Living without Walls

I have reached a strange impasse in my growth and healing. I feel even more like a stranger in a strange land. I have spent my whole life adjusting myself to all circumstances and people, a perfect wallflower. I would be a part of a group, and yet always on the outskirts with no one really knowing me. I was neither too loud not too quiet. If the group appreciated enthusiam, then that was me. If it was always quiet, then that was me, so quiet my very presence could be forgotten.

The environments have hated the most were ones where there were so many variances in the atmosphere, I would almost split myself into pieces trying to Glen into the environment. I can remember being aware of this part of myself, and also being oblivious until someone would make a comment about me that seemed bizarre to me. I have been called an extrovert by the extroverts, fearless and confident, quiet and reserved, shy and bold; and all of these by people in the same group. They have seen me for several years. They have known me in various circumstances. I am all of these things and none.

I am at the point in my healing where enough of the roots have been dug out, chains have been released, and walls broken; that I can honestly look about as a new creature and start to dream and think. Who am I? What do I like? What do I want to be? What are my desires? The one I wrestle with the most is do I really have the right to be?

I am 36 years old, and I am trying to dream as never before. I am dreaming of things and places and events as if I had not one worry. All things are possible, and then as the freedom flies out from me, my insides quake with fear. A fear so great that I immediately shift into survival mode and disappear from being fully present. I am afraid of freedom.

Freedom is an unknown. Who am I without these chains, I don’t know but the scariness has led to self harm. The inner turmoil of emotions are scary even if they are good and hopeful emotions, my mind cannot comprehend. I can comprehend pain. I know how to deal with that. That has an answer unlike hope and dreams.

Then, of course, my old friends guilt and recrimination stop by to visit for awhile. I’m breaking the cycle bit by bit. I have found it better to reach out to others. I cannot always share what is going on, but just not being alone helps. I have also found a great relief by being honest when I can about the self harm. It removes a lot of the guilt and humiliation. Its easier to breathe without those added weights. Its also easier to work out my thinking with other people, especially when it feels counter to the situation, like being full of hope and instead seeking injury because that is a known quantity. I don’t want to live like that. Pain is not the solution.

For me, at least for now, the solution is harder than the pain. I have to slow my brain and deal with each fear. I have to be ok with the emotions and become comfortable with all of the emotions. There is only one way to do this task. I must stay. I must leave the walls down. I must try things for myself, an I must be ok if I am different from those around me. I must take the shaky steps forward toward my impossible dreams.

I must put down my weapons, inside and outside. I will look in the mirror, and I will come to know the amazing woman in the reflection. I will find the dreams of the long lost little girl, and I will put her safe in my heart. I will keep stepping out in freedom, and even if I stumble, I know how to rise again.

Until next time…

Light in Darkness

This morning was beautiful. I woke up at the ridiculously early hour of 5:30 am, so I could be bright and cheerful for working at church today. I am so not a morning person and those extra moments with me and the coffee are best for all I encounter. I made it there when I intended, attacked the day with vigor and joy. I fixed what needed fixing, and I watched and took care of things before they could be a problem.

I walked into my day full of light and the hope that had been recently kindled by my forward progress. I have reached a new level in my healing, and it felt wonderful to finally realize that I have honestly accepted the memories as truth. It was easier to think I was crazy or that it was all my fault. I had to deal with the internal struggle of realizing that there are people in this world that hurt children intentionally. That they hurt me intentionally. It was an accidental destruction of me as a child, and it also was not my fault.

Some parts of that will likely need to processed more than once as they are hard things to fully accept. Some times I think the reason it is so hard for non survivors to listen and accept the things we say is for the simple reason that we, as humans, don’t want to think that the every day people walking around can do that much intentional damage to another human being. The intentional nature of abuse, rape, murder, or any other violence inflicted upon people rips the rose colored glasses that wear right off our noses. If things like that can happen, do happen, and it isn’t just a wrong place, wrong time event, then we aren’t as safe as we like to believe. If we cannot do all the things in a magical formula to keep ourselves safe, then its harder to have hope. It’s harder to see the light.

