It’s been a while since I’ve written. So much has happened. We almost lost my mom after her cancer surgery. She had two blood clots, one on each lung. And no one wants to tell me anything. I talked to my mom in the morning, and she was coming home the next day. An hour later I talk to my aunt and find out mom’s staying for a few more days. When my dad and my sister come home, I talk to her. Find out what’s going on. Also that my dad has a leaky liver, that’s why he quit drinking. My sister tells me that no one wants to tell me anything because they’re afraid of setting me off. Which means setting my anxiety and depression off. Like I have no coping mechanisms. It’s so frustrating. Mom could have died, and no one wants me to know. Sigh. It’s better to know where I stand, I guess, so I know to ask more direct questions.
Moms surgery was also the anniversary of my most recent sexual assault. The struggle not to self harm was so very very real. And then I found some sharps. Tucked into the staple box in my art kit. My world reeled. Fortunately, I have some very good friends who were able to talk me down from it. Three different text conversations with three very different foci, but all with the same outcome: I stayed safe. Something even my safety contract couldn’t guarantee.
It is so hard to articulate exactly what goes through my mind when the urge strikes. Relentless begging for release. But release from what exactly? Too many feelings? Not enough feelings? Release from memory, from thought? From the too too much. It all gets to be too much. Existing. Being. Living. Breathing. Feeling trapped in a mind that is malfunctioning. Emotions hi-jacked all the time. Never being 100% present in my own life. That’s the hardest part, I’m coming to realize. The fact that I zone out all the time. I don’t know if I’m zoning out more, or if I’m just more aware of how often I do. Vera, my therapist, says it’s fine tuned to happen so often, and that I’m just starting to notice. So I take her word for it. She’s the expert on all things dissociative and traumatic. And, more importantly, I trust her and what she says. It’s been a long time since I could trust someone so implicitly to always do what they honestly believe is in my best interest.
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 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’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?
A child on trial
Her torn innocence
On the stand
Ashamed and degraded
Her sins laid bare
For all to see
Her greatest crime
Wanting to be loved
And she believed
His honeyed words
Even as violated her
A child on trial
Herself The Judge
The Jury, The Executioner
Hope: n. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
v. Want something to happen or be the case
Hope is a very pregnant word. Pregnant with promise, with desire, with expectation. A feeling of better things to come. A small word with big meaning. When things are black and stormy in my life, I hope they get better. Sometimes I feel this hope is misplaced, especially when I’m deep in the pit; when it’s hard to reach out a hand and ask for help. It’s getting easier these days. When my therapist says to hang on, the depth of these feelings in transient, I have faith in her word, and trust and hope she’s right. And she always is. I always come through. And lately I can say I come through unscathed. Weary, oh gods, am I weary. But it’s been months now since I’ve self harmed. Even the most recent scars have faded to pale lines, no darker than the rest of them. She tells me that self injury had a place in my toolbox of survival long ago, BUT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW. And she is correct in that. I’m different in my body and being. I see the urges for what they are: lying monsters.
The monsters wail
Begging to be fed
Promising light after the blood
To slumber in the post pain haze
I know the truth
Of their existence
Never sated, always begging for more
The cravings deep
Alone in the night
With the monsters in my head
In my heart
In my soul
Filling the cracks with blood
In the place of tears
The past couple of days have been really really tough. Stuck between hyper and hypo arousal constantly shifting back and forth. Moments where I’m overwhelmed by fear and can’t breathe, and then moments where the slightest sound makes me jump. Even though my mind finds no connection between the here and now and this feeling of doom, I have a full blown fear reody response. My therapist did get back to me today, (YAY!) and she said it sounds like I’m having somatic flashbacks. I should have recognized this right away. What is a somatic flashback? It’s your body remembering, not your brain. “Memory is reminding you about the state of your being all those years in childhood and adolescence when you were in danger” is how my therapist worded it in her email to me today. I lived in fear growing up. Beatings from my father were a daily, consistent thing with him. The only thing that was. And I had a real rough session this week. Last week brought up a lot of history, how no one noticed the sad little me acting out and begging for attention. And this week brought more of that to the fore. And just like I did in adolescence, I’m living a double life of sorts here at home again. My parents don’t know about my cousin molesting me. They don’t know about the abusive relationship I was in at 15. They don’t know about my sexual assault three years ago. They don’t know I’m living with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder. They think my therapy is for my anxiety. I have to keep so much hidden, while living in the house where I grew up abused. They say you can’t heal in the environment that broke you, but I am. Granted, things are different now. I’m a grown woman with a voice. My body and being are different. It’s now 2019 and I am no longer in danger from anyone.
So I orient to the here and now. I’m in my room, the room I grew up in, focusing on what’s different. My bookcases, the books in those cases. My bed. The decorations on the wall. The flooring. The sheets on my bed. All things that are from the present. Nothing in my room remains from the past except my bear, Bettina, who has been with me since I was six months old. She has been the one constant in my life. I have been struggling with the desire to self harm this weekend. That, too, was a constant in my life for many years. It had its purpose then. But things are different now. I need to remember this with the very core of my being. All my emotional parts need to recognize that we are no longer trapped in trauma time. I have so many new coping tools and a great support network. Parts of me may be trapped in the past, but I have the strength, courage and determination to show them a better future.