I am complicated, at least, that’s what people say when they first get to know me. My brain, it doesn’t ‘function’ in a neurotypical way. It’s hard to explain why, not because I don’t understand but because I am scared of the response from the people I know.

I’ve always been very anxious, for as long as I can remember. My flight instinct is always ready to go, I’m not sure I have an ounce of fight in me. This is what I have learned, my anxiety is trying to protect me because my world, my childhood, showed me that I had too.

charlotte underwood - author and advocate - podcast guest - beyond your pastI don’t trust people, I want to, but I can’t. I always assume the worst because it seemingly always comes true. I push people away before they get too close but will demand attention when they become distant. I am attracted to danger and yet I am always assuming that I will get hurt or killed.

I don’t know what it’s like to not be this way, to be able to rationalize thoughts and to respond to people and events without feeling like I am a centimeter tall.

I’ve learned that this is common though, for people like me, for people who have grown up under emotional abuse. Though, many people confuse abuse with authority but believe me there is a line.

Being emotionally abused is hard because you don’t know that you are being abused for the most part. You learn that your abuser’s behavior is normal, and you don’t understand any different, because for you it is all you know.


Often it leaves you with a warped sense of love and ability to love, because you’ve never been shown what real love is. Or even what kindness and support is for that matter. They are words that just don’t exist in your dictionary.




I was learning to defend myself and to hide before I was able to ride a bike. I became so withdrawn that people would complain about my shy attitude and inability to participate in everything. The truth is that I was always waiting for that attack, which has come to me many times before. I just wanted to keep myself safe.

I felt so sad that the people in my life did not share the empathy that I did. I felt like my kind nature was a rarity and that many people just did not have that same emotion. In fact, I got to the point that all humans were the same, I believed what my abuser was, was normal and I was the abnormal one.

It took me until I was around the age of 18, after my father’s death to understand that I had been and was being abused. I suppose the event of my grief gave me a new outlook, it gave me a sense of true and whipped that Stockholm like syndrome from under my feet. I had just lost the one person who was genuine, it really did shock me into reality.

I decided to distance myself and to remove my abuser as much as I could from my life. Which was incredibly hard because despite that they would not let me go a day without having a panic attack. I was concerned for them, I cared about them, even if their version of care was different to mine.

What I’ve been left with is two decades worth of trauma, it affects my relationships, my thought process, my ability to work and to make choices. Abuse infects every part of you, like a toxin. Though the sad thing is that even when you remove the said toxin, it still lingers.

I still have many more miles to travel in my journey to recover from my abuse, though I believe that the way it has shaped me is permanent. All I can do is build on the skills and the abilities that were damaged and attempt to have a better quality of life.

My advice to those who believe they are being emotionally abused, is that it is not your fault and you have done nothing to deserve it. But there is hope out there and there is support, which will make you feel like you are not alone and will remind you that you are not the abnormal one.

-Charlotte Underwood

If you want to keep up to date with my journey, you can follow my blog at charlotteunderwoodauthor.com



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