Fairy Tales, Flashbacks and Nightmares: Recognizing PTSD from Emotional Abuse

The journey post an emotionally abusive relationship has so far been triumphant. Family and friends have and continue to be a source of comfort and much needed affirmation on days where self- doubt creeps into my life. As I approach two years of being out of an emotionally abusive relationship, I’m still triggered by male aggression. I’m not where I wanna be, but I’m not where I used to be. With my tribe as my backbone, I continue to win:


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I was out living my best life at a work conference in New Orleans. This was my first time in the city, so I was excited to take in the eclectic NOLA experience I often see on tv. Despite the expected tourism, the scenery was authentic; it was mystic. I was awestruck by the line of merchants reading palms, embossing skin with henna, and soothing our ears with traditional New Orleans jazz. Continuing past Cafe du Monde with my trusted Nikon, a gentleman stopped me in my tracks.

" Hi, my name is Tre. I'm working on a project to capture black women's hair in a positive light. Your hair caught my attention, is it okay if I take some pictures of you to add to my project?" he asked.

Excited about his collection, I was more than willing to be a part of his work and share my hair story. We ventured towards the river walk where the sunset began to paint the sky in soft pinks and blues. I recommended we set up shop near the train tracks. After making a pact to be on the lookout for any approaching trains, Tre began to capture me in the cotton candy horizon.

Something about his aura intrigued me. Something about my aura intrigued him. The sun retired while we spoke nonstop about our passions and professions. Although Tre had to go back to his workspace to gather his belongings, he insisted on walking me back to my hotel. The more we spoke, the more excited I grew. He was well versed in culture and to my surprise, open to share himself with me. In return, I welcomed his truths with open ears and validation. We arrived to my hotel where what was supposed to be goodbye turned into, "Let's talk some more." We laughed and shared dances from our different but similar cultures. Tre wasn't much of a dancer, but he was willing to learn and I was willing to teach. Our bodies grooved to Afrobeats and Kompa until we grew tired. Before I knew it, a stranger started to feel- well, not so stranger like. Before anything could potentially escalate, we both agreed for him to leave.

I laid in my bed wondering, "What the hell was that." I couldn't wrap my mind around how this man felt so comfortable to me so quickly. I was thrilled and perplexed at the same damn time. Determined not to get lost in a fairy tale, I decided to put my investigative journalism skills to work- I Googled his ass. What I discovered was a video of a young Tre proposing to a young woman four years ago. Google continued to guide me towards the wedding registry and wedding album. I was floored, real life Krusty Krab meme- the room was spinning in slow motion. This was exactly the information I needed to keep the hopeless romantic in me on timeout. During my great revelation, Tre and I exchanged a few texts and agreed to try and see one another before my flight the next day.

I woke up the next morning exhausted from a night of exploring NOLA- I felt like Drake. I reached to check how much social media and texting damage my drunken self made. Shockingly, drunken Lyne said nothing regrettable to the masses. While taking in my “More life, more everything” state of being, Tre’s text messages to me were rapidly firing into my phone. The reason for his urgency? “Not enough time,” and he was asking me to consider a later flight on his dime.
I obliged.
Not yet fully recuperated, we decided to have lunch in my room. Considering the new found data I collected from the night before, I was also curious on how our last in person encounter would look like.

Tre arrived to my room with sandwiches and drinks. While we ate, I filled him in on my nighttime NOLA experience. After our lunch, we got comfortable, and as we continued to converse, Tre gently sat me between his legs. Dialogue transitioned to soft massages and Tre playing in my hair. I felt myself starting to get lost in the sauce. Slowly sinking into a sunken place, I realized a wife didn’t come up while we talked about past relationships. Before I got too drunk in fairytale, I pierced into his soul with soft devious eyes and pulled the trigger-

"So, I googled you. I found a video of you proposing to a young woman four years ago."

Tre was stunned but also somber- and speechless. His reaction made me want to know the ins and outs of his potential tragic romance and how he arrived to a place where he’d be pouring his soul to me — a woman he’d known for less than 24hrs.
Like an embarrassed child he looked away from me. The room was silent but Tre’s heart wept. I felt deep anguish, conflicted love, and confusion radiating from his pores.

I apologized, "If me bringing this up triggers unresolved hurt, I'm sorry."
"It's okay," he whispered.

