{my} Africa

I was going to first do a post on what happened during the last 2 years before I stopped denying my trauma, but if I go chronologically, this post comes before.

This is about the reason I made this blog besides getting over the rape.

This is about who I became and the dream born that very same summer.

*

As I said before, when I went there, I needed to make money. In combination of things, including being in the middle of financial crisis years, I found finding a job increasingly hard. And with everything else happening that summer, in the middle of addiction, abuse, homeless people and gunshots I saw that summer, I knew I had to make choices for myself, and I was reluctant to let this world chew me up and spit me out. I knew I was smart and creative, and I thought I can change things around.

As it turns out, that was too naive of me. I was facing something bigger than the knowledge I had. Either way, I was there, and I had to do something to preserve my sanity.

So I thought- long and hard- of the life I want after I get out of that hell hole. I have been raised not really thinking that I can make a living out of creative things. Artist life was for hobbies, not for actual making living out of it. That summer assured me that life is too short to live it in a way you don’t enjoy.

I wanted to do something creative. I was going to try to do it part time while being there, to make some more money. At first I thought of the most obvious (for me) – making drawings and greeting cards, and trying to sell them to tourists (it was the middle of the summer, I loved drawing, and that made sense)…but in the middle of the emotional turmoil I was feeling, I couldn’t find inspiration to do that. Unlike some people, feeling low usually completely froze me when it came to drawing. I can draw only when happy.
I even tried pushing myself- I went to a crafts store and bought things for drawing in vague attempt to inspire myself. The fact that I spend some of my last money for supplies for something that I wasn’t sure would work, produced the opposite result. But I kept trying and praying.

Drawing did not work out for me. I stopped drawing that summer and none of my attempts to get back to it these 2 years succeeded.  But in my second visit in the store, I completely randomly stopped in the isle with beads and things for creating jewelry- they were all so different and colorful and I was fascinated. I must have been there for an hour, looking through things, materials, books with beading basics…that day I bought my first supplies for jewelry creating.

Later on I will create my own etsy store and decide to sell them online. And it will take 2 years for me to figure out that I want to take it and make it main source of living.

But for that moment, I just bought supplies, not even sure what my plan is, and not knowing much. But between different types of pliers, head pins, and my first pale pink crystal beads, I fall in love with jewelry making.

And 2 years later turns out, it isn’t a fling-it’s a life-long love affair.

p.s. yesterday I missed adding post for the day, but just like missing a day in a diet should now stop you from completing it, I’m not letting this one day derail me from posting each day from now on.

Of bad things and good consequences

Today is probably the third solely fun day I spend. Just regular day, for most people, I suppose, but for me, it’s a novelty. After spending the past 2 months between panic attacks, flashbacks and depression, a fun day is not what I expect at all.

But after piecing most of that night in my head, and it finally comes to place something changes. Slowly, in waves.

The first one is when I tell the last person for the list of friends that I have not told the truth to yet. I have not spoken to her for 2 months, and that is my only leverage to plead for her to forgive me. We used to live together, and I guess admitting it to her was in a way harder.

After the horrible few second where my heart pounds after I say the words- for a first time pronouncing them in my native language, and not in English, I know something changes. By the end of the conversation- one I have dreaded for weeks- we even manage to get to laughing and talking or regular daily stuff.

The next day I’m weak with relief. And ready for a new version of myself. I have mourned my past, and I’m sure I have more to figure out, but I’m ready to stop waiting around. I can start my knew life, and deal with the rest as I go.

The next surprise comes today. My ex-boyfriend and currently good friend, whom I was dating at some point during the last 2 years, wrote a story, which  included few sentences about the end of our relationship. What he said was not  important- but suddenly I was filled with overwhelming storm of feelings. It didn’t matter what he said- but every memory of the last 2 years was somehow impacted by my abuse, and I suddenly started thinking of it again.

His words from few weeks ago when I finally admitted to him what happened to me rang in my years. He said he’s proud. That I’m not the uncertain, shy girl that was jumpy all the time. I took his words as they were meant- as compliment. Now they rang in my ears as I read his recollection of our relationship. And I suddenly remembered how quick paced, always nervous person I have been, how I always looked people for approval, and was ready to jump from the smallest thing. I guess it was a leftover effect from being bullied in school, or my abusive relationship few years back, or may be I was always that way. I’m not exactly sure.
I think at some point I took it as part of my character.

Now, lately, I realize, even through everything, I have been a lot calmer, confident. I’ve grown a lot. Dealing with the rape took a lot out of me, but apparently made me better than I ever was.

I knew that despite hating what happened that summer, it brought me 2 great things- through connection of events and people it brought me to my current partner, which I love more than I have ever loved anyone before, and that is how I found what I want to work.
So of course, I appreciated that there was something good in the whole situation.

But I never thought that the worse thing in my past my end up making me better person than I have been before.

It’s too bitter irony.

Spring – Cleaning for Your Brain

For most people, they may never get to that process. For many people, thinking so much over every single detail of what they do and how they do it, is too much over-thinking, when life is complicated enough as it is.

But for everyone who has been through trauma, we all go through this process eventually, with or without counselor/ psychologist. We deny what happened, cover it up, find a way to live with it, like a dirty secret, and learn to live with the overflowing ripple effects of hiding it in the corner of our brain.

