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Help... Past trauma from teens, flashbacks(7 Posts)
I'm just going to put it out there that I've never even put this into words to anyone, at all. So forgive me if it's erratic, just typing it is making em shudder but I feel like I can't keep it in anymore. I'm going to be brief with details and I have name changed because I just couldn't handle anyone in real life knowing.
So I'll start here, it was the day before I turned 16- I met a man at one of my brothers friends wedding. He was 30. I was there with my older brothers and a friend, this guy is well known by my family and no one has a bad word to say about him. He appears as a nice guy he really does. I only went to the wedding because I was really friendly with the brides sister.
Anyway, I got chatting to him, he knew my age. I was stupidly drinking, my older brothers made me promise not to tell mum and dad as they would've got it in the neck! Completely innocent move, they trusted me.
I really, really, really fancied him. I'd never felt this way about anyone before, now I know that it was because I was literally a child, I didn't know any better. I danced with him and friends all night, everyone saw this as innocent because of who he was, he's a likeable man with an amazing job. At the end of the night, he gave me his number, told me how amazing he thought I was, and kissed me. I went for a cigarette with him, He tried to advance more (I can't speak about it yet, it causes a panic attack whenever it crosses my mind), i was so close to 'doing things' with him but I got scared and stopped it. He kissed me again and told me it was okay and that he really liked me so didn't mind.
The next few months were a whirlwind. I loved this man, I couldn't stop thinking about him, nobody knew, nobody could ever. I really was obsessed with him so I'm not sitting here being the victim. I'm really not trying to do that. We texted none stop, we spoke about everything together and he told me he loved me and I believed it. We often met up, it was only say 3 times a month as he would say he was too busy with work. But one day he text me, saying he couldn't do it anymore, that he loved me but I was too young and nothing could change that.
I was heartbroken, I spent the rest of my last school year depressed, I only went to school to sit my exams and fell into an awful cycle of self harm and spent most of my days hiding in bed.
A few months later, he asked to meet up and told me it was all a mistake, I was so happy to 'have him back'. We texted again and then he would end it all abruptly. This would happen time and time again. Looking back now, I think I was a guilty pleasure to him. It makes me feel sick.
I got older and started seeing someone new, I started college and met new friends and overall was happier. I still thought about him and cried myself to sleep but I was a bit better. I found out he had a girlfriend and I was gutted but I knew I had to move on, at this point I saw him as an ex.
One night when I was 17, almost 18.I was at a party with my then boyfriend. And he called me, he begged me to meet him and told me he still loved me. And I'm not proud of it but I told my boyfriend I had to go home and I went to meet him. I feel so sad for myself, and for this lovely guy. He never found out but I forever feel guilty and this is where I basically went into self destruct mode again.
I met him, we finally had sex. I didn't want to, I just wanted to cry and hug him and tell him how much i missed him and loved him. I really did love him. I remember feeling nothing, nothing at all. I just thought if I let him do this then maybe he will be my boyfriend again. I knew he had a girlfriend and I still let him do this to me. The same girlfriend he's with now. I remember thinking. Have I been raped? But I convinced myself that it couldn't have been if I had feelings for him.
He surprise surprise ghosted me again. We only ever had sex the one time, but this carries on until I was 19. I hated myself. I was out every night, I had some relationships with some very horrible men, I took drugs. I had no respect for myself and I just wanted to die. My first serious relationship was abusive, and my one after that. I didn't know how to act in a normal relationship and wasn't used to being treated nicely. Every nice guy left me because I would become destructive and push him away if things got too serious. I was scared.
I never told anyone, not even a friend. I'm in my 20's, I've been with an absolute amazing man for 3 years, he taught me to love and to be loved. He makes every day the best. We're at good points in our lives and in the next few years expect to be married and are currently trying for a baby.
I couldn't be happier but lately I've been struggling. With dreams and flashbacks, I see myself having panic attacks in the supermarket when I see someone who loosely reminds me of him or the situation. I can't sleep at night and I can't even tell anyone why. I feel like I'm betraying DP By not telling him, but I can't because I have buried it so deep. My family would be heartbroken and would go crazy with the man in question. I never told anyone because i loved him, and even if I did it's my word against his. I kept nothing, all to protect him.