I pulled him towards me and embraced him. I no longer cared to know the full story. Our bodies became magnets, a stranger started to feel- well, familiar. I was pulled into his untold story and was willing to wait for him to find the strength to tell it. We shared passionate kisses. In hope of a next time, we kept penetration on the shelf. Caressed one another with hands and mouth until we both reached our peaks.

After leaving New Orleans, Tre and I’s contact were sporadic. We ultimately agreed to keep our distance. He had a U-Haul truck of baggage that he was unwilling to share and I was too carefree with zero significant obligation to my name. Two weeks after settling back into my daily activities, I received a message from Tre requesting for us to speak. He was experiencing some "itching" and wanted to know if I was too. Shocked, I assured him I wasn't experiencing anything irregular on my body. I also reminded him I received negative lab results a week prior to traveling to New Orleans. I even insisted on sending him the results, but he refused. I then recommended he visit his doctor if he was greatly concern. Reluctantly, he left the topic alone-- we joked about it for a bit and got off of the phone. 

A week later, I received a series of aggressive text messages from Tre accusing me of putting his health at risk. Again, insert Krusty Krab meme- my world was spinning in slow motion. I was baffled with the amount of intense emotion being thrown at me on a Monday morning. Refusing to match his energy, I asked Tre to share his test results with me, to which I discovered he didn't have any test results.
Could you imagine my frustration? Sitting hunched over at my desk, I was beginning to have an Issa Rae moment,

“What the hell is wrong with this nigga?! Oh you with the shits? False news trynna scam me nigga?! Oh you think I’m the one?! Think I won’t tell your wife nigga?! I’ll ruin your whole life nigga?!”

But seriously, I wasn’t having it, given my previous experience with emotional abuse, I blocked him and immediately scheduled a doctor's appointment for later that day. Tre shifted his aggression to email messages, and my world kept spinning. While I waited for the lab results, I rationally responded to some of Tre’s irrational messages, consulted my tribe (my girls), and kept shutting up my petty.
Two days later, on the subway heading home from work, I received my lab results-
For the second time, A BISH HAD NEGATIVE RESULTS. With science on my side, Migos' "Deadz" faded into my head-- I was in Beast Mode and channeling Issa again!  

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, you tried to blame me for your dirty pee-pee. I told you the truth but you aint wanna hear me. Now you looking dumb, stupid, foolish, nigga you goin through it. Board game, CLUE, you aint got one. Who did it? Not me, maybe your wifey!”

Got to my car and immediately sent the lab results to Tre, and guess what? He did what niggas do- NIG! This man continued to aggressively berate me through email. At this point, I was officially triggered. I couldn't understand how he now knew I had a clean bill of health before and after meeting him but still continued to be disrespectful towards me. Sitting in my car, I found myself starting to feel anxious, tears flowed down my cheeks- I was frozen. My mind flashed back to being with someone who rejected my truth whenever it meant he was wrong. A man who appeared to be calm, collected, and concerned about women’s equality in conversation, but also, in his actions, chewed out and manipulated women. A man who wasn’t willing to accept or see how dangerously toxic he was. Tre was a man I met before. Tre was a man I spent 15 months with and as a result, died from the inside out. TRE WAS JUST LIKE MY EX.
A familiar sadness stuck itself onto me. I couldn't shake it.
There I was, slowly dimming during my glow up--I was reliving the emotional abuse all over again.


Feeling heavy AF I began to share the story in its entirety with my tribe (my girls). Per tribe norm, they poured life and affirmation back into me. My sister reminded me of my power. My best friend reminded me of my dignity. The bones that were beginning to dry were now having life breathed back into them. I began to think clearly- I had done my due diligence before and after meeting Tre.
In this situation, I had done nothing wrong! At that moment, I finally released the fear of Tre potentially falsely defaming my character online.
I followed the counsel of my tribe and blocked him on ALL platforms. My world stopped spinning, and I then realized why I met Tre. 

I met Tre because the patterns of an emotional abuser are difficult to hide. They show themselves the most during disagreements.
God, the universe, had to test the progress of my trials.

Did I learn anything from my past relationship? Did my ex still have power over me?

Was I going to voluntarily be blinded and bound to an "untold story" again?  No, I wasn't. My tribe wouldn't let me.

Do I still experience PTSD due to the emotional abuse I experienced? Evidently, I do. I’m still growing.

Do I still silence my story? No, I don't. There is strength in my story, there is strength in all of our stories... and despite the mixed emotions I was feeling, I found the strength to seek support from my tribe.

