Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Trauma.

One of many on a heavily populated terraced street, a singular house is somewhat innocuous. Behind each door lies normality, family life in one form or another. But the one, somehow isolated facade holds a history so vivid that the mere sight of the door marked 75 becomes a metaphysical legacy of trauma. At one point it was the place I forced myself to consider a home - the act of considering otherwise being much too grim and abhorrent to even contemplate. The only option became to believe and to convince myself that the pervasive sense of isolation and loathing is normal. Don’t worry... I won't talk, I won't tell.


-

Somehow both an empty, unfeeling void and a hectic, torturous weight – trauma doesn’t discriminate. It creeps in as I sleep. It restricts my muscles as I reach for my morning tea. It leaves my memories incohesive fragments of what once was. It wrings out my stomach as I eat one of my once favourite foods. It steals my breath as I step out the front door, the vast possibilities ahead that today might finally be the expected something bad – the moment of mentally prophesied bad shit.  It impacts every inch of being until my entire identity is defined by trauma.

Trauma forced my daily rhetoric towards avoidance, an avoidance of anything that might shatter my illusion of okay-ness. I had to be okay.

Though it isn’t okay, it never has been and I simply wanted it to be more than anything else. After all, I never asked for this. I never asked to be born. I most certainly didn’t want to suffer so severely from nausea everyday that I can barely move. Nor did I ask to push away all those I love for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of. I also didn’t ask to emotionally shatter so frequently when it all becomes so much, sobbing violently and uncontrollably, fearing a new day. Growing frustrations fester, understanding that I never asked for this experience, or it's sequelae.

It’s difficult to come to terms with. The beginning of this year ushered in an overwhelming sense of dread, the sense of carrying the torturous unknown through to another year. Simply lacking the official diagnosis of C-PTSD forced me to see nothing but a highly neurotic, depressed and incurable mess. Delightfully, this offered more things to repress. Though as time has progressed, I’ve educated myself sufficiently and I’ve been offered a gift of clarity I hadn’t yet received – the simple fact of knowing why I was in so much psychological and somatic pain engendering a queer sense of comfort.

I have a voice, and I shall no longer be silenced in the fear of possible repercussions. For a long time I believed silence and avoidance was the only approach to survive.

I have capacity to be more vocal; though a voice was something that was never permitted to my younger self. Trapped in a mental cage and unable to get out, I had no option but to endure. So, I did, I endured. I endured permanently being the one unwanted child out of three. I endured being less important than drugs and alcohol. I endured the fear of ever leaving the house and being late, I endured the fear of never leaving the house and being alone. I endured the words, I absorbed them - as yes, I don’t deserve education, I am dumb, I am fat, I am unimportant, and I am disgusting. I endured the outbursts of anger whenever I got sick. I endured hands round my throat. The act of simply falling asleep at midnight and forgetting to let them in, sanctioning the act of tightly wrapping their hands around my throat, precariously balanced at the top of the staircase while they look on without an ounce of care or distress in their eyes. It all feels like a big long game of endurance.

I still fear the things that might happen, the toxic trauma tattooed so deeply that my mind, body and spirit must be prepared for the next onslaught, a destiny to be repeated ad infinitum. Yet I also cling to the past, observing the whys, the hows, should-haves and should nots. I see all my actions after them and feel overcome with regret. Constant approval wasn’t something I needed, and nor was the want to be liked or to be someone else entirely. These were so important to me and forced an outward image of myself into the world that was never really me at all, it was their imprint. Even after I’d left, I was plagued by a ghost of somebody I wasn’t.


-

I carried the burden of trauma with me for a long time, not as a badge of honour but as a brand of shame. Simply expressing the truth about my past would force me towards leper status, and ensure anyone would be as repulsed of my own identity as I was myself. It felt like honesty would brand me for life, a scarlet letter warning the world to stay away. I am dumb, I am fat, I am unimportant, I am disgusting. I often remain forgetful that this isn’t my own narrative, that it was the one incepted into my mind as I tried so desperately to develop my own.


I feel inexorably drawn to tell my truth now, that the shame I’ve carried is not and shall no longer be my own. As I’ve watched a chorus of women (and men) shout from rooftops about their experiences with sexual assault cry out “Me Too,” and I feel it’s about time I say; me too. My identity might currently be trapped in the trauma void, but I don’t feel much of anything about them, other than the pull to move on. I say “They” and it remains as much of a platform as they deserve, a name or pronoun serves as an identifier, and that does a disservice to those who, too, have suffered at the hands of the cosmic “they” and their intrinsic evil. After all, if you can prolongedly harm another being, then surely your status as a human deserving respect, sympathy and compassion should be revoked? But I unfortunately understand that my experience is not all that unique. I know all the women that have been violated while unconscious. I know all the children that felt the sting of neglect, of abuse. I know all the teens that were subject to a constant barrage of insults. I am one of them – but I have not, and will never be any part of “they” ever again. I’m ready to leave them behind, to gain an identity of my own. My identity won’t be robbed any longer, I am exactly who I am and I refuse to apologise.

I hope to drop the shame, completely. I won't stay silent and push it away. I refuse to let it be my burden.  None of it should have ever been mine to begin with. I claim no more ownership over my past. My identity is no longer going to be wrapped up in my past. I shout “Me Too” and mean it – it’s finally time to lose my shame and private distress from what they did, and welcome a new empowered narrative.

They won't ever again get my name, my fear, my identity or my silence.

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