The Joys of Living with PTSD

learning how to cope

Archive for the category “personal”

Baring Scars- My Refusal to Numb Myself

I think sometimes that we have a tendency to forget just how hard it is to keep going. It’s so much easier to cave, and fall back into old habits. They’re so comfortable, and they know us so well. Moving forward, almost always means getting rid of the stuff that will only hold us back, and this is no more evident than in the life of someone who has endured great trauma.

I do not ask for sympathy, nor do I ask for leniency. Instead I ask for you to just try to understand. I may not show it, but inside I am hurting. On the inside, I’m a complete mess, and there are moments that I would do practically anything to stop from feeling. The pain is an enormous ravenous beast, and it feeds on us. It feeds on me. Simply put, it drains the life, the energy, right out of me, and I can’t find a way out of its grip. Not always. What’s worse is I get so tired, that I stop caring about fighting it. I just want it to end, whether that means letting it drown me and then ebb away of its own accord, or it deciding I’m no fun anymore now that I’m not fighting it, and then moving on to someone/something else. Sometimes I wonder if the pain itself isn’t too familiar. Too comfortable. What would I do if I had the time away from it, and could just be. How would that feel? Would I be a different person? …Would I be “normal”?

All introspective questions aside, when the pain gets bad, the soul wants numbing. Just like any physical ache, where you take some pain reliever to ease it, the emotional pain also wants relief. Unfortunately, they don’t really make anything for that. Sure, there are anti-depressants, but since this isn’t a pain that heals fully, it’s the same thing as taking pain killers for a chronic condition. You’re not kidding anyone, including yourself, the pain is still very much there. This opens the doors to some pretty scary places. For me, I rely on pills. No kidding. I’ll admit it, fully and openly. When the emotional pain becomes too much, the only thing I want to do is pop pills. Numb myself. If I’m high on some narcotic, I can’t be bothered to feel whatever ugly memory or thought has decided to show up. Sure, the come down sucks ass, but damn if the world isn’t a brighter place for the brief moment in time that I’m high. I almost feel like I’m okay. Like… like, I belong for just the briefest of moments. I’m not some fucked in the head female who over-analyzes everything, and is a bit too sensitive to slights. No, I’m a woman again. A woman who doesn’t give a fuck what you think or say. I’m on top of the world, and baby, I feel no pain.

Pain. I feel your presence. I cry. I remember. However, like the past few times now, I will not let you push me back into habits that while comfortable, are no good for me. I will not pop pills. I will not numb myself. I will find that same confidence, that same attitude without them. I don’t know how, where, or when, but I will. You beckoned to me tonight, and for a second I thought I would cave… Not tonight though. I won’t do it.

I did not ever want to admit publicly to this struggle I have with pills, but at the same time I don’t feel like this is something I can stay quiet about any longer. I can honestly say the last time I popped pills to cope with emotional pain was last year when I was being kicked out and just shut down. Before then it had been 3 years. I am stronger than the lure of an easy out. I am. So are you if you’re reading this and have the same struggle. We can kick this habit to the curb, and we can find a way to remain confident, even in the face of pain.

A thought that has been circling my mind: perhaps what makes us beautiful is actually our scars. Bare them with pride. They are a constant reminder that we have survived to live another day.

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Hearts Held Together With Duct Tape and Superglue

    One of the things you begin to realize as you go through the healing process after an assault, is that there are parts of you that are irreparably broken. It’s not that you don’t want to fix them, it’s that they can’t be fixed. Other things can be fixed, and they get fixed in time… if and when we are ever ready to handle those broken pieces. Regardless of whether or not they can be fixed, we try to superglue and duct tape the pieces back together anyway. This usually causes deformed shapes.  Honestly, most of the time I wonder if on the inside I’m like the hunchback of Notre Dame, just instead of physically being deformed, my emotions and means of processing the things around me are deformed. These internal deformities cause me all kinds of problems, but this even more compounded when a man is in the mix.

