to know someone else and you realize they're traumatized, something happen to them. And it happened to you a long time ago and you get it.
You want to be there for them. So I saw that in my partner that my partner had also been emotionally neglected as a child. And they're very open telling me that. And when the accident for them happened, when their situation happened, they felt very alone and cut off.
And I thought, “I see you, I know you, I love you and I want to hug you back together. I'm here. I'll fill your cup and I'll keep refilling your cup. You will be so impressed by my stamina and my ability to tolerate and to love and nurture you. And you won't even have to ask me to forgive you if at any point through this pain and suffering, you lash out”. So it's a wonderful idea. The reason why I mentioned the caretaking thing and being rigid is in the past I found myself having had committed to taking care of someone through a very serious chronic illness. And during it I felt destabilized and I thought, there's no way I can do that anymore. And then at the same time, I told myself, “yes, you can. And you said you would. You promised”. OK, here's the secret. Most people who love you and care about you do not want you to burn yourself out. We only have one vessel. We have one body. We have one one go around, you know, or something. But right now what we know is the life that we wake up in and that we wake up every morning.
I wake up every morning and I know the body I'm in and I feel lucky for that. Like, OK, cool. Same body, same me, can think clearly. You know, I'm no good to anyone if I'm completely exhausted and if I'm in a state of trauma because I've been triggered or if I've started a new pattern, a new cycle of giving, giving, giving and then not sleeping and caring for myself, eventually I'm going to I'll probably become resentful. That's also a very normal human pattern and want like my time back or want my body back, you know, that makes so much sense. That's why I put that that way, because I think I've known a lot of people who are so beautiful and resilient and sensitive and know how to care for someone. Sometimes making that decision can feel like it is very isolating and kind of stuck in that. Like I've have committed to do this until the end or whenever it's sort of just a sort of just kills the spirit. It’s kind of a drag! But it's more than that if it goes on for too long. In fact, if it goes on for too long, caretaking for people, that other person also can be resentful. And that other person sometimes feels… this is can happen. It's this human behavior. I mean, and sometimes the other person might feel at liberty and entitled and starts to become a manipulative covert abuser. It's really important not to stay so rigid in our commitments and I'm a person is so focused on integrity that I just thought, well, my authentic self would never take space from someone, even if it was killing me. That is that's not very wise or very present.
Yeah, it's not healthy.
Right. I'm not being present for myself when I do that. And the best part I can say about that is through this EMDR experience, I don't believe that's going to happen again. Me not being present, I'm capable of it now. And now I can see that I don't need to be that rigid and committed, especially if in the end it just bites ya in the face. Yeah.
So I had that first experience in my early twenties and I decided to continue on a very serious, beautiful, romantic, intense relationship with my partner. To simply put it, I, I was sort of on standby being available, bringing the jokes and the beginning. My partner is also an alcoholic and I did not understand that.
In fact, when he had told me, I thought he was joking because we were twenty two. And I understand you just started drinking. No way. He you his responses, “You think I just started drinking! No way!” I found out later speaking to mutual friends. They kind of chuckled a little bit like, “You didn't know that that person had a serious alcohol problem?” Blackout drunk in the yard all night, all that intense stuff, I'd say “No, I didn't know.” But they told me the truth, that they are an alcoholic. So in the beginning, I was because of that person's pain from the physical injury. I mean, I was the person even if I was out of town, I was trying to get somebody to bring a bottle of booze for the pain. No health insurance, no health insurance. The he had no care, no extra care. It was a long road and it often is. We were so alive and youthful about it in the beginning. And then all of a sudden three years passed me by basically. The person really wanted to live with me and started obsessing over it. Why don't we live together, want to live together? And I just thought, well, you're really scared of your sleep paralysis. I'm scared to talk to you about certain things. You won't sometimes talk about things you abandon and disengage or shut down. And that was the number one thing that happened. And I think that's like one of the final stages in the polyvagal theory is a shutdown. It's it's not a freeze. It's a completely shut down. And that's because he didn't feel safe.
I'm not one to say we're responsible for our abusers. We're not responsible for their care. We don't have to forgive. Maybe we need to forgive ourselves. I was not a professional. I was twenty four. I was twenty five. I was twenty six then to twenty nine. I was not a professional. He had a serious situation that was very clear. I played house, when I slept over a lot and woke up and had breakfast and I loved and adored him but he was unavailable and would shut down and it turned into like he would call me and say… in the beginning too. But it just kind of it continued. It never got better. “I can't come over. I'm having one of my dark days” and then described it to me, “I can't get out of bed. I don't want to talk to people. I'm afraid people will talk to me and engage with me if I leave the house.” And it just kept going. And I knew him so well that last year when I was completely debilitated because my central nervous system was just a mess, I was able to sit down and write down every single trauma he had told me about.
And I went through it in my mind and I looked at my notebooks and I thought, yeah, that's a lot of stuff. And it's a lot it's a lot of stuff that seems like not a big deal, like the death of a cat, the death of a dog, a death of a pet. Who am I to say that's not a big deal? So was anyone to say my journey and my traumas are not a big deal or they're not real? There's a range of experience. And I believe that we know that in our nature and we also can see potential in people. And I think that that's partially why people stay with their abusers, is because we know they could get better if, of course, they're so upset and sad and distant and shut down. And if only I could show them there are reasons to smile. I actually found a letter from this person who said I was the most beautiful letter. And the reason why I mention it is very to the point he wrote, “she loves me so much, she brings me happiness. She actually goes out of her way to physically form a smile on my face when I refuse it.” That was just the kind of person I was. I wanted to bring joy. And you know sex really brings joy to a man's heart. I'll tell you, a lot of excitement around that.
This is not as much as it seems and feels like a cure all, if that's a go, too. And that's the only way we're able to get into a window of tolerance and to feel regulated and at peace. That is another sign of trauma. There are too many things pent up and stored, tucked away. The body remembers, the central nervous system is running through that body, and we have got to just empty the cache, like a computer. We have got to put forth effort to empty that cache. It's different. It's not just de-stressing, but there are some things that people cannot fully process when they're happening for all kinds of reasons.
[15:38] *break music by Ramshackle Glory*
All I had to go off of was my partner's actual feedback and his behavior, and when they didn't actually match up, that really concerned me. “I'm here for you. Oh, I'm out because you're not going to listen to me. I can already tell. So I'm leaving.” That's not going to help parenting a child. I'll tell you what. That is not good toddler talk. It's not. Children don't understand that. And children blame themselves. It's the brain. We know children. We can understand that children are not totally fundamentally developed to be able to process intense trauma and complex storylines that cause them to have emotional reactions. It's too much. It's just too much. We don't get it. I come from a family, like I said, who had trouble connecting with me and the children and honestly had resentment because they had to work so hard to survive. It's so difficult to survive in so many countries is the lack of health like health support and it’s difficult to advocate.
Even as a woman going through labor and birthing, it is difficult to advocate for yourself when you're in an active state of labor, and that's why you need someone there for you. There's so much going on and there's so many areas that need to be innovative, innovated, and there are so many things that need to be looked at and discussed. I mean, just being pregnant, I mean, here I was like, oh, I don't want to have it because I don't want to have this future, a future life where I have domestic violence in my home or I have my child walking on eggshells because Daddy's having a really dark day today for a week. My therapist told me everything that I explained to her was very understandable. In a way, some of the most damaging and most traumatic experience a person can have is dealing with people who are emotionally unstable because there's no way to prepare for that. And I grew up thinking, “I hear the gravel in the driveway, my stepdad's home, I need to clean up everything! I need to not look like I'm up to any trouble. I need to just be here. Quiet! And turn the TV off. Grab a book. Because I don't know what to expect from him when he gets home. As a child I couldn't understand. He's a police officer. Of course I'm not going to know what mood he's in when he gets home! The world of a police officer is so different. I don't know what he went through, I don't know what that was like for him, I really don't even want to know.
