Choosing to heal.

 

* Trigger warning for SI*

I really want to share this with someone, it’s kinda scary to do so, but I’m going to be brave, because I think it’s important that I be honest about this.

 

I did something today. Something completely unexpected and out of the blue.

I think doing this “something” will prove to be incredibly healing for me.. the pain and the anger that vibrated through my body as I did this “something” has to be a good. It has to be healing. Because I didn’t push it back down, not this time. I let it out. I let it breathe. At least until the tears came and I was forced to ground.

This “something” isn’t altogether why I am writing, or what I want to share- mostly because I cannot share the details. Instead, it’s more about another thing that happened during this “something” this afternoon.

In the midst of what I did today,  a disturbing thought more than crossed my mind. One from back then. One that came from her- the person I used to be. This thought was about self destruction, self hate and self mutilation. And it was close, far too close.

After the “something” I did today, I knelt among the debris, breathing, shaking. Recovering. It felt like the debris was sort of calling to me – as crazy as that may sound. Even crazier, it felt like someone inside was listening. I don’t even remember doing it, but I must have reached out and taken a piece, because suddenly it was in my hand. I was dissociating somewhat, I guess. I remember being preoccupied by the way this shard caught the light. Any danger seemed so far away.  There was such temptation and there was familiarity and a great deal of need. Complex, chaotic, need. Need that can exist, no matter how empty and numb you may feel. It is a feeling, we have touched on in therapy lately…and it’s horrible. And it’s scary. It would seem that in the wrong setting, it can be dangerous also, as today has taught me.

This is where it gets hard to admit.. but I came as close as I have been in years to letting her take control. I am ashamed to admit, but I got as far as running it across my hand, more than once.

Too close. But I stepped in and I saved myself. I chose not to apply pressure. I chose instead, to feel the anger. I chose instead, to feel the pain. And most importantly, I let them both breathe. For as long as I could stand it.

Today, I think I made a huge step in healing, by this “something” I did, but more crucially, when my old self wanted to self destruct. I chose recovery,  I chose self care. I chose me.

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Putting myself first. A desire for peace.

Preparation for therapy used to take a great deal of time. Time, fear, worry, anxiety, all that fun stuff. I would set aside at least a few hours for it. I’d think about it for days, planning carefully what I would allow my T to know and what I could bear to share. I would spend time balancing and weighing up the desire to let it out with the potential dangers of dong so. It was complicated and risky and quite frankly, exhausting. It was like I needed therapy to prepare for therapy…
Things are different now, I have settled into the routine and pattern of therapy. Even when things are new and different, I am more at ease and even comfortable enough, to mostly let my thoughts flow freely. Preparations continue on a Thursday evening as always, but where it was once pages of writing, it is often just bullet points. 
I had set aside this time to do just that. Twenty minutes perhaps, to gather my thoughts ready for tomorrow’s therapy. Five minutes in and I’ve already hit a wall. So much going on, endless thoughts of the past, nightmares, triggers, work issues, an anniversary, the body memories that are hurting so much today…. where do I begin. Which do I pick? 
I know not to force it, but if you know me at all, you will know how hard it is for me not to plan, at least a little. What will be, will be. What needs out, will be released. I have faith in that, in the process, in my T and also in myself. However, it remains difficult to just let go.
I hit the wall, decided it was there for a reason, so found myself reflecting on the last week or so and my last therapy session instead. My last session seemed like a waste of time. I was so upset at some work issues which we spent the majority of the session on. Work, vulnerability and fear. If I am being honest now, I think the session last week was more worthwhile than I first thought. I think it is behind a decision I feel I made today. Perhaps decision is the wrong word, I am not sure, maybe a realisation perhaps? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Whatever it is, it has made me feel a little better. Control and strength and relief at the freedom to choose for myself. I haven’t felt so free lately, quite the opposite in fact. 
Last week at work, someone shouted at me. I won’t go into the circumstances, they really are not important, but it was a horrible experience. At another time, maybe it wouldn’t have got to me, I am not sure? On this particular day however, it caused great distress. I was triggered and I felt attacked. Attacked, afraid and vulnerable. I cried in front of my colleagues and as crying is something I rarely do because it makes me feel so unsafe, I was left with fears that I had not only lost a coping mechanism (to not react at all to upsetting situations) but I had also lost part of my identity (to always be in control).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have been beating myself up for reacting to anger with distress, yet knowing full well that it is to be expected. My teen years were filled with anger, hate, aggression and hostility, therefore, it makes sense that anger would cause such upset. I had wondered if it was another goal to add to the plan- to become more comfortable/ able to react appropriately to anger directed at me. Today though, I made the decision that actually this need not be the case and as I instantly felt lighter, I think it must be the right thing for me.
 