The past few weeks have literally felt like a fairy tale and nightmare. But my reality is starting to feel like heaven again, and I'm maintaining healthy energy.
As women, we must protect ourselves from all toxic things and people. We must set and maintain boundaries even when it feels confusing.
The boundaries help us collect our thoughts. The boundaries are keys to self preservation.
The boundaries are commandments to self love.

It’s easy to find ourselves quickly sinking into the mystique of a man- which usually results in lies, confusion, and heartache. What’s real and healthy isn’t fucking mysterious.
It’s honest, forthcoming, and considerate of your well being. Leave the fairy tales to Disney.
Ladies, you, we, deserve the exact love we sometimes think we don’t deserve.
Sometimes, it is on your glow up journey where wolves come to you disguised in sheep's clothing.

Trust your intuition.

Trust your tribe.

Trust yourself.

If it’s surfacing negative emotions similar to those you’ve experienced before, sis, it aint for you.

Do not allow deceitfully destructive men to derail your glow up.

You may not be where you want to be but you sure as hell aint where you used to be!

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Why I Believe The 'American Dream' Is Now An 'American Nightmare'

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A Second Glass of Lemonade: Living Liberated and Pursuing Happiness Post Emotional Abuse

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

It was this time last year where I saw the horizon beyond the dark clouds of my breakup. After four months mourning, Beyonce’s war cry pierced through my soul like a double edged sword, “I’m telling these tears go and fall away, fall away. May the last one burn into flames...”

“I’m telling these tears go and fall away, fall away. May the last one burn into flames…”

I felt my body slowly emerge out of the grave I dug for myself. Phenomenally, I began to rise.
Phenomenal woman, I was becoming.


Two years ago, the pressures of settling down caused me to dumb down and settle into a settlement that stripped me bare naked of the woman I thought I was supposed to be. I willingly bound myself to a man that lacked the capacity to cultivate the garden of my greatness. Overtime, the relationship depleted me of my goodness- left me barren to myself and others. 

“Damn, did this man physically abuse her?” You’re probably thinking.
No, but his inability to effectively communicate and mange conflict bludgeoned me. He reached for my insecurities like a pistol on his hip. Whenever the opportunity was present, I was target practice. Every instance of critique and humiliation reduced my esteem. I found myself pitifully burying seeds in his garden to find validation in him. I came up short at every harvest, for, bad soil can’t grow healthy fruit.

I was perpetually gaslighted, which gave birth to me regularly questioning my reality, doubting myself- old thoughts of self-harm resurfaced. His mismatched words and actions led me to believe that I was the problem. As a result, I distanced myself from friends and erased all traces of me from social media. Those closest to me noticed the isolation and shared their concerns. But I coveted “the husband” more than my own sanity. I didn’t heed their counsel, in my eyes they were being haters who didn’t want to see me happy. 

This unhealthy version of love I thought I deserved pushed me to the edge. I conflated biblical context and convinced myself that if I loved him selflessly the way The Bible says to love others that maybe things would change. If I prayed and fasted longer and harder that maybe he would finally see how much I was approaching my breaking point and change his behavior. 
That never happened. 

The straw that broke the camel’s back was me admitting that in seeking comfort elsewhere, I was unfaithful. Of course he raged and shamed me, publicly wrote my indiscretions in the sand for others to throw stones at me. But time showed me that the most embarrassing thing became the most beautiful thing. We both finally let go, I was free from the prison I voluntarily stayed in. In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was free at last, free at last thank God almighty, I was free at last!


So, to answer your question, no, I didn’t experience physical abuse. However, the emotional abuse was hella real. I experienced a textbook case of an emotionally abusive relationship. Mortified that me of all people was in this situation, I remained quiet about it, until now. To be clear, I’m not advocating infidelity but oddly enough in my situation that was the only indecent act that stopped the detrimental roller-coaster I was on.

I’m able to look back on that experience with a lot more insight and wisdom. This past Fourth of July circa 2017, I exercised my unalienable right of being endowed with life, liberty, and happiness and celebrated my growth with friends. I remembered where I was 4th of July 2016, poured myself a second glass of lemonade, and danced harder.
 

With the help of family and close friends, I now shine brighter, smile harder, and think sharper. I’m opening the doors I was once too bashful to open. My glow up has been amazing and tears flood my eyes every time I think about the journey. This is an ongoing journey that I fully embrace with discernment and patience. Yes, at a vibrant 28 I desire romantic relationship but I’m in no rush. I’m leveling up, no longer abandoning my path to get on someone else’s. No longer dimming my light so someone else can shine. As Hattie White eloquently stated on Beyonce’s Lemonade album, “I had my ups and downs but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons but I made lemonade.”