 From what I understand, no one likes to be rejected. You can correct me if I’m wrong, and you either are or know someone who greatly enjoys being rejected, but I have never met anyone who does. This sense of rejection, whether falsely or not, is heightened in the walking wounded. Every little action, behavior, and word is analyzed to death. What did he mean by that? By this? Obviously he’s rejecting me. Whether or not I was really rejected, probably remains to be seen. However, that is how *I* see it. Rejected. Every little slight, perceived and actual, beat down on every chink and hole in my poorly held together emotional state of being. It turns out that a heart held together with duct tape and superglue while missing pieces, has no real defense. Like any good captain though, I remain at the helm. I will go down with my ship.

     You may wonder why a person would allow another in anywhere near the chinks in their armor, if they’re not sure if they’re going to be rejected or not. Valid question. In my experience, it is better to open yourself up to the possibility of pain, then to keep everyone out until they have shown they will not reject you. Besides, they’re humans. Humans hurt humans. That person is going to hurt me eventually, might as well see what they do from the get-go, right?

     I have been up since 8am on Thursday. PTSD triggers have been pulled, and I can’t sleep. I feel insignificant. Unimportant. Unattractive. I want to vanish. It would be great to pack up my bags and just leave. No telling anyone, just leaving. Unfortunately, I can’t. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t run anymore. I will face this monstrous beast of laughing insecurity and torturous self-loathing head on. I want to bleed. I am feeling less than human again, and bleeding always serves as a release and reminder that I am human. I will not cave. I will not start a fight, nor will I harm myself. I can’t. I always feel so weak afterwards, like I might as well just concede defeat. There has to be a better way to remember I’m human; to get that release. These ugly things that I am reminded of as this latest episode rolls across my life like a tsunami, pick their way through the holes in my defenses even more, creating huge, gaping holes. I feel so beat up and used. I can’t seem to remember what it feels like to not feel like a broken doll. Again, I torture myself wondering, who the fuck could ever love a woman such as I? A woman who will not be able to love the way she wants to every day, as some days the dissociation is so bad, that I can’t feel a damn thing? I remember that I am supposed to feel something, but I don’t- nor can I be bothered to care that I don’t feel anything. 

     Some days, I can’t help but still wonder if it wouldn’t have been kinder and more humane if he had have just gone all the way and beat me to death. I was so physically changed anyway after he raped and beat me, what would a little bit more have done? I don’t know. Maybe if I could ever get to fucking sleep, I could feel differently. 

Stream of Consciousness Post #1

I don’t know if I’ll be doing any more of these, but I was in this weird place and couldn’t think of any other way to get it out. So I did a journal entry in the stream of consciousness style. This is what was the end result.

And no, I’m not going to explain it. Or apologize for it. Sometimes what goes on through my head isn’t pretty. Go read someone else’s blog if you’re looking for pretty.

 

Rage.

Cold, hard rage.

Breaking.

Breaking down.

FUCK.

Smashing shit, smashing your shit.

Fuck you.

Bleed.

Make me bleed….

I need to feel the pain,

The sweet fucking release.

HURT ME.

Why isn’t anyone listening??

Fuck fuck fuck.

Cold.

 

In other news, I now feel better. Still spun up, don’t know if I can sleep, but I feel better. Which brings me to my next point: do whatever is therapeutic for you. Those of us with PTSD can’t always control the way we feel, but we can work through it. Sometimes that means doing something, writing something, or saying something that others either can’t, or don’t want to deal with. Fuck them. The goal is to release, not make everyone else feel all happy and fluffy. Sometimes, you feel like what I just wrote above. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think it becomes a problem when you ignore it, not when you recognize it and find a way to release it. That is all.

I also should probably state that the way stream of consciousness entries work is that you write everything that pops in your head. You don’t question it. You don’t edit it. You don’t stop. Anything that comes into your head, you write it down. Sometimes you have a time goal, and you just write something like “I don’t know what to write” until your mind pushes something to the front. Other times, like the way I did it, is you just keep writing until your mind stops pushing things forward and there are no more words, just silence.  Have fun, and be well.

I’m sure I’ll hear back some interesting things if anyone has the balls to say anything.

-D

I Like My Eggs Unfertilized, or Adventures In The Meat Market

I was talked into going to the club. Those of you who have known me for a few years now know I hate the club. It’s a walking, grinding, thumping meat market. So much worse than bars. I went anyway. They’ve been trying to get me to go for a while now, because who doesn’t love dancing? I love dancing. I just don’t love clubs.

