I BROKE HIM

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.

GONE THE INFECTIOUS SCAB OF MEMORY

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.

Alone in the Dark

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.

GUILTY

A child on trial
Her torn innocence
On the stand

Ashamed and degraded
Her sins laid bare
For all to see

Being needy
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

BROKEN

This one is a hard read. It was hard to write. Sexual abuse is a difficult topic, yet I find myself writing about it often. So much of my life has been spent recovering, it feels that’s my only identity at times.

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last vestiges of my innocence
Torn asunder

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last tears
I’ll ever shed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Sense of self
Annihilated

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My will to fight
Crushed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
With kindness
In the aftermath

Broken
Shattered on the bed
An unfamiliar
Tenderness

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Dichotomy
Of words and actions

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Confusion
Leaves me
Whirling

Broken
Shattered on the bed

You hurt me
You heal me

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My broken body
My broken soul

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Discarded then
Like so much debris

SOMATIC MEMORY

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.

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM

After suffering harrowing nightmares nightly for many years, the p-doc I saw briefly prescribed a wonderful drug called prazosin.  It’s a heart medication, an alpha-blocker, but it’s been proven to stop nightmares in some patients.  Fortunately for me, I am one of those patients.  It doesn’t stop the flashbacks; nothing will stop those.  But for the first time in years, I’m sleeping without the nightly terrors that come with closing my eyes.

Now comes the fun part.  Teaching my brain and body that it’s safe to go to sleep at night.  For years I’ve been a night owl.  My therapist isn’t so sure that it’s my natural state; she believes it’s a learned response to fear.  So how to unlearn it?  I’ve started working on my sleep hygiene.  Trying to go to bed at the same time every night.  Being more active during the day.  Meditating.  But my body still feels that same anxiety when my head hits that pillow.  Shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, that sense of impending doom.  I’ve practicing Babette Rothchild’s Keys to Trauma Recovery for months now.  It has definitely lessened the impact of the flashbacks.  But I can’t convince my body that it’s safe to sleep.

I recently had to move back home due to circumstances not within my control.  My anxiety and other mental illnesses have made it impossible for me to work and difficult to care for my children adequately.  So I’m back in the room where I spent most of my childhood, being beaten and hiding.  It’s hard to heal in the environment that made you sick, but I’m doing it.  My room is now inviolate.  My dad doesn’t enter it, he doesn’t open the door when it’s shut.  He leaves me alone when the kids are visiting their father.  There’s no more violence, or even threats of violence.  He is a gentler man now than he ever was.  And yet, and yet.  The specter of years past hangs over me like a miasma.  When he raises his voice, I become six  years old again, afraid.  I’m 45 now, and I still cringe from his touch.  He can’t sense it anymore, but I still feel it.  The awkward hugs, few and far between.  The sexual assault three years ago broke me in so many ways; exacerbated the damage done from years of abuse.  Since then, I can barely stand to be hugged by anyone other than my kids and partner.  And even that isn’t easy some days.  But you bear it, because the one thing kids need is lots of affection.  Abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, leaves scars that never really go away.

But back to sleeping, to dreaming.  Now that the nightmares no longer fill my time spent in Morpheus’ arms, I dream.  I dream of my therapist.  Of dragons.  Of transmuting myself into something other than what I am.  As if my me isn’t enough.  It never has been, why should that change now?  I’m working on the negative self talk, but my subconscious certainly has lots to say about it.  I’ve never had much luck with lucid dreaming.  When I’m asleep, I’m asleep, and no amount of wishing my way out of a dream has ever worked.  Now I no longer wake up in a cold sweat, heart racing, unsure of where I am.  I wake up perturbed, questioning what the hell is going on with my psyche.  My therapist tells me that when we dream of others, they represent aspects of ourselves.  So when I dream of dragons and squirrels, I’m living my hyper/hypo aroused parts of myself.  Squirrels are saucy little things, very vocal when unhappy, but quick to run away from confrontation.  Unless you are a red squirrel.  Then you will fight for that acorn and not back down.  But even they run from larger predators.  And dragons, well, they are the apex predator.  Everything runs from a dragon.  Even humans.  The only way to take a dragon down is from a distance.  And, unfortunately, a thrown acorn is not going to do too much to a dragon.

So am I a dragon or am I a squirrel?

SISTERHOOD

A year ago I attended a twelve week group for survivors of sexual assault. I was hesitant to go, as my experience with groups wasn’t very positive. With a lot of encouragement from my therapist and best friend, I decided to give it a shot. I am very glad I did. A year later, and I have a group of women I now consider to be my sisters. Bonded in a way I never imagined possible. A group of women I can share both my highs and my lows with, and everything in between. An amazing group of women who are supportive, loving, and quick to both laugh and cry with you.

