Coping with Rape-related things in the media

Today, in the middle of my usual Facebook break in between work, I scroll down updates from pages I’ve liked (I do it more than I should, as I am sure a lot of us are guilty of). I’ve been pretty fine lately- even managed a huge work crisis without falling apart, which to me was a big thing. Usually any situation that makes my living feel threatened, sends me for a huge head spin that leads to a lot of panic and very little action. Being this afraid of failing, is paralyzing. But I have been doing good. Really good actually. Still, there are days, and then, on occasion there are the days

So now I’m scrolling in Facebook, and get to update from a newsletter than tends to publish personal stories. It’s about a woman who reported employee of a company for making a rape joke, and he got fired. (makes more sense in context, but my post isn’t about that story really). Suddenly, I’m pale as a sheet(at least I feel that way), my hands are shaking and my ears are filled with noise. I can’t remember how to breathe, let alone what is on my agenda for the day.

I’m not actually trying to make a thing out of this at all; it happens. After the first year(or few) we all learn how to cope with things. If you get injured, even if the place heals well, you’re always a little extra careful. There are times when old injuries still affect you- you get tired faster, or something else. If you have ever been assaulted, even when you recover completely, triggers get to you sometimes.

I don’t know what determines which one actually affects me. I read somewhere that there are 4 conditions under which addicts are more prone to relapsing- 2 of which were being hungry or exhausted/sleep deprived. It makes sense- when your regular living needs aren’t complete, you have less energy in you to fight off temptation. It’s sort of true in a way for triggers too, I guess. When you have less energy for some reason, it’s easier for those things to get to you. Even regular things and irritations, let alone the things that really tick you off.

Truth is, I really have been doing great for months.

I was mostly busy with improving my life quality and actually being present and actively participating in my life. Too busy to hang onto the past. When I felt my mind drifting back, I made a habit to write it out, until there isn’t much left to say. And that felt really good, too.

A lot of times, I intentionally watch or read things that are concerning rape. I don’t mean things like revenge movies where the girl “returns” and finds gruesome ways to have her vengeance. Those are bad quality and complete waste of time. I just mean movies that consider the recovery process after something like that, or personal stories and other such things. I guess in a way it’s a self-check. If I can read something like that with it being just a thing, without panicking or falling apart, than I am okay. What happened is not okay(under any circumstances) but I am. Okay. Not that it hasn’t affected me, a lot, but I am okay- it’s not ruling my life anymore.

But then there are those times when something gets to me, like now.

I don’t know how, what makes that exact thing affect me, when many similar things at other moments have not, but it happens anyway. I’m reading that article, because once I’ve seen the headline, I have tunnel vision. I need to know how it ends. It’s actually pretty empowering article, but I am still upset. May be it wasn’t just the story, may be it was that the woman that wrote it was a tourist, and so was I when I went through a bad situation. May be it was something else.

Before I know it, I start crying hysterically, and it takes me few minutes to get a hang of it.

And then I get a hang of it. And calm myself. And remind myself that while I do feel like hiding in a room on my own, and deciding that my work can wait until tomorrow, I am actually in a good place in my life. I remind myself that I have things I am working towards, and people in my life that care. I remind myself that if I calm myself and return to the present, there are things to look forward to.

And then, I return to work, and I am proud.

I know I can’t always avoid things that will trigger me. I’m happy that those moments are further and further apart, but I know they will still happen sometimes. I am happy that it doesn’t take me a week to get through them anymore- or few days. I am happy that it doesn’t take me hours of crying, eating junk food and running away from life to get back to being okay. I’m stronger now. I’m not sure why this particular thing got to me, but I am happy that at this point I am getting better and better with dealing with it. I am building a life I want, and dissociation really doesn’t go well with that.

So, I dry my eyes, take a deep breath, and get back to work.

Today, I am having a really nice project, that will really help my month financially, and allow me to live life in the way I want to. It’s really worth the effort. And so I get back to it. This time, I won the battle.

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