One may think being told they are gorgeous is a compliment; a very nice compliment perhaps. When I think back about the many years my self esteem and worth were in the negative, and the two times I was ever told that I was gorgeous having ended in toxicity, the word is now actually more of a trigger than compliment for me. The first man to tell me this hurt me more so than anyone in my life, and unknowingly still calls me this presently in casual speech; “Hey, gorgeous.” Each time I hear it or see it in a message I automatically freeze a little, my breath catches in my throat, my heart beat becomes rapid; I always dissociate for a moment to a time I’ll never have to go back to again.

I tell myself this, but the word “gorgeous” incites fear and a huge sense of distrust. It always makes me think of the saying “to good to be true.” And not to fall for it because I never know what the true intentions of the person saying it really are. When I was recently told that I was gorgeous and a beautiful woman by a male I believed I could trust, it threw up an immediate red flag for me, instead of taking it as a compliment as I believed it was intended, and casually replied, oh my, thank you, but still felt the dread dwelling. After his abrupt exit with no explanation it just further compounded my belief that those that say things you know are too good to be true are going to hurt you.

I know that rationally, this is probably pretty silly, I mean it is just a word and words get thrown around all day. But hearing that word in reference to me will raise my eyebrow and automatically raise my suspicions about the person. Before I had only been told “sometimes you are just so beautiful,” which also served as confusion because this man never allowed me to call him a boyfriend although I technically lived with him and slept in his bed every night. I had so many undefined relationships in which I let others devalue me and disrespect me that I have become leary of those who may think I am attractive. My subconscious automatically tells me I’m going to be hurt by a person that compliments me because I craved attention and love so badly I let their words trick me into sharing my intimate details, passions, desires, and dreams. I open up, and they leave, silently, without a word.

It makes me question everything. Am I weird? What did I do? What did I say? Whats wrong with me? Why do I frighten everyone off? It’s a shame that a compliment can illicit all of these questions and emotions, but every time I trust, this is what I am left with. Radio silence, no closure, no indication of worth or value; only pain, confusion, hurt, and sadness. I hope someday, if anyone tells me I am gorgeous, I will be able to accept it as a compliment rather than avoid it as a trigger. I’m not there yet, but I do know I am loved and valued by my family and friends who choose to stay, which is more than I could say a few short years ago. Trauma can cause so many strange irrational thoughts and beliefs about oneself, the world, and everything in it. You never know what will end up serving as a trigger in the aftermath but as long as I keep moving forward, even when I have reached a stumbling block, I am better than the person I was the day before. And if that isn’t gorgeous, I don’t know what is.

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