I don't. That is such a different type of profession it is very heavy, especially right now. But it makes sense as an adult. I’m like, no wonder! And no wonder I was scared of him! And. Yeah, and also just another thing. Oh, Mom's home. Did she slam the door? Uh. No, actually, she's on the phone. OK, she's probably in a good mood. That's survival, that’s hyper vigilance.
Trying to understand what to expect and understand what parts of myself are going to be tolerated. Who can I be today? What parts of me can I actually show? And can I be crying today because I had a hard day? No, you can't, because right now it's your parent’s show because their day was hard. That's scary. Violence is scary. You know, when I had that situation with my brother, the reason why it was so traumatic, I mean, of course, I was shocked to hear that he had fallen in a way and was struggling then I felt sad for him. There's a whole range of emotions. But I also knew I had to fear him. I couldn't just be scared for him. I had to fear him because I found out the types of drugs he was doing very quickly. And he told me he was proud of doing them and then told me how stable he was. And within a few hours he was yelling and showing me he's not very stable. So I knew I had to fear someone who was under the influence. And I knew that I had to have fear for people who said they loved me and then could so easily abandon me and their child. So I had fear for that. I was scared. I was trying to be so in the moment and just focus on the love that was there and what was actually what we could work on.
[20:26] *break music*
We've been through so much together, and I know they want to be nice to me, and if they were having a better day and a better year, they'd be nice to me. We still have sex, so there's potential there. I look back now like, you silly girl, there's potential for you to be pregnant and left again! *laugh* Same guy! It wasn't until I went to therapy and really processed that I had a very secure lifestyle and I had work when I looked for it. I had a roof over my head. I had a family who loved me and that my life had turned into. I just couldn't see that there was something more than just kind of wrong with the relationship. No woman has multiple abortions with the same partner unless there's something fundamentally wrong. I'm not putting that on anyone. I'm just saying something isn't right with the relationship or something is really troubling. The person getting pregnant.
Yeah. Something isn’t working.
You know, something isn't right here and we should look into that. And I knew it enough to say “I can't live with you”. And I'll give another example of showing signs of trauma as some if someone does this drama or if it's happening to you, oof, it's time. It's time for an inner hug. *laugh* It's time to find a way to tap in there and really find that sense of calm and safety. Because I would sleep over another one of the signs would be, here's my thought, this is my thought process. I'm giving my body and my all to a man who loves me. One day we're going to have a family. We've been through so much together. He promises me he's never going to cheat on me. He'll never leave me. He'll never be one of those guys. And I buy it, you know. But he tells me that before we have sex, you know, so he kind of gets what he wants and gets rewarded. And I think here I have been I mean, for *laugh* personal business, I mean this might be too much information. But for me in this particular story, I'm like, we slept over. We've had so much fun all night with bursts of nap in between. And still in the morning when we woke up, he was already out of bed, fully dressed, ready to take a mile run, had not eaten yet and just kind of punching in the air. And I woke up and he looked angry and I asked if something happened. He says, “No. I just need to go take a run.” Sometimes when that happened, he had run himself to the point of absolute exhaustion and complete pain. So, you know, instead of calling it and being like, “look, man, you need to get, you need help.” And I did do that. I didn't make an ultimatum. You need to get help or…the only thing I really ever drew was I can't live like this full time. I definitely don't want to have a baby in this kind of lifestyle where self care is absent and there's no way to get these emotions in check because I was scared. I was laying in bed peaceful. I had had a wonderful night. And I wake up and someone is totally angry, needs to run. I have complete respect for it! I was like, great, you should go run and not be angry. But that's not normal. That's not typical. That's not as a sign of significant great health. Like to wake up and start the day that angry and needing to isolate. I just couldn't understand it. And so I just couldn't imagine ever having that with him and having a baby in all of it, because I don't want to make this all about that. So but that's enough to to show you something isn't right here. Trust your gut. So I was very clear about it when I wanted to actually go forth and have a child. We were very clear about it. And I prayed for a child and it was like this spell had been lifted or something because I got pregnant right away and I was so depressed the entire pregnancy. I told them I was scared that I had postpartum depression, but I thought that it was post so it didn't make sense to me.
I wanted help. I’d look into it. I was so exhausted when I was pregnant to so tired all the time. I was like awake enough to eat and do self care. And I but I did tell him, I told other people who cared about me that I was really concerned that I didn't think I wasn't feeling the glow. And I didn't think that this was totally normal about how depressed I was and bored. It was so… I'm not really a bad person and I get bored. And apparently there's actually it's very rare and specific type of depression. And I don't know, the name escapes me right now, but there's a type of depression and it's also a serious precursor to potentially high risk situations of postpartum depression. I didn't know and I started seeing an acupuncturist towards the end of it. And I wish I would have been seeing someone the entire time. When I started getting help for myself, I remember looking across the room at him and I was weeping and then I was sobbing and he just sat across the room for me the entire time. We could say, “Oh, that jerk!” Seriously, he was paralyzed in something of himself, but the point is he was incapable of being there for anyone else. He couldn’t be there for himself either. And I remember just crying in front of him and he didn't even come to hug me. I think I think he waited to say, “Oh, oK, you're done now? All right I’m going to play guitar.”
Not a good sign. And I then I sat down with I sat down with the midwife and I told them I was worried about the postpartum depression and factor and that I wasn’t going to be able to get the help that I needed and that my partner was incapable of it, you know, and they're like, “You know, we'll get there. We’ll we get there. Don't worry about it. Don't stress yourself or the baby out. I'll just get you to a good place.” I ended up having a very traumatic birth because birth is not very fun and it's traumatic. It lasted 40 hours. It was cinematic because it seems like all my trauma had to be at that time. And afterwards I found myself in a severe state of postpartum depression. And I didn't realize it. Having a baby is very scary for multiple reasons because we don't really understand how vulnerable we're going to be. We don't know, we know how it works or maybe how to raise a kid, but we don't know what our bodies are going to need from us. We don't know if we're going to want to be alone the whole time. How to need people, some of us, we don't know how the birth is going to be and how painful that's going to be or how long. And we don't know if we're going to be able to do that whole nursing thing. All that stuff comes up and it really can shake someone up and make them feel terrified. Even people who are so happy to be pregnant. I was happy to be pregnant. I was terrified still. And I was all kinds of ways that I needed to see a professional over and didn't understand. I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy child. And even when I was told that I needed a C-section, for me, I knew I did not need a C-section. I knew my baby was healthy. I could feel it. At the same time, I listen to the doctors. I heard what they were saying and that scared me! So, if that's true, that's terrifying. And I went forward with it and I had a natural birth. It was very difficult for me and very traumatic, like I said. But I couldn't escape it and nobody really prepared me. I only heard about extreme cases of postpartum depression where people imagine harming others or thinking about it, and or were completely incapable of having a day, taking care of themselves or they're in bed the whole time right? Or they just cry. That that's the only kind of I ever heard of. I love children. I've cared for children in the past. And when I cared for my daughter, I cared for her and I told myself I was nannying and that I had milk because I just didn’t…I was like, This is fine. This is good. She's good. No, she's cute. And I didn't feel very connected. And I didn't realize that another sign of it is having reoccurring thoughts that something bad is going to happen even without having a baby. If people are out there living life or they constantly think something bad is going to happen, that's not safe. That's trauma. Now, you can't be safe in your body. You can't be safe in your day because you believe something bad is going to happen. And you can't just tell yourself to stop living that way when there's anxiety. It's happening. You literally believe something bad is going to happen or it could happen if you relax. It's kind of unkind to even push on another person when they're going through that, that it's fake and they should just get through it and kind of doing that -
Yeah, you can't just snap out of that.
