Bike-y, Boogie man, Denial, DIY princess, Dorothy, Fractured fairytales, Fragmented, Nile, Open wound, Post-traumatic stress, PTSD, Ruby Slippers, Therapy, Wizard of Oz
The awful truth
So do you realise in all of our sessions you’ve never said his name?
H challenges me halfway through Tuesday’s session with a simple pull-no-punches statement. Something I think I’ve been shying away from… I sorta knew it, but also not really, y’know?
Yeah I guess that’s right, I stare at her calmly whilst thinking, and I’m not about to start right now…
I don’t like to say his name, I continue, and I don’t like to remember what he looks like. Any of that just feels like… I’m invoking him…
Okay, that’s the first time I’d acknowledged that one out loud.
Damn it!! As H asks more questions… that familiar unwanted prickling of hot tears arrives… the chunk of heavy metal blocking my throat… then the coughing and choking as that part of the wound re-opens.
Grrrr!!! After all this time the tears still come!!!
I’d walked in feeling really flat after a day of utter exhaustion and hearing of a sister yogini’s death. Low energy, heavy heart, and uninspired. H had to work to get something out of me which is not the way it usually goes… I’d even thought… there’s probably not much to talk about today.
H thinks my experience of what happened is so fragmented, that whilst I integrate one part of the story, others remain hidden away and not addressed. And this challenges my ability to move past it all.
I even belittled this one.
It’s only a small piece of the picture, just another small one. Like a piece of glass that scoots under the fridge, it’s harder to find.
No. Its not small. It’s really big and significant. You’re completely avoiding looking at an important part of what happened…
So it seems.
But it’s complicated.
What’s in a name?
To most of my friends he’s simply “that guy who assaulted me”.
On this blog, I’ve called him Andre. That was partly to make sure he wasn’t confused with anyone else I talk about. And, it was sort of like ‘outing’ him… without really outing him… his real name starts with the same first letter (‘A’). (You’ll never guess, so don’t even try.)
But H has suggested in doing this, I’ve actually given him more power, made him ‘bigger’… Hmmm… Perhaps…
Images? I can handle a few seconds of seeing his face or a memory of our time together pre-assault. But that’s all. Letting them play sequentially? No way…
There’s something very sticky and messy in there because we were sleeping together for a few months… all that intimacy and vulnerability… when we met I was so glad to have him in my life, someone like me (so I thought)…
And remembering those times… where he played jazz & blues on one of his many guitars for me on a lazy Sunday morning whilst I lay in bed… passionate nights of love making… gentle and funny evenings together just hanging out… dancing all night at some live gig… Well, it’s confusing.
Then there’s the eyes – for a long time they were a constant photo negative hovering behind my eyeballs. Angry. Like a brand.
As my sobs subsided, H mentioned that in refusing to look, I’m actually refusing to fully accept what happened.
I am?? Yes.
I didn’t hear it the first time but I knew she’d said something important. I asked her to repeat it:
And as long as you do so, you’re holding the foundations of the trauma in place.
That in fact, refusing to look, creates anxiety which hurts more than the actual looking would. Kinda like the boogie man. It means I can’t think straight about what I’d do if I saw him again. I can’t tell myself I could handle it…
All this stops me moving forward.
Now, H tells me, she can finally understand why this is all still in play. I haven’t cut down the underlying anchors. This fragmented suppression of memories, might’ve been a way of handling it all, allowing me to keep functioning… but now its hurting my ability to put it behind me.
And you can put it behind you, you know…
I really, really want to. I do…
An open wound
I leave this therapy session with an open wound instead of one that’s healing.
I’m in that down place, that sad and heavy place. That place where I don’t want to get out of bed. Where, if the earth opened up, I’d jump right in. Unless I don’t…
On the train I’m standing, holding up Bike-y. But who’s holding me up? I want to crumple on the floor of the train. I feel so hollow. So pointless.
I’ve got to get off now at my station and climb the ramp to the street. I can’t quite go on, not just yet. So I stand there just outside the station at the bottom of the ramp. And I breathe and I wait.
This inability to name him. To see him in my mind’s eye. It’s cost me dearly. There’s no room in my heart… not for me or for anyone else.
I’m needy, that much is clear. But those needs can’t be fulfilled externally. Not that they ever can for anyone… but it seems I’ve been hoping they could. That someone could walk in and make all the ‘bad’ feel like just a dream from long ago.
