A dangerous curiosity…

I’m in a very weird place at the moment. Neither good nor bad, and I don’t know if it’s due to this new emotional recovery…or because I’m having to spend a lot of my life at the moment in a place which holds a lot of extremely painful ghosts…

I keep looking back over old emails. I have this bizarre need to read over and over again the different places and stages my head has been at. I don’t know why; it’s of course never going to do me any good to read the huge suicide note I emailed my friends back in February. But I can’t help it. I need to read it all. I then need to re-read. I keep searching; hours of a day searching for anything over the last couple of years that had something to do with my head, and getting frustrated if there’s part of a conversation missing.

Why? I don’t know. I really don’t know but I can’t stop it.

Well. I can hazard a guess. Lately I keep finding myself going “really?” I keep thinking…my God did that really happen? Did we really spend hours of a day trying to sort something out? Did I really get raped and then go straight back to rehearsals, or work? Did I really have flashbacks which lasted for hours, and took a group of adults to restrain me? Did I really ignore my friends’ pleas last easter and make the fatal mistake of staying at home?

Was that really me? Was that real? Did that actually happen?

It’s as though the further into the normal world I go, the more my past feels like a terrible nightmare. It was normal and right once upon a time. I remember feeling almost puzzled at my friends’ shocked faces as they learned about my past. That was life, wasn’t it?

But now I share their shock. I share their horror and I have to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t all some horrible nasty dream, that it was definitely real. I have constant cold lurches as I remember something and actually think – jesus that was awful. Then I think: but it’s so awful, that can’t be real, surely? It must be a nightmare…

So I have to keep reading anything and everything that’s real and true and about something horrific…because otherwise I risk losing that reality. I’m scared it’ll slip through my fingers and I’ll lose the fine details.

That life was me, and if I can’t grasp that life to be real…then I’ve lost myself too. Often I think “was I really a mum? Then where are my babies?” and then look at my empty arms and think ‘they’re not here. If they’re not here then what good are my arms, they’re supposed to be holding my children?’ and then grief attacks me.

or I think “no…I’m not strong enough to have lived through that. It must have been a nightmare.” But then I see the scars later when I’m getting changed, and scars don’t come from nightmares. I stand, staring at the mirror and gently running my finger across the scars…checking they’re real, and watching the memory in my head.

I stand in a familiar place and think “did I really run through this, running away from abusers…bleeding and bruised, and frightened? Did that really happen?” and then I’m back there, in the memory…and I know that it did.

So I’ve developed a dangerous curiosity. I must read everything. I must talk to people about it. I must ask their accounts, because their collaboration of events makes sure my head knows it can’t have been a nightmare. We couldn’t share the same dream. I want it to be a dream but it can’t be. And so I must keep hold of the truth.

The curiosity is dangerous because it puts my head back in that place. So after reading the suicidal note, I thought – “I did make sense. I was right. I am exhausted. Maybe I should have stuck with it, for what reason didn’t I?” etc. I’m back there standing by the river (in my head) and feeling the hopeless despair and also random happiness that I was about to do the ‘right thing.’ I then have to shake myself quite vigorously to make sure I don’t get lost. Or I read where my head was at after a particularly traumatic flashback and suddenly I’m back there; hysterically upset and lost.

I hope this phase doesn’t last too long. I think it’s needed, and even if it’s not I can’t stop it. I have to cement it in my head. I have to cement the reality, because it’s far too easy to call it a “bad dream.”

J

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