This Is How It Gets Better
This is a story of how it gets better.
This is about overcoming years of manipulation and emotional abuse.
This is about breaking free from a persona I've created of myself.
This is about being myself, embracing myself, and knowing my self-worth.
This is my story of self-love.
Chapter 1: This Isn't Even Me
For the most part, I didn't really like high school. The two years I regret the most are Grade 8 and 9, because there hadn't been a more significant time where I was not myself. It was a typical 'new kid trying to fit in' situation, and I surprisingly managed to feel like I did blend in with everyone else. It was also the first time I felt popular and I'm almost 100% sure that was the only motivation that kept me going with this outward masked identity for two years.
I was everything I knew I wasn't. I followed trends, I managed to get a boyfriend (which literally surprised everyone including myself), I must've been outgoing (considering all the people I met), I woke up earlier than I do for most of my classes now just to straighten (though I like to use the word 'damage') my precious curly hair that I love so much... *sigh* the list goes on. Everything just felt so wrong and at some point, I just wanted to drop the role and be myself.
Chapter 2: Unloved, Mistrusted, Broken
The thing is that there were so many other things going on as well. This drastic change from being this quiet, shy, and innocent girl I was known to be in elementary school to who I became once I entered high school (whom I don't even know how to describe) had shook everyone, and suddenly, my world had flipped. So many questions raised from myself and others. From 'Who am I? Why am I doing this again?' to 'Where are you going anyway? What are you doing?'
What hurts the most is that the biggest assumptions came from loved ones, and eventually, I started believing that I was no more than labels. Labels such as 'slut', 'no future', 'wasted life', 'stupid', 'dumb', 'disgrace of a daughter,' etc. I was not trusted, I felt extremely unloved, and after two years of emotional abuse, it broke me to the point where I became suicidal. The monster in this story was everyone against me. It took me and ate up all of the love and respect I ever had for myself.
Chapter 3: Existential Crisis
Along with external battles, the most significant ones happen within ourselves. Not only was I having to deal with the environment around me, I was already breaking beforehand on the inside. I never realized that I didn't like what I was doing, yet I did it anyway. It became a battle between my mind and my heart. My mind was telling me that I needed to fit it, and my heart was telling me to drop the act. Looking back, I never thought I'd get my first existential crisis (that I was aware of) at 14/15-years-old.
I was going through so much stuff all at once. First off, I kept questioning why exactly I was receiving harsh treatment from my loved ones, as well as why I wasn't being myself at school. 'Have I not always been a good person? What have I done to receive this kind of treatment? What will it take for this nightmare to end? Am I really what they think I am?' -- Lindsey, of course not.
Chapter 4: Solitude & Healing
At the end of Grade 9, I had an epiphany as I was watching other performers at a dance competition. I decided that I have had enough of mistreatment that I did not deserve and I was exhausted of not being my true self to those around me and myself. I threw away the idea of 'fitting in' and replaced it with a new project. Another great change within was going to happen, but this time, it was only for me.
In Grade 10, I spent a lot of time by myself, because I was figuring stuff out, as well as keeping quiet out of fear for worse situations. Physically speaking, I had stopped damaging my hair with heat and I started dressing the way I wanted to dress. Inside, I was still broken, sad, and angry, as I was recovering from trauma that had not fully stopped, but had calmed down. It's hard to recover from people who hurt you when you live with them, and even harder when there isn't accountability from the perpetrator(s). Despite the bad experiences, I lived with hope in my heart that I would one day heal and my life would get better.
Chapter 5: Take Back What You Said
Now that I think more about it, 16-year-old Lindsey was my 'angst-teen' era. Despite becoming very attached to the Catholic faith at the time, I was ironically judgemental towards those who did not have faith in God, or who claimed they did, but still continued doing bad things. I wanted to prove to my family that they got it all wrong, almost that I had adapted their own judgements, but it was obviously done in a very unhealthy way.
Bashing others and their life choices didn't make me look or feel any better. I was being negative towards others and myself, when what I needed was optimism, hope, and love. After a year of hateful attitude towards basically my whole grade, I took a step back and decided that I should stop this unhealthy 'I'm better than you' comparison habit that I had developed in order to cope with the trauma of misconstrued labels placed upon me. The journey of self-love doesn't develop when you're comparing yourself to others. It starts when you start taking responsibility for your actions and start making better decisions on how you want to live your life.
