Hello darkness, my old friend…

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Until today, these lyrics from the song Sound of Silence had a completely different meaning to me. I’m not sure how I could have listened to it a million times and related it to PTSD, but I completely missed it. This morning, however, the first two lines came to me as I started thinking of a moment I had last night before bedtime.

I have been living in recovery with PTSD for almost two decades now, and for the most part, it has faded into a light haze rather than a menacing darkness.  Still, there are moments that always catch me off guard and and make me worry about what is to come. Last night, something triggered a thought, a question of when something happened, and even though, as most of us do, I immediately told myself that’s not something I even want to know, the fear crept up that my brain would not let go.

Sometimes I feel like my mind and my trauma scarred brain are often at odds. My brain says it needs to tell me things, while my mind says I really don’t want or need to know. All these years later, the two still fight like children about who gets to sit in the front seat of the car. This struggle between the two left me wondering before bedtime if I would have a nightmare about what I didn’t want to remember, or if I would wake up with a new memory. It was so unsettling that it was hours before I could make myself try to fall asleep.

Fortunately, I woke to find my fear had not come true, but there is still this nagging feeling that my brain is just dying to tell me what it knows. I know the longer I ignore it, the more horrifyingly dramatic ways it will present my story when it finally breaks out into it’s performance though. So I wait for a moment when I can cuddle up quietly and allow it to speak softly with me about the things it needs to tell me. I will listen and allow it to get all the negative it’s been holding out, and I will grieve anew and give myself time to accept the feelings that I should have felt and dealt with long ago…

Hello darkness, my old friend…

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My Own Little World…

“Now it makes sense!” He said that the only thing he had remembered about childhood was that he seemed always to be alone. “Now I understand that being alone was when I felt safe. There was no one around to hurt me.” 1

This quote struck a chord with me.  It resonated deeply, and it brought everything about the few good childhood memories I have into perspective…

As a child, these are a few of my most vivid memories:  riding my bike for hours, searching sandy terraces for quartz crystals, exploring the woods near my home, playing in my room, sitting in my closet in the dark, reading under the covers after the lights were out, fixing meals, eating dinner, playing board games.  Most of these memories are after the age of nine.  All these memories are peaceful, and in every one, I am alone.

I have other memories.  Memories of school, memories of being at my mom’s, memories of staying with my grandmother, In some of these memories, I am solitary, but never totally alone. Most of them are vague, the ones that are more clear are generally punctuated by fear, anxiety, or hurt (emotional or physical).

I have some memories of my “family,” as it were (dad, step-mom, brother, and me).  I am not sure there are more than a couple that involve all four of us.  Most of the memories are from trips to visit family or go shopping. I remember the parts where I was alone more vividly than the rest.  The remaining vivid memories I have from that time are negative ones.

When I was alone, I felt safe.  When I was alone, I was sure of myself.  When I was alone, I was not doing ANYTHING wrong.

It makes more sense now why I prefer to be alone.  My world has perspective when I am not anxious about someone else.  I deal better with people when the situation is one to one because most of my positive interactions as a child were exactly that.  Just me and my mom, my friend and I, etc.

My world was, and always has been, very small.  I like it that way because it is all I have ever known…


1. Cecil Murphey. When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman’s Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation (p. 43). Kindle Edition.

Abandonment…

Emotional abandonment has been a huge issue for most of my life.  When I was younger, I spent a good deal of time placating and pleasing those around me in order to ensure that they would not leave me.  This behavior led me into a series of very bad relationships, which I would not leave myself due to the fear of loss and being viewed negatively by others.

During my journey to healing, I started learning how being alone does not necessarily mean lonely or unloved.  I have also learned that leaving a negative relationship will not make me a bad person, or make others think less of me.  Even though it has taken a great deal of time, I have also learned that different people have different levels of engagement when it comes to the world around them.  Some people may be less engaged than others, but that does not always mean that they care less.

Even still, there are times that silence and distance eat at my confidence and make the internal dialogue kick in.  My mind begins racing with thoughts I have sought to quell, like, “What did I do to make them not like me anymore?” “Why are they ignoring me?”  “How can I fix it?”  And although I KNOW that the situation may not have anything to do with me and it may not even be as extreme as I feel it is, I have the irrational (yes, I know it is irrational, but I cannot convince myself all at the same time) fear that I did something wrong.  I want reassurance, yet I know that if it is not about me, I am being inconsiderate and needy…..

It is the seeking reassurance without being needy part that I seem to always get stuck on.  How do I express what I think or feel without it coming across as all about me?  How do I make someone understand that their silence or distance, while it may be nothing, is flipping me out – without sounding crazy?  How do I fight the urge to throw my hands up in the air and say, “Forget it.” because I don’t know what else to do?

