Charleston, South Carolina USA
Editor's Note: The following story could be potentially triggering for those who have experienced assault or have suicidal ideations. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741.
“A year ago, I spoke with Emily Torchiana, the founder of Lost Got Found about posting my story. Lost Got Found is a nonprofit and platform where individuals are allowed to share their personal stories about their struggles with mental illnesses and suicide. However, a year ago, I was still afraid and too ashamed to publicly display my vulnerability to my friends, my family, and essentially to the world of strangers.
We live in a society where we portray a completely different image of who we are on social media, but within our minds and our thoughts, we are different people internally. Even my closest friends don't essentially know me completely, and sometimes I feel like I don't know myself. I'm sharing this story, my story, in hopes to help others who feel as though they are fighting this battle alone, or feel alone, lost or afraid to feel these types of feelings.
I find myself scrolling through countless hours of social media, comparing my life to another. And, if I'm doing that, I wonder how many other people scroll through my social media accounts and assume the same thoughts about me? I find myself comparing my physical appearance, my life, my occupation to these people that I don't essentially know for the most part. Wanting their life, and then I start to question my self-worth, my self-esteem, my entire being, and what for?
The thing is, everything we see on the Internet has been altered to look 'perfect'. We have filters on Snapchat, on Instagram, not because it adds any substance to our lives, but they just make our pictures, our appearances look better. We are a society where we all want to look better. We want to assume this image that we are perfect, when in reality we are not. We are trying to live up to this unrealistic idea of perfection, that we instead lose a part of ourselves to this fad.
So, under all my photo enhancements, hair, makeup and clothes, the following story is who am I am, who I've always been. I've kept this personal for the most part and only my closest friends and family know this about me. I never want someone to feel sorry for me or people to think I am seeking sympathy. And, to be quite honest, I am simply scared of what other people will think of me. I am afraid of the judgement I'd receive if I was truly honest. I am here to step outside of my comfort zone and publish the story of me, the story I should have a year ago.
I didn't have the luxury of growing up in a stable household of two loving parents. In fact, leading up to their divorce, in kindergarten I remember watching my mom dead-bolting the bedroom door with my two brothers with her in the room. Why? Because my dad had headed down to the kitchen and returned upstairs with a knife in-hand.
I was young at the time, so I don't remember what the argument was about, but I have this vivid memory of how screwed up my childhood was. Fast forward a few years later, post-divorce, the image of this perfect family had shattered, and I was upset. I was daddy's little girl, and watching my mom date other people was not my fondest memory.
At the age of nine or ten, I was on vacation with my mom to Philadelphia, PA. It was the second time I had ever been in the United States. I remember throwing a tantrum, and being extremely angry with my mom for spending yet another night with this man who later became my ‘stepdad’ temporarily.
That very night, my mom's cousin physically abused me to the point where my entire body was covered in purple and black bruises. This scarring memory still haunts me today, because I still can relive every second of the torture that I had endured that very night. The night I still resent my own mother for, as she did not stop nor did she protect me from this abuse. Therefore, at times I find my relationship with my mom to be strained.
Fast forward, another few years. I am thirteen years old now, my mom is married to the man I despised, and on November 18, 2009, I find out my dad had passed away. Not from my mom, not from a phone call, but from a Facebook message from an old childhood friend. Imagine the type of pain and sadness I felt knowing that after five years with no contact with my dad, that no contact would continue because he was no longer alive.
At thirteen, I did not properly grieve, we did not speak about it in our household, and I fell into a depression where I began to question my self-worth. The pain became so unbearable, that my mom's cousin, the same cousin who beat me, visited that summer and put me over the edge where I downed a bottle of sleeping pills hoping to never wake up again. I wanted to kill myself, I didn't want to live. I wanted the pain to go away, and the only way I knew how, was to end my life. Saying ‘I want to kill myself’, it’s hard to say, let alone share with anyone else. I don't want to be labeled crazy, but I know I'm not the only one who has ever felt this way.
These dark thoughts of suicide continue to reside within my mind, subconsciously, only to reappear during moments of total and utter sadness. It is something I've worked on, and still continue to work on. The thing with pain and sadness is, they are feelings, and you are allowed to feel feelings. Our society has made us feel ashamed for feeling, and therefore, society has shamed others for having these dark thoughts to the point that, we sweep these feelings under rug and the horrible inevitable happens when we hear about someone committing suicide. We need to talk about it!
The thing is, these horrible things happened to me. However, they do not define me. They have definitely affected me in more ways than one, and shaped me to be the person I am today. I have learned to be resilient from these experiences, and to understand that bad things happen, but what you decide to do, is on you. You can either let it affect you every day, or you can let these experiences motivate you to live and to grow.
The thing with social media is, no one would have known this about my screwed-up past, instead, everyone would continue to have these assumptions that my life was ‘perfect’.
I hope that my story can help others. And, whatever you are going through, you will get through this. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and there is always someone to reach out too. You are not alone. Imperfect is the new perfect. Be great and continue to do great things.”