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.

 

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. 

Therapy today- reeling.

I am reeling after today’s therapy session. Some encouraging things, but mostly uncovering the things I have been distracting from recently. I am feeling emotional and sad and shocked and hurt and disturbed. I am grounded, no flashbacks or body memories, but pain, lots and lots of pain.

 

Abandonment, rejection, grooming, helplessness- all came up today. Him, it was him, all of it was him. I cannot escape that anymore. I see what he did, how he got me, the pressure, the lies, the force. I was his puppet, he used me- and that control went deeper than I once believed. It is terrifying the depths to which I was controlled. My body, my memories, my thoughts, my feelings. Everything.

 

We returned to choice briefly, to what that meant and the enormity of admitting of how it was better when there was no choice- I cannot begin to explain what that means, what I admitted and how disgusted I am (with him, not me). It’s all so fucked up. How I could ever prefer the lack of choice- what on earth did he to do me to ground me down that much, to make me prefer “that”?

And then the resulting “does he believe me?” thoughts- which more recently I know to usually mean “do I believe me?” I didn’t ask him. I cannot ask myself. Because how can I believe it? How can I expect anyone to believe me? How can this be true? Any of it? Who does that to someone else? I will never understand, the rapes, the abuse, the devastation he caused. I remember but can barely believe the extent to which he broke me down, how hopeless I felt, how destroyed I was. What I admitted today was true- and evidence of what a number he had done on me- but I am not sure I dare believe it. I am not sure how to handle the magnitude of it all. It is unbelievable.

 

Then there was something new, or something old that now makes a little more sense. My fear of being asked anything more than basic questions, the pressure I feel to answer “correctly”. Normally I push through, sometimes it doesn’t bother me too much, but today, real fear stopped me answering. When my T asked me what words I would use to describe something, I couldn’t push through  and I couldn’t tell him why. I felt under threat- yet I knew I was safe with my T and there is no wrong or right answer.  Something else to explore, I guess.

Now my T is away (again!), no sessions for 2 weeks, a good thing perhaps, time to let this sink in a bit, to do some processing and maybe a little down time (yeah, fucking right). His being away is not helpful with the abandonment issue that surfaced today.

I should at least be grateful the PTSD isn’t bad.- I am, somewhere, I think. I just don’t know that I have the capacity to feel good about anything this evening.  This isn’t OK, it isn’t OK that I had to go through it, it isn’t OK that I have to go through this pain now. I am not OK with it.  It’s fucked up, all of it.

 

 

 

Understanding. Another milestone (and my friend).

I have a friend, my best friend in fact, who I have known now for 14 years. His experience and his wisdom has been invaluable throughout the years. His lessons are simple, but it is only today that I realised I understand.

On many late nights (often intoxicated), over Instant Messenger, I told my friend of some of the horrors I had endured. You see, while we have met, our friendship is primarily online. It seemed easier somehow, to tell him things I could never imagine uttering out loud.

When he and I met, I was 17 years old. I had just been raped by a group of strangers and I was still being abused by my abuser. I was deeply troubled, in physical danger and traumatised by my past. Our friendship has evolved over the years, changing as I have grown. We have chatted regularly and at times even every single day. We kept in touch by email when circumstances in our lives pulled us apart. I think he saved my life, on more than one occasion. As I teetered on the edge, he was  always there to pull me back.

 

 

My friend has warned me many times, of the dangers of asking the question “why?”. For that I am most grateful, no good comes from that thought path and from the downward spiral it pushes you into. When why cannot be answered, I know it is better not to ask.

He was the first to ever make me realise that it is always OK to feel whatever I feel. Such a simple concept, which is so easily overlooked. He would say “how can you not feel what you feel”. And of course he is right. I remind myself of that advice often, when I am being hard on myself.

 

When he spoke of the answers being within me, that the control had always been mine, it was beyond my comprehension. How could I possibly understand?

I sometimes found it upsetting. How could it be me? How could I be doing this to myself? Surely, I did not have any choice? He was never trying to put the blame on to me, in fact he told me it would be a journey, one I will always be on. Though now I see what he meant, back then I took it as criticism and became angry at myself.

 

The last few months have been a turning point, with a huge revelation which has had a massive impact on my life.

In therapy, I have reached a level of control that a year ago would have been unimaginable. While I cannot control when I am triggered, I can control what happens after.

