Last night I gave a talk to an audience, about recovering from abuse, DID, PTSD, and where the rollercoaster has taken me. I also performed two songs to portray the extremes of the rollercoaster, and was lucky enough to have a singer who inspires me hugely to perform there as well. It was the most terrifying yet amazing hour…
Within a few minutes of starting, the atmosphere felt very intense, but positive. But nonetheless, everyone was silent and suddenly I felt very aware that I was the focal point of attention (trigger trigger trigger!!) But, scanning the audience I saw faces of only sympathy, interest and admiration…all of which moved me, stunned me, and reassured me.
Towards the end, I introduced the first of the two songs I was performing. I had chosen two drastically different ones to emphasise the idea of an extreme rollercoaster, but also how music can help at either end of the scale. The first one I wrote whilst in such a hideous mental place that I felt I needed a lot of punishment, and so had gone to the streets at night-time as a prostitute. I had been talking for near on 40 minutes by now, and then introduced the song with the context behind it. I waited for people to walk out, or look appalled at me, but instead I saw sad shock, and encouragement. So I sang. And then I sang the other one, the much happier and more optimistic one.
The end of the talk stunned me. I had expected maybe a couple of people to ask me something, but most to leave. As it was, a lot of people wanted to talk to me, ask me questions, and invite me to talk at other events. It kinda all passed in a blur… I was feeling very emotional – an extreme high but also feeling that at any moment I would collapse in a heap. My legs were like jelly and shaking, the pain I’d been in all day creeping back (post-talking punishment), and it was starting to hit me what I/we had just done. But people shook my hand, thanked me, hugged me, a few were crying, and some were agencies who would like me to get involved with them and give talks or workshops. The atmosphere was intensely emotional, but in a very positive way, and it was such a new experience for me to be surrounded by so many people in such an emotional situation where the only emotions were positive. A lot of people called me ‘inspirational’, but I believe they also are inspirational – the people in the ‘real world’ who are prepared to listen and open their eyes inspire me so much; it’s for them that I feel inspired to keep going, and feel secure enough to do so. So it’s all a big team effort, really.
A couple of survivors I’d never met before also spoke to me…thanked me…and told me they felt now that survival and recovery was possible, where they hadn’t before. A lot of people, who weren’t survivors, said they’d not realised what recovery could be like, and were now more open-minded and wanting to help others in my situation. This feedback, along with the writing on the feedback forms, moved me a lot…and when I got home last night and eventually made it to bed, I cried my eyes out. For a variety of reasons really; relief that we’d managed it, relief that people heard us, amazement at how it affected people – just one hour of us speaking, but sadness and grief also lifted it’s ugly head and tried to paralyse us too. Fear, also, let loose in our bloodstream and I fell asleep feeling quite cold – what would happen next?
Today? I feel…interesting. Still in the very surreal place of being on a high but simultaneously at the point of total collapse… fear and nerves and the reality of last night hitting me in waves, so bouncing between amazement and gratefulness, to panic and shame… it’s a very random rollercoaster…
Still free-falling, not sure how to stop that from happening…but last night at least seemed to put a temporary pause for an hour, and all our anger, shame, sadness and grief finally had a chance to be completely constructive, as we reached out to others and helped them to realise what it’s like, and know they will be okay.
Already received a fair number of emails, and just feeling so gratefully overwhelmed by the response to last night, and although speaking out is incredibly frightening, I’m glad people have asked us to give talks elsewhere… this feels like the start of a new rollercoaster journey. But if one hour of us simply talking about our lives, and doing nothing more special than that, can reach so many and leave them feeling better/inspired/hopeful/more open-minded, then we will just keep going for as long as we can be helpful.
Fruit salad brain. Free-falling sensation. No idea when we’ll hit the ground. Still scared. Scared of if there’ll be a big crash aftermath from tomorrow. But so grateful to have had the opportunity to use our voice as a way to send hope and raise awareness, rather than having our voice silenced by abusers. It’s such a bizarre feeling – being simultaneously high and also next to collapse, but….we’ll just see what happens I guess 🙂 Mostly I’m just grateful to have had the chance to explain what DID is really like, and how it works…saw a lot of ‘OH’ moments in the audience 😉