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I’d prefer the sticks and stones.

 

Image: Background with butterflies says "sticks and stones may break my  bones, but words will break my heart."

Image: Background with butterflies says “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart.”

 

 

How many times as a kid, did we chant “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” What bullshit. It’s 100% not true. Words hurt. Words sting. Words cause trauma. Words carry a stigma and words can cut into your soul like daggers.

I am a victim of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is very real. Emotional abuse  hurts and is just a real as physical, sexual, or any other form of abuse. For me, emotional abuse was the worst form. Why? People often don’t believe it’s real. They believe that my father sexually abused me. They believe that he physically hurt me. But so often, they don’t believe the words.

But it’s his voice I hear in my head at night.
It’s him telling me I’m stupid. I’m dumb. I’m never enough. I’ll never graduate college.

It’s the emotional abuse from my PCA that haunts me. Being told I’m lazy. That I just need to believe more. That if I just tried harder, I could do it.

This is emotional abuse.

I always had my basic needs met, but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t neglected. My father never told me he loved me. My father told me that if I didn’t stop crying, he’d give me something to cry about. My father told me all sorts of horrible things. Were they true? Fuck no. But when you hear those horrid words, day in and day out, you internalize them. They become a part of you. And you slowly start to believe it.

You know, logically, that it’s not true. That you’re not stupid. That you’re beautiful. That you are worthy of love and acceptance. But because it isn’t what you were told, you wrestle with it. Any type of compliment? You’re waiting for the “yet…” “but..” “we’ll see.”

This is the affect emotional abuse has.

It’s taking your voice. Literally.

You’re afraid to speak.

Because what if it happens again?

You’re afraid to breathe.

Because what if it happens again?

You learn things, you know.

You learn to stay silent.

You learn the right scripts. The right words. You learn what to say and you learn how to shut yourself inside yourself. You learn how to cope, but not how to live. You learn how to survive, but not how to thrive.

This is emotional abuse.