A BIT OF A WOW

Had an interesting weekend this week. Thursday, my therapist suggested I investigate something called Yoda Nidra. Found one my a woman, Jennifer Piercy, on DoYogaWithMe. Had the best sleep I’ve had in a very long time. So that was a cool start to the weekend.

Celebrated my poetry being published on Friday with some of my closest friends. Went to my buddies cafe after, ostensibly to do some writing. But inspiration is a fickle mistress, and so I started cleaning up old emails. By old I mean back from 2014 to the present. When I got to February of 2016, I opened one that was just titled WhatsApp chat. I didn’t recognize it, so I opened it. And there, in is full shirtless glory, was a selfie of the rapist, with the accompanying chat where I told him not to contact me anymore. Instant trigger. Immediately brought me back to that dark place, with his forearm on my throat, knocking me unconscious. I go home and create a nest out of my two king size comforters and five pillows. Freaked right out, I start grounding. Touching my books, reading their titles and authors (I keep a small pile of books beside my pillows). My therapist is always saying, “Do something different.” The purpose of this directive is to let yourself know that you are no longer in trauma time, that you can escape, that things are different right now. I struggle with this. My trauma responses are fairly hard-wired in my brain. It has taken many years of therapy so that my first response isn’t always to self-harm. Glad to say this weekend that wasn’t even an issue. So what did I do that was different? Put on my new found sleep friend, Ms Piercy, and guess what? I fell asleep before she was even finished. Woke up sometime late Saturday morning. Feeling fine.

So fine, that when I went to visit friends on Sunday, I had no residual effects. I was able to go to an antique market with them, without taking any tranqs. Which in itself is amazing. To do so after a trigger response, well, to quote my therapist, “It is a bit of wow isn’t it, Squirrel”.

SO FUCKED UP

The day before Christmas and I’m pretty fucked up. It’s a good thing the kids are with their father. On Monday I had a very traumatic dentist appointment that culminated in him using a probe to take a complete picture of my mouth. It was not unlike one of the times I was raped and had two men try to use my mouth at the same time. By the time Thursday came around with my therapist I was a wreck. So we did some unplanned EMDR. Just knee tapping, so it didn’t feel as intense. But damn, does it mess me up.

And Young One wants to do some scarification on my ankle. A butterfly. We’re arguing about whether that constitutes self-harm or not. I say yes, she says no. My therapist did not respond to my email Thursday, which surprised me. But it’s her prerogative. I have to respect her time out of the office.

Dad is now home until next week, which sucks. I am always stressed out when he’s home. Giving me a hard time about my weight, my hair, my clothes. Though to be honest, since I moved back home this time he seems to have let a lot go. But that feeling of being judged is still there.

And for some reason, I have purchased tickets to a New Year’s Eve party, with a roaring twenties theme. I purchased a silly panama hat, a bow tie, suspenders, and arm bands. The kit also came with a fake cigar and stick on moustaches. I hope it will be fun and not stressful. I need to buy a white shirt and a pair of black pants, as the black pants I have are ladies’, and my long sleeve white shirt is too small. And of course, the big kicker. Benzos before I go to stay calm, or have a social drink or two with my friends. I have a week to decide. I’ll probably bring them and decide there.

And I’m not wanting to shower or change. My hair is gross. I smell, and I’m isolating. Thursday I’m taking my friend shopping for a new phone, so I’ll pick up a dress shirt and pants while I’m out with her. And I’ll have to shower for that. So that means it will be a whole week without showering if I don’t shower tomorrow. Which I should do. But I dread getting in the shower. It’s an all glass enclosure that has no frosting. And I’m only coming out of my shut down from Thursday’s therapy session. Which is great. I’m doing it with just the support of my friends. Attending that group for sexual assault survivors was one of the best things I ever did. I have two really good friends out of it.

One of which I’m seeing on Friday. Hopefully the other one can come, but her husband has been being an asshole lately, so I’m not sure. She is starting to see how emotionally abusive/manipulative he is, but I have to tread lightly. She knows I’ll be here for her, whatever she decides. As she is there for me.

