The Journey Continues

Due to mood issues and meds issues, my therapist and I had to postpone trauma work for a few sessions.  We picked back up today, though, and I am exhausted.  I brought the memory of my first sexual ritual, which occurred when I was aged six.  Just as before, she read it in session, asking questions as she went.

When she had finished reading, we talked very briefly about it.  She has a tendency to be late, and this cuts in to our work time.  She assigned my second writing.  She wants me to write to my six-year-old self.  This is funny to hear, for an ex-multiple.  The problem here is that what I know she wants me to say to that self and what I actually feel are two different things.

My therapist wants me to thank my six-year-old self for starting our chain of survival.  She said the fact that I made it out started right there with that little girl.  In part, I can feel a sense of pride for that.  Still, the majority of me feels like that girl was broken.  Like what she endured made her less, somehow.  Like they took a piece of her that can never be remade.  My therapist wants me to write nice things to her, and part of me does feel grateful.  I don’t want to insult or berate her.  I just don’t feel like her at all.  Post-multiplicity, I know perfectly well that the six-year-old is me, and her voice does not sound in my head.  I’ve come to realise and accept that it’s me alone.  However, I still have trouble connecting to those feelings.  When I do writing assignments for therapy, I relive my experiences, but they get too overwhelming, and I pull away.

Part of therapy is going to be reconnecting to those feelings.  That should be brilliant.  I did the integration bit in an almost militaristic fashion, but I didn’t actually feel the pain, anger and fear.  Apparently, that will be a necessity to healing the memories.  As my therapist said, it’s a good thing we’re good journey partners.  This may take a while.

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It Has Begun

Today I brought my therapist a trauma narrative showing ten years of ritualistic sexual violence.  I haven’t been able to speak the words to her in all the years we’ve worked together, so I just took a chance and wrote it out.  She read it in session and assured me that she saw no difference in me.  I am glad of that.

We’re going to work through the trauma paragraph-by-paragraph until it no longer has a hold on my life and mind.  It took five years to do this with my memory of physical trauma.  I have no idea how long this journey will take, but I am so lucky to have a wonderful therapist at my side.

I walk in to this a terrified person who feels ashamed of her body at all costs.  I hope to walk out of it with peace and pride.  It has begun.

Back to Me

My mood is stable.  After about a year and a half of ups and downs, my mood has stabilised.  It’s almost impossible for me to believe.  I keep waiting for something to shift, but, for the past week or so, it hasn’t.  I am so grateful.

So what now?  Back to the work of being me.  I wear many hats.  Among them, as anyone who has read this blog will know, is trauma survivor.  My therapist and I haven’t been able to do trauma work in all this time, as we didn’t want to offset any precarious stability I might have found.  I never thought I’d be happy to do trauma work.  It took five years to work through physical trauma, though, and we’ll be starting on sexual trauma next week.  I don’t doubt needing five more years.  But now, I feel confident that we can do the work.

Another hat I wear is family-of-choice.  I have siblings of choice far away, a best friend who’s frequently by my side, and a friend back home who will always have my heart.  I haven’t been able to be present for them nearly as much as I would like.  When your mood is unstable, your mind is unclear.  You can listen and be there to the best of your ability, but you’re never fully present.  Now, I can be with my FOC fully.  I can give them my whole mind and my whole heart without having to worry about whether the situation will spin me out of control.

Self is the last hat I wear.  I am the sum total of what has happened to me in the past and what is in my life at present.  In my belief system, I am already affected by the promise of my future.  I need to reconnect with the essence of who I am again, as that will centre me in the new-found stability.  I’m trying to accept the rough edges of me and understand that my FOC love me for me, no pretence needed.  I’m just a simple girl from the more grisly side of East London who has found herself a world away, surrounded by amazing people on both sides of the ocean.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pride

It isn’t often that I feel proud of myself, but today, I do.  For the first time in 18 years, I had a ‘Well Woman’ exam this morning.  This includes a breast exam, smear test and palpitation to check the uterus and ovaries.  That’s a great deal of physical contact in very personal areas.  My therapist and I have been working on this for a year or so now, and it’s finally done.

As my therapist and I planned, I identified myself to the nurse as a survivor of sexual trauma before even starting the prep.  She told the doctor, who, upon entering the room, told me how brave I was to be there.  This woman who had just learnt a dark secret from my past called me brave.  She walked me through the whole process, even showing me the instruments that would be used.  I began to relax a bit.

