Working on my poetry collection the past few nights. It’s difficult to read some of the things I wrote in the depths of my despair; to remember just how deep The Pit was, and how beckoning The Abyss is. To crawl into bed and never come out. I’ve been dealing with not being present for over a month. My brains way of dealing with it is to retreat into sleep. Being on my own today proved just how real the struggle is. I fell asleep last night around 1 am. Not too bad. Woke up at 1 pm. I slept for twelve hours, than took a three hour nap early this evening. Crazy.
Yesterday I started working on the set of poems based on my sexual assaults. Probably not the best time to work on that particular set, but I tend to push myself against my own best interests. Maybe that’s part of why I needed to sleep so much. Processing the difficulties in staying present. Processing some of the memories. I’ve been re-living a lot of the memories. Not so sure about processing them. EMDR has been on hold for months again. Until I can stay stable and present, no EMDR. And it’s been getting harder and harder to not zone out. To not shut down. Even when with my kids. And that is the saddest thing.
It’s a tricky thing, dissociating. Especially when you don’t recognize that it’s happening. One minute you’re listening to the conversation around you, and then you’re not. Someone says something to you, and you realize you have no idea what the conversation is anymore. Sure, this happens to everyone, once in a while. Everyone zones out. It’s the constancy that’s different. The constant hijacking of the brain, where you no longer know where you are, or, even, who you are. The black spaces where there is nothing. Not knowing how you got to where you’re going. Or why you’ve even gone there.
Then there are the triggers: a touch, a frangrance, some random piece of conversation and you’re transported back to a not so safe place. Staring off into space, in your own personal hell. This happened to me at therapy this week. We weren’t even talking about anything overtly triggery, and yet, there I was. Gone. And when I came back, my ability to talk was gone. I couldn’t even really grunt. My poor therapist. I couldn’t even write down what I was suffering. I could sort of draw stick figures, like a four year old. Trying to communicate how lost I felt was impossible. Fortunately, I had my art book with me, and could point out on my drawing of “The Pit” who I was (which she had already figured out), and where I was in relation to everyone else. Now comes the difficult part: how to tell her one of my emotional parts (EP) self-harmed. Not me, my skin is still intact. But my EP did. It’s a weird thing, to close your eyes to have a pep talk with yourself, and to see yourself with bleeding arms. Obviously, this was very distressing to me. But I had already gone over my session by forty minutes. I wasn’t about to bring that up. But I will this week. Young One self-harming and Angry Dude drinking and smoking. Sigh. Doing what I really want to be doing. It was so strong that Friday I even bought a pack of cigarettes. Gave them to Josh Friday night, and was really craving them Saturday morning. So I’m glad to have given them up.
It’s been a difficult couple of days. Completely lost it with my therapist yesterday. I had such an overwhelming somatic flashback that I couldn’t speak. For at least 30 minutes, if not longer. I know this is approximate, as my appointment was supposed to finish at 2:00 and I didn’t get out of there until 2:40. It was as though my young self hijacked my being and was so lost she couldn’t speak. Couldn’t articulate how lost and hurt and sad she was. I’m still struggling with my words over 24 hours later. And with connection. I feel completely detached from everything and everyone. I do feel some relief that the kids are at their dad’s this week, so I don’t have to fake feeling anything but numb.
This disconnect is disconcerting. Touch is nigh impossible to feel. And when I do feel it, it feels weird. As though there’s a barrier between my skin and the rest of the world. My homework this week is to stay present and connected: when I hug a friend, let myself feel the hug. To stop living from the neck up, as my therapist says. Easier said than done, my friend. Easier said than done.
My Feldenkrais practitioner, Fariya, taught me to gently rub my fingers in a corkscrew motion. This helps in grounding. Fingers are very ennervated, so they are very sensitive. But it feels… odd… to me. Touching myself in any way is foreign. I am an alien nation unto myself. Vera, my therapist, aims to change that. So much to work on, she says. Even after the trauma stuff is sorted out, there’s my borderline eating disorder, my gender/body issues, my self-hatred. As we work on the trauma, the other pieces will slowly fall into place, but I believe they are going to need to be addressed individually, once stability has been achieved. If. No, when. Positive thinking is a must. It’s so hard to, today. Today, I even went out and bought a pack of smokes. Something I haven’t done since Christmas.
Today feels like a day to stay in bed and wish for death to come upon me. Instead, I am out at my friend’s cafe, eating poutine. Reaching out. Keeping safe where I am loved. Not isolating. Which is all I want to do. Vera would be proud.
