Feature Friday: Brittany M

Brittany, Hermana Platt to me, and I served in the wonderful Texas McAllen Mission together. She mentioned a little bit of her trial when we were on exchanges one day but I had no idea the extent of what she went through. She recently wrote a blog post about her experiences and was willing to let me share. She is an amazing missionary, I really look up to her. She married her husband in 2014 and they are living in Nevada.

Living at an 8

Every time you go to the hospital or doctors when something is wrong they ask you on a scale of 1-10 please rate your pain. Most people on any given day say 2-3. For a good portion of my life the last 7 years I have lived at an 8.
Each of us goes through different things in our lives that cause us pain. Depending on what happens our pain scale increases or decreases and sometimes stays there. Each of our pain tolerances is different, each 8 is different for each person. I went through a traumatic experience about 7 years ago, and it is something that has caused my pain scale to be at an 8 for years.
I am a survivor of abuse.
I grew up in a family that loved and was simply the best you could hope for. I had parents that did everything to support each other and to show that they loved and cared for each other. They were always first in each other’s lives, followed closely by the seven lucky children they brought into this world. As a child in this family I learned how to have a healthy marriage; one that puts the other person first. One where parents do everything in their ability to help their children be safe and become the best person they could be. I learned how to handle tough situations and to calmly talk things through. I was taught to treat people the way you want to be treated, and that everyone is important and matters. I learned that each person is a child of God and that He loves each of us no matter what we do or who we are. I say this because I want you to know and understand that I grew up in an amazing environment and that in a way I was sheltered to the pain people could cause.
I didn’t understand what abuse was. But my junior year of college I ended up rooming with a girl that had a horrible background and the way she handled it was to take it out on her roommates. She was scary. I found myself at first telling people jokingly things like yeah my roommate is crazy…she threw glass vases at me the other day. Or she just won’t stop yelling. I think I was just hoping they would say something like hey B that’s not normal or you should do _____ to try and help. But most people laughed awkwardly because what do you say to someone who is abused and has no idea how to handle the situation? I was scared of somewhere that was suppose to be a safe place. A place where I could relax and feel comfortable, but that was taken from me.
After a while I finally got up the courage and I told my bishop, he is the one person I knew I could trust and that would have my best interest at heart.  After a visit from the bishop and his counselors, I was told that they talked to her and things should be better. You see one problem with abuse is the abuser is really good at hiding their abusive tendencies and is able to make people think everything is okay. So anytime the person receiving abuse is told it’s better because of this, the fact is that things will only get worse. I learned from this experience that by me asking them to come it only made things worse. That’s another problem with abusers, once you start telling people and they find out things get worse. And the next time someone came to help things got even worse. This is what they call the battered woman cycle, the person abused begins to fear for their life and tells someone only to find out that telling people only makes it worse. So when it comes down to things getting really bad they don’t call or tell anyone. When things were getting really bad I went to my landlord to see if I could move somewhere else. Just switch apartments or something and that’s when things became even worse. I was told by my landlord that I needed to call the police when things happened next and that I needed to start documenting things. But you see I could only imagine what would happen if I did that. What would be the retaliation if I actually brought the police in?
This is how it works, you reach out and things get worse and suddenly you have no fight left in you. You start believing all the horrible things you are told. You believe no one cares about you and that you are worthless. You believe you are crazy and just making things worse and that you deserve whatever is happening to you. This is a lie!! It is not true but in that situation, you become so helpless that you don’t know what to believe. I eventually became so afraid for my life that I had to move out and just pay two rents. I was lucky to be taken in by an amazing adoptive aunt who could tell that I needed a safe place. Even though I was out of physical danger I had no idea the lasting effects I would face. I sank into a deep dark hole after leaving. I hadn’t realized how much I had changed and that I wasn’t the same person I was before. I struggled with depression so deep and dark that I thought the only way out was to die. I felt abandoned by my friends, family, and the God I grew up trusting. I remember someone telling me that I just needed to pray more and read my scriptures and that only made me feel like I was the one who caused this. That by my actions I was creating this dark hole. When in fact it had been caused by someone else’s actions, and I was in a place that would take more than prayer to pull me out.
