Trigger Warning for Child Sexual Assault
There was a post today I saw in which one of my favorite feminist blogs got an anon question. The anon described a non-consensual sexual situation in which they were pushed into when they were younger. The anon was asking if that counted as rape or assault. The anon also said that it was the first time they had told anyone in their whole life.
I thought back to when I had first talked about my assault.
I hadn’t meant to. I think that’s what confounds me to this day. I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown from that semester in college, and my friend had convinced me to go see the nurse, who convinced me to go to therapy.
Where it poured out. From god knows where. But in one session, I was confusedly talking about it, and then crying for the week following my next session where I frighteningly asked if it was assault. Had I been sexually assaulted.
I was inconsolable for days afterwards. And even in the year following those weeks, where I went through my “Emergency stage”, I hurt. I hurt physically. My body ached and burned and I couldn’t move and I couldn’t really socialize and everything tumbled around me. And I cried. A lot.
I cried again, when that post reminded me of that. My pain felt so real again, like I felt it yesterday. I guess I was triggered. I don’t know. But that’s not the point.
I took out “Courage to Heal” yesterday and read two paragraphs into the Emergency Stage. And I guess what I’m trying to say is, choosing to recover from trauma, choosing to heal, isn’t easy. It takes a toll on you. It takes a toll on you physically, and emotionally. You feel like you are frayed ends of a thread. You feel like life is falling apart on you in the form of bricks. Very heavy, very real bricks. It feels like you’re carrying something around on your shoulder, and it feels like literal shit.
You literally feel like you’re covered in shit. But you’re not. And maybe you’ll scrub at yourself. And maybe you’ll be too exhausted to move. Maybe like me, you’ll binge on junk food and fill your life with work so you wouldn’t have to think about much. Maybe you won’t do anything. Maybe …. .
The list could go on and on. But dear reader, let me promise you this one little thing. There’s life on the other side. You’ll get through it. You’ve already been through so much, you’ll get through to the other side.
Just keep walking.
Trigger Warning for Child Sexual Assault
I was reading through “I believe you | It’s not your fault project" stories when I started crying.
I thought I was done with all the crying.
I wonder now if I’ll ever get over survivors saying (about their child sexual assault/rape) that they thought “this is how older [people] show affection” when they were younger. So they often didn’t speak up.
I thought I’d give myself this summer to grieve. I thought that to myself for my last summer too. Trouble is, I numb up. So after that initial red hot mix of anger and grief, there’s a wall of detachment.
I am thankful for fellow survivors who write their pain. Their words help me break through this wall, chip by tiny chip.
But it’s not nearly enough. I am nowhere near where I’d like to be.
I have read so much about how abusers will socially isolate their victims. Yet, I haven’t had an abuser who’s attempted to socially isolate me. Yet I feel isolated. Emotionally isolated.
Detached. Disassociated from the world around me. In the past year, it has already cost me a friendship. Perhaps more, when I wasn’t looking.
I have taken to waking up most mornings convincing myself that I am not socially awkward, that there is nothing wrong with me. Yet when I meet people, my first instinct is to keep my distant, to be just friendly enough, but aloof.
I don’t really get past the first instinct. I don’t know how to.
As I write this, I think of my “Courage to Heal” book. I’m too scared of bringing it out. What if it reopens wounds? Am I ready to face them?
But the alternative isn’t very attractive either. If I don’t reopen wounds, would I heal? What does “healed” look like? So I cannot put all this away behind me, wave a magic wand, and forget it all. But there’s a stage where I feel… better about, right? Do I need to cry out my grief more to break through this barrier? Is there any other way?
For now, I cry alone. In small dark spaces. In open spaces where there’s no humanity but the trees and birds to witness my grief. In public, I put on a stoic, strong, confident veneer. Various people tell me they admire my self confidence, my strength.
I look within myself and all I find is a hollow shell. Gulp hard. Look away. At least the veneer means there are people around me. So I cheerfully numb myself. Maybe I am emotionally isolated, but I would like to not be socially isolated.
When I am alone, I wonder how long I can do this. I try not to cry.
— Yehuda Berg (via onlinecounsellingcollege)
Healing and recovery is a state of being, of self discovery. Just like trauma is, just like the in between spaces between trauma and healing.
I have virtually been living alone for the past few days. Which is good and bad because I have just realized that somewhere along the way, I never really gained confidence in myself, let alone have it lose it. So I gather energy from those around me. Even though I’m an introvert, I cultivated a habit this past year or so to be always around people. It’s exhausting. It’s energizing. It gives me the inertia to keep pushing.
Or so I think.
