I've been feeling pretty despondent the past day or so, which usually means I'm trying to dissociate. It's a feeling of, I'm tired of feeling this way, so I'll just not be in my body. Sometimes being in my body is one of the unsafest feelings ever. Ever read The Host? Some type of alien takes over a body and lives inside. I remember the author describing sliding into their body, feeling each finger and toe as the alien grows these long tentacle-like neuron things and grows to feel familiar. That's exactly what coming back from dissociation feels like. You slide into your body like a glove, and it either fits perfectly or feels like it's going to strangle you.
I dissociated for about 5 months this past year. From about October to March. I was getting these panic attacks every month or so, and I couldn't figure out what was triggering it. But every time I had one, it felt like I was back for a day. Then a day goes by of me crying my eyes out non-stop, and it's like it never happened. The worst one happened at the beginning of March. I decided to call my Mom this time instead of my boyfriend (who I usually reach out to) and she talked me through it. And most importantly, I finally opened up to her about my sexual assault. She went home from work immediately, picked up my Dad, and drove 9 hours to come see me. I was overwhelmed with love. And when they showed up, for the first time in years, I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt secure. In hindsight, I wish I had said something sooner, but I know I wasn't ready yet.
I kept reaching out to this boyfriend of mine. This man who I was in love with. Who said the most wonderful things to me to build me up. At least for a while. When I came back into my body that day my parents drove out to make sure I was okay, I had this sinking feeling in my gut that my boyfriend was triggering me. That I couldn't trust him. And I could never explain why. It was just a feeling that I acted on. Always trust what your body is saying, if you can bear to listen to it (because sometimes it's your pelvis just aching for days at a time).
I was thinking about the first time I had a panic attack and events that went on around the time it happened. One I put together about a month ago, when I finally decided to call it quits with my boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend. He lied to me one night, just after I had moved to be in the same city as him (we had been in a long-distance relationship for about 10 months, and known each other for about a year on top of that). He made plans to come over and hang out, but when he didn't show, I called him. And he ignored my call. And I texted him. And he misspelled some obvious things. And he said he was at work. But I knew he never misspells stuff, and I called him out for drinking. My sober (he was in a Christian AA group) boyfriend was out drinking and lying about it to me.
He called me later that night and the next day apologizing profusely, but I already knew in my head (and in the journal I keep) that I was going to break up with him as soon as I could move into my own place (see, I was staying at his aunt's vacant house until I moved into my current, new apartment).
But that day didn't come for another 5 months. Looking back, how could I forget to do something I so desperately wanted to get out of back then?
One way my ex liked to "play" was to tickle me. Or give wet willies. Or other childish things that never really resulted in anything romantic or cute, like cuddling up closer together or making out. No, this was not foreplay. I think this was some sort of twisted type of control. When my ex would tickle me, I would laugh and tell him to stop. When my ex would tickle me, he would laugh and pin me down so I couldn't move and continue tickling me. When my ex would tickle me, I would scream and kick and yell at him to stop. When my ex tickled me, he wouldn't stop. Until I screamed bloody murder. I couldn't breathe. I'd start crying. My head felt full and my ears would pound and my throat tightened up. And we'd stare at each other, me trying to catch my breath but beginning to sob, and him looking scared.
"I don't like that," I'd whimper out, voice trembling.
"I was only playing, it's just a joke. We need to toughen you up," he'd reply.
No apologies. No checking in with me and my intense emotional response to "playing." Just on to whatever was next in the day, and me in my head wondering if I really did need to toughen up.
In one sentence, he had me doubting my own strength, having me believe that I was weak, and that I needed to learn how to play and flirt like him.
Looking back, I just see a sick pig who can't be wrong and has no regard for anyone's boundaries, and hindered my healing process by making me not feel safe in my own body from that moment on.