Moving forward

It seems like forever, since I saw my T. I feel like a different person to the one who met with him just 3 weeks ago.

I think I have been different for some time, but too caught up in PTSD stuff, to notice the changes taking place, right under my nose.

It is now I feel I can breathe again, that I have been able to reflect on all the progress I have made.

I have written for hours on end. Recording, reflecting, expressing and healing. I have cried, more than I ever cried before. Crying, limited by PTSD triggers, but with many more tears than there have been previously. I have faced the hardest anniversary so far and I grieved like I have never been able, or allowed to do before. It was agony, but I am finding with agony there is a strange sense of peace.

And in my pain and honesty with myself, I have found new depths of healing. With every tear I have managed to shed, I found myself another step closer to freedom.

Over the last few weeks, I have made some decisions, one in particular is a pretty huge, life changing decision. Just by being able to make these decisions, I see the change in me. I have found that I want and can, at last, put myself first.  I have my own hopes and dreams and wants and needs that I have never really dared to have before.

 

I do not want to return to therapy tomorrow. I feel strong and alive and with such desire to move on. I want to be done talking about all those who hurt me. I do not want to give them a minute more of my life.

Yet, return I must. Because although the end is near (of therapy, at least), I am not quite done yet. So tomorrow I return to begin to tell him the remaining secrets left within me. I am resentful of that and afraid.

Wish me luck.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

Missing me.

Things have been better.. I have felt better. 

Although the nightmares have worsened and the flashbacks at times intense, I have been relaxed. I have been content.

I have felt grounded, I have felt at times a sense of peace. I have felt freedom in the good that has consistently been following the bad. I have felt powerful. I have felt strong. I have felt more like me than I ever have before.

Isn’t that incredible?

Being truly me, is the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced.. That, I know now, is the key to finding peace. 

 

Yesterday  it all came crashing down, tipped over the edge and back into reminders of what I am containing, what was done and what I still have to face. The fall was so much harder, than I ever could have imagined. Like I was pulled out of the heights of freedom, back to the depths of my hell. I hit the ground with a bump, I can tell you. I feel worse than ever right now.

I am back to feeling burdened. I am back to feeling trapped.

 I am surrounded by darkness, I am stuck in this funk, again. 

 

I am not sure I feel anything but an inescapable emptiness.

 

I feel as empty as I did back then. Is this a flashback, am I triggered? Is it a part of healing? Is this just a feeling? 

The emptiness worries me greatly, because only one thing could ever fill that void. And that scares me, more than anything else in this world. 

 

I long to feel as I did just a few days ago. Even while feeling pain and trauma, I remained confident and strong.

(Perhaps it is the feelings that make me more like me?!- something to explore another time?)

 

 

Where is the person I have been beginning to like? Where has she gone? 

Disclosure at new depths (TW).

 

Thursday afternoon procrastination is something I know well. It is a time for therapy preparation and that is not something that I usually look forward to. I have a little less time today, due to working a longer shift. However there is certainly adequate time, should I set my mind to it. Except, that I am doing everything but.. I have cleaned a little, re arranged my flowers, taken care of my boys, made a drink, had a snack, put laundry away etc. etc. And now I am here, in the hopes that blogging about my thoughts will be enough.

I am having body memories, ongoing on and off since my last therapy session. Partly connected to my last session and some that seem disconnected right now, however it’s likely once I face it, I will find myself saying “Oh yeah, now I get why I was feeling that”.

I am back and forth between cramps- as if I were having a period and more recently, jaw/ mouth pain. The jaw and mouth pain isn’t something I usually like to admit to, mostly, because I’ve always been embarrassed and ashamed. As someone who has been a victim of rape, to talk about a body memory that includes jaw pain, it is pretty obvious what caused it. And that has always caused me much embarrassment and shame. Now I feel I can be frank. I am in pain because my body is remembering the brutal oral rapes I suffered. 

That I can be open and honest- here and with the right people- shows progress, I think? It shows that the shame has shifted somewhat, doesn’t it? I am able to admit something that previously would have me muted by such embarrassment. That has to be progress. Understandable, of course, it seems to be the way with sexual abuse particularly, but staying silent only serves to further my own discomfort and suffering. 

Body memories and flashbacks, nightmares and triggers, usually mean I need to talk about a memory with my T. Often a first disclosure, or at least re examining a previously disclosed memory, normally at a new depth. What is going on for me is both, I suppose. It’s not like others however.. these are unclear, intertwining memories.

