This is the story of how I developed, and lived with, PTSD
The following story is dark, painful and may provoke strong, deep emotions or feelings. It is not intended to upset, anger or hurt anyone. It is painfully personal and was written with the intention of creating empathy, understanding, and unconditional, universal love and acceptance among all who read it. Its intention is to help those who are suffering to realize they are not alone, to help others realize they can drastically affect (positively or negatively) those who are suffering (most likely suffering in silence), and to realize just how interconnected our past, present and future actions and inactions (both internal and external) are with all other beings and how much we truly affect everything around us. It was written to induce change for a brighter, more accessible, more livable future. It is written from my past perspectives, and although I feel extremely disassociated currently from most memories of my past, I put forth a monumental effort of actually reliving each experience, each emotion, each thought, each physical reaction, as though a movie of the senses someone else had recorded and experienced was vividly played inside my soul, my being for me to transcribe, thus placed to rest for good in its grave of the past. Everything literally poured itself out of my oppressed being, and the result is the mess of pain, suffering, and anguish that follows. Please do not continue reading if you are easily upset, emotionally charged, or of a fragile state unless you are prepared. I quite literally unleashed the entire past I kept buried for over 11 years and due to relevancy and the subject matter at hand, nothing about it is pretty. Consider this also a possible trigger warning for those with PTSD, however it is my hope that this section can allow light to shine through the darkness, transmuting the suffering into goodness for humankind.
I once was a girl. A beautiful girl, both in the heart and on the surface, a very naive girl. A girl who believed in the beauty and goodness of others, a girl who believed in god and second chances, a girl who believed people can change. She was a kind, forgiving, understanding girl. A girl who functioned on society's desires and expectations and a full social schedule. A girl most people want to be.
I killed that girl. She couldn't survive. She couldn't handle it. I helped to end her unrelenting suffering. I listened to her pleas and I set her free, releasing her from her pain, her memories, her responsibilities, the expectations that haunted her as she could never live up to what she was destined to be anymore. She couldn't be anymore. But she was too good to end her suffering on her own. In releasing her from the demons attempting to devour her very essence I unknowingly agreed to chain myself to her memories, her past, her ghost, her trauma. Visions that she personally experienced creep into my dreams, my mind, my psyche. Ghostly specters from a past I can't identify haunt my very existence until I must admit that perhaps she and I are one and the same.
But perhaps I should start at the beginning...
I was a good child, very obedient and desiring nothing more than to please and therefore be labeled as "good". Dichotomy was abundant in my loving but strict family. If you were anything other than "good" it was fire and brimstone. Or worse. Maybe your actions caused the parental unit to become "disappointed" in you, effectively changing the way you were viewed for a time, turning as I saw, a parental unconditional love into a conditional love. You felt loved in as much as your actions dictated you should be. Of course it was explained that this wasn't the case, but in actuality this was reality for me.
My mother was a homebody- raising myself and my younger brother and sister until my sister was in school when she went back to her career as a teacher. She always taught us things creatively and instilled a belief in creativity, perfection, education, submission, and living up to expectations. My father was a professional student in addition to his other job titles. He was most often a teacher of math, industrial arts and technology, and a wrestling coach, but strove for years to be a pastor and start his own church. He built outdoor decks for people in the summertime or taught summer school, and was often an interim pastor at the various churches we attended. He once worked for a contracting company. We moved around a lot when I was a kid and I loved it! Meeting people was fun, and if you made a mistake you could try again from scratch after you moved to the next place. You could re-invent yourself when you got older and if you didn't like it just go back to normal next time. My father was constantly attending school during this time. When I was 3 or 4 he attended seminary, essentially baptist faith. I was taught the religious dogma from the moment I was born. I was asked to recite the books of the bible every night before going to bed, often along with various bible verses, even whole chapters of psalms, etc. I even was taught a few greek and Hebrew words or letters. We were brought up increadibly strict. There is order in this world and if you cause disorder you destroy the world. That essentially was the message I received.
On the flip side, my parents did the best they knew how to do with the limited resources they had. We were on welfare and living in public housing for a few years when I was younger but I never really noticed (accept that I always had a packed lunch when everyone else had a hot lunch. I never minded it though accept after I got sick off the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and was still forced to eat them because it was all we had. The smell of peanut butter still makes me nauseous.) I couldn't take the ballet or dance lessons that I wanted to take because there was no money for that, but they always made sure Christmas and birthdays were special. Mamma often couponed and rebated (back when it wasn't actually cool to do, lol) to make sure we were provided for. They often gave up their own Christmas presents for us and made sure we had everything we needed and never fully understood our plight. Because of this, certain things were sacred. You always ate everything on your plate. Even if it was peanut butter and jelly. You would sit there all night until you finished it- if you didn't (that was unthinkable), your ass would be hurting later. You never questioned authority as parents are always right. My image of who god was and what god was like, was my father.
Sexuality was a very bad thing, and super awkward at best to discuss (at worst painful). The expectations were very much understood, absolute, and not often discussed but very often alluded to. In movies, adult scenes (think the make out scene in ghost or similar) were often fast forwarded or the channel quickly changed with an explanation of how bad that is, followed by a sense of guilt, shame, and the "d word" (disappointment). If anyone was caught having a child out of wedlock, remarrying, living together, etc, etc, etc (anyone- didn't matter if they were Mother Theresa), there was harsh criticism openly dished out in the car or behind closed doors followed by more acutely active disappointment. This person was no good anymore- they had completely let everyone down. Everything that was once positive about the person was gone- all that remained was a scarlet letter. They had no value anymore in the eyes of my parents, or so it seemed to me. I'm sure this was done to instil a firm belief in dichotomy- good and bad, righteous and evil- in us kids. I'm also sure it worked well.
At the moment we became teenagers on our 13th birthdays, we were taken out to dinner and given a special birthstone ring. It was to symbol our virginity and was to be worn until our wedding day when we would then give it to our significant other signifying that we had waited until marriage to be with only them. It was awkward but I understood the significance, so it was also meaningful to me. It meant I was good and worthwhile. It meant I had value. It was a promise to our parents that we would wait till marriage- that we wouldn't disappoint them- that in their eyes we would remain everything they think us to be and not lose value in their sight. So we wouldn't lose value in the eyes of others. So we wouldn't be frauds. I was brought up to believe the dogma behind it more than almost anything else in life, so I was on board and committed.
As I grew older our financial situation became better. Dad still went to school, this time to become a counselor. I was at the age where I wanted to practice sports with my father, especially softball as I enjoyed it a lot. Mamma and the siblings wanted to help, but as they couldn't catch or throw it was probably better playing with a brick wall, lol! I know my father wanted to spend time with us, it just wasn't really possible at that time with getting another degree. I ended up playing an instrument instead. I was torn between violin as we were brought up on classical music and I loved it and flute because I had heard beautiful flutes play when I was in second grade and decided that should be my instrument. I picked the saxophone. I decided jazz would be lots of fun. I had shown a proficiency in art up until then, and was quite proficient in music as well. I'm sure the fact that my parents were so rigid and strict with making me practice did nothing but help that proficiency.
Then Jr High hit along with the most awkward years of my life (probably the most awkward years of anyone's life). It was the first time you met most of your classmates you would be with in high school as there were about 4 elementary schools that combined to form the Jr and Sr High schools. My father was a teacher there and was described by the students as a cross between Kramer and the visine guy. It's pretty humorous now, but at the time the social fallout and the fact that my father actively contributed to it (buying me button up shirts and colored pants instead of jeans and a t-shirt) made me lose trust in my father. I turned to my mom and her wonderfully retro wardrobe from the 70's that she never wore anymore as a fix, then decided to rely on myself from then on, saving up my lunch money instead of actually eating so I could buy clothes.
This trend continued more pronounced in high school until my Jr and Sr years I never ate breakfast or lunch. In high school I was very self reliant, what they now call a self starter. I was in the advanced programs, testing out of college courses for future credits, constantly pushing myself. I was totally consumed by music, placing in district band and jazz every year I possibly could. I learned music theory, and taught myself flute as I continued my studies in piano and classical voice (I began studying both in seventh grade). I wrote complex music (for a high school student anyway), and landed myself in the premiere choral group too. I went to jazz camps everywhere, auditioned and was accepted into many bands like the state fair band, air force band, and local community or gig bands. I made it to the all state jazz ensemble, and my senior year chose to play with the army national guard band as a way to get through college. I was accepted on a music scholarship and my life was going to be music. My saxophone was an extention of my body and did what I told it to do as quickly and effortlessly as you tie your shoe. For some of you that may be a bad analogy ;). Around this same time when I was 16 I had just come back home from an exchange trip to Germany to learn their culture and language better. I also played a few gigs over there with a local band and was getting ready to join another side project back home. I met with a few friends to talk about my trip and was hit on by an employee of the place we were at. I was flattered at the attention and agreed to go on a date with the guy as I had been convinced I would never date anyone until I went to college as everyone knew my dad (everyone in the district had to take his class) and no one would want to date me for that reason. I figured what can it hurt? I went on the date and had a good time, so when he wanted to be exclusive I thought well why not? Could be fun, and it probably won't last more than six months anyway...