The biggest complaint I have about clubs, is everyone seems to feel they have a right to reach out and grab. It’s like if you enter a club, there’s this imaginary, invisible sign on your person that says “Grope me!” or “Cop a feel!”. It’s always bugged me (just ask my friends how I react to something simpler, like a cat call…. I lost count of how many shoes I’ve lost from throwing them at people and cars cat calling at me), but it’s even more disconcerting for me now. When you’re with someone you’re attracted to, you want them to want to touch you, but when in a club setting I’m pretty sure I am not attracted to and wanting that attention from 98% of the people there. Logic. Get you some. It is one thing to appreciate the looks of someone else, and an entirely different thing to think you’re entitled to touch. I’ve decided next person who grabs without asking is getting a fist to the face. I’ve been nice lately, which should weird out some of you, but no more.

Another thing I have a problem with is the sheer number of people in a space. Let’s get real, I was assaulted at a huge party. What do you think I think of when I’m at any other huge party? Yep. Freaks me the fuck out. I can’t relax. I can’t enjoy myself. I’m always on alert, making sure no douche is going to come up and feel entitled to even more than a grab or feel. I also don’t drink. How can I? I’m terrified I’ll get too drunk to do anything about an assault, should it happen again.

There are a few people that even in a fairly large crowd, I feel comfortable and safe enough with that I will let loose and drink. Even get drunk with/around. Something just says to me, “They’re not going to let anything happen to me. I’m in good hands.” I know some friends think I should feel that way around them, or more of them. How can I? I had other friends that I trusted there the night I was assaulted too. They said later that they felt something was off, but did they do anything? Say anything? No. And while I don’t outright blame them for what happened to me, I’m not trusting enough to just let loose and relax around a good 95% of people I call friends when alcohol and large groups of strangers are involved. I’m sorry if that’s hurtful. If you had have been through what I’ve been through, I think you could understand.

Anyways, now I’m all wound up, tight like a watch that’s been over wound and is about to burst from pressure. I’m stone cold sober, and I can’t sleep. Hello insomnia. How nice of you to drop by again. I’m hoping that since I caved and went out to the club, people will lay off from asking me to go for a while again. Maybe I can go another 2-ish years without stepping foot in one.

What Good Is Being a Bird, If You Can’t Fly?

I was going to write about how being forced to talk about events has made me feel lately, but not now. I was recently informed that a friend of mine’s sister was murdered a few days ago. There are not enough words to aptly describe how I’m feeling right now. I remember listening to him talk about her… and this feeling of sickness overtakes me. She is about the same age as my own younger brother, and I just can’t… I can’t even begin to imagine how I’d feel if he were taken from me like that. I just can’t. It angers me to know that there are people in this world who are so selfish that they could end another’s life without even bothering to think about how this will affect the families and friends left behind. And don’t tell me he didn’t consider killing her a possibility… when you decide to get in a car and follow them several miles away WITH A GUN, the thought has crossed your mind. When you decide to pull that gun out and point it at them telling them to do something or else, the thought has crossed your mind. This wasn’t a spur of the moment reaction, this was to some degree, premeditated and if he hadn’t killed himself after taking this beautiful young woman’s life… you don’t even want to know what I’d want to do to him.

Friend, if you happen to be reading this, know this: I wish with every fiber of my being that this hadn’t happened. I also wish I could be there, because even though I have no words to act as a salve in the wound, I could bring you a beer. Or a tissue. Or shit, I dunno, SOMETHING. I’d give you the biggest hug I could and just be there. I know how much she meant to you, I remember our conversations at Offutt. I am so sorry.We talk as a people so often about how certain notions are romantic. One of those notions is the idea of a love that if it can’t have the other, no one else can. That isn’t romantic. That isn’t even love. That’s selfishness exemplified. It’s the ego, wounded by rejection, arbitrarily deciding whether or not the “offender” gets to live. How is that love? Men and women, listen. If you love someone and they decide to leave you, let them go. If you claim to really love them, then you must mean unconditionally, and if you love them unconditionally, them leaving should have no bearing on your love. It will hurt, yes, but as I have quoted before:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Do you see that? Do you understand that? I don’t give a flying fuck how much you thought you loved her, stalking her and then getting angry when you saw she was in a new relationship via her facebook was not okay. To get into a car with out-of-state tags and follow her for miles, to her boyfriend’s house was “seeking its own”. Getting into an argument with her and pulling a gun on her because she wouldn’t do what you wanted was “being provoked”, and ultimately pulling that damn trigger was not only thinking, it was DOING evil. I could have forgiven you for stalking her, and even for violently confronting her, but I can not ever forgive you killing her. I might not have ever met her, but what you did was irrevocable damage to my friend, her brother, and the rest of her family and friends left behind. Not to mention your family. You had a wife… did you even think about what this would do to her? You selfish bastard. May you rot for all eternity in hell.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Now that I got that emotional rant out of the way, how does that tie in to my title? Simply put, I’ve always felt like a bird, who flew away whenever and wherever she wanted. It’s one of the reasons I have never married, because I always felt like my would-be spouse wanted to put me into a gilded cage, and no matter how gilded or bejeweled, it was still a cage at the end of the day. Today, I feel like a bird who can’t fly, like a penguin. If I could fly, I’d fly to be with my friend. Instead, I’m stuck here, writing this blog. My heart hurts for him.

