Content Notice: This story contains references to rape, eating disorders, abuse.
I have had a long history of trauma that began in childhood with emotional neglect and abuse, which led me to become an insecure, damaged teenager looking everywhere but inside to find meaning and peace. I am not thankful for the traumas and challenges I’ve had to overcome, but I am grateful for the lessons they taught me and the people they helped me find. My developing young brain focused on the negative comments that others haphazardly threw about, and I internalized this cynical view of humanity and myself. From a young age, I was told by certain people in my life that I was “bad,” which became a label that clouded my self-perception well into adulthood. I’ve tried every method of abusing myself from a range of eating disorders to self-harm, suicide attempts, substance abuse, and running away to a new city or country when things truly got tough. But my “favorite” unhealthy coping mechanism was toxic relationships.