Rightly or wrongly, I believe that after all I have been through, I am entitled to a life without anger or hostility from others. Why should I continue to suffer because other people cannot control themselves? Or worse still, because they don’t want to control themselves? I think that I deserve love and peace and kindness, which as a teen was in short supply. I decided I have experienced more hatred and aggression than most, therefore I believe it is OK to want the rest of my life to be free from those things (is that selfish?).
Now, I am not crazy (I don’t think), I realise that I can only control my own behaviour and actions and not those of others. I can though, takes steps to minmise it and react appropriately afterwards. I will no longer tolerate anger directed at me, I will not allow aggressive, hostile people to be part of my life. It is time I put myself first for once because you know what? This is not my fault. None of this is my fault. It was not my fault that I was shouted at last week, the same as it was never my fault that I experienced violent, angry abuse. 
 
Anger is a healthy feeling when dealt with correctly. I actively encourage my children to feel what they feel.. I have no intention of banning a feeling from my home or my life- heck I am pretty sure I have a lot of deep anger, desperate to get out. No, it isn’t about removing a feeling, instead it is about removing (as much as is possible) those people who make me feel as I did last week, or for much of my teen years. People who cannot control themselves, people who are proud of their anger and aggression, people who choose hostility, people who look for an argument, people who refuse to face and work on their anger issues, people who make me feel threatened and attacked, people who take out their anger on those smaller/ younger than them. Those people are not welcome in my life.
I am a person, a real, live human being and maybe you wouldn’t believe that if you knew the way I was treated.. hell, you wouldn’t treat an animal like that, but I am. I am a person with feelings, a soul and a heart, all of which have been trampled on enough. I wrote last week about feeling broken. I do feel that way, because I was broken. Broken and destroyed by other people. I have been forced to rebuild myself and my life from the debris of what they left behind..haven’t I suffered enough?
I have been through enough. I have been hated enough. I have been yelled at and screamed at enough. I have been beaten enough. I have been abused enough. Too much, for far too long and I do not ever want to experience those things again
I desire peace for myself and my life and that is new, or at least clearer than it has ever been. I hope it isn’t selfish, but I desire peace and I believe I deserve it as well.  What do you think?

 

Choice

 

This has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks. It came up in my therapy session a few weeks ago and frankly, it left me feeling confused.

 

I think choice is the wrong word, but I am lacking in an alternative right now. It cannot have been choice, not true choice, not when the only options were rape or rape, but my abuser was so clever and cunning, he made it seem as if it really were my choice.

Yet I knew if there had been a third option, one without any catches or danger, if that had been a choice that gave me  a true and safe way out of that truly awful situation, I would have taken it, no question.

 

You see I knew I wanted neither, but because I still chose, in my young and naive mind, I assumed I must have some control. And that is exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to believe I had an option. It was those difficult choices that I had to make every day that left me feeling so deeply ashamed, I couldn’t possibly tell anyone what I felt I had done.

 

For so very long, I believed I had been complicit in my own abuse.

That is a horrible place to be. Such a deep self loathing that I carried all these years because I believed it had been my choice and therefore, my fault. 

 

Things have changed, I am working damn hard at undoing all that grooming, changing all those poisonous thoughts he planted in me. Now I am at the stage where I mostly know that anything I agreed to was not by choice. There was no choice, he forced me, it was not (at the start at least) as is depicted in movies or in general by society, but sill force.

Grooming, training, pressure, indirect threats and eventually direct threats.

I did as I was told, when I was told. I was brainwashed. I was afraid. I was naive. I was ashamed, and I was utterly alone. Where on earth was the freedom to choose in all of that? I was not free in any way at all.

 

 

I have really been struggling with  how much I thought I preferred it when I didn’t have choice. I thought the guilt was less, the shame too and there was no added fear of making the wrong decision leading to a painful and violent consequence.

 

It was a very difficult and even shameful thing for me to admit to my T. I told my T, it was better to be held down and have all choice taken from me, than to be presented with impossible choices I often could not and did not want to make.

 

Sitting with my T in that awful, uncomfortable moment-which seemed to last forever-I faced the reality of what I had said. It struck me, more like blind sided me in fact, how deeply sad and even twisted I felt. It was better to be held down, really?

