Rebuilding my confidence and my life after rape

 

 

There is this moment while I’m in THAT summer, the one where I got abused, and the one where all my ethical and moral beliefs crashed. I have lost myself. I’m hurt, I’m bruised, I’m emotionally and mentally tired. I run out of my house in some childish fit, unable to control myself. I circle the streets I know, and I walk. I walk randomly and with no direction. I walk until I can’t feel my legs. I watch straight in front of me, pale like a ghost, scared to face what happens if I stop walking and actually think about what happened to me.

The word of it, the formulation, r-a-p-e, doesn’t even occur to me.

I always had those ideas about things, you know? You think you know, even if you hadn’t experienced something, you think you know how awful it is. Some of us get close to the truth. What happened to me feels much bigger than that. What a fool I was! Have I known anything til that moment, anything at all? Had I really thought education was going to help me have a brighter life, get as far away as I can from the bad things in life? Stupid, stupid girl. What is happening to me?

That summer, I do and say a lot of things that aren’t quite me. That summer, and every moment after that. Something within me has snapped, broken, torn. I have no idea what it is, but I can’t find logic in anything at that point. I can not find as many reasons to stop myself from things that I have previously found low, unethical, immoral, wrong. But my body hurts, and my soul hurts, everything I can feel is just pain. Some things just stop making sense.

You would think that this is the moment my faith really starts to waiver, but it wasn’t.

It’s not when I am laying bruised on my bed in a foreign country, wondering when will it end. It’s not when I go home and I can’t handle anyone touching me, or coming close near me. It’s not when writing my home works and going to parties stop making sense, or I stop recognizing my body in the mirror. It’s not when I try to make out with a guy, and completely freeze. It’s when I have graduated, started a good relationship, move to a new place where I feel safe and at home. It’s when I start dancing, and meeting new people, and making money online, as I have dreamed of for a while. It’s when all the things that I have wanted start happening, and I can finally feel SAFE.

It’s when I stop waking up panicking that the relative security I have in the dormitories or back in my parents house will be gone soon. It’s when I start living again. I have spend 2 years having nightmares, running from the truth, or dealing with it, and trying to rebuild my life. I have spend 2 years, knowing that everything can fall apart any moment.

The moment I am SAFE, that is the moment I fully loose any shred of faith I was holding onto.

*

I never understood why. I thought it might have something to do with preservation instinct- holding back the pain of wounds(actual and emotional) until you are at a safe place to heal. And it was in a way- I was the best at dealing(or denial if you will) at things while I was still in that house, and still around the guy that abused me. I dealt straight on with things one day at a time, aiming to survive. Dealing with the emotional repercussions was completely suppressed. Once I was safely back at my university, “fine” didn’t last for long and the emotions started catching up with me. However, I was graduating and about to move from there, my friends scattering around the world. I was going back to my parents place- though temporary, why I figure out what comes next. I knew it wouldn’t last. I had no time for dealing with all that…And I got depressed, so I had to start dealing.

The real falling-out, though, didn’t quite happen until last year.

I finally moved to another country, this time in hoped for that being permanent. For a first time in a long while, I was safe. I was allowed to relax.

And THAT is when my brain threw me for a spin.

Everything I hadn’t dealt with started crashing on me full speed.

I wasn’t much more prepared for it. That was supposed to be my happy-ending kind of moment, not a reality TV show with a lot of drama. But there are things in life that just demand your attention. You just have to deal with them, sooner or later. Finally safe, I have to face it all. There won’t be a better moment for this.

*

For months on an end, I keep being haunted by the same nightmares over and over, things I was completely over already- or so I think. There are new ones added to the mixture- for a first time in 18 years I start to think about my childhood again. Every insecurity and fear I have had is resurfacing, and I keep going through it. Nothing becomes less painful. There is a temporary relief, and then I’m back at the start again. I’ve dealt with a lot of it. I am able to work, and have social interactions (well, sometimes) and lead my life normally…but I can’t move on. I spin in a circle, and wonder why.

And then it hits me.

I CAN’T move on, because the problem isn’t the memories, or me thinking it was my fault.

