The path of growth and letting go.

I want it over. I feel like I have been stabbed through the heart, again. Patterns swