Red shoes. Cannibalism. They rape the babies and children. They eat them. They skin them. The red shoes they proudly wear, they are made from their flesh.
Red shoes. Cannibalism. They rape the babies and children. They eat them. They skin them. The red shoes they proudly wear, they are made from their flesh.
In the darkness of the night I stood in front of the stone table. I was led there with no clothing on, blood dripping down my legs, holding an infant. The man with no hair nodded to me and I placed the baby onto the table. There was a fire burning underneath.
This image has reappeared over and over in my head. My body goes numb, shuts down, every time it appears. And for days after I feel sick to my stomach. I vomit. My head hurts. My heart races. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat.
Each time it returns I close my eyes in fear. Pushing it down as hard as I can, trying to avoid the unavoidable overwhelm. A voice in my head repeats over and over “She’s burning. She’s burning. She’s burning. She’s Burning…” And the glow of the fire fills my eyes and covers the image. I’ve screamed. I’ve panicked. I’ve cried and fallen to the floor praying no one finds me.
Oh God. What have I done?
…the fire burns…I am praised…I am tied…I am touched…I am used over and over for celebration…
My gaze goes up and I float into the top of the giant trees. I hide and rest in the canopy, hoping no one will find me and make me come down ever again. But they always did. Over, and over, and over, and over.
I’ve been thinking about the memories that I have been having. They are dark, ugly, and intensely horrifying. Sometimes, I don’t actually think on purpose, they just come in to my mind. Others times, I try to make some sense of them, which I have also learned not to try too hard to do. They perplex me. They make me feel…I don’t know…bad. That’s all that comes to me right now. I feel bad. I feel bad for thinking them. I feel like a bad person. All the time.
Last night I was out with my husband and my mind wandered as he drove towards home. I thought about the themes that my memories have displayed. There are buildings. I have several memories of being driven to, taken to, and carried to buildings. I also have memories of being in buildings, not knowing how I got there. They are sterile in nature. Concrete walls. Dark, gray, eerie, gloomy. One is brighter on the inside, with light yellow walls and smooth white floors, like a scientific lab, with gray beds that look like hospital stretchers lined up along the walls. The windows are long and narrow and line the top of the walls…too high for me to see out or others to see in from the outside. The frames are black and splits each one into two rectangle shaped panes. In this building I am sitting with my wrists bound to a chair. The feeling in my body is totally gone. I feel nothing. I only see myself in this chair and a woman standing in front of me, slightly off to my right side, with long dark hair. She is wearing a white lab coat and is holding a large, thick, long needle that moves towards my arm. She says to me, “This is going to hurt.” I remember nothing after that.
In another very dark building, I remember laying on a very hard surface that I want to describe as concrete. My first memory on this was violently and repeatedly getting my head banged on that “concrete table.” When I remember this, I feel the jolts in my body and the sickness from what was happening. I was a child. Maybe 9-10 years old. I don’t know for sure, but that’s what it feels like. I want to cry but I’m too scared. I don’t know why it’s happening or who is doing it but I sense maybe it could be my father. I am not sure about this, though. There is unbelievable rage happening all around me as my body is pounding up and down and my head ricochets upwards with each rhythmic growl and grunt I hear coming from the one who is hurting me. In my second memory involving this table there are men surrounding me. I see their shadows and I can hear sounds but can’t make out specific words. It feels like a dream. A man stands between my legs and repeatedly thrusts his body into mine while gripping my thighs with what must be very large hands as I feel them tightly wrapped around my entire leg, or maybe I am just small compared to him. I am gone emotionally. I don’t know what I am feeling…nothing actually, I just see this happening. I also see a doorway to my left, with a white glow coming from beyond, as I lay there and stare at the darkness above me.
In other memories I see hallways and tunnels. In one I feel my legs dangling as someone carries me away and in another I am walking down one and enter a concrete room with a dingy, yellowed window, with 8 small panes. There are boxes all around me and a man and a woman under a blanket in the corner. In another memory, I see myself in a vehicle that stops in some sort of dark tunnel at a “toll booth” type building. There is a girl with dark hair inside. The man driving the car brings her into the car. There is a gap in memory here, but he later lifts her out of the car and back into the booth type building. The next thing I remember is looking out the car window and seeing her stare at me and look down at her leg. I look too and her foot is missing and her leg is bloody and hanging in shreds. She isn’t crying. She just stares at me. The next thing I remember is a man driving me away through a tunnel to another building.