It goes beyond our shared traumas. We are able to share the common, everyday things, the small tragedies and the big joys. And the seemingly small thing of being understood. Unless you’ve been a situation where your whole world is shattered, you never appreciate the comfort in sharing that trauma with people who have suffered in ways similar to you. We’ve all experienced different things, and suffered differently, but we all have been broken. The Japanese have an ancient art of mending broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum. Kintsugi. They are the gold in my healing cracks.

A BLACKNESS DARK

In the dark
Defenses are thin
The monsters howl
Begging to be let in

The rain falls down
A staccato beat on the roof
Echoing the tears in my heart
That will not fall

Access denied
Feeling aloof
To the pain in my soul
A blackness dark
Coats my very existence

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

ONCE, LONG AGO

I’ve written about the past abusive relationship I was in from 15 to 17. How he trained me to be his play toy. A lesson I learned so well I had no sense of self worth outside of my body as an offering. One of the ways I process my shit is by writing. This is painful to read; trust me, it was painful to write.

Once, long ago

You told me that you loved me

Worshipped my body

With mouth and lash

Taught me that I existed

For others pleasures

Not my own

Though my body responded

Once, long ago

You claimed me as your own

Red marks on my body

Leather collar around my neck

You sold me

Watched as I was used

The ultimate symbol

Of your ownership

Once, long ago

I believed you

As you stripped me

Of clothing and will

Broken to

Your base desires

Years later

Still offering my body

Lost in a sea

Of misplaced desire

Seeking solace

For something that should never

Have been missing

SHAME AND SELF LOATHING

I’ve been struggling with the facts that I stayed in a very abusive relationship with a much older man when I was 15.  I stayed until he ended it shortly before my 18th birthday because, as he put it, I got too old.  Despite the reassurances of my amazing therapist, Vera, I somehow still feel responsible for staying. Over the holidays, my young teenage self was badly triggered and I spent a solid two weeks,  at least, battling the urge to self harm.  Angry Dude (another part of me that has separated from the rest) has been bubbling up with rage and the two have been feeding off of each other. I finally let Angry Dude out, with some careful boundaries.  NO SELF-HARM!!!  Instead, he did some writing.  Harsh, angry words at me for going back again and again.  Here is his story:
IDIOT
You went back

Again and again

Knowing full well

What was in store
IDIOT
You hungered for 

His small mercies

Carfully played

After he used you
Good Girl

My Slut
Positive reinforcement

Being claimed

Being wanted
IDIOT
Was it enough

Was it worth it
The fist in the hair

The violent sex

The beatings
Was it worth it

Going back

Again and again
IDIOT

Not strong enough

To walk away

Though given ample

Opportunity
IDIOT
You let him do things 

No one should endure

Just for his approval

Those damning words

That get me every time
Good GIrl

My Slut

IDIOT
How could you not see

The end

How could you think 

It would last forever
IDIOT
Did you really think 

He wanted YOU? 

Claimed

He said

Your heart

Your body

Your mind

Mine
IDIOT
To be so naive

The beatings

The gang rapes

The timeouts in the closet
IDIOT
There was nothing you

Wouldn’t do for him

Nothing you wouldn’t

Let him do
Your innocence

Your dignity
You gave it all up
For what? 
A gentle touch

A kind word

Thrown like a bone

To a starving dog
IDIOT
You lost so much

Of yourself

Unable to find

Your true self
Given all up for

A gentle word

A false sense of belonging
IDIOT
How could you not see

What he was doing to you

Using you

Corrupting you

Defiling you
IDIOT
How could you believe 

How could you keep

Going back

For more

And more
IDIOT
Now you’re broken 

Beyond repair

Vera can’t help fix

The shattered

Remnants

Of your destroyed

Soul
IDIOT

ALL ALONE

I met him when I was 15.  His wife brought me home to “meet” him.  He took my innocence and made me his. Shared me with his friends. Trained me to do his bidding, to serve unflinching.  Scars I’m still trying to heal.  Thanks for coming on the journey to healing with me. 
You take my hand
I’m all alone

You caress my body

I’m all alone
A crowd of strangers 

I’m all alone

Touching me

I’m all alone

Entering me

I’m all alone

Your words try to comfort me

I’m all alone

Empty words of love

I’m all alone

INTO THE DARKNESS

The lengths that I would go through

Begging on my knees

Not to go

Go into the darkness

Into the past

The broken girl

Fractured and shattered

Oh so many hurts 

Overflowing

Into my today

No brakes

Flying through

The memories

Terrified

Overwhelmed

Wanting to hide

Being on my knees

Not to go

INTO THE LIGHT

My therapist has been assigning me art homework over the past few months as a different way to approach my healing from assorted traumas. This week I have to create a supportive greeting card to send to myself. The homework requires a letter or poem identifying the losses from said trauma and offering strength and support. I, obviously, opted to a write a poem. Let me know what you think. If it is supportive.

