I had a dream last night. Well, I had several, but there was one which has really stuck with me. It seems to sum up how I’m feeling, how my life feels right now.
The last few weeks, it feels like I’ve been machine-gunned with some truly horrific memories. Memories so terrible I just can’t put them into words. The hardest thing, though, is that I wanted to die – in the time of these things taking place. I no longer wanted to survive. And that’s making the recovery from them, incredibly difficult, because the remembered emotions of having nothing left…of absolutely being finished, are taking their toll on my head. However, the surfaced memories do finally give me some answers to emotions I’ve had over the last few months. It was the huge memory making its way to conscious surface, and so leaked parts of my emotions from that time had come to front.
I’ve remembered what it is to cry. To really cry. To have your legs collapse underneath you as a shockwave of horror crashes into you.
I’ve remembered what it is like to completely shut down. I’ve remembered what it was like to fight…to really fight.
I’ve remembered who I am.
I’ve remembered what it’s like to really be in love. Really be in love.
And as much as pretty much every fibre of my being is begging me, pleading with me, to shut down and give up… I know I can’t.
I’ve seen too much. How could I kill myself. I’m very suicidal. Frankly I think I’d be alarmed if I wasn’t, considering the memories. But I can’t take my eyes to the grave. My eyes are my witness. My voice. I survived the actual hell. I need to survive the recovery of it. Somehow.
I now have the full timeline, in headlines, of my life. There are no more large chunks of my life missing. I obviously don’t have every minute back, or anything close, but I have the headlines. I have the worst back. Nobody can ambush me with them now.
(Es ist am Ende.)
And so my dream…a powerful, moving, terrifying dream. It signified a lot to me somehow, but mostly about how I can see the whole picture.
The world is black. Smoking. Fiery. I’m standing in the middle of hell, and nobody can see me. I can hear screaming, howling, gunfire, children crying. As I turn slowly, on the spot, I can see it all…all around me. Every single harrowing and horrific memory, circling me. The ground is stained red. The world is all hell. Everything is chaos. Everything is terror. And I’m frozen in the centre of it; the eye of this twisted storm. I am crying, silently, slowly. I reach out but nobody can feel me reaching them. I’m not supposed to be in this hell, but how can I leave, how could I leave them…walk away…how…
It is a war. Suddenly, I can see just how huge a war. Men and women fight, scream. Some defend themselves, some try to get children away. Some have poisonous faces, that make me go cold, and I watch them as they – without hesitation – torture children, and worse. I turn and turn, overwhelmed, heartbroken, terrified by what I’m seeing. I see myself, much younger, in a few of these memories. I feel staggered. I see my own eyes, my own desperation, my own childhood. I see it all.
I can see everything. I can hear so much pain, so much screaming. And I can’t move. I’m frozen in the centre of all this.
I see children, they were children, blinking slowly…lying down, not responding to anything, with grey tight skin, and eyes sunken and huge. The war going on around and above them, but it just going through them. They don’t flinch as things hit them. All of them stare at me. Huge, emotionless and yet absolutely full eyes.
I try screaming STOP. Nobody can hear me. There’s nothing I can do. I keep screaming, my legs finally moving, and I grab at the abusers, grab at the monsters with knives and guns, nobody can feel me though. I bend down to cradle the lost children, who are somewhere safer now. Only they can feel I’m there, despite not being there themselves, anymore.
I see children fighting through, some laughing with other children. I see anger in their faces, defensive anger, as they try to take the fully grown men out of the place. Bring them to the ground. In a world of such hell, of absolute horror, I also see courage.
I see women being raped, putting themselves in front of children to try and protect them. I see people tied up. I see myself walking, being led by chains. I see myself fighting back, in a different memory, my face contorted with fury and terror.
I keep screaming. Nobody hears me. I keep trying to stop it. Nobody can feel me. The war keeps going, the hell worsening, and then I see my baby. Lying, empty-faced, on the ground. My legs wobble, threatening to collapse. I scream even louder, but there’s nobody there to grab me, to hold me whilst I scream…
I run. Run away from this and keep running. I don’t know where I’m running but I’m running, my legs weightless underneath me. I collapse by a stream, screaming, then sobbing, gasping and choking. The screams echoing in my head. It’s all haunting me. I plunge my head into the stream, to try and get the screams out of my head.
At that point, I gasped wide awake. My face was soaked, I’d been crying in the dream. I carried on crying, heaving and gasping into the pillow. I could still hear the screams, could still see my baby’s face. I went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. Then I opened my bedroom curtains, and stared out into the night-time world. I was startled by the silence, after such a chaos-filled nightmare. With singular events, and remembering singular events, it is sometimes easy – and safer, for my sanity – to lose sight of the entire picture. Until recently I couldn’t look at the entire picture anyway, as I didn’t have the timeline. I cried for a good couple of hours, overwhelmed by the whole thing. And moved…moved to the deepest level, at being able to see the shards of light – the courage, determination, selflessness and smiles from the children and some women – in a world that was so utterly horrific. My world. What was my world.