spiritual bypassing even. All, “Think about how great it'll be in the future with your daughter”. And I was like, that's a really good gesture, but I was being terrorized by imagining horrible things happening to her. Not by me! By anyone! Or freak accidents. She's not moving enough. Is she still breathing? And I had read to a degree that that's pretty normal. Oh, they're so peaceful. I had to check if they're breathing. It was not a normal thing. What was happening to me was not typical. It was severe. And when I asked for help, my partner said, “I'm working”. And they said, “I've decided to work seven days a week and I decided to work three weeks consecutively and then I'll take off a week.” So I was without him for a while when I had the baby and longing for him because I wanted to be close and nurtured. And I found out I found out like three months, like four months later, I talked to him. I was like, “what's going on?” He was so mad. Like, I don't get it. You’re working. We have the baby. We're together right now. Why are you so mad? And he's like, “I'm getting screwed over. I'm not going to get paid”. I was like, “What do you mean?” He’s, “ Well, I've been working on like a tab he said he would pay me.” So that takes a person, a vulnerable mother who just had a baby and makes them feel like they're not safe because now they're not cared for. And the person who said they were going to provide and in fact, they've been gone the entire time. And while I was struggling, I had help! I had people helping me. I want to put that out there because, thank God I was not all alone, just kind of winging it as a single mother. Thank God. But I didn't have him. And that's all I really wanted. And when I found out that he had been working for three months, that type of schedule and not getting paid…I was a little peeved… and then I let it go and I excused the behavior. I said, “OK, well, you can't do that anymore”. And he's like, “well, I have to, because eventually he'll pay me.” I’m like, “That's not going to work. Please, you can't do that anymore.”
We tried to reconnect, and that's when I was able to I think by that…my child was about six, seven months. And I said, hey, in front of multiple people. I said, “Hey, I'm kind of scared. I think that it's possible that I have postpartum depression.” And I heard “Well, duh”, from my partner, from other people who cared about me. I heard. “I know. And you keep saying that and I'm going to help you and we're going to look up someone and we're going to try to find someone to help you.” Two different responses. “Duh”, and “what can we do about it. I see that, you said that. I heard that. Let's find help.” The other unhealthy role someone can take is “I see that. I hear that. And I'm going to take care of you. I'm not a professional”. No. Get a professional! *laugh* I thankfully didn't have that third person in my realm. I just had someone who said, “duh” then I had a pretty good support team, you know, to my left. Anyway, I got what's called “the discard”. And it's what people do when they feel threatened or they feel like their supply is completely used up. They they are, now I now understand their caretaker is unavailable. And because of my partner's already crippling PTSD, which I had been trying to help facilitate any kind of assistance from other professionals. Now, I can't make someone get help. And I really tried. I offered to pay for it. I did pay for some things. I would do the research and find the people, but we cannot make people get help. And I was asked, I think, over a hundred times, “why won't you live with me?” Before it was, “why won't you have a baby with me?” I said, “this is why.” “Oh, don't worry. I'm going to be there for you will be like those other guys dahdahdahdah I'm going to get better and I will do counseling. I'm going to have a job.” … to having the baby and then still being like, “I'm not satisfied. I don't feel secure in this relationship until I live with you.” And I'm like, I don't know if I can live with you because –
You won't get help.
Exactly. You won't get help. And you're not really listening to feedback from the people who spend so much time with you. I'm scared for you. This doesn't seem healthy. I'm reading textbooks, talking to people, and I'm worried for you. And you tell me on your dark days that you're scared. And this person was also struggling with suicide fairly openly with me. This does not sound healthy for someone to move in with somebody who needs a great deal of space and a great deal of care. It's not healthy. I was already caretaking, holding space. I had been through multiple surgeries. You know?
Yeah. Through this whole thing is is this vein of I mean, thank God you had it, intuition where you were acknowledging that this person wasn't safe, wasn't stable, and while you loved them and continued to give to them, consistently falling to the conclusion that they weren't a safe parent for a child, that the environment that they were creating with you in a partnership wasn't a safe environment for a child to be brought into the world. And then when that decision was made that you started bumping up against that again and, you know, and asking, can you take the steps that you need to take in order to bring that about and it didn't go well.
Yeah, because it became an attack and it became like, well, you're not a professional. What do you know? And I'm just like, I know that I hold you in the skies are cloudy. I know that I leave you alone when it's too dark and you just want to lay in bed. I know you very well. If we can do this and we can talk and address the things I'm scared about and you're scared about, we can find something at that time I did not know about. And it's really possible. Had I had I had known that information years ago. It's so possible that I would have gotten it for myself after my twenty fifteen thing, I would have shown he was very receptive to information for a while. But I look back and I'm like, yeah, he was. And I was like, let's have sex.
Yeah. Information, It doesn't require anything of somebody though. And then whenever anything got to the point where it required something of him…
Yeah. In, in it it's because of trauma and being incapable of that. And I just couldn't get that through my head and my mind because of trauma. And I was being. I was incapable of that, and it was reinforced by a series of tiny abandonments from him,
Not so tiny. I don't want to minimize…
I guess. I don't, it's it's still hard, honestly, but, I understood the suffering and the pain so well that I was easy to be so empathetic to the point of I was harming myself. When I was abandoned I thought, “I can't have this baby because the father of the baby does not understand how much he’ll hurt his own son with these behaviors.” I was thinking about things differently. I wasn't thinking about in the way I really should have. I was thinking about still through this action, I am caretaking for our future child, caretaking for him so he doesn't abandon and hurt a child later on because I know he doesn’t mean to. But the thing about trauma is that when it's left unchecked, there's more of an opportunity for more situations to arise because we were alive and living that were other traumas will happen and compound and we just get really backed up with that. I was thankful that what I showed him, the information he'd be he'd be interested.
But at the time I did not have any information that he didn't have to experience talk therapy. He was adamantly against talk therapy. He said it would be re-triggering. He's so spot on. I mean, I know people who've said that before. There's one actually one person in particular, a dear friend of mine. He's an older gentleman. And he started to open up to me more in, during 2019 about his situation. I think he felt comfortable because of what had happened to me and he starts telling me about it. I was like, “you know, I really think you're going to try this EMDR thing man, and it's going to help.” And he says, “No, I'm too old, I'm too far gone. And that's just the way it is. And it's fine. Things are working out for me.” Yeah, but you just said it's not working out for you. And it started to hear that within myself. I'm like, “yeah, this is fine, but this isn't fine and that's OK because I love him”, you know, like I can kind of see that now happening. What's happening with other people and I just said, “listen, you don't have to talk all the time” and that blew his mind. You don't have to relive your trauma in a way of talking in fact. The most important thing is that when you close your session, a qualified therapist will help you to the end. And they're not supposed to leave you in a state of active trauma.
You're supposed to leave peaceful. It might be different. I've left all kinds of ways, but most of the time it's peaceful. I'm like, “OK, I got this. I can do this. And that was a weird session. All right.” And then after you leave, the processing continues for a few days. And honestly, it can process for a long time. But the bulk of it in the like, being aware and feeling it, it has a wave. And when I told him that, there was a sense of relief that he didn't have to rehash old wounds with new people that he may not even want, like, he might tell his whole story to this therapist and finish it and put all that work into it because it's an exercise. You're literally reliving it in your brain and then, you know, how can you help me? And that person might not have very good advice, if any, that can happen or that person has advice, but you don't feel connected to them. And then you leave and now you've just gone through everything and there's no closure. And there's no… it's it's happening for you again. And so I've actually I stopped recommending that people do talk therapy. When I start to hear about heavy, “I don't feel safe stuff”. We don't know the position we're really putting people in by recommending strictly talk therapy, we just don't know. So it's kind of scary.
That is every intake session across the board for every kind of psych related situation. Every time you see somebody new, every time you go to a new facility, every time you seek out a new doctor, you have to, you know, you go to a new facility, you have to do the intake with them and and go through all your traumas. And then they'll, you know, say, “OK, like, we’ll connect you with this doctor” You have to go through it with them. “OK, now we have to connect you with your psychiatrist.” You have to go through it with them. I have done the intake re traumatizing session so many times that honestly, it's like a rut of dissociation where I've gotten so good at saying. “And then this happened. And then this happened and then this happened.” Being able to access it but not access it. And it's difficult to to describe, but like, you know what I'm talking about, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
So many people know what you're talking about right now. *Hecate laughs* I heard that family therapy wasn't even a thing until the 70s in this country. *Hecate sighs* Isn't that wild? Because I know it's like it's been a while. It's 2020. But when I think about music and TV shows and I think about the 60s and the 70s came after, I think that wasn't that long ago!