I had another memory of standing in the woods. Everything is brown. There are leaves on the ground and tall trees surround me. In front of me, to my right, is a girl hanging lifeless from a tree. Her long, dark, wavy hair hangs down over her face and dangling head. Her shoulders are slumped and her feet are bare. There are men standing all around. One standing right next to me (my father?) and others further off at varying distances into the woods. There are three men talking near a gray pick-up truck that is parked in front of a concrete block building with long dark windows at the top and a black steel door. I don’t move. No one is helping her. No one is even looking at her, except me.
I had a dream about 10 days ago that involved my husband and children. In my dream, he was driving us all somewhere and he passed out in the car. I jumped into the drivers seat and managed to get the car pulled over and stopped in a church parking lot. Then he gets out of the car and started wandering and he disappeared around a pond and passed out again. I send my children away and told them I would call an ambulance. The children drive away and my husband is wandering again and fell into the pond. There are many people around and it was raining. My phone wouldn’t work. I started asking people to call 911 for me but no one would acknowledge me or help me. I went into the church and asked someone else and they wouldn’t answer. I was crying and walking all over the church, into the dark hallways and into the basement trying to find anyone. I was panicking and wet and my husband was missing and in the pond. I asked some children to help me. They just looked at me. Everyone I asked just looked at me. I asked a woman to call 911 and I think she did so I went back through the dark hallways and basement to get back outside to look for him. I had no shoes on and found some outside the door and went looking for my husband and the police. No one would talk to me. There were people and pick-up trucks in the pond but they were not looking for him. I didn’t know what to do. No one would help me or talk to me and I was frantic and scared and just looking for help and no one would help. I woke up at this point of the dream and I just cried.
Buildings, dark hallways, basements, needles, lab coats, groups of men, pick-up trucks. Driving in tunnels. Other young girls in distress with no emotion on their faces. Never knowing what’s going on or where I am or how I got there. It’s all in my thoughts and memories and dreams. I was piecing it all together last night and finally broke the silence in the car and asked my husband if he thought my father could have been part of a cult. He simply and quickly said “yes.”
His answer surprised me. I asked him how and he listed all the activities my father is involved in and how “cult like” they are. I felt stupid for asking and dropped the subject. My feelings now are still “I’m bad.” How could I even think something like this? I don’t even know if any of this is true. I have no concrete proof outside my thoughts and I am constantly second guessing everything I say, think and do. This…me…is crazy.
There are explosions going on inside my head. They are deafening. They are debilitating. They are unbelievably frightening. I don’t know what’s happening to me and I don’t know how to make it stop. I was fine and feeling relatively calm. I had worked really hard to stabilize myself over the past month and then a switch flipped and chaos erupted and I can no longer distract myself away from it.
…I see my little body standing like a statue, staring at a young girl hanging from a tree. The men are all there but no one is helping her.
…A woman stands over me in a dark, shadowy room as I stand again, frozen, staring up at her. Lights flash and I hear clicking sounds.
…My wrists are strapped to a chair and there is movement and noise behind me as someone tells me “‘this is going to hurt.” A needle moves towards my arm.
…Men stand all around me and they talk and laugh as I am laying on my back. My head is repeatedly banged against the hard surface I am laying on.
…I feel my body fly backwards and the sound of glass shattering all around me sends chills throughout my body.
…I run frantically out of the woods, breathing hard as I try to escape the stampede and shouts I hear closing in on me from behind. I fall and everything goes dark.
…There is water crashing up against the window and seeping through the cracks as I panic with no way to escape.
…The girl with dark hair stares back at me expressionless and still. Her leg is shredded and bloody and the man takes me away to a cold, dark building.
What is this? What does any of this even mean? Fragments of terror all over the place. Nothing makes sense. It can’t be real. This. can. not. be. real. What is wrong with me?? I have completely lost my mind. My body is distressed. My heart is forever pounding. I cannot sleep. I am confused and afraid. SO afraid.
