The day when you know you CAN

In recovery from rape, there are are many important milestones, some more important than others.

There are 2 days that seems to be from the more important ones for me.

The first one is the day in which you know that you CAN’T.

That isn’t attached to anything- you simply can’t anymore.

You relinquish the fake feeling of control that avoiding the subject of SA gives you. You stop pretending that you can keep going just as if nothing had changed in your life. You stop pretending that you can use that as the best challenge in your life and get out of it unscratched, unbruised and uncaring. That is the day that you let yourself be vulnerable and say what really happened to you. Not in a matter-of-fact way, as if it’s as important as going to the store. In a real way, with every tiny ugly feeling hiding behind it. For me that day was now more than a year ago, somewhere in the last april or may. One would think that I would remember the date, but that isn’t so important. I remember the moment though. The gut-wrenching feeling of crying for 5 hours until I can even pronounce the word rape (or stutter-cry through it anyway) and admit that it has really happened to me.

I had said it before, of course. Once I implied it, once I admitted it while drunk, and few times I admitted the situation and almost said it, but instead lied saying that I managed to safely get out of it. Before all those instances, for the first 6 months, I reluctantly searched abuse and sexual abuse forums when I felt lost, and then convinced myself that it’s not what happened to me. Then I promptly managed to push it so far down my mind to start thinking that it really didn’t happen. So that is the first moment in which I really realized that isn’t something from the movies, and that it happened to me, was that day, those 5 hours. That’s when I gave up. On trying to pretend it wasn’t happening…but also on thinking that I can do…well, a whole lot of stuff. I just felt exposed, like I had peeled off all my skin and I was bleeding, and by my own choice at that. THAT day can feel like one of the worst days that you’ve had (the occurrence of the SA excluded).

But that is in fact a good day.

THAT is the day on which your true recovery begins. Continue reading

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1. Awareness

It all begins 5 months ago, which was exactly about 2 years after my SA.

There is no problem. I have no problem. Nothing really big happened that summer. I’m completely fine all the time. I mean minus the nightmares, not-sleeping, not-eating and feeling everything is completely pointless.

That first week back from working as an intern at a festival at the sea, I know something is changing in me. There is part of me that has enjoyed immensely the sea, the new people and memories, and that wants to save the experience and try to build from it. But there is the other part of me. The part I have pushed down for way too long. That festival, it has pushed me to the limit, and I can’t continue to deny what I have for 2 years.

 I can’t, but I have to. The free week I have until I’m back at work is enough to get myself together, or so I say to myself.

Tough love baby! I just gotta make it through few more weeks of work.

I’ve made it 2 years, swimmingly, this is a baby job, I can do it in my sleep.

*

That one week I circle the apartment like a ghost. I don’t call my best friend, or my other friends, they don’t even know I’m back yet. I go out to buy food, I skype with my partner who is then back at his city. I sleep and circle the apartment like a ghost, trying to get myself ready for the coming week. 

But I am not ready, not even a bit.  Continue reading

6 months in

There is this moment, that was probably the greatest moment for me that first year after the rape. It’s that moment you know. The moment you have been waiting for. The moment in which you look into your friends eyes and know you are finally home and nothing has changed.

It took about a week for it to blow up in my face.

*

This is the moment I fly back to my country, about 2 months or more after the rape.

I’ve waited to get back for all this time. All that kept me going through the too little work hours and the nights waking up each hour, was the thought about a home. I have home, friends, family, university, future, all waiting for me to get back.

I crave that moment every day, this is the moment keeping me going.

I deny access of everything and anything bad to my brain, and it slowly grows under my skin like a tumor. I smile widely, I think positively(or so I say to myself). I push all the bad memories down, because I can’t fight for job and survival and deal with them too.

Even as it becomes clear that I won’t make enough money that summer, going back home is what keeps me going. It’s hell., but it’s a temporary hell. I can do temporary.

Not getting the money I need means also that I need to take a leave of absence at my university. As I think over that, it makes me feel weak with relief. I love university. My friends are there. It’s my home. I like even the classes and the little sleep. I love it. So that feeling of relief catches me off guard and I’m not able to explain it for a while.

*

September comes, and I am back where I belong, at home, and everything that happened in the summer is safely an ocean away from me. This whole first week goes in euphoria. I have been in hell, and I am out of it. And for a second, it seems everything is right again. I am at home, I have my friends and family around, I have the university. It feels like I’m on top of the world. I have struggled with classes and other things during my university years that far, but now they all seem so much smaller than what I went through during the summer.

If I can do that I can do anything….right?

Wrong.

About 10 days later- 10 really great days of sleeping, resting, and seeing friends, my past finally catches onto the distance. The happiness wears off and I step into the reality. The reality of not having enough money to return my debts, not being able to tell great stories of my over-seas adventure, not being able to sleep or make the money I need.