Until the day comes, where it catches up with us, and we finally start dealing with it. And just like a room which hasn’t been cleaned in years, there is a lot of dirt. A LOT. What happened, how it happened, how we reacted, things we did or didn’t do because of that, guilt, pain, denial, weakness…We don’t want to see those things, which is why they have ended up piling in a corner in a first place. But, sooner or later, we all get to cleaning them.

I got to start doing that 2 months ago, and for these 2 months, for the most part, it seemed like I’m cleaning and cleaning without any obvious effect. Until yesterday that is.

Here is the thing.

When they recommend over and over again in the glossy magazines to do spring cleaning of your house, they never mention how dirty work spring cleaning is. We all want to see our floors and rooms and shelves clean and ordered, but mostly none of us want to drag through mud to get to them, and dealing with traumas is close to our brain’s equivalent to that.

Dealing with my own recovery, I’ve tried to make it clean-cut. Research all I can on the topic, talk to enough people, have good support system, try to take good physical care of myself. But, while none of us want to admit it, recovery, as spring cleaning, is a dirty job. It requires going deeper into our psychology than we would like to, flipping through things that we would like to pretend are not there.

And after all the scrubbing of my soul I did lately, yesterday, I finally started seeing clean surface. It was the first time in months, in years, I really slept. Not to forget or avoid something, not with troubling dreams, not because I was too exhausted or drunk. I just slept, like a baby.

And when I woke up, for a first time, I had energy to start planning my future again, and to see I had one.

For a first time, I looked the color of the sky, and didn’t feel like I was doomed to never enjoy it again.

For a first time, I had the energy to order and clean, and workout, and talk to people, and feel excited about it.

And for a first time in a while, the shroud of pain broke, and I began to see.

I’m sure I haven’t cleaned all I have to, and I have long and bumpy road of me, but I know I made another step. I know it hasn’t been pointless. I know that cleaning unsettling things, even when it hurts like hell and takes forever, it still has a point.

I’m sure I have a thousand more steps to full recovery, but for a first time I’m strong enough to know I can take them, one by one.

I have done more thinking lately than some people do most of their lives, and I’m happy about it. Most of it, the dirt of it, has involved a lot of thinking of my rape. But beyond that, in the tiny part of my brain where I still had hope in tomorrow, I thought a lot of the life I want to have, where do I want to be and what do I want to do. I know how it feels to not have reason to live.

So now that I do, I’m never going to live a life of excuses. I’m not going to work something I don’t enjoy(well, may be temporarily), or lose time being concerned with people I don’t even know. My brain went to way too dark places in these years. If I get out of this, I have no excuses to life unhappily. Life is too short for that.

 

Screams

When there is something important in our lives, something bigger than all we know, it pushes through the walls of our lives. It screams for attention, corroding all the other connections we have build for ourselves, until we are unable to know else. It blinds us from seeing things in perspective and devours all of our knowledge. The things we have known fade and shrink, and blur in comparison, while that one thing screams like an awful spoiled little child, taking it’s toll on our lives.

It grows under our skin and eats up our very being, and while we may not always see it on the surface, we can feel it’s there. And when it has eaten away on our being, only then we want it to stop, only it doesn’t.

By the time a scream reaches the surface the sheer force it gathers is bigger than everything we know. It has build up, slowly, surely, at the place where we haven’t left anything else to grow so far. By that time the scream is so strong that it blocks our thoughts, mutes our hearing, rejects our voice, until we can’t realize there is anything more to life.

By that point, healing is hard, because we can’t fight something so big with a single thought. We need to take our life apart, pick the pieces and connect them again, to allow ourselves to be more. Nice people, nice places, who cares? The noise pulses, pushes to the surface, swallows our understanding of the world, mutates, scrambles our knowledge of things.

Who have we been before now, before then, before the noise? We have pushed all other feelings under water because it hurts too much. But the scream build up of millions of screams over the years can’t be covered up by a moment’s desire for something nice.

Screams are like magnets at the center of our lives. And when we are so drawn to them, and sticking to them, if we realize this isn’t the place for us, we may chose differently. But to do so we need strong will, strong belief. We need to find another center, and build around it, and grow it, until it is big enough to concur the old one. We need to hear its sound and see its colors to know there is something better. Getting to build over is hard, because we have to do it consciously, while screams build in the dark corners of our minds without us noticing. It’s hard because we have to think of every detail, and hear it over the screams, and make conscious choices to get to something better.

In this past 2 months I have pondered over every single detail of that summer, leaving no stone unturned. I cleaned my consciousness, and my memory of all the dirty past gathered in there, and scratched until everything was clean, until everything was squeaky clean, and sore, and bleeding. Every feeling I had pushed down these 2 years had resurfaced and screamed for attention. I got so devoured into that pain I stopped seeing straight. People seemed darker, colors more muted than before. The faith I had was like matches in the dark, minute’s explosions leaving no memory to remind that once I have had a fire in me, keeping me alive and pushing me forwards towards the things I want.

I knew I needed stronger faith that this one, but the pain screaming in me had twisted my view of the world so much, I saw no way to move forward.

Until today.

Until I chose.

I no longer want to live in the dark.

I no longer want to push down my feelings until I can’t avoid them.

I no longer want to live in a glass house, avoiding the outside world, so that I won’t fall again.

I no longer know what I need to do to recover.

It might take thousand things, thousand matches, to regain the kind of faith I have had before.

But through the scream, through the pain, I finally felt something, and I chose.

I want to live.