I’ve been sharing a little with my therapist about my feelings of wanting to end my life. I’ve been feeling this way for months. We argue about it, he tries to switch my thinking and paint a darker picture of what the end result of this would look like rather than what I will face in moving forward with my life. His points are valid, and though I try, not really arguable, so I shut down and stop talking because I don’t know how to explain what I need to say. I love my children. I would hate to hurt them and abandon them. It would be messy. On a logical level, I get that. But for some reason, that doesn’t motivate me as much to want to stay anymore. Sometimes, the thought of me leaving them seems more attractive to them (from my perspective) than being here in the state that I’m in right now.
The last time we talked about this he asked me what I wanted my legacy to be. He probably asked me this to distract me from my negative thoughts. It didn’t work. I immediately started thinking of what I perceive my legacy currently to be, and that just became greater justification to act upon my current state of mind…to get out, and end it all. The pressure building up inside of me is so intense. I can’t figure out what it is. Or how to release it. It’s becoming unbearable. It’s the heaviest of weights. I feel trapped with no way out. It’s getting darker and scarier and more and more confusing. I think I’ve actually really lost my mind. I haven’t ever felt this before. I feel like I have no control and no where to go to escape the torture I feel. I’m completely frozen yet completely on fire all at the same time. I’m afraid of myself and who I’m becoming.
My therapist talks a lot about dissociation when he tries to explain why I feel or remember things the way I do when I can’t find any understanding of it on my own. I still don’t grasp the concept of this or how it works so I’ve been reading a lot about trauma to try and find answers to help me understand myself better. I was reading the other day and came across some things that resonated with me. One author was discussing the impact of our inner critical voice and stated that it causes us to contemplate suicide. She also states that the critical voice is also hope-phobic. It doesn’t want us to hope because disappointment is so excruciatingly painful and it’s very good at predicting the worst possible outcome. She goes on to say that having no hope, the critical voice doesn’t want change. It doesn’t believe change is possible. I feel that sometimes. Another author I was reading touched on suicidal tendencies as well. She states, in reference to past childhood abuse and resulting dissociation, “Fight and flight driven aspects of the self that are suicidal or self-harming developed as a way of increasing the child’s sense of having some control (“If it gets too bad, I can die—I can leave—I can go to sleep and never wake up”) and may continue to have strong self-destructive impulses in the context of loss or vulnerability.”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple days and I wondered if this feeling of wanting to escape, to end my life, is not necessarily because I can’t endure or cope with the “whatever it is I’m experiencing feeling” as much as it is a symptom of what I have experienced. In a way, that perspective shifted my thoughts around my desires. They’re there because something happened to me. It was a way I tried to cope and have control when I physically didn’t and I’m using this strategy again now as an adult as I relive some of what happened to me as a child. I felt a small twinge of freedom from the stronghold this desire to end my life has had on me. Maybe this quote about another woman I read about experiencing something similar can explain better what I’m trying to say. “…As she began to label the panic symptoms as “memories” and refrained from either “believing” them or exploring them (just noting that they were not a reflection of her present), she found that she was less overwhelmed by them and more able to reassure her traumatized child parts (and thus, herself) that “it’s not happening now—you are just remembering how afraid you were…” (source).
So as I translate this information into my own experience, I’ve begun to wonder if these suicidal thoughts are actually “memories” of past distress as I sift through the ones that are continually surfacing from the depths of my mind. Even if they’re not, and I am truly feeling all hope is lost for me, which I genuinely feel sometimes, it releases some of the pressure somehow and frees me from the desire to act on these thoughts to a certain extent. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else, but it clicked with me on some level.
I’ve been in a very low emotional state for some time now with a very strong “flight” desire burning within me. With this new thought process digesting, I realized I need to take whatever steps I can to prevent myself from unknowingly trying to reenact these suicide attempts I made as a child while dealing with my seemingly very traumatic past and the emotions and thoughts that are coming with that process. I don’t really trust myself right now. I think it’s because I don’t have a conscious awareness of ever feeling this low or lost or confused. Without explanation, I asked my husband to remove all the medications from their normal places in our home and put them away somewhere. He did it without asking questions and I appreciated that so much. I think he’s smart enough to understand why but he didn’t make me tell him.
When I was 12 years old, and my parents were out at the bar, I sat on the floor at 2am in my bedroom closet and methodically swallowed over 100 aspirin. I was horrifically sick and violently vomited for days and my parents did not take me to the hospital or my primary doctor. They left me alone at home during the day while they continued on with their lives and went to work. I don’t remember what I was feeling or thinking, but it must not have been good as I went on to repeat the process again only a couple weeks later. Again, my parents neglected to care for me and this time around even barked at me for vomiting in my bed and cracked jokes that I was “still sick.” They never knew why I was and I never told them or tried swallowing pills again.