It was awkward at first, especially with the parents, as he was college age, but it was realized that I was going to do what I decided to do. He also "found god", possibly as a way to appease the parents (he liked to say he could get anyone wrapped around his finger), possibly for himself, I'm not sure, but it did actually appease the parents as he joined us at church multiple times a week. But there was always something that didn't feel right, something that was being left unsaid, a skeleton in the closet. I could feel it.
About a year into the relationship (I was actually surprised at the time that it had lasted so long) I was getting ready to plan college and looking at the military band as an option to help pay for that. I was enjoying the relationship as it was new and exciting and sort of a safe way to rebel a little and suffer minimal consequences. I didn't have to rely on my parents to take me here or there as I just used one of his cars, I didn't have to rely on them for food as he would sometimes take me to eat. Other times I was at work and just ate there. I was able to feel "independent" (as independent as I'd ever been allowed to be outside of Germany) in a stifling home atmosphere. There was someone "older and wiser" as they say to "tell me what to do" besides my parents (pardon the Sound of Music quote, but it was kind of true). All I really wanted was a year of being treated like an adult, as training wheels for life on my own, but this request was obviously denied. I had teenage angst, but manifested it in a respectful way, mostly through supported dissertation. The boyfriend had already told me that his ex-girlfriend had dumped him when she went off to college, and I knew he was mildly obsessed with this point. He felt abandonment and it bothered him on a deep level. I didn't know exactly how deep of a level and didn't think much of it as it had nothing to do with the present, myself, or the current relationship.
Around the same time he approached me with a secret he wanted to tell me, although it was very hard for him to do so. He informed me that right before our relationship he had stalked a couple of girls from my class until they totally flipped out on him. He also told me that he had pressured another into having sex with him as a one night stand. He seemed to be very remorseful and went on to tell me how he felt out of control when he did this and he couldn't understand himself for doing so. My mind was reeling and screaming. I did feel relieved that this was the skeleton my intuition had felt and I thought "if I would've known this I would never have dated you". But he was coming to me now, with the probability of rejection, and yet he still did the right thing by admitting his past in the face of that rejection. Who was I to judge him? He was terribly remorseful and told me god had changed him, that he wasn't the same person he was before, that he had changed. It seemed to me to be my duty to forgive and not carry his issues and sins from the past onto the new slate. That's what god would want me to do. I thought I could help give him a new start, allow him to let go of the past, and move on to the future.
On my own:
The next summer was a long summer as I went to army basic training, losing some of my more subtle music skills, but feeling very empowered. I went off to college and he followed as he had decided to transfer to the same college as me and finish up his degree there. Although he claimed it wasn't the case I knew he followed me to school for fear I would break it off after I started college, but it didn't really bother me as it was very convenient this way, and anyway I had too much to focus on like auditions and getting my tone back to my previous standards. I enjoyed the transition to college life, I enjoyed the freedom, enjoyed meeting new people and doing new things. I enjoyed my classes, even if some were a repeat of things from high school. His dorm room was only a few floors above mine, and I was enjoying the comraderie in the building. Things were going well. Not so for my roommate. She requested a room change to her fioncee's dorm- she wasn't adjusting well and was rather anti-social. I now had the whole room to myself!
One night I decided to invite the boyfriend over for the night as I had before on many occasions, both with and without a roommate. I completely trusted him as over the past two years he had proven himself to be very trustworthy. In our relationship making out was ok, but there was a very clear, conscice, definite line that was not to be crossed. He understood my stance on sexual relations in a relationship and seemed to respect that as he generally observed these guidelines and even claimed to believe the same thing. Sometimes it took a few times of saying no, but he always listened and obeyed. It was very hot this particular night, and although it was autumn, the summer heat had refused to release it's grasp. The university however was in control of the air conditioners, and refused to allow students access to the relief. The windows in my dorm were quite large, but the area with a screen was quite small, so there was no relief that night from the heat. I went to bed wearing boy shorts and a little tank top as a way to help abate the heat and humidity. I also was an intensely deep sleeper and had been known to sleeptalk and sleepwalk. Every morning was an ordeal and trial through fire to wake me up- I always set multiple alarms with different rings spaced at different intervals beginning an hour to forty minutes before I had to be awake to ensure I would wake up on time. I also was rather sleep deprived from my busy schedule, but as a teenager that didn't bother me too much. I quickly drifted off into an intensely deep sleep as I always did.
I was falling, no, being pulled through the dense familiar billows of the ether, of my subconscious of which I was now somehow vaguely aware.. The dark, thick, comfortable fog enveloping me, but something was screaming, pulling my being through a dense universe of my comatose existence. Pulling me toward the ground. This was how it was to wake up every morning, and I vaguely realized this as reality calling, calling more urgently than on a usual morning. Is it morning already? Suddenly reality snapped into full technicolor focus. It took a whole split second for me to completely grasp and realize what was fully happening. He was above me, doing something unthinkable, unspeakable. Am I in a nightmare or is this really happening?
Why are you doing this to me? I'm not entirely sure what exactly transpired next. I know he ended up on the floor, I was crying and screaming for him to get out, that I never wanted to see him again. Lots of begging and pleading coming from him but drowned out by my screaming. He left quickly. I cried so bitterly and hard as I actually curled up under the sheet. This was a nightmare, I had been right. This couldn't be reality. I cried myself to sleep and didn't go to class the next day. I slept forever and got up to attend a class or two in the afternoon. I knew it had happened. I couldn't concentrate, couldn't focus, my thoughts were racing, but I wanted to get back immediately to some semblance of normalcy. I wanted to know I'd be ok. I never got that validation, I wasn't ok.
It was all my fault- how dumb was I for allowing him to spend the night! I knew I wasn't supposed to allow this to happen- if I had kept him away it wouldn't have happened. If my parents found out they would hate me. They would make me move back home. They would place me under lock and key and tell me what classes to take at the community college. They would treat me like a whore. I'm not a whore! But I am used, now. I am ruined, worthless. I have no future, I have no value. Worse- my parents might make me marry him now! I have no other choice. I messed up and now I'm stuck with him. It's what god would expect me to do. My life is over. These were the thoughts in my head. I know there were more, but I honestly don't remember much specifically about life back then. It's very hard to put myself back there. Everything was a blur, a messy void of non-existence. That whole year I was there, but I was never actually there. When I was in the present, I was so incredibly sad- I was lost in the darkest void of despair. I thought I was honestly going crazy. I didn't understand myself anymore. I flipped out and freaked out over the smallest thing. My reactions to everything were totally inappropriate and over the top. At my music lessons I would cry hysterically just because I couldn't get something. It began to physically hurt to play music. Simple, automatic things, like playing in tune, were impossible. Soloing or improvisation were completely out as they were only understandable by divine interpretation at this point. I couldn't play anymore- it was all pain.
Three days after he spent the night and the nightmare began, there was a note on my door, from him. He wanted to meet. I agreed to this. I didn't have a choice anymore. We met at a small park on campus as he explained to me that he had felt like killing himself. He had wanted to throw himself over one of the bridges on campus into the traffic on the highway below. I remember very distinctly wondering why this was my problem. He talked about what had happened by saying he didn't know what had happened. He called it his "problem". He didn't know what had happened... He didn't know what he would do without me... Somehow this was all my problem now. I remember being irritated. I remember not understanding why he was even attempting to talk. For me it was obvious. I'm ruined, I'm worthless, I have no choice anymore. I'm stuck with you. I remember feeling a sense of dread and finality, like I was dying and withering away, on the bench I was seated. The only right thing to do was to stay with him, eventually marrying him, and the rest of my life would be a lie. That's what god wanted, that was my punishment for my sins, that was my destiny. That day I took off the ring my parents gave me, never to wear it again. It was a lie. It was figuratively shattered and so was I. For a time they asked me about it whenever they saw me. It was all I could do to nonchalantly make up excuses, but I had a terrifyingly insatiable desire to scream out what had actually happened.
During that year I went crazy. I hated existence. I slept all day missing classes and was awake all night, usually trying to keep him from sleeping as a form of torment by sleep deprivation (either that or my mind would keep me from sleeping and torment me). I didn't want to be alone with him and I dreaded it. I tried to hang out with his roommate present. At night he would sometimes do what he wished, and I'd try to be very quiet and pretend I was elsewhere. I don't remember much honestly. I would sometimes sleep on couches in the common area dressed in skimpy tank top pajamas as a form of protest. This usually upset him and gave me a macabre sense of happiness. What if someone else ruined me? He would be furious, his fantasy would be over. That to me would just be spectacular. I took long walks at the park a block away at night- a park where dead bodies would end up routinely. I made sure to announce where I had been. I often went and hung out at night on benches crying. I wanted to die, but I couldn't actually do so myself.
