Strength?

I’m tough. I am the strongest person I know. Is that conceited? Either way, it is true. I have endured much and have lived to to talk about it.

I escaped my abuser and I found a good man to fall for.

I am strong.

I’m not sure I always was.

Where did that come from and why does it bother me so?

In therapy we somehow got on to talking about a friend who helped me. Someone, who was his victim too. Someone who saved me more than once and someone I relied on to help me cope with the pain, the panic and the fear. We talked about her for some time. It proved to be very painful and incredibly upsetting. I wasn’t altogether successful at holding back the tears.

I have been writing about her since I got home. I ache. Not for her, I don’t miss her. I don’t want her. She belongs back then. In my memories. But in talking about her, once again I was touching on who I used to be.

It’s a very strange place to be. Not quite grounded, but not “in it” either. It’s scary, but also a powerful, intense place to sit.

I remembered how I used to feel and I do not remember strength then. I relied on her. And most of all, I relied on my abuser.

When it got too much and I couldn’t calm down, I relied on her gentle touch, to bring my breathing under control. It was her closeness that stopped the shaking. I couldn’t do it for myself. Not then.

And then there was him-who could shut down my pain with just a look. It worked. I was grateful for that at least.

Did I grow strong over time?

Is my strength a direct result of what was done to me? That disturbs me. I do not want to be strong because he made me so. I do not want to be able to shut down my pain because of years of his control and fear enables me to do so.

I need this to be mine. Not another result of grooming.

My strength. Not his.

 

Why after all we’ve talked about today, is this my focus? My T suggested that I may need to talk about her again, however it may be more like how we dealt with disclosure, sometimes once was enough. Perhaps he is right? I get the feeling that we stumbled upon her because she blocks where I need to be (which I am guessing my T suspected too). After talking and writing about her, she is moving out the way and what lies behind her is mountains and mountains of pain.

 

Pain that includes the reality of his control. And somewhere in all that I am caught up in a desperate need to find something of myself now (or before) in myself back then. By that I mean, something of me, the real me, perhaps that was there before, or would have been whether I was abused or not. Instead of the completely broken child that I am beginning to see in some of these memories now.

I lost so much. He took my body and he took my heart. Did he take my soul too? Was there anything left? Was I strong before? Did that remain and then grow?

I need for there to be something. A spark, a flicker. I badly need to find something he didn’t create. I need to find something he didn’t take from me. I cannot be a result of his abuse. I cannot.

 

Am I making any sense? I’m not so sure.

 

 

Needing him.

I have wanted to write since Friday. Journal, or blog. Something. Anything.

I need to write, I know that. I need something out. I can feel it.

Except now, I finally feel I can, I find myself hesitating. Although it seems as if my journal is calling to me, I am struggling to find the courage to pick it up. I hold back here, but maybe I can at least find some relief.

 

Therapy last week, was, as it has been for some time – excruciating. I was closer than I have ever been to who I was and more importantly, what I felt and what I feel.

I’m glad to have been able to step away from that somewhat since then. After a great deal of grounding this weekend, the triggers are not as persistent as they were on Saturday.

It was a scary and stomach churning experience on Friday (therapy day). It was like stepping back into my old shoes, right back into who I used to be. Looking through her eyes as the horror of my daily life unfolded before me. Hell. 

I connected with myself. And I could feel a familiar emptiness and most of all, need. An all encompassing need.

Back then, I could have killed for that need.

My T suggested that it was a need my abuser created and so he was the only one who who could fulfill it. It was engineered that way. For him. Not for me. There was no other option offered to me. My T said, had there been, I would have taken it.

Would I? Really?

I couldn’t explore that properly with my T, because more talk of control and choice caused a horrific flashback, therefore the rest of the time, was spent grounding.

 

I remember that overwhelming and all compelling need. Perhaps not as well as I did with my T on Friday, but it hasn’t gone. I cannot shake it completely. Back then it was my waking thought. My only thought. Him. And my need to be with him. No matter what that meant for me. Or anyone else.

It ruled me.

Or he ruled me??

It’s like he was surrounded by a powerful magnetic force. I was drawn to him. I sought him. I needed him. So badly. It was as important as air to me. Can you imagine that? Do you know what that was like? Do you have any concept of the depth of my need? I’m not sure many could. Terrifying. Until Friday, even I had forgotten- buried, what that was like.

 

As I got older and I was no longer exclusively his, or he mine, I found myself pining for him. My addiction remained. Although I saw him regularly, I missed him, so very much. Too much. And so I got hurt more. For him. For me.