When I think about what I want my legacy to be, what I leave behind for my children to treasure and what others would remember me for, it doesn’t look at all like my parents do to me now. My inner critical voice speaks loudly to me that I am a failure in so many ways. Because of the neglect and abuse in my past, and the emotions (or complete lack of them) that I experience, I too have neglected my children unknowingly on some levels. As I realize more and more why I live the way I do, as a reaction to my past, I feel more and more damaged and inadequate. Compound this with the feelings of abandonment by my husband and his lack of love and faithfulness, it makes for an impossible situation to feel anything but inadequate and like a failure sometimes. But on a different level, I have this information now, and I can use it to change for the better in ways I didn’t know I needed to change before. I don’t know if I can articulate yet what I would like my legacy to be when the end comes and that’s all that’s left of me here on earth, but I hope that my children and others would see me as authentic and bold and brave and learn that one way to honor God is to continually strive to be real, balanced, healthy, and the best we can be. I genuinely want to keep fighting to see what God might have in store for me. I want my children to see my faith and watch how God can work bad situations out for our good. I believe He can.
It’s hard sometimes to cling to that hope offered from God. I don’t always do it or find comfort in my faith or His promises in my circumstances, obviously. I’m easily overwhelmed and anxious and scared and skeptical that God actually cares at all about me. It’s hard for me to trust. And I think God requires full trust in Him. I haven’t learned how to do that yet. But I can’t leave that journey of discovery behind if I cut myself off from fighting and trying. So I guess I’m still trying to fight for control and my freedom, just in a different way than my mind has been trying to convince me to do. I hope I can stabilize in this place for awhile and as I get overwhelmed with doubt or become distressed, because I know I will, I can remember that maybe the feelings aren’t real in my current moment, but are a memory from my past and old ways of coping and surviving. And I hope I can also remember that if I made it through then, I can do it again now.
Outside my body is numb. Motionless. Expressionless. But inside my heart is sobbing. It aches. It mourns. It pounds in agony…over and over…like a fist hammering in desperate rhythm when words are trapped inside. With each beat of my heart its blood stained tears pulse and course through my veins and the despair is felt in my entire being.
This feeling has become my norm. It sits on my shoulders and weighs me down. I continually try to lift it off and set it aside but it grabs my hair and wraps its ankles around my back locking itself in place. It’s comfortable up there. It doesn’t want to leave or get down. It just wants to sit. Forever. Looking out at the world it feels like it never belongs in.
We go about our day as one. I pretend I’m strong and perfectly ok and prove to the world my resolve is greater than this weight on my shoulders. But lately, my strength is deteriorating. My shoulders are tense and sore. My back is aching right along with my soul. My smile has faded and my breaths become labored as I fight to stand up straight. My eyes look down and away from the world I feel like I never belong in.
I collapse into bed at the end of my day hoping to find rest and relief. But this feeling, it breathes down my neck, it whispers in my ear, it twists it’s fingers up through my hair and plays with my mind as it tries to go to sleep. It tells me stories of hope in a different world…one I always thought was the darkest path to take. But the lure of something new with no pain to feel, and freedom from it’s weight, soothes my soul.
As I drift off to sleep God sometimes intervenes and untangles the grip my thoughts have on me. I make it to the morning. I try putting on a new outfit that doesn’t coordinate with the yesterdays, but like a monkey trapped in a cage with only one place to go, this feeling climbs up my legs, grabs my shoulders and heaves itself right back up again, twisting and locking his legs, securing itself in place. The weight is felt at once and my heart sobs once again.
My eyes look out to the world and my soul cries out in desperate attempts to get me to run to the freedom this feeling continually whispers about. But the weight is too heavy and I can no longer move. My body goes numb and my fists take form. Someday, they hope to have the strength to pound like my heart, refusing to be in this place anymore. But for now, my eyes look down and away from the world I feel like I never belong in and this feeling looks out from it’s perch as I put on my mask waiting for the day to end once again.
