Red Light District…

I’ve never thought of myself as a promiscuous person. I didn’t have a lot of sexual relationships as a teen or young adult…or relationships at all, for that matter. I had a boyfriend throughout most of high school. We had sex for the first time when we were 17 years old…in the winter of our junior year. I remember it very clearly. He had been trying to for months and I kept avoiding it or wiggling my way out of the situation using any excuse I could to not engage. But I lost the battle one afternoon. It just happened so fast and it was over before I could process or protest. He had to leave for basketball practice and as he drove away I saw him give a fist pump to himself. I felt humiliated. I was a prize to him, an accomplishment. I will never forget seeing that.

I went home to an empty house. I walked straight to my parents room and laid on my Dad’s side of their bed and sobbed in his pillow. I don’t know why I went there and not my own room. I felt dirty and cheap. I wanted to die for what I had allowed to happen. It wasn’t at all what I wanted for myself and I was frustrated I didn’t somehow stop him. I wanted to be better than this. I wanted to be different than the other girls in my class, or my older sister, who had a reputation for sleeping around with pretty much anyone.

The only other sexual relationship I had was with my now husband when we were in college. It was a similar situation. I vowed never to allow myself to do that again, to not have sex before marriage, but one night I found myself in a hotel room with him once again being caught up in a pressured situation and failing at my commitment to myself. Again, the feelings of humiliation and shame surfaced the next day. I was so disappointed in my weakness, my failure to speak up for myself.

My therapist asked me today how many sexual relationships I had had before marriage. He went on to say that that was pretty typical…for people to have one or two partners before marriage…but…it sounds like for me, after revealing some things I’ve been seeing from my past, that it’s been a lot more. Something has happened to me since he said that. I know it was not malicious in any respect, but it has had a profound impact on me as I have processed this part of my time with him today. As soon as I started driving away and thinking about his words a feeling of shame and disgust came over me. I felt so dirty and cheap. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like a liar. I felt like a whore.

If the things I have been talking about with him have actually happened, he’s right. There have been many, many more sexual encounters. Encounters with my father, my sisters, shadows of men that raped me one after another on multiple occasions all throughout my childhood. My desires and efforts to be pure as a teenager were fruitless. I was already used so many times it wouldn’t have mattered. And now I feel no different than my husband and what he’s done to me with the dozens of women he has pursued. I feel like a cheater now. I feel like I’ve deceived him. I feel like I’m not any different than any other woman who offers up her services to countless men who walk the sidewalk strips and choose their indulgence through windows along the dark streets of night.

I don’t want this to be my story. The guilt I’ve felt for the one high school boyfriend before marriage was already something that has weighed so heavily on me. I hated that I did that and continued that relationship with him. And I hate that I did it again with my husband, even though we ended up married. It’s something I still get frustrated with myself about all these years later. That desire to have something special for your spouse at marriage that no one else has shared or experienced was obliterated in that and all those other moments. It’s one of the reasons I stay in my marriage now sometimes. I wonder…who would want me after this? I have nothing left. It’s hard for me to imagine someone wanting to share a life with me after all this exposure.  Somehow, I feel like I’m no longer trustworthy or worth anyone’s time or affection.

This reminds me of something else my therapist said several weeks ago. We were talking about my current desire to leave my husband and the consequences and challenges I would face if I choose to leave. I don’t remember the full context of what exactly we were discussing at that point but he briefly mentioned remarriage and said “…I don’t know why you would want to…” I immediately internalized that and began questioning “Why not? Does he think I’m too damaged? Am I no longer marriage material? Do I not deserve it? Is it not safe to ever want to know what real love might feel like? Would no one want me?”

After today, I’m wondering even more now. Who the heck am I?? I feel low. Very low. I feel like I somehow brought this all on myself. I’ve made all the bad choices and let all these bad things take place. I allowed my body to be used. I didn’t stop anyone. I just let it happen. I still do with my husband. My life is so tainted now. I don’t even know how to process that. I don’t even know how to think about myself. I feel like a prostitute. The exact type of woman my husband would pursue other than me. He doesn’t know what my mind is revealing to me from my past. I’ve told him nothing. What would he think of me if he knew? Would he like me better? Would I finally be more appealing to him? Or would he look at me in disgust or discontent? He’s a very jealous man…he holds me to very different standard than he does himself. I hold myself to different standard…and yet I allowed myself to not adhere to it.

