“It’s like I’m sleepwalking, and I don’t know how to wake up…” Mary, on Reign (TV series)
This quote kind of struck me, may be because it rings so true for me. It’s like I gave myself an allowance to check out of my life for a moment so I can recover 3 years ago, and I never checked back in. Or I check in and out depending on how I feel. Like I’m asleep for years, and I only wake up every once in a while, like I’m in a dream, and I know it’s my choice what I do, and I still can’t stop myself sometimes. Four and a half years ago, I was raped. And when I was ready to stop denying it and destroying myself, I started this blog as a sort of sounding board for my recovery process. I have been doing a lot better lately, but I need to start writing here again. I know I do. I do, because when I write, I push myself, and I discover things about myself I didn’t know.
Otherwise, I have reached a point where my life is getting more and more NORMAL, and I am afraid.
I’m afraid that I still have some important issues I haven’t solved, but that I can live with those. That I can totally let them untouched and push them down again, until I start thinking they are just part of my character. When I started this blog I was the type of person that can make a HUGE deal out of small stuff, but when it came to the big, important emotions, I pushed them down so no one would know they were there. Writing here, trying to regain myself after the rape, it opened me up and I became aware of so much about myself that I was ignoring before. I don’t want to go back to pushing things down.
For the past months, while I was moving my life into more positive direction, I also concentrated in clearing my past- writing, counseling, solving. And then I stopped writing in present tense, and stopped dealing with the emotional issues in my present.
Here is one of those that I thought of lately: for a long time I thought that what happened to me, or many things that happened to me during different times in my life, made me feel isolated from people, somehow separated. And now, as my life is getting better, some of the relationships in my life are getting worse. I am the greatest when I have an online relationship with someone I don’t quite know, or when I know a new friend is in town for few months only…and then when it comes to the people closest to me, the people that know me best, I so often let myself feel isolated.
I have justified this in so many ways- things have changed, and so I’m afraid, I don’t know how to act, I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m dealing with a lot. I excuse myself, and, afraid of those relationships (friendships and family and relationship) I distance myself. I RUN for dear life, without really running, and without knowing what I am doing. I stop writing, or calling, I’m always too busy or too overwhelmed….I stop paying attention, I stop taking care of the people I love, I stop making compliments or showing affection. I RUN. I distance myself to an extend where I start thinking that they are distancing themselves from me- and why not, I have been a wreck. I have been a MESS. Surely they are justified, I tell myself, and then diminish myself to a point where that can become true. Sure, something horrible, horrific happened to me. I get an allowance to sit down and deal with myself for a while. But I did that.
That year after the rape, that IS on him. On my rapist. The bruises, the PTSD, the pain, the depression, the chaos. That is on him. He did that, and it was HORRIBLE, and I didn’t deserve that. But I took my time with recovery. And THIS, now, THIS is on me. Those 2 gap years, after I felt too bad to continue my normal life, I let myself off the hook. It had to be okay that I am not writing or calling friends, it had to be okay when I was late in my final project in university, even after working 5 years to get there. It had to be okay because I had reached a boiling point, and I was so depressed I could barely get myself to get out of bed. Just making sure that no one knew I was that depressed was exhausting on its own. So I let myself slide, I gave myself a break- in my relationships, in my work, in my studies, in what I ate, how I slept and in everything else. I gained weight, but in hindsight, it could have been much worse. The way I felt then, I still don’t know how exactly I stopped myself from drinking myself into oblivion or cutting myself again. But I didn’t do those things.
Anyway, now, it’s almost 5 years since what happened.
And in many ways, my new, much better life, is still overshadowed by the aftermath of the choices and allowances I gave myself in those dark times.
Yes, RAPE is horrifying, scary to deal with. Allowing myself that time to deal with it was okay, it was needed. Distancing myself from people then, that was okay. Doing it now, is not. I am sure there are people that can live all their life like this and never change. I don’t want to be one of those people. That guy hurt me, broke me, and recovery was hell. I’m sure I will still have weeks with flashbacks sometimes- I had one last week and it was pretty bad for days. The first time it happened, I laid down because the flashback was too strong, and having forgotten how bad they were, I felt it in May be I will always have them, just more rarely. But everything else that I do now, it’s completely on ME.
I have been HURT, yes.
But things happen every day- horrible things, and great things. I’m not going to make this into one of those lemons/lemonade statements and say what happened was for the best. Even if it makes me the best version of myself, I would never choose going through this have I had the choice. Who would? But here we are. How I react now, it’s on me. Allowing myself to grieve for a night or two when I am dealing with a flashback is okay. But being mean, distant, irritable with people I love, in my usual days, is not okay. Letting the people that care about me know that I care about them too, that’s on me. Someone can bring you down for a long time, I am sure…but staying down for a lifetime, that is a choice.
No one can destroy me or isolate me as much as I have done it to myself.
I am very successful in rebuilding my life, I assure you. I am just as good into running from people, running from feelings, and chipping away pieces of myself, shredding myself to pieces over the smallest mistake. No one can break me so much as I have proceeded breaking myself. And that may have been on that guy for a while, but at this point, it’s on me. At this point, it stops being recovery and it starts becoming my life. There is danger in allowing myself to keep isolating myself in those small unnoticeable ways, and in chipping off pieces of me every time something goes wrong.
That’s fully my responsibility and my choice, and I am saying this without a shred of self-guilt.
It will require some conscious changes in the way I treat people and relationships. It will require some conscious choices in how I treat myself. But if I was ever truly broken, it was my own doing.
People with good self-esteem bounce from those situations better, and that is natural. When it happened to me, I had just rebuilt my own self-esteem and it shattered very easily. And I allowed myself to hurt myself- I let go of hobbies and relationships, and treated myself the way I felt- like the lowest most awful person. I treated others like they knew how I felt and agreed with it. That was not fair. I have a lot of people in my life that love me, and that wasn’t fair to them. May be it was, in those first months- a year- dealing with it, but it was certainly not fair in a long run. Despite my efforts to prove the contrary, the people that love me have stuck in my life and are still here. Despite my desire for destruction, I have a new job and amazing hobby that I absolutely love. Despite me being sure I’m weak, I have proven myself stronger than I believed I could be on many occasions- and on some, stronger than other people doing the same. I still have SO much to deal with, but I’ve become so much stronger in the past year. Despite my fears, I’ve been given more second chances than I could have hoped for.
So I’ve been HURT. BADLY.
I’ve also been given great chances. Now it’s on me who I choose to be- the bitter person always hanging to my past…or the person that accepts that life throws you curve balls and you need to learn how to deal with them. That the aftermath of my rape and other bad things may linger from time to time again, but I am the one who chooses what to do with it. I am the one that chooses if I face my fears or live in them, only confirming them over and over.
I may have been left without control few times in my life.
But I have the control now. And if I let myself be, if I let myself slide, if I let myself be bitter- that is on me. It’s my choice. No guilt intended…but it’s time I own my own life, and stop distancing myself and running like a rabbit at the first sign of danger. To stop punishing myself when I’m afraid or something doesn’t go my way- and to stop punishing others for how I feel, too, like my life is threatened each time something small goes wrong. It wasn’t a choice when I was in bad state. I have worked hard to get out of that state, and it IS a choice now.
Whether I isolate myself, whether I hurt myself, break myself, diminish my good qualities and dumb myself down, until there’s nothing left…that’s on me. I can choose to do that, or I can choose to build myself up, to pay attention to things and people, to face things head on for better or for worse.
It’s my CHOICE.