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. 

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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?

 

 

Not OK

I fear it will always be this, ups and downs, highs and lows. Are my aims as impossible as a vision as they were a goal? I know I cannot get over this, I know it will always be with me, but what does that even mean? Will I always suffer so in the Autumn and Winter? Will I ever feel a freedom from those triggers that are all around me right now?

I have to work harder than in Spring and Summer, every day becomes a battle. An exhausting effort to stay grounded, constantly checking in with myself. I want to hide at home, where it is easier to ground, where I can find some sense of safety, where I can shut the darkness out.

Friday’s therapy session was big progress.. perhaps I should celebrate? How can I celebrate when the reality is so terrible? With one weight released, another replaced it instantly. I walked away from my session filled with so much pain and my recent feelings of defeat are now amplified. I feel used and powerless and deeply, deeply ashamed.

On Saturday I struggled with these feelings, with my desire to push them away. I comforted myself with the knowledge that I am doing the right thing. This isn’t fixable, I cannot simply be rescued, I have to feel what I should have back then. It helped a little, to reassure myself that this will be worth it.. it certainly got me through the day. Then Sunday came along, with a horrific flashback that has left me quite unwell.

On top of what I am already going through, I have feared this flashback might push me over the edge. Paranoia and fear and an overwhelming sense that he’s still here holding me against my will. I cannot tell you how terrifying it was and it is for me. I keep asking myself “am I really safe?” “is he here?” and I seriously wonder if I am safe and if he is here.. God, have I been stupid all this time? Are my fears really unfounded? What if? oh God, what if he finds me?

It was the worst flashback I have ever had.  I hate feeling this way.

 

Today, is a little better- better compared to yesterday at least. I am not OK, not even close to OK. And when I have to leave the house I am fighting constantly. Grounding from the constant triggers every second until I return home. Work is not helping, my oversharing colleague, my ignorant boss.. the needs and demands of the clients leave me wanting to crawl under my desk to hide.

This is too much, it is too hard. I would love to say “I can’t do this”.. wouldn’t it be good if there was another way, another choice, an easier way through? I can do this, because I have to do it. For me, for my family, and because I am sure as hell not letting him win. This defeated feeling makes me want to vomit, it is not a feeling I wish to hold onto for any longer than necessary.

Will it get better? Will I be OK? Am I really safe?

 

Triggered

The past feels like present tonight. Alhough I know the trigger now, it seemed to come out of the blue.

Things had improved a little, less triggers since October passed, a relief that it was over and though Friday brought up some deep issues, I felt better for sharing more secrets. It’s been a week of dissociation, but a definite improvement on last week.

Tonight though, it is closer than ever, it’s as if he is here. A ghostly presence or a shadow perhaps, standing over me. And echos of what was, are terrifying me.

The smell of fireworks and of bonfires triggered me tonight. And I didn’t even leave the house.. an open window I’d forgotten about and the smell brought me too my knees.

Back then, him, those nights and what waited for me.

 

I took a shower, tried to wash away his scent, then sorted through laundry, trying to ground myself. As I inhaled my clean laundry, all I could smell were his clothes. His, not mine. Do you know how distressing that is?

And now I am in my bed, where the sheets are soft and clean, the pillows plump and the blankets warm, reminding myself he isn’t here. It is my bed I know that, the one I share with my husband. Nothing bad has happened in this bed, nothing can hurt me here, he is not here. Then why do I feel so unsafe? Why does my breath catch in my throat? Why such a heavy weight of fear?

Grounding, grounding grounding. He isn’t here, I know that, I know it. I do.. I just wish I knew it all the way through.

 

Triggers- smell, sex, toilets and kittens

Triggers can be anything- I mean ANYTHING at all. After a few years of actively dealing with PTSD,  I’m well aware of a lot of my triggers, however there is always something new- not necessarily surprising, but new.

It’s not the things you would expect either- I can, mostly, read of the experiences of other survivors, without triggers. It is the details of the way they were treated after, like with the abuse in Rotherham, UK, that are triggering. 

Music from back then is triggering, photos, certain noises, loud, shouting men, certain words other people use, even gestures, or particular looks, that can remind me.

Sex is probably one of the more obvious ones. Sex can be highly triggering, I am very fortunate to have an amazingly patient and loving husband. Together, we have managed to get through some things that trigger- to go on and be able to enjoy those (PTSD/ therapy dependent)..and for those that cannot be overcome, we have learned ways to avoid them, while still being able to enjoy an active and loving sexual relationship. 