Well, and it was like in the 50s, wasn't it, where where we had, like, this burst of media and television and this focus on the family, the atomic family, mother, father, sister, brother, you know, picket fence. And there was this huge focus on it. And that actually that's horrifying to realize that family therapy didn't exist until then, but we were still kind of inventing it. And we're also changing elder care and who was a part of the family, who was living with the family. And that was all changing. And the American family has gone through a weird evolution. It's also cultural that makes sense that it would take that long for us to really kind of roll around to, OK, the American family is sick.
It was definitely a lifting of the veil. I also isn't it interesting? I mean, you've probably heard people these days talk about how they don't identify with what family on TV looks like at all. That's traumatic in itself. I mean, in the 90s, every single TV show I love 90s TV, by the way, because every single TV show, even though it was ridiculous, it’s absurd. You're not going to go through this hard trauma of finding family shifting episode and be done with everything and resolve things for everyone in less than 30 minutes or in that during that week. That's crazy! And it makes life seem like something it's not. And that's unheard of and impossible. I'm not saying nothing can be resolved. I'm saying, like some of these storylines were really significant and we follow the characters. We feel attached to them. It's like a sitcom. They for some reason this week, they don't remember the traumas from the past week and they just get up and keep going and we're all fine. But they also had moral of the story and they and a lot of family TV talked about values. And that's also partially how some of the shows in the later 90s, they were marketed that way. Leave It to Beaver was too much, but I liked all those like really hip softer shows in the nineties. I definitely watched my share Full House. I was in a very young age range for that. It leaves us… The standards are too high. It's unrealistic, but there were morals and values shared. And Roseanne was a very amazing, profound show because so many people could relate to that style of living and feeling like they didn't have time for their kids to a degree. But even Roseanne had this resolve and this heartwarming. And it was almost like a sport like, “This is our family! and our family values.” I think that was Family Values was a show name. So every show and every family they were similar. And they had this sitcom like narrative. Right? But they also held on to their values were slightly different. You know how you'll handle the bully? Slightly different, how your family will respond to you. That was kind of healing to me, but I knew very well I did not have that kind of family at home.
And that's disheartening and really sad for a lot of people and and confusing and to see, like, women and or or I mean, even with culture kind of just whitewashing everything is a matter where you're from and what traditions you have. Whitewash it and give me the widest looking face of every ethnicity. It's nuts. It's just doesn't make any sense. It fed into some very strange ideals, especially I don't think we have too many shows that did anything with like gender play. And we had a couple of things. We had some queer creative shows and I'm thankful for those because those really broke the ground for us here. But it was a different time to be in. And it's TV and all of that is so weird and distracting in a way. And it also helps people disassociate and almost believe they're living a different life. Just heard you say that. I was just thinking about the way TV did change from the fifties and how I grew up. And like, when you're emotionally neglected and you really want nothing more but to connect with your parents and they don't know how to connect with you. And when they do it, I'm like, Thirteen, and I'm a jerk about it! I'm like, “You don't even know what's cool.” you know? *laughter* Yeah, that's all really human. It doesn't change the fact that the there's a need for connection, right? Yeah. And so I found that they were pretty weird ideals given to men and women or what a man and a woman was or the fact that you don't see anybody too often in 90s TV who's transgender or anything different. It's very cookie cutter and whitewashed. And it's amazing to see what these different platforms, different types of creating like YouTube and so on. There's all these shows now and there's this is a little bit of leeway to play and actually have art imitate life a little more instead of this push of life, having to imitate that TV show and even with mental illness and stuff, I mean, there was no way to explain it. And so when you watch these shows, when I was watching these shows, the level of dysfunction is clear.
And when we try to emulate something that's not authentic, but we want it, it's so clear it doesn't work. In fact, in your family, you know, you come in, you got a new haircut and you want to behave differently. Your brothers and sisters are going to call you out. You know, that's normal, but it's what a fight it is to be authentic, to not want the same things, to want a house, not to want to have children. And it's traumatizing. It's unreal. And that's I just thinking about how often I hear about that and people being like, “I don't fit in and I need to be this way in my life. I need to change my name. I need to do whatever because I have to feel me and be authentic”. Every person deserves that. But it's really no wonder when I think about the timeline of the discoveries and TV and so on.
Representation. A lack of representation is a form of violence. And that's something that we're recognizing more and more. Looking at television and the stories that we were projecting into, into homes and making available to people, there's really an evolution that's still happening. How much is the packaged status quo that's being delivered into your living room and how much of it is challenging or exploring the status quo and how it's failing us? More and more into the nineties, you started to, even if there was the status quo in, you know, as as the foundation of whatever show you were watching, you got more and more adventurous writers who were interjecting storylines that challenged things where you would have those episodes that stand out in in the memories of so many of us that ended up not fitting in in certain ways, that ended up being queer, that ended up being transgender, that, you know, that didn't conform to the gender binary in some way. And we remember the moments where we saw ourselves, you know, if we were mentally ill, if we were depressed. We'll remember when we saw ourselves given 30 minutes on a show we loved. *laugh*
Exactly. Yeah. We're looking to emulate. I mean, as a species, I hear that that's what we do. There's been different tests on that. That's kind of a fun thing to look up. Supposedly some chimpanzees were given posters of other, pictures of other primates, basically, and they knew what kind of what they'd like. And they just wanted to see what they would do with the material. And a lot of them chose really confident looking primates to put up in their room like a poster. “Look at that. That's what I'm going to be.” so fascinating. The most popular poster that was put up was a confident looking primate, well fed.
So they were they were going for like power poses?
Yeah! They were like it was like a great shot of like a powerful, just great looking gorilla.
And they hung those up on the wall, most of them. And it's because we're looking to find ourself in another. It's a natural thing and we're looking to be our best selves. That's a natural thing. And there's also a natural thing to have gone through so much in your life where you're looking only for what you think you deserve. So you don't update your friends group or like me. I dated someone. I did not deserve that behavior and and I was pregnant. Yeah, but my partner's behavior was out of my control. In fact, I was so silly thinking I could control it by being a better partner and being more available. What I when you talked about having the shows later, especially the 2000’s, where there were different storylines, different types of people, characters, right? Why did it have to be a mic drop? Why did it have to be a two-parter episode to find out so and so's gay? I almost wish they didn't do that. They put like such hype around some of that stuff, that it created a stigma, it has to be a big deal and it came from the heart, they're like, “No, we want to show we care. We want to show people who have this going on in our life how to respond, how to process. It feels traumatic for those people” and that makes sense. But at the same time, for me, being young, I was just like, “why are we taking two episodes for this? Or why does it have to be the…” before when we watch TV and they had the previews and they’d be like, “Next week. Devastating news.” You know like, they're gay? That's devastating news? Oh. And it kind of just teaches people to respond that way, too, because I was watching that as a child. I thought it was ridiculous. But that doesn't mean another child thinks the same. So, yeah, TV is weird, emulating people is weird, pretending we would do something different if they were if you were me, you think you would do something different? I hope so! But here's the thing. I mean, I didn't do something different. I fell for stupid, in my opinion, stupid, silly traps that I can totally have compassion for myself. I was too much about caring about someone else. And it got to the point of where I thought I was helping him and helping the future by I mean, essentially hurting my body. I've done almost a hundred hours of EMDR since last October. I did it because I had to. I did it because it was the only way. And I nearly died from essentially a neurological injury. That's essentially what it was at the time. It's being it's the somatic thing. I’m going to recover. And I've almost fully recovered. I'm not I don't pose any kind of danger or threat to anybody. It's not like that. It's like, I'm having a bad day. I have a headache all day now because, it's like weird stuff like that. My story is driving me to new heights of joy and new heights of compassion and empathy. I thought I was OK. I thought I was capable. And now I'm realizing I am capable of so much more and I'm worth so much more.
