Pain #2

Reading pc’s post again tonight brings tears to my eyes. She writes beautifully about the ugliest of things and she’s put words to things that I had zero desire to try to write about yesterday.

I want to add some more. And I suppose there are two types to this. The physical pain, and far worse, the emotional. I’ll start with the former.

  • The bruises on a body from ‘kids being kids’.
  • The feeling of suffocating when your head is held underwater and however much you flail and try to get out of their grip, you can’t.
  • Or when their hand is over your mouth and nose, or around your neck and you can’t escape.
  • When their body is on top of yours, pinning you down.
  • When your arm or leg is held so hard you end up bruised.
  • When you are hit or pushed down or threatened without the requirement of words even leaving their mouth.
  • When their penis is down your throat and you cannot escape. When you gag and can’t breathe, and the only air you can get into your lungs is when they release the pressure of their hand on the back of your head and you can pull back just long enough that you can breathe through your nose again before they thrust your head back forward and you’re suffocating. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat x 100.
  • When you disappear to wherever you can, because the things they are doing to your body are more than you can cope with.
  • When doors are slammed on hands. Objects thrown at faces. Plates and glasses smashed on the wall behind you.
  • The sweet sharp pain that is self inflicted in order to try to bring yourself back to the present, or punish yourself, or just feel *something*. Or rather, actually, to so often feel nothing, to numb everything happening in your brain and body, to remove yourself from it all.

And yet, the actual physical pain and fear is short lived right? Ha. No, not really. Because the emotional pain brings them back all the fucking time. Periods become triggers where your body feels like it’s still happening, over and over, where your memories torment you. And all of these things come back, out of nowhere, when you least expect it, when you might be having a good day, and then SLAM. Hit in the face with this shit, out of nowhere, for no reason that you can pinpoint.

And as pc has said, all of the other shattering things.

  • The fact that they chose him, yet again. The fact that you’re not chosen. The knowledge that you won’t ever be.
  • The fear that has your knees curled up to your chest whilst you sit on the floor of the shower for half an hour hoping that the water will wash it all off of you.
  • The birthdays, the christmases, the fathers days, the mothers days, the lunches, the dinners, the family gatherings, the celebrations.
  • The never ending silencing.
  • The earth shattering loss of parents that can make you feel orphaned, and alone and like you won’t survive it.
  • The shame. The white hot, flushed cheeks, sweaty bodied shame.
  • The fucking ocean of grief. And the ocean of grief that you haven’t been able to cry for in years.
  • The years spent taking care of yourself because nobody else will. The putting yourself to bed and the crying yourself to sleep at night.
  • The feeling unseen, unheard, unappreciated, unloved. Unloveable.
  • The taking all of it on so that you can retain some semblance of control.

There are so many more. This list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but I have another post I need to write.

forty-two: pleasure

i’ve been dreading writing this all day.

and in fact, spent the latter portion of the afternoon completely activated while trying not to be, my body afire, wanting to tear out of my skin. culminating in shaking and sobbing in my bathtub and then in my bed with my stuffed dog clutched tight under my chin. oh and i did some butterfly hugging in there a couple times too (i really need to re-name this, coz it annoys the everloving shit out of me that something this flighty-sounding works as well as it does when i’m panicking and triggered) (i’ll wait while you google it). and, as i so often do (poor woman), i sent out SOSs to pocketbrit, who, thankfully, was there, being her usual loving, anchoring self. who, along with time, and my steady, gentle wife, calmed me enough so i could sleep it off. i only slept an hour but so deeply, and it reset things, somehow, and i woke up with my body and mind quieter.

and i don’t even know exactly what it was, except i suspect that the whole show was not helped by virtue of just reading this word. there was instant shame, a jolt in my body.

because all mixed up in the pain and horror of it is also pleasure. is also, bodies responding. both in the remembering of it, and possibly at the time. and this feels so gross, because i was a little girl when it started…both pocketbrit and i, we were both so so small when our bodies were violated by the men in our families. and fuck, we shouldn’t have known about any of it, especially not at that age, by those people.

and because sometimes, when my body remembers things, it tingles, throbs, invites me to explore it. feels kind of good. and then god, the shame, the fucking instant hot lava of shame because what kind of revolting girl…?! i mean i didn’t enjoy it, how could i, i didn’t know what the fuck was happening so much of the time, but sometimes my body did respond. i certainly knew from a very young age what felt good, and masturbated all over the place. ugh it makes my face burn now because i didn’t even try to hide it. (but also, did not a single aunt or grandparent or my mother, perhaps, ever wonder about why a toddler was doing that?! was anyone awake at all?)

it’s gross and shameful and awful to begin with but add the fact that my stupid fool body gets in on it…how are we not supposed to hate ourselves for that? how are we ever meant to have a normal sexual life ever again?

twenty-three: innocence

friends, i can’t do this tonight. i’m sad and i’m tired and i can’t think about writing my feelings on this word without having hours to cry about it, and i just don’t. i don’t even know if i can come back to it.

i just wish it wasn’t taken away from us so early. i can hardly bear it tonight, the hugeness of the grief of it.

nineteen: tiny

i am already feeling triggered just reading this word.

i tried to make the feelings go away by imagining innocuous, innocent tiny things, like an ant crawling over a leaf, or how my daughter’s soft, smooth newborn feet felt in my palm.

but what i kept thinking about was how small we were. when it happened, when we were hurt and violated and used by members of our family. we were tiny.

both hands, then, could probably fit into one of his. i still needed a booster seat on my chair, which i also needed help climbing into. i was lower than my kitchen countertops – i had to go onto my tippy-toes to be at eye-level. i believed in santa (and would for another several years). i wasn’t in school yet.

fucking tiny.