Photo Credit: Patrick O’Neal McDowell III

Photo Credit: Patrick O’Neal McDowell III

“I had my ups and downs but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons but I made lemonade.” 
-Hattie White, Lemonade, Beyonce

All forms of abuse is abuse, it’s unsafe and unhealthy. If you or someone you know needs help call 1–800–799-SAFE (7233) at anytime.

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Mask Off- A Glimpse of My Truth

As frustrating as it is to not have a grasp on my emotions around my menstrual cycle, it gives me time to feel and think about things I normally suppress

I live a significant of my days in fear. Of what?


Unrequited love. So much so that I wear indifference like it’s my favorite pair of pumps. I’m afraid to share how I really feel because what if those feelings are rejected? What if it pushes someone I care about away?

"Although I internally desire closeness with others, the mere thought of that closeness gives me significant anxiety"

I fear abandonment. I have an anxious avoidant/dismissive attachment style. Although I internally desire closeness with others, the mere thought of that closeness gives me significant anxiety. In a perfect world I’d want to rely on others for support or help. My truth is, I simply don’t. I expect the worst and hope for the best.

I tend to shy away from excessive social settings. I’m fearful of being the weirdo analyzing everyone’s behavior. Because, in my conversations with people I’ve learned  everyone has a story and there’s more to them than what meets the eye.

I fear losing in life. Losing in career-losing in success. What I identify as privilege was earned, my education. Everything I've earned was a direct result of acquiring education; through hard work. Coupled with my fear of losing in life, I fear disappointing my parents. The place great ol USA has coined as the “poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” Haiti, is home for my family. My parents migrated here, took on lowly jobs, attempted to assimilate to the “American Way,” endured humiliation ALL so I can have a better life. I literally can’t afford to reciprocate their journey with failure.

With these fears come immense pressure. A pressure which sometimes is the fuel my vehicle needs. Other times, it’s a nail in my tire causing me to go nowhere fast.

I do my best at juggling it all. It’s the reason why I smile so hard, work so hard, champion for the voiceless so hard, and become reclusive to reset my energy a lot harder.

Warmly,

Standing in My Truth

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Black Graduating Class of 2017- We See You


And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was a rumble in the firmament showering Black magic unto the earth giving birth to a reign of black excellence among all nations.
From top left to right: April Watson “Masters in Business Administration;” Evelyne Edouard “Masters in Healthcare Management;” Sophia Jean “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology;” Shalanda Duperrier “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Business;” Nadiya Ledan “Masters in Education and Human Development;” Dannie Dorrilus “Bachelor of Arts in Public Health;” Leslie Chatelain Jr. “Masters in Public Health;” Josh Brooks “Juris Doctor;” Senai Andikiel “Masters in Environmental Science and Engineering;” Stacey Joseph “Masters in Social Work;” Mervnide Pierre “Certified Nurse Midwife, Masters of Science in Nursing;” Brittany Justine “Juris Doctor;” Devon Austrie “Bachelor of Arts in Economics;” and Laura Kay “Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology and Human Development and Math with a Minor in African Studies.”

From top left to right: April Watson “Masters in Business Administration;” Evelyne Edouard “Masters in Healthcare Management;” Sophia Jean “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology;” Shalanda Duperrier “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Business;” Nadiya Ledan “Masters in Education and Human Development;” Dannie Dorrilus “Bachelor of Arts in Public Health;” Leslie Chatelain Jr. “Masters in Public Health;” Josh Brooks “Juris Doctor;” Senai Andikiel “Masters in Environmental Science and Engineering;” Stacey Joseph “Masters in Social Work;” Mervnide Pierre “Certified Nurse Midwife, Masters of Science in Nursing;” Brittany Justine “Juris Doctor;” Devon Austrie “Bachelor of Arts in Economics;” and Laura Kay “Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology and Human Development and Math with a Minor in African Studies.”

I don’t know what magic potion of greatness students of color were sippin on this past school semester but it has resulted in the best commemoration ceremonies and cap decor I’ve ever seen. From swag surfin, to hollerin and turning your backs to the current administration’s leaders who aren’t here for your educational prowess.

Class of 2017, you’ve made it and this one is for you! 