The nurse held my hand through the entire exam.  When I got scared and dizzy, I just looked over at her and knew someone was on my side.  It isn’t that I thought the doctor was against me; it’s just that she became a danger to me in my survivor’s mind the minute she touched me below the waist.  The whole exam probably took five minutes, and I am proud of each one of them.

I’ve put this off for so many years now.  It’s humbling that a doctor and nurse could work together so well to help me through it.

Anger

I have been angry on and off all year.  It comes in waves.  There’s a tiny flicker of anger just in the top of my mind, and then the wave comes crashing down.  I am consumed by anger.  Everything makes me angry.  Even things that would otherwise be enjoyable are tinged with anger.  It is  everywhere.  Suffocating.

I’ve also felt genuine hatred this year for this first time in my life.  Even when discussing the people who hurt me, I’ve not felt hatred.  I’ve felt sympathy and disgust.  But this year I’ve felt hatred, mostly towards people I don’t even know.  It burns, just like the angry.

I have no idea what’s causing these feelings.  The therapist said she actually liked that I was feeling this way because it meant the last vestiges of numbness were fading away.  I don’t like these feelings at all, though.  They put negative energy in to the Universe, and none of us need that.  Still, I can’t seem to block them or stop them when they happen.  I just have to feel them, express what I can in a safe way, and hope they pass quickly.  These feelings are so new to me, and I would definitely prefer for them to stop situating themselves quite so firmly in my mind.

Family

Looking through the window, you would think you were watching a family.  Two people are playing video games.  A baby is walking about with toys, showing his cars to everyone who will look.  Folks are gathered around the table, still strewn with dishes.  All of the people are related by blood or marriage.  Family.

Then there’s me.  The lone person in the room who isn’t actually attached to anyone.  This is the Thanksgiving celebration of my best friend’s father and family.  To some extent, I feel out of place.  A Pagan vegan amongst diehard Christian carnivores.  I used to think of myself as easy to throw away.  No divorce needed.  No separating the family in to factions.  They could just point me toward the door and send me on my way.  Little by little over this past nearly two decades, I am changing.

This year is different.  This year, I am trying to connect.  I’m trying to drop my well-honed guard long enough to let these people in.  And I am bloody terrified.  Immersing myself as part of the family feels dangerous.  The more people you love, the greater chance you have of being hurt.  The greater the chance for betrayal and pain.  Is it worth it just to be part of a family?  I’m still trying to answer that question, but I’m leaning toward ‘yes’ these days.

We have plans for most weekends in December.  Family plans, and it’s just assumed I’ll be there.  These people don’t consider that I won’t be part of family situations anymore.  It’s so odd.  I have no biological family, but I seem to have acquired a great deal of family somewhere along the way.  I sit surrounded by these people, terrified that they’ll see whatever it is in me that those who hurt me saw.  And then my best friend’s father nearly crushes me in a warm hug, telling me he loves me.  Part of me loosens a bit inside.  Part of me enjoys that.  Who would have thought a girl with no family coming from a history of SRA and garden variety abuse would find herself surrounded by the love of a family someday?

So t his is my struggle this holiday season.  I want to be present in the celebrations, rather than so mentally-guarded that I miss out on things.  I want to talk with people, even when I feel they’ll just judge me anyway.  I want to function as part of the family, comfortable in the knowledge that that’s how they see me.  I want to take this chance for once and hope things don’t come crashing down.  My past says this will end in heartache and loss.  My current mindset dares to hope it won’t.  Here’s to trust!

Even Now

My best friend and I, as I have mentioned before on this blog, text every night.  Between 8:00-10:00-ish, we talk about our days and anything else that happens to come up.  It’s a great time, even when the subject matter is dark, because we are together.

Tuesday night was different.  Tuesday night found me unsure of his feelings toward me and terrified that I’d done something to push him away.  He wasn’t joking around about anything.  He wasn’t laughing, so to speak, via text.  He was simply answering me in terse phrases.  I was scared.

I asked if he was ok, and he answered in the affirmative.  A few texts later, I told him I felt like I was texting an acquaintance.  He said he didn’t know what to tell me.  Through the rest of the conversation, he had to assure me time and again that he was fine with me and fine himself.  I’m sure it tested his patience, but he stayed right with me.  I love him for that and many reasons.

