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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