I tell myself I am trying that fall. I am trying really hard. I keep repeating. I was through the worst, I am here, I can do anything. But it doesn’t work. I don’t have any strength to make it work, no will, no hope. I am so drained, even getting up in the moment feels pointless. Yet, I can’t explain that to anyone, I don’t want to. I just want to forget and move on. So I push myself.

Be positive. Try again. And again. Be positive. Forget. Find a way to turn things around. I don’t turn things around that semester in leave of absence. I just live through the months. I don’t even live. I simply exist. Most of the time, I cry in the bathroom(I feel that I don’t deserve to do it, so I can only let myself feel that way when I’m alone) and get in fights with my mother for no reason at all. I keep lying to myself. There’s no way I can explain the truth about that summer to anyone, so I lie to myself, force myself to be happy and try to find a way to turn things around. Which, considering the fact that I am having very silent, invisible, breakdown- can’t really happen. You can’t fight for a life you want if you can’t find a reason to even keep breathing. And all this time, even with my friends, I push the unhappiness down and I don’t let them see anything is wrong. I have been through the worst and I need to be invincible. I go through that fall the same way I went through the summer- thinking that the moment I get to the spring everything will be different. In the spring, I am going back to my university, which is in another city. Everything I was before is waiting for me there, or so I think.

Meanwhile, that fall, to everyone I know, I have few empty months. My parents want me to get a job, my friends expect me to get an internship. I can’t do either, and I am angry at all of them for no reason, all the time. And all this time I can’t explain why I am so deeply unhappy with everything.

But, unhappy or not, I somehow make it to the end of January, and that means a new semester. And getting back to normal. Fresh start. Or so I say to myself. Because I feel fine.

It’s that moment you know. The moment you have been waiting for. The moment in which you look into your friends eyes and know you are finally home and nothing has changed.

In that exact moment I know, nothing has changed, but I have.

There’s nothing left from the old me, that I can remember.

My life as I know it has changed forever.

And there is no going back.

One step forward, two steps back

For couple of weeks during the summer, full of a lot of work, it finally comes down on me- the life I chose, the things I’ve been through…. I’m not completely sure why I’m going back to that, but after these couple of weeks I end up completely drained. I have no more power to fight it. The harder we run from something, the stronger it comes to hunt us, and I have never ran from something as much, my entire life. And so, I come down to dealing with it. Between panic attacks, flashbacks, crying, depression, ptsd, lots and lots of talking and thinking and taking walks, I lose myself, more then ever. I lose sight of whom or what I’m doing this for, or whether I moving forward. I lose a sight of ever being in another situation.

Sometimes I have the feeling I am moving forward, and sometimes, I’m simply drowning. I lose sight of the shore…which, as they tell me is a good thing. And so it all comes to this week, these days, when one morning I look out of the window and I realize that the fall is coming. I have lived through the summer, and my nightmares. I have work piled up to my ears. And all I can think of is: when did it become fall?

I have been so focused on getting through the days, that I have missed when the seasons changed. And most of the days I have this familiar, yet foreign feeling, that I’m not sure if I’m going forward or backwards. Even if you don’t have that literal meaning in you- you have to accept and get through your past, to move forward- I keep taking steps, and sliding backwards every once in a while. But unlike in theory, where math shows you that 2 steps backwards, and one step forward should equate to being one step back after all, life’s calculations aren’t exactly such.

Because in life, the real true fact that matters is which are the steps taken. Sure, I spend another 2 hours trying to create something for my business, only to break down again, and let go for the night. I did create one thing though. That’s a start. Yesterday, I mostly didn’t have such a great day- I had another flashback, which led to a short breakdown on my part. I also did not finish the work I had for the day- 2 steps back.

Meanwhile however, I met with one of my best friends. I had recently told her the truth about my rape, and spend few half-awkward half-nice meetings with her. In the past 2 years, between my not-talking about anything while I was in denial, and us often being in different countries, we lost touch a lot, and even though meeting occasionally was still the same, I missed the day to day deep talks we used to have. Now, few meetings where we talked about random stuff happening to us, and I was somewhat telling her the hell I was going through, we are finally back. Back to being the kind of friends that can talk every day and always have what to say. If I feel bad I don’t have to lie to her anymore. But we can also talk about nothing and everything. We are back to being as close as we were.

So, in the math of life, I think I have gained. Sure, another somewhat fruitless day, and memories I’d rather not have. But the times are this way. I’ve been having such days for months. And despite all, I think I will be out of them soon. But on the way, what is a missed day, compared to having gained back my best friend? That’s priceless.

Of Gods and Ghosts

Despite all my good intentions I spend another day in bed, trying to get myself to work. Occasionally doing something.
Telling myself, that I’m just about to start.
Telling myself that everything will be okay.
Telling myself that I can’t be later than I already am, that I can’t make things worse.
Telling myself, from tomorrow.
I will be who I want to be from tomorrow. I will put the needed effort in from tomorrow. I won’t think of the past from tomorrow. I won’t let it affect me anymore.
I’ve been living in that lie for the past month. Continue reading