The problem is that guy has shattered my confidence to begin with, and that summer and what I did after took care of the rest. Since I had low confidence up until university, most of it was based on things I had learned, achieved, I was doing. I thought that equaled who I was. And since it had, when I lost it, my life fell apart. I am only now starting to see that I have missed on building another confidence- one that is about who I am. If I had that, I would have known that if I lose a skill or something else, I can rebuild it.

As it was, I thought I was losing myself-piece by piece, slowly, until I had no clue where is the person I was used to thinking as “me.” First it was what that guy did- the bruises and physical repercussion, which lasted a while, and the fear, which lasted a lot longer. Then it was the loss of control. Then the loss of concentration. I needed to have a job, and my concentration was like the one of a child. So I thought the only thing to do was to let go of all else. I stopped reading, or participating in my hobbies. I avoided people when necessary. I obsessed about finding a job and spend each chance I had on it. I left aside any desire to acquire more knowledge- hadn’t helped me get away from that guy, and so I set that aside. Later, I was too depressed for physical activities. I kept setting up endless lists of things to do, but for a while, all I did was put a lot of effort with a little result. I scraped by somehow, achieved the things I absolutely had to- like my degree, although half a year later than intended. But on the way, I kept leaving parts of me, thinking that simplifying was the only way to get through it. No physical activity meant weight gain, and although it wasn’t that much, and I still had a loving boyfriend, it was another piece of me breaking- the shape which I was used to know as mine for a lot of years.

And because my confidence was based on people, and on all those things about me, with each piece breaking away, I closed myself more.

 

I kept moving forward, I did…and improving. But the more pieces I left, the less confidence I had. Until I woke up recently, at a better place, with better prospects in most parts of my life, and more uncertain in myself than when I had nothing. I have chipped away at my confidence for so long and with such persistence, that there wasn’t much left. I had completely pushed down my voice beyond recognition- everything about my had changed beyond recognition, and the more it did, the more I closed myself to the world. It has been as if I was going through my life piece by piece, present and experiencing things…until that guy hurt me, until that “something” broke in me, and I live for surviving. I lived for somehow collecting what was left of me. I lived for rebuilding a life I no longer have. The years are passing, and I keep living in the past. It’s as if I skipped a chapter of my life, frozen in the recovery process, and jumped to now. It’s a good life, may be better life. I have some things I couldn’t dream about before. But nevertheless, it’s a different life. And me, I have no idea who I am now, and how I snapped from that summer to who I am now.

And this, was the true reason of how I lost all faith in myself.

I am often angry, and sad. I had always been an open book when it comes to daily emotions- but I avoided showing the deeper things I felt. Since the rape happened, I lost the filtering I had, and I have been completely out of control with emotions. I no longer have the walls that allow me to hide whether I am sad or angry, or hurting, with people I don’t know or trust that well. I simply have no filter anymore, and all that is going through me has to get out somehow. Even my emotions are out of control. Never before that have I felt so dark, so negative, so cynical…as if by trying to be positive while I get through the abuse, I had finished some resource. Now it’s hard to snap back to positivity. I have to instead rebuild it, like a muscle. I have mood swings, and nightmares, and flashbacks. I am so out of control, so beyond control, that I can’t even pretend anymore.

I’d like to tell you that I am doing my best, and I am positive every day, and trying to have a nice life. I am, trying that is. The positive part is hard. Whatever broke in me that summer, it’s still pretty broken. Often I feel like it’s not the rape that made me dark, but as if it just exposed who I was. I don’t like the out-of-control feeling. It makes me afraid that if I keep feeling the way that I am, it won’t matter if life gives me better chances now. It makes me afraid that I am too damaged to accept those chances. Afraid that if I keep going down that path, and allowing the people that love me to be around this, I will somehow damage everything in my way. That I’m so blinded by pain that I will obliterate any good thing coming my way.

I can only hope I won’t feel that way one day.

Rebuilding my life, it will take a while…- but everybody has to start somewhere, right? Rebuilding myself, that may be a different thing. That may even take longer. But I have to try anyway. Not because I can be positive right now…but because I am waiting for the positive part to become possible again, and I am trying to recover what is left of me in the mean time.

 

 

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