Really? How can that be? How could I have ever felt that?

 

Oh, I can’t tell you how conflicted I have felt, how sick it has made me feel. What kind of person must I be to think that way, to prefer that? And at the same time, what on earth did he do to an innocent child, that she could ever feel that way?

 

I have been battling with that for some weeks now. It is has been particularly bothersome the last few days. I think because of a memory that isn’t far from my mind right now. A memory that still seemed to be eating away at me despite two separate disclosures. Not trauma anymore at least, but a whole heap of pain and shame intertwined.

 

With this specific memory (and there are more examples if I allow myself to delve deeper) there was no choice, not of any kind. It was an incident where I was physically incapacitated. There was nothing even remotely close to choice. It was a particularly nasty incident, one that was extremely traumatic.

I guess what has been getting to me, is that it sort of contradicts what I have thought and felt for so long and what left me feeling so sad and twisted after my session with my T a few weeks ago.

What my abuser did that night was not preferable to the times he gave me options. It was not better in any way at all. It was not less shameful- in fact it was one of the worst incidents in every way. There was no choice at all, but that did not make it easier and it did not make me feel any better about myself either.

After that night was over, I felt just as complicit in what he had done, as I did when I thought I had choice. I went home that day feeling shocked from the horror of what he done, but with the knowledge and acceptance that it has been my fault. I knew he had been wrong that day, but I was sure I had participated just by being there. After all, as he often reminded me, I was in his flat and in his bed, what the hell did I expect?

 

You see, the lack of choice that day (and so many others) did not stop any of those thoughts and feelings I experienced when I was offered choices. So, did I really prefer it? Or did I just tell myself that? And why would I tell myself that?

I have been going around in circles with this, wondering how the heck I could have preferred to be held down or threatened or whatever than to have a choice. I was mistaken, I am not entirely sure why, perhaps due to dissociation..I am sure my T will have suggestions, but I do not think I could have ever really preferred either.

 

I no longer have to choose from two impossible options. Instead I can choose the option I should have always had: neither.

Neither situations were preferable. It was not better to choose how I was raped and nor was it better to have the decision made for me.

I am free now, free to say neither, free to loathe both situations. I am free to acknowledge that both hurt me..all of it hurt me and none of it was OK.

Why don’t I feel relief?

Instead, I feel burdened this morning, or maybe just sort of heavy from the reality and truth I now face.

 

 

 

One way exit.

I think I was suicidal for a long time, longer than I realised. It was my way out for years. I held it close, it helped to know that I could choose to end it, I had that choice and it was mine, no one could take that away.

 

Trigger warning

 

When everything is too much

& you cannot take any more

you look for the exit

the way out, a door.

 

But when the exit is one way,

and there would no returning

it can leave you feeling hopeless

tormented and yearning.

 

Feeling suffocated by darkness

you are desperate for light

for the beacon of hope

to make your pathway bright.

 

You know you want change

but that doesn’t mean forever,

and it doesn’t mean no more

you aren’t talking never

 

but oh how it teases

sickeningly it’s hope in despair

that exit, that one way street

it’s a safety net that will always be there.

 

No it’s not a beacon,

but a permanent ending

not a light, or a respite,

there would be no returning.

 

Yet…oh it’s a choice

it cannot be taken away

and that brings you comfort,

enough to make it through the day.

 

Free will

You talk about free will as if I had a choice. It never seemed to matter, what I wanted was ignored.

Even now it bothers me, as if I somehow I should learn. I never wanted this lesson I was happy not to know.

I get the meaning, I understand the concept, but it just doesn’t seem to apply, as if this ever could be my will, or a freedom of my own.

I choose to get better, I choose to move forward, most days I face the choice of which way I want to go.

But how can it be free and how can it be my will? When I didn’t choose to be here, I didn’t want this path.

Oh I know it’s my journey and I know it’s up to me. Yet I cannot shake this feeling that this was not meant to be.

As if it’s someone else’s life, because there’s no way this can be mine. It feels so damn surreal as I look back over time.

Perhaps you are right, I choose to heal from this, I choose every single day and in there must be freedom, in that must be my will?

It’s just so hard to see it, when the choice I want is not there and never was in my past.

I do not regret my decisions now, but I do regret what was, I did not want him to do that and I did not want this to last.

You wonder why I am a control freak, I feel I’m simply trying to hold on. This still does not feel like my will, if it were I’d simply let go.

Perhaps one day I will get there and you can be my witness. I will at last, say no.