This conversation makes me angry, now that time has passed.  Within the confines of the cult, I learnt that no one would like me other than my ‘family,’ those responsible for my training.  I was taught that the people who profess to love you would leave any time they wanted.  I avoided getting close to anyone, because I knew they’d leave anyway.  And it was always me.  I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, fast enough.  Or I was too good and punished for showing up the others.  Whatever the reason, love brought pain.

Now, many years later, I find myself falling in to that trap of not trusting people.  Trust is so hard.  For a while, it was impossible.  I met my best friend in January 2001.  Almost 17 years later, I had such a hard time trusting him that, in one conversation, I assumed he was ready to end our friendship.  This is SRA.  The systemised method of breaking down your natural sense of trust and rebuilding it with a sense of suspicion toward anyone you were not programmed to love.

I often wonder what happens next.  Will my lack of trust run off my FOC sometime?  Will I ever be able to relax enough to accept that they truly do accept me?  SRA is so damaging on so many levels.  Even now, some 17 years after escaping, I bear the scars, and I am devastated to know these scars affect the ones I love the most.

Happy(?) Holidays

I include the question mark because so many people struggle this time of year.  For me, issues with deep grief and ritualistic trauma frequently permeate the lighter side of the season.  This year I have made a concerted effort to participate, rather than hide myself away somewhere.  I have gone Christmas shopping and made plans for both Christmas and Chanukah celebrations.  This has helped, to some extent, but I find my agita spiralling as the holidays near.

My sister’s death from suicide on 7 December 2000 is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through, and its sting is still just as sharp as it was that day.  I have had quite a few other losses, and they all still sting. My sister’s death, however, still drops me to my knees sometimes.  She was my second self.  We were rarely separated, and I still hold myself partially at fault for not seeing the signs in her.  That day was just as painful as ever this year, and it started my mind down the spiral of grief and fear.  I’m trying to bring it back up.

If you are struggling this month, please hold on.  Somewhere out there, someone needs you more than you know.

In the UK & Ireland: Contact the Samaritans  116 123

In the US:  1-800-784-2433;  TTY:  1-800-799-4889

 

 

 

Flashbacks

WARNING:  This post contains graphic descriptions of ritualistic abuse.  Read with care.

 

 

 

I *hate* when flashbacks ruin progress.  Due to some events from last night, a flashback triggered in my mind.  I found myself caged, a collar around my neck and unable to stand in the confines of what amounted to a large pet carrier.  I was a child, maybe eight or ten at the time, and completely terrified of what was happening around me.  There were other caged children in the room.  Some were completely silent, staring with empty eyes.  Others were scared and crying.  Thinking about it now, well past the flashback, it makes my stomach hurt.  I’ll never understand how people can do those things to others.

The goal, if I remember correctly, was punishment for disobedience.  The children had to prove that they were sorry through acts of self-harm.  We had to *prove* that we were sorry.  Hence the fact that my feet and arms are now covered with SI wounds.  It had been many months.  Yet here I am again, all bandaged up and feeling like an emo teen with a razor and a book of Sylvia Plath.

This flashback has left me shaken, no doubt, and it’s definitely something I’ll take to therapy.  The hard work now is to toss away the feelings and go back to life proper.  It is 2016, and I am, at least for the present moment, safe.

Dichotomy

That word defines my mother.  She was at once child and adult, beauty and darkness, safety and absolute danger.  Her multiplicity threw an interesting hook in to our relationship; I was more often parent to her than child.  She was very abusive to me and even moreso to my sister.  Even in her death, she left a sting.  The suicide note blamed me.

It’s taken years for me to accept that her death was not my fault but a bad choice on her part.  It’s taken years for me to learn that her treatment of me was not a reflection of me as a person but of her dealing poorly with her own Stuff.  Now, as I make changes in my life, she is on my mind.  I’m thinking of her as what she was, though: a person, separate from anyone else.

My mother had a very difficult life.  She told me in graphic detail about things that happened to her as a child.  She met my father early in her 20s.  A handsome soldier, he must have seemed heaven sent to rescue her.  She told me once he pitied her and married her for that reason.  Instead of rescuing her, though, he brought her to a cult where she was abused further and used basically as a breeder.  In an odd sense, she probably felt more wanted there than anywhere else.  Early in to it, before the serious harm would have started, the cult must have seemed like the first place to *need* her.  That breaks my heart.

She ran out of time at aged 51.  She made the decision to end her life because, if the note is to be believed, she thought I wanted her out of mine.  I had been making plans for both of us, though.  Had she just hung on a little longer, I really think things would have improved for her.  As it is, though, none of us will ever know.