During one of the winter holidays (I think it was Thanksgiving, but I'm not sure), I was visiting home, my father was having a conversation with (at) me. He was trying to tell me to do something, I don't remember what (could've been something pertaining to my school schedule, staying out late, going somewhere or doing something) but I didn't agree with whatever it was and had no intention of doing what he demanded as I remember it went against what I personally believed to be fair and right. I think it had to do with placing me back under a pre-college control with curfew and rules about requesting to leave the house during the week I was there, rather than allowing me to keep my long awaited and hard earned independence and treating me as the adult I was. I remained firm in my insistence this wasn't right or fair, and I should be treated as a college age adult. My father quoted a specific bible verse (currently I don't remember which woman = submission verse was used), then said something that I'd never forget. "You have to obey me and do as I say until you're married. Then you have to obey and do as your husband says after that.". I was astonished at this rude display of sharia law, and asked him what if I never marry. His response was that I would be under his household and had to do as he said. I was literally in tears during this heated exchange and I couldn't believe my ears. I had just read and studied that specific passage of scripture the week prior and knew he was twisting the passage to read as he intended. I asked "What about your sister?" as one of my aunts had remained unmarried her whole life, "if her father were alive, would she have to do as he says even though she's been on her own her whole life?". I don't remember the exact answer, just that he sidestepped the question. I was so furious! I had previously thought that when I was 18 and on my own I would be free. I paid my own bills, I got myself where I needed to go, ever since graduation I took care of me, but I was still a bird in a cage. I realized I was a puppet designed to be controlled by the men I was chained to. I decided to break free of one, packed my bags back up, called the boyfriend to come pick me up, and waited outside on the driveway. I had said goodbye, had said I would never come back, and I meant every word. My mother was crying, begging me to come back. It was one of the only times I remember my mother being assertive over my father, telling him to stop and to get me to come back. He didn't exactly apologize for his words, but he made some sort of amends in his own way. Reluctantly, I came back knowing my voice had been heard. I decided at that point I would first and foremost be forever on my own- going back home if I failed just wasn't an option- ever. I didn't want to be a helpless slave. I, and only I, controlled my life.
On a side note, please understand that I love my parents dearly and find them absolutely NOT at fault for anything pertaining to my story here on this blog. They are side characters who shaped and influenced various facets of my being at various points in my life and allowed me to reach conclusions in my pain and move on to become the person I currently am happy to be. As with every single one of us, they were trying their best with what they had and the views they had gained from a lifetime of experience, and they did nothing wrong. They brought us up to be respectable, forward thinking, kind, and empathetic human beings that are responsible in modern society (probably much like you), and that's the subtle point I'm trying to make. There are always some positive, some negative aspects in any societal dogma, and the question remains; what aspects are best to pass down to the next generation? With teachings ingrained in each of us, the craft- society's dogma in various incarnations- passed down generational lines, that question becomes more obscure and harder to discern. Although it may seem bleak and dark due to the subject matter of this blog, my childhood was overall very happy and well, and my continued relationship with my family, parents, and siblings better than most, but for the sake of space I have abbreviated and condensed it (often omitting the mundane and positive that have no bearing on these issues in favor of the more bleak and self shaping attributes that have direct relevancy to the subject matter at hand). I kept the relevancy but shortened my early life to these very basic paragraphs to provide background, understanding of my mentality and reasoning, and basic motivations. These basic premises outlined previously were the building blocks of my self made prison, which is the sole purpose of their existence in the writings in this section, and I no more blame my parents or anyone else for my choice to mindlessly, childishly, naively believe all I was taught to be true all the time for all people. I also believe in the world we live in, many other people may be trapped in similar thinking, and it is my hope that the example of my experience can help them find their own creative escape routes to freedom.
At the end of the year I was encouraged to separate from my saxophone. Regardless of how well I placed in chair competitions (I had placed above everyone accept the seniors and a junior) or other measurements, I had fallen apart in the end. I failed my final performance of the year and the past 6 months or so found me incapable of my studies. Where I had once been the upcoming prodigy of my teacher, I fell flat. The once lover of all things musical had died. She didn't exist anymore. What was left was a frail shell, withered, dumb blind and mute. The music had lost it's voice in the instrument. The streams had dried up and moved elsewhere. I was not needed to be it's voice anymore. I was utterly worthless. I've often stated that breaking up with my saxophone was the worst breakup I've ever experienced. I'm not kidding. I didn't lose something or someone else or even a part of me. I lost my soul.
I turned to god. He wanted me to go through this. He designed for this to happen to me so there must be a reason. I attended church and campus church functions as often as possible. I prayed and studied all the time. I did everything in my power to design our relationship to be what god wanted it to be, I tried desperately to be the woman god would want me to be. I practiced submission as a godly woman should and kept trying to do right, and praying even more. It never changed him. He always talked about how god would change him, how god would fix his "problem". But nothing changed. My prayers constantly went unanswered. God was silent as a stone idol.
The girl lost hope. She couldn't die, she couldn't live. All that existed was pain and sorrow- intense suffering. She became numb. She let go. She walked around, a shell of a person. She couldn't cope. She begged to die. She just wanted it all to end, to eternally escape from her prison, the abyss of despair. I stepped forward. I couldn't stand to see it go on anymore, so I offered to carry the baton. I offered to gently, kindly, humanely end her suffering and continue where she left off the best I could. She easily, gratefully let go and breathed her last beautiful breath. It was my turn.
For a while nothing changed accept a renewed stamina, and a new stubborn effort to be contrary, difficult, asinine. I was essentially a bitch. I didn't care. I stopped eating, using it as a control mechanism. My second year of college I had a full and demanding schedule, however my favorite class was my sociology class (the only class I didn't usually skip). During the past year skipping classes became routine. I was lucky to show up on days of midterms and important tests (I had quite a knack for that actually!), and as college didn't really challenge me- I found it all to be a repeat of high school- my grades mostly suffered from teachers docking me for my poor attendance. I was still able to maintain somewhere around a 3.5 and still was able to join honor societies. It may not have been immediately apparent to most people that there were serious problems with my life. I was a great actor. All I really wanted was to feel normalcy in my life. My sociology class was my favorite and I would maybe skip only once a week or once every other week. The information was fascinating and new to me, and the teacher opened the lecture up to discussion allowing the course to become more of a philosophical debate hall. Funny thing though, as the class size was huge I could've easily skipped if I had wanted to and would've never been found out.
A little over a year after the original incident I was attending my sociology class when the teacher began talking about rape. I knew about rape- it happened in dark alleyways and parking lots involving terrifying brutes you've never seen before in your life. I had always felt that something terrible like that would happen to me, so I had looked up self defense tips for years- things such as always acknowledge a shady person by saying hi and looking them in the face, carry your keys as weapons, as mini knives between your fingers while walking out to your car, always look under your car and through the windows, etc while approaching, if another larger vehicle is parked next to yours approach from a different angle, try to be in well lighted areas, always be completely aware of your surroundings, etc. I had always subscribed to these tips and suggestions, most especially when I was in Germany as hitchhiking was the norm for high school students to get around. As class progressed I was surprised to learn that rape happens most often in places you're most comfortable and by someone you either know, or someone you are very close to- someone you trust. My heart was racing, I stopped taking notes. I sat and stared. She went on to say that often the defense mechanisms that are taught to women do nothing to prevent a rape from happening. We watched a short film where they discussed different types of rape and circumstances. I hit the floor as they described in the film exactly what had happened to me and labeled it as date rape. My mind was reeling. It hadn't been my fault. I didn't need to keep blaming myself. I had done nothing wrong. I was off the hook. It was his fault and none of my own. He had a problem alright, and he knew it. I had a name for what had happened to me. A weight was lifted, but my mind was still racing with questions. If this wasn't my fault then why am I supposed to stay with him? Why does god want me to suffer? Why do these people teach these destructive doctrines? It didn't matter if I told someone- I would still be judged, I would still disappoint, I would still be a let down. It was still true that I allowed him in my room unsupervised. I knew that wasn't acceptable. Although I was off the hook for the actual incident, I helped set up the climate for such a thing to take place and for that I was still responsible. I went back to his apartment and feeling rather empowered, told him exactly what he had done to me. And I called it by name- date rape.
He broke down in tears, apologizing, saying god will fix his "problem", repeating that he believed god would take it away from him. God never did that. I stayed with him for a few more months as I still believed myself partly responsible and saw marrying him my duty as god would want, but during those months I began questioning everything and everyone. My anorexia became terrible, but I looked great and felt in control. I quit attending anything related to church and abruptly stopped hanging out with my friends, especially the church group friends. They didn't really seem to care or notice that I left- their solutions were hell, worse than the place they preached about. If their doctrine was correct then god hated me and wished me to suffer. I decided this couldn't be true. I decided I wanted nothing more to do with their god- I could go find my own. It was all a farce, all a show, and I didn't want to be an actor anymore.
