Wednesday 16 October 2019

How Letting Go Saved my Life

By Maya Kelley

My childhood was not an easy one, despite my mother’s efforts to keep me safe. I grew up in a loving home, was provided with everything I needed, and was exceptionally bright from an early age. Even with being provided the best foundation I could have to excel in life, I turned down a path of self-destruction. I was filled with hatred for myself, mistrust towards others, and a general apathetic outlook towards life.

Early Childhood Trauma

At around the age of seven, I was mauled by my family dog. I slipped and fell, let out a high-pitched scream, and the dog’s prey drive must have kicked in. This incident left me nearly dead, with scars all over my face and neck. I was happy while I was in the hospital; I got to participate in arts and crafts while I recovered with my loved ones around me. Once I went back to school, the kids were not as welcoming. I was bullied for the scars on my face which left me with extremely low self-esteem at a young and impressionable age. I was lacking in self-worth before I even hit my teen years, all because I would not allow myself to process what had happened to me.

As I began to get older, my behavior started to worsen. At about the age of thirteen, I started attending parties with people who were older than me. I fell in love with the way that alcohol and xanax seemed to take away all of my insecurities, even if it was just for the night. The flashbacks from my dog attack would go away, I would forget about my scars, and I finally felt “a part of” when I was surrounded by other people partying.

At a 4th of July party, I binge-drank and took xanax to the point of passing out. The next morning, I was told that an older man took advantage of me while I was blacked out, and in result stole my virginity from me. Finding out that I had been a victim of sexual assault at the age of thirteen only made me want to self-medicate even further. I was too ashamed to talk to my parents about what had happened to me because I blamed myself. I thought that since I allowed myself to become vulnerable, that it was all my own fault. I didn’t stop to consider that I was only thirteen years old and my abuser was in his mid-twenties.

A Downward Spiral

The weekend turned into weekdays, nights turned into mornings, and I was constantly in an altered state. I could not go longer than just a few hours without getting high or drinking. I had developed extreme PTSD and anxiety from my unresolved trauma, which made me feel like I could not live without a substance in my body. In reality, I was just making my symptoms worsen over time and prolonging my road to recovery. Emotionally, I was either withdrawn or completely unhinged; I had no in between. I began to self-mutilate just so that I could feel something other than emptiness.

Eventually, the drugs stopped working. I could not get high anymore, my symptoms were extremely loud, and I wanted to die. I felt like my life wasn’t worth anything. I dropped out of school when I turned sixteen, began to sell drugs or even myself just to get my fix, and I had absolutely no purpose in life; or so I thought. I had allowed my morals to become nonexistent and pushed away all of the people in my life who truly loved me.

Letting Go and Beginning to Recover

When I realized I could not bring myself to take my life, I asked my mom for help. I decided that I had no idea how to fix things on my own and agreed to go to treatment where I would safely be transitioned into a sober individual, while going through trauma therapy. I always thought that therapy was for weak people, but once I finally allowed myself to give it a try, I realized that it actually took a strong person to be able to admit they have a problem and begin to face it. In therapy, I learned how to accept the things that happened to me and to use my experiences to help others heal; giving me a purpose in life that I had craved for so long.

With my newfound sobriety, I began to meet people from all different types of backgrounds who shared the same emotions, thought processes, and ideas as me. I began to feel that sense of being “a part of” that I had not felt since my first time getting high, except this time it felt different because I knew it came from a place of love and authenticity. I began to learn who I really was as a person and also learned how to love myself through the help of fellowship. My problem was control. I needed to learn how to let go of the past and future so that I could be in the present moment, enjoying life to the fullest extent.

Today, I am extremely happy for the first time in my life. I have genuine friendships, intimate relationships that I was never capable of having before, and I do not regret one part of my story; my past has shaped me into the woman I am today, and for that I will be forever grateful.

About the Author

Maya Kelley is a writer for Agape Treatment Center, a drug and mental health rehabilitation center in South Florida. She is passionate about spreading awareness on sexual assault, childhood trauma, and addiction.


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