Healing through pain.

It has been almost a year since I wrote Easter hope.  A day where I felt such excitement and hope for the future. This Easter day is a little different. The close proximity to an Anniversary has me feeling raw. It has been the most painful anniversary I have ever faced.

The hope I felt last Easter is still there, though, I am finding I have to dig a little deeper within myself to find it right now. While my heart is heavy, I look out the window and see buds on the trees and new flowers opening. There is life all around me and where there is life, there is hope.

Friday was the anniversary of the most physically traumatic night of my life. Saturday morning was the anniversary of the lowest point of my life. It was the height of my trauma and this year I have felt it much more than any of the years before.

Today, it is over and I am safe. For those things, I am glad. For the life I see growing around me and for the changes within me, I am glad.

Yet, I am still hurting today. I cannot simply switch off all that I felt yesterday. I am still grieving, for the child I was and for what was done to her and all that we lost.

As my children hunted for eggs this morning, with joy and glee, I found I had to leave the room to hide my tears. Tears of joy, tears of relief and most of all, tears of pain.

I am in so, much pain. And because of him, the tears cannot spill for as long as I need. The black hole returns quickly and the emptiness threatens to swallow me. Today, like yesterday, has so far been about tears and then grounding. But unlike yesterday, today at least, there is relief too.

Relief that it is over now. It was seventeen years ago and my body has healed and now it seems my heart is too. He won’t do it again, it won’t happen again. It won’t. I have survived it already. I am safe now. I am safe from him. I am safe with me.

Thank God. Thank God, I am safe. Thank God, I am healing.

 

The Anniversary of my biggest loss

Today I woke into safety, I woke into warmth and  I woke into love.

What amazing feelings!

I am holding onto those feeling as I face an anniversary. I am keeping them with me as I struggle with the aftermath of a difficult afternoon and night yesterday and with the body memories that began this morning.

I have been moving around my home, rearranging my beautiful flowers, taking in the scent of the clean laundry hanging in the utility room. I have been looking out the windows at my lovely garden, the birds, the squirrels, the amazing trees that surround us. I have been moving between my rocking chairs and my window seat. Grounding, grounding. Reminding myself that I am safe. I am warm and I am loved.

 

But I cannot shake that night and I cannot shake that morning. I cannot get past that while he was celebrating yesterday he could have remembered me. It’s my memory, my pain, my trauma, yet he shares it too. And worse still, if he chose to remember yesterday, he would have done so differently to me. With pleasure perhaps, with power. With a smile on his face. Of course I do not know for sure, I am not in his head.. and that is where I am finding such distress. I do not know and even if I did, I cannot control his thoughts.

This week, my T suggested that while I cannot control his attachment to me, I can control my attachment, to his attachment. He is right,  I am still attached. Preoccupied, disturbed and distressed that he can choose to remember too. I do not want to share this with him.

I often think that he haunts me, but if I’m honest, sometimes I am sure it is me that is the ghost, still following him. That, at least, is something I can change.. in fact I am doing so already.

 

 

That night was hell and that morning after especially so. It was Friday 3rd, and he spent the night violating me. He broke me, yet it is the trauma of the following morning that is hurting me.

That morning, I think a part of me died, or perhaps more, a part of me got stuck there with him, trapped in time. I am certain, when I finally got away that morning, that something of myself was left behind. And he still has it. It’s still with him. And I don’t know that I can get it back.. and even if I did, how could I ever bring it back to life? Can your soul die? In part, at least? He destroyed something and though it may be in pieces, he still has it. It’s real, it’s gone and I know because I feel the loss – the gap, that I have never been able to fill.

I knew it that morning, I knew it was wrong and I’d never be the same. I knew it as I woke beside my monster, I knew it as I lay frozen in a terror. I knew it as I wondered if it were possible to be fucked to death. I knew as I wondered, if I was already dead. And I knew it when the door was wide open, and I still could not leave. My will broken, my choices gone, my identity – my very self, obliterated.

You cannot go through something like that and not lose something of yourself.  You just can’t.

 

That part is gone, I am sure of that. It is no longer mine and perhaps, I will always have this gaping hole..but I am safe now and I am warm and I am loved. And it is within those things, that I am healing and it is within those things, I am finding new life.

 

 

Growing.

The deeper I go in therapy, the more I learn about myself. Who I was, who I am and how I feel. It’s been a rough ride. It still is.

As part of that learning process, I am getting closer to having to face who I used to be and that causes such discomfort and pain. It is all so very close right now. I remember how it felt to be betrayed, to have my trust broken and how it was to be so alone.

My memories are clearer, I am remembering new memories or filling in incomplete ones. It’s scary and painful, but I am managing to compartmentalise at least. Filing away issues and memories until I am ready to process is something I am becoming quite good at now.