VULNERABILITY

Brene Brown, in Daring Greatly, defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. That useless feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or DO something that forces us to loosen control”. A quick google search defines vulnerable as “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.” Why this sudden interest in vulnerability? Because that’s my homework this week: trying to eat better and getting in touch with my own vulnerability. I think she’s tired of hearing “Eww” every time she says vulnerability. Just typing the word causes my anxiety to rise. I also realized that I don’t really understand what she meant by “get in touch with your vulnerability”. She didn’t mean being vulnerable with other people, she meant with my own. Which is a difficult thing to come to terms with. So I’m going to blather on about it on the internet. While researching vulnerability, I came across a term that DID resonate with me. Vulnerability Hangover: the rush of regret you feel after sharing your weakness (read vulnerability) with others. I am terrified of being judged, or not believed, or, worse, believed and mocked/ridiculed. That stems directly from my extremely judgemental parents. I remember when I tried to tell my mom about my first rape a few years after it happened. I started with, “When I was in high school I went on a date that went very badly.” She gave me such a look of disgust and then turned and walked away, so I never trusted her again. With anything. I remember telling her stuff as a teenager that she would relay to dad, and then dad would use it against me. Usually as an excuse to beat me. Betrayal runs deep in the family. So many betrayals and failures. Both by those around me and myself. I can forgive myself, as I honestly didn’t know better. If those who were supposed to love and care for me would treat me thusly, obviously I deserve it and will treat myself with the same disregard. That is still something I struggle with. How to love myself when my parents didn’t? Even now, the little innocuous things I share almost always garner some sort of criticism. Vulnerability. Maybe if I type it enough, the revulsion will dissipate. Vulnerability. This has been a huge trigger for my dissociation. It has taken me almost two hours just to write this much. I keep zoning out. So let’s approach it carefully. What is happening? Why am I so unfocussed? What is triggering my dissociation? Obviously the answer is the word vulnerability. But why? What about it is making it so difficult to stay present? And Rock gets huge. Why is this? What is going on? I’m writing this more like a journal entry than a blog piece. More stream of conscience type writing. Dammit. There I go again. Anything but the topic at hand. Vulnerability. Let’s personalize the definition. What does vulnerability mean to me? It means being open and susceptible to being hurt, used, and abused. My whole life I’ve been abused, it seems. Only the past few years, where I have made a conscious decision to avoid toxic people as much as possible, have I been abuse free. And this life of chosen celibacy has pulled me out of the dating pool for a while, as I focus on my healing, which means I’m not putting myself in positions where I’m open to betrayal and abuse. Some day I will again, but not right now. Vulnerable. Open-hearted. What does that even mean? Open-hearted. Definition of openhearted according to Merriam Webster: 1 : candidly straightforward : frank. 2 : responsive to emotional appeal. I am not unmoveable, but I am definitely guarded. I listen lots, talk less. I care about specific persons, but can’t stand people in general. So where does my vulnerability come in as it relates to me? I’m really struggling with this one. I am certainly not gentle with myself. Vulnerability. A few months ago I submitted some poetry for publication. That was being pretty vulnerable. When I open up to Angry Dude, Young One, and Squirrel, I guess that could be a form of vulnerability with myself. When I’m honest with myself with what I’m feeling, how I’m coping.

MED COMPLIANCE

At night, the monsters come out. Since my dentist appointment last week, I’ve been having dreams of disembodied hands. Creepy and unsettling. I wake up in a cold sweat, and don’t want to go back to sleep. So I stay up and read. Or listen to books on Audible. I’m acquiring a collection of un-listened to books that will rival my to be read stack of paper books. But that’s ok. Somethings to look forward to.

Am struggling with med compliance again. I’m tired of feeling flat and numb, and blame it on the Abilify. I’ve been reading up on it, and apparently it’s a common side effect. Right away she was concerned that I was still taking them. She was genuinely concerned that I would quit it cold turkey. Given my history, I would have to say that her questioning me is warranted. I started at 2mg, and now I’m up to 20. That’s a big dose. Especially since the last p-doc I saw stated that I don’t even have bi-polar. I understand that I might need a mood stabilizer, as anti-depressants alone never work properly. I do question, however, the need for an atypical anti-psychotic. At such a high dose. The last p-doc I saw was just a consult, but she said I could see her in a year if I wanted to discuss a med change. So I need to call the hospital and find out if I can make an appointment through them, or if I need to go through my doctor. My therapist is all about getting it done. I hem and hawed and will be doing it in the new year. I may bite the bullet and call this week, so it’s not hanging over my head. But I hate talking on the phone. I have real anxiety about it. So much so that even my therapist only contacts me via email. Even if it’s the day of an appointment, she knows I’m on my email, but if I don’t recognize the number, I won’t answer the phone. I’m so glad she’s willing to work with my limitations and foibles, without making them a focus or a big deal.