At the end of February we had an early spring break. We went a few hours away with his roommate who had become a close friend of mine as I realized a while back that I would rather spend time with someone else constantly hanging around with us than alone with him. This was the roommate's hometown, and it was an amazing time as I was detached from everything. The boyfriend had been acting strange as of late, working as often as possible, and I had a sneaking suspicion he was attempting to cheat on me, followed by another sneaking suspicion that he had the intent but had never been successful. Now away from home, he was acting particularly strange, not having a good time at all, very obviously not wanting to be there, and I was loving every minute. As I separated myself from his bizarre actions, I felt free of him, single, happy. I had no worries, he was no longer my problem. Until we went back for the second half of break and the roommate stayed behind.
We were laying down on the couch watching a movie when he decided he wanted more. I kindly told him no in no uncertain words. He stopped for about a minute then tried again. I snapped at him something along the lines of no means no and questioning his respect for me. He stopped again, obviously irritated. About a minute later he tried again. I stood up, flew around and insulted his intelligence and his grasp of the English language. In a fit of rage he yelled at me, essentially saying that he is to do what he wants with me and it has nothing to do with what I want, stormed off to his room and slammed the door.
I was LIVID. Never before had he actually said anything like this, and although actions supposedly speak louder than words, this was the last straw. I didn't talk or address him for days. Interestingly enough, I never considered breaking up with him. I still was of the mentality that I was stuck with him, that he was my mess, and although I wished to leave, I didn't consider it a possibility. After a few days he insisted on going grocery shopping together. I didn't really eat, but I went along anyway. While in the car he started talking and driving aimlessly. I was ready, expectantly waiting for a full apology, a deserved apology, however instead he suggested that we should break up. My mind started freaking out. What should I tell everyone? What do I do now? Even though he had done all this to me, I had no clue how to pick up all the pieces. I was using all my energy just trying to keep it all together. He was the last piece, and if that fell too there would be no one to put humpty dumpy back together again. I was terrified. I don't remember what all he kept saying, but something told me this was the right answer, that breaking up was the ONLY correct way to proceed. After about 5 minutes of my brain going off, I agreed, but I threw in a provision that we check back on each other in a week and see where we're at (in my mind that made it seem safer, more temporary). We had done it this way before, but this time something felt different. I knew he was serious, and I had seriously contemplated it. I had seriously agreed.
We finished our grocery shopping, and everything felt amazing. I knew it was over. I knew it was the right choice. A huge weight was lifted from me instantly, and I was honestly smiling, truly smiling, with joy behind the face. The sky seemed so blue. I had so many options in front of me, and all the time in the world to sort them all out. On the way out of the store I turned to him and happilly stated that I no longer needed a week for a check in. I told him I knew I had made the right decision and that it was permanent. He became uneasy at that point saying that we agreed to a check in in a week and that I very well may change my mind, but the thought of that path made me feel sick. I knew it was over, and I reiterated this, but agreed to a check in a week later because I had given my word.
During that week he tried to get back together, but I was done. A week later he became desperate, but it was over. I kept hanging out with his roommate, watching movies, doing puzzles, playing video games. This further disturbed him, but at the time all my friends were guys, and by this time the roommate was one of my closest friends. I felt safe and comfortable around the roommate. The "old man" had long, disturbing conversations with me, trying anything he could to get me back, including using my past beliefs against me. I was DONE. He started stalking my old friends, one girl in particular, begging her to date him, over and over. She called me freaking out. I told her to report him to the police, and what part of "not my problem anymore" did she not understand? I found it humorous that when I needed support, none of those friends were there for me, but now that the problem I needed support for was cut loose on them, my friendship was demanded... He called me one night freaking out, saying he was driving down the highway at an obnoxious speed, threatening to slam his car into an underpass. I told him to do it and do it quick because when I hung up the phone I was going to call the police and turn him in. Luckily for him he had the presence of mind to go home or they would've caught him as I gave his exact coordinates and they had arrived just when he was exiting the highway.
At the end of the school year, not too surprisingly, the roommate and I had developed feelings for each other, but I refused to date him as the roommate still didn't know the truth of what had happened to me. This further infuriated the "old man", and he decided to alert the roommate that if he ever did anything to hurt me, he would answer to HIM. The roommate didn't think too much of this conversation until later, when I finally decided to tell him what had happened. He was the first person I told, and as I had no clue how to even approach the subject, I just said I had something that he needed to know before he decided to date me or not and blurted out what had happened. Then I started bawling and shaking uncontrollably. I kept repeating that I was sorry and just answered yes and no questions as I continued to cry and shake uncontrollably. He said he would think about it. He was visibly angry.
He didn't look at me straight for a week, and actually avoided me for a week. Finally he approached and said that it was ok, that it wasn't me, and that he was still interested in dating me if I was still interested. It was summer and we began dating. He told me that looking back he could now understand some of the things and strange interactions he had witnessed. He reminded me of an event in particular from the dorms that I had blocked out. I remember my ex taking my money that had just fallen out of my pocket as I sat down to work on an art project- only about $10, but it was all the money I had to my name, and holding it over my head stating that it should be his because of some stupid irrational reason. I remember standing up trying to reach it as he held it over my head, and then I remember three or four guys prying me off him as he was turning purple. I remember him violently catching his breath, as they asked me what the hell was the matter and what was going on. I remember him throwing my money in my startled face as he stormed out of his dorm room cursing at me on the way to the restroom down the hall. I had forgotten all about that incident, and even with the details spelled out for me (I evidently had thrown him into an instant restraint and headlock only to be pryed off by a few guys on the floor when they realized what was happening), I still only remembered the beginning and end of the incident. He told me of other incidents from the past almost two years that I had blocked out entirely.
That year we moved in together as we realized we couldn't make ends meet without doing so, much to the severe dismay of my parents. To avoid the perpetual, ongoing hostility I began to receive about the subject, I didn't give them my new address or phone number for months and only called occasionally from payphones until they finally conceded to quit harassing me. I also realized that year that I couldn't continue to attend school and keep a roof over my head. The army was having issues paying me and so I had to stop midyear. I was rear-ended by a semi truck that Christmas and was severely injured, car totaled. The man driving got away with it as he lied to his insurance and the police never actually filed a report... I had to fight to get put back together (my back was all sorts of funky), and it took years. That summer our apartment flooded twice, destroying most of our belongings, so without anything keeping us, and only negative memories surrounding that terrible town, we moved away. It was refreshing and enlivening to remove myself from that place of torment and pain, and I never looked back. We moved to his hometown a few hours away, but as it was entirely too cold for me, we ended up moving the next year, even farther away.
Those next 3-4 years I rediscovered myself. I broke down all conceptions I still had and re-educated myself. I developed an angst and depression that I figured was from the stress of tearing down and deconstructing everything I believed in, all my values and thoughts. I tried to believe the opposite of what I thought to try and see life from a different angle and discover what I truly believed, without the chains of cultural conditioning. This was increasingly difficult as the roommate boyfriend made it very clear that he wanted no business in discussions of religion, politics, or philosophy. Understandably this was all I was interested in as it seemed the only way for me to heal, although I didn't think of it in these constraints at the time. I just knew I had to explore, discover,and tear down everything in my life to be whole, and despite his constant irritation with this, I continuously did. After our second move I met a few people, mostly guys but some females as well, who were also interested in similar things. We met at a local Irish bar often to discuss thoughts, ideas, philosophies, and drink Guinness and Jameson and create mayhem. I had a nice long sabbatical from anything related to the geographical area I had fled accept the occasional military trip or drill (during which I would drink massive quantities to subdue myself), and when I went back to my hometown to see family- where the "old man" had relocated (in which case I was a marvelous actor, and as time went on often finding myself drinking more and more). Essentially I had escaped, although I hadn't consciously realized that.
Finally my military time came to an end. I no longer had to drive to that abysmal state 10 hours away for drill. I felt free and hopeful. I became anorexic again, at one point going without any food accept water for 6 days and running miles a day everyday. I was in control of myself and had a path, an identity, although I couldn't see where I was going.
Eventually, and with obviousness that only comes from hindsight, I broke up with the roommate boyfriend. After a few huge, undeserved tiffs and violent displays of temper over the direction I was headed (with my increasingly political, religous, and philosophical ways), I had very suddenly realized that we didn't mesh, and time would only make this worse and more painful. We stayed in the same apartment as we couldn't find a way out without screwing one another over (especially in my case, as his parents had co-signed the lease). This was awkward and super painful as even though I knew we weren't right for each other, we both still cared about each other, and still had feelings for each other. To this day I still care about him- he was a wonderful person, and the person I needed to help me transition and realize the truths and tenants of my new identity. At this point I turned to my philosophical friends even more, staying away from home as much as possible, but my closest friend and ally was getting ready for a deployment to Iraq with the marine corps. He was in a negative place in his life as he too completely deconstructed his existence and beloved a great deal in nihilism, even as he wanted the security and comfort of socially accepted principles. We completely resonated with each other and spent much time together at bars or over the phone discussing ideas on existence until he was deployed and I was alone.
