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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Maxwell

How do I begin?

I grew up in a Christian home, at least that is what we told people and what we portrayed. I was adopted at 4 yrs old and taught love behind closed doors was the purest of them all.

We had it all.

Everything you could imagine and as a little girl going through the system, it was more than enough. A home, bed, food, clothes and most of all love. Unfortunately, this was not the type of love you think. Growing up, the examples of love became confusing in my child mind.

I found that there are two types of love: learned love and real love.

I learned love was readily available to me, but if I really wanted it there were strings attached; many times used against me or brought up in a manner to make me feel less than the average person who seemed to be living a perfect life. I learned love was the big smiles and a face full of makeup when the camera was on, but screaming, doors slamming, cussing, and gas lighting were really happening when the camera was turned off. I always felt like the person taking the picture with the camera instead of the person actually in the photo.

Love was staying silent.

I learned that when you "love" someone, you don't have the space to share your feelings or emotions. In my experiences, when I was vocal about my feelings, I was made out to be over dramatic, making it up, seeking attention, or jealous. If you didn't succumb to someone else's emotion/experience - you were wrong. If you didn't see things through someone else's lens - you were wrong.

Trying to process those emotions and feelings as a child was beyond difficult. I was looked at like I was crazy. I could have been crying out for someone to hear me, or brought pictures, as proof or I could've just had my story. You would think my voice would have been real enough for someone right? Trust me I get it, BUT I was a child.

I lost count the amount of times I tried reaching out to people who I thought made me feel safe. Only for it to be turned around on me and become one of the most traumatizing experiences that I don't even wish on my worst enemy. Emotions and feelings became traumatizing to process.

Being surrounded by inconsistency, abandonment, abuse, lies, and upholding a "perfect family" image caused me to suppress my emotions. I didn't know how to handle my feelings or emotions in a healthy way and be heard. Paralleled with being young, I formed unhealthy relationship habits whether that was friendships or companionship. In turn, as an adult, I learned that hurt people hurt people even if it is unintentional.

In my mid-to-late 20's, I was admitted into a Mental Hospital explaining to my intake counselor that I truly believed if I left this universe it would fix or resolve any issues I was having or find any sense of belonging. I wouldn't be the burden of a daughter, sister or friend that needed to contact others because my emotions were in a state of crisis because I was having a hard time functioning as adult. If I removed myself from the situation maybe just maybe I could feel like I belonged. Somewhere. Anywhere. Just not here. (Keep reading. It gets better)

I left the mental hospital feeling like if I truly wanted to find that sense of belonging, I had to find that spark within myself. Here is what I have learned about myself after being released.

If you haven't heard Jessie Murph's song "Where Do You Go", STOP RIGHT NOW, open Spotify and listen to it. This song has helped me during my healing journey, she says;

"Cause how does a girl hold the weight of the world

Without losing herself on the road?

Where do you go?

When nowhere feels, nowhere feels quite like home

When every crowded room feels so alone

It's a long way down, long way out

Tell me how do I begin?"

I learned that I wasn't the only one who didn't know what to do with the weight of their trauma, guilt, shame, or identity. For as long as I could remember, my identity was from the approval of learned behavior from those that I was around. I lost myself in my own identity until I learned what real love was.

I will be vulnerable and open as I learn to begin re-teaching myself love and acceptance without strings attached. My hopes in being vulnerable to you:

  • To help you relize that your worth is not based on outside views, but within.

  • You can overcome past hurts and traumas.

  • Exposing that toxicity can be friends, relationships, or family.

  • It is okay to not know the answers.

  • Self acceptance and love starts with you.

-Your Virtual Hype Girl

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