Chapter 6: Be What You Believe In
After having my second existential crisis, most things went uphill from there on out. I discovered role models that I could look up to, drowned myself in positivity and self-help books, and most importantly, I started to regain love and respect for myself. The depressing feelings that I had were slowly, but surely making their way out. More than three years after the start of my trauma, 2015 was a whirlwind of obstacles (read This Is My Story for more details) and I wasn't fully stable from what I've been through from the past.
Aside from it being a difficult year, it was also very empowering. My trip to France that year was a huge highlight. I fell in love with the country because of the feelings it gave me. It had given me new perspectives -- the notion that there are so many places to explore in the world, that there are so many people out there to meet, and that life can be so beautiful and worth living if you choose to make it that way.
It was also the year I created Livin'Lin which was a project I've been wanting to do for years, and look where its brought me. Look where I've brought myself!
Chapter 7: Hi, I'm Lindsey, aka Livin'Lin, aka That Girl In The Yellow Jacket
You know how everyone has a story to tell? That one story that has shaped them into being who they are now? What you've just read is that story for me. For that reason alone, despite my past self going through the lowest of times, it's for those experiences that I overcame which remind me of how strong I really am.
Most days, I am proud of who I am and I am so thankful to be here.
If I hadn't decided to be myself, I wouldn't have found some of the best and closest friends I have now. If I hadn't decided to kill myself, I wouldn't be able to be my little brother's role model. If I hadn't decided to take a stand against false labels and home bullies, I would not have been the outspoken, shameless, and badass woman I am now.
If you've made it this far, thank you.
This story means so much to me.
MENTAL HEALTH NOTE:
If you're wondering why I've decided to share this story, it's because it empowers me to open up about experiences I could not talk about before. With such traumatic experiences, it's no doubt that the healing process will be lengthy and full of surprises. In fact, I didn't even realize I was being emotionally abused until I saw a Buzzfeed video last year on the subject that still brings me to tears whenever I watch it. I used to think about abuse as physical abuse, but later on, I found out that abuse can also destroy you mentally.
I also didn't realize I was being manipulated by someone until a few weeks ago when I was having another introspective moment at night, wondering more of the why in my creation of false self-image in my early teens.
This story still causes me to break down when I talk about it (oh man, I bawled my eyes out when I was writing the first three chapters that I had to take a walk), but I've gotten a lot better at controlling myself.
The summer of 2015, I went to my family doctor and told her that I may be depressed because of what I had been through. At the time, I was very scared of labels like that, fearing that despite my hard work in becoming better, I was actually a mess. I started telling her My Story and burst into tears; resulting in me not being able to finish it. My diagnosis was social anxiety, PTSD, and situational depression.
For a long time, I've been quiet about what has happened to me, because it brings back (mostly) terrible memories. I endured being severely anxious to speak to loved ones, out of fear that what ever I was going to say was going to be misconstrued and turned against me. I was scared for a long time, so what ever growth I was going through, I kept to myself.
From the birth of Livin'Lin to now, I've opened up so much towards myself, my friends, my classmates, my family, and whoever reads my words online. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self that what ever she is experiencing, she will get through it, because she is so much stronger than what others think of her. She is a warrior and she can get through anything life throws at her. I want her to know that even though she didn't receive the love she needed, she found it within herself. And when she discovered that love, she would share it with the world to inspire others, bring happiness into their lives, and hope that they also discover their full potential.
To my readers, to the countless strangers who have sent me long messages that weren't necessary, not a day goes by that I'm head-over-heels thankful that I made all of the decisions I've made so far in my life. I dreamed of having my voice heard for a long time and because of me creating this blog, my voice was heard, and now, I only want to create an even bigger impact.
Remember that you're the one in control of your own life and you have all of this power inside of you to do some good in this world. Even if you haven't found it, believe that you will. -- You are loved, you are so important, and you are so special -- the world is just waiting for you to share your soul with them.