But I’m not that kind of princess.
My story is not the ‘swept off my feet by the handsome prince/live happily ever after‘ kind. There are people with that story but its not mine. Never has been.
It’s generally the story women are raised to believe though. It goes something like this:
Princess is assailed by evil forces, and must go through great suffering. But something wonderful is coming her way soon – to go through all that… she deserves every happiness… her prince…
Well-meaning people will regurgitate this fable to friends in pain. And part of me has wanted so much to believe. That it could be true.
But… I don’t believe that any more.
I do think things can and will improve. However the improvement’s all of my own making.
After all, I’m one of those DIY princesses, so there’s no sweeping me off my feet. We’d probably trip over each other in the process anyway…
Well, that’s assuming there’s a prince. And if there is, he’s busy sorting his own shit out right about now. That’s my kind of guy – enquiring, reflecting, learning, seeking. He’s down there in the muck with me somewhere. Maybe… but I don’t even believe that’s a given any more.
The whole ‘there’s someone for everyone‘ story? Just another myth.
I am my own banisher of the evils in my life. And I’ve learnt the secret: when I look in the magic mirror and see that any demons are of my own making… and that I get to kiss the toad and lift the evil curse myself… all on my own… then I’m home free.
Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
I’m almost there, almost there. I know the spell backwards and forwards. But apparently it’s a matter of timing and stuff…
Its coming, I think I’m almost home; I can feel it, taste it. I sense the power-packed-kick-ass-take-no-prisoners–Svasti, waiting in the wings. She’s strong and fearless, she’s cheering me on… whispering what she can through the veil that separates us.
The veil of my own creation.
Not saying his name is really important as a part of denial and removing yourself a self away from what happened. I so know what you are doing…it took me a long time to not refer to my mother as “her.” LOL!!
Sometimes a wound needs to be debrided, in order for it to heal. Removing the dead skin covering it and protecting it. Then, it is left open and raw requiring some treatment at home or by your doctor.
Definitely best to get rid of that princess crap…seems like a hobble around most women’s feet…and those I’ve known who’ve found their “prince”–and I know a few–who’ve been in horrible situations that a guy has swept in and pulled them out of, have found that, once that crisis has faded into the past, that moment of good-guy heroism really isn’t much substance to build anything lasting on…not to mention that it being “rescued” prevents you from getting stronger…which is not to say it can’t be a good thing…only that you’re better off relying on your own strength…knowing you have it and can use it….
I also agree with CC that not saying his name is part of the denial. Therapy is a terribly painful process–and one that must go at its own pace to be effective (as long as you continue in the process and don’t give up on it). My wise mother in law had this saying, “There’s a readiness for everything” and I feel that is true for facing our demons as well. At some point, you will want to remove the festering sore inside and you will be ready to say his name, face his image, and then let that pain go through you like a knife. Then, you will be able to put the trauma to rest.
Take care–and hugs,
Thanks guys… this was kinda 2 posts in one, but it seemed to flow that way…
@CC – I can say his name in my head. But not out loud. Its open now, its raw… I’m working on it…
@Dr Jay – the laughable thing is, that the facts have never matched the fairy tale. I’ve never once been the kind of princess that gets rescued. I’ve always had to do the rescuing myself. Its funny how the mythology we’re raised on perpetuates anyway…
But looking it in the eye and saying it’s not like that at all! has been very important.
There is no way out of this mess except for me, working my ass off. I am really strong. Everyone always tells me I am. But I’ve never really believed it til right about now. I always felt so ripped off. Til now…
@Melinda – the time is coming. Not that I like it one little bit. Right now I don’t think there’s anything that makes me feel more uncomfortable than that.
As I was reading this I thought about “A” and just started to call him “A-Hole”. Is that wrong?
I recognized the ostrich picture right away. I saw it when I was searching for photos for my Beer, Bong Hits and Candy Bars post where I also talked about avoidance and denial, topics I know well.
I’m Italian, so it’s easy for me to say, out the bastard and let the chips fall. BUT – Seems by not outing him completely you are in fact imprisoning yourself.
I am no therapist (although I’ve been in therapy) but I can say that sometimes ripping open the wound, as hard as it is, is not a step back but a step forward. You had to re-open it to add the proper healing agent. We have to face it, the mucky ikky crappy stuff, in order to move on.
