I’ve blogged about most of that first year after my SA and what it was for me, in a way.
But before I move on to the second year, there are few more things to mention.
Oh, and for those of you new here who are new to the story, if you scroll over “Story and Background” you can choose time period, and then go backwards in it to see what I’ve written. I’ll soon add few pages with chronologically linked posts for easier access. I’m also possibly writing a memoir book/guideline for those going through rape recovery. I’ve learned some things on the way of getting here, and although I am not an expert, there are things I learned in the past year that I wish someone had told me when I was first struggling with this. Anyway, that book is in the process of making, and meanwhile, there are few more things I would like to share.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post, that counseling somehow helped me, even though I told the counselor very little. One thing that struck me though- and that I tried to conceal from her, because I thought it made me a freak or crazy- was my inability to separate how I feel.
She started asking me things about how I feel.
I remember I mastered some answer, even though I knew that at best I’m twisting the truth.
But she kept asking me how I feel, and what was I supposed to say?
I was spending most of my time at my favorite university, with my friends, completely miserable? And despite that most of the time I am not sure how I feel? I can’t make difference between good, bad, sad, angry? Everything had somehow blended together and it wasn’t that I was running from how I felt. I had no clue how I felt. None. I ran her question through my head many times after that, for myself, and found it disturbing that I still didn’t feel in way. There was no separation of feelings within me anymore. I was an emotional time-bomb waiting to explode.
2. Fragments and concentration
Now, that is the other thing about my first year that I’d like to share. Mostly because while going through it I constantly wondered if I’m going crazy or have somehow broken my brain beyond repair. Only now, getting out of it, I can see how it was, and that it wasn’t forever. I wish I’d known that what I was going through was perfectly fine considering.
I had survived the summer after SA dreaming about the coming home part. I survived the fall at home dreaming about the semester back in university in the spring. And when the spring came and almost went, and things weren’t going any better, it started to occur to me that there is something wrong about that. I even had points of my life doing better than ever at first- juggling classes seemed far easier that wondering if I’ll have enough money to pay my rent. So for a first time in university, I was managing more classes than usual, and a part time job, with better grades than ever. It seemed like the most pitiful success. Mostly because I’ve wanted that ease in things since my Freshman year, but suddenly I had too much bigger other problems to even care that I was doing good in classes.
I could have, I guess, redirected my energy to those bigger problems and let the classes slide for a while, I guess.
Why didn’t I?
I guess remembering the feeling I had then, I realize something important. I was going through PTSD and panic attacks then. I barely knew what PTSD means, and I was sure the panic, the absence of air, the sweating and headaches I got sometimes, weren’t anything like what people mean when they say panic attack.
But my mind was fragmented- I’m guessing to handle the fact that I was in denial about the rape(s).
I essentially had the brain of a 3-year old, only worse.
Everything seemed important. The regular part of me thought that I am to blame about the rape, and my financial troubles. Given that my parents were paying for university and had given up a lot for me, I owed them good grades at least. So my rational brain knew I HAD to manage it all- good grades, managing regular life, building a business, paying off my debts.
I could only handle so much at a time. So my brain separated things into fragments, the tiniest pieces possible. I made lists of all that had to get done, and I tried to follow it. But my brain was broken, twisted, and if I was thinking about more than one thing at a time, I’d start thinking about that-thing-that-didn’t-happen…so I couldn’t. I took the first thing from the list- usually a class or homework. I did that, moved to the next thing. If I had enough space in my head to stop for a second I would realize that I can’t possibly handle such load, and that if I want to achieve anything I would have to prioritize. I couldn’t think of that, and every time I tried my mind started spinning and I panicked.
So I kept making lists, I kept moving through the list thing by thing, and not think further.
That usually meant I went to my office university job, I ran between classes, I managed some of my homework and projects and then the day was done. I told myself the next day would be better and I would do more, but it never was. I kept doing the same thing over and over.
And then whenever my other problems caught up with me, and I tried to solve them, my mind kept reeling and spinning in agony. Except, I kind of thought I deserve that.
There was the one thing that was most important to solve that semester- having enough money- and that was the thing that made me sweat and feel sick and breathless the moment I tried thinking about it. I guess because of the SA. What I haven’t mentioned so much on here yet is that it happened more than once(the guy was living in my house) and some of the times when it happened was when I was almost out of money for rent, and had to think about survival first. So my brain would freeze when it was happening, ignore the pain, block out all else and reel over the thought of how I will pay my rent. Either way, the thought of money made me sick, and if I was to solve my money issues I had to work on task after task, and ignore why I’m doing it, because thinking that I’m working for money made me feel violently sick, like I’d throw up, and like my life was threatened. So I made lists of tasks and tried to get to them, but mostly I didn’t because of my classes.
And the times when I saw that it wasn’t working I tried to stop and think about things and reevaluate my plan, change things, but my mind blocked.
I just COULDN’T think about more than 1 task at a time.
I couldn’t change how I felt, I couldn’t change the plan or prioritize. My mind felt hazy and I got sick every time I tried to.
Every cell in me filled with that deadly determination, that false feeling that my plan was the right one, and if I followed through, if I just managed to get through my daily list of tasks and do the best I can in each area of my life, all will be okay. And then I wouldn’t have to feel sick constantly. I was so used to feeling that way, that until this year I had almost stopped realizing that you can feel differently. My mind refused to realize that managing 6 classes, side projects, friends, parties, job, and managing building online store with little knowledge didn’t really compute. My brain KNEW that if I just did things, one after another, and gave it all I had, it had to be enough. One after the other. When I went to classes, only the class existed, and when I went out it disappeared from my mind in the fog with everything else, and I concentrated on the next thing. And again, and again.
It was a bad cycle, and I couldn’t get out of it.
I just knew I’m in some nightmare trying to fight for something I can’t achieve, without a choice. And that’s all it was.
And all the nightmares that kept me up at night had nothing to do with it….