It was in this deep dark hole that I realized what a true friend was. I realized what it was like to have someone drive 10 minutes because I needed a hug and was so on the edge of a tipping point. I learned that when people struggle they don’t need someone to fix it, but instead someone to be there with you. I had a friend say hey B if you ever get to the point of jumping off a bridge call me and I’ll go jump with you. To know that someone cared enough and was willing to be there for the darkest moments of my life taught me that we have to make people important. PEOPLE ARE WHAT MATTER!!!! It was these people that helped me realize I was not alone and that I mattered. After being told that I was worthless and that no one could ever love me having someone do these things meant the world to me. To this day these people are considered saviors to me. They saved me from doing things that I knew wouldn’t solve any problems.
I knew I needed help, that I needed something more than just praying. I realized that in order to let prayer heal me I needed outside help from a therapist or Doctor. I needed to work through my problems before God could heal and help me overcome it. That’s the secret, we can’t just expect God to heal us when he has given us the tools to help us become whole again. That’s not how He works, He has given us people on the earth to help us overcome our troubles and that is nothing to be afraid or feel bad about. Life is meant to be enjoyed not just endured.
So seven years later, I still struggle with anxiety, and sometimes depression. It’s tough to explain what it’s like to struggle with anxiety every day. It’s tough to explain what it’s like, the only way to explain it is that it’s like living with stress every day. Some days it’s at a normal level and some days it’s like the whole world is depending on you. It’s crushing and it leads to panic attacks and scary dark holes. I am afraid of that dark hole and do my best to keep things at a reasonable level. My depression isn’t what it use to be because I don’t let myself go there. But I manage. I am a survivor. I am not a victim and yes I have triggers, but I am a survivor. Now when I get woken up by someone I don’t wake up with fears of dying. Do I still have triggers that set me back? Yes! I’m sure for a while I will still need to work through things. I manage and I probably need to see a therapist to help with managing, but I am no longer a victim.
It was a scary part of my life, one that for the past 7 years only certain people would learn small things about it. There are still only a handful of people that know exactly what things were like and how deep and dark things got. But I felt like I needed to get it out, to help someone (if even only myself) to be free and to know I’m in control and you can be too. For a while, I was embarrassed about what happened and that I could let something like that happen to me, but I realize it was not my choice and I AM STRONG! I saw being a victim of abuse as a weakness and something that made me less than who I was before this happened, but that is not true. It was tough and a part of my life that made me wonder if I would ever be whole again. I was afraid that when I told husband of my baggage that it would be too much for him to handle. I was afraid that I couldn’t be loved because of what happened to me. But I was wrong! Yes I have way more baggage than I thought I would, and yes my anxiety and panic attacks are tough and something my husband had to see before we got married so he could know what he was getting himself into. But we both knew that baggage and what has happened to a person isn’t the most important thing. It’s who they are and who they have become that really matters. And yes I may have been living at an 8 but because I am strong that 8 has now become my 2-3. I am stronger because of my struggles and because of this horrible experience and I wouldn’t change it now looking back.
So finally years later I am opening up. I felt like it was time to be open. After all hope and healing are not found in the dark abyss of secrecy, but in the light and love of Christ.  If you have gone through something like this and would like to talk or are in need of feeling like you are strong I am here. Know that you are strong. Know that you are not alone and that I am here. I survived and I am stronger than before. I am here if you would ever like to talk.
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2 Comments

  1. Allyson, I really like that you're creating a safe place for people. Everyone needs help and strength from other's experiences. Keep it up! Brittany, thanks for sharing your vulnerable story. I loved the quote, "After all hope and healing are not found in the dark abyss of secrecy, but in the light and love of Christ."

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