The worst part, I don't see him often but maybe twice a year I'll drive past him or see him in a shop. I get to see him living his care free life, happy and not a care in the world. I hear he's starting a family and getting married too. But I wonder if he has panic attacks like me, I wonder if he grieves for lost years of his life like I do. My teenage years. I wonder if he is still scared to love like I am. I doubt he is. And lately it's started to make me angry. Too much time has passed to get him in any sort of trouble for what he did to me. I couldn't prove anything and I was of legal age.
I don't even know why I'm posting. I just need to get this out after all these years. I'm the hope that maybe I'll be able to sleep soundly knowing its the first night since I was 16 that it's not festering in my head. I'm thinking therapy, but I don't think I could say this in person. I have a good job now, one that this kind of past wouldn't look great in if anyone was to find out. I just desperately don't want these feelings to ruin my relationship with the love of my life. I can't let it and need to do something.
If you've got this far thank you for reading my story.
I was that broken teenage girl (15/29). I don't want to go into too much detail but I can understand the feelings you describe and their lingering effects. I could write pages but really I think it can be distilled into a few key points:
- don't let it fester anymore. I filed what happened to me under toxic and buried it for twenty five years. The past always works its way up from the depths of your mind. It's worse the longer you've left it there. Please get therapy now. Don't wait until you're 40...
- you being angry is the healthiest that could happen to you! You should be angry. Yes, you genuinely wanted the man but he manipulated and strung you along for years. His standing in the community also increased his power and hold over you making this thing illicit and toxic. He cut you off from your support network because you still feel you can't open up.
- the shame and guilt: I understand the embarrassment that comes with something like this. It's wrong, and because you knew it was wrong from the start you feel it was your fault and everyone will judge you. I get that. However I bet you most people would judge HIM. You were young and vulnerable.
- His motivations and how he feels: simply put, they are IRRELEVANT. It's something I've only come to realise very recently. I thought hearing deep regret and guilt from mine would make me feel better. No. It was just more grief. Basically, even if it was some kind of thwarted love story and not some seedy game to him, would it make your hurt go away? No, it wouldn't. It would again be all about him...
So, don't just bury this any longer, air the wound, stop feeling ashamed, put him in the rear view mirror and leave him there. Erasing the past won't work but you are allowed to own your feelings with your head held high. You loved him, no shame in that. He didn't deserve it but your fiancé does! Focus on that.
Thank you so much for that. Reading such a real response from someone who has been there feels like a weight off my shoulders.
I know I need to get therapy. I really do, I need to speak to someone so I can get him out of my life.
I first thought I wanted an apology, but I don't. You're right. My fiancée deserves the world and I just hope dealing with this will help me move forward.
I am very glad that my response is helpful in some way. You are at the start of your healing journey. It'll be hard work but it will be worth it, I promise you that. You will come out the other side.
Best of luck OP!
I'm really sorry to hear your struggles. I mostly wanted to say that I really feel for you, it sounds like a very confusing and painful thing to come to terms with. It must feel a little suffocating since you have carried it for so long.
I think these kind of experiences are intensified when we find safety and love. Somehow having something positive to compare it to, it hurts so much more.
There are different kinds of therapy. I'm in one at the moment and me and my therapist have an understanding that maybe I'll never talk about it but that doesn't mean we can't work around it and look at how it affects me in the present day and what could I do instead of talking to improve the quality of my life. Sometimes talking about it is just re-traumatising. I found journalling really helpful, just to get it out of my head.
It sounds like you've built a great life for yourself but I also wanted to say that I know how much energy it takes to get there. I hope you can find the peace and sleep soon.
Thank you so much for having such empathy in your response. Because this situation is so disgusting in my head it’s hard to imagine someone would really feel for me. So thank you
I’m definitely going to look into therapy, I just feel like I deserve a life that at the minute I’m simply not getting. A life with peace in my own head.
Totally agree with it hurting more when you have a positive situation to compare it to. I think that’s what brought it all back up and made it so raw again. I just think of me, so sad and so alone- being treated so badly thinking there was no way out. And I just mourn for lost time.
Thank you for your lovely and real honest reply, it has helped enormously. Wish you all the luck going forward
Thank you @Songsofexperience I really hope I do come through stronger. I know I can’t ignore it anymore. The hardest part is coming to terms with the fact he knows he did this to me and has gotten away with it, with not a mark on himself or his rep.
I’m wishing you the best of luck going forward, thank you so much for taking the time from your day to reach out for me. X
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