In this process of self discovery, particularly recently, I am beginning to find aspects of myself that I like. And surprisingly, despite the shame, I am even finding myself increasingly defensive over who I used to be.

I am self soothing better than I have ever done before, which is particularly helpful during all the pain I’ve been experiencing lately. Not only do I know how to comfort myself,  but I actually want to. I finally feel I deserve that at the very least.

There has most certainly been a shift. A change in my self perception. It is split into two, where there is fear and shame and self loathing, but at the same time there exists a very real and growing self worth. There is joy in what I have now and great hope for the future, that even in the darkest moments lately, still shines through.

I am growing stronger, I feel more powerful than I have ever done before. I feel that strength and power residing within me, as part of me. The more I feel, the more aware of it I am. Whether it be love or pain, or joy or grief, it continues to grow. Is it that the closer I get to feelings, the more I become the person I should have always been? Is this what feeling is?

 

 

Something happened last night. Something awful and terrible. Or perhaps I should rephrase. It actually happened many years ago. Last night, through an awful flashback, I remembered that something. It is something that has been hidden from me. Or more, I hid it from myself.  It is something completely unexpected, something outside of anything I have explored before, that has me questioning myself. It is something that is feeding the shame that is already so very close. It is something that has the power to make my world implode. It is certainly trying to shake my foundations right now.

I think, had this happened any time before now, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it, not in the way I have today. Because today I am confident in my own abilities and I trust myself enough to know that this did happen and I know I am not lying.

That trust in myself doesn’t take away the pain and the conflict or even the shame and it won’t distinguish the very real fear of “who will believe me?” ..but I feel I have something to hold onto.. and that something is me. I am the only one who has been here for me all the way through. I protect me, I save me and now finally, I am confident that I believe me- I long for the day when that is enough.

Now, for that something? Well, I cannot keep it to myself, but how do I admit to this? I have to put it away I guess. Put it aside, just like every other new memory lately. I have to hold onto myself, because I know, as all the times before, it is my strength that will get me through.

Fighting for hope.

It’s like a Thursday ritual.. therapy procrastination equals a blog post.

 

I am desperate to see my T for reassurance and guidance tomorrow. I’ve been hanging on all week… I am afraid of what I feel. I am afraid of what may happen. I am deeply afraid that I am going to be left alone..

It’s been a tough week, horrible, horrible thoughts. Dissociation and flashbacks. Fear and loneliness.

 

I am not suicidal, I do not want to die. But there are fleeting moments of  “what if?” “Is this impossible” “What if I cannot?” My children and their dependence on me quickly eradicate those thoughts. I have to always look for hope, especially in my darkest moments. He cannot win. I will not allow that.

 

I do not want to self harm. But there are times this week when it has crossed my mind.. When I am in the shower, with the razor close to hand…it feels like it is almost calling to me. Like a long lost friend. And I have to take a stand and be firm with myself. I remind myself that I have been hurt enough. My body is scarred enough. I must not and cannot do that to myself. I do not need to bleed for him any longer.

While the moments pass and the thoughts fade, it is only a matter of time before they return again. And then I must battle to find myself….The 30 something year old woman, who can handle things without hurting herself. I am not that teen anymore, those thoughts do not have a place here any longer.

I know this is probably to be expected, I am struggling with my own identity because I am battling shame. Shame has to be the worst thing I have felt. It is like a burning inside me and I guess it has always been there, smouldering deep within me. Now it is at the surface and I know the only way to extinguish it is to let it out.

And then, what if? What if I cannot do it? What if I am not really the me I so desperately want to be? What if I am her? What if I am still those things.

So many questions with answers that can only come from myself.

 

 

It is snowing here right now (I hope it doesn’t last), it’s beautiful out there and it’s beautiful inside my house. My children laughing, there is warmth and there is light. When the dark thoughts take hold it is this I hold onto. It is the present that is my anchor. What I want, I already have. There lies my hope.

 

 

Positive effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Seriously?

Great post.

Trauma and Dissociation

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a ‘challenging’ (difficult) diagnosis to live with, and hard work to heal from. The symptoms seem ‘irrational’ and you may feel like you are ‘going crazy’ at first. One thing which is known to help reduce PTSD symptoms is finding positives which resulted from the PTSD. Many people speak openly about finding meaning after trauma, or experiencing Post-traumatic Growth.

Certain types of traumatic experience may make finding meaning from trauma seem almost impossible, for instance if the trauma included the deaths of others. Witnessing such an experience leaves many people with survivor guilt: the belief that others should have survived instead of them.

An alternative approach to seeking positives is to consider if some of your current, disruptive symptoms may have a few unexpected benefits. Here are some of mine:

Hypervigilance – alert to changes in environment which may indicate possible danger. If the temperature in…

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True Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4

While I have known this verse for what seems like forever, I have not understood or really believed these words.

