Hi, AS Family!
I miss journaling. I really do. I’m first of all, thankful that there is some downtime at work where I can do some writing. Today is such a day and I’ve had a few somethings to ponder, lately.
I often read posts that leave me nodding my head in agreement or in silent understanding. Or, of course, feeling as if I could have written these words, myself. While it’s kinda daunting at times, it’s also one of the many benefits of group healing. How validating it is, to be told that I am not the only one with these thoughts - that one or two or more of these are running through your heads, too.
Below is a compilation of random thoughts that I realize may be commonplace for other survivors. It’s taking me a long time to admit to some of these statements, too - mainly because it’s hard not to see them as normal given the circumstances, and when I am thinking them, they feel like flaws. They’re a reason to hate myself, they’re reminders and realizations, they’re not always easy things to acknowledge. I find myself becoming defensive if any of these are challenged, so I thought it might be worth exploring.
Some of these may not make sense - but some might ring true for you, too. Please feel free to comment on any of these and share your thoughts - if you’d like to do so privately, that’s perfectly fine. I welcome PMs and kind words - know I will return them as well. I am unsure if this will trigger, but just in case, I'd like to put a **TW** here.
So - this is what I've come up with to start...
I am in a good place. This doesn't mean that I'm healed. It doesn't mean that I'm fine. I mean, I have, for the most part, made peace with everything. I have more days where I am okay than days where I'm not. I am 26 years post-rape - later this year will make it 27. I, too, struggle periodically with the fact that there are some days where I don't want to face the world, I don't want to get out of bed, I don't want to go to work, I want to be left alone, I want to not have the background I have. I don't want to be me. Sometimes I feel angry with myself for feeling this way, too. It causes me to feel ungrateful for the good things I know I have in life.
Some aspects of my trauma are MINE. I hold back some of it, purposely. It’s not because I don’t remember, like I say, sometimes in order to avoid talking about it. (Yes, I do that, too, from time to time!) The truth is, there still remains a measure of shame and self-blame. Realistically, I know that what happened to me is not my fault, but I guess I still feel the need to withhold some of it - what if someone else thinks I’m disgusting? What if someone thinks it really was my fault because of my reckless behavior as a teen/young adult? What am I going to do if I disclose to the wrong person? How much would that invalidation derail all of the progress I’ve made thus far?
The eyes are the window to the soul, yes? Or so they say? It’s hard for me to make eye contact. I do, briefly, but I am almost always needing to look away…because I’m not sure I want anyone to see what’s behind these windows. Very, very few people have seen through them. Even if someone doesn’t know me well enough or know there is some very deep trauma in my history, I worry that all will be revealed if I let someone look into my eyes long enough. They are automatically going to know what I might not want them to know. I know that is not a realistic thought, but my brain doesn't seem to know that. My windows are weathered, yet still transparent enough to see inside. And so, the ‘curtains’ are drawn whenever there is anxiety, or uncertainty - or a little bit of both.
I feel like what happened has made it impossible to be the person I was supposed to be. It’s also made it impossible to not be the person I am now. This is a very simple, yet true statement for me.
I feel like I am living a double life. Offline, I go by another name. A name that I feel like does not fit me. This, I can’t really explain - but I will try. A name is an identifier and when you know someone’s name, you think you know a little about that someone, their life, their likes and dislikes, etc. People have their own idea of the person you are. I have been living with trauma for more than half of my life and very few people know the full extent of it. I feel as if don’t really fit in or belong. The trauma is like a discordant note that plays in my head - constantly. It’s always going to be there. I will never be able to say that I am completely pain-free. Trauma is like a wound that keeps reopening - over and over again. It bleeds whenever things start to look hopeful or I experience joy or happiness. It’s a wound that will forever need tending to, and will need care and attention. There is too much that I understand about myself that my peers do not. If they do, I wouldn’t know about it because I am extremely careful with that information. Here, though, I am Cappy. It’s so much easier for me to put all the cards on the table. There is no judgement, there is no confusion - I know who I am. I feel less alone hanging out online while I’m home by myself - than I do surrounded by people. I am a survivor, just like all of you. We share wounds, we understand how they got there. I belong here. I feel safer here than I do in a roomful of family members. That’s confusing to me, but then again, maybe not. They will always have a different perspective on life than I do. They will always be oblivious to the truth - and that's how I've kept it for all of these years.