I don’t want that to be my world anymore. As I stared to the sky, I thought all over the world, there are people going through rings like that. Suffering like that. This hell is not my own, it’s shared by so many innocent people. But we all share the same night sky. I wonder if they’ll know somehow, if they can see the sky, that I’m looking at the sky too…
I realised, gradually, why resisting programming to go back to the abusers had been so difficult.
Who was I, if I wasn’t in that world?
I had been scared…scared of running from where I belonged.
I shuddered again at the image of the nightmare, at the images of the whole picture.
There are survivors, from this war. A fair few. I – via forums and blogs – know of survivors literally from all over the world. I am one of them.
This hit me. I choked on more tears and rested my head on the windowsill.
I survived that…I thought. I did. I did.
I thought ‘how?’ then decided to stop looking at that question. A lot of it was luck, lottery. I felt guilty. Overwhelming guilt. And despair. Today, I have mostly felt full of despair. I’m scared to talk, in case my talking becomes a string of hysterical screaming, and the despair erupts, and I never get back.
Earlier I went outside, and just stood. With my eyes closed. I daresay students walked past and looked at me funny, probably. I guess they were thinking ‘poor girl. Exams really going to her head!!’
But no. I had my eyes closed, my face towards the sky, and I just….felt. I just felt. All of my senses alive, feeling the breeze…appreciating the breeze. My ears instinctively listening for screaming and danger. For the first time ever, I consciously became aware of this amazing job my ears do. I silently gave my ears permission to relax, and to listen to this world, this world we’re in now.
It’s so beautiful. It was like having a new pair of ears, of hearing the world for the first time. I could hear the wind rustling leaves on trees, the clip-clop of students walking. I could hear senseless conversation. All of this I’d heard before, but lost, in the background, only there if I focussed on it – my ears too busy listening for danger. I hadn’t even noticed. Hearing the world filled my eyes with tears, and I kept my eyes closed, breathing in deeply, slowly. The despair was still there, surrounding me, biting into my neck, filling my bloodstream with sticky darkness, tightening it’s grip on me. The despair scares me. But I know I need it, and the best way to tackle it, is to accept it. Somehow.
Then I went to the disabled toilets, stared at myself in the mirror. I could see the blackness of despair, of evil, around me, on me. But looking past this, I could see myself. It was like seeing myself for the first time. My whole body imploded with relief and shock. It was like finally…finally…I could accept, physically as well as emotionally, that I’d survived. That I was here. That I wasn’t dreaming all of this. That my body is, kinda, healthy. That I’m alive. I really am. That I made it through that hell, and I never have to go back to it, if I don’t want to.
Slowly, I sank to my knees, holding my hands against the mirror, staring into my eyes, and I sobbed. I went from laughing to crying to laughing again. To guilty. To relieved. To despairing. To calm. Always crying, always touching my reflection. I was part of this world now. I’d made it. We – myself and the alters – had done it. We were really here. A terror I hadn’t even known was present – of genuinely fearing that if I let myself accept this, I would wake up and this be a dream, and me be back…in there…in hell… – this terror lifted, saw my reflection, and left me. Acceptance filled me. I didn’t need to be scared of relaxing, of being relieved that I survived. I wasn’t going to be dragged back there for recognising my survival.
The black monster of despair didn’t leave. It scares me. But I don’t think I was expecting it too. I wasn’t saying goodbye to emotions, I was doing the opposite. I was saying to myself it’s finished. You survived, I promise you survived. You can cry and howl for it all now, because you’re here. Despair belonged now. It was safe too, even if it scared me.
The guilt keeps hitting me like a truck too. I don’t suppose that will ever leave.
I am struggling to revise, a mixture of despair and horror from the memories…of grief for myself and others…of genuine stunned relief and amazement…of guilt…my head is so full, so goddam full, how can I concentrate?
I can’t decide if I’m in more pain or more exhilarated. Somehow, I think it’s an absolute combination of the two. It’s exhausting.
And I’m so grateful to have made it so far, to have survived to the point where I can feel all of that.
So so so much pain and horror…so much heartache…so many memories I can’t put into words…flashes of hell in my eyes, haunted by screams in my head… so much guilt that I’m here… *so* much grief…
And so much relief…and emotions…
My message to the world, abusers and all:
It is finished. I have survived. I do not want rape and torture and abuse. Being scared of leaving what is normal for me, does not mean I want what is normal for me. I am scared of the unknown. But I do not want to be abused. I want to recover from the hell I was put through, and sing stories of the ones lost, and cry a million tears… and have that chance to cry. I want to learn how to forgive myself, if I ever can. I will not be harmed anymore. I am not a little girl.
A hell of the worst kind…
Now it is time for me to recover, grieve, learn how to laugh properly again, cry and cry, and feel angry.
You took my children. You will not take anything more from me. I can see everything.
Everything is back. You weren’t quick enough.
It is finished. You have my word.