I’m writing this tonight in the midst of my own darkness. Right now this moment is so hard. My switch was flipped today as I sat and watched children play in the lobby of my church. They were so beautiful and carefree. The parents and other adults were completely unconcerned. They were not creating havoc or interfering. When they needed a hug or parental attention, they were  gathered in even as the adults continued to talk. I could feel it, in that moment, my heart seized and another wall cracked.

I wasn’t expecting this one. I’ve dealt with a lot of the obvious walls as a childhood sexual assault survivor, and this one came at me from left field. I had to journal to really get to the point. When I was being abused all those years ago, the house was very cold emotionally. The only freedom was in those times when it was just me and my small family. Any times with W (wife) and P (pastor), were so regulated and stifled. Children were seen and not heard. If I was seen or heard, the consequences were harsh and always when my parents were not around.

I’m afraid of adults attention both positive and negative. I struggle with compliments. I struggle with being noticed in any way, and I am an adult living in a world full of adults. This is a ground breaking realization that will no doubt lead to an even deeper healing and growth. Right now it feels like I have had a hole blown through my chest. The tears keep falling. Tears that soften the hardest edges of my heart. Tears that express the ache of my heart that did not have the freedom to run and play as a child. Tears that drown the pain that shakes the foundations that I have built during all of these years of survival.

The pain is hard to continue to feel. My mind reaches to all of the things I once used to get past, over, and around these emotions for all of my years, anything except actually feeling. I want to live, and I want life with every breath I breathe. I get up each morning and choose to live. I want love. I want joy. I want to dance, climb rocks, and go white water rafting. I want to do all of the things I have only ever read about or seen in movies. Live, not just borrow other’s lives.

This moment is very hard. Thoughts of self-injury are there. The suicidal thoughts that really only ever fade are bright and incessant in my mind. I know the path those both will lead me down, and I don’t want to go that way again. Instead, I will feel and cry the ugly tears that heal. I will text or call crisis lines, and I will speak even when I don’t wan to say the words. It’s hard to admit how present those thoughts are in my mind. It feels like I’ve lost ground, but I haven’t. I am following the path of healing, and some days even though I continue forward, it feels like the unbearable pain of the worst days of my life.

I am not who I used to be. I am not alone no matter what the darkness whispers. I am not an inconvenience. Even though I still don’t understand or really feel it, I am loved and wanted.

There is always light in the darkness even if it is only the reflection of the moon in a pool of tears. There is hope, there is help. I write this not just for me, but for all of us sitting in the dark wondering if it is really this hard, and wondering if there is a better day. The world needs you. The world needs me. Stay this night.

Until Next Time….

Anger

Where am I today? I am at a point in my recovery/healing journey where I just have to be honest. I cannot hide from those who love me. I cannot downplay the depth of feelings. I cannot be afraid to show my fears and anxieties. I am at a point where the rubber meets the road, and this all becomes real. I can no longer live in a state of denial or semi-denial. It’s the time where I have to say it over and over, I was trained and sold. I was a slave. I was trafficked. I was forced to do things that no person, let alone a child, should ever have to do.

I am at the point where I have to trust in bits and pieces, that those who are in my life want to know all of me. They want to know me even on the bad days. They are not afraid of the darkness because it has always been there and it is not me. They may choose to put up boundaries for their own sake but that is not a rejection of me. They really do love me, and by choosing continuously to deny them access to my life, I am shutting off the very reason I have undertaken this journey. I want love. I want to love, and to be loved. I want intimacy between relationships, not in the sense of a physicality, but in the sense of two souls sharing life.

I am coming to terms with two realities that I am facing. I am angry. It’s ok to be angry. I have misunderstood anger my whole life, and it took this process to even see it. Last week, I discovered that my latest bout with emotional numbness had nothing to do with sadness, fear, or a new memory. My numbness came because of anger. I couldn’t figure out why without my counselor’s help. He helped to put words to it, but mostly he helped to slow down and really try to track the emotions to where the hang ups were in my past. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the cold cruelty of w who enjoyed my pain. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the uncontrolled verbal rage of my dad. Those were options when I thought of anger, and, in defense, my mind didn’t want to be either one so it chose to go numb.

