I do not remember the first 11 years of my life. My first memory is of 6th grade. From that memory forward almost 20 years I endured tirades and abuse from my father. He was so unpredictable with his anger. I was scared of him every day until I moved out. Shortly after I moved out, my parents separated. I was really close to my mom and he made me pay for that. He would routinely hurl insults at me, write me nasty mean letters (especially around my birthday and the holidays - intentionally so I am sure). There was a point it got so bad that my mom would screen all letters and if it was mean she would throw it out without me seeing it. At 26, I wrote him a letter basically saying if he can't be nice to me, I don't want him in my life anymore. My sister, who I saw my father throw against the dining room wall one night as a teen and choke her - forgave him and said I'd be sorry for my decision to cut ties with him if he ever died. He had a heart attack and died on my son's first birthday two years later (when I was 28). I blamed him for destroying my sense of self and any self-esteem I would ever have. After crying over his abuse in my 20's, the 30's were time for therapy to move on. I was diagnosed with PTSD because of the years I can't remember and the triggers that started surfacing after his death. I had married a great man at 21 and we had three beautiful children. He loved me deeply but I didn't know how to love. After 20 years together I convinced him to leave and seek the person who would appreciate and love him for the rest of his life (he has since found her and I couldn't be happier). After our divorce, I entered into a very emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship. It lasted only 5 months before I fled suddenly to a domestic abuse shelter. It sent me back to the beginning stages of therapy again. I had a restraining order on him but still lived in fear with nightmares, flashbacks and voices of him and my father. I connected with a therapist that changed my life. I was put on a med regimen that helped me keep my sanity. I have fibromyalgia and daily pain but I am OK now. I met and married another wonderful man but this time, due to over a year of weekly therapy, I knew what love was and not to run when I found it. Although I still have things that will trigger panic and the urge to run as well as occasional nightmares, I know I am safe and loved. I do know that all things are possible when you take down the fortress you build around yourself and open yourself up to hope.
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