I learned today another part of who I thought I was is not actually who I am. I have no idea who this person…me…is. If I accept what I see in my head, I have a new reality, I’ve had more sexual partners than I know, I’ve been touched and tortured and used. I’ve been passed around and enjoyed, just like some lady of the night.

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Breathless…

I can’t breathe. All life in me is gone. My heart feels nothing. Not joy or sadness or hurt. My body is numb. It can’t even feel pain. I’m completely shut down. I can’t react. I can’t fight. I can’t cry. How can I feel my heart beat again? I can’t breathe…

I look in the mirror and gasp at the stranger staring back at me. Who is she? Confusion and fear fills my soul. I don’t know what’s happening. I want to smash the mirror into millions of pieces so she disappears. Forever. I’m broken. I’m shattered. I’m not ok. How can I be ok? I can’t breathe…

I can’t breathe. Please, give me a place to run to, to escape from this place I’m in. This prison. This cage. This asylum. Everything is dark. Everything feels cold. I don’t know where I am. I am so lost and afraid. How can I find a way out of this place? I can’t breathe…

My head is filled with evil. Paintings of trauma. Pictures of death. Images of the unthinkable. My eyes stare at each in shock. My voice is stolen. No words can describe the carnage that sits inside of me. I can’t move. It’s impossible to think logically anymore. How will I ever regain consciousness? I just can’t breathe…

I can’t breathe. The weight, the heaviness, it sits on me…the heaps and piles of terror. I’m suffocating. I can’t catch my breath. There is no air left in my lungs. They have won. I have no control. I’m too weak to get back up. I can no longer breathe…

Zombie Apocalypse…

I don’t feel like myself. At all. But when I try to identify what’s off and what’s “me” I have no idea either so how can I even feel this way? It’s like I’m floating in an unknown world in my head. Super slow motion. Watching things slowly spin around me as I watch and wonder where I am. Nothing looks familiar but at the same time I know it’s not a place I want to go back to.

Today I was sitting with my therapist and my mind went down a path it has been avoiding for a very long time. I knew it as soon as the images entered my mind and I tried furiously to push it back away. I have been here briefly before. I was screaming and fighting three men who had me restrained. I was kicking and battling, trying to get away. I charged forward, they grabbed me. I dropped my body down and went limp like a toddler throwing a tantrum, they held on, their grip was so tight. I kicked my legs and flailed my body. They growled in my ears and held me tighter as I bucked like a wild bull trapped in a pen. I was trying with everything I could to not go through the doors they were leading me to. They commanded my obedience. I don’t remember what happened after that. It ends with the chaos of this incident.

My mind went from there to solemnly following a woman down a long hallway. I don’t remember what she looked like and there were no words exchanged until we reached our destination. She opened the door and pointed to a pile of neatly folded clothes laying on a bed with a metal frame. The sheet and the clothing were white. There was nothing else in the room except for a metal chair. I was instructed to put them on and sit in the chair next to the bed. I was left alone and went through this routine I feel I am very familiar with. I sat and waited, frozen, not daring to move a muscle. The woman returned and she sat in front of me. She asked me question after question and I had to answer them correctly or else I knew something horrible would happen. She left me alone again.

When she returned she opened the door and motioned me out to the hallway. I followed her to an elevator with a silver door and we went up several floors. I followed her out, turning right down another long hallway. It was brighter than the one below. She stood at a doorway and motioned me in to sit. In front of me were three men. Their faces were very stern and serious. I know these men but I can’t make out their faces in my head. They wore dark suits with white shirts and dark ties. They stared at me as I sat frozen in front of them. The door closed behind me and I was left alone with them. There were two large windows with black frames. One behind the men and one to my left side. The sky was white and there were trees in the distance. I felt very cold.

The man in the middle spoke firmly in what seems like a language I don’t understand but somehow I know exactly what is being said. I am given my instructions and asked more questions. I am to work with the babies. When the mothers give birth the babies are put into a nursery where they are tortured and deprived and trained. I don’t know how I know this or why I just wrote that. My instinct is to delete because I don’t understand it.

Tears are falling as I write but I feel nothing but confusion inside so I don’t understand their purpose. I don’t know what this is. I fear I have a mental illness. All feeling is gone inside of me. Something else has taken over. Something is horribly wrong.