I’ve been feeling flightless for a little while though, to be fair. All of these appointments for my ratings board have taken their toll, and I have been on edge. Normal, day-to-day tasks have been difficult if not outright impossible. This is the longest amount of time I’ve been able to focus on any one thing/task in about a month. I’ve been having problems sleeping, and this lack of sleep causes even more stress, not to mention its effect on my speech. I hate it when my speech slurs and I can’t remember words. I feel like an idiot. This, of course, only exacerbates my stress levels and my speech worsens even more. I can feel so stupid, even though I know I’m not. I’m intelligent and capable of intelligent conversation, but on these days when I can’t count on my speech to be clear or understood… I feel so incredibly stupid. The lack of focus makes it impossible to get through my coursework, and then I feel guilty and ashamed of not having it done. This makes me want to hide, because I feel terrible for letting my teachers down. This- you guessed it- creates more stress, which means I won’t sleep, again, creating more stress, creating more problems…. Such a vicious, vicious cycle.

I am so tired.

I need to fly away. I need to spread these wings and just go, but I don’t know where to, and I don’t know when I can. For now, I really have to force myself to get these tasks done, because failure really isn’t an option. Failure would just be allowing myself to fall victim again, and I’m tired of that cycle. I’d love to find tips and tricks for making this easier, but so far haven’t found any. If any of you have any that you use, please let me know. I’d love to hear them.

On Being Objectified/The Walking Wounded

There is just about nothing I hate more than being objectified. If you are trying to get me so angry that I want to break your nose, openly objectify me. I triple dog dare you. It makes me incredibly angry.

Today while walking around this small town’s idea of a mall, I came face to face with being objectified. I walked into a store and came across a small group of male soldiers. One of them was looking at posters of a naked woman bent over and said “That’s my kind of woman!” I wanted to respond with, “And that’s why you’re single!” but I held my tongue. Then he saw me. His eyes immediately went to my cleavage and I knew what he was thinking. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure that out. My blood boiled. He and his buddies went quiet as I walked by and he continued to objectify me. It was humiliating and angering. I wanted to bash his face in, and if he had have made the slightest move towards me, I probably would have. I was so angry and could feel the desire to commit violence rapidly rising.

Even after I left the store, I was livid. I could feel every inch of me just seething. It took all I had to not turn around, march back into that store and punch him in the face. I forced myself to keep walking and left the mall. I couldn’t be in the same building as him, not when all I wanted to do was commit violence. So I left. I removed myself from the problem.

Some might say my reaction was overboard. Let me tell you why it was not. Jackass douchebags like that prime example are the asshole who statistically rape and abuse women, especially in the military. If he has not already committed a crime against a woman, I don’t give him that long before he does. The military will cover him though and hide the crime. They always do. My rapist was a lot like him. Arrogant, condescending, and objectifying. I know that type and I know it well. Breaking his nose might not have changed his ways, but it would have made me feel better. I wish a woman had have broken IK’s nose. Or has. If that makes me wrong, tough cookies. I’m cool with being wrong. One thing I am not wrong about is that douchenozzle. I wish that by recognizing asswipes like him (I refuse to refer to him as a man, as I believe men are respectable beings and there was nothing respectable about this asshole), we could take care of them, as in removing them from society, because I know that if he has not already, he WILL assault a woman. That is guaranteed. If we could remove him, we could prevent some woman from having to go through hell, but we can’t. He is allowed to walk around, objectifying women, before he finally snaps and assaults a woman and it will be “all her fault! She was flirting with me, she wanted me!”. Trust me on that one. I think that’s what sickens me the most about this. Some poor woman could have been saved, but won’t be. She’ll be another walking wounded. Like me. Like some of my dearest friends. Perhaps even like you.

