Overcoming My Own Anxiety

The psychological and verbal abuse was evident to everyone else but me.

I was blinded by a narcissist. If you know what that is like, then you know how hard it is to get away, get free of the mental mind games and be free from an emotional vampire.

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I wasn’t sure how I allowed it to happen – I was always strong-minded, strong-willed, independent and had my boundaries set. However, this particular person threw my world upside down and made me into a cowering, scared and beat down person. The psychological and verbal abuse was evident to everyone else but me.

I feel partly to blame because I was a Special Education teacher at the time. I worked with students that had emotional disturbances, learning disabilities and oppositional defiant disorder. I was used to dealing with temper tantrums and physical fits every day – getting cursed at and having classroom items thrown at me all the time. So when he did it – I found myself going into “teacher mode” where I felt I could just help him through his bouts of anger and yelling.
I had no idea till it was too late that he was using my love and affection against me – to control me. After 4 years of dating – I was able to get away. But that is where the anxiety came in. He made me afraid to leave my house. I had to switch from one campus to another, only for him to find me. I moved three times, only for him to continue to find me. I had to move into an apartment where he couldn’t see which building was mine. I bought a new car, he still found me. The protective order didn’t stop him, he still found me. He would show up at my work or at a birthday party for a co-worker or friend – and cause a huge scene, screaming obscenities at me calling me unspeakable names. Even being arrested on school property didn’t stop him. I was afraid to go to Walmart. The thought of leaving my house was crippling. I was running scared with nowhere to go and no way to protect my boys (not his) from him.
My school district helped me with a therapist and my doctor put me on anxiety medication. Each time he showed up – I would have a panic attack and pass out. I couldn’t handle it. At times, I would have rather chosen to die than to live with the constant torture and fear he instilled in me. My friends were supportive and let me ramble on and on and repeat myself crying not understanding why he wouldn’t stop. See – he had already moved on and was married to someone else. So why is he doing this to me?
The therapist had me journaling – and I did this….a lot. I went through online private journals where I could type away, sometimes at work during my breaks, I would hand write in my journals. I had at least 25 books filled with emotions during one school year. The next year, I moved classrooms and I took all my stuff home for the summer.
One night, while watching TV with my boys – I looked at them and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I went to the kitchen. I had black circles under my eyes, looking like a zombie and I was disgusted with what I saw. That was not me. That was not me. That was NOT ME!
The next day- I called the Doctor and asked to start decreasing my anxiety medication. After 3 months – I was off of them completely. Over the summer, I moved cities, school districts, cars, phones and social media. As the new school year started, I was moving my stuff back into campus and I found my journals. I didn’t realize that I had stopped. I read them and I felt STUPID. I felt ASHAMED of what a weak person I was and how I allowed someone to make me feel that way. But I also felt STRONGER. What changed that summer? I stopped listening to his voice in my head and started listening to my own again. I had to learn to love myself again. I did some cognitive behavioral therapy on myself. When I had a negative thought, I would replace it with a positive one. Every time I tried to glamorize our past, I would combat those thoughts with the truth. The panic attacks slowly decreased. I started slowly going back and doing the things that I liked to do – like having dinner with my friends. When the fear of getting out of my car struck, or I found myself looking around like an owl – I would snap the rubber band on my wrist and re-focus on the person with me. Slowly but surely it all stopped. I had to decide to make it stop and I was the only one who could control it.
Not everyone is able to do it – but I had to. I had two boys to raise and they needed the mother they had before who showed them how to be strong, know your worth, be proud, work hard and be a good person.
I finally found my husband when I wasn’t looking. It took being with Travis to appreciate Mike. Now I know what true unconditional love is – and it starts with loving yourself.
Written by: Nicole Watts
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36 thoughts on “Overcoming My Own Anxiety”

    1. Yes, Nicole was very courageous in her actions and writings! So sorry this story was relatable to you, I pray it helped in any way possible.

  1. I am in tears. I am happy so happy for you and that you were able to overcome all of that! I can only hope one day to be as brave as you are! You are amazing!