And once more I realize that there is much work to be done.  My childhood comes back to haunt me, and I feel all of the emotions of my youth rushing in.  One day I will overcome it all, but right now I am overwhelmed….

Always with us…

So many times in life, I have heard people say that victims of abuse should just forget about what happened to them and get on with their lives.  While I understand that these are ignorant words and have learned to ignore them, sometimes I wish that people could understand how small things can set in motion a flood of memories that we do sincerely wish we could ignore….

Like the smell of green beans cooking…

While I’ve smelled this aroma many times, for some reason this time it was different.  As I walked into the kitchen last night to see how much longer the beans needed to cook, I took in the wonderful smell and suddenly remembered how it used to smell at my grandmother’s house on Sundays.  That memory in itself was pleasant.  However, it was quickly followed by the recollection that my grandfather did something bad on a Sunday, while this scent filled the air around me….

It is moments like these, when memories of abuse interject themselves into the present moment, that we, as survivors, realize that we will never forget.  These memories are as much a part of our experience as the rest of our lives.  Yet, unlike the rest of our experiences, these traumatic events are recorded in a completely different fashion, one which time and all the wishing in the world can never erase.

Who Am I?

One of the most wonderful affirmations I have seen is the one that reads:

“I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife, niece, aunt, friend….survivor.”

It is a wonderful feeling to truly know who you are, and I am thankful, that through all that I have endured, I have had the opportunity to learn who I am.  Yet though it all, I often wonder, how many people, other than myself, know the truth about who I really am?

If you are reading this, I would like for you to take a moment and ask yourself, “Do I know her?”

What if I am your daughter?  Would it break your heart to read the words I have written here?  If I were your sister, would it anger you that someone had tried to destroy someone so precious to you?  If I were your niece, would you wonder what you could have done to protect me?  If I were your friend, would you want to know what you could do to help me cope with the mental anguish that these secrets have caused?

Who knows, maybe you do know me.  If you do, I would hope that you would do everything in your power to learn how to keep this from happening from someone else.  If you don’t know me, I would hope that you would take a moment to think about how you would feel if I were the person that you love with all your heart.  How would you feel to know that I had been hiding this secret all these years because I was afraid you would not love me anymore?  What would you do to show me that I am not broken, and that I have no reason to be ashamed?  Would you be willing to speak out on my behalf?

Sometimes we do not like to talk about things that are not pleasant, but remember that I (or your mother, sister, daughter, friend….) may have been, or may currently be a victim of abuse.  As unpleasant as it may be to face that fact, remember that it is even harder for her to speak out, bearing her soul and hoping that she will find love, comfort, and respect in a world that had done her so much harm.  Help her by learning the signs, gathering resources, and learning how to help her cope.  Should the day ever come that she needs you, you will be there, and the love and comfort you share with her will give her the courage she needs to not only be your loved one, but to say that she has survived.

Never Before…

I am not what you would consider an art buff.  Sure, I love pretty pictures and enjoy graphic design, but I have never really cared much for art exhibits or paintings.  One of the main courses I avoided with great care in college was Art History.

I only say these things to help you understand how deep of an impression one artist and their works has made on me today.  When browsing through the “People You May Know” section of my dashboard, I noticed a page for the Darkest Dreams A Lighted Way exhibit.  Upon opening the page, I was intrigued and decided to have a peek at the art that had been displayed during the exhibit.  Immediately, I was drawn to the art of the Exhibition Curator & Director, Aunia Kahn.  Upon seeing her works of art, I was deeply touched by the raw emotion that she is able to convey, and the way that she captures the inner struggles of victims of abuse.  Never before have I been so moved by a work of art, as I was by “We Soon Forget” and “One Day After” (as seen in Aunia’s Our Human Error Gallery).

After viewing Aunia’s works of art and jewelry, I now know why art can be so captivating.  In order for art to have meaning, it must touch us on an emotional level and connect with some part of our soul.  Each work of art will speak to us differently, some may never speak to us at all.  However, for each piece of work, there is at least one person who will be forever changed by the connection that they have made with the heart of the artist, and with themselves.

For now, the only words I have left are, I am completely in awe….

Is it Father’s Day?

Wow!  I completely forgot that today was Father’s Day.  Some people would gasp at that statement, because to them, it would mean that either I was a terrible daughter, or that they should feel sorry that I missed out on what they had.

Yet for me, this day is simply a day.  There is no sadness in not celebrating – there is freedom.  It reminds me that I have freed myself from the shackles that held me for so long.  Not only that, but that I have the right and the ability to choose to end abusive relationships.

So, don’t feel sorry for me, or think that I am bad on this day.  Just remember that, by freeing myself, I have been given a voice in this world – and now I can make a difference in the lives of others.