Doesn’t that just make you sick?

Now that my blood pressure has gone down, this situation makes me want to cry. Cry for me. Cry for those that I love who have been through this. Cry for the people that are affected by what I’ve been through indirectly. Most importantly, cry for the unknown, unseen woman who is about to go through what I’ve been through. When are we going to say enough? When are we going to change our culture in order to ensure that there are no more walking wounded from sexual assaults? When are we going to hold our military accountable for the crimes against women they have committed, continue to commit, and will commit? When do we let them know that it’s not okay?

How much longer will you enable our attackers?

Division of Head and Heart

I’m unsure of the trigger, but I know that somewhere over the past week a trigger was pulled. I began to notice it in dance. I was uncomfortable with people being too close to my face. Like somehow they’d see something in me that I didn’t want them to see. Perhaps I am afraid they’ll see me, and really see me, and decide I’m not worth their attention. Sometimes I think they’ll see that I’m not as strong as I pretend to be, and they’ll see all the cracks in my defense system.

Honestly, I don’t even know where to go with this.

I’ve always been able to write things out, but this time I’m not sure I can. I don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling, or even what I’m thinking. It just is. I just am. I ran into two friends earlier after rehearsal and they asked me how I was. I couldn’t think of how to answer it, so I just nodded my head. I just said “yes”. Hah.
“How are you?”
“Yes.”

…I am yes? I am existing. I am. In that respect, I totally am “yes”. They laughed. I wrote it off as me still being sick and tired, but honestly, that’s the only answer I have right now. “Yes”.  I’m not good, but I’m not bad. Then again, I suppose that’s relative, and that answer might change depending on who you ask. For the moment though, I’ll take existing. It’s better than the alternative at this point.

I met this nurse who works in mental health, and deals primarily with combat veteran males who suffer from PTSD. Turns out she’s a part of my team in one of my classes. We’d never talked before. We talked about some of the differences in different disorders, and a little about my experience in therapy. She told me that she thinks I’ll make an excellent advocate for women some day. I’m not sure what I think of that. I’m not sure if I even want that. Why is it, that all these people, most of whom I barely know, tell me what they think I will be? Or should be? I know I shouldn’t, but now I feel the expectation is there.She said I have the right personality for it, and due to my background, could really make a difference. Could I? Or would it just be me banging on pots and pans in the middle of street, with my body painted in vivid colors? Screaming at the top of my lungs: “LISTEN TO ME.”? I told her I still feel so broken, I don’t know if I could be of much help in that department. I told her that I didn’t know if I could pull my pieces together to make a shape coherent enough to make a difference in a world of sharp angularity and vulgar obscenities. Not in those exact words, as I wasn’t feeling like being forcefully admitted into a psychiatric ward, but in a saner way. In a less poetic way, that’s exactly what I said.

Our conversation continues its course, and it somehow turned into symptoms. She mentioned that women vets she had met had problems not attaching emotions to everything. I told her I had the opposite. When I am triggered, I withdraw. I have a hard time feeling connected to anything or anyone. I live in a complete disconnect from the world around me when going through an episode. I can look at someone, and know in my head that I love them. I care about them. They MEAN something to me. But during these episodes, I don’t feel it. I don’t feel hate. I don’t feel love. I don’t feel connected. At all. My heart goes cold, like black ice, and I can’t make a spark even to bring a hint of emotional connection back to any relationship I have. I have to wait it out, and wait for the episode to be over so I can reconnect. I hate it. I hate looking at someone I care about and not feeling a goddamn thing. I feel like somehow, that makes me less than a person. Isn’t that what humanity is? The continuous process of making, growing, and breaking relationships? Making connections with others? How can I be a part of humanity, when I can’t always do that?