My writing is my safe place. Even safer than therapy. Paper, notebooks, journals - none of these things can challenge me. None of these things can tell me I'm going about it the wrong way. Journals and blogs don't ask questions, either. I guess there are some therapeutic benefits to writing - primarily the fact that it forces me to process in ways I didn't know were possible. I am not opposed to going to therapy again someday; I am just having difficulty finding someone that I connect well with. I am sure I have not seen the last of therapy, though...there's more work to do. Until then, though....this is how I'm most comfortable. Writing, reading, re-reading, re-writing where needed. Processing once, twice, as many times as I need to. Because heaven knows it doesn't get any easier to verbalize all of this.
Forgiveness. I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that. I can't shake that feeling that forgiveness is equivalent to saying, 'it's okay, I'm okay with what happened, I'm okay with what you did.' NOTHING that has been done to me is okay, nor will It ever be. Nothing justifies how I was treated. I don't like to harbor feelings of hate, but hell, in lieu of forgiveness, I'll make an exception. There is a small, dark, special place for my perpetrators, all of your perpetrators, and all of what they represent in my heart, where only hate lives, along with the hope that they all rot in hell for what they've done.
I’m afraid (maybe 'nervous' is a better word) to talk too much about the abuse that happened when I was a child between the ages of 3 and 6. While I have accepted that something did happen, I don’t remember enough details. I just remember saying something, behaving in a certain manner and therapy. I had the most amazing therapist between the ages of eight and nine, and I miss her. But what if I’m wrong? What if my behavior (the soiling myself, the masturbation, the hiding things, the lying) was because I really was an over-imaginative child? If I can’t remember it, is it possible it didn’t happen? Does that even happen, do kids have these behaviors for no reason? How do you heal from something with more holes than Swiss cheese??
Dissociation is pure fog. For me, it happens more frequently during the Fall months. I feel sluggish, cloudy and momentarily disconnected from who I am. Life goes on all around me. Dogs bark, tree branches sway, flames dance, babies cry, horns honk. I don't know if being hearing impaired makes it more natural for me, but I have the ability to tune out everything around me. I know it's also not the same dissociation you hear about more often, the floating-outside-your-body feeling or losing time. This is more of a disconnect from anything and everything. You're aware of things happening around you - you just remain checked out during all of it. Everything is blurred. This, too, is difficult to explain because we all have different ways of dissociating and different ways to stay present. I seem to be comfortable in autopilot mode, where I slip in and out of my dissociative state over a period of time. It often feels as if I have no choice but to allow it, as long as I'm in a safe place. We dissociate for self-protection. If I'm feeling the need to disconnect, I'm not sure it's preventable.
Emotion following intimacy. This one is difficult. Anybody else feel the need to cry following intimacy with a partner? This isn't me now, but it was me years ago, when I was married to my ex-husband. I cannot explain it, but that brief moment of pleasure brought forth such overwhelming feelings of guilt and self-disgust. It didn't matter that this was the man I married...or that this was the father my childen, or that this was someone who knew about my history....none of that mattered. Following any relations (that I 'reacted' to, I'll add), I would become overcome with guilt. How dare I enjoy something that once was used to hurt me? How dare my body accept that Would this ever feel okay? How could I explain this to him when I didn't really understand it, myself? Simple - I didn't. I would roll over and close my eyes, until sleep consumed me. I ignored the feelings of self-disgust and filthiness. I didn't dare let my husband see me cry silently. What would he think of me, then? He already viewed me as broken, damaged, easy to manipulate - why add more reasons for him to belittle me?
Darkness is my friend. I know, for many, the dark is scary, creepy, and those things we cannot see pose a threat. Not for me, though. For me, darkness is safe. I never did get a handle on why I'm sensitive to lights and prefer to be in the shadows. Maybe, for me, what wasn't visible was also unable to hurt me. Maybe what wasn't able to be seen didn't exist, either. Either way, the darkness was calming and soothing. Alternatively, I also can't be seen in the dark. It's been this way since I was a child. I'm still exactly the same as an adult, and my wife is a saint and allows me the darkness - she will even help me cover stray bits of light. In hindsight, little streaks of light would scare me, make me anxious and I'd go to lengths to cover them, or block the light with clothes or with toys or as an adult, electrical tape. Whatever worked. When I was a kid, there was an ominous feeling, if I was able to see lights....headlights of passing cars, moonlight, lights on the VCR. The smallest amount of light would be magnified, and I would find myself hiding underneath the covers if I was ever spending the night anyplace other than home, where I had my very own setup and my room was kept pitch-black, just as I liked it.