[53:03] *Break music*
For me, in my situation, I was on a never ending waiting game. He kept saying he was going to get therapy like when it mattered the most. He would tell me that. And I think that those were the times he didn't want me to leave. And he had severe abandonment issues from childhood with his father. And I thought, I'll let that one thing explain everything because he kept bringing it up. But that's a sign of somebody who could really benefit from trauma therapy. Being abandoned, it's traumatizing and that's the point. And being a child and being abandoned is a very vulnerable position. And it's hard, really difficult, it’s challenging. We do overcome. People do and they have. And a lot of us out there have had situations like that. And we're fine. We're making it. We have a healthy family. That's awesome. That's awesome. This is not an easy feat. But for me, I was I was waiting, and waiting never changed anything. He's speaking words to me. There is no behavior. There is no follow through. There is no action. When I say I'm scared, he says words to me and his behavior is sex. People change their minds and people decide, you know, you're not the right person for me. And people move in together and move out. These changes happen. And it's so important to do self care and to utilize self care. It is. And so I could see it in some situations that in the end, the ultimate abandonment and discard and smearing campaign that I endured was a survival mechanism. I see that. It's still unfair. It's still unkind, and it was incredibly traumatic. So, I had a very weird situation. I'll see if I can say it with as few details as possible. We were really, really, really happy that things were turning around and I was feeling joy again. And so I thought I was getting better. I talked to some people about the postpartum depression and I started seeing an acupuncturist again, and that's my form of getting care. I also saw I had a regular primary care physician. I started taking supplements and doing all kinds of things. So it's, I don't want to give the idea that I wasn't doing anything and nothing was happening for me, that I was making an effort. I was also nursing my child and being a full time stay at home mom with her, which was so hard because I'd already gone through years and years of trauma and not being able to move, like that, six months of not being able to walk and having to be bedridden. I've missed so much of my youth and that sense of my twenties. And all I told myself is that this was going to be worth it because he's going to show up. No, he’s not! I wish I could go back and just say, “No, he's not! He's not going to show up” if he didn't before. And he and he didn't and couldn't. When something serious is going on or they couldn't, they may just be incapable of it. It doesn't mean they're a bad person. I mean, we can have bad behaviors and make poor decisions and be the kind of person who consistently does that. They could be a self-destructive person. I've seen a lot of that, that loving people can make serious mistakes and are capable of being abusive even if they don't mean to. And I think the one of the most important things is communicating. This hurts me. I don't feel that stuff. When those things are happening and you’re having a somatic issue or you’re sick, whatever it is. If whoever you're sharing your day with and your time with, it's not receptive to that and can't be somewhat sensitive to that and nurturing. That's a sign that they're not available and they're not going to be available. And it's nothing personal, but they're not. It doesn't mean that eventually one day they'll change their mind and feel differently and be able to show up all of a sudden without any help or professional care. It's not going to happen! It's not *sound of frustration* it’s not going to happen. I'm actually going to make an alter for myself as a child. And I like these ideas of neuroscience and the different types of stuff like about parallel lives. And like when you make a sound, it doesn't stop, all that. I think it's so fascinating. And so I feel like with EMDR because it's really getting into the subconscious there’s almost not a timeline. There's just a cluster of moments. When I'm integrating it and we're speaking to my conscious brain, we're able to tell myself, “That it's not happening anymore. Yes, it did happen. You felt unsafe. Yes. But it's not happening anymore. And now from now on, it doesn't have to happen anymore.” That's what had to happen to me to really snap me out of it. But like. *laugh*
[57:51] *Break music*
Always like feeling really left out and would always tell me that and asking me and telling me I didn't love them, I didn't care for them because I didn't want to move in with them I didn't care. I wasn't wanting to be a loving partner, which was also like, these are red flags. And I knew that. And I was like, “It's not that”. And I would explain myself again and they just couldn't retain it. They couldn't retain it. And I really wanted to celebrate my child, our child, and our family. I had a birthday party for my baby. I had it early a week before the party or so. I had unfortunately, I lost someone I really cared about to suicide. Really bummed me out, especially because we had been talking. And I, I was I was just so shocked. I found up too on social media. And so there was just no preparation for that. You're just scrolling and not only did I find out that it happened, I found out on the day of his memorial. I could, I didn't, I couldn't feel any further away, honestly. I was like, “How did I not know? When did it happen? Why wasn't I invited the memorial?” even though I couldn't make it. *laugh*
Just six months prior to that, my partner was suicidal. I, we urged help and care about, you know, “this is kind of scaring us and we have the baby and what can we do?” It's possible that after doing everything I thought I could, it's possible I did some of that spiritual bypassing, like, “can we just focus on the good?” At the same time, though, when the episodes weren't happening, when that person was not in an active state of suffering, I went out of my way to try to find help and bring it up. And when something is so triggering and we bring it up out of context, it shuts someone down. It can. As a sign of how severe the trauma really is, like how, the trauma being not what they went through, but this state, their bodies and indeed a little bit more care, self care, and assistance to recover from that. We shouldn't be instantly shutting down. When things get to us, about everything. That's no good. It's no way to live a healthy, thriving life. It's no way to a thriving life. So later on that spring, obviously, the the dark days and and then some good, beautiful stretch of like four months of just harmonious life. And my partner came back to me and said one day, “Hey, when are you leaving?” Because we were going to move. And I, they told me, “I'm coming with I'm going to move” you know, all this stuff. And then at the same time, when I felt depressed, they're like, “I can't leave, I can't come with.” So it was really back and forth, back and forth. So I left off with “oh yeah. OK, eventually you'll join us.” But then it was weird because any time we talked about not living together, this person would become very upset and agitated. I noticed a shift happened around maybe July and they came over. They were way more sexually excited and like, “Are you comfortable with this? We're good, right? We had the baby.” I actually had another abortion after the baby because any time I got pregnant with this partner, they would kind of terrorize me. I mean kind of, they did, through these the behaviors they couldn't avoid doing and behaving like, but wouldn't actually get any help. And so I already had a child. And there's nothing worse than holding your baby and grieving another one, because there was a point where I was pregnant and nursing and having this connection. And I'm like, “No, it's happening again. Fuuuuuuuck.” You know, It's happening again. No, no, no, no. And I was dealing with some family stuff too hard. I'm like, there's just no way I can have another baby. I’m traumatized, I’m scared. I'm still dealing with postpartum depression, please. So I didn't when someone does that, they are not totally better and normal for a year. If you could let that sink in, you're told with the doctor, “Hey, the next year is going to be weird for you. You're gonna need a lot of support”. And then I was already having postpartum depression. This person wasn't showing up. They had a job one minute they didn't have a job one minute. And they're getting paid one minute and they're not getting paid. They're aggressive about moving in together. They won't get help, but they need company. And and for me to be their caretaker or for me to say, “That's cool, you can just not be at all raising your child right now. You just disappear for a few days. It's cool. And then you going to go back to work again and we'll wait for you to get off? That's cool. OK. Oh and you suicidal. OK, all right. Well, we'll deal with it. We'll get you help. OK.” and then in July is like, “Hey, when you guys leaving?” kind of like smacking some gum. “Yeah! When you guys leaving?” And I was like, “Wow, you're really turning around about this. That's good. Yeah. And you'll come with and we'll have this time.” I was so dumb. Anyway, I ended up meeting their, I ended up meeting their mistress. They invited us to the same place. I don't know what they were thinking. And when they addressed me, they called me by our child's name and said, “Oh, this is our child's mother”. And I was like, that is so weird. And this. This girl. This 24 year old young, deer in the headlights, bright eyed, pretty “oh, yeah, yeah, everything's great. I'm going to hug you back together.”