I did tell some of this to my therapist this morning. His reaction was strong and it felt as if he was angry and irritated with me. I felt immense shame for saying anything and an incredible amount of fear for speaking any of it out loud, like something awful was going to happen to me. I haven’t processed this enough to know what it even is. I feel like I don’t have any context for it, yet at the same time, other things fit into it that have never made sense to me before. I don’t know how these things could have even happened. I don’t know how I get to these places with these people. I don’t know who they are. I have no answers other than I am wrong. Something like this just feels like it can’t be real…I would remember. Wouldn’t I? What has taken over my brain? What is happening to me?  Is it even real? Am I sick? Like, literally, have zombies taken over my body and made me into some creature of hate who loves making up stories that isolate and bring me down to my knees or curl me up in a ball in fear? I feel dead. I know no other way to describe it. I am scared. I am worried I’ve lost it and am unfit to parent my children. I am so confused and lonely. I am living in a place in my mind that feels foreign and fuzzy. I’m trying to figure it out. I need help.

 

Push And Pull…

I’m in a great place of struggle right now. Trauma memories are flooding and they overwhelm me. I don’t understand them and I need someone to talk to…on a daily…hourly…minute to minute basis…not just the three hours a week I have with my therapist. I can’t get it all out even in that amount of time. I shut down. My brain goes wild but my lips become paralyzed. I’m unable to speak what needs to be let out…so many secrets. So much shame. So much guilt. So much regret. So much humiliation. So much hurt. I backs up inside of me.  Some has come out but a lot of it is stuck. I’m afraid to say it out loud. I’m not safe.

My marriage is in trouble. That’s not really a secret. Well, actually it is. No one in my real world life knows of the things my husband has done to me, and with others, except my therapist and a few women in my bible study, who are only somewhat aware and likely now think we have “worked it out” since I’ve stopped talking it about it. I’ve hidden it back away. My husband probably thinks the same thing, since I don’t really fight him much anymore. I don’t really know what he thinks, though. We don’t ever talk about it either. How do you work out the fact that someone betrayed you and rejected you and humiliated you so deeply? How do you?? I don’t know how. So I guess it’s been put away to be ignored. Swept under the rug. The pull I feel to just let it go and go back to what used to be with him is so strong. But when I get close I push him back away, refusing at the last minute to allow him access to my heart…he will never hurt me again. But I need someone to talk to. But I can’t talk to him…there’s no safety with him.

I don’t trust him. I can’t. I try to sometimes. I want to tell him everything that is happening in my head. Everything I have remembered from my past, everything that haunts me, everything that I know for sure happened to me. I want to show him my writings. I want to show him the pictures I have drawn of the images of abuse in my head. I want to every single day. He’s supposed to be the one I can tell. I need his support. I need his love. Yet, I cannot even get myself to love him anymore…and honestly, I refuse to accept any attempt of love on his part…genuine, or not. It’s too dangerous. He’s completely unsafe. I am afraid of him and how he will react…or not react, which makes me feel crazy. He sees me crying sometimes and asks what’s wrong. When I can’t answer he just walks away or changes the subject or leaves me alone. He doesn’t sit it in it with me. He doesn’t wait for me to get the words out. He has no compassion or empathy for me. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t understand and he doesn’t try to. I am a burden to him. He doesn’t have time for me or this process I am in. It’s too uncomfortable for him because it forces him to look at himself and his role in it all.

Sometimes I don’t know if what I am feeling is triggered from childhood trauma or the trauma experienced in my marriage. I sometimes can’t separate it out from each other. That makes me feel crazy, overreactive, and out of control.  It’s all so messed up. I’m messed up. Used. Abused. Traumatized. Worthless. This has been my entire life. Chaotic. Terrifying. Overwhelming. I need to get out. I want to get out. But I don’t know how. I don’t even know what to move towards. I don’t trust my judgement to make good choices. I have no idea where to go or who to trust. The pull to go is strong. I dream about it. I’m doing things to prepare for it. But when I try to put a picture in my head of what it could all look like I shrink into a crumpled up child who’s curled up in a corner afraid to look and see, to hope for better than this. I turn my head and close my eyes and push the images away. I negotiate with myself that life is not so bad. I don’t want to hurt my children and wreck our family. At least I know what I’m in the middle of. At least I know this. I know how to survive this.

But I’m dying. But I can’t go. I don’t know how.

Enough…

I am not good enough.

I am not beautiful enough.

I am not smart enough.

I am not healthy enough.