It isn’t like I haven’t talked about oral rape with my T before, because I have, but as I blogged the other day, there are more details that need out. It’s not limited to oral rape, the stuff that is getting to me is the “day to day” stuff he did. It isn’t the big memories that sort of stand alone in my head, but the mass of memories that I haven’t been able to unpick. They are all so messy, in terms of what I remember.. things that happened all the time, over and over.

 

*Trigger warning. Survivors, please be careful.. I haven’t been overly detailed, but it does refer to my sexual abuse. *

*Friends and family, please be warned. If you don’t want to know about my abuse, please do not read any further.*

 

This stuff is close to the aspects of abuse where the control was at it’s peak. Hence my apprehension.

It was as if I was owned by him. Where I had to seek his permission for the most basic of things and do sick and horrible things  in the hopes that the permission would be granted- which it often wasn’t. This was abuse that I suffered most days/ nights when I was 14. My body was a mess from his continued rapes/ sexual assaults and the only way of coping with the pain was to create a world of my own to escape in.

These things require a new level of disclosure. Things my T is aware of from previous discussions but not at the level I need him to be. These memories need out, but in order to purge myself of the trauma that remains, I know that I have to be detailed, more so than I have ever been before.

How do I do that? It is hard enough to describe the way in which I was abused- to use the horrible words necessary to describe rape… but more details, of humiliation, of pain, of the disgusting things I remember..God, how do I tell him?

I have to find a way, because what was previously enough, simply isn’t any longer. Because I feel, more than I ever have and I guess it makes sense that what worked before is no longer sufficient. I am finding that I need to tell differently, slower than before and at a new and deeper level. 

It’s kinda funny (weird, not ha ha), how I spent years hiding this, with an absolutely desperate need to keep it all inside and now it’s quite the opposite.. the need to tell goes so deep, I feel like I have little control over it. Strangely, it kinda reminds me of childbirth.. where it doesn’t matter how much it hurts, no amount of fighting will stop that baby coming out. Your body takes over and does what it needs to do.. this is so similar in that way. My body and my mind have always known what to do to protect me, they have saved me a thousand times over. The urge to get all this out is taking over, my body is hurting and my heart is aching. I trust myself and so I will follow this instinct, which tells me, that it doesn’t matter if I refuse and it doesn’t matter how much I fight it, this stuff will come out one way or another. 

Looking for Peace (in the wrong place).

A little normality resumes today, at least in that the husband is back to work and the children are back to arguing. I have a few more days off work, in which I hope to have further time to rest. It hasn’t felt like a restful holiday so far. Not because I’ve been busy running around, quite the opposite in fact. It’s just that even when I am resting, I do not feel rested at all.

This morning, I was hoping to find some peace and quiet. The oldest boy was playing his new game and the youngest snuggled up on the couch still in his pjs, watching his favourite cartoon. I took the opportunity to relish the quiet and have a little time to myself. It’s a beautiful morning here, a cold, crisp day. It looks like a winter postcard or a Christmas card out there.

I seated myself on my window seat, with a hot drink and for a moment or two, breathed in the quiet and marveled at the beauty out side. Some moments later, I checked in with myself- grounding as normal to be sure I was present. It was then that I realised, my chest was heavy, my breathing laboured and where the day had started out so light, there was all of a sudden, a halo of darkness surrounding me.

I could feel myself slipping, so quickly and unexpectedly. That darkness was approaching, ready to envelope me. And I knew what I had to do, in order to climb out. I knew that it was up to me to pull myself away. Except I just couldn’t. I was already on the downward spiral, and though I knew it all it would take is a side step out, I just couldn’t muster the energy to do it for myself.

In the end, in a similar manner to my T  just last week, it was my husband who pulled me out. So simply and easily and now one hour later I am immersing myself in the sounds and smells of my home. I have escaped some of that darkness at least. The memories I was stuck in are not so close as they were, but some of the dark and scary feelings remain.

It is the light I am willing to envelope me right now.

 

It was peace I was seeking this morning and although I thought I had all the right conditions to achieve that, I had forgotten the most important thing, that peace begins from within. And right now, I do not feel peace inside me, instead it feels more like a storm. How can I possibly feel any peace when I feel so twisted up inside?