With my therapist, I can explore those memories, carefully, while in control. That is not to say it does not hurt, quite the opposite in fact. At home, work and in my life in general, I know it is up to me to put away those intrusive memories. To ground, to reassure myself and if necessary to bring it up later in therapy/ in my journal.  It sounds so simple, but believe me, it isn’t and I am not completely there yet, it is still a process I am working on. I still have many memories that are not ready to go away so easily. But it is a start, a turning point and another huge step forward on my journey.

There are many more changes, that I cannot and will not go into here, but I now know what my friend has been talking about, even if it has taken 14 years.

Just this morning he said to me “that control is now you, you no longer have to look for it, it is a part of you”. And finally, I can honestly say that I understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The need to be believed

About a week and a half ago, I reached a HUGE and life changing goal.

Things are different, new, changed. All of it, everything. Most of the time I feel like the bottom has fallen out of my world. Yet there are times when I realise things are clearer, the past and the present. There are even moments where I feel as if I am really starting to find myself.

It is a lot- too much to explain here. And right now I cannot blog about the specifics of this step. Particularly, because I am way too close to what it has changed in the memories of the abuse. Until I share those things with my T, it is better I stay away from them as much as possible. Heck, I am even nervous to journal about it too much.

My mind is working over time though and so I would like to share some general thoughts over this new step.

I have always needed for others to believe me, like an absolutely desperate need. I have worried and feared endlessly that I am not believed.

I am automatically suspicious of people, I wait to be screwed over by everyone. There are lovely and amazing people there for me but (and I feel so guilty for this) I guess I even wait for them to change their mind and no longer believe me. The more I share of my (unbelievable sounding) story, the greater the fear that I will be branded a liar and then rejected and abandoned. I cannot help it. I wait and I prepare for rejection.

The last few days and this afternoon in particular, I have been thinking about that need to be believed. I think as things are becoming clearer, my perception is changing. Do not get me wrong- I still have that need to be believed, I still want that. I even still have that (embarrassing) expectation that I will be abandoned at some point, but I am starting to wonder how much of that need to be believed is about other people rather than me?

What I mean is- perhaps I have had it all wrong. Maybe I have been placing too much importance on others believing me and my story. I suspect the insecurity is about a lot more than having not been believed years ago. I suspect it has a lot to do with my own belief in my experiences. Or perhaps that should be lack of belief. Because I am not sure I have ever really believed any of it myself.

Until today, I did not realise that I did not believe my own story. How messed up is that? I want so badly to be heard, to be understood and to be believed. Yet I could not even do that for myself. That feel like such a failing.

This recent step has forced me to face the ugliness of my past as a whole. I cannot hide, I cannot escape- I have tried. Now I see and now I know and oh, how I feel it too. How can I not believe myself now?

How could I have ever expected other people to believe what I could not?

Maybe when the shock wears off and the pain becomes more bearable, my belief in my own story will be enough? Perhaps my need for others to believe me will begin to fade? What a relief that would be.

While I get used to my own story, please (continue to) believe me?  It is more important than ever. For now.

I cannot deny it any longer. I believe my story.

Would you? Do you? Will you?

I was sexually abused

*Potential Triggers*

“I was sexually abused”.

I don’t know how or when I will get used to those words or the enormity of what they mean.

I cannot imagine that a time will come when I will utter those words without my voice wavering. 

Perhaps one day it will no longer be a shock? Maybe in the future I won’t feel as if my legs are turning to jelly whenever I say those words? 

Today, at work, one of my colleagues told me (some more) about her abusive past. 

I excused myself from the office and gave myself a little time out to recover. I was thinking about what this poor woman had been through and how conflicted it makes me feel (for various reasons) and I thought to myself “I can’t imagine how horrible that was for her”.

Instantly I felt stupid because I can imagine to some extent, I have been physically abused too, though of course our experiences are not the same. And a little (spiteful) voice inside told me that my abuse was mostly sexual and therefore shameful. It shouldn’t be talked about like hers could be.

All of a sudden, I could not see past my own experiences. Selfish perhaps? But those words (and the shame) were like a flashing neon sign above me, I could not avoid them. They made me want to hide. What if others could see? They would know my shameful secret.

“I was sexually abused”  

Then I was hit by a wave of nausea and darkness surrounded me. All that was left, was a distinct smell and heavy breathing, that I knew did not belong to me.

I grounded quickly.Yet somewhere inside, something shattered- again. And though people were around, I couldn’t help the pool of tears forming in the corner of my eyes threatening to to escape. 