I have a feeling, since last week we didn’t really touch on anything big, as I’ve been pretty stable, we’re going to do some EMDR on Thursday. Just in time to do three weeks before she takes her two weeks off over Christmas. She is also planning on taking a week off in the middle of January. I’m just glad she’s not taking all three weeks off at the same time. Three weeks is a long time when you’re used to weekly sessions. She asked me how I’m feeling about the two weeks off. I replied, “Besides feeling abandoned?” Then I laughed and told her I was joking. “You’ll be holding seminars on how to yank your therapists chain.” I have mixed feelings about starting EMDR again. I’m scared of how it’s going to go now that I’m having visual flashbacks. My flashbacks have always been somatic, meaning feelings only. Recently, I’ve been having some pretty severe visuals. Not just feeling his hands around my neck, but seeing them. His cold, cold eyes. The collapse when I tried to stand up and he grabbed me by the neck and threw me back on the bed. Instead of just feelings of dread and sensations, I’m full on remembering. Which sucks.

I have my protocols. Babette Rothschild has saved my sleep. Her “8 Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery” has provided some very solid protocols on dealing with flashbacks and nightmares. So much so that I wrote them down for easy access at night. And I’ve passed them onto friends. They’ve been so helpful. I recommend that book to everyone I know with a trauma history that impacts their daily lives. Even if only sometimes.

A NEW APPROACH

Last week we talked about about how my therapist recommended I start reading about Poly Vagal Theory. That was quite the rabbit hole to send me down. I learned a lot about myself. About my emotional parts, about my dissociative states. My therapists have always expressed awe over the mind’s ability to save itself. I have always looked at is as a failure. Every time I dissociate, I associate it with failure. My failure to stay present. I have never been comfortable with my EPs. They make me feel crazy. But you can only hear so many professionals say that it is an incredible thing your body does to protect itself, before it starts sinking in. And that it wasn’t a choice. That seems to be the key that finally got hammered home. IT WASN’T A CHOICE. My body/mind connection were threatened, and the option that led to my survival was collapse, or fawn. One that isn’t talked about near enough. Everyone knows about fight or flight. But the other two pieces, freeze and collapse, not so much. And when it’s your father that has you pinned to the bed, beating you until you can’t breathe, you can’t run, you can’t fight. Freezing does no good, so you collapse. And it happens so often, that you start shutting down at the slightest threat. And then you start shutting down all the fucking time. Talking about the weather? Shut down. Having a shower? Shut down. Playing with your kids? Shut down. Having sex? Forget it. Fucking shut down. You learn to fake it, but those closest to you can tell something’s not right. Your kids ask why you keep staring off into space. As for sex, why bother? You feel desire, but it’s never really sated because you can’t stay present for the act. So you become hypo-sexual. Which is okay, because the meds you take for your depression and C-PTSD kill the libido anyways.

But back to this new approach I was talking about. A new way of looking at my self. Appreciating how hard survival was. From a young age. And then the abusive three year relationship at fifteen. The date rape three years ago. All of which contributed to my C-PTSD. And now I have an appreciation for just how hard my mind worked to keep me safe. And that I didn’t out and out split, I just have different facets that need care.

And I can do that now. Start to take care of myself.

ONE ROUGH WEEK

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.

ON MY KNEES

This time of year is so hard. I feel ready to throw in the towel, crawl into bed, and never come out. The siren song of the razor blades is strong and sweet, necessitating bringing my thoughts back to my safety contract over and over. My eyes are permanently on the verge of tears, watery and weepy. That one man can bring me to my knees in despair. That the memory of one man can bring me down, leave me curled on the floor, shattered and broken.

The memories come fast and thick. Leave me whirling in confusion as to where I am in time and place. The nausea and the disorientation. Rock is huge, always, these days. My mom is going for cancer surgery next week, so I have to hide how bad I’m feeling so she doesn’t worry. I’m not doing a very good job of it, but she isn’t getting the depth of my shadow self.

Shadow self. My being crawling to The Pit. The body tremors as I fight it. As I fight the flashbacks, the memories of violence done to my body; to my being. Knowing that I can’t let him win. But the body, the mind, wants to cave; to collapse in a puddle of blood and tears.

