“Hereon by, I live in a different world. My world has been stripped to it’s very core. I have no expectations, no hopes, no dreams. People that dream much, they can’t survive here. I have to find a way to tip the scales in my favor, but after everything, I feel completely lifeless and broken. I can’t really let myself try, because I’m already broken, and if I go on, I’m not sure I will make it. I’m sulking, not just miserable, but so much under I can’t remember, anything really. There might have been times I have been more, but they are too far to remember. I’m so out of options, I have never been before. I don’t talk about it. I repeat it’s fine, pick myself up and keep trying, because this is what we are learned to do. But it’s not fine, it isn’t.
It’s what people say when they know they have hit rock bottom.”
–me, right after the rape, summer of 2010
1. Down memory lane
Here’s something you really don’t/can’t think about when your life is going through something big: the small stuff.
Ironically, you can work out the big stuff, because they are big, obvious, and pretty hard to miss, unless you intend to. The small stuff are the ones that stay lurking in the dark corners of your brain, and stopping you from things without you expecting them.
After a year and a half in silence and denial I have spend every ounce of energy I have had for the past 4 or 5 months in attempts to resolve my issues with the rape.
And somewhere in the process I resolve a lot of how I feel about it. So when I come to the point of being able to say the word rape, and not cry or fall apart, I am really surprised to discover I have other issues with that summer.
Smaller issues, issues I haven’t had energy for, that have piled in the corner, and now they are there, making a mess, dirty, annoying mess, out of my new-found freedom, filling my head with shame and regret and more issues I didn’t suspect I have.
I guess everybody who goes through rape, goes through one or more of the following: loss of trust, loss of faith, PTSD, panic attacks, flashbacks, inability to keep with life as it was, loss of feeling of safety, intimacy issues, guilt.
For me, that summer brings all that along with a neat package of financial issues, loss of my sense of independence and ability to dream.
I find my journals lately, from that time. As a writer I haven’t stop writing throughout that summer, but I don’t write many details there. I can’t survive if I do. But I do write out my feelings and they all feel quite usual then. Only now, when I re-read them, I sense how deeply I have fallen, how depressed I have already been, so concentrated on getting through the summer that I have not for a second figured out how deeply I have changed.
Let’s get back to a year and a half ago, when I decide I do need counseling.
Going to a counselor, when you aren’t yourself aware of your issues, shouldn’t help.
And it doesn’t exactly. Not on the obvious level.
Me and the counselor, we don’t talk about my rape. That would mean admitting there was one. For the most part I think I frustrate her but how deeply I refuse to see anything good in life, despite my inability to pinpoint why exactly does everything around me looks like a nightmare.
I don’t tell her about the lack of money and not eating. I don’t tell her how there have been people around me in the summer, killing themselves with drugs and how now I get angry every time someone has a problem like a deadline missed on a homework. You don’t talk about those things. I can’t barely live with them, formulating them, even for myself, is too hard. And I don’t even know it, not on conscious level…I do what I have done.
I asses the problem, I make a list of what I have to do, I try to follow my dream.
I talk to the counselor about other things from my past, like the bullying in high school. Somewhere, somehow, I manage to contain the urge to drink.
Classes are going better, at least I manage them somehow at that point.
I’m satisfied with that. I fail to see the problem with waking up in the middle of the night wanting to scream, or with the fact that I spend my last money for the week on coffee so that I can spend the afternoon with my friends and at least for once feel normal, knowing that yet again I have no food for the weekend and will have to pray for something to eat.
I fail to see the problem in assuming I should put the summer behind me, saying that it means nothing, and piling it within myself.
Somehow, I just move through the months.
I’m not drinking anymore, I’m sorta-kinda-getting through the classes, and with good grades at that. For any purpose, it seems like I’m moving on.
I’m still dreaming, making plans, making lists, planning.
Only now, when I do it, it feels like every breath I’m taking is going through fire, like breathing is to hard, let alone thinking I can achieve anything.
I just exist, go through the motions, and on some passive-aggressive way of denying to the world that anything is wrong, I am fine. I really, really am.
After a little breakdown, for a first time in 2 years, I realize there is this new feeling in me. Just an inch of it, small, almost unnoticeable, but it’s there. Faith.