The following story was written by Bronte, who boldly shares her story!
At the end of 2017 I was newly single from a 7 year relationship that I had started when I was 19. One day I got a call from a friend, who knew I was looking for a new place to live, about this dreamy little 2 bedroom bungalow just a block away from the ocean. It was in this small beach town just a couple miles west from where I already lived, so without hesitation I signed a lease and we officially became roommates.
Months had past, many of which I spent trying to get to know myself better. I’d often walk and skateboard around the streets of my new neighborhood with headphones in to avoid interactions with those around me. I just didn’t feel comfortable and ready to get to know anyone after my breakup. I was focused on myself! Then one day in the summer of 2018 I decided to walk around town without any music playing in my ears.
That was the day I met him. We dated until March of the following year. He lived across the street from me and it was like a story out of one of those cheesy teenage romance novels I read all the time when I was 16. The fun I was having with him was so new to me, I honestly thought it would last forever. I was naively falling in “love”.
I ended up moving in with one of his good friends in February of 2019. A month later, he broke up with me. Things were still going well, until one night a couple weeks later, we all got back from a show and he tried to make a move on me after. I said no and decided it was best if he and I didn’t spend time alone until I felt like that wouldn’t happen again. Months had passed since that night. I was still living with our mutual friend, but doing everything I could to avoid him. However, I started to feel like what happened in February wouldn’t happen again so I invited him to come hang out with a few friends after a show. This was June 9th.
After the show we all ended up at another friend’s house. The night was coming to an end. He and I left together because he left something at my house and wanted to grab it. Since things were feeling safe I decided to stop by his house to pick up something I had left there months before. Then it all happened, in the most confusing way. He told me that he loved me, something he had never done before. In my questioning and confusion he tried to comfort me by trying to make a move once again. Except this time, he didn’t respect my rejection. I lost count of the times I said no, until finally I gave in. Until that day I never knew you could black out from trauma.
The month following I was terrified to leave my house, scared I might run into him or someone he knew. I no longer trusted his friends anymore because when I told my roommate (who was good friends with him) it felt like she didn’t believe me. That disbelief from her led me into making excuses for his behavior and I actually started to sympathize with him. Those so called reasons and the fear of him doing something else pushed me to stay silent. The trauma of that night lingered and started to affect my relationships and work. One day toward the end of 2019, my boss came into work with a Speak Your Silence card that she got at an event. She knew what I had gone through and how I was struggling to get through each day at work and home. At this point I had new roommates but was still living in the same place. I wasn’t going around town like I used to and felt physically ill just driving home from work.
2020 began and so did my counseling sessions. My counselor offered me a therapy called EMDR. After doing my research and asking many questions I decided to try it out. I was blown away at the results. Just weeks after I was able to drive home and hang around my neighborhood without a pit in my stomach. I was dedicated and present at work and no longer had the trauma running through my head all day.
Not only was I freed from that pain but I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. My whole life I always felt like there was something different about me. I finally felt like I had the answers to my problems. Having those answers has allowed me to create better routines and habits that have pushed me to do things I never knew I could. Now as 2021 begins, I am starting my first semester at a community college in town. For years I had dreamt of getting a degree in Environmental Science but never had the confidence to bite the bullet, until now.