That was what I reminded myself of, 3am this morning, whilst sitting on the floor in my bedroom and crying my eyes out. It’s okay to feel crap; it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad and grieve for myself and others. It’sokay.
I think we all lose sight of this a lot. We cry or get stressed or lose the plot briefly and then we feel rubbish after, and may even apologise to whichever kind-hearted friend helped us whilst we were upset. We apologise to them…for being human, and despite the fact they chose to help us, we still apologise. This is so messed up and unhealthy. People apologise to their friends for the fact they required some kindness. We apologise for needing kindness…
The last week or so has been very up and down for me, and I’m almost scared of myself with the quick and intense changes. Somehow life feels disconnected at times, which then makes everything stressful because I don’t feel in control. I feel out of control and I don’t deal with that very well.
Grief is playing a large part; I have a constant ache in my chest and a raw sensation in my throat, like I’m holding back tears which I’m not aware of. I’ll find myself going dizzy and suddenly exhaling, and realise I’ve been holding my breath for quite some time. This has happened quite a lot. It’s almost as though my body is trying to put me into ‘pause’ mode, like playing dead. I hold my breath and it’s like I’m frozen, and for a moment everything has stopped, there’s no future or past, just absolutely stopped in the present. But at some point I need oxygen again and it all crumbles. When this happens, when I start breathing again, I feel exceptionally emotional. Sometimes at the point of exhaling I burst into tears, tears which I hadn’t even noticed were building. It’s like the release from letting my breathing start again is permission for my emotions to escape too. I don’t notice myself holding my breath, it’s only at the point of release that I realise I’d frozen.
My therapist has noticed this a few times, and will often say to me ‘it’s okay to breathe’ or ‘remember to breathe.’ When she says this I’ll suddenly become aware of the pounding in my chest and head, and the swimming sensation due to lack of oxygen, and will suddenly gasp for air and start crying. She says it’s probably due to grief, is apparently symptomatic of being unable to ‘let go.’ I miss my baby girl terribly. I miss her so much it physically hurts. I want her back in my arms, I want to be holding her and singing to her and refusing to let her out of my arms again. Somehow by not breathing, I’m pausing myself, not having to face the idea of ‘letting go.’ Physically, I am not letting go. I am holding everything in, oxygen and all. When I breathe again, it’s like ‘letting go’, hence my sudden tears. I’ll wake up in the night gasping for breath and seeing stars, and realise that I’ve been holding my breath in my sleep. I’ll then sob until I’m empty, clutching at a teddy bear and trying to convince myself it’s my baby, and eventually fall asleep with raw eyes.
During the day, when I’m up and going, I’m mostly okay. At times I’m very happy, high even, and I feel strong. I feel strong and positive and love smiling. Night time is my nemesis. I’m going to bed and my little one isn’t there, spread out like a starfish, fast asleep. It’s empty. She’s gone. I dream of her and wake up to remember she’s gone. She was taken from me years ago but the grief is so raw and vivid now.
At other times I hallucinate my abusers in my room at night, and I’m paralysed, unable to make a sound, and just have to relive terrifying flashbacks in frozen silence. I guess the inability to move or make a sound is portraying the powerlessness I felt at the time, as a small child when they came in to hurt me. I would sneak and get ice bags after, carefully wrap tissues around them, and then place them in my panties to take the swelling away. What 4 year old should ever have to think of that? It’s realising the horror and immense sadness that as a 4 year old this was an accepted norm, it’s realising how wrong it all was, that is breaking my heart. I’m grieving for my little lost one, but I’m also grieving for myself. For the child who was hurt so much. Child abuse is in a sense, it’s own kind of murder. I am not the person who was born. Who knows who the baby I was would have grown up to be, had I led a half-normal childhood, and not known how to precariously balance on a stool to reach the freezer, and find my ‘best friends’ the ice bags, and how to place them so they didn’t burn me, but took the ‘rapey’ pain away.
What the f*** is that. Who does so much damage to a child that they have to think of such things in order to cope?
It’s hideous 😥
And so with all these kind of memories and emotions whirling around, I’ve been up and down. Sometimes very high, sometimes dangerously low, suicidal feelings rearing their ugly head in the dead of night, and I just want the hurt to stop, the pain to go away, and to be holding my baby girl again.
Then the sun comes up, and somehow a little light makes a difference, and I gradually feel strong enough to face the day. Sometimes I’m fine the second I wake, and other times I need a few hours to ground myself back into the present.
It’s okay to have bad days, weeks, moments. It’s okay to cry your eyes out until you’re raw and dry-sobbing. I’m grieving for so much. My own, myself, and the children in the ring who didn’t make it. I’m shocked and hurt by so much. I’m frightened by so much, and have memories of intense terror. I have every right to cry and it’s okay if sometimes these emotions and memories knock me sideways. I just have to keep hold of hope…the hope that I will recover, the belief that I will be okay. Sometimes just the idea of getting out of bed leaves me immobile and crying; the mental energy to get up, to face another unknown day and try to keep smiling even if I’m breaking inside, sometimes the pressure of that scares me and I want to stay in bed.
We all are fighting our own battles, and smiling to the world.
Maybe we should let ourselves feel shit a little more, accept kindness and love without guilt, and be more honest with ourselves and each other. It’s okay to feel rubbish. You’d never know a good day, if you hadn’t experienced a few bad ones…
Cry with me, and smile with me too..