My T suggested, that was at least in part, because I didn’t know how to function without my abuser. He told me what to do. He told me what I should feel. And no matter the consequence for asking, I needed to need his permission for even the most basic of things. It was what made sense. It was safe. He was safe. The world was a scary place without him. How messed up.

 

I needed him to save me. And he did. He saved me over and over again. Except the only thing I really needed saving from, was him. He engineered that. He created my need for his rescue and so I had to return. Don’t you see?

Does anyone see? Can anyone understand?  I owed him. At least, I thought I did.

My saviour. My addiction.

 

Loss

Is it possible to grieve through PTSD symptoms? Because I hurt. I physically ache, just as I did back then. Yet I am not traumatised, not like before at least. It will always be horrific, but I am sure it is not trauma, not anymore.

Then the physical pain has to be a manifestation of the emotional pain that I just cannot release, right?

The only release is to cry, and therefore that means, right now I have no choice but to try to keep it inside. I have been fighting the tears all day long. And fight it I must because to shed tears, is to plunge myself into darkness. Into a black hole, that is so deep and so dark that I am terrified I won’t ever find my way out. Until I find a way around that, the pain can only be released by my agony. Hideous, awful, physical pain.

Mother’s day was just too much, it reminded me of that day. And now I cannot shake the feelings of loss. And I cannot shake him either. What he did and what he caused.

*Big Trigger warning here. If you are likely to be triggered, or if you would rather not know some details of my abuse, please don’t read on*

 

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As I lay underneath my husband last night, I felt my abuser. Where I was safe and loved, he disturbed us. He interrupted something beautiful and intruded on what is ours.  And I was there, back there. It was no longer night and I was no longer safe. Trapped, afraid and in a great deal of pain.

That day he pushed me to floor, like so many times before, and he took. And he took. Despite my pleas, despite the blood, it would not end.

Then he abandoned me, leaving  me completely alone, with a burden I did not know how to bear.

And out there, in the cold and surrounded by death, we lost all that we had left.

 

 

I lost so much and it hurts. I hurt.

I wish someone could take this from me.

 

Some thoughts

I wish they would try to understand. I wish they had the capacity to comprehend.

I’m not asking them to know my agony. I’m not asking them to change their lives.

But where is the compassion?

Why are they so thoughtless, when they have been told so many times?

When I am trying hard not to remember, why do they strive to remind me?

 

A good day, and I’m feeling better, only for them to hurt me once again.

Not out of malice, I do not think.

Does that mean I should not be angry?

Well, I am. I am raging now.

 

Why am I never first?  Why do I not matter?

I worry endlessly about other people.

I question my thoughts and feelings and those things I have or perhaps should have said.

I never want to inflict hurt on another. Ever.

Is it so wrong, to want some of that back?

Am I over sensitive perhaps?

 

 

A rare good day that has now turned bad.

Perhaps that is my fault too?

Yet, I find myself blaming her instead.

That poor child.

The one who was forgotten. The one who was left.

Forever hated. Forever alone.

Forced to choose a half life, or face certain death.

And what am I doing? The same as them, surely?

Or maybe I am much worse.

Because I am sure that I hate her most.

Much more than they ever could.

 

Can they see she still lives within me?

Maybe that is why they hurt me so.

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day- And I am subdued.

Today is International Women’s Day and I find myself feeling subdued.

Perhaps it should be a day of celebration, to recognise the achievements of the great women who have gone before us and those who are in this world today. Instead, I just feel heavy.

Heavy from the constant weight of being a woman in a man’s world.

Improvements are being made and things are changing, I won’t deny that.. but I am under no illusions. Women and men are not equals in this world.

Today, I hoped to feel empowered by other women. Those who stand up and speak for us. Those who work tirelessly to bring about change for us.

I hoped to find my own strength, to perhaps even celebrate the steps made in my own journey.

Instead, I feel resentful. Instead, I feel beaten down. Again.

Because I am reminded that while I want to help change this world, I cannot. All my strength is used up trying to heal from what men did to me.

 

Trigger Warning here

This morning I woke from a PTSD dream. In this dream my abuser found me sleeping on my front. He climbed on top of me and I woke to find I could not move.  This man holding me down, was so much bigger and so very much stronger than me. My months of grooming, stopped me from crying out in fear, or pain as he did what he wanted to me. This was not just a dream, this was once my reality.

It is not a feeling I can shake easily this morning. I remember that helplessness and more over, I remember his utter power. I cannot help but feel that no matter how strong I feel, I will always be at the mercy of men. If they choose to hurt me, what chance do I have?