The smell of smoke is potent and it draws me out of my sleep, I pull myself out of bed, every time, fearing the house is burning down, but can never find where the fire is. The doorbell rings and startles me out of my sleep or my thoughts, in that moment I freeze, never brave enough to go see who might be there. I’m numb, and my body is stiff, I cannot move but my mind races a million miles a minute and my heart pounds out of my chest. Sometimes, I’ll wait hours before regaining a sense of peace that there is no one standing on the other side, waiting for me to answer.
I screamed and cried out in my sleep the other night “STOP!” “I don’t like doing this…” “no, no, NO!” and “Can we please just go home..?” I try to wake up and speak again as he pulls on my arm but I fight and push and pull away. I’m silenced and scared and no words can come out. They violently try to push and punch their way to freedom but they are too tangled in the web of excruciating fear. My body panics and my mind shouts and screams yet no words or sounds ever escape.
When I drive out of my neighborhood, there are two ways I can go. One way leads me to drive past the restaurant where he began his last affair. The other direction leads me down a path he walked with her hand in hand one night while I was waiting for him in our bed. I automatically dart my eyes but my body knows the hurt is still there. I’m trapped in the middle. I can never get away. I cry. I sigh. I wonder. I get sick. I push it all away. I’ll never be good enough anyway.
I can hear the whimpers and crying in pain. I feel the shards of glass all over my body, in my clothes and hair, and the cold dampness from my pants on my skin. I see his bloody, contorted face and his twisted, mangled body when I close my eyes. I hear my Dad’s laugh and my sister’s voice of casual indifference. When hot tears roll down my cheeks they look at me and roll their eyes…telling me I’m overdramatic once again. I feel shame and fear and guilt because it was me that wanted to go there in the first place.
The taste and smell of alcohol transports me to a weird emotional world of anger, frustration, and disgust. The smell of cigarette smoke makes me want to throw up. The shrill, shrieking sound of a referee’s whistle blowing sends chills up my spine and I can feel his hand on my head, through my hair, around my neck, and his thumb touching my cheek. My face gets warm, my legs tense up, my mouth feels dry.
When I drift off to sleep I startle and panic when I feel his touch. I wait in frozen silence as I wonder what is coming next. This time it’s only a gentle kiss goodnight. But sometimes, that’s where it all begins. It’s the beginnings and middles and sometimes the ends that trail around behind me, following me, shaming me, guilting me, scaring me…floating in and out of my consciousness unsuspectingly, tormenting and haunting me…like tiny little ghosts.
Stay alive and die or take my life and die…?
Is there even a reason to stay? These thoughts get louder and louder and louder as the days go on…it’s a fierce battle within…question upon question…and I can’t get the volume to turn down. The pain is intense. I can’t turn it off. I don’t want it anymore. I’m tired. I’m alone. I’m dying inside. It’s slow and agonizing. Torture. This is hell. This must be hell. How do I get out of here?
I find it hard to understand how I will ever be able to escape from this madness in my life. It permeates everything. EVERYTHING. “Keep fighting.” “Keep going.” “You’ve made it this far, don’t give up now.” WHY NOT? What am I even going to gain in this battle I am in? There’s nothing to gain. I have lost so much already and will continue to lose. What is there left to fight for?
I don’t even know how to live a normal life. I don’t even know what normal is. My normal is messed up, twisted, hard, pathetic, exhausting, and hopeless. I’m afraid I won’t even recognize “normal” if it hit me upside the head. And who defines normal anyways? What am I striving for? My whole life others have been defining my normal. Do I have a normal? Do I even get to make that choice ever as to what my idea of normal is and live it out?
I’ve never had choices. I’ve thought I had choices but I’m eventually reminded that what I wanted or desired or felt didn’t matter, only what others wanted of me, that’s all that mattered. That’s the extent of my worth. That’s what I’ve been taught. Over and over and over. I have no say in my life. I never have.
I want my life returned back to me. Is that selfish? I’ve been told I’m selfish when I fight for a voice or want to do what’s right for me. I want to make my own choices and choose what’s best for me. I guess that sounds selfish, but I don’t see how sitting through this agony is best. I don’t see how I’m useful or contributing to this world. I want to go. I want to get out. I want peace. I want quiet. I want the pain to stop. I want the nightmares to end. I just want to sleep. Forever.
I’m not living right now. I’m dying and I’m giving up. I’m going to die anyway. I will die someday. Right? So why not die the way I choose to die? Why go through this torture and live in this hell? Can I at least have that choice in my life? Probably not.