Whoa, spitting image, the vibe. I was like, that's weird. And then she just said she said, “Oh, I've heard all about your child and all of…” “You have? Because I haven’t heard anything about you. That's weird. Talks about everybody. Huh.” Ok! everybody's like don't go there. You're just getting better, you're just getting happy. We haven't seen you this happy in a long time. We're all been so happy together. A beautiful family. August comes which is a few weeks later and then that thing happened with my friends. I was really sad. I broke my foot. It was the word that's being somatic. I got injured. It's like, how can I find a way to get injured, to show people and to show myself I'm not OK? Bad way of communicating. The thing I needed to do was feel my feelings, like, “I feel sad. I’m grieving about my friend. I'm scared that my partner is not going to be here for me. I'm scared that I won't be the best mother I can be because I'm grieving.” And then I was planning for this birthday party and I have this amazing time of my partner and I'm so receptive to having and we've been enjoying the most beautiful sexual relationship and being parents. And I remember just telling him “I want to do everything I can to buy us a house and be there for you.” And within 48 hours, he was with another woman, had completely committed himself. He did it after we had one of our first fights, real fights, arguments. And I misspoke. And and I really had a hard time dealing with that. But that's ridiculous to treat someone like that to completely just bail, scream at them, leave and then go out and hit it with someone else. And I found out and the girl was so open with me and said, “oh, this just really started technically.” her coworkers, that it had been going on all year, mutual friends, that it had been going on all year. That and it was it was one of those weird secretary things that's so cliche. It was a barista. So it was like, really? Wow, wow. It's so dumb. Anyway, it was really hard for me because I was suffering from that injury. I was suffering from repeated anesthesia. I was suffering from his episodes. I was suffering because my life didn't look like what I wanted it to be, what I needed it to be. I couldn't really connect. I don't really have community by that point. I had so many surgeries and so much grief, I couldn't really get back to my creative work. And that was hard for me. I had a really hard time with my confidence. I had I kept asking him, like, not “Do you think I'm pretty?” But “Does this particular quirk or flaw bother you?” And. “Oh, of course not. Of course not.” I think right before it really happened, the fight happened. I heard “You're the best mother ever. I know our child is everything that they are because of you”. And I was like, “and us” and but really, he was being very honest. “I haven't really been that involved and I've been really preoccupied with my own stuff”. You know, at that time, our child was almost two. So it's we go through phases. But for the child, that was most of their life and the times they did have together, I was really always terrified to leave them alone because of some weird behavior, including my child signing and saying, “please read a book to me”. And he said, “No, I'm not reading you some stupid book. I don't do that.” OK, this is going to be something. And like just having those also extra motherly things. And then I had postpartum depression. So when you really put all that into context, it makes sense I didn't really trust anyone with the baby. To a degree. It makes sense that as soon as he wasn't receptive to like, “Hey, I think the baby's cold right now.” “Oh, she's fine.” I'm like, “No, look, the baby's cold.” That freaked me out. He would like, leave the house, left the baby with unsafe people that we both agreed were unsafe, weird stuff. And I didn't like it. And I was kind of freaked out, but I said, “OK, we'll work on it and you'll get therapy still.” And then we had the fight and he was out. We had our child's birthday party that week. So I already I probably would have been OK. I think I'm going to bounce back from that. I think I even could have bounced back from the other woman detail. I was reeling from it, believe me. But I could’ve bounced back from that. It wasn't until the party. And so I was in my safe place, and believing, and had invited like fifty people to my house from all over the country.
And they came out to celebrate the birthday. And it was it looked great, but it was really hard to set up because he completely bailed on us all week, didn't help us set it up even with my broken foot, didn't care. And I called him and he was screaming at me on the phone. He wouldn't stop screaming, wrote me really weird things. He cracked. I mean, the last thing I had heard him say other than that beautiful night, he told a family member in the house that he was going into a “dark time” and then he told me he was afraid he was going to start drinking again. But unfortunately, this person came to my house before they came to my house. They said, “Hey, I'm going to bring my friend here. And she's been so good to me this past week through all of this.” I was like, “Through all of what? You didn't come home. You didn't come back. You didn't see us at all. What the hell are you talking about?” I'm like, “No, please don't bring someone else here. Like we're having a family gathering. And when what the hell?”, and then it just started from there, the shaking. I couldn't stop shaking. He became verbally abusive because I refused to let someone I don't know come to our child's birthday party as his best friend, which he was going to bring this person into my safe place when I was most vulnerable and our family was struggling to come meet us all and be a part of it and told me that they were a part of the family now or some weird, and it was weird. *laugh*
Can I just clarify that this person is the barista?
Yeah. This twenty four year old person who later informed me that she is here for him. He's, he chose her. I'm like “Yo, honey, this is not what this is about. We got some problems here. This dude is drinking again.” “He's a recovered alcoholic.” What?!
He was he was drinking at the party.
But her explanation, she's the new DeSha. I wouldn't be that. I would I could not be that DeSha anymore. I could not be like, “OK, I get it. I understand you can't be here for me. I understand…” We have a child now! I can't do that. When a woman has a child, something does shift there’s a protective nature that ought to be there. I don't know. Is it was it was it was too much for me. Obviously, it was like next level. And I think still we've heard stories like this, but it was super weird. I had people hugging me that were mutual friends who joined the party smiling. And then I saw them take a turn and he would run up and start talking to them. I had several people come up and complain and say that they thought something was wrong with him. They were concerned for him. They loved him. They said, men, the other men that knew him. And that just made me feel even more unsafe, which was another level of abandonment. I started to realize it was possible he was abandoning our daughter, which was a new level of trauma and generational trauma. It was too much. I basically developed a pretty serious case of PTSD. I struggled to survive. Part of me felt like I was making it up, but I really couldn't think that very long because I lost, uh, I got so sick. I lost like twenty five pounds in about a week and a half. And it was because of a somatic issue that wouldn't stop. And I just I felt haunted. I was like, “I can't stop what's happening.” I don't know why, it was draining the life out of me. I immediately sought care. The next day after the party. I mean, so much had happened. I actually had him terrorize me in a bedroom alone. I also watched a person abandon themselves spiritually, doing all the things they said they would never do.
He also, I felt really on the spot at the time, but when our baby was about two months old, he held the baby and he held the baby in front of me holding the baby. He just said, “Listen, beautiful, I am not going to drink again. If you even think I'm drinking again and you see it, take this baby and go. Do not stay with me.” And I was, that was also kind of traumatic because I was like, “This is a nice night. We're going to watch some Stranger Things or something!” And he's is like, “Listen, I'm getting real serious now. Promise me forever.” I was just like, “But if you start drinking and you say something different? Then what?” He goes, “No. No, don't listen to me. That's the alcoholic talking.” So yeah, I was super tense and all of it and feeling like I had to be rigid in that choice. When there's somebody who's literally self destructing before my eyes and to the intensity of being locked in a room, basically, like not being able to leave, I'm sitting on the floor and he's just reminiscing and going over how his father left him. It's like, “I my father left me. So I have to leave you.” I'm like, “What?” To like not understand the logic and to be so emotionally invested and attached and so, like, invested in a way where I was caring for him all the time and I had hope that he had gotten better, whatever that meant, and that he would seek help. And then he once he once he shifted into “I'm going to be with her because we're together and I deserve to get married. And she's mine. She's mine.” He kept saying “She's all mine. She's mine. She's…” like “You've said that like eight times. Are you OK?” And then I said, “Hey, you know, whatever's happened, we can still talk and get through some of this. You don't have to do this.” And he looked at me kind of sad for a moment and goes, “I how? I can't.” He was totally out of that, the trance, the trauma trance, “how? I can't.” and I felt like I had him for a moment and I said, “We can. That's what I've been trying to tell you. I think it's possible and we'll do everything we can.” That's when he was like, “No, it's too late.” I was like, “Oh, my God, you had sex with her?” And I'm like, oh, my God, how how silly, juvenile, like, naive, immature thinking that is to think “I've had sex with someone and I promised them something and I'm going to be rigid and loyal to them; a new person that I've committed myself to four days ago. And I'm going to completely trash this family and this partner of seven years at my child's birthday party.” Insane. I couldn't handle it. I had a weird thing happen. When trauma happens, you get kind of dazed out. And I remember looking past his shoulder out the window and seeing the family gathering outside, all the extended family and friends. And they looked so happy and the children were running and playing. Whoa, that was traumatic. I disassociated a few times during it. Then he went on to completely destroy my self-esteem and tell me I think I'm special - I'm not. He brought up my friends dying and told me that I had had sex with them, which I had already gotten that text message in like the middle of the night. He must have been drunk, I guess, a few nights before. And I was like, what are you talking about? That never happened. And then he brought it up again and he actually brought it up by saying, “You lie by omission because you love other people.” I'm like, “What are you talking about?” He’s like “You were with them while you were with me.” “No, I wasn't.” And when I every time I said I wasn't and I didn't actually do that, he'd be like, “You're just manipulative. You're just changing it on me. You're a liar.” And like, this is psycho. This is fricking psycho
Well, and that's just classic for the cheater to accuse the other person of being the cheater.