I’m there now. It’s not complete, but it’s just about complete. I look at people who I know are supposed to mean something to me, but I can’t feel anything. I might as well be looking at a complete stranger.

What does that make me?

Sunshine and Dancing Shadows

One of the most interesting things in the world, is how others perceive you. You have limited control over this perception, and the rest remains with the individual looking at you, and their background, their biases, their history, their personality. I have no idea why some of you read this blog, and no idea whether its doing any good for any of you or not, but that’s not my concern. I have no idea how any of you perceive me. What you see when you look at me, or for those of you who’ve never seen me, how you imagine me to be. I’m not talking just physically either, I mean, what kind of a person do you think I am? Do you see me as a woman? A victim? A disembodied voice? Am I true? Am I a lie? Maybe I’m a reflection of you? What about a shadow? Am I your shadow dancing on the wall? A dark impression of a dark memory in your mind that normally stays hidden but is seen when exposed to the light? Who am I to you?

These are some of the questions that float around in my mind, but are more prevalent today, thanks to the newfound attention this blog has been receiving. I am flattered and honored that my friend at http://weavingamongthestars.wordpress.com/ found my blog to be of enough interest to honor me with the New Blogger Award, but what does it mean? Do I now owe her or anyone reading this anything in particular? Am I now obligated to create posts that are infotaining enough to get my point across while dancing like a monkey to keep you coming back for more? Am I allowed to continue on as before, without regard to who may or may not be reading this, or why?

I have no answers.

I cannot pretend to not know that there are people reading this now, just as I cannot pretend to not know that there is a spotlight, no matter how big or small, on me now. I’m not sure how this will affect me in writing this blog, but I am sure that I will be attempting to write still as though no one were reading, and to keep that blunt honesty that I have tried to maintain at all costs. If nothing else, I owe it to myself.

Today I am happy. I have spent time taking pictures of some of the beauty that is found downtown, and of my shadow in different poses. I love the idea of my shadow dancing, mirroring my own life where I am continuously dancing, even if it’s not recognized. Shadows are most always seen as scary and almost evil, or at the very least, as mischievous and tricky as seen in Peter Pan. Why can’t our shadows be our friends? I really think that today my shadow was my friend and my dance partner. There is a tremendous amount of delight and joy that can be found when dancing with your shadow. I’m sure to anyone looking in on me in my backyard, it looked ridiculous- a full-grown woman dancing around, holding odd poses and laughing at her shadow, but for me, it was magical. I did feel like a kid, but it was a great sensation.

How often we forget that it’s okay for us to play! We run around, putting life into a neat, ordered “to do” list, checking things off as we get them done. Graduate high school? Check. Get accepted into a college or university? Check. Get a job? Check. Get married? Check. And so on and so on. For the record, if we were doing a huge checklist for life, I’d be failing miserably at this task. I seem to jump around a lot, and not do things in order, or do some things at all. Luckily, life is not a “to do” list. Life is so much more, and is so much more fun as a result. Life is about living in the moment, and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, even the ones to play. A thought that struck me in the shower a few days ago was, “The best part about living, is living.” I like that. A lot.

After class, a classmate walked with me to my car. Which is clear across campus. He talked with me the entire time, and we jumped around from topic to topic. It was great. I haven’t had a conversation that comfortable and free-flowing with someone I barely knew in a long time. It went so well in fact, that I gave him a ride to his place and we decided to do this again on Wednesday. That’s right, the woman who almost never makes plans, just goes with the flow, has made plans to just hang out and chat with someone for about an hour and a half on Wednesday. What has the world come to? I don’t know, but it sure is beautiful.

Dance shadows, dance!

On Finding the Strength to Carry On/ Valentine’s Day Blows

Yesterday I had what we had hoped would be a closure meeting with my therapist. Everything was going well, I had more confidence and didn’t feel anxious. Then near the end of the appointment she asked me about Valentine’s Day. Everything slowly crumbled under me. At first it was just a general dislike of the holiday, and to be fair, I’ve never been a huge fan of it. I love romance, but hate the holiday. Then it spiraled into a conversation about physical intimacy and any hangups I might have in that department. Oh boy. The crumbling apart sped up.