Neither of those is true anger. Anger is not rage. Anger is not cruelty. Anger is not pain. Anger is a proper response to injustice. It is a righteous response to handle those situations in life where injustice happens, from bullying to cruelty. Anger is about standing up and speaking out in this world. It is not meant to be a weapon used against one another. Anger is not an emotion to fear; it is a path to courage. Anger is not about tearing down another or proving my point. Anger states that is wrong, it is not ok, and it must be fixed. Anger can change the world especially when tempered with love for myself and also for all those who are my neighbors, near and far. A neighbor is not a physical description, but an emotional one.

I have found as I journey that my family is more vast than I have every been able to appreciate. As the walls fall, as my heart breaks and heals, as my mind is opened, as the scar tissue falls away, I am able to see how full my life has truly become.

I am angry and it is a thing of beauty.

Day 1

I have wanted to start this blog for quite a while, and I find that now that I am here it is harder than I expected. Why am I here, writing a blog? I am a writer. It is one of the few things I have known about myself with little doubt. I am also trying to come to terms with severe abuse from my early childhood. I am able to talk about and share my recovery journey with my friends and family to a shallow extent, but there are a lot of things that I downplay or just don’t talk about because I feel it would hurt them.  I still have not been able to share what happened to me while in the care of those they trusted.

It started coming back to me last year. I had been through therapy before because of some abuse when I was a teenager and adult. As soon as the memories started to surface, my emotions lost all sense of reason. My body started to feel like it was beyond my control. My depression resurfaced almost immediately throwing me into a trench where I could not see the light of day. Flashbacks overtook my present making even the simplest task nearly impossible. My health got worse and worse. I got help right away this time, and yet I was still unprepared for what I was about to uncover about my own life.

These were different from anything I had ever known. I couldn’t talk about it from my perspective, I could only say she or the little girl. I didn’t want to associate with what I was seeing, hearing, or feeling. I didn’t want to believe the things I remembered. I didn’t want to feel the emotions. I started to shut down. I stopped being able to do all of the things that I used to do.  It felt like I could barely breathe through all the pain.

I kept moving, kept going, kept shoving it down. I still went to therapy, and I would purge the poisonous memories each week, but I did not want them to be mine. I kept asking my counselor if I was crazy. I didn’t want to believe my own mind, my own body, my own experience. I didn’t want this to be my tale. I had known that I had been molested from the time I was 11 or 12. I had known I had been raped at 17 and then again as an adult. The things I remembered at this point were far harder for me to deal with then the memories I had always known.

I don’t want to diminish my experiences from when I was an older child because I have come to understand that abuse is abuse. I cannot deny the long term effects these few experiences had on me. The new stuff, the new memories were far more numerous. There were now hours upon hours, days, weeks, years that chronicled the breaking of a child’s mind, body, and spirit all without my parents noticing. All without me remembering. The child forgot in order to be a child when she was finally free. The child was me. I was broken intentionally by adults who didn’t give a whit about me as a person, but only saw me as  a thing to be used and sold and traded.

I almost gave up when I finally reached that level of acceptance after months and months of denial. It took over a month of therapy twice a week, staying in touch with my family doctor, and quitting pretty much all extra-curricular activities before I reached a point where I could live with the knowledge.  It’s still quite suffocating at times. My mind will shut down now when it gets to be too much. Some days my mind shuts down and shuts off my emotions at the drop of a hat, and other times I make it to the level of understanding before it gives me a break.

I found twitter while scouring the internet for any and all resources dealing with childhood sexual trauma. I found Trauma Recovery University, and I joined Twitter for the Monday night Q&A. I find I need community, and I need to know that my experiences while unique to me and my story does not mean I am alone in this world. I can and do find healing in a chorus of me toos on a you tube video or twitter feed, even in my anonymity.

This is my blog about the truth of my reality as I rarely get to share it, without censorship by me or others, in my preferred format, writing.

Thank you for reading.