Instead I thought that different types of love existed and firmly believed that not all love is good.

Lately, I have been disclosing more of my abuse to my T and today following my therapy session, I found myself reminded of that Bible verse and what it can mean for me. More specifically what it can mean for the deep shame that I carry. 

I see now how the misuse of the word “love” was used to abuse me further. To tear a child down, to humiliate and degrade her in the most abhorrent ways cannot suddenly be made OK by covering her hurt with words of love. 

True love would not carry out these actions. True love would not cause such pain. True love would not blame and shame. 

Putting a label of love on top of wicked actions, does not make those actions good, nor does it suddenly make them forgivable. Love cannot dress evil. Love and evil cannot exist together in that way. 

I had no choice. It wasn’t done for love, on either my or his part. I had no choice, right?

That was not love. Love cannot be the reason or the cause. It cannot explain what was done.

Something to explore further I think?

Feelings and Change.

The more I come to understand about my past, the more I realise just how bad and big it all was and is. The closer I come to accepting just how terrible it was, the greater the fear that I will be left alone with it. Not out of irrational, paranoid fear, not even because it has happened before, instead it is because I see just how difficult it must be to support me.

Abuse that went on for so long, with many incidents of brutality and torture is something that scars a person. That person cannot be the same again. That person carries those things every single day. And the journey to healing and peace is a rough one. Supporting someone like that must take its toll. It must be exhausting mentally and physically. 

I am that person, who has so much baggage and fear and pain. To sit with, to listen and to witness that hurt and anger must be draining.  To hear those awful details of abuse, I know must be very painful. It is difficult to know that caring for me can be painful.

My T gently suggested that as I continue to learn what it is to feel, I will understand that loving and caring for people is painful, it cannot be avoided. Loving and caring for people means opening your heart to their pain and fear, but also to their happiness and joy.  That made me think.. and is something I need to explore some more.

 

Yesterday as we reflected on the magnitude of abuse, my T said that one incidence of rape was too many. He is right, one was too much. Once would have been enough to break me. I was raped more times than I can count. And not just rape, the control and fear, loneliness, rejection.. all during important growing years. I cannot undo all of that,  I cannot simply erase the impact it has had on me. I am scarred, I will always be scarred. 

I see how difficult it is to support me through my ongoing struggles and pain. Not only difficult to watch, but it must be so tiring to see that when one issue is dealt with, it is replaced by another. How can I expect or ask anyone to support me? Have I been selfish?

The last two nights I have been dreaming about just that- those I trust who cannot take it anymore. I wake up sad, lonely but not angry, because how could I blame them if it were true?

In my dream the other night, I was asleep and woke to a text message from my best friend, who told me that he is too ill to be there for me any longer. A Facebook message from my brother telling me it is too difficult to know about the abuse and what it is still doing to me now. An email from my Minister and friend telling me he couldn’t continue to support me through this because of the time it consumes and the pain it causes. And a voicemail from my T telling me he cannot see me anymore. In this dream, I turned to my husband who then told me he was leaving because he couldn’t handle that I’d been raped so many times. Horrible dream that has lingered. 

I know, that all those supporting me wouldn’t suddenly leave me-they’ve seen the severity of abuse all along. They are good people and they care about me- I see that. This is big though, HUGE and I know it’s a lot to ask people to be there for me. Particularly as I come to understand just how special those people are. The majority I come across do not have the capacity nor do they want to have the capacity to understand my struggles. 

I talked with my T about how I am changing and we reflected on how boundaries with others have had to change to accommodate my progress. We talked of the possibility and even necessity of having to change those environments that won’t allow me to me. That was such a relief as I realised that I cannot change others and I am not willing to pretend or hide myself any longer to suit those people and situations. It’s OK to feel uncomfortable and hurt and afraid, it’s OK to want to be around people who are understanding.  It’s OK to want to surround myself with those who will allow me to be me, without me having to hide the scars from my abuse. 

I do fear that those people already there for me, will one day have enough and leave, but at the same time, I know I cannot predict the future. Instead I can be grateful for what I have now, knowing that our paths cross with different people throughout our lives, some people stay, others leave. It is not something I can control. All I can do is continue to be me, and those that can and want to accept it, get the invitation to stay if they wish. I cannot control anyone’s actions but mine. I cannot continue to pretend to be someone I am not, or hide who I am and my past, just to ensure I won’t be alone. If people want to leave because they cannot handle me, then so be it. They are the ones who will miss out on the love and light that I know I can offer. 

So yeah, I’m insecure and full of new fears of abandonment, but that’s OK, fears always come with change and I am changing for the better. I have a sense of clarity this morning.

Look out world, here I come.