Cruel hands

Cruel heart

Laid waste your innocence

Your tender soul

The days are dark

The nights darker still

The light shall rise again

To dry your tears

Come take my hand

I’ll hold you through

The black storm raging

And come together

Into the light

SHATTERED

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last vestiges of my innocence
Torn asunder

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last tears
I’ll ever shed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Sense of self
Annihilated

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My will to fight
Crushed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
With kindness
In the aftermath

Broken
Shattered on the bed
An unfamiliar
Tenderness

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Dichotomy
Of words and actions

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Confusion
Leaves me whirling

Broken
Shattered on the bed
You hurt me
You heal me

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My broken body
My broken soul

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Discarded at the end
Like so much debris

THAT HOLE

PTSD really sucks. Every time you think you’re out of the rabbit hole something slams you back in. Well, no more. Letting the memories of my traumatic past ruin my now, causing me ty o fear my future, stops here.

A scent on the breeze
A whisper on the wind
Leaves me reeling
Falling back into that hole

Fickle memory
There’s no one around
But I hear you feel you
Falling back into that hole

Memory wreaks havoc
On my mind
My heart my soul
But I stop this time from
Falling back into that hole

DISUNITED 

Fractured pieces
Of my mind
Litter my soul

Remnants
Of a whole woman
Who never had
The chance to be
One

Disunified
Each hiding
In its own hole
Stuck in a past
Too terrible
For words

Unable to
Leave the shadows
And unite
The fractured pieces
Of my soul

WHO AM I

Lost and wandering
Wondering
Who am I

So many voices
Clamouring for my
Attention

The frightened child
The broken girl
The angry woman

Which of these
Parts
Is the Me
Of today

BOUNDARIES 

Where do you end
And I begin
Is this desire me
Or pieces of you
Left behind
When you discarded me
Like so much effluent

My tastes
My hungers
My needs
Are they mine
Or are they my legacy
Of our time together

SHATTERED

Shattered
Broken on the floor
Laying in a puddle
Of broken promises
And heartbreak

I gave you
My child’s heart
You took my innocence
My vulnerability
And warped it for your
Own pleasure

And when you had taken
All I had to offer
A child no longer
Innocent no longer

You discarded me
Like so much debris
Useful no more
What pleasure is there
In a child once broken

HEY LITTLE GIRL

Hey little girl
What’s that you fear
The shadows on your mind
Those aren’t real
Shades of days gone by

He hurt you then
Why oh why
Do you let him hurt you now

Hey little girl
Whats that you fear
The bruises on your heart
Those aren’t real
Mem’ries of long ago

He hurt you then
Why oh why
Do you let him hurt you now

Hey little girl
The scars on your soul
Those aren’t real
Spectres of yesteryear

He hurt you then
Why oh why
Do you let him hurt you now

Why oh why
Do you let him hurt you now

VULNERABLE

I haven’t blogged about the experiences that led to my developing PTSD and, very likely, my bipolar. I find putting words to the experience nigh impossible.  It seems easier to use poetry to express my pain, my experiences.  This was not an easy write, and will be an even harder read. 

What a dirty word
Vulnerable is

Vulnerable

A six year old
Vulnerable to physical abuse
Masquerading as love

Vulnerable

A broken six year old
Vulnerable to sexyal assault
Thinking its love

Vulnerable

A shattered six year old
Learning how to build walls

Vulnerable

Ten years old
Shutting down
Rejection just too hard

Vulnerable

Innocence smashed
Sense of self immolated

Vulnerability disappears
Becomes
Responsibility

Responsibility for
Failure
Inadequacy

Responsibility

Becomes internalized
Absorbed
Owned

How could thise walls
Ever hold
So young, too young

Vulnerable

A fifteen year old
Aching for something intangible

Vulnerable

To repeat the past
Two years a play toy

Shut down
Turn it all off
Live a facade

Smile
Behind the
Pain

Flashback Hell

Twenty-seven years ago what was left of my innocence was torn asunder. Easy pickings that begat an unhealthy relationship that ended when I got too old.  One week shy of my 18th birthday. Every few months I go through a few nights of flashback hell.  Sometimes the trigger is obvious,  such as anniversaries,  but other times,  I’m blindsided.  

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I did nothing wrong,  that I was not to blame.  It has not been an easy lesson to learn. 

No matter
That I looked older
No matter
That I seemed older
No matter
That I was
In a lot of ways

I was still a child
And what was done
Was done to a child
How does that
Change anything?
And if it does
Does it change
Everything I did?

Was it love?
Could it be love?
Or something
More sinister

No matter
Groomed

No matter
Vulnerable

Words to describe
Actions to
Seduce a child

Which I was
In all the ways
That mattered