Mm. Hmm. “You didn't want me. You didn't try for this.” I mean, all of that was really traumatic for me because I had given my life, I had aborted my children. You know? That's serious dedication and commitment. Even if it was wrong or, didn’t…it was inappropriate, it's it's significant.
I would say unhealthy rather than wrong.
Unhealthy, let's say unhealthy, then, yeah, it was unhealthy. And…
Let's not put judgment on it. That’s not helpful.
See! I'm doing it all the time! *laugh*
It's it's what we do! We constantly judge ourselves.
Yeah. So the next day, for the most part, I mean, I also had a very …I watched child abuse happen in a very minute, short phase. A classic move was pulled. It's the craziest part. There's actually a book I want to mention right now. It's called Why Does He Do That?
Oh, I’ve never heard of that
It's about angry and controlling men. Why Does He Do That?
OK, I need to read this book. *laugh*
It's a it's to help women move forward and keep going forward with more of the studies and the explanation I remember in this… there's so many amazing quotes in that. I mean, one of the things is that when a man… I want to just clarify, Why Does He Do That? The author does have a whole section in the beginning of the book that states abuse is not gender conforming. The reason why it's called Why Does He Do That is because the author says that he is interviewed mostly abusive men, because that is primarily what is going through the system right now. Abusive men.
That's the pattern.
Well, that and also, I think it's possible that when women do those things, perhaps it's it's just overlooked and it's flying under the radar and they're not getting treatment. They're finding a new man. You know, there's a lot of abusive men in the system here. They've been categorized. And he asked them why they do things. He's traced it. He's also seen the patterns. He explains that, that’s experience and why he's choosing “he”. But that does not mean that that's the only kind of abuser and that obviously, if you don't identify that way, there's respect there. I just want to be clear, it happens.
You had mentioned them flying under the radar. And I just want to say, like a part of that also is the the shame that is a big part of the picture for male survivors of abuse from from women, because there's this, because of the gender dynamics it's it's considered shameful for a man to have been abused by a woman. And that contributes to the silence. They aren't given the resources. The resources aren't as available. And then they're shamed if they do come forward. And so they're shamed from others.
They shamed themselves. Nothing's made available. And it's it all is just this, the silence that allows it to continue,
The confusion, the confusion, that there's a lack of education, the fact that we're still struggling to educate every single adolescent in this country about abusive behaviors in a partner and the patterns blows my mind. I know it's it's becoming very popular, but it's like you have to go to a certain type of therapist and you have to get approved by insurance and you have to do a copay to be able to afford it to go and be educated about predators and predatory behavior and people who are totally loving mean well and don't understand that they're behaving that way. And then people who do that and then don't want to get help and don't care, it's all different. They're all kinds of different people struggling when someone's behaving in an abusive way. I think that's probably the most important thing for me when I keep mentioning the other side and understanding that that person is loving. When someone's behaving in an abusive way, they literally might not be able to fully control that because their body has formulated a pattern and patterns can be broken. But what we're finding is that like for people who are really set in their ways, who are 30, 40, 50, 60 years old, one of the only ways through that is EMDR. It's really coming up that way that it's so beneficial. But because you have to break that, it's like a personality issue. In some cases, it's really not their fault. It's because it started so young when they were abandoned as a child. In a moment, it was a moment there. Maybe their mother didn't even realize that that's what happens. We don't always realize, which is why we need to be listening to each other, which is why we need to be asking questions and we're taught how to do it in the 90s sitcom, “Oh, my daughter's a teenager. She's acting kind of weird. Honey, is there something wrong? Is there something you want to talk about?” I mean, that's the stuff that we need to be doing with ourselves, *Hecate laughs* and that's the thing that we need to be doing for other people. It doesn't mean we need to carry on a three or four hour conversation, cure them, hold the space, be caretaker. But it might mean we have to ask those questions before we decide to completely cut that person out of our lives. If things are serious, call it. Call it early and go.
[01:20:30] But if you're really invested, you have family, if it's a family member and if it's if it's a young one, if it's yourself acting out like “I don't get it, I'm doing this, I'm drinking, I'm flirting with a girl every morning and abandoning my family.” If, ask yourself why and if your family is telling you advice and your friends are telling you advice, that's great that you can get advice! It doesn't mean their advice is proper and appropriate for your situation. It doesn't mean that they know what's going on for you. Right? So it's like we have to take in a little bit of feedback from everybody, write it down and just find some professionals. And I wouldn't even tell someone to stick with one professional find a few of them, because you just don't know. Why not? If you really can * laugh* go on Reddit!, Find community, find community and try to get feedback and a second opinion, there's nothing wrong with that. We don't have to do it alone. And I just keep coming back to that.
[01:21:10] *break music*
My situation, while the events that happened, are not incredibly unique. Men, fathers leave all of the time and in fact, that was my partner's fundamental trauma. This happens and people cheat. And like I said earlier, people move out and things change. When we can't process all of it and it's becoming debilitating to our lives. And all those different ways I've mentioned earlier, ways that PTSD has shown itself. I want to be clear and say that what happened to me is, I don't want to I don't really want to get as detailed. But what happened to me last year is an incredibly rare occurrence. That's how I found myself into care so quickly. And that was for two reasons, because the next day when I woke up at four a.m., I became violently ill. I had already, I had missed texts on my phone from the day of the party. I had already abusive texts on my phone from my partner. And within that week and a half, I had become progressively ill because a person who was never overtly abusive to me shifted to that. They knew all my vulnerabilities. They said pretty crazy things to me and I would try to clarify and I only shine back love. I even was not thinking clearly enough, even after what I had experienced and witnessed with the treatment with our child. For a moment I saw a man who was a little bit out of control and I feared for our safety when I tried to do any type of negotiating or like I said, “I'll I'll meet out with you in public.” I wasn't thinking clearly because that person was behaving in a way that was violent and destructive and abusive. And I still was like, “OK, I'll meet with you and we'll talk about it.” No, don't do that. I only really got as sick as I did because of most likely because of the anesthesia. The series of abandonment had actually all formed a complex PTSD. My body was in so much pain. My spirit was in so much pain, given everything, that I couldn't feel my feelings, the only thing I could feel was more pain. And I was very surprised to wake up the next morning and to not be OK, and it blows my mind when I think about how sick I got because of somebody being persistently, verbally abusive to me, verbally threatening my safety, leaving me weird voicemails. A few weeks later, they would go on to say things like, “Your therapist don't exist.” And that was a reoccurring thing I heard from that person on the phone and text and email. In fact, his girlfriend told me, “There's no way, no professional would ever say that about him. I know him. And like what? Anyway, and and it's…
Really bizarre gaslighting. Your therapists don’t exist.