I am not calm enough.

I am not sexy enough.

I am not skinny enough.

I am not brave enough.

I am not intentional enough.

I am not educated enough.

I am not engaging enough.

I am not happy enough.

I am not conforming enough.

I am not liberal enough.

I am not social enough.

I am not fun enough.

I am not wise enough.

I am not old enough.

I am not respectful enough.

I am not playful enough.

I am not helpful enough.

I am not experienced enough.

I am not kind enough.

I am not generous enough.

I am not compliant enough.

I am not steady enough.

I am not obedient enough.

I am not relaxed enough.

I am not quiet enough.

I am not bold enough.

I am not skilled enough.

I am not loving enough.

I am not important enough.

My voice isn’t enough.

I am never enough…

My “not enoughs.” I have lived with these shadows over me all of my life. One person, after another, placed these umbrellas of darkness over me, one by one, and I’ve believed them all. I’ve made decisions about my future and the paths I would and wouldn’t take in my life based on these “not enoughs.” This is the place where I have sat…and still sometimes sit.

I received an email from my sister this past week. It was horrible. It was mean. It was frustrating. I was told I’m the reason for all our family conflict. I opened up a Pandora’s Box and called out the abuse of my past for what it was. My parents have rallied the whole family together to rise up against me and shut me out. I’m an outcast. Standing isolated and alone. I’ve tainted the picture of perfection they try to maintain. I’ve crushed and ruined their lives.

I’ve received several emails like hers from my parents over the last year. I’ve been called a liar, a fake Christian, controlling, crazy, a terrorist, insane, ugly, troubled, that I’m not liked and don’t like them, I should be ashamed of myself, a seeker of a drama, horrific, a perfectionist living in a bubble of perfectionism, that I have no compassion or empathy, I’m hurtful, I don’t care….and on and on…

What do I do with this? How do I even respond? Should I even attempt to defend myself again?? Would they even listen to anything I have and want to say? Does it even matter? Why do I care???

I care because of my “enoughs.” I care because I don’t want to be those things anymore. I’m tired of others dictating who I am and am not. When do I get a say? When do I get to define myself? Who even gave them permission to speak over my life and dictate its direction?

These “enoughs” can not be my truths. They cannot be who I am. They’re someone else’s opinions I’ve held onto as my truths. I didn’t know any different. Not anymore. I want to be enough.

This Is Trauma…

I’ve been reeling inside my head all day since my therapy session this morning. It was a lot of the same conversation we’ve been having. “You’re not a liar…what would you be gaining from this…I believe you, I don’t think you are making this up,” and the same physical reactions from me…I hear hard things, get asked questions I’m too scared to answer, go into frozen, can’t talk mode, my foot bounces with anxiety, and the tears start streaming down my face. Today I couldn’t turn them off. Not like I usually can. I was frustrated that I couldn’t stop crying. In fact, the tears have mysteriously begun falling right this second as I begin to process my thoughts.

This is trauma. Right? These reactions are the way the body speaks about what happened when words can’t be found. I’m sitting with that today, and when I think about it I begin to panic. I feel trapped in a situation that does not allow for any good outcome. If I accept these memories as real…accept that I am not lying, being overdramatic, over sensitive, reading into things too deeply, and they’re actually not real memories, what happens to me? This is what I’m ruminating over in my head…I’m negotiating the consequence of my acceptance. If I move through life and accept it all, tell my story, maybe share what I’ve learned, and it’s all wrong…I’m a fraud. I’m a liar. God detests liars. What will He do to me when judgment time comes? Will I be sent away from Him? Will I be punished? Will He turn His face away in disgust? Will He reject me? I’ve realized today that this is my fear. What are the consequences…how will I be hurt? How will I be used? How will I be abandoned this time?

This is trauma. Right? Expecting the worst in every situation. Weighing the pros and cons of every move and decision you make because you fear for your safety and your life. You don’t want to ruin anything good you might have. This is how someone thinks when they have been abused over and over and over and over again. This is how that person lives their days. Every day. Afraid of everything. Afraid to disagree with their abusers or the voices in their head for fear that they would be found or hurt or tortured yet again. To go out and live on your own and walk your own path is very dangerous. It’s walking away from a normal that should have never been. It’s an enormous fear of the unknown, even if the unknown is promised to offer freedom from pain and hurt. When all you know and have adapted to for the entirety of your life is the opposite of free and safe, you can’t imagine a life with hope. It is change. Change brings hurts. Surprises lead to torture and torment and death. Why would you willingly walk into change? Why set yourself up for the damage and chaos you’ve known to come with every walk you thought you were making into something better?