I confessed that I did have problems with physical intimacy, that I had to move slower in that department then I used to before the assault. I am so messed up still, that sometimes one moment I’m completely okay with being touched and a few minutes later I don’t want you touching me. I don’t even want you looking at me. The guy usually hasn’t said or done anything wrong either, it’s just this immediate turn-off, instantaneous freeze on my part, and I don’t know what’s triggered it or why it’s there, it just is. This is so frustrating for me, because one of the major ways I communicate with someone, especially someone I care about, is through touch.

She recommended that I just take a time out when these moments hit. She suspects that when those moments hit me, that I’m probably subconsciously picking up on cues that these touches are leading to sex, and that I may feel it’s going too fast, or that I’m being objectified because whoever I’m with might be thinking more of himself than of me in those moments. So these cues are causing me to shut down. I need to try just taking a time out and just being with my partner, and if he’s not okay with that, lose him. I’m pretty good at losing guys, it’s getting a guy who’s willing to move slow so as to not scare me, and take the time to make sure I’m comfortable with him that’s hard. I’m single right now, and I’ve been single for a few years now. Apparently, the thought of opening myself up to a vulnerable state is still very hard for me to do. I’d like to though.

I don’t know when I’ll find someone, or even if I will. I’m not sure if my hang-ups are too much for someone to handle and deal with. My therapist seems to think I will. I don’t know if she’s also psychic or what, but she’s confident that I’m going to meet someone and he’ll be worth it all because he’ll be patient and loving. I certainly hope so. I can’t do casual sex anymore. I’ve done it before, but I’m at a point in my life where if I’m not with someone I trust and love, I just can’t do it. It’s terrifying enough just thinking about being with someone who I love and care about, I can’t even begin to imagine being with someone who didn’t love me, and who I didn’t love. I don’t think I could trust them, and that may be sad, but it’s true.

She wouldn’t let me leave on time. She knew we had uncovered a sleeping ghost, so kept me for an additional thirty minutes. I have no idea if she had an appointment scheduled for after me, but if she did, I’m so sorry I made you wait half an hour, but I was not ready to leave that office and face the world. As I was leaving her office, I was unsure, and as I told a friend via text message, I was so insecure. It felt like everything was in shades of grey. I walked back to my car and thought to myself, “Why can’t I get over this? Why am I stuck on this hang-up? Will I ever get over it, or am I doomed to be like this for the rest of my life? If I ever find someone and that’s the case, I really hope he has a lot of patience. That poor man. He’d be better off running.”

I had to miss my ballet class because of the appointment going over, which was even more frustrating for me. I went home after meeting my mom and a friend for lunch and just passed out. I was so exhausted, it was like I’d run a marathon. Woke up and went to see Wicked. It was amazing! I had a great time with my mom experiencing the show! I left smiling and in a great mood. I thought that maybe that was all I had needed and now I could go back to being upbeat and positive. It was not to be. Instead, I had the night from hell.

I spent my night tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep, but scared to at the same time, because every time I did fall asleep, I’d have nightmares and wake up crying or moaning. I kept dreaming that I was in this strange building and this man raped me. I remember thinking every time “Not again… I can’t do this again, can’t go through this again.” But it happened again. And again and again and again. Afterwards, I’d try to call the police and these other people kept telling me I was a horrible person, and a liar, and that nothing had happened. They’d make lewd gestures at me and laugh these horrible laughs. I hurt so bad, emotionally and physically. No one cared about me, it was like reliving the original rape all over again, just with different people and different circumstances. I woke up more exhausted than I went to sleep as. I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position, hiding in my closet, and not step foot out. The world was a cruel, terrible place again and I wanted no part of it. I was literally sick to my stomach and could not eat. I forced myself to eat a little bit anyway, because I was not going to miss class. It was not happening.

I got myself ready and cried all morning getting ready and on my drive to school, but I was determined to go. Even if it meant hundreds of people seeing me cry, because I was not letting these awful dreams and feelings keep me home. IK can’t have any more power over my life, no more dictating where I go and when I go. Those are MY decisions. I may not be very strong, and I may not be able to look people in the eye or walk with my head up high on days like today, but I will be damned if I don’t go just because I am afraid. This is my life, and I will go where I want to go and when I want to, because it’s my decision.