These people just don't exist DeSha! She said it too. There were long gaps of no contact. And I want to just say, no contact is a huge thing. And these relationships and one of the one of the reasons why it has to happen is so we can gain clarity and perspective and understand what's hurting us. It's disbelief. This person is actively hurting me. I've lost control of my body. I'm sick. I'm in critical care. I need doctors. I have, our close family is taking care of the baby. I can't. I need help. What's happening? And I'm writing. “Please help me. Where are you?” And I'm getting something so angry and violent back. It was a lot. And so I really still try to keep myself available to that. But it was very early on after that day that I got sick the next day from that party and everything had happened, that I went to two different doctors and they told me after looking at my phone and reading my responses, their responses, and said, “Block him immediately and go no contact. This has become a medical crisis.” And so I did that and I still felt like I needed to care for him and I worried about him. I didn't want him to feel abandoned by me, even though it didn't matter. He totally abandoned me and us. And he said that, he said, “I don't need to make you comfortable. I don't need to make you safe. Hahaha, she's all mine now. I don't need you. I'm not a part of this family.” All those kinds of things were said to me, which are all very traumatic and abusive, and I was not able to deal with that. And so I had to take space. But I always kept a hand out and there was a point where finally through EMDR, I realized I didn't have enough strength to keep my hand out and I kept it out. I don't I don't need to self-sacrifice.
So I was in a pretty intense, I was in a pretty intense routine with several medical professionals and a medical team who monitored my phone since I wouldn't block him because I said I just don't want to do that to him. What if what if he comes around and at least says he's sorry and that he cares and they're like, “No, just block him. You got to worry about yourself.” But I didn't do it. But they kept checking my phone and everything. And I'm just going to say, like, the no contact was really hard, but it did become very clear. I knew immediately this guy was abusive, but I didn't understand it. And it it does become clear with the no contact and it can become very clear with trauma therapy.
The no contact thing is is so important not just to cut yourself off from the abusive behavior and to cut the abuser off from their supply. But what we don't talk about sometimes is that it's also cutting you off as well because you're a part of it. You're you've been sucked into the pattern. And there are behaviors like the caring, the nurturing that feed into it. It's a cycle. And certainly
It goes it goes both ways. And ultimately, it is so important for no contact.
something else. If someone's able to do no contact, it's way too hard. There's actually support groups for it. “I've gone no contact one day high five!” That's how hard it is.
I've seen some of those as I've started doing this work with the podcast.
It's very intense. But if you need support while you go no contact, there are support groups online and otherwise to help you hold that space because it's extremely challenging and stressful. Connecting with other people that are going through the same thing is really important for some people.
Yeah and you get to meet people who have been doing it for years. They say “It gets easier, but it comes back and gets me every now and then.” Yeah, it's it put me in a really good position. It puts it puts the person on the receiving end. I wasn't responding at all. And so what it did was it put me in a position to listen and only listen. And these people and I've seen people who are prone to abusive behaviors or just terrible people who are abusive. Fine. Those exist too!
They want to instigate and incite an emotional reaction, they want to fight. They want you to go, “No, you're wrong.” They want to keep it going. It's just a way of, like, feeding on it and knowing “I know who you're thinking about right now.” For me, there was a point, there was a time where I looked down at my phone and I had his number on silent, no notifications. I looked at my phone and it just said a message came in like five minutes ago. I'm standing there looking at it and I'm scared. Every time I saw his number, my heart would start beating and it would re-trigger “I'm not safe. He's going to come and hurt me.” Crazy stuff. So that's one of the reason why people are like, “Just block it because you don't want to keep re triggering yourself. You want to rest.” I didn't do that, but I like that I didn't do that because I have a trail of messages. And what I'm saying is I came to check my phone, hadn't heard anything in weeks, and it just said, “I know you're trying to break me, DeSha, but you cannot.” I think later on I got messages like, “You are not strong, you are weak, I am strong.” stuff like that. But when I got that first message of, like, “I know you're trying to break me and you're not you're not going to be able to do it, you will not.” Just like a month before that, I was writing, like, pretty nice things. I like “If you want to talk at this point, I am on no contact, but I'll be real with you I’m breaking contact. Go find it. Let's find a safe place, a safe container with professionals, professional therapists so that we can talk. And you can you can talk to me like this if you want to. But in a container, you can talk to me like that and they'll tell you how to talk. You know, I'm not going to do it.” But I said, “Just reach me like this and find your own therapist. Have him call me, you know my number.” that kind of thing. I was very open and nice. And I also said, “I need you to stop” at some point. I'm like, “I'm so scared. You're scaring me. I'm afraid of you. Stop. I need you to stop. Please stop contacting me. I'm not going to answer.” like those kinds of things. Because all that was established that I wasn't feeling safe. But to read a message like “You're trying to break me, you will not.” I'm holding my phone. I was forty five pounds lighter by November.
It was when I hit thirty pounds that I received additional care and more questions came up and more care and support for the family. My child needed so much care. She needed it because she had to watch me shrink before her eyes, she watched me become completely debilitated and we had also done weening right before the party started, and I had made it so clear that a child needs to feel safe during that and that they need us to work together. And that's the stunt he pulled. That's what happened to our child. Forget me for a moment, but our child was really hurt through all that and then had to watch me for months, be incapable of playing without crying. I was gone at appointments around the clock, which got so expensive. I'm so lucky I have a credit card. But I gonna tell you this therapy is not cheap. I'm paying for the best food and the best care and we're having we're having our needs met. But at the end of the day, I look back at November and I am like, he's telling me not to break him. And I am so fucked up, to I'm so I'm struggling, you know, he's telling me don’t break him. And I'm like standing there feeling completely defeated, even though, and the truth, I had the world. I'm the luckiest person on Earth. My abuser discarded me. Eighty hours to get out of the postpartum depression. And I've done ninety six, ninety eight hours of EMDR therapy. It's been a very long journey. I'm at a completely healthy weight now.
Thank you. And it was the hardest thing ever and it was really, really difficult. But once again, it's the same pattern. The partner, the male partner I had was completely disengaged, was emotionally unavailable, was not receptive to what I was saying when I was hurting and needing care. It was the same behavior. So it really doesn't change. And the most important thing I could do then and then I did do was I followed the medical advice. I did the no contact to the best of my ability. And I kept on the course of receiving care. And I told myself, as long as I have two hundred dollars on my credit card and I have cash in the bank for food and bills and for my baby to be OK, I'm going to therapy and if I really need it, I will call. I will do an emergency phone call to friends and we will get more support. Obviously through this covid thing. It's been really difficult, but it's still, I knew that that was my plan. I had a plan of action and the plan was I'm never going back to that behavior. I'm not going to be treated that way anymore. And I'm worth more than that. And I deserve to be at a healthy weight and I deserve to be able to pick up my phone without a panic attack. I deserve to enjoy my child's time and our connection and my family. This is still a family I created and it's still a family I'm a part of. And if someone else does want it and doesn't want to be a part of it, I have to work at not taking that personally. And I need to focus on what works for me and what's working for me is trauma therapy and EMDR.
Well, thank you so much for for coming. It's been wonderful talking to you.
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. And I really hope that multiple aspects of this provide some sort of help and guidance for people. And even if it's just so other people don't feel so alone.
[01:34:42] Exactly. And that's my hope as well…Thank you so much for listening. Next week, I'll be sharing Part three, the final episode to come from this talk with DeSha. Please write in with feedback, listener questions, or episode requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know if you're interested in joining me on the show. I would love to have you. Finding OK is entirely crowd funded and you're the ones helping me make this happen. Thank you. A link to the Go Fund Me can be found on the podcast website and I post links routinely on my Facebook page. I also post relevant articles, art, memes, and resources daily. Feel free to friend me Hecate F. Okay *spells name* You can also find me on Instagram. I have created a private Finding OK Facebook group for survivors. You are welcome there and I hope you'll join us. If you would like a shout out, please take a minute to rate and review the podcast on whatever platform you use to help the podcast reach more listeners. Thank you so much for your continued support. Please share, subscribe, and donate if you can. Seriously, even a dollar helps. *laugh* Thank you again for listening. This has been Finding OK. Black Lives Matter. Take care of yourself.
[01:36:12] *Outro music by Ramshackle Glory*
*fade in to folk/punk chords of guitar* Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. And hold on, and hold on, hold on for your life *echoes into brief silence*…(Chorus and full band) Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. And hold on, and hold on, hold on for your life. *triumphant and uplifting music plays till end*