This is trauma. Right? The inability to trust. Anyone. At any time. When the ones who were supposed to model love and trust and security are the ones who turned you into an open door for exploitation, humiliation, degradation. They handed out the key to your body and your heart for themselves and others to go in and take a piece for themselves…to steal your soul…and leave you empty and worn, scarred, and stained…worthless. Why would you trust a God who says, “Come, follow me. I have something better for you. I will give you love. I will give you comfort. I will protect you.” All that was learned up until now was that these calls to follow…to take a hand in trust…lead to very dark, scary, impossible situations that had no means of escape. How do you even begin to trust? How do you risk even one more time? Why would you? So you stay in your prison cell of fear. Because at least you know that. At least you know how to cope with that. At least…

This is trauma. Right?

Abused.

Used.

Thrown.

Smashed.

Hit.

Tortured.

Burned.

Hair pulled.

Trapped.

Tied.

Bound.

Isolated.

Ridiculed.

Drugged.

Slapped.

Silenced.

Secrets.

Let down.

Rejected.

Chased.

Special.

Penetrated.

Suffocated.

Sodomized.

Afraid.

Confused.

Terrorized.

Chosen.

Raped.

Abandoned.

Voiceless.

Empty.

This is trauma. Right? This is me. All of it. And more. I see it. I feel it. I understand it. I know it. I want to look at it. I want to fight it. But I fear it. I fear for my safety. I fear for my sanity. I fear for my future. I fear the unknown. I fear acceptance. I fear being wrong. I fear the consequence if I am. I am the animal in the cage…afraid to walk out the open door. Too afraid to take one more risk. Too afraid to trust again. Too afraid to believe I can have something better than this. Too afraid to believe God can redeem something so ugly. Too afraid to speak my truth because speaking truth has always been a very bad, bad choice to make. This is trauma. This is trauma. This is trauma. This is trauma…

This is me. Afraid to move. But what if…no. Don’t hope. Don’t go there. Stay still and quiet. It is safer here.

This is trauma. Right?

Used Again…

I’m in a daze today. I can’t focus. I can’t eat. I was raped by my husband again last night. This is becoming a regular occurrence. It’s sneaky on his part. He preys upon me when he knows I’m emotionally weak. At least I think he does. Maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know. Maybe I’m over exaggerating the circumstances. I can’t think clearly.

I came home from a therapy appointment last night completely overwhelmed and exhausted. It was my second 3 hour session this week. We are talking through abuse memories that I have had. It’s hard and it’s scary. I don’t know what to do with them all. I’m afraid they will find out I have talked to him about my past. I’m afraid they will come after me. Or my children. Or even him. I know they are watching me. I’ve never been able to escape. They find ways to warn me not to screw up, not to talk. They will hurt me again. This makes me want to quit therapy every time I go. I leave in a complete state of panic every time. What if they are waiting for me in the parking lot? My heart pounds as I scan my surroundings before walking out the door. I wonder sometimes if my therapist is one of them. I want to think no, that he’s not, that I’m safe with him, but I don’t know. I always wonder.

I wanted to go to sleep. I wanted to completely shut down and let the night go away. I was hoping for rest and no dreams. I was falling asleep. But my husband was not. He kept touching me and kissing me and I froze. Everything I talked about earlier in the evening…being tied down, held back from running away, raped, tortured. Every image flooded back in. I went into compliance mode. I acquiesced. I couldn’t talk the words that were screaming in my head…for him to leave me alone. For him to understand that this isn’t a good time. He knew where I was. He knew I had a hard appointment. He asked me when I got home. I told him so he knew. Why? Why was he doing this? Doesn’t he know?? HE KNOWS. I’ve told him before about how this happens to me. I asked him to be more aware. To back off. Please. He said he would. He didn’t. Again.