To the 14 splendid individuals pictured above who walked across the stage this month, may this congratulations transcend mountains. May it be a never ending reminder that “YOU did this!” Some of you achieved this momentous occasion while taking on full-time positions, parenting, and maintaining a social life. There were also some of you who diligently travailed beyond the pressures of family life, the juggle of balancing bae’s needs, and the stress of mental and physical health just to get to graduation day and scream, “Mama we made it!” How you did all of this while maintaining a whole real life is beyond me but black man, black woman, you did it!

                      (l) Mervnide Pierre and Lodz Joseph (r)                              Photo Credit: Marvens Pierre

                      (l) Mervnide Pierre and Lodz Joseph (r)
                             Photo Credit: Marvens Pierre

Graduates, we heard your thank yous to us for being understanding when you went ghost-delayed responses to text messages and canceling your appearances because you had to study. You thanked us for traveling miles and missing work just to see you walk across a stage for less than a minute. Only to be followed by us screaming your name to the heavens despite administration probably butchering it, impromptu photo shoots, and of course food fellowship and drinks at the place of your liking. 

We heard you but in true black tradition, we must say to you, ubuntu. We are because you are, we acknowledge your efforts. Thank you for not only seeing yourself but for seeing the generations before you that migrated to this country to make a better way for you. Thank you for seeing the generations after you, for being a source of representation for the young brown and black bodies who are unable to see their way out of their hoods. Thank you for pushing through the countless sleepless nights and doubtful days throughout your academic journey. Thank you for turning your tears into triumph and your frustrations into fearlessness. Thank you because without you, the legacy of our black community would discontinue.

Thank you for saying, “Yes” when the systemic racism that is our American society said, “No.” Thank you because when they said slow down, you sped up. When you were given margins, you lunged outside of them. When you were given hurdles, you leaped over them and dapped the sky.

Class of 2017, you have passed the baton. You arrived to the dinner and instead of being on the menu, you sat at the table. You’re now out of the classroom but the lessons will not stop. You’re now a student of life equipped with the necessary tools to put theory into practice. As you professionally step into the degrees you have earned we now walk bolder hand in hand. We look forward to the affirming head nod, glance, and smile in the work place letting you know that we see you. You are not alone, you are not invisible. So shine brighter, stand taller, speak louder, we see you. 


Congratulations!

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“For Every Kinda Woman- When Nothing is Enough”

Excuse my appearance, I’m usually well put together. Dressed well, smile painted on just right so you’ll never notice the cracks in between which is routinely followed by the well rehearsed line, “I’m doing well. Thanks for asking.” Yeah, right now it’s happening again. Every month for a week I’m reminded that I am a woman. This super woman’s cape gets ripped down and she reverts to a ball of sporadic emotion, a walking time bomb if you must.

Every month for a week my body kicks into overdrive to give me the bittersweet sample of what pregnancy might feel like. There’s this pain that happens in my lower abdomen. My intestines become that old wash cloth that’s tightly wrung from left to right- right to left and one more time just to be sure. A kryptonite that throws me into full submission; fetal position rocking back and forth in complete agony wishing it would stop. My lower back starts to ache, tired isn’t just tired it’s fucking fatigue, I’M EXHAUSTED ALL THE TIME! I stand up wanting to sit down, sit down wanting to stand up, the whole shit becomes too much to where I throw in the towel and just lay down.

During this time I’m a wreck- borderline schizophrenic. Creating multiple personalities screaming out I hate you leave me alone, I love you just hold me, I’m in the mood touch me, I miss you come see me…DAMMIT this whole shit is twisted; wishing that for once I’ll miss it, miss this whole shit called my period!

For three weeks every month I’m what everyone else wants me to be; cool, calm, and collected. My tone stays at the perfect decibel never too high never too low cause heaven forbid I question anything. How dare I show any signs of disapproval. For 1,2,3 weeks every month I’m pleasant, smoothing it all over, making sure I’m right with everyone, having conversations I actually don’t care about, keeping things politically correct.

But this week during these seven days there’s a physiological embargo taken place within me. ISIS itself has taken over, I’m unapologetically off the wall and don’t you dare try to shame me, don’t you dare try to take it away! 
For 21 days out of 30 this puppet dances and regurgitates what’s forced fed to make you feel comfortable. 
Out of those 30 days, I get 7 days to remind me that I am human, 
I am a woman. 
I am sensitive, I cry, I love, I hate, I laugh, I am angered. 
I am a woman, accept my woman…

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