The days long, the nights longer. Soaked sheets as the body remembers the torment; wakes in a frozen panic. “Just move one finger, just a little bit,” encourages my therapist. So hard. So hard. But I do it. Then the next one. Defiance that he hasn’t completely broken me. My body comes back to me, sore and achy, but mine.

STAYING PRESENT; PROGRESS

I wrote a little while ago about needing extensive dental work. My dentist pulled two broken teeth, and had made arrangements to pull 7 more. Then fillings, then partial dentures. Last week I went in to get two teeth pulled. He decided then to pull all seven. Plus three more. Two for the aesthetics when I get my partials. To have his hands in my mouth for that length of time was brutal. I was, however, able to stay mostly present, much to the surprise and delight of my therapist. “How did you accomplish this?” It seems weird but I managed by focussing on the tools in my mouth. It kept it real, that there was nothing sexual or abusive about what he was doing, despite the vey real trauma being done to my mouth. It helped me to focus on the fact that it was a medical procedure happening. And it helped keep me from dissociating. Now if she had asked about this week with the pain and my refusal to take pain killers if I can do without, the answer would have been very different. Which is fine, I’ll take my victories where I can, no matter how small they seem.

This week I finally got the stitches out and was upgraded to soft food from liquid and purees. I was already eating soft food. And not so soft foods. Just cutting things up very tiny and chewing very carefully. And now I sound like Sylvester the Cat from Looney Tunes. My kids are trying to be supportive, but it’s hard not to laugh. I get it. I laugh with them. My friends, well, half of them pretend nothing is different and the other half are total assholes. Which is about right. What is most surprising to me is the amount of pain the inside of my ears are in. The nerves are all so very inter-twined. No tinnitus, but just a dull ache in the very depths of my ear canal.

Because of the amount of wrenching, my neck has been very sore. My therapist recommended something called Salonpas. It’s a topical analgesic patch from Japan. Salicylate, menthol, and camphor, it warms your skin as it penetrates. And it smells very good. We are working at me feeling more connected with my body; that I do exist below the neck. Because of the amount of abuse I have endured, I have a hard time touching myself. I was very proud of myself this week that I have been able to put hand cream on my hands. But that’s not enough. I wake up in a tight ball every day, with my feet cramped from being balled up. So now, every night at bedtime, I need to rub hand cream onto my feet. I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish this. But I told her I’d give it my best shot. I also really need to get back into doing my meditation app every night with the body scan. Kind of help release it. And I really need to get back into Qi Gong again. So much more I could be doing for my mental and physical health, but no motivation whatsoever. I’m giving myself until my teeth are healed and I’m not in any more pain from them, and really getting into it.

I’m committing to my physical health as I have committed to my mental health.

NO THERAPY TOMORROW

Tomorrow I should be going to see my therapist. But she’s in Europe somewhere, rejuvenating her spirit. We had an honest discussion last week about my abandonment issues. How I don’t feel abandoned, but Squirrel does. Squirrel is my inner child. It was hard to vocalize. I know I said last week I’d lie about it, but what good does lying to your therapist do? I never have, and I don’t plan on starting.

One of the sweetest things she said was, “…and I want to come back.” Something Squirrel needed to hear. It’s easy to say she’s gone before, she always comes back, but it was nice to hear her say she wants to. Not just that she will. She also wants me to email her every week. The hour I would spend with her on Thursday, I am to compose and send an email. She won’t respond, but she will get them. She is so selfless. But it fills that hour up with retrospection, which is half of what therapy seems to be anyway. Guided introspection.

It’s a tough time of year for her to leave me. I big bad anniversary is coming up, and I’m already starting to suffer from it. And I have a shit ton of dental work about to be performed on me next week, which is always nerve wracking. I never understood why the dentist was always a difficult thing for me. I’ve never known a harsh or cruel dentist. When I had everything blocked out, I could even fall asleep while he was cleaning my teeth. Now, not so much. Vera brought to my attention the number of oral sexual assaults I’ve suffered, going back to my cousin at age 6. So it makes sense that someones hands in my mouth would be triggering. And she’s not going to be around to help me through the first one. What I’m hoping is that as I have them done, it’ll get easier. What I’m scared of is it getting worse. Nine teeth pulled, a bunch of fillings, and then partial dentures. He’s not pulling the teeth all at once, either. He said over three visits. Ugh. But I know it needs to be done. The ones that need to be pulled are starting to break, leaving sharp little roots at the gum line. I can’t avoid it or put it off any longer. I’m going to have a toothless smile for a while, so no smiling for me. Not that I smile all that much to begin with. The big fight will be staying present during the appointment. Not shutting down.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

MELANCHOLIC MUSINGS

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.

