Recently I discovered a stash of my old journals and wanted to take a little walk down memory lane, I curiously flipped through the pages of these beautiful journals and discovered… these have to be burned!
I am pretty sure that if anyone read these things from start to finish, I might actually die from embarrassment.
But I'm a journal keeper, and for some reason, I find it therapeutic to put down my thoughts in a physical place where someone can come along and see just how stupid I was at some point in time.
I was sooooooo dumb!
Dear Younger Self, Get a Grip!
I always loved the idea of keeping these journals and then opening them when I was much older and finding my journey had been adventurous and romantic.
I dreamed that I'd write of an epic love story, the beginning of a timeless tale that my older self would enjoy reading.
Truth Here: This Older Self IS NOT ENJOYING THIS!
But, before I send these pages in time up to the heavens in ashes. I thought it might be amusing to take a peek at them and share a few of the funnier things I found.
May 17th 1991
Yeah, I'm not even sure what was written here. Something about Love, a guy that I had been in a toxic relationship with for over 4 years at that point. He was a chronic cheater and I was a hopeful romantic.
Do I risk it?
I was 18 (stupid) and just moved in with this guy and I'm not even sure what I was questioning but the last line made me scream. “Do I risk it?”
No Crysta! You do not! I don't know what you are risking, but NO. NO NO NO!
Yep... that's me. My Dad and I enjoyed each other's company, silently. This is so cute. I love seeing memories of my Dad. I didn't get enough of them. I really wish I had more photos or something to go back to. I wonder what movie we saw?
Nope! Girl.. no! And this can't see the light of day. No.. Oh Lord! Oh honey! Did you take tips from Cosmo? Stop it! Turn the page!
May 26, 1991
In the last few days, a lot has happened. *** and I drove back to our hometown to see friends and family. I hadn't been feeling well. *** had been overly cranky and we had a terrible fight a few days ago. Not his fault, but it got physical.
I went to my old family doctor while we were in town. Looks like the pain was a miscarriage. I have to say, I am actually relieved. I'd been pretty scared, now I have the answer.
Recently, I've been talking to my birth Mom. She has been contacting women with “other senses” and talking to them about me. It seem that they know more about me that I know about myself. ( She went to psychics) These women claim that I won't have any maternal instincts until I am about 30. This really hurts and scares me. I love my son, but I don't want to destroy his life because I am unable to love him. She tells me I should give him to her and let her raise him. She tells me I have to let go of the anger I carry about who she was and let her have another chance to be a mother.
I am so confused. I want to be a great Mom. But what if she is right and I'm not?
The truth is: I was right, I loved my son and I needed to be honest with myself. Everyone in my life at that point wanted something from me and none of them cared at all about what was best for me. I had a physically abusive boyfriend, I had been living on my own since I was 15 and I just wanted someone to love me unconditionally. My birth mother was an addict and mentally ill, but she was a great liar and there were moments I just wanted a chance to be loved. But what she wanted was a baby, not me.
I love my son with all my heart. But I am scared for him, scared for the both of us. I only want the best for him, but what is that? I know that raising a family is a big responsibility. I am all alone in this and I am so confused. *** asked me if I was willing to give him up in order to keep my baby. I don't understand how he could ask me that. It isn't fair. He says he loves me, but this isn't right. I wonder how long this love will last.
Right after this, my boyfriend insisted that we give custody of my son to my birth mother. She ran off with my child and fled the state with him. With the baby gone, my boyfriend stepped up his violence and it was clear to me at the time that I had made so many wrong choices. I'd been homeless before, but this was far worse. Having a home with someone who didn't respect me as a human was so much worse.
This photo was tucked in one of the journals. My Gram was the most important woman in my life. But during this time, I was so ashamed of how terrible my life had become that I couldn't bring myself to speak with her.
She had raised me from the time I was an infant. But she left me when I was 14, she thought that was old enough for me to be on my own. I made so many mistakes. I thought that I had to keep fighting to make her proud of me because I was “an adult” and she couldn't take care of me anymore.
So I didn't do drugs, drink, or even smoke. However, I was so young and I really needed a parent to tell me how I was supposed to keep going when it seemed that everyone wanted to take something important from me.
Dear Diary, I got a job!
I got a job at **** and the guy told me I would make a lot of money. I've never done data entry. But he said he would teach me himself. He was very flirty, said he liked my dress.
*** said I should take the job. We need the money. I just need to pay the rent. *** said I need to give him half of my checks because he has a lot of bills to pay. He bought a ring for a girl, and now the debt collection was calling all the time. Maybe I am the bitch he says I am. But I don't think he should be acting as he does with me. I try to talk to him about it, but he tells me to shut up. He says I want to fight. I don't, I never do.
I want my Gram.
I have this feeling like I am so miserable. I want to scream. There isn't any food in the house and I am lonely. I miss my son. I miss my dog. I miss my Gram. I miss being happy. If I keep working hard, maybe I can get them all back.
Wow kid! Yeah... if I could, I'd go back in time and save your ass. This is BS.
Things didn't get better for a while. A little while after this, I moved back to Cali and went looking for my son and a new start. The boyfriend followed me and it was years before I was free of him. I left the relationship with battle scars, two kids, and a lifetime of wisdom. The rest of that journal was filled with sad entries.
“He is going to kill me one of these days. I find myself not able to sleep. I try and put it out of my mind, something has to change. I can't take much more.
*** is in his truck. He can't face all of this. As he comes in, anger shows on his face and I wonder – Am I going to die or be seriously hurt? What will happen if I'm killed?
I seriously had to consider if I wanted to share this part. It was difficult to read. This wasn't the only entry where I wondered if I would survive the night.
I didn't talk about the violence, I still don't like to revisit those memories. In fact, I tried to replace those memories with happier ones. I twisted some of the memories around so they weren't so bad and made excuses for the abuse.
Abuse doesn't get better.
I flipped through the pages and I just kept shaking my head as I read the words of a sad girl desperate to be loved and wanted. She was willing to do and accept anything by the people who abused her because they made her feel like the abuse was her fault, bad genes, bad choices, mental illness.
When I started this post, I thought it would be funny to share some of the cringy things I'd written and fads that I must have fawned over. I wanted to see how far I'd come and be proud of myself for that journey.
But what I saw was that like so many young women, I was trapped in a violent toxic relationship. I believed it was “just the way it is” and because my abusers “loved” me, that life wasn't going to get better. I was wrong.
One in every 3 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. It can happen to anyone and we have to change that fact and DO SOMETHING!
Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings, or rapes COMBINED.
The damage done from domestic violence lasts a lifetime. it destroys your self-esteem and makes you question everything in your life. Even almost 30 years after the relationship, I still make excuses for my abusers. I still blame myself for what happened and I like to think that I have “forgiven” the people who abused me. But like others who have lived through this type of trauma, “Forgiveness” is easy but we never forget.
Forgiveness is bullshit. I've forgiven so many people for the terrible things they have done. Because to be a forgiving person is seen as some sort of character level up. However, it doesn't heal you. YOU heal YOU. Forgiveness is for the other person to feel redeemed. And not everyone deserves that.
If you are in a toxic relationship, there are ways to get out. Your future self depends on you being brave enough to take action!
Need Help? Know Someone Who Does?
- National Domestic Violence Hotlineexternal icon
- Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.
- Love is Respect National Teen Dating Abuse Helplineexternal icon
- Call 1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Hotlineexternal icon
- Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.