The Dark Shadow

photograph by East Coast Photography//Shauna Hundeby

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles circulating around the internet lately about things like “what she wants you to know about her past of abuse” and “why she didn’t leave her abuser”. Articles that would start off with a catchy title, but never seemed to touch on the points I was hoping to see them explore. It was a first for me to see articles like this. While they were very well written and truth rang from every paragraph; I wasn’t totally happy with them. None of them let the reader in on life after trauma. Not one of them touched on what it’s like to live day to day with this incredibly dark shadow constantly creeping around a corner.

As someone who has to live with this shadow day in and day out, it’s not easy. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been or if it seems like you’ve gotten over it. The fact is… it never goes away. Time will heal certain parts of the experience, eventually things will fade. However, the feelings, the flashbacks, the triggers, the moments of unexplained anxiety… they don’t ever leave. I will forever walk around with this dark shadow haunting me without warning. The moments you’re out or working and someone with a similar face or voice pops in and your heart immediately drops into that split second of panic before you realize you’re safe. You never truly get over something like this. You just deal with it when it comes back up.

I don’t know if anyone will truly understand what it feels like to live with something like this, unless you too have been there. It’s hard. There are good days and there are bad days. It’s not just having to deal with the reality of it having happened and accepting it; it’s not just dealing with the fact that someone you once loved is now the worst fear in your life and they could always show back up. It’s not just dealing with the type of abuse they put you through. It’s dealing with the lies, the feelings, the anxiety; It’s dealing with knowing that you deserve better, you really are beautiful, you do know what love is suppose to be like, and that it’s okay to be you. It’s okay to be the person you are. I’m not going to get yelled at for trying to make someone else happy. I’m not going to get thrown out of the house for crying. I’m not going to get pinned down for refusing to fight. I’m not going to get chased down the street for wanting to leave a 6 hour fight I couldn’t escape. I won’t be forced to fight. I won’t be constantly given ultimatums that if I go to work I must not care or truly be in love. No one is going to break into my house because I locked them out because I couldn’t handle the constant pain of the fights.

I have moments in my life that are plagued by other moments that shouldn’t have been there. Important moments in my life… where things took a turn for the worse because I refused to be spoken for and then everything turned into this dark haze I couldn’t escape. The constant apologies because I just wanted the fighting to stop. It never mattered who was right… It only mattered that he had control. He wanted complete control over all of me and I wouldn’t give it to him.

I may have lost sight of who I was for a couple years. I may have tried to believe in someone who I thought loved me back, but really the most terrifying thing was just that. By the end, I didn’t want him to love me. The scariest words you could say to me were “I won’t ever leave you.” It was like I was trapped in a nightmare that I didn’t think I could make it out of. Just because I almost drowned, doesn’t mean I didn’t learn to breathe again. I found a light in darkness and I held on so tightly until I made it safely to the other side. Not every day feels like I’m stronger than the last, but I know it’s true. I’m a warrior. I came out of the darkness with a fire inside of me to always strive to be the best human I can be. I’m chasing my wildest dreams and pursuing the undying wanderlust in my heart.

While the darkness is behind me, it’s never too far behind that I don’t feel it’s cold, unsettling breeze every once in awhile. When that happens it’s one of the hardest things to pull back from, because it’s the instant feeling of shame and that no one understands and if I bring it up people are going to think I should be way past this by now… because he’s gone and it’s over. For those of us dealing with this shadow of darkness, that’s one of the hardest, constant obstacles we face all the time. I’m sure one day it won’t be such a strong breeze every now and then, but for now.. it still hurts. It still exists. It’s still painful, and it shouldn’t be dealt with alone. We need community and we need chances to talk about it without getting shut down and without the judgement of others. We need you to be understanding of the pain we live with.


1 Comment

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One response to “The Dark Shadow

  1. audrey Williams

    I love you little Miss Cindy Loo Who and the unbelievable person you are becoming. Life is a journey, the good, bad, ugly and also those moment of unbelievable greatness that take your breath away. Keep moving forward with all the wisdom you have gained and don’t make the same mistake twice because then it won’t be a mistake but a pattern. Don’t let that person steal a moment more of the greatness that is out there in your future. You have the soul of an angel and it is seen by all who know you. Love, Audrey

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