Don’t know how to cope….

I’m stuck. I’m totally lost and stuck in some new angle of recovery and I don’t know how to cope with it, or even begin trying. I’ve spent the last week or so walking into rooms packed full of crates and thinking hmm…these need unpacking, but they’re kinda taking up any space I could sort things in…. (moving buildings) and now my head feels like this. Messy, packed tight, with no clear space to even start working out how to organise it all again…

My whole life…different elements of my past…they’ve all been carefully stored into different boxes. Every now and then I could open the lid and peer in, but I only ever saw the surface of each box and could close the lid and carry on as normal. Everything was perfectly organised, even when I felt like it was all chaos. There were certain boxes I just didn’t go near.

Now, the boxes have been shaken around and then tipped upside down onto the floor, and then kicked and with the pieces thrown all over the place just for good measure. There are no longer clear categories. Everything is a blurry mess in a heap and I’m currently standing in the doorway and staring at it like…what the fuck do I do now??

Somehow, most of the heap I’d never seen before, because it was all at the bottom of the boxes. The smaller factual information remained at the surface of the box, and this I knew about, but deeper down lay all of my genuine and real emotions and feelings…and now they’re out. Scattered, thrown all over the place, some still in the air about to fall, and in a total fruit salad mess of no-order and it’s chaos.

I can’t hover in the doorway forever, however. The other side of the room lays some stuff I need, and besides…this mess is just crazy. I need to sit through and sort it all out and put it back into categories, but this time by paying attention to each bit. Suddenly my processing speed seems slower, because things are throwing me more than they used to, because I’m holding an emotion I never let myself feel. I tentatively put my hand into the pile of mess, and have no idea what I’m about to pull out. Will it be happiness, relief, despair, pain, sorrow, grief, shame, freedom, strength, fear?? I jump from one to the other, but feel it…properly…and the feeling terrifies me because it throws me so much. I have no idea how to cope with these very deep and precious and real emotions. Absolutely no idea. I sit, crouching down, holding the emotion and I feel it, and my body responds to the feeling and I have to close my eyes to try and block out the rest of the mess somehow.

When my life was neatly packed in boxes in my head, it was easier to imagine that it wasn’t such a big deal. It was compact and I need only glance in a box and pretend the bits underneath the surface don’t exist. Now…whilst I stand here in the doorway sobbing with despair at the mess in front of me…I’m faced with the sickening realisation that my past was not just a small problem and a “bit wrong.” Suddenly, I’m staring at the truth. The real truth. The painful truth; my life was so horrific that I had to lose my memory in order to survive. How should that ever be needed? What kind of hideous life is one that needs to be blanked away if the person stands any chance at making it? That – actually – putting myself in a vulnerable position of no-memory was the best option for me? How heart-breaking is that?

I’m staring at all the emotions, the deep and intense emotions. Some are good but a lot of the past ones are quite clearly not good. If I just stand and stare for too long, then the terror and overwhelming despair at how terrible it all was will just swallow me, the mess will remain piled to the ceiling and I will be a crumpled heap on the floor. I have to sort through it, piece by bitter piece, if I’m to make it through this next stage. But how on earth do I? Jesus this stage looks impossible. I’m standing at the bottom of the world’s most hellish mountain, with no oxygen supply to help me with the high altitude, no walking shoes, no food or water and no warm clothes. Somehow, I have to not only make it to the top, but actually to the other side.

How? How on earth is that achievable – either mentally or physically? I’m totally lost. I don’t even know where to start. Today I warily stuck my hand into the mess and pulled out a couple of pieces, and ended up so totally drowned in the emotion and distraught at what happened to me that I became close to convinced that this is totally impossible. TWO PIECES. THAT’S IT. It barely made a difference to the heap. And how do I tidy it up when I don’t even know what categories lie in there? I might make the categories and then discover more suitable ones, and have to dig out something I’ve already tidied up, to put it back in the right box. Where’s the justice in that? That I might have to sort through this heap twice or three times until it’s in any level of reasonable order that leaves me calm, having processed each piece of emotion and information, and with access at will?

I’m scared. I just stand at the doorway and my hands are digging into the doorframe so tightly. I keep catching myself digging my fingers right into the palms of my hands – the metaphorical doorframe in my head. It hurts. But it’s because I’m so scared of the idea of letting go of the frame that’s holding me upright and at least reassuring me that I can still stand – I’m not totally drowned yet. But if I don’t let go, then the mess remains a barely touched heap, mocking me and begging me to clear it up.

I can’t let myself stand here paralysed. But I have no idea where to begin; no clue as to how one starts to clear up a mess which not only physically swallows the room but holds so much emotional turmoil and torture that I doubt my mental capacity to make it. Will I make it? Am I strong enough for this? Should I not be relieved that I now have the opportunity to sort through each piece? Of course I am. I’m relieved I’m in this next stage and that I can now feel what I have the right to feel, and recover as I have a right to recover, and cry until my body’s empty because I have a right to. I am relieved of this.

But I am so scared. This is new territory for me. I have no idea where to begin. No idea if I’ll get through it. No idea if this new stage of recovery, which is a fundamental stage and needed and right, will be what drowns me totally.

I thought I was already in the fire but I wasn’t. This is the fire they told me about. The one the phoenix has to burn in so that it can emerge on the other side. Maybe it’ll be easier once I start. But my God it hurts already and I’ve hardly started yet. Maybe it’s fear paralysing me more than what’s reasonable. Didn’t I always say that to the children? Don’t let being scared stop you…it’s fear that controls us, and they use that.

Maybe I need to be less scared of stuff that was there anyway, just untouched. Maybe I need to be less scared of emotions because emotions alone cannot kill me. Right?

Where the hell do I begin with this? I don’t know how to cope. I don’t know what strategies there are.

But then…when I was put in the ring I didn’t know the rules either, and I was in actual danger of being killed. Emotions can’t kill me but they could have done at any moment, and I survived. The whole world was a mess and I organised it into categories and I’m here. It’s just the same ball game, but without a ring of men trying to torture me to within an inch of my life at the same time.

The trick now is to not torture myself to within an inch of my life…but to trust somehow that the emotions are going to hurt like hell, but do no more than just hurt. And if I learn how to soothe them, then maybe it’ll speed the whole thing up.

Holy crap. Help.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t know how to cope….

  1. Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like. There is a point when it gets better and easier, but it’s like that periodically for a while. Like, a few years (for me). I sort of worked in cycles: pulling out new crap to deal with, then making sense of what I had, then pulling out new crap, then more making sense. And I did just have to be with a lot of not really knowing–who I was, in particular–and just trust that it was okay to not know for a while and that I might know in the end. You have very eloquently described my state of mind for about two years, maybe three. (Things do seem to be lightening up now.) It is an awful lot of work to unpack all that stuff. It really is. Yes, you’ll make it. You survived unimaginable torture. You can probably live through pretty much anything. Anyway, I did, and I think you are every bit as strong as I am.

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