I’m knackered. Beyond that. Multiply that up 100 times and then you’re starting to get there. Knackered to the power of 100. I can’t sleep. Those brief moments I do fall into unconsciousness I’m beset by nightmares of the worst variety. When I awaken there’s no respite, no relief, no ‘oh well it was just a bad dream’ because it wasn’t. These nightmares revolve around actual life events.
My mind and my body are completely out of sync. When the body’s exhausted, the head’s racing. When I’m detached and my mind’s set at empty, resting out there on the ether, the body’s locked in, fully functioning and awake. One rests and the other works, or else they both race together, driven by an insane energy. Their periods of rest have ceased to coincide.
I’m dealing with some really heavy shit in therapy. This is the stuff I’d not planned on telling anybody – myself included. I’d put it in the deepest, darkest, furthest corner of my mind with a great big fuck off ‘DANGER’ sign lest I forget. The mind, like a flight recorder, took it in – took it all in – the beatings, the violence, the pimping, the rapes. My boundaries broken one by one, humiliated, treated like an animal, savaged and increasingly savage. Of course, I did my best to minimize, to forget about it, to deny it, just to survive. I didn’t allow words like ‘rape’ or ‘pimping’ in my vocabulary. The drink and drugs helped and the head injuries too.
But this stuff, these memories, fractured as they are, would simply not be obliterated. Nor will they now, despite my best efforts. That’s 5 years of trying to ignore them, 5 years unable to face them. I’ve been in therapy for maybe six months now and you know what, it takes time. I find trust incredibly, painfully difficult. When people have used and abused you, done things you didn’t even know it was possible to do to another human being without them dying – and then brought you back so they could do it again – it’s hard to have faith in people. When the hand that soothed you was also the hand that hit you, it becomes confused. Safer, surely, to trust no one.
It’s massive that I’m beginning to even try and talk about this stuff.
In terms of sheer volume, this ain’t going to be quick. But things move on as they do and voila! I’ve hit the really heavy shit now. Talking through the other stuff, painful and difficult in itself, I could feel it all around the edges of my consciousness, a foreboding darkness with little darts of movement, closing in. The occasional snapshot of something, like a subliminal message in a movie – there one second but gone so quick you’re not even sure it happened at all. A lingering feeling of deep unease, an inability to concentrate, head and body starting to pull in different directions. Unnamed and unacknowledged as it has been, this stuff has a slippery, nightmare quality. Struggling to look at it directly in my waking moments, small wonder it should be invading my sleep, such as it is.
This is stuff I couldn’t say aloud – even alone - couldn’t bear to think about. I’d do the psychic equivalent of going ‘lalala not listening’ yet it remained, patiently, waiting for a moment of stillness, of quiet, to re-emerge. Bedtime is an ideal spot, hence the insomnia. I don’t want to name it, or even acknowledge it. Too real, too painful, too scary. But it is there and it is real, whether I talk about it or not. It happened. Speaking about it is the only way. When I walled this stuff in and turned my back on it I didn’t realize I’d walled myself in with it, turned my back on myself. It has remained, a threat to my recovery, an unhealed wound thinly covered over.
Head and body are mashed with it all. When I’m sat opposite the therapist I can see him, see his reactions, and I trust him. It feels safe. Comparatively. Afterwards, at home, it’s not so clear. The trust thing kicks in – my ex taught me well not to trust by both his words and his actions. I face the horror of the reality of what I have managed to say and the fear of the rest of it – all the other stuff that I haven’t said. How am I to say it? I can’t. I must! And on. No rest! When I talk, I feel as if I’ve said too much. I oscillate between this feeling, this certainty, and knowing that I haven’t said enough. I feel this massive pressure, this crushing weight of all the horror and degradation just lining up to be spoken, to be heard. My body hurts with PTSD – leg pains! Abdo pains! Wrist pains! Jaw pains! Pains, pains everywhere, and my head hurts too, full as it is with images, feelings, thoughts, emotions. The feelings are so intense, how I felt when that stuff was being done to me, how I still feel, that words seem inadequate. I grope for vocabulary but there is none. And yet words are all I have.
The emotions take me right back. Like being sucked into a vortex, I leave this body and time behind, revisiting. It’s like I’m haunting myself. The body responds to what the mind’s telling it is happening – it hurts, freezes, sweats, shakes, becomes nauseous, becomes faint. I become lost, split between two places, not fully in either.
But one thing I do know – no matter how painful and scary looking at this stuff is, it is necessary. There are no other options. It’s move forward and deal with it with help as best I can or sink with it. Sink or swim. It’s rough and it’s going to be a whole lot rougher before we’re done but I got in some little practice at surviving. My ex set out to break me and break me he did, but he could not determine the lines along which I broke. For in with the fear and the pain and the weakness there grew a cast iron will to survive. Terrified as I feel with this stuff, he has yet to beat me. Survival is itself a form of defiance. I will pull through this, somehow I will pull through it. What better ‘fuck you’ could I hope for?