Love. Ahhh, what a scary, scary word. While I am sure in my heart of hearts that I have experienced love on many different levels, I still struggle with expressing it and letting my loved ones know that I love them, too. For me, it goes hand-in-hand with trust. There are only a small group of people that possess both my love and trust. I have no issues saying ‘love ya!’ to someone or ‘love you all’ when addressing my AS family and group of friends. And do not get me wrong - it’s not a lie. I sincerely do love and cherish every single one of the folks I have been fortunate to connect with. But….for some weird reason, writing out ‘I love you’ or even saying it to someone else is….much heavier. It’s much harder. And when I do it, though rarely, I feel as if I am also admitting vulnerability to that person. They know now that they are in a position where they can hurt me. People I have said it to in the past have turned around and done so….it was also something said TO me by at least two of my abusers. I don’t know if ANY of this makes sense, but I am trying. I guess the word had been used in numerous mindfuck opportunities, and now I am weird with how I use it. I do feel bad because as a survivor, I also understand greatly how much one wants to feel loved and cared for and accepted. I do, too. I mean, who wouldn’t!? It’s a beautiful, pure feeling. It’s comparable to a blanket being taken out of the dryer as soon as it’s done and wrapped around someone’s shoulders. It’s warm, it’s pleasant and it’s toasty, it’s safe. And it’s needed - very much so. And so I have been finding little ways to let others who are dear to me know that my love for them exists. In the meantime, I do have hope that someday, it will be easier to express with those three little words rather than to search for ways to not use them.
I think I saved the most difficult for last. I should add that the headache I'd already had got significantly worse when I managed to finish this next part.
It took me years to be able to speak the words. You know - THOSE words. For a long time, I would say, ‘Something happened. Something really bad.’ That turned into ‘I might have been sexually assaulted.’ It took me ages to finally say the words, ‘I was raped.’ I can feel my cheeks burn even now, typing them. Why the hell does it seem like such a vulgar word??? Why does it feel like I’m slapping myself in the face when I say those three words? The dread associated with the word ‘rape’ is never going to go away - because putting ‘I was’ in front of it makes it disgustingly real and makes me feel gross. It is a highly impactful word that makes my heart race, my head pound, my blood boil. So many different emotions are attached to this word. Fear. Anger. Sadness. Despair. Panic. When I hear it, everything ‘jumps.’ Time pauses. My head goes silent, then screams. It momentarily feels like something only I can understand, even though I know that’s not true and so many others get it, too. I hate that the word is so real, so ugly, so loud. I hate that it means too much to me to be able to use it casually. I despise that whenever I hear it or have to use it in order to call it for what it is, I’m automatically looking for ways to minimize the stun effect it has on me, and I’m wanting to go back to a milder, safer ‘sexual assault’ categorization. And it just sucks that no matter how much I try, I can’t do it. It’s like I have a personal grudge with the word, but still have to acknowledge that it is a permanent part of me, now.
I guess this 'list' is a work in progress. I may add to this later, because as we all have come to understand, the thoughts are never-ending. What changes is how we approach each of these thoughts and how we choose to address them. On the last one involving the word ‘rape,’ I found that forcing myself not to cast the thought aside has enabled me to come to a better understanding of what else I might need to work on as I proceed with my healing journey. I guess that applies to all of these, but that one, I reacted to. I had a pounding headache, my stomach was in knots, I was hot, sweating. My insides shuddered. I felt small fragments of what I felt the night it happened. It didn’t trigger details, it triggered emotions. It took a few hours and a good night’s sleep in order to feel human enough to go to work this morning.
So...on these - you, too? Or no, just me?
Sending everyone hugs and positivity and wishes for calm, serene thought processes. Continue to be kind to yourself when these pop up. Talk through them. Write them out if you prefer. Practice self-care. Hug a friend or a fur-baby. It does help!
Thank you if you've read everything!
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now