I let him have his way. I couldn’t fight it. I checked out and did what I needed to for him to be satisfied. He entered my body while I cringed and tears began to fall down my face. Maybe he didn’t notice, it was dark. I turned my head away from him so I couldn’t see his face anymore. He breathed heavily in my ear and I drifted away into the darkness of my mind. I didn’t kiss him back. I didn’t talk back. I didn’t move. I was gone. He knew I was. He kept asking if I was ok. I couldn’t answer. He didn’t stop. It was finally over. I just laid there, exhausted and confused. I’ve felt this before. I barely heard him talking to me…

“Did you leave me? Come back…” 

Now he notices I am not ok. But it’s too late. I wish he would see me. I wish he cared enough to do what was right. I wish he would leave me alone. I can’t do this one more time. I’m all used up. I’m damaged and broken. I’m empty. Disgusting. I feel so alone.

Maybe I’m just tired and overreacting. Maybe I led him to believe I wanted this somehow. Maybe I shouldn’t complain and be grateful he provides for me. It’s the least I can do. I am his wife after all. Maybe this is all I’m good for.

Running Away…

I’ve remembered something from when I was a little girl. In my memory I’m standing very still in the woods. My father is standing next to me with his strong, thick hand wrapped around the back of my neck. The canopy of the trees cover us and in the distance I see a girl. She is lifeless, hanging from a tree. Her arms and legs dangle and her neck has fallen to the side causing her long, wavy dark hair to fall over her face. This image is burned into my brain. It never changes, it visits me frequently. There are also men standing around in the woods in the distance. She was all alone. No one was looking at her. No one was helping her. I don’t understand why no one was helping her. The grip of my father’s hand tightens around my neck and I feel an incredible amount of confusion inside of me. I also remember running. Running like crazy through the woods. I don’t know if the two memories are connected or not. I ran so furiously my heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my ears. Sheer panic. Footsteps thunder behind me as I try to get away from something. Someone. Yelling and commotion, like a stampede, closing in behind me as my little body tries to escape. I was out of control and I crashed down to the ground. Everything goes black.

I ran away two weeks ago. I am overwhelmed, scared, panicked, desperate…to get away from the stampede of emotions that engulf me. My heart pounds through my ears. Sleep evades me. I feel sick. I am sick. My body is distressed. My heart is stressed. I’m exhausted and devoid of any life. My emotions and feelings terrify me. I don’t understand how to feel and not be afraid. Afraid of being hurt, assaulted, beaten, thrown, dragged, tortured…ignored.

So here I sit, stunned, two thousand miles away from my reality, trying to understand what’s happened to me. Why? Why me? WHY?? What now? Who am I? Where do I even belong? Does anyone even care?

There are people here who have rallied around me. They’ve scooped me up and said “Let us help you. You matter. We’re proud of you.” They’ve asked me to talk and they’ve listened to the tiniest fraction of my story and they have cried, cried, and said “This is too much. You have dealt with too much.” They don’t even know. But I don’t cry with them. I sit there and wonder why they do.

It feels so awkward and foreign to experience what I am. I feel guilt when anything I say upsets someone. I shut down. I can’t accept their emotion or sadness for me. I don’t understand it. This is my normal. I live in fear every single day. I’m constantly scouring my horizon for danger and disruption. It seems as though my job is to only please others. My body to be used. My emotions to be criticized and discarded and silenced, buried deep where they can no longer be accessed. They mean nothing. I mean nothing. Tossed aside until I’m useful again. This is my normal. This is the way it’s always been. No arguments. No protesting. No resistance by me. To be loved was to accept the way it is and to live is to not deviate from the routine. So I push away the kindness and try not to make a mistake and trust…it seems very, very dangerous…and I continue to run away, looking for peace and solitude. And I wonder. I wonder how far I will have to go to be able to stop running.

Discomfort…

I am a mess of stuck emotions right now. I have so many things to say I can’t say anything. I have tears bulging, pining to flow like rapids in the spring. I have screams twisted up in a lump in my throat. I have anxiety pumping fiercely through my heart. My hands are shaking and my body is tingling with nervous energy. My breath is hot with anger as I inhale deeply trying to keep it from exploding into a fire-y ball of hysterical chaos.

Little by little these feelings stuck inside of me are leaking out, like a slow drip or the barely audible whistling of air escaping it’s containment. I become painfully aware of their tactics to escape. I do a little patchwork here, apply a little duct tape there, to try to maintain composure and hold it all in. But the pressure is building. The faint whistles want to become like the blaring screeches from water boiling in a tea kettle, and the drips, a raging waterfall crashing down on boulders below. They are pushing and pulling, looking for their way out. But it’s too much. I’ve never felt this way before, or really ever felt anything at all, and now, now it’s everything at once and more than I feel I can handle. The fear of the unknown has infiltrated into the act of feeling itself.

