I once upon a time believed telling my truth would end up in more pain. For the last week I have tried to write my experiences living with my aunt. I have drafted and edited countless times. Every time I start to write my side of the story I get so angry my words come out as the old person I used to be. The angry person with little to no compassion because I felt lost. Reflecting on the past after living with an abuser is complicated. Excuses for an abusers actions are hard to counteract after doing it for so long. A part of me wanted to write everything that happened. Reading back my work I saw parts of the story that would hurt innocent people caught in the crossfire of my struggles. It’s not my place to write about them and hurt them back.
I started to forgive when I turned twenty-three. My forgiveness was not accepting what they did but to cut ties with my abusers. Inner knowledge states disengaging is the only way to fully heal and move forward with your life. Living in that home and going through emotional abuse has left permanent scars. The scarring is invisible on the outside, on the inside I live with the words and actions done by another person who I once looked up to. I chose to live with her because I thought she would different. Promises were made and I really thought my aunt would live up to them. I didn’t know in three short years our relationship would become a toxic lake of emotional turmoil. I lived with addiction my whole life I didn’t realize until years later addiction doesn’t care about anyone. It would do anything to destroy lives other than the addict itself. My aunt isn’t solely to blame for the relationship breakdown, I too played a part in pushing her mentally. I wanted her to get better three days before I left her home forever I wrote her note.
In that note I explained I wanted her to quit her company the Kali project. An escorting agency, it once held promise to do right and not allow drugs to the woman part of it. I think it was my second year living with my aunt drugs silently became part of our life. For someone who was once a successful paramedic and single mom doing her best addiction put her in sight and knew she would be an optimal candidate. Whatever pain my aunt had inside allowed addiction to turn her into the monster I know today. The second condition I wrote in the note was to start being a better parent to my cousin that I was raising for her.
I was fifteen and caring for a small child, I was neglecting myself. At fifteen, I started drinking to handle to screaming happening in my home. My aunt would leave me with her child and not return home despite my pleas of being emotionally unsuitable to provide care. At that time in my life my PTSD and depression went untreated. I was experiencing borderline psychosis from detoxing from the medication forced onto me from my first home. I loved my cousin with all my heart but to be her parent I could not. The reasons why; I was starving myself, I was drinking, I was mentally unstable, I was a cooking pot for disaster. My inner struggle was uncontrollable I went as far as using sex to be vulnerable. There was a night that pushed me closer to leaving the home and leaving my aunt. My cousin was screaming all night for her mom, I was going through a PTSD episode. I called my aunt to come home. She refused and said take care of it, I was so angry I threw the phone at my six year old cousins head. I regret this every day. If I could go back At that moment I would instead hold my cousin close and tell her everything will be alright. My aunt still insists that I beat my cousin, this part is untrue. I never beat or hit my cousin I did however come close during my episodes. After doing extensive therapy and treatment I see now that my aunt should have never put me in that position.
The third and final part of the note I wrote stated that I loved her, but I was going to kill myself or hurt others if I stayed. Three days before that note were written I was pushed to the end of a steep cliff. We had a large fight I still have trauma from. I asked her to get help before it was too late. She became angry with me and in front of my cousin and me she stated that she would drive off the bridge and drown us all. I hit my limit of patience and understanding. I told her to do it, words I wish I could take back. After that incident I came home I wrote the note. I wrote two notes that day one was a suicide note the other addressed to her. On the day I ran away I never said goodbye to my cousin. I wish I could explain to her one day that I had no choice. The drugs, the lies, the abuse made the choice for me. Three years later my cousin was removed from her home as my aunts life came crashing down. She lost everything that mattered to her.
I wish I could say a part of me is sorry she did lose everything. Forgiveness and empathy are hard to execute when your abuser will not change. Last year I received a message from my aunt stating she would have ” friends” who would do things if I talked to my cousin again. After that she emailed my grandmother stating I was a whore. Even in forgiveness her actions still tell the story abusers never change when they lose control. The best thing I ever did was walk away. Deep down I will always hold a place for her in my heart. I will hold the good memories close even though her voice and words cut like a knife from the later years. I hope one day she will own her truth instead of playing victim with her lies and false beliefs. Greatly hoping one day she will find peace inside her soul and make peace with the monster laying in her heart. I have done what I can to accept her, but acceptance can only go so far when she herself is loves the toxicity. I am sober and will not let her pain become mine ever again.
Written by Ali Johnson