Today, while I was looking for a photo on my Google Photos storage drive from one year ago, I found the beginning of the end staring back at me.
Screenshots of messages from other women who had first-hand knowledge (with the same man) of what it was like to live what I had just started talking about publicly would serve as stepping stones for me to finally climb out of the darkness. I was still struggling with the loss of a relationship I thought was real and I was coming to grips with understanding just what I had endured and allowed for three years.
I remember a few things about this time last year. I was living on my own and feeling sad, powerful, embarrassed, relieved, and confused all at the same time. It was like a veil was being lifted but I was still struggling. I was still getting shamed and blamed. I was still listening to him. I was still unknowingly falling back into old subconscious patterns of blocking abuse and only remembering the good stuff.
Thankfully, I was also listening to women that were bravely sharing horrible experiences in order to help me heal…and to heal themselves. Women helping women. Little did I know, it was only the beginning of the full-circle healing that would happen over the last 365 days.
I remember my dear friend and industry colleague, Ari Signes, sending me the song “Fix You” by Coldplay and she highlighted this line:
“When you’re too in love to let it go
but if you never try you’ll never know
just what you’re worth”
It cut to the core. It was like she knew how to get me to realize I was fighting for my worth…my soul…my life. The gift I was receiving from all of these women was the gift of knowledge and validation that what I suspected was real. And what I was learning to be true was far worse than I even allowed myself to suspect. That was the hardest pill to swallow.
I was beginning to cut the cords but I was still susceptible to the ploys. I guess it’s the equivalent to being addicted to anything—there’s a period of vulnerability after you stop using. I was no different. When the fake suicide attempt and fake heart attack happened, I acted the way anyone who cares about someone would act, no matter how much hurt was between them. I was terrified and sad.
I recently spoke with two people who have dealt with the “threatening suicide” ploy. I wasn’t smart enough or level headed enough to look up the name of the bridge he said he was about to jump off of when it was happening. I was just scared and distraught when I read his goodbye letter to me. As it turned out, the small bridge is one that 10-year-old kids jump off of into the summer waters below, while their parents cheer them on. It’s pretty much all over Youtube. And the heart attack I caused him? Nonexistent, according to the people who would definitely know. And every hospital in Philly.
I really didn’t realize this was a “thing” until I recently spoke with others who went through similar, which is why I’m sharing it. There’s a great article by Lucy Rising about this very thing that explains it much better than I could: http://lucyrising.com/2015/07/when-your-narcissist-threatens-to-commit-suicide.html
A year ago, I was still in the trenches fighting for my life. I was gaining strength and then plummeting as I tried to navigate the minefield of ploys aimed to make me feel horrible and put me back in my place, accepting all of the blame.
I finally stopped blaming myself as the veil lifted, and I helped Little Kiersten stop blaming herself for what happened to her when she was little.
Today, I am whole for the first time in my life. I can even see how much of a gift—yeah, I said it—that relationship was because it helped me heal on levels that I didn’t even know I needed healing. I’m truly grateful for it and understand now that it was fated.
This year, my Google Photo library shows a different picture of life—one that I will never take for granted. It shows laughter, love, fun, family, friends, goofy faces, and a Kiersten who isn't afraid to take chances and speak her mind. A woman who now knows what unconditional love really means and is in love with her true soulmate. And maybe one or two snapchat photos where I'm wearing bunny ears.