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i was expressing to a friend of mine, my concern about things that have never happened - or better yet, my obsessive thoughts of possible hurtful realities. he listened as i spoke, and once i had finished with my series of “what ifs,” and “i wonders,” he calmly labeled my painful inquisitions as “the jabs only i could throw at myself.

i wonder sometimes, in my journey to freedom, why i make pit stops to cause myself pain. i wonder why my grip is so tight on grief that i sometimes create my own suffering with my fears and my anxiety - as if reality is not enough to confront and exist within as it is. i know that i am a survivor of emotional abuse - and as i reflect on the reasons why i do what i do and am the way that i am, i keep coming up with the thought that somewhere in me, no matter how small a space, i still must believe that i was worthy of the abuse. worthy of the manipulation, the withholding of affection, the gaslighting, and the constant jabs he landed at the beauty in my existence. thousands of miles and over a year away from my abuser, i still find evidence that i’ve picked up his slack and taken up the mantle he left behind, making myself responsible for giving myself the kind of pain that he inflicted.

but enough is enough.

i’ve come to realize that instead of fabricating the most intense and demoralizing hypotheticals, i should be spending my time convincing myself that i deserve the freedom i so desperately seek. instead of literally “taking jabs at myself,” i should declare every day that what i am worthy of is the kind of life that is full of happiness, people who truly love me, and a true love for myself. if i’m tired of the bruises and black eyes, why can’t my love for myself be stronger than his damage? to get to healing i must learn how to fight fairly - to fight against the nightmares that i will never be loved romantically. to fight against the tormenting reveries of the hateful words that have been spoken to me. and to fight against the habit of limiting myself to the least of what life has to offer me.

if i’m going to throw some jabs from this point forward, they’ll be thrown at my raging past when it tries to consume me. they’ll be thrown at anything that tries to keep me from being

f r e e .


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