Yesterday, my husband and I were being playful in bed. When I shoved my husband in jest, he didn’t move an inch, as he shoved me back, he then had to grab me quickly, before I fell off the bed. Men are so much stronger than me. How can I ever fight back?

This morning, I am reminded what it was like to be utterly powerless. Right now, it seems to me that men will always have the upper edge.

 

It’s not just my own experiences that have me feeling sort of flat this morning. Just look around the world. The recent news story and documentary covering the gang rape of  Jyoti Singh in Dehli. And while that is absolutely abhorrent and the attitudes by some (and I fear many) men there, utterly shocking, it is not limited to India. A “well it happens over there, thank goodness we live in a civilised society” sort of response is not acceptable. Male violence is happening all over the world. In your part of the world, your country, your town, your street. Everywhere.

Look in the UK, at the more high profile cases such as the  Jimmy Saville abuse, or perhaps the Rotherham or Rochdale trafficking. Look harder and you see how the media is getting it so wrong too. Reporting rape as sex. Using terms such as “young girls sold for sex”. How on earth can we end this violence, when we are still calling it sex?

In the USA, on campus rapes particularly, have been making news lately. Where preserving reputation and the lives of boys and men come higher on the agenda than justice and care for the victims, who of course, are largely women.

What about the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls in Nigera? Again, men. Men forcing. Men controlling. Men exerting their power over women and girls.

And the list goes on. Forced marriages. Female  Gentle Mutilation. So called “Honour”KillingsInfanticide  and Femicide.

How is this equality? How is this anywhere near achieving equality?

Women and girls are dying everyday, because we are still regarded as inferior.

 

Even well known charities are getting it wrong.  This poster by the Salvation Army South Africa on Domestic Violence- a sexualised picture of a bruised women. I’m sorry, but where do I start with this? What on earth are we learning from this? Where is the awareness, where is the advice here?

 

The right noises are being made and I suppose for that I should be grateful?  Except I am not. We are still getting it wrong. Men still rule this world. It is largely men in the UK government for example. White, rich men, making decisions about issues that they cannot possibly understand.

I cannot see the end to male violence. I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel at all here and that is why today, on International Women’s day, my heart is heavier than ever.

Dissociation. My angel.

I’ve been ill the last few days. Thankfully it is over now, but I can tell you, grounding is very difficult when you wake at all sorts of time and day and night, not knowing where you are.

I’ve been dreaming a great deal. Nightmares of things that happened. Some of which I had forgotten.

I’ve written down what I can. And in doing so, I’ve noticed a shift. A change in my perception of who I used to be. Maybe this will help the shame?

 

Writing this today, has been hugely emotional for me. She saved me. Time and time again.

 

*Trigger warning here. Please be careful.*

 

Is it pitch black? Or maybe our eyes are closed, why can’t we tell?

The smell is overpowering. That stench is unmistakable. It makes us want to gag.

But we are frozen to the spot, we cannot move an inch. Are we even breathing?

We know we should not make a sound.

Not when it is so close, when we know what is to come.  The smell is growing stronger and we are beginning to lose ourselves.

Is she up there watching now? Why does she come back down? Why does she return here, where there is terror, where there is agony. When the threat is far too close now, why won’t she go?

Listen to me now. Can’t you hear it too? A buckle.

A zip.

We don’t have long. We can hear him breathing, we can feel the pressure close now.

I got this. It’s time for you to leave.

Go now and rest.

 

Offloading

I have been writing since I came home from therapy almost two hours ago and I really need to share some of it. 

I don’t think a trigger warning is needed, but perhaps a caution to those who know me. It’s honest and perhaps a little darker than normal….

 

As I made my way home, I was driving towards the clouds.  I noticed the light cutting its way through them and an almighty rage within me began to grow. Rage at the world.  At the light.

At Him. 

 

How dare there be sunshine today? How can there be light and beauty in such a dark and ugly world?

I cannot help but feel that He is mocking me..today, He is but a cruel and distant King.

 

The very ones who should know better. The ones who proclaim to serve Him. Them. They did it. And so the list grows longer. Too many. 

 

What is wrong with them? What is wrong with me? 

Was it me? Could it be my fault, for being her?  My fault for being me?

 

There will no be closure. Not for this. There are no answers waiting for me. Who would even believe me? 

 

 

So, how can there be beauty today and how does the sun continue to shine? 

When all I see is darkness, how dare there still be light?