i’ve seen pictures of pocketbrit, she hardly reached his thigh.

and i just don’t understand any of it. how they could do those things. how the signs that we weren’t okay weren’t noticed. why wasn’t anyone paying attention? what was everyone else doing? were we so little we became invisible?

it’s also a shrinking sort of shriveling, sick feeling i get when i think of it now. and like i might drown in the grief of it.

seventeen: unususal

y’know what? i think i like this word.

i don’t feel like it’s used all that often in daily conversation, but i like it. i like unusual things. i like unusual people. i would be pleased to be thought of, or referred to, as being unusual. not usual, un-usual? yeah. i like that. who wants to be common? not this chick.

okay, so just after i wrote what i did up there, i did something stupid. i didn’t know it was stupid but it was, because it has ruined a lot of the good feelings.

basically, i googled the definition of unusual, and for some reason, reading not habitually or commonly occurring or done made me feel sick. coz i thought about my family, about my childhood. where what was habitually and commonly done was a father putting his hands on/in his daughter, and having her put her small, quavery, inexperienced hands on parts of him. another thing that was commonly done was for my mother to punish me through silence, for hours and sometimes days. when i did something ‘wrong’, i would have to try and figure it out…try to backtrack and review and do all kinds of detective work to discern what it may have been. or conversely, i would know very well what i had done, there would be an explosion, with screaming and spanking and fireworks abounding…followed by deathly silence, blank stares, and withdrawal. no way to make it up. no way to fix it. just knowing that i was so, so bad.

i think this is what i perhaps hate the most about my life lately. that i am constantly toeing the line between okayness and the tippiest edge. that i feel good one minute, adult, resolute, and solid, but by the next minute, the darkness is right up in my face, rattling my bones, curdling my stomach, and i’m a terrified four year old. i can’t seem to protect myself against the trapdoors before i’m dropping into the abyss, clutching and scrambling at the air as i fall…

the pendulum just seems to swing so far both ways, lately. i can hardly keep up. wondering, who am i, right now? and then moments later…who am i now? and rarely answering the same.

trauma is exhausting. i never wanted any of it. none of us did. i hate this fucking club.

thirteen: help

i’m sorry i was late for this (interruption due to canadian thanksgiving festivities, which involved turkey and a great number of glasses of chardonnay), but i couldn’t not write on it.

one evening last week, i was deeply triggered and trying not to be. i left my house, my wife, and my daughter to go to the grocery store, because i thought doing something normal might interrupt the shame and the spinning.

i got as far as a block away from my house before i recognized that it wasn’t going to work. i was driving and realized that i should not have been, because i was starting to hold my breath, i was shaking, and it felt like i was too watery inside to know how to steer.

there were two people i wanted: my t, and pocketbrit.

i had already texted my t earlier, when i first felt it getting bad, when it was all going sideways and wiggly at the edges. i could feel i was going to panic but i was just managing to hold it off. i could feel that i was small and i was young and activated, and i wanted her to hold me, even if just with her voice, over the phone. i wanted her to help me and i knew she could.

but t couldn’t talk. she was apologetic but she just couldn’t, not that night. and i believed that she couldn’t, i absolutely understood that she couldn’t, but my stomach dropped out and there was just roaring between my ears.

pocketbrit is so so trusted by my little one, but the tiny bit of me that was still adult was ashamed, and wouldn’t let me ask for her. it was late at night for her, she hadn’t been sleeping much, and i just felt i should take care of it myself. my need was huge. i was small and scared and was going to lose control, i knew i was going to, and it would be awful and triggery for her and it would be humiliating and terrible for me.

she and i had been texting earlier but i had disappeared…and just as t said she couldn’t call me, a text came from pocketbrit, asking where i had gone. i told her that i was panicking and that it was bad. and then she was there, with me, i could feel her arrival, but i needed her even closer. i begged her in my mind to call me, to just call me, i balled my fists into my eyes and sent a hundred wishes over the ocean that separates us so that she might hear and know that i needed her, as close as she could get. my heart was in my throat and the tsunami was coming, i didn’t have much time…and she wrote, in quick succession, i’m here. it’s okay. can you tell me? i’m not leaving. but i still couldn’t say, i couldn’t spell, i couldn’t find the words, i didn’t answer her for what felt like forever.

until i finally did. and i don’t quite remember doing it, but i typed help me.

(there’s still a small rush of shame – or compassion? – for that, i was so so young)

and then my phone rang and her voice arrived via the speakers in my car, and she did help me. helped me breathe and focus and weathered the storm with me. stayed steady. stayed close. i don’t know what-all i said but through all the gulping and sobbing and holding of my breath and shame she talked to me, gently and calmly and lovingly. even though i’m sure it was scary and awful, as it would be for anyone who has ever loved someone through a flashback, she didn’t leave. she helped, so much.

when i awoke on the other side, when i was adult again, i mostly felt empty but also terrified. coz oooohh, now i’d done it. she’d heard it all. but quick on the heels of that was relief, and so so much love. (i never used to feel anything other than intense shame, self-loathing and guilt for polluting the innocent people in the wake of my trauma). but that night, i was just so so grateful for her presence, her voice, and her love. they all helped.

so when i read this word the other day, i thought of what it meant to be helped. i also thought about back then, about all the things both pocketbrit and myself lacked growing up: safety. attentiveness. gentleness. affection. respect. praise. and how, like she said in her post, no one helped us, and the people who could’ve, turned a blind eye. the truth in that, and the pain of it, does make me so angry and so sad.

despite never being able to get that back…despite not being rescued, despite the wounds i carry as a result of doing it alone for so many years, i realized that last week, i actually recognized that i need help. and, i asked for it…and then received it, in such a beautiful, gentle, caring way. and there is so much healing in that.

so much sad, but so much love, too.