  2. HI Love,
    “I stopped listening to his voice in my head and started listening to my own again.”
    I totally understand your position. I have a similar story with my child’s father. It is still a struggle at times, but I appreciate the silence while he is occupied.
    We enter these type of relationships – not because we’re weak – but because we don’t choose self-love, our safety, and our sanity over a relationship outside of ourselves. Plus, I am sure you have learned so many lessons. I know I have. Thanks for sharing and being so candid.
    Please share in the group on Friday: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2036261576613312/

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience! Strong, radiant, beautiful goddesses usually fall prey to people like him and what happened to you… you are NOT alone.
    You are so strong, so brave and so glorious! Keep on being you <3

  4. I may not know you but through your writing I’m getting an understanding and I have to say, reading this I am PROUD of you! I am glad that you did not give up, you did the work and overcame. I’m sure there are moments where you have triggers but to know that you can overcome those as well is AMAZING! You’re right, not everyone is strong enough to get through a time like this but you did! Your boys needed you and I believe that is what gave you that extra push. Thank you for sharing and being so strong. You are brave and I’m sure an amazing human being. <3

    1. Yes, Nicole found her strength and purpose in her boys. Her recognition of the issue and bravery following was critical to her surviving. Sadly so, not all are strong or smart enough to not give up.

  5. This is such a powerful story. Thanks so much for sharing this struggle even though I can’t relate in every way I totally understand anxiety controlling my life.

    1. Exactly why I shared Nicole’s story. Anxiety is such a powerful force and can often be hard to recognize, understand and overcome.

  6. I’m glad that you were able to finally get away from that person and gain your life back. I’m also glad that you shared your story because I’m sure someone reading this can identify with those emotions you felt. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Absolutely! Nicole’s story is fierce! So much courage displayed in all of her actions! Thanks for visiting and reading!

  7. Thank you for your bravery on sharing! THANK YOU! I know many women who are still stuck, in the relationship or it still haunting them. Your story lets me know it’s possible for them to escape and be happy. Your strenght to get yourself up when you hit rock bottom is admirable!

    1. Thanks for reading! Nicole’s story is indeed impressive and unfortunately it’s not uncommon as well. She is extremely courageous.

  8. This post gave me chills. I know when you were going through all this you couldn’t understand why, but I fully believe your purpose in this was to help someone else out of this kind of situation. People have a way of having an emotional hold on people and the person who is being held captive by those emotions often doesn’t know it until it’s too late. I really think your experiences will save someone else a lot of heartbreak. Thank you for sharing and being so raw with your emotions

    1. Nicole did a magnificent job of portraying all needed aspects of her very personal story. It can be difficult speaking/writing on such intimate subjects. Thanks for reading.

  9. Wow. I always thought I was alone when it comes to being emotionally abused, especially being a black woman. It’s sort of refreshing to read that we have been through the same things, but of course I don’t wish this on anyone. It was hell. It’s still hell sometimes thinking back on everything that happened. When you said “I stopped listening to his voice in my head and started listening to my own again” it struck me. The moment I stopped hearing my abusers voice over and over again in my mind, is the moment I began to get myself back. Great article and keep your head up, you’re not alone out here. 🙂

    1. So many experience emotional abuse. I am thankful for the opportunity to hear and share stories to open the mental health dialogue. I am glad to hear you escaped such a detrimental environment. I wish you well as you continue to grow.

  10. Your story is amazing! And I’m so happy that you were able to love and listen to yourself again. I know this is going to help so many people who may be stuck in a situation or mindset that they think they can’t get out of. You are proof that they can! Beautiful!

    1. Yes, Nicole’s story is amazing and unfortunately common. Some similar stories end in much more prolific manners. This story could serve as a great lesson for someone! Thanks for reading!

  11. What an emotional journey! I’m so happy you could learn to love yourself again. This story could help so many people, thankyou for being brave and giving us such an inspirational post.

    1. I am hopeful my mental health blogs will open the dialogue to “ask for help.” I am thankful for having the opportunity to share stories of such amazing individuals.

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