That’s the best way I can describe how I’m feeling within my life right now – my eyes are full.
I don’t know if this is a normal component of the PTSD /shell-shock feeling that hits me every few weeks. I have no idea. All I know is that all my emotional energy, all of me that feels traumatised, is within my eyes. I watched a film the other week at the cinema – The Book Thief – it was an amazing film and one quote stuck with me: “if your eyes could speak, what would they say?”
And now my eyes are full. They physically feel full, as well. Physically they ache, and not with the normal fatigue or exhaustion…it’s a different kind of ache. The same ache I feel in my heart sometimes, when I think about my babies or the children lost, or even what I myself endured. This ache is real and physical but also entirely emotional. My eyes want to be closed. They can’t cope with seeing anymore. Life requires me to keep them open. The result is a constant headache, and tingling in my face, from the battle going off. Eyes begging to be closed, life insisting I need to see.
But what do I mean by my eyes are full? I guess this might seem a strange concept…
The magnitude of the horror I have witnessed, whether torturous abuse I lived through, or had to watch others live through… the evil acts of adults, the murderous events, the events I still haven’t found the words to describe, but wake me every single night in a cold sweat… the magnitude of all this is really hitting me lately. I’m no longer so absolutely in ‘survive’ mode that I consider the horror to be normal. I’m enough in the ‘normal’ world to fully appreciate how horrific and extreme the abuse was. Today in the shower a feeling hit me like a truck – you’re lucky to be alive. How many times have you been barely conscious, having to consciously tell yourself to breathe, beaten and broken? How many times has your body been pushed way beyond its limits? You’re lucky to be alive. You truly are. You are a survivor from hell, not just psychologically, but physically. You could have died, many times.
Despite the fact I’ve made suicide attempts in the last week, and am living on a suicidal basis, the idea that I came so close to death and am therefore lucky to be alive…that idea hadn’t ever quite registered. I know I’ve had close brushes with death. Christ, I’ve felt the cold inside my throat as I shivered with fragile existence, as Death looked into my eyes, into my soul, and held my heart. The last staggered breath before everything went bright, then black, and the pain ceased, and I thanked God the pain had ceased….. and then I would stir in consciousness moments later, aware of a thumping on my chest, of my nose being pinched and my head tilted back, disorientated and weak, and I’d let the people who pushed me to death, revive my fragile body. Sometimes, if it had been a close-drowning torture exercise, I’d feel my lungs fold in on themselves, eject the water out of themselves, clap together and stretch, and my stomach would clench – too drowned itself – and the men would hit my chest and hit my stomach and the water would be gone, gradually. It doesn’t come out like a fountain, as much as movies will like to portray that. More a soft, desperate, holding onto life gurgle…and they roll you on your side so you can vomit water.
I am lucky to be alive.
I sat in the shower and sobbed. With relief? I don’t know. With guilt? Absolutely. What gives me the right to have survived, when others didn’t? Nothing. Was it luck? Was my body just stronger? Were they more afraid of my death because I was registered – I existed in normal society and would be noticed missing? I wasn’t easy to dispose of. Was that it? They tried harder to revive me? But why wasn’t I offered a say? Maybe I didn’t want reviving. Maybe I was done with living through such extreme torture. Maybe I wanted to sleep and it all stop. I didn’t want to live just so they could carry on. Maybe I wasn’t lucky to be alive at all – maybe it was precisely the opposite. Maybe someone else should have been given the chance I’ve been given.
The ache in my eyes became too much, and I closed my eyes.
My poor eyes.
The things my eyes have witnessed. Eyes are the windows into the soul, is a quote I once read, and it’s true. My eyes have, throughout my life, been both my worst enemy and my greatest asset for communication. They can betray me or they can aid me when I’m too weak, or not allowed, to speak. Even when I dissociated or shut down, my eyes were still watching. They see my nightmares, my dreams. They watched as I ran my fingers through the child’s blood-stained hair and whispered a song to send him to sleep. They watched as I was tied to a bed, or chained to a wall, and electrocuted…beaten…raped with objects…raped by men…raped by dogs…forced to endure an abortion…they watched them hurt me so much, watched my blood spread across the floor, watched my muscles ripple and contract with pain, watched me scream and choke on my own pain. They watched the abusers sneer, or laugh, or be blank. They tried to make eye contact with the abusers, because sometimes it would catch them. They watched as I was held back and forced to watch other children in agony, or babies being lost.
I have lived through a war. My eyes are in shock. They have seen too much. Far too much horror. They want to close, and pause, and process what they have seen. They want to leak, to cry, about what they have seen. I have seen so much light, too, so much love of the most profound kind, so much laughter from the children, they saw my babies when I first held them, my girlfriend when I first kissed her. They see my friends with their deep smiles and soft eyes. They see the music I write. They see the horse I ride. There’s so much light.
But they’re so full of horror, and they are full. They are tired. They need to rest, to let the moments of light soothe them whilst they pause and offload everything they have had to witness. Every second of horror in the span of 20 years. They are the pat of me which has had to endure the most. They have seen my despair, they have seen me close to dying, they have tried to see even when I was so weak that opening my eyes was a huge effort.
My life was horrific. I am lucky, or unlucky, to be alive.
My eyes are tired. They are full after 20 years of horror. They are tired witnesses.
I need to close my eyes… I don’t want to see anymore pain… I want to stand still, calm, with my eyes closed and the memories leaking down my face in hot streams of tears…the memories pour from my full eyes, my body frozen with shock, life paused…life waiting for me to process the fact my life was horrific and that I’m alive…for my eyes to process everything they’ve seen…
My poor eyes…they are so full…