Find yourself again, I thought to myself prior to this summer. But I’m not sure if what I’m finding again is what I like. But perhaps I shouldn’t worry so much. This feels like a transitional stage. But I feel closer to and ending. I feel my self breathing again. Not myself. My self. It feels good. But it’s too erratic right now. Some days my skin will be a comfortable home. Some days I’m on a crazed quest to douse my anxieties that plague me.
My (current) self is fragile. The slightest hint of (perceived) aggression threatens to break what I have painstakingly built up. I remind myself that I shouldn’t be punishing others for my trauma, but the truth is, healing alone is lonely work. I don’t get to flop down and have someone remind me of my strengths, of my accomplishments regards to THIS. When it all spills over, my anxieties take the form of stress about the future. What if I don’t get a job after I graduate. What if I barely have money even after the job. Or my anxieties torture me about the present. Do I have friends? Why doesn’t anyone text me? Wait, they do. But only if they need me. Does that constitute as friends? Am I imagining things? Does anyone genuinely like my company? Do I have enough friends? How many friends is a person supposed to have? More than four? I can’t handle more than four.
I Google “How To Make Friends”. A light switch goes off in my head.
I have been painting a building alone. I live alone. I have had a fall out with a friend. Except she is coming to live with me next month. I try to sort through my confused feelings in my solitude.
And suddenly a bubble pops.
My computer dies. My phone dies next. I revive my laptop and am on a “back up all my data” frenzy. I look through some of the articles and videos I have saved “for later”. I go see a friend in NYC.
I realize somewhere along the line that I am locked in silence. I have nothing to say anymore. I have been like that most of my life. I think.
My anxieties don’t come back. Not today. I fast. I indulge my self by staying in bed. My mind is still. I feel good.
I’m still off centered, but I suppose I am slowly finding my way back to myself. The self that is not always paranoid. The self that is starting to (slowly, oh so slowly) speak up. The self that is confident. Just a little more than before.
One step at a time. One day at a time. I’ll be ok.
— ~ Salma Hayek (via conflictingheart)
— The art of recovery (via creatingaquietmind)
— How To Disappear (And Never Come Back Again) | Lora Mathis (via mirroir)
I am tired of this body. I am tired of this meat suit that weighs so heavy upon my mind and spirit: the intellectual and abstract manifestations of this complicated bundle of neurons and nerves — abstractions and motifs — that I identify with the ambiguous designation of “me”. This is not a plea for sympathy. It is not a manifesto, a creed, a mantra, or a suicide note. This is just the acknowledgment that I have become weary.
I am tired of this body. I am tired of measuring the reflection in the mirror with unrealistic expectations that are not even based on my own values, tho sometimes in the back of my mind I know that I’m confusing society’s opinions with natural law. I want to love my body not because someone else loves my body, but because it is a physical extension of my consciousness… a vehicle for my will to impose mechanical manipulations on the outside world… I want to know my body as a safe haven, cherish it as a sacred space, and love it despite the fact that it is killing me, with every day that I am trapped inside of it — with every breath that escapes…
But, I am tired of this body because it leaves me vulnerable to the perceptions of others, whose praise or condemnation affects me — even in the smallest of ways or with the slightest of touches — until I have to wonder if the thing I should have the most intimate relationship with — MY body — has ever or will ever truly belong to me.
I am tired of this body… or at least, I am tired of what other people keep telling me I should expect from this body… how it should look, feel, or respond.
There are so many reasons to hate this body, I wish it was for less superficial reasons than being tired of debating the form and function of this body.
I am tired of this body, but there is no way out.
If you feel you don’t really respect yourself then take a quick look at the list below and try to makes some changes in your daily life.
1. Ask yourself: “What does it mean to respect someone?” We have different ideas about the qualities and traits that are worthy of recognition and respect. For example, it could include being honest and reliable, being the kind of person who will listen and be there, or being understanding and trustworthy. Now ask if you have some of these qualities and traits. If so, you deserve to give yourself respect.
2. Treat yourself with kindness and proper respect. Stop and think about the kinds of things you say about yourself (“I’m ugly; I’m a failure; I hate myself; There’s no point in trying as I’m bound to fail”). You’d never say those kinds of things to someone else you loved – so why are you insulting and putting yourself down? Stop treating yourself badly – and start showing respect.
3. When others disrespect you, stand up for yourself. When people are rude, or expect too much of you, don’t feel you have to take it – or there’s nothing you can do. Believe you deserve better and stand up for yourself.
4. Take care of you mental and physical health. Respect that you have limits and can’t do everything. Sometimes you need a break or some time on your own. Also, if you love who you are then you will treat your body well. Don’t treat it like a garbage can and or exercise!
5. Find out who you are. You’re unique – with your own gifts and personality. Don’t copy other people or be a replica. Don’t bury who you are - to get approval or be loved. Be true to yourself and try to follow your own heart.