I’m not a defeatist, really. But I am finding it very hard not to feel defeated at the moment. I think I’m just too tired, and the fibromyalgia just wearing my down, and whatever cocktail mix of PTSD, depression and grief is floating around at the moment is not a particularly sweet one. I hope it wears off soon. The abusers still haven’t left me alone but I wasn’t really expecting them too – now I’m armed with enough memories to not be so naive. It’s not as though it is 2 abusers. It’s a whole huge system. There’s hundreds of them pissed off with me, even if they’ve never met me, just because I’m a survivor exposing their system and shattering their secretive reality. This I knew. I signed myself up for this the moment I made the decision to recover.
This doesn’t mean, however, that it gets any easier…and if anything it gets harder. Somehow back in the days (which were not that long ago at all) where I was raped and/or beaten pretty much daily whilst on my way to campus or whatever, were actually more bearable than these days where they seem to occasionally get me or choose select weekends without being so kind as to check whether my diary actually allows for them to try and destroy me. Sometimes it’s just emotional crap to hurt me, just stopping me in the street to hiss something particularly poisonous, or ring me, and it hurts more. It wouldn’t make a difference if I changed my number, it’ll still leak out eventually – trust me, I’ve tried. I can be babysat continuously but there’s still holes and gaps. I can restrict the activities I do, and understandably people ask me sometimes why I don’t restrict the activities that I do so that it’s easier for me to be babysat or just at home. But what good would that ever do? They have never yet managed to completely make living some aspects of life normally, impossible. Why should I choose to let them now? Why should I just effectively wave the white flag and say “you’ve won. You can’t get to me again but it doesn’t make any difference as I can’t do anything and I’m more of a prisoner now than before.” I refuse to become a prisoner. I already battle daily with anxiety of leaving the house, of leaving rooms, of putting on my brave face and swallowing back tears and panic. I already feel like a prisoner in my own body. I won’t become a prisoner of my own life.
But I wish there was a way in which I could be independent and also feel safe. I find it hard sometimes not to feel like a defenceless child, which is exactly how they want me to feel, and is especially damaging for me; if I let myself feel like a defenceless child then I lose sight of the belief that I can fight back and defend myself, and assert my rights. In constantly trying to develop and re-develop safety plans it’s brought home to me (and rightly so) just how vulnerable I am, and how abnormal the situation is, and certainly how twisted my whole life was where I didn’t make safety plans because I didn’t even know what safety was. And that’s the big progress, that I’m gradually coming to learn a bit more about what safety is. I still am not fully aware but I’m learning. I read something the other day about how survivors minimalise what they went through, almost without realising it. And it’s true. It took me a long time to accept I was tortured. In my eyes okay so I might have often been chained to a wall and beaten for hours on end and raped with god knows how many objects, but I didn’t bleed so much and may have remained conscious throughout so it was just a ‘bad day.’ When my grandparents were ‘pissed off’ they actually had smashed things, beat me, screamed for hours on end, raped me and so on. But they were just pissed off, nothing more. If I was raped on the way to campus then I just thought it’s okay. It only took 15 minutes. I only ache a bit. It didn’t take too much time away from my work. At least they didn’t use any objects. It’s okay. They must have just been a bit annoyed.
Now? I’m raped or beaten up and I just have no idea anymore how to cope. Half of me goes like the above and just powers on, and then the other half just freezes, drowns in trauma, fear and anger and forgets how to function. I feel the battle in my head, between powering on and freezing. I’ll forget simple things like brushing my hair, or only putting half my make up on, or making a cup of tea and sitting with it in my hand, and totally forgetting it is there. I just go in and out of some almost trance-like state, in and out of shock. Have shaking fits which make no sense. Go to say something then don’t remember what it is I was going to say. Watch the world and it looks like everything’s moving so fast and I just wish it could slow down or even pause for just a few minutes whilst I just process what happened and take a few breaths and re-ground myself. But the world doesn’t pause – it just gets faster, and I’m left further and further behind, frozen by the trauma with no voice to say so. I used to dissociate so efficiently that I could attend meetings or lectures, irrespective of what might have happened or what my mood was, and I would have appeared absolutely okay and indeed felt it, to a large extent….just choosing to ignore the abdominal pain or sensation of bruising on my back. Now? Even when I haven’t been hurt there are times when the idea of going into a group full of people fills me with anxiety. Times where I can be talking about one thing and know I look exhausted and feel the tears in my throat and just pray to god I can make it to the end of the meeting, so that I can run out and go to the toilets to cry my eyes out. I feel weaker somehow. Dissociation gave me a false reality of being able to withstand near enough anything. Not dissociating so much (which helps me recover in the long-run) means I am starting to behave more like an average person when something traumatic happens to me. And I just have no idea what to do. I just want to hide but I don’t want them to win. So my body powers on whilst my head is still reeling and staggered.
I wish I lived in the US where psychological assistant dogs are a prominent feature in helping people who have severe mental health problems. I wish I could rely on a dog next to me to keep me safe, and to wake me up when I flashback, and bark like crazy/raise the alarm when I’m struggling or absolutely out of it/blacked out, or wake me when I have nightmares or help me get out of bed on particularly bad days. Unfortunately the UK is still very behind on establishing mental health support in the same way the support for physical health is established, so such an option is not possible.
In truth I know that for as long as I live in the UK, they won’t completely leave me alone. It may fizzle down to just occasionally appearing and watching me, or sending me blank emails – all as an intimidation tactic. There’s nowhere really I can hide, and I don’t really want to live a life where I’m just existing and hiding. I want to live, and I want to reach out to others, and I don’t care how much the abusers feel threatened and angry at that. I will do the work I need to do in the UK for now. Gradually my life is becoming safer – a year ago I was in a lot of danger and hurt frequently, and two years ago I was hurt pretty much daily and taken away for weekends. Now if they do get me, it’s fairly occasional and random and/or tying in with specific dates. The lack of consistence with it means I’m shocked more easily, but really I need the shock to keep spurring me on to recover and speak out, because the shock is what tells me it was wrong.
I will be safe one day. I don’t know when and I don’t know how. But I will be.