Right before he left I told him what had happened to me long ago. It had just come up as part of a discussion we were having while aimlessly driving around, and rather than making a big deal or looking at me differently, he just said that it wasn't my fault and has nothing to do with who I decide to be. I was completely at ease around him, and as this was the first positive response I had received, I was able to put the past away for a while.
That summer when he was gone, I went to a party with some new friends of mine. It was awesome, there was drinking all day and night, I met so many new people, and let my guard down around them as I was having a wonderful time. A few of us (all guys accept me) went into the woods to sit around a bonfire and drink. I was becoming agitated by a guy I had recently met as he was showing his true colors and implying very derogatory things about women. I called him out on it, and dug in a little. He in turn became red, got in my face screaming and pushing me backwards down the hill in the chair I was sitting in. Something inside me snapped. I began bawling, screaming, running down the mountain as fast as I could, falling on the well lit grass in front of the house, calling my ex and begging him to come get me out of there. I felt completely in danger. The host of the party came to try to console me, but I started screaming for him to get away and not to touch me. I didn't calm down until I was in the car with my ex, and was on edge for at least a week. I never hung out with any of them again, and it was awkward to see them at work. I began hanging out more with my ex, but it was still painful. I wanted to be with him, but knew it was the wrong path. I didn't want to start over again with another person. I was tired and it seemed to be too much work.
I eventually moved back to my home state when the lease was up, less than an hour away from my hometown, living with my aunt who had graciously offered a room to me as I adjusted and found the path I needed to take. I didn't realize I would be moving back to a living hell, to suffer a constant haunting from my past. I saw much more of my family, which was nice as I had missed them, but I started building up more angst and anxiety. It started out manageable, however a friend from college was getting married back in that horrible town. A good friend of mine from college, one of the only friends I had actually kept in contact with, desperately wanted me to go, so I promised I'd be there. Unfortunately, while living in this state, in a very rural area, my income dropped by a good half of what I was used to making. There was no way I could travel across the state to attend for monetary reasons. She knew the "old man" was driving from my hometown across the state to go, so she arranged for me to hitch a ride. As I was still mostly in denial and pretending to be amicable with him, I agreed.
She was the only other person besides the two guys that I had told about my past a few years prior. She knew the whole thing. Little did I know she was actually planning on setting us up on a double date- me and the "old man" along with herself and a guy she had just recently met. To this day I don't understand the logic behind that idea. I began the 4-5 hour ordeal with him starting at my parents house. Not even an hour into the trip I began to freak out, getting agitated and anxiety ridden. I tried to stop conversation, as the route was the exact same as it had been so many years back. I had never traveled this route again since I left that forsaken town and ran away from the pain, and emotions from long ago came pouring back into my mind. I was very visibly disturbed after only 2 hours and certainly began disturbing the man. Conversation halted completely and I stared out the darkened window trying not to completely lose my mind. I called my friend and asked her to pick me up somewhere as she lived an hour away from the destination city. She couldn't pick me up for hours, but promised that eventually she could. I forced him to pull over at the next place with a late night restaurant, went inside alone, and proceeded to drink myself stupid. I didn't know what was exactly in store for me, I just knew I couldn't handle it. I called my brother who lived a little over two hours away in the middle of the state, begging him to come pick me up and take me away, using any excuse I possibly could. Of course he didn't understand what was going on with me. Of all the excuses I used I never told him the truth of my situation. I couldn't. I couldn't even admit the truth of my situation to myself. I was stuck. I knew I was screwed.
My friend picked me up and the next day we went into the city. I felt a little stronger. I figured I would just hang around my friend till her date showed up, then drink by myself. That turned out to be farther away from the plan than anything I could imagine. I was put into the old man's car. I was stuck with him shuttling me around. We went to an art museum on campus. I hadn't been back on campus since I was in school. Everything started pouring back into me. I was overflowing. I hated everything and wanted to die. I tried to get lost in the art museum, but they kept staying close. We went for ice cream later. I didn't eat. This was the beginning of another terrible bout of anorexia that would last all summer long. We went to a bookstore I used to work at to get wedding presents. The friend of mine in the marines called me during all this and I tried to sound completely in control. I don't actually remember anything else until the wedding... Then again, I don't remember too much in detail.
I was perpetually drunk all weekend. The local bartender actually knew my name and drink orders by the second night. We were all staying in the same room and I didn't feel comfortable or safe. I was completely anti social and completely blitzed, furious, bitchy, and agitated all weekend. All the old memories came back, all the buried emotions I refused to feel resurfaced, like nasty undead specters sent to destroy the living. I was to become an undead as well. I couldn't run, I couldn't hide.
After that weekend I was perpetually drunk. I was completely anorexic. I ran for hours a day and did strength training (drunk- always). The only time I wasn't drunk was when I woke up for work in the afternoon. Immediately after work (at work) I would drink like a fish, shots, beers, wine, go elsewhere and drink, go home and workout, drinking more, then pack a bag full of alcohol (2 bottles of wine, 2 magnums of a belgian, 2 sixers, hard liquor, whatever I could find). I then would proceed to wander around the neighborhood and windy back country roads drinking constantly while listening (and sometimes singing) to music. I would sleep on sidewalks, in farmer's fields watching fireflies, or (my favorite) in old graveyards. I would usually walk for at least 6-10 miles every night getting so blitzed I wouldn't have to worry about feeling- anything. I became severely anemic, being referred to a hospital for tests and a possible transfusion, however when I arrived I was given the run around and told to come back later. I chose to ignore the doctor's warnings as the hospital was too far away and was incredibly inconvenient. I talked almost every night to the marine friend on the phone. He had recently come back from Iraq and realized his life was worse than when he left it to go fight, and I wasn't there anymore. He had no support. We both had developed feelings for each other, and realized that we were wasting away. Toward the middle of the summer I became increasingly distraught and self destructive. I drove down the highway drinking a six pack. I was blatent- I wanted to get caught. I cried all the time when I was alone, but never around anyone else. I was lost in the deepest depths of despair, but wouldn't allow myself to ever show it. I gave the friend an ultimatum. Come the end of summer (a specific date that I now forget), I was disappearing. If he hadn't decided to move on with me, I would pack my car as full as I could with me, my cat, and a few choice belongings, and disappear forever. I would leave my cell behind (as I was on a plan with my parents and didn't want them to worry about my bill), and I would drive in whatever direction the wind took me, going as long as I could until my money ran out. As the summer drug on I wanted desperately to change the date, to disappear sooner, but I had given my word, so I waited in agony.
The friend disappeared off the grid for a planned vacation and was unable to contact me for over a week, accept for a few short interchanges. I started going mad. I was more drunk and belligerent than usual, and more reckless. I had no one to console me. During our seldom, brief exchanges, he realized that I truly wasn't ok. He quit his drinking cold turkey, becoming shaky and unstable, but he could finally think clearly without a haze. He made up his mind to leave with me for somewhere- right now. He called me when he got back and told me to come pick him up. I quit my job, used the last of my cash to drive the 10 plus hours and return to the city I had once shared with him and my other philosophy loving friends. At that point we began dating. Something had told me long before that he was totally right for me. Even though I had no hard evidence to back it up, my intuition told me he was the right person. We narrowed down our options and chose to move to the other side of the country, said our goodbyes to our family, and left.
It took us 5 days to travel across the country, and it was awesome! I felt a little anxious as this decision was permanent, but I knew it was the right choice. I felt great, hopeful, free- I had finally escaped and was with the first person who had ever truly understood and accepted me. That year was like a dream- there was hardly any adjusting as we understood each other so well and already had great communication and an awesome connection. we still drank excessively and I still had lots of pent up angst, but the storm had subsided for a time.
The next summer was my brother's wedding. I was stressed as my bridesmaid dress didn't fit properly (for a church anyway- it would've looked great in a bar) and I wasn't able to wear a cover up, but to add to the usual stresses with weddings and being on the other side of the continent, a few weeks before the wedding I was informed that the old man would be the best man. I was distraught, but what could I do? Of course no one thought this strange as I had made sure to always act as though everything was fine between me and the old man. I didn't want him anywhere near my family at such an event, but I also wasn't prepared to reveal the truth of what had happened to me. Ever since our breakup and his move back to our hometown, he had always shown up unannounced at my parents house (he knew the code to get in). At my sister's graduation a few years prior he threatened to date her and hung around her like a puppy. I had pulled him aside back then and threatened him with his life if he ever tried. He always showed up to family events and was very chummy with my brother. Looking back it was obvious he was stalking, doing anything he could to be in control of the situation, of my family, and remotely in control of me. He wanted them to be "wrapped around his finger" as he always put it. He always saw himself as above any normal rules, better than other people, and an exception to family and social norms. He exercised this with my family, and as they didn't know what he was doing, they were oblivious to it. It was around this time that I began to realize what he had been trying to do all this time. I was furious with him for taking advantage of my brother and my brother's trust the way he had, but at the time I was helpless to stop it. I couldn't tell anyone my real past. I was terrified.