Smell, is my biggest trigger. I have a keen sense of smell and I find it is smell that can provide the most comfort. However, a triggering smell can bring me to my knees or even make me physically sick. I go to great lengths to ensure I am surrounded by comforting smells. Cigarettes, weed (which I don’t smell too often anymore!) and damp are all smells that trigger, certain types of men’s after shave and even male body odour can be a trigger too.

More recently, my triggers haven’t just been smell- and yet I am unable to pinpoint what the triggers are. I know what I see and feel, but not the cause. That is always hard. It’s much harder to work on appropriate grounding when I am not sure of the cause. I do much better at grounding when it can be aimed at a specific trigger, i.e smell- I can light a scented candle or I can do loads of laundry, so my house smells like my favourite washing powder. With these recent flashbacks, I can only do more general grounding and it just isn’t working as well.

 Now, as I said above, ANYTHING, can trigger. On my Facebook today, there was a photo of kittens tearing up toilet paper in a bathroom.  That perfectly innocent and perhaps to some, sweet photo, almost caused a wave of flashbacks for me. The combination of kittens and a toilet was a trigger, a very big- I’ve-not-dealt-with those-memories-yet, type of trigger. Without specifics, my abuser has 3 kittens.. I have some very horrible memories of his bathroom and further fragments of traumatic memories with cute, little kittens featuring heavily.

Kittens, toilets. How messed up is that?

 

Triggers are hard to describe, I find that so frustrating. It’s unfortunately, a big part of my life, where the simple, innocent actions of others can trigger me and send me spiraling, or at the very least, cause me a lot of pain and exhaustion. Because I struggle to describe what a trigger is, I cannot possibly ask people to alter their behaviour or even explain why things can be difficult for me. And even if I could find the right words, what about the questions? The “what caused it?”, or whatever, that could come up. Then what? I don’t know how to talk about this openly- it is horribly painful and lets face it- how many people really want to hear it?

How can I explain that your picture of your cute kitten is incredibly upsetting, or when you wear that aftershave, I am terribly afraid of you, or when you say that phrase, I feel I am with my abuser again. Further and more importantly, what if I told them and they didn’t care? I’d alter my behaviour- and have done and continue to do so, to protect others from pain.

Would anyone alter their behaviour in order to protect me from triggers and the resulting trauma and upset??? Painful experience tells me it would be unwise to ask.- and that is something I find deeply upsetting. 😦 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reconnecting. Letting go? Some positive thoughts.

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.

 

 

 

Body memory hell (and something new)

Ouch Ouch – I feel beaten up tonight. My pelvis hurts, it is as if there are bruises once more, on my hips and groin and elsewhere (any more would be way TMI). I ache, I feel sick.

I should be feeling awful and in a way I am- but there is something else there too that I have not noticed before. I feel in control, which may seem crazy because I cannot control these body memories. Strangely, I feel bigger somehow. Deep shame as usual and sick at the memories, yet different to normal.

I am finding it hard to explain. I hurt like hell, I hate the reminder, I feel the usual (and then some) shame trying to suffocate me, but I feel kind of removed too- though not emotionally detached as I have been in the past.

I actually woke with this inflated feeling- minus the body memories this morning (which isn’t entirely strange, after a conversation “bigging me up” yesterday). Now I feel as if the body memories are partly a resistance to that feeling. Does that sound crazy?

It is as if there is a fight within me. A part of me (enjoying) feeling bigger/ stronger versus the part that controls the negative/ shaming voice that has plagued me for so long.

I am positive that the main reason for the body memories is due to my need to talk about the recent “anniversary” (the physical pain I feel supports that). I cannot help but feel it is more than that though, the battle inside feels real, a resistance, a fight.

I wish I were seeing my T Friday so I could explore these feelings. I feel a slight thrill at the sense of control I have had among all these hideous body memories this evening. I am intrigued, I want to know what it is and if there is a way to  feel this way when triggered again.

And as much as I clearly need to talk about this “anniversary” again, I really want to too. I mean, really, really want to right now. I need and want to talk about it. I miss my T very much this evening.

 

Three weeks almost over, just over a week and therapy restarts. I hope I can find some peace from these body memories until then. Wish me luck.