Why I Wouldn't Change My Life After An Emotionally Abusive Childhood

Why I Wouldn't Change My Life After An Emotionally Abusive Childhood

My mother has narcissistic personality disorder. I endured extreme psychological, emotional and verbal abuse from her for my entire life, until I cut off contact a few years ago. She became particularly cruel and sadistic as I matured into a teen. Blaming myself for her anger and outbursts, I wondered what was so wrong with me that my own mother hated me so. Nothing I ever did was good enough.

I have recently been working extremely hard in therapy to address the lingering affects of her abuse that include depression, anxiety, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). I started therapy to fix me, and realized very quickly that I wasn’t ever the problem — the lifetime of abuse I had endured from my mother, was.

Therapy has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I’ve spent my life hiding my scars. I cope so well that no one, not even my husband knew the extent of what I deal with on a daily basis. Therapy has revealed my deepest hurts, brought them to the surface, and forced me to experience the pain I’ve been hiding so deeply in order to finally release it. I’ve been so unbelievably angry at how my mother could do this to me. These scars she left me with will always be here.

I wanted to believe if I got far enough away and had enough time, that I could just get over it. Therapy has helped me to realize this is not going to happen, and that has been a hard pill to swallow.

What I Lived Through...

My brother asked me if I had the choice to go back in time and live a normal childhood, would I do it?

I said no.

What I lived through has made me who I am. These scars may always be with me, but they are a part of me. Without them, I would not be the me who I am now.


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Who I am chose to marry the man I love.

Who I am chose to have my children in my early twenties because I had such a desire to be a good mother, the mother I did not have.

Who I am chose to adopt children because I loved mine so much, and I knew the pain of not having a mother’s love.

Who I am took on a school system to advocate for my children, and that resulted in the entire ESL system in our county being revamped. Every child in that program benefited from the complaint resolution.

Who I am empathizes with those that others ignore because I have been ignored.

Who I am has a strong sense of justice, and will try to right a wrong no matter the cost because I have paid the price of others indifference to the injustice leveled against me.

Who I am is strong. Who I am is damaged. But, who I am, is me.

If It Had Been Different...

I would not want to experience life without my husband. What if undoing the pain from my childhood meant I somehow missed out on falling in love with him?

I do not want to think about life without each of my precious children. Their births and adoptions have been the highlights of my life. If I undid something in my past that meant I could not have even one of them, it would not be worth it to me. I would rather have this pain I carry than risk not having even one of them.

I would not have cared about the injustice in the school system if I had not adopted my children. I would not have even known it existed. How selfish would it be of me to take away the chance at finally having an equal opportunity at getting an education from hundreds of children just so I could be free of these scars? I am proud of what I accomplished.

Coming To A Place Of Peace...

I have come to a place where I am at peace with my childhood, even while wrestling with the lasting affects from the damage. It is who I am. I became so skillful at hiding my pain that I almost lost myself. No one knows the real me because I keep the painful parts of myself buried. Finally I can see, the painful parts are what makes me strong. These scars I have been hiding are nothing to be ashamed of; they represent that I was stronger than everything meant to break me.

If I had to endure an anguished childhood so I could have this life that I have now, I would choose it again. My husband, my children, and the person I became because of it all are worth it to me.

I do not think I will ever be at a place where I am not angry at my mother for what she did to me, but I am at a place where I am thankful and happy for what it made me. If there is one thing I want survivors of abuse to understand, it's that you are so much stronger for what you endured. We survived other people’s worst nightmares, and we still get up every day. Once you realize that you are the bad-ass that survived hell, everything else is no big deal.

Reprinted with permission of the author
from The Mighty at themighty.com.

About the Author

Erin Nichole JohnsonErin Nichole Johnson is a mom trying to be the change she wants to see in the world. Married to her best friend, they were forever changed by their adoption trips to Ukraine. Erin is the mom to seven awesome kids, three homegrown and four born in her heart. She writes about their unglamorous real life, often in fluent sarcasm as her own personal comic relief, and blogs about their life at The Johnson Journals  as well as at Memories of a Narcissist.

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