When we arrived I was feeling sick to my stomach. I thought it was just from traveling, however it continued all week long and became worse as time progressed. I drank excessively and was delightfully and pleasantly drunk the entire time. I made many new friends, and was very amicable, making sure not to reveal my true feelings, but ensuring my emotions were properly numbed so I wouldn't act irrational and rash. We went back home and I was angry, belligerent and angst ridden for a while. The next summer we went back and visited family for the boyfriend's brother's graduation from college. The graduation took place only an hour away from my hometown, so we had set up a family barbecue to introduce his family to mine as we were becoming more serious about each other. When we arrived at my parents house I was rudely surprised to see that the old man had tactically shown up as well. This time it was obvious that the coincidence was intentional, deliberate, and designed as a control mechanism. He was trying to stay in control of me and my emotions even though he knew he had absolutely no hold on me whatsoever (accept by this time some severe, directed anger). I was deliberately, openly rude to him the entire time, stating eloquent but directed statements about how he wasn't welcome and was out of line. I was furious, irate, livid, but was very careful to keep my emotions safely tucked away, not to exceed social expectations for the situation as perceived by others.
That year I sank into a depression. I had already been depressed for about 6 months or so before the summer, but after returning home it became worse. Later that year the boyfriend proposed and I happily accepted, but I was still in a funk. Things like images, emotions, fears, thoughts, began trickling to the surface. I wasn't able to sleep well as I would be up all night fuming about different things. Images, situations, conversations, real or situational and made up plagued my mind constantly. I couldn't stop the madness. Later I would realize that they all shared a pattern and were all related to the feelings I experienced as a direct result of the rape. Bad, unfortunate things kept happening to me and it kept making the depression worse. Looking back I recognize a pattern of being taken advantage of, of getting screwed over, but at the time it just seemed like life hated me.
I opened an online business that year and began on a path of directed and supported self development. I had a few mentors to help guide me, and I began to realize what power the mind has and how to tap into and control that power (it's actually really simple by the way). The first thing I put into practice was to stop complaining about things- no matter how bad things actually were- to try and accept reality as it was, placing no label on what it meant to me. As I had much pent up angst, anger, and fear, this was hard to do, but I strong armed my mind into submission and began studying other ways to regain control. I went to an event that changed the way I viewed many things, pointing out direct cause and effect in the mind and how it correlates to your life, and brought up many old stories from my past, along with everything that goes along with them; in the mind, emotionally, and with physical reactions. It taught that you create your reality through thought and subconscious conversations in your mind. It made me wonder- did I create the reality of being raped? Did I create realities of allowing myself to be taken advantage of? They helped us work through and release "stuck points", or points of built up anger and angst from the past, by directly changing the stories in our heads- the pseudo conscious dialogue in our heads surrounding events from the past. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't come up with a kind re-write for the old man. I couldn't let him off the hook by changing my story (looking back now, I had been changing my story the whole time to not have to admit what had actually transpired in the past). I asked the administrator of the program how to heal something terrible, unthinkable that happened to you in your past. He said that "first you must forgive yourself", and I meditated on that throughout the weekend.
After the event, I at first felt open, clear, free, with a perceived understanding of everything and a power I hadn't realized before. My depression was gone, but I still had anxiety about everything, in fact it was getting worse. I was totally anxious and terrified to speak to clients or follow up with anyone. I kept pushing and pushing myself to do what I knew I "should" do, only to constantly become more and more freaked out about any interaction with anyone. I began to hate physical touch, conversation of any type, hanging out with anyone. Around this time, my car was involved in a hit and run at night by a drunk while I was trying to sleep. They eventually caught the car, but as they couldn't prove who was driving it and as it was uninsured, my poor car was my problem. I didn't get enough to fix the damage, and her whole side was ruined. I tried everything I could with obtaining police reports and records, but it was like sinking and gasping for air while trying to tread water, and only proved to completely stress me out and I became even more withdrawn. My mind began to take over and project terrible things, and ancient thoughts, emotions, and memories began to constantly surface through an unknown, murky doorway. I could feel them lifelessly crawling up out of the earth of my soul. They haunted my waking and sleeping moments, and I suddenly realized it had been 10 years since the initial rape had happened. I started losing it, and I finally decided to tell my sister what had happened.
In order to do so I had to get nice and drunk. It took 2 or 3 tries before our schedules coincided and I was drunk enough, but I finally told her. I was shaking, but I did it. She was shocked, but supportive and in the days that followed she began piecing the last 10 years back together and things, quirks, happenings, began to make sense to her. I temporarilly felt better and decided to tell my brother. At the end of the month I got pleasantly drunk and did. He was upset, and rightfully so, but supportive as well. Like my sister, things started making sense to him- the how, whys, and what's of the past 10 years. I didn't really feel better after telling my brother. I felt more insatiably anxious and my mind began to freak out. I never imagined I would tell anyone in my family what had happened. I had always thought I would tell my parents over their graves when they were already dead and gone. Both my brother and my sister wanted me to tell my parents. I began a steady freak out. I never had any intention of telling my parents. I knew I should, I just couldn't. A month went by and it was thanksgiving. The family gathered together back in my home state, and like clockwork the "old man" showed up too. My brother and sister shuttled him into the garage and confronted him. He shrugged his shoulders, laughed, lied, and they called him on it, calling what he did to me by name- date rape. He evidently broke down in a fit of tears and finally told the truth. They told him never to come back and he left. Of course my parents and other family were confused at the obvious tension and I was immediately called and alerted that I needed to tell my parents- within the next few days. I wasn't ready, wasn't prepared, but I set up a time via text and made sure I would at least have time to chug a few before talking to them.
I woke up the day of our call after sleeping for only a few hours and chugged a few beers. I called them freaking out inside and told them everything. Their reaction was more pleasant than expected and they were very understanding and supportive, but it didn't matter. My secret was now out and nothing would ever be the same again. I wasn't ready to tell them, would I ever have been ready? By admitting to them what had happened, I now had to admit to myself that it was truth. That couldn't have happened to me! It was all just a bad dream- that's all the past is anyway, right? There's no way this could've happened to me, I must be wrong. I'm not a victim, I'm strong. It happened to someone else and in a strange twist of fate I inherited her memories. I'm not her! I remember killing her. She had begged for it! Maybe she wanted to be raped. Maybe she asked for it. Its her fault. She wasn't strong enough, she wasn't smart enough. I am! What is this happening to me, I'm not her! She was naive. She trusted people, gave second chances. She couldn't handle it. I can! She's dead! Why does my existence have to be haunted by her problems, by her past, by her issues? Then her ghostly specter stared me in the face. All the memories, everything came back to me. I remembered how she thought, how she felt, her dreams, her hopes, her disappointments, her everything. As with seances of old, she possessed my body, my mind, and made me FEEL. It was more than I could bear. I only had a fraction, a sliver of control over my mind. It wasn't mine anymore, it was under a hostile takeover by HER, and she was forcing me to relive her nightmare, over and over and over in mind, body, and spirit. I was no longer living in the present- I was living ten, five, seven years ago and there was nothing I could do, no road or bridge or balloon to get me back. I was a mess, I didn't sleep, I cried all the time, I was always on edge, hyper aggressive, hyper vigilant, freaking out, although I made sure that I could always work. I had to keep earning a living! If I was a complete chaotic disaster it was ok, as long as at work I was in control enough to function properly and do my job well. After work I could break down, I could lose it, but at work there was no option. This freaking out continued, gaining intensity for weeks until I knew I would lose control and something very devastatingly bad would happen- what, I'm still not sure. I had a few percosets and Vicodin from a few years ago when I had a few bouts with MRSA. I remembered how even back then they had quieted my mind and allowed me peace and rest. I found them in the cabinet and took the directed amount. Soon my mind was quiet, the storm had quieted to light waves, my thoughts were mine again, I was back. I had killed her again, kicked her out of the space that was rightfully mine, but I knew she would be back. I didn't care- for once in weeks I wasn't going completely insane. I slept well for once in a long, long, long time, and woke up more in control of my faculties, in control of my self and my mind. My soul was mine again. I could feel her following me, her cold, icy spirit trying to inhabit my being again, but I'm a fighter. Fight as I may, she quickly regained control, and again the intensity gradually became unbearable. This time I realized that I only had one more dose left after the one I had ready. I needed to save it as long as I could- what would I do if I didn't have it when I needed it? I couldn't let her take over completely. She was trying to kill me, and I didn't want to die. I began seeking out another way to get some back up pills. Evidently I obsessed about it. I don't really remember doing any of this at this time- she was getting dangerously close to a complete and devastating takeover. She begged friends who had connections to help me, ultimately ending in sending my fioncee an email freaking out about how I only have one dose left if I take another to quiet myself, and how I needed to find more so I would be ok. It was somehow sent to his work email- with the government. I came home to rage and anger and twenty questions that I couldn't answer. I couldn't even answer them for myself and my own sanity. I didn't do this- I barely even recalled writing it. I only remember feeaking out and a fog of time lapse enveloping me. I had lost my only support and my support might lose his job because of me.
