I have been thinking this for a while, I have just been too nervous to discuss it very much. As if by uttering it out loud, or writing it in ink (or typing it online) it would somehow make it untrue. It’s good, positive and therefore, I am terrified and paranoid. Can it possibly be the truth?…
It seems to me and perhaps, maybe (hopefully), to those around me, that I am starting to reconnect with the real world somewhat. Sure, things have been changing slowly, I’m doing the school run, I am able to go to the shop alone or with the children, I go to work each morning, without a panic attack or a few tears in the car park. But it’s only very recently that I have felt able and really willing to reconnect with other people- new people, but more specifically people I knew before I started this therapy journey a little over two years ago.
I have friends coming over this Saturday.Two weeks ago, my cousin and her family visited.
I had my parents visit for lunch 3 weeks ago and over again for the day today. My brother and his family are visiting in two weeks.
I could not have even contemplated those plans a year ago.
I never thought this could happen. How could I have people from the past in my life, when I was striving so hard to move away from that aspect of my life. How could the past be part of my future? At one point, I thought it could not. I went through weeks of therapy discussing how I move forward without those people from my old life. It was a heart wrenching, difficult time. It was a very possible reality, I was terrified would come to be.
The thing is, I knew I so badly needed to put my past behind me, I thought that those relationships may just be the sacrifice I had to make. In order to move forward, I needed to let go of the past.
That is still true, but it’s not quite how I expected it to me. You see, it isn’t about leaving people behind at all.
To continue relationships with people from back then, or people from the years after (but pre therapy), does not mean I am staying in the past. I think can find a way and in fact I think I already am finding a way, to have these people as a part of my life now and in the future.
That is huge, is it not?
I have also rejoined Facebook (though to be honest after 5 minutes I was bored, not much has changed in the last 7 months!). I have deleted many people- anyone that causes me upset, triggers or anxiety. I was very relieved and excited to reconnect with some old school friends, particularly one. In a private message, she was the first to welcome me back and told me she had missed me. The feeling was mutual. I could not see her name without guilt less than a year ago. Last week, to see a message from her brought sadness and pain- a sort of memory jolt, but at the same time there was also joy. I missed her a lot, she is very dear to me.
Who knows if I will stay on Facebook, should it cause me anxiety or stress at any point, I will leave again, for now though, it is good to reconnect with my old friends.
Aside from people and relationships, there are some other ways I feel as if I am connecting to life now and planning life in the future.
I have been considering returning to Church. It is unlikely in the near future, but no longer a “no way” thought I have had for the last year or so.
I have also been reading at times. The PTSD and therapy has the ability to fill up my head. So often it has and sometimes still does, feel as if I do not have the capacity to retain much information. Anything slightly complicated or even just trying to remember a story line and I can end up anxious and stressed out.
With the relief from PTSD more and more often lately, I can read books that are slightly more challenging than a 2 page short story about something “light and fluffy.” Sure, the stuff I am reading is hardly War and Peace, however, it does mean that I can actually read a little of the Bible (where the religion triggers allow) at a time without brain fog and resulting distress when I forget everything I just read. It also means I can get (and already am getting) my teeth into some of the books written by some awesome feminist authors that I have had short listed for some time.
I can read sometimes! Now that is amazing, isn’t it?
There are still things I avoid; people, places, websites, newspapers, live TV in general. Triggers, news, politics, debates. I still feel as if I need things to shield myself from those things for now. So, I cannot have a conversation about current events, because other than the odd news story I happen to hear on the radio at work or in a shop, I have not read, heard or watched the news in many, many months. I worried about that for a long time, I did not want to stick my head in the sand about the tragedies and horror in the world, nor be ignorant to the mess the government (so I hear) is busy making. I am actually quite comfortable with that decision right now.
I have not been and have no intention for now at least (and who knows if I ever will again) to go to my home town, where the abuse took place. I cannot tell you how much better I feel for that. That is not a challenge I will be facing any time soon and I am OK with that.
Reconnecting with people from the past does not mean going back to places or people that trigger or upset me. In fact, it is not about going back in any way at all. I feel as if I am sort of waking up, I guess. It is like real life has been going on all around me all this time and I have been dipping in and out where necessary, but seemed to remain firmly rooted in the past. Now, I can see that shifted. I am present more often and some days it feels like it is completely the other way around. I am dipping in and out of the past, but firmly rooted in the present.
That’s a huge victory for me isn’t it? Another battle won against him (though the resulting anxiety that thought causes is something to ponder/ explore sometime), right?
I have talked with my T about how things shifted a few months ago, where I started to feel that it was no longer him causing this stuff. It no longer felt as if he still had hold of me and was pulling me down. Instead, I could see I was holding on (through no fault of my own) and it was about finding a way to let go.
I think that letting go isn’t just a decision, where I suddenly decide “no more, I am done”. That oversimplifies it, I think and begs the question, well if it were that simple, would I not have done it already? No, it isn’t that. It is a process. And this feels a bit risky to type, I think I am already in that process and further on than I could ever have imagined.
I can see now, clearly, one day soon, he will truly be in my rear view mirror and I will be able to say “I did it!! I let go!”
While I am being honest, open and daring, I will admit, writing this made me cry- three or four real tears, tears that feel so precious, I barely dare to wipe them away.
There is hope, there is a future and I am already living it.