WARNING: This post could be a trigger.
LITERARY WARNING: This post is a disaster. It has been written in 3 different stages over a few months, and since we know my time factor today, I’m going to let it go without cleaning it up. Hence, the Blathering. Stay with me though. There are some Very Important Points in here. With love, Dys.
There are things that I can plainly ascribe to my ADD and others that are an obvious part of my PTSD. Here and there, I can see paths, choices, and actions of my life that are specifically attributable to either my choices or my genetics (good and bad). And every once in a while, I learn things about myself that I’m just sure are related to that the time when I was 8 and that little shithead Bobby Jacobs threw a rock at me and hit me in the head. (false name, true story)
So, the above issues, while sometimes maddening, fit into my psyche because I can see a reason. Their reasons don’t excuse them, though I have learned to stop flogging myself over that – and over the fact that worse things have happened to others. Let me give an example to illustrate:
Issue: Do NOT wake me in a sexual way from a dead sleep.
Reason: PTSD. The night I was raped, I was awakened from a dead sleep to find my rapist sitting on the side of my bed. He did not wake me in a sexual way, but the sex isn’t the important part here.
Result: Waking me in a sexual way will (a) get you pummeled and (b) royally fuck up my trust with you.
Now, that’s a perfectly valid result of that incident. I went directly from my most vulnerable state and, if you will, trusting state — a child asleep in my own bed in my own house — to a state of total violation. Makes sense that I might carry that with me. Valid. That said, however, it doesn’t make it any nicer for my husband that (a) that’s something he cannot do, (b) feels like he has to be very careful about even the appearance of, and (c) is forced to remember every time it crosses his own sleepy mind to just roll over and rock my world, which then makes him feel guilty, frustrated, and pissed (not at me), feelings which then yell at his psyche that they should attach themselves to wanting sex from me. Yeah, this is where my Valid Reason still totally sucks and makes things difficult for me and for others.
As for the flogging, in the past, I’ve also told myself to just get the hell over it because I didn’t have a right to bitch. I mean, seriously, I was raped – so what? I have a good husband, a good kid, a house, computers, a job, a car, an education, and a life. I’m not a refugee in Somalia (time when I was thinking like this – if unfamiliar, think Darfur) whose entire family was forced to watch as my own family members were forced to rape me and were then murdered in front of my eyes. My gripe is exactly what again? No, while seemingly based in “logic,” that line of thought is completely invalid. The fact that what happened to that woman and her family was torturous and horrific doesn’t make it any less true that what happened to me was traumatic and wrong. And because I know others who have been through “less” than I have, I can say from experience that I don’t believe she’d look down on me for feeling the pain that I do. Seems simple to some readers, I’m sure, but to anyone who has been through something so traumatic as rape, physical abuse, etc., it is not a simple concept at all.
Whether you’ve been through something you consider traumatic or not, but especially for anyone who has, I’d like to encourage you to extrapolate my thoughts here to whatever issues you beat the hell out of yourself with and then stuff back under the boxes and behind the steel doors in your mind. Your feelings are valid, and never letting yourself feel them is not making your life better. It might make it livable for a time, but how long do you really think that time can last? And if you’re honest with yourself, how well is it truly going? The guideline there isn’t how functional you are or appear to be, by the way; it’s how many times you feel like tying a concrete block to your ankle and jumping off a bridge or maybe how many people you imagine strangling in a single day (only you know what that part of your mind calls out to you – but you do know).
In the long run, force of will is not strength; it’s a parasite that eats away at you until you don’t know who you are without it.
(That was a big deal. Read it again.)
I’d always thought that I was an emotional person, more in touch with my emotions than others even. I was, to say the least, stunned when my therapist, over time and very gently, led me to see how I had actually developed into an expert at detachment and was, in reality, not participating in my life; I was simply going through the days — driven, successful, busy — but not present because I’d bottled myself up and hid myself (my self?) away. Learning to feel what was going on inside me was exhausting, depleting, traumatizing. It was humiliating, frustrating, and sometimes depressing as hell. It was also the single most freeing thing I’ve ever done. And after trying to figure it out on my own for years before that, I now understand why I couldn’t possibly have done it without help.
Is my life on the other side perfectly joyous and wonderful and filled with lollipops? No. I have troubles and pain and things that sometimes upset the hell out of me (one of which is why I started this note before I sidetracked myself , but that’s okay). And actually FEELING the emotions that go along with those things can be tough as hell, though I know I’ve gotten better at it over time and with work. BUT, I can count on one hand the number of times in the last year that I’ve felt like I was within shouting distance of the pit of despair or a clocktower — the old me couldn’t have counted the number of times in 15 minutes on one hand.
Ask me if I’d go back?
If you’re not moving forward, then you’re stuck. Your life will go on around you, the world will keep spinning on its axis, the days will pass and pass and pass. Plenty of people reach the end of their lives having never moved in the last 30, 40, 50 years, and the reason they are so deeply shocked that death found them is because deep inside something knows that, in their soul, those last 30 years haven’t happened — because they were stuck at whatever moment they never worked through and buried under the piles of crap they’d heaped on top of it over the years to avoid it.
There are a million days ahead in your life still. Don’t just get through them. Find the freedom and understanding and love for yourself that you’d want your child to have in for himself, and please, don’t stop trying until you do.
You’re worth that — to you.