Fear leads to numbing. That place of safety and solace…for me at least. Numb is where I like to live. Numb is where I go when I don’t know how to cope. Numb is my friend. Never failing, never hurting, always available at a moment’s notice. I slip numb on like an oversized fuzzy bathrobe and pull it up close to my chin. It envelopes me in comfort and coziness and I become oblivious to the reality around me as I snuggle in and fade away. But now that I know numb exists, I don’t like it. I wasn’t aware of numb before, so it worked out just fine. “What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you…” Right? Wrong. Now I know all about numb. And it’s not a good relationship anymore. I see all the red flags. The warnings. The patterns. I need to let go of numb and move on. But I don’t know how.

It’s interesting how this picture of emotion perfectly explains my conundrum in my life right now. My feelings mirror the reality I’m living. It’s a perfect storm. I’m faced with so many important, life changing decisions. Do I stay with numb (pretend happy marriage, pretend kind and loving father/mother/family) or do I go with emotional chaos (end pretend happy marriage, return to abusive father/mother/family) and live forever afraid I’ve given up too much and created a new conflict and chaos that’s just different (traumatized children now in a broken family, financial ruin, no more family connection anywhere)? How do you even choose? I know what I’m involved in now.  I’ve survived it and could probably continue to. But I’ve lost my comfort in it. The bathrobe is matted and old and full of holes. It’s cold and drafty now. It rubs my skin raw and offers no protection or warmth. I’m becoming…exposed. And exposed is not at all comfortable or desired when you’ve been hiding out in numb your entire life.

Trying To Hang On…

Trauma is weird. Repressed memories are even weirder. Nothing makes sense when you live in that world. And when you are attempting to move on with life and forget anything and everything and just try for the love of God to be normal, (or maybe sometimes, like me, stoop to convincing yourself nothing you think, feel, dream, or see is real and you are just drama obsessed and overreactive) it just gets weirder. Your body is in control at this point. You have no control. You can’t deny what’s happening to you, but you can’t seem to understand it either. And when you have been through abuse and trauma, you NEED to feel like and have some sort of control. This is where safety lies for you. Am I right? Somebody please tell me I’m right.

For months, maybe for over a year now, I don’t know, I’ve been seeing myself as a young girl of varying ages in horrible, horrific, abusive situations. It’s a blip here and a glimpse there. I have no complete story to any of it yet but the physical effects I feel with these visions are incredibly intense. Did you notice what I did there? I said visions instead of memories. I have no desire to claim any of this as real. But I think I’m to a point that if I don’t I might be stuck in this place of horror forever. I’m not there though. I can’t claim or accept this as my life so I waver back and forth between two realities. One that I used to have (bad), and one that seems to be (even worse).

I’ve researched my brains out about trauma and the effects of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I try to find anything that goes against what I’m experiencing to prove to myself and my therapist that I’m just a bat-shit crazy, mentally ill, hopeless attention seeker, and liar. After all, that’s what I was always told I was growing up. I’m trying relentlessly to live by this identity. If this were all my fault, I could handle it. I would be responsible. As always, there is just something wrong with me. This is familiar and very weirdly safe. I can handle this. Breathe, fix it, stop it, whatever…and move on.

What I can’t seem to get a grip on or handle is the idea that there might actually be something really wrong with me. So wrong that it causes others to hurt me, punish me, exploit me, and degrade me because I’m so awful and unworthy of anything better. This is a different type of “there’s something wrong with me.” What I described above is self defined. What is happening here with abuse is validating that definition into reality. What I don’t understand is how another human being can be so cruel and heartless. I don’t understand how God could be so cruel and heartless that He would allow one of His own created beings to behave in such a way. If God is love and humans were created in His image, then logically, this becomes my view of God, and love, if I’ve never experienced anything differently. But instinctively, I know this doesn’t fit either. Because I am not those things. I want to believe I was created in the image of love. But why couldn’t everyone have been?? Or were they, and I wasn’t? Everything feels so twisted and confusing and incomprehensible. I can’t reconcile any of it. So I twist it more and make it my own fault and failure to be whatever I was supposed to be, because that, I can swallow and make sense of because it’s what I’ve always known.