My ballet teacher is amazing. Seriously. I broke down in her office and she handed me a tissue and said this was absolutely the right decision. When going through hell, dance works as a fantastic means to take your mind off of everything, and this could be the only hour and a half I get today to not think about what’s bothering me. She kept on me extra hard, to ensure I had no spare seconds to dwell even slightly on it. Bless that woman. She was completely right, and I even managed to smile in class. I worked very hard and found I felt better. My next class was difficult, because thoughts did come back, and I did cry again. Thankfully, I had another dance class afterwards, and without being told a damn thing, it was like my contemporary dance teacher knew. She pushed me hard to really focus on every little movement I made and again, I had no room to think about anything besides what I was doing in that very moment.

Now I’m exhausted, ready to crash, but I feel so much better than I did earlier. I don’t know where the strength to push forward came from, but I’m thankful it was there. I’m also thankful for all the people who care enough about me to send me encouraging messages and texts throughout today, or when they saw me, to stop and give me a hug and let me cry on their shoulder for a bit. You all are amazing, and I know you know who you are. You helped me get through today, honestly.

If I can get through days like today, I can do anything. To quote Mariah Carey’s “Through the Rain”:

I can make it through the rain
I can stand up once again on my own
And I know that I’m strong enough to mend

The Other Side of the Looking Glass

Days like today, I feel like my profile picture on Facebook, fits me a little too well.

Behind the paper smile, am I smiling? Or is the paper smile up for everyone to see, because I’m not, and I can’t find it in me to force a smile any other way? Days like today, it’s the latter. Days like today, that paper smile is the best I can do. I’m not the world’s greatest actress, so I rely on the prop. Something you’re not supposed to do- rely on the prop, but it’s all I have. In real life, I have my version of the paper smile, and I plaster it across my face when I need to.

Right now I have no shame in admitting that I’m sitting on my bathroom floor with the door closed while typing this. I have cakes cooling in my kitchen that I have to go decorate soon for a reception for two friends who just got married last weekend, and I still have to get dressed, but I can’t find the energy to care right now. I look in the mirror and I see… I see me. I see a woman who’s hair looks pretty today (for once); a woman with uneven skin tone, tired eyes, and the formation of wrinkles on her brow. I see someone who is overweight, and who has scars and stretch marks in places that make her uncomfortable in anything that shows a lot of skin between the chest and her knees. A woman who has been struggling with insomnia again so has been too tired to tweeze her eyebrows or even get her hair trimmed. A woman who has been sick for so long, she has stopped caring if she gets better.

I want to be someone else. Just for a day. I want to have someone else’s problems and their joys. I don’t want to be me right now. I’m normally fairly content with being myself, but not right now. I desperately wish someone would trade places with me, but no one ever wants to. There are, unfortunately, no vacations from yourself. You can’t divorce yourself, leave yourself, or get a new self. You just are. I don’t want to be. I know I’ve talked to others about this, about these times, and I do ask myself the same questions I tell you to ask yourself: Have I done everything I set out to do? Have I fulfilled my purpose? The problem is, while there are things I’d still like to do, their importance to me is getting buried under this desire of fading away. I do feel like I have done my purpose, and while I could do more, the question for me becomes, am I necessary anymore? I don’t think I am. I think there enough people in this world who have the same intentions as I do, that my presence here is no longer necessary. My thoughts keep returning to two memories and sensations… the first is of the peace and serenity I felt under the water in the ocean. It was so quiet and peaceful. The second is that feeling of release when I stepped off the cliff. That feeling of freedom.

I’m not suicidal. I’m not planning my death, and I’m not saying goodbye. I’m saying what I want, what I miss. This body and I- this existence and I- have had a love/hate relationship for a very long time. I guess I’m just tired. I feel like I’m stuck. If I could do anything in the world right now, it would be to just get away. I’d like to go back to where I walked into the ocean and stepped off the cliff, and just stay for a while. Remind myself why those things were not to be. Rediscover my passion for life by reliving the memories tied to that place that are so strong they permeate through everything I am and do, even now. I’d want my best friend Bonnie to be there with me, because out of everyone I’ve loved, she’s the only one who refused to leave me when I shoved. That bond is incredible special to me, and days like today I want to be in her presence more than anything.

Waiting for the Rain

October 28, 2007

Flames licking every nerve

Engulfing my mind in pain

This is only what I deserve

As I wait here for the rain.

-DeAnne Evans

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