Once again, those words had hit me with the weight of a train. Tearing through me, leaving a mass of destruction in their wake.

What could I do? I was in work, I could hardly sink to my knees, no matter how much my legs threatened to give way.

I did as I always do. I am me, after all. I am well rehearsed-I know how to hide it from the world. So, I cleaned away the debris and I covered the gaping wound. A patch to keep in the pain and to get me through the day.

Will it always be this way, will those words always cut through me like a knife and drown me in shame?

How do you come to terms with the knowledge that you were sexually abused? When does it stop feeling so shameful? If it is not something to be ashamed of- why can I not make that shame go away?

 

My first true friend- some of my story.

*Trigger Warning* – References to sexual abuse/ rape 

This is more about my friend, but there is some of my story in there, so (relatives) please be careful, it’s not likely to be easy reading. 

 

I slept pretty well last night, I don’t remember nightmares or dreams of the past, but when I woke this morning, someone from back then was on my mind. Not the abuser for once, but someone else. Someone I called family for a short time in my life. 

She was 17 years old and beautiful.  I had a bit of a “girl crush” on her, I guess.

She had dark hair, blue eyes and amazing pale, clear skin. She wore powder pink lipstick and loads of dark eye makeup. At 14 years old, I was awe struck by her. I loved the way she looked but she had an amazing personality to match too, she was so confident and strong. I was envious of her. 

She had what I thought I wanted, she was living with the man I considered to be my boyfriend, he was her flat mate (along with her boyfriend) when I first met him. I wanted to live with them and be part of their group. And in the brief time I knew her, we became close. I considered the four of us to be a sort of family, we looked out for one another, or at least it seemed. 

 

In short 6 weeks or so that I knew her, we saw each other every day and most nights too. She took care of me, when I didn’t know what to do. She was there as the abuse started. While he hid it well, she always seemed to know.

We would all hang out together and her and I would sit close, she would hold my hand, or put her arm around my shoulders. With the knowledge of what was to come, her presence was comforting. She was there after too, to clean me up and wipe away my tears. 

I recall one time where I was shaking so hard and dangerously close  to panicking. It was truly dangerous for me to show fear or panic while I was in that flat and she knew that. I remember her gently talking me down, until I regained control. Oh how I relied on her in those early days.

 

She wasn’t perfect by any means. Looking back now I see how broken, how hurt and oh how young she was. While seventeen seemed so much older than my fourteen years, she was barely more than a child herself. She was deeply damaged by her upbringing and the abuse she suffered as a teenager.

She told me that he had hurt her too, another of my abuser’s victims. In her own way she seemed to be warning me. I am not sure she was aware, I certainly didn’t pick up on it, but with hindsight I can see the signs were there.

Once she told me there were times after he (in her words) fucked her, where she was hurt so badly, she could barely crawl away. She laughed it off, but I can not forget the way she looked as she spoke those words. 

I believed her, but I couldn’t take it in. The man I loved couldn’t have done that to anyone, surely?

Oh, how little did I know. I believed I could change him and that with me things would be different. I thought if I could love him enough, it would “fix” him somehow.  I knew that he was hurting me, but at that point the abuse was in the early stages. I didn’t like it, but I had no idea how much worse it could and would get. 

 

Her words were truthful, I found that out once she had left my life. What she revealed he did to her, was to be my future with him. With increasing brutality, there were many times that when he was done with me I could not make it to my feet. Like her before me, I too could barely crawl away.

And those were the times, where I needed her the most, but like everyone else, she too had gone.

I had to clean myself up, mop up my blood and wipe away my own tears. I had to get myself dressed and just like she taught me, I had to calm my own panic and plaster on a smile all while I was slowly dying inside. 

 

I missed her so much once she had gone, but my need for her to be there to continue to pick up the pieces for me, was far too much to expect of a seventeen year old. I didn’t know that then, but I can see it now. Instead, I felt abandoned by her, betrayed even.

 

I will never forget her and what she did for me. She was there when it was all so new and I was in a state of shock. She was there to help me through the early days, she taught me what to do and how to cope. I will be forever grateful for her and for her brief presence in my life. Because without her at the start, I am not sure I would have made it through. 

So where ever you are my sister, I hope you are safe now and I hope you are happy. 

And I hope you know what you did for me, I wish I could tell you that you saved my life.

I will never forget you, my first true friend.