This “A-hole” dude did you wrong and that, my friend, also makes ME very angry. I’d like to bitch slap this guy but that won’t help your healing process much. Sounds like you need to bitch slap him emotionally. Think about it, process it and move to happiness. I know it’s so easy for me to say, but you CAN move past this.
Don’t Give Up girl, keep moving forward on your path and don’t forget to smile. You are so loved by so many…even us folks from so far away.
@Christa – What he did was certainly the act of an A-hole. But is that his personality? I guess what I’m saying here… is that’s not entirely true.
Sure, his violence is nothing to praise him for. But there’s a reason I was seeing him – there are positive things about him too. And I have to be able to acknowledge those things and accept what happened doesn’t define everything I know about him…
Saying his name isn’t so much about outing him, as about how I feel about it. I’m not quite ready to do that yet.
There’s nothing I could say to him now that would make me feel any better. This blog has done a much better job of that than telling him things ever could.
I recognise there’s value in re-opening some wounds, but it aint much fun for me in the process…
Luckily I work in an office full of people trying to make me smile every day. And a couple of those people I’ve begun to start to trust with the topics of assault, PTSD and depression. That day to day support is brilliant. I’ve been fortunate to land in a job with such wonderful people to work with…
Then, I have wonderful friends in my life who are there for me when I let them be.
And there’s a handful of my bloggy friends who’ve become much more than just casual contacts. I feel so much gratitude to them for their day to day support as well. Especially when I know they have their own sh*t going on…
Finally, I’m grateful to anyone who reads my posts, comments and tells me they care.
So thanks Christa!! It means alot. 🙂
I’m holding you in the light of my mind’s eye; envisioning you lifting the veil and feeling the full force of your own power, stepping fully into that light – knowing and embracing your Truth, Our Truth, and I see you there, as you are and always have been…
@Karin – thank you for your kind thoughts. I know I’m nearly there… just reaching the worst bits I think… the bits I didn’t know were there holding me back. xo
It’s interesting how what protects us eventually gets in the way of healing. You are getting there. There seem to be at least two parts to this — dealing with an attack and dealing with an attack at the hands of someone you trusted and cared about. That complicates things, adds a layer of emotional vulnerability.
(And I love the idea of the DIY princess!)
Chunks of Reality said:
I can see you are on a precipice and am about to make the jump to health. I am so proud of you. That one session really helped you so much. Your counselor is great!
I am proud of you, my friend! Sending warm rays of healing energy your way….
@Jennifer – yep, I think that’s the way it works. The trick is knowing the right time to shrug off the protection. It can’t be too early, but too late keeps things dragging!
Things are a little complicated for sure, but then who’s life experience isn’t? I guess…
@Chunks – thanks darlin’! Ha, if it was only the one session then I wouldn’t be where I am now. But… the cumulative effect leading up to this one session plus this one session…
John D said:
I can understand/feel how hard it is for you to work your way through this experience. It’s all the more amazing that you’re brave enough to open yourself to the rest of us while you’re going through it, not afterward when it’s more distant and safer to discuss. There’s a small way of saying thank you on my blog today. All my best – John
@John D – thanks 🙂
I don’t know if I’m being brave, more, just doing what I need to in order to get by. That includes writing my heart out as much as I can. And I am doing so anonymously for the most part… It might be different for others but for me, writing really helps to wring out the last painful drops that if left, just remain and poison the well…
thanks, 8), interesting post here, you have some great images that you have collected on your blog also.
@Lola – thank you! Its still interesting, given in my lastest therapy session I’m still refusing to talk about this stuff!
I know this is an archived post but I have been catching up on your blog. I came across it when I was searching for someone who could possibly understand what I’m going through. In my life the ones I love the most don’t understand. I sometimes get confused with my own feelings. I have suffered in silence for far too long and because of that my body is fighting me all the way. It won’t except it anymore. So now I blog about it. It’s taken me 40 years to come to the realization that I too suffer from depression & PTSD. I just started taking meds and therapy a month ago. I can so relate to your blog! Thanks for sharing. atleast I know I’m not alone!
Here is the link to my blog
@solecleansing66 – Thanks for dropping by my blog and I’m very glad that you were able to find some stuff here that you can relate to. It’s excellent that you’re getting the help you need, and I’m so glad you aren’t putting up with things in silence any longer! Keep blogging and keep going with the healing work. You can get there!!