I locked myself in the bathroom and broke down again. I refused to come out, to talk, or to show myself until he was in his bed asleep. I don't really remember much accept crying and shaking violently, beating my head on the wall, not being able to breathe. I WAS losing it- I was going insane, losing myself. If I couldn't find myself, who could? I remember him yelling at me to stop and let him in, and me punching the wall, wailing in addition to everything else. After he went to bed I came out, drank a bottle of wine and took my second to last dose. Very quickly I was back in control and everything suddenly seemed trivial, however I was still worried about him losing his job because of me... I fell asleep still anxious, still mildly freaking out, but finally able to rest. Luckily, he didn't lose his job or get reprimanded for my mindless zombie act. He spoke to his supervisor and erased the email without looking at it, but I was all alone and didn't trust anyone to understand what I was going through. I couldn't even understand what was wrong with me. The freaking out kept getting worse, and with greater intensity, like white noise in my brain getting louder and louder and louder until it takes over my existence and I'm brain dead on the floor, a vegetable, only the white noise exists in and through my being. I thought I was legitimately insane. I'm a rational, logical person, how could this be happening? This defies logic. This can't exist in a rational universe. All I wanted was to be ok, to go back to normal.
I was going through a personal training and development class online at the time, and was almost finished with the 5 week class. We had access to a personal development trainer/ life coach to help us out with anything that might come up during our coursework, so I emailed him and told him everything about my past and what I was currently going through. I told him I didn't know how to deal, that I was legitimately freaking out, and that I didn't know what to do. He replied saying that he couldn't help me and that I needed to seek professional help. I was lost in pitch black. I had no clue how to get help, and very low income with no benefits. I had no way to afford help. I began searching online for an answer late at night (not like I could sleep anyway). Sleep was a commodity I tried to cash in on, to no avail. I would go to bed around midnight or one and often couldn't get to sleep until 11am or noon, only to wake up again around 3pm to go to work exhausted, stressed, and freaking out. Sometimes I could get to sleep by 6am, sometimes even before, but whenever I didn't have to get up in the afternoon I could sleep as late as 6pm. I was a mess. I eventually found descriptions online of PTSD and was pretty sure this was what I had. I looked around online for help and finally found a therapist group I could go to with a sliding pay scale, and set up an appointment. I felt a little better- these people will know what I need to do, and at the least they can tell me where I should go for help! The appointment was a few weeks away, and the intensity was again building. A few days before my scheduled appointment a lady called me from their offices saying she had mis-scheduled me in a time slot that was taken and we needed to push the appointment back a few weeks. I told her I wasn't ok and I needed help now, but unless I wanted to pay someone else with my right arm and left leg I had to settle for an appointment yet again a few weeks away. I obliged, then I started freaking out hardcore and eventually had another breakdown. This time a friend had offered me a pot brownie, and as I had very limited options I obliged. I took a quarter of the brownie, and my mind shut off everything. I don't remember any brain activity whatsoever accept loud humming coming from the walls. It totally creeped me out, but I fell asleep effectively, quickly, and soundly. Finally my appointment came and I was diagnosed with severe PTSD. I was at the top of the scale, only a few points away from a "perfect" score. It was explained that everything would be ok, they could work with me, they could fix me. This was a totally normal reaction to what I've experienced, and they specialized with PTSD patients. I could get over this!
I felt better knowing this, knowing I wasn't crazy, I wasn't insane. Other people go through this, and other people end up just fine. I would be ok, but I didn't feel ok. I wasn't ok. We began therapy and worked on "A-B-C sheets". I was supposed to listen to themes in my thoughts, write them down, write why they're unreasonable and wrong, and write a generic blanket response to tell my brain what to think instead. Super... Except that I couldn't hear any distinct thought in my head. The noise, agitation was spinning so fast I couldn't pick any theme out of anything, even with past training and experience listening and controlling my thoughts to my benefit. I was told to try and remember past thoughts from years ago, but this was an exercise in futility as I was everywhere and nowhere in my past all at the same time. My mind wouldn't shut up and I couldn't hear anything but screaming. Even if I could, I didn't see how that would have anything to do with the present or my present way of thinking as I had years ago destroyed my thoughts and beliefs to rebuild for my benefit. I still tried to do the exercises, but failed miserably at the grand point of the whole thing. The therapist became irritated. Finally after about a month and a half of treading water at therapy, I wrote something (very similar to many of the things I've written in this "my story" section), and she decided to momentarily quit therapy to discover if I was bipolar. She flipped through a little pocket guide, tossing other options, other diagnosis around, but decided I must be bipolar based on hints the little book gave. She lacked the proper credentials to actually diagnose me, so I went on a month long goose chase for someone that could properly diagnose me without getting me in some nasty debt or selling my kidney on the black market.
During this month I had no therapy whatsoever. I was on no medication, and had no tools accept the useless A-B-C sheets. I was cast out on my own, and it was starting to get bad again. Luckily, about a month earlier, I had the slight presence of mind to look for natural supplements to help with depression, anxiety, and sleep issues, and best of all I could order them from my own online business that I had begun a year or two earlier, so I was already comfortable with the type of vitamins and I knew they were high quality and worked well, no stress over the decision. I ordered L-tryptophan (helps to regulate mood, de-stress, and regulate sleep cycles), herbal tablets that help you de-stress and chill right on the spot without making you sluggish or drowsy (I call them chill pills), and a type of melatonin that has valerian root and other helpful herbs to help lull you to sleep when you need to knock out or re-establish a sleep cycle. The only other option was NyQuil, and that stuff is bad, nasty, and addictive. I received them at my door (nice and unstressful shopping on the Internet :) a few weeks after stopping therapy and began taking them instantly, except for the melatonin as I was afraid of getting hooked on it. (I put info on these, under the self help tab). My mind became more manageable after a few weeks, but it was still freaking out and running a hundred miles a minute.
One day during this limbo period I was driving down the highway, heading home after work, my mind doing its usual crazy thing, when suddenly a realization popped and a little voice said "By allowing your thoughts to do this to you, you are allowing yourself to be a victim all over again". Of course my next thought was "I'm not a victim! I'm strong!". Thus the realization of my first mantra. It allowed me to regain control of my lost mind from the depths of hell and pull it back into the present existence (as much as was possible at the moment). Every time I caught my mind escaping, the white noise in my brain building, I said to myself "By allowing this to control me I'm allowing myself to be a victim. I'm not a victim, I'm strong.", and I pulled my consciousness back into a blurry focus, adjusted the lens so it was facing the right way at least. I was still massively depressed and suffered from constant anxiety, but I had my "chill pills" whenever I needed them. I always made sure to have a few on me, and used them often at work. I took my tryptophan every morning, and slowly was able to pull myself out of the obsession of my mind and back into reality, a very dark reality, but one that existed in the present.
Finally I was able to see the psychologist. It had been a nightmare trying to find someone with a sliding scale, and I had to lose it on the phone with the receptionist before she finally agreed to work with me and give me a doctor checkup first then an appointment with the psychologist as I wasn't a current patient. The psychologist interviewed me for two hours, reviewed material and asked questions relating to what had first alarmed my therapist to the possibility of bipolar, however standardized tests revealed I was clearly NOT bipolar, and I clearly WAS diagnosed with severe PTSD again. I tried to set up more appointments with my therapist, but for some reason that I can't remember, it didn't work out. I decided I was better off without therapy as I was doing much better at this point without therapy than with. Therapy focused too much on the negative and the past, things you can't control. I did quite well when I focused on what I could control and empowered myself to do so. I had the correct diagnosis, I needed nothing else, and if I found myself in a bad place again I knew I could always go back. Surprisingly, the therapist never bothered to check up on me, although luckily I didn't need it.