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.

REHABILITATION

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?

and

Where do I go from here?

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.

SECRETS

Secrets kept since childhood. A cousin who molested me. A rape at fifteen by a thirty year old man. Another rape three and a half years ago. The moments of terror blend together, sometimes. And I’ve carried this trauma by myself, for so long. I just recently started opening up to friends about it. And the support has been unequivocally amazing. My friends are amazing. My family, not so much. So much so, that when the rape at fifteen happened, and I tried to tell my mom, the minute she heard “I had a date go bad,” she gave me a look of pure disgust and turned away from me. Bodily turned from me and walked away. The kind of betrayal that runs deep. So I’ve never trusted her since. Never trusted anyone since. If the woman who birthed you and is supposed to be there for you turns her back, where is there left to go?

This week has been hard. My mom went in for surgery on Tuesday to have a complete hysterectomy as they found a cyst on what they thought was her ovary. Turns out it was a growth on her bowel. So she is in the hospital and my sister has flown in from PEI to help out around the house. My sister and I have a very strained relationship. As the baby of the family, she was pretty coddled as a child. And she never suffered at the hands of dad like I did. I was the black sheep, and she always sided with both dad and my brother. So the line was drawn, with the family on one side, and me on the other. Is it any wonder I don’t do “family” with them?

Tuesday night my dad and brother had a fight, and my brother drove off drunk. So my sister had a good cry on my shoulder. We talked about Mark, (my brother) and how he was the golden child and how much of an asshole he has become. She asked what made me start getting into feminist literature and poetry, and I told her the #metoo movement flipped a switch. When she responded with, “it did for a lot of women. They no longer felt alone,” I almost spoke up. But instead, I just nodded and said, “Yeah, it did”.

So today we’re driving to the hospital, and talking about the J Dubs, which is what my sister calls Jehovah’s Witnesses, the faith we were raised in the and the faith my parents still follow. I took a chance and told her that I struggle with my sexuality, as I’m bi. She said that really doesn’t surprise her. And then she really surprised me, “You know, no matter what, I’ll always support you.” At this point, I go out on a limb and tell her what I’ve never told a family member. I told her about my rape at fifteen. I did not tell her about the subsequent relationship that developed, or the depths of depravity he brought me to. And she just held my hand while we walked into the hospital.

So now I’m in knots wondering if I did the right thing. I hope she doesn’t tell mom. I don’t think she will. She won’t want to worry mom about anything while she’s recuperating. The only thing she asked is why I never told, and when I told her mom’s reaction, she just said, “Oh.”

Secrets are hard to bear, but the spilling of them, after so long, isn’t any easier.

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

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.

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

ECSTASY HAS ITS PRICE

Strapped down

Unable to move

Unable to see

You taught me

To love the lash

Pain and Pleasure

Two sides

Of the same coin

The red welts belie

The soft coos of love

You whisper in my ear

Ecstasy always

Had its price

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
Begging on my knees
Not to go

THE AIR

I’ve recently started EMDR for my PTSD. And it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Going back into the memory while tracking your therapists hand movements. And the fact that those memories that you have tried so hard to bottle up now run rampant through your brain. Through your waking hours. Through the few hours of respite you get a night. And the worse time of all, that gap between wakefulness and unconsciousness.

Laying in bed
Your ghost beside me
Sucking the air
Out of the room

I remember your hands
Your body

Taking what you wanted
Not what I gave

Memory
Continues to suck
All the air
Out of the room

I couldn’t breathe then
I can’t breathe now

Here alone
Laying in bed

Violating me
Over and over again
Sucking the air
Out of the room

Tears I couldn’t shed then
Pour now down my cheeks
Torment and despair

Sucking the air
Out of the room

ALONE IN THE LIGHT

Alone in the night
Lights out
In the dark
A silent scream
As you touch me

Alone in the night
You haunt my waking hours
My sleepless nights

Can’t breathe as your body
Crushes mine

Alone in the night
Unshed tears

I can’t turn you off
Or make you disappear

Alone in the light

I feel you
Smell you
I can’t escape

What you’ve done to me

FADE TO BLACK

Hands
Hard as iron
Hands
Cold as winter
Hands
Gentle on my skin

Turn violent in a breath

Caresses
Soft as a whisper
On my neck
A cold vise

In a hearbeat

Closing

Constricting

A snake
Around it’s prey

Fight to breathe
Your body on mine

Compressing
Light fades to black

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

POWER OF WORDS 

Power of words
Assault rape
Shared with gang raped
Gang raped trafficked
Too rough boundaries violated
Play abuse