With regards to trauma and repressed memories, I have read often that there can be an unrelated traumatic event that happens in the victim’s current place in life that triggers or awakens the brain to other traumas hidden inside of them. I guess this could be the case for me. My husband has been chronically unfaithful to me, our marriage, and our children. It is something I have always accepted and hoped, after the last discovery and round of counseling, was over with and behind us. I fell into a deep state of trust, safety, and naivety and was blind to what was really going on. This is another effect of trauma. When you deal with traumatic events, you can dissociate to cope with them. When you dissociate when triggered, or chronically, to cope with pain and emotions, you become vulnerable to further abuse in the future because you are living in a different state of mind and different world. I can look at my life and it makes sense to me that this was me if I accept what I am experiencing. When I discovered again to a much deeper and twisted and offensive level the activity my husband was up to, I crumbled. My world fell apart, and not long after, it fell apart even more with the emergence of these visions (memories?) of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that came at the hands of my father, mother, sister, a neighbor and others that I have not been able to identify yet…they are still shadows in my mind. If this is real, I’ve become incredibly desensitized to abuse. It’s normal. It’s my life. Even today. It’s all I’ve known. I don’t know what to do with this.

I have very few memories of my childhood (another effect of abuse). Entire chunks and ages gone. Nothing is there. And the things I do remember vividly with confidence often involve physical abuse, fights, weird drunken parties or sexual behavior my parents and other family members had and some family trips. I’m beginning to realize I was pretty isolated. I had very few friends. I was shy, quiet, and unsure. I asked some relatives for pictures of me when I was growing up. When they sent them to me I was shocked when I looked at them. I had no idea who that little girl was. None. I even questioned if it was really me. I didn’t recognize her. At all. My kids can look at pictures and see themselves instantly. I couldn’t do that in some that I received. It was by process of elimination that they were me. That bothers me so much. There is a little girl who lived some time ago who didn’t even know herself and still doesn’t.

It’s scary and disorienting to think this could be who I am and was. Everything I thought I knew about myself is turned upside down. I’m a stranger to myself. I question everything. I have so much fear now. I don’t trust my own judgement of people, their character, and if they are safe. I worry about my children. I’m very skeptical and am easily triggered into varying states of panic and anxiety for no apparent reason at all. I don’t want this life. It feels like a prison. I want to escape it but I don’t know how. And in a weird way I’m afraid to move forward into freedom from this because it is completely unknown to me. Unknown is a trigger and is incredibly stressful. It always has been for me, but now, I see scary things in the unknown parts of my mind. I don’t trust the unknown. It feels like a trap.

My health has significantly suffered this past year. I’ve discovered and had treatments for severe anemia. I’ve seen specialists at the Mayo Clinic and have had countless tests to try to figure out what’s wrong. I was finally stabilized about 4 months ago, only to find out yesterday that I’m right back in the “you could die if this doesn’t get under control” danger zone and severely anemic again. I feel like I’m constantly going through a cycle of putting fires out in my life. One thing happens, I stabilize it, something else happens, I stabilize it. Something else happens and I freak out from the pressure, and think only of the dark places I can go. Then I pull myself back out only to find myself back in that place of distress once again. I wonder if God will ever look at me in pity and say enough is enough and make everything stop, but He hasn’t and I begin to wonder again if it’s really all true…I’m damaged, unworthy, not even good enough for God to rescue and save and use in some way.  I feel so incredibly defeated.

I want to get out of this, though. I want a new reality so badly. One I’m in charge of for once. One that is filled with comfort, stability, safety, joy, sound sleep, health, kindness, love, and trust. I’m so desperate for peace. It feels impossible most days. It feels like a fantasy. I feel like I don’t deserve it. I feel like no one feels like I’m worth the effort to love me or help me get there. I’m determined. I fight. I like to prove everyone wrong, even myself sometimes. I’ve lost that part of me somewhere in this. I’m none of those things anymore. I feel like a failure, worthless, and weak because I can’t just “buck up” and move on. My husband even told me that if he had to pick something I was addicted to, it would be my past. But I’m not. I want nothing to do with it. I constantly try to walk away from it but at every turn I make in a different direction there it is waiting for me.

I feel very alone in this journey. Someone help me hang on, please. Someone tell me this gets better somewhere. Someone tell me they understand any of this and can relate. Someone tell me they’ve experienced anything like this. That they didn’t believe their “memories” either but accepted them and are still OK. Someone please tell me they created a new reality for themselves and they believe God really is good. I need hope. I need something, anything, to hang on to.