Soon after, I was involved in a minor fender bender. I was rear ended from behind while stopped at a stop sign. Trying to control my mind from freak out (this had happened before with a semi truck going 50 mph), I calmly pulled over and offered for him to pay under the table as it was only my rear bumper that was damaged (pretty badly damaged). Surprisingly his car didn't have any visible damage in the dark of night- his license plate and momentum had done all the damage. He took one look at his car, realized there was no damage, said "I didn't hit you. There's no way you can prove that I did.", jumped into the car and attempted to get into the road to speed away. Until I stood directly in front of his bumper. I was furious and had in an instant gone from cool and collected, to supreme utter disbelief, to seeing red and completely gone. I already knew how this was going to end. I yelled at him to go ahead and hit me as I called the cops standing two inches from his bumper. As he tried to back up, I ran after him, staying right on the bumper until he had nowhere else to go but through me. He fled on foot from his car, disappearing in one direction. I stayed right in front of his bumper. He reappeared from the opposite direction, got in his car fast, and realized I hadn't gone for the bait. I was still right there. He waited until the cops showed up, denied everything, told the cops that I was crazy and made him pull over. I lost it. I vehemently defended myself and began telling the truth of what had happened only to have two male cops get directly in my face, violently yelling at me that I was to shut up, that I essentially had no rights to keep them there and if I interrupted this fine gentleman without a scratch on his car that they would leave me and my car and let the man go. I turned around, collapsed onto the sidewalk and bawled. I tried so hard not to, but I couldn't stop, no matter how hard I tried. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with anger and fear. Still bawling uncontrollably and shaking, I went a few feet to a telephone pole and began punching and kicking it. I kicked it wrong and twisted my ankle, collapsing to the ground in agony while still sobbing uncontrollably. It didn't heal for months. Eventually I was able to try to talk to the officers. They began by telling me that perhaps I didn't have my story straight. Perhaps I had somehow, unknowingly, backed into a tree or telephone pole. I tried to explain that poles are round, the huge dent is triangular, like the corner of a license plate perhaps... They then suggested that perhaps while driving my manual I rolled back into the gentleman. I explained that this was impossible too as the surface I was sitting on was nearly flat. I kept telling them what actually had happened, but they didn't believe me. In my kind gesture of offering payment under the table to spare him from a bad insurance rating all the witnesses had gone. I asked them why as police officers they couldn't tell when someone was obviously fabricating stories. I then described how to look into the persons eye and ask direct questions and how you can tell. They began telling me I wasn't hit, that i forced this kind gentleman to the side of the road, becoming more animated and direct and getting in my face. I began to bawl again. They yelled at me to stop crying, telling me there wasn't any rational thing to cry about, and professed their expert opinion on metals and car material as they had supposedly been given a class on it, telling me I was a liar who was wasting their time and how I should be given a ticket for such. I laid down on the grass shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. They let him go and apologized to him for his trouble. They finally all left, the "gentleman" laughing as he drove away. I stayed on the ground for a while, finally getting up, driving the few blocks to get home. I drank two bottles of wine that night and passed out, still crying. I had recognized a pattern. I constantly get screwed over by men who think they are somehow entitled. No matter how hard I try, I can't ever do anything about it. I was a mess for weeks, developing another nasty wave of mind freak outs, flashbacks, nightmares relating to flashbacks, etc. I relied heavily on my supplements, even taking the natural sleep aid. I took the chill pills all the time.
I tried to get a career with benefits and a salary from the federal government, and spent many months filling out forms, taking mindless tests, attending stale interviews, going through medical checks, filling out complete background checks and other nonsense. I was offered the job with the understanding that medical had to be passed first. I was doing much better at this point, trying to better my position, trying to get involved in the community a little, trying to help others, and it was summer. Things were going better, but I was still depressed- not severely so, but the world was different shades of grey. I just knew how to manipulate the grey. I was flagged on my medical test because I stated that I had seen a therapist in the past year due to PTSD from a sexual assault. I was told I needed to gather all my documents and fax them in. I contacted the therapist and the doctors office with the psychologist to get my information. I had to set up an appointment with the therapist, and when I went in to see her I was still struggling to obtain my records from the psychologist. We did another assessment test, and to my surprise I still had mild to moderate PTSD, although I felt better than I had in a long, long while. She gathered my papers and wrote a final statement, asking about how the bipolar diagnosis went. I explained that I was found to be far from bipolar, but that the actual diagnosis was the same as before- severe PTSD. She seemed puzzled, pulled out her little book and began thumbing through. "Well, maybe you're this instead!" she said as she listed several descriptors that sounded mostly nothing like what I had been through, "Or perhaps this!" as she listed several more. I left the meeting with my entire file, slight irritation toward the therapist, and a firm intention to never go back. I realized that day what I had been thinking for a while now but couldn't put into words... Therapist = "the rapist"...
After faxing in all the documents I had gathered, I was denied a job with the federal government based on the "fact" that I was bipolar. When I opened the letter I literally saw red. In the tons of paperwork I had faxed was a five page report stating that I did NOT have bipolar disorder, and instead only had PTSD. Their decision was based on two words in a progress note from my therapist's file that said provisional bipolar, meaning that she can't actually diagnose me but this is what she suspects to be the case. It was dated before the five page report and test stating that I was not bipolar. Thinking there must be a mistake, I called the company contracted out to do my medical assessment for the government. There was no mistake on the letter of denial, only a mistake with the hiring practices of private contractors for the government and/or the IQ score of a select few individuals who reviewed my file. I attempted to fight the ruling, getting a letter faxed by the therapist stating that she didn't have the credentials to officially or properly diagnose me on her own, along with a duplicate of the test and results showing that I was not bipolar. I asked for the improper diagnosis to be deleted from my file so I could possibly try again for a position down the road. That request along with changing the ruling was denied. I had just wasted six months of time and effort, the same hours each week as a part time job, trying to get the position and only because someone decided to make me appear bipolar did I not get the position. I became more depressed, but didn't allow my symptoms to progress very much. I was my own therapist now- for good or bad, and I decided to devote my time to learning as much as I could about myself and how I work.
About this time I received in my email a digest from a lady schooled in meditation. I had signed up for updates from her blog and newsletters, and as I was reading I found much that instantly resonated with me. It was about using the hand you were dealt for your own purposes. Terrible things will happen to people- maybe yourself, maybe others- but there is no service from holding onto your emotions. Within that email I discovered my next mantra... "I have no idea how, but may this act of thievery bring benefit to sentient beings." Isn't that what I would want anyway? If I were asked way back when to choose a path; the easy path without these hardships of mine paired with shallow personal fulfillment, vs. the hard path I've been on and the deep fulfillment of helping other people alleviate their pain, I would have willingly, possibly gladly, before the fact, chosen the path of suffering to help others. I know I would have.
This mantra set me on a new path, a path toward some remnant of peace and quietude. A little muse sat on my shoulder and began telling me directions I should take with my life. It whispered loudly that I should write a blog about my path through hell and suffering, showing the way through healing, though at the time I had no idea why. Confused and bewildered I began brainstorming, thoughts, ideas, words flowing effortlessly onto shards of notes everywhere. But for what purpose was I to build a blog? Blogs are meant to be shared. You couldn't possibly mean... A short while later I found a note on a community forum of a communal group I belong to talking about a world run for mental health, specifically depression and anxiety. The muse again spoke saying I should offer myself to the cause. Reluctantly I sent an email (I actually hate running- I believe I used to run as a punishment, a control mechanism, always coupled with my bouts of anorexia). I spoke to the runner over a video meeting and realized that this was what I was supposed to do. I jumped on board and suddenly the blog made sense as a way to fulfill the desire of my new mantra.
I still suffer from severe bouts of depression and anxiety (when my car dies and I get in trouble for not being where I need to, when I do something mindless like lock my keys in the car and can't get where I need to, etc.). But I've noticed trends and patterns (people or entities like corporations lie cheat or steal and screw me over and I freak out because I don't want to be a victim, acts of "god" or accidents and spacey moments put me on the defensive and cause me to freak out because I'm not in control of my destiny, I berate myself and freak out over any minor imperfection or slip up because I feel shame about everything, I feel that I'm not wanted or desirable because I'm not perfect, etc), and I'm learning every day. It's ok to feel vulnerable. It's ok to feel insecure. It's ok to be furious and livid because something terrible happened. My gift is that I get to decide what this rape means for me, I get to choose how to write my future by how I choose to view and rewrite my beliefs and values from events of the past. I am strong. My story and my path are here for you.
I have come to the conclusion that if there is a wound to be aired, I will open it, and in doing so display my battle wound for all to see, as witness to the atrocities man allows himself to commit against his own kind, that hopefully humankind can have a future devoid of mindless suffering and greedy self-indulgence at the expense of others. Suffering, in and of itself, is inevitable. It allows one to enjoy the full spectrum of joys life has to offer, but intentional, cruel and heartless suffering at the hands of fellow man is something to be phased out from reality and collective understanding and to be replaced with universal love, brotherhood, and temperance. This is my hope and intention as I give up my pain, suffering, and heartache to the halls of humankind as an offering of transmutation from the evils we can choose to inflict, to the happiness, joy and idyllery of collective technicolor enlightenment.