I had a major epiphany this weekend. Life-changing, send my world on it’s head epiphany. Fifteen year old me, trapped in an abusive relationship with a 32 year old man. Very abusive. At seventeen, when he removed my collar, he told me I was “too old. I have nothing left to teach you”. I’ve spent twenty-eight years feeling rejected, broken, not good enough. But then I had a thought, ‘what if I look at his uncollaring me as freeing me, instead of rejecting me’? Which opened up the flood gates. He always called me a Brat, which is a type of submissive in the BDSM community. Which, I have to admit, I am. Always have been, and likely always will be. Now here’s where things get crazy: what if he released me, not because he was feeling altruistic, but because he couldn’t break me. What if I broke him?
He could never beat the mouthy out. I always maintained that little spark of me. I remember the way his wife was: never spoke, never looked up, never complained. I don’t even remember her name. That is what he wanted from me. Complete odedience. My dad tried to beat that into me till I was eighteen. He didn’t fair any better.
I was sharing my new found outlook with my best friend, Jen. And her reply was priceless, “You broke a paedophile!” Which made me happier than it should have.
And on that note, good night.
I’m re-writing history
Changing the ending
Rejection turns to freedom
My bonds broken
Released into the wild
Free to rehabilitate myself
Who am I?
Where do I go from here?
Hello again. For those following, you know that I spent two years in an unhealthy fake BDSM relationship. I was 15, he was 32. I was young, naive, hungry for love and acceptance. He was a pro at what he was doing. And next week is the anniversary of him callously removing my collar and throwing me out, stating I was too old. Two weeks shy of my 18th birthday. I was 17 years old, and had spent the previous two years as his abused sex slave. “You’re too old. I have nothing left to teach you,” indelibly written in my brain. I have spent the last twenty-eight years spending this month in great emotional pain, feeling rejected and not good enough, and all the other fun psyche damaging negative self talk. That ends today.
Today I pull off the infectious scab of his memory and forge a new narrative. Freeing me from his slavery was the best thing he could have done for me. Gone the beatings, the gang rapes, the honeyed lies. No more living in fear. Free to heal, to discover who I am without being coloured by him. It’s been a long, long climb to get here. But here I am. FINALLY! Slowly, painfully, learning and accepting it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t deserve what happened. I didn’t ask for what happened. And then he set me free. FREE!!! Too bad it took me so long to figure this out. That he was a paedophile, an abusive paedophile. As if there’s any other kind. And now I’m free. Free to re-write my narrative. Not my fault. And he set me free. He didn’t reject me. He set me free.
Here’s to a fresh new look on painful old wounds.
Fortunately, most nights the prazosin does its job and my nights are nightmare free. Which is a relief after years of constant bad dreams and terrors. Unfortunately, it can’t stop the terrors. Or the somatic memories. Which are coming in full force. I always forget the body keeps track of the changing seasons, and the associated traumas that come with them. I ignore the tightness of the chest, the trouble breathing. The tightening of the body that indicates a collapse response. But to what? There is no reason for this sudden onset of dark memory. Until I look at the calendar, and realize this is the time of the great uncollaring. Two years a sex slave. There is no way to soften those words. The acceptance of the reality of the years I spent from 15 to 17 has been hard to swallow. The depravity, the cruelty, the bones of affection that kept me coming back. The collar that was supposed to indicate a commitment from him to me, me to him. In some ways, that collar was more symbolic than a wedding band. It meant my total submission to him. My mind, my heart, my soul, my body. And a promise to take care of all of me. To cherish that submission. Instead, I was trafficked, used, abused, and, jsut shy of my eighteenth birthday, he took the collar off. “You’re too old. There’s nothing left to teach you,” summarily dismissed. No contact ever again. Thirty years later, I’m still dealing with the aftermath of that cold abandonment. So much of how I see myself shaped by those cold, calculating hands.
And I lie awake at night, woken up by the spectre of his presence. Even now, there are times the agony of the missing collar hurts worse than the missing wedding band of a failed marriage. I swallow hard, expecting to feel the hard leather around my neck. It’s absence a hard thrust into reality. A reality where I feel my failure keenly. Even though, really, I didn’t fail. I was trapped. And even though the method of my escape was brutal and cold, I did. Not unscathed. Not whole. But free.
And yet I wake at night. Cold sweats. Rapid, shallow breathing. I feel his breath on the nape of my neck. The touch of the lash. The cuffs. As I type this, I need to practice my grounding techniques. The touch of the floor on my feet. I’m safe. I’m where I chose to be. I can leave. I’m alone. That’s the big one. I’m alone. I’m all alone. By choice. No one around to hurt me. No one to pin me down. I’m free to be the best self I can be.