Every word
Used to gentle the experience
Dashed on the rocks
Like the waves along the shore

No minimizing
No sugarcoating
No gentling of the
Power of words

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

MORE THAN

All you did
Was take
My love
My heart
My soul
My innocence

All you did
Was give me
Hurt
Pain
Loss
Abandonment

Just a child
Taken in
Nurtured
Twisted
To fit your
Unholy needs

Left me
Empty
Broken
Tarnished
Lonely
Betrayed

A long journey
From that shattered
Youth
But I will do more
Than just
Survive

DAYTIME FEARS NIGHTIME TERRORS

Daytimes fears
Become nightimes terrors
Monsters hiding in the dark
In our minds
Playing tricks with time

Though it happened years ago
It still feels like today
Your breath on the back of my neck
Your hands holding me down
The weight of your body
On mine

I wake in the dark stillness
The only sound
My rapid breathing
Yet I hear your voice
Crooning those sweet words
That I know now
Are empty lies
Abusive
Full of pain

A gift that keeps giving
Over and over
Neverending
Days of fear
Nights of terror

MONSTERS IN MY MIND

Another sleepless night
Afraid to close my eyes
The monsters in my mind
Come out and play

Years go by
The memories have yet to fade
Still sullied by your
Unwelcome presence

I wake in terror
Feeling you
Smelling you
Hearing yiir voice

And again
And again
I want to die

RELEASE ME

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

I remember your touch
Your smell
Your eyes

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

I still feel your touch
Your breath
Hot on my skin

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

I cower in my bed
Watch the numbers on the clock
Waiting for the sun to rise

Release me from the torment
Your mem’ry brings
Release me from the torment
Night time brings

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

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

GOOD GIRL

So many layers of hurt, all melded into one big ball if pain. So trite yet devastating at the same time.

The wind ruffles my hair
I hear “good girl”
Breathed gently
Carried by the breeze

Two words
That shouldnt hold
Such power

Every abuse
Followed by
Good Girl

Every sexual assault
Every sexual beating
Every single one
Followed by the words
“Good Girl”

Because I took it
Silently
Willingly
Complicit in my own
Emotional
Demise

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

The Inherent Dichotomy of Co-Morbidity

It’s a crazy thing, to be hypomanic and still be suffering the effects of C-PTSD. Complex or chronic post traumatic stress disorder. Mixed with cyclothemic bipolar renders all states crazy. I’m currently on my way out of months of depression, a few days in a mixed state, into full blown hypomania. Yet the Darkness is never far away. I can be flying high, enjoying the state, working on my novel, writing poetry, even basically things like cleaning, which, by the way, are much more fun when you’re manic. Everyday tasks are almost a joy, since I’m so scattered I’m not even sure what I’m doing. (Like using a glue stick instead of lip balm, but I digress, that’s a story for another day). Where was I, oh ya, even in the midst of joy, where the sun is shining, (well, it’s raining and gray, but it’s shining in my heart for once) and I can smile. When Bang! Out of the great blue yonder comes a flashback. When I’m depressed, they drop me even deeper into the Pit, down into the Abyss of suicidal despair. In a mixed or hypo/manic state, they leave me edgy, restless, ill-at-ease, frightened. Which transmutes into Irritability. Hyper and irritable. Sucks. And leaves me feeling

Broken

Haunted eyes
Hollow and empty
Of naught but fear

Another sleepless night
Or dreams filled with terror
The power you still have
Over me
So many years later

Remnants return
Out of nothing
And your hands
Your cologne
The weight of your body
Memory returns

Physical

Emotional

Love is earned
Only through pain
Subservience

Lessons I learned
So very well
Shaped the core
Of who I am

Broken

Tarnished

And yet a small crumb of solace, the suicidal ideation is at bay, and while being edgy and restless isn’t great, it is infinitely better than being outright suicidal and knowing you can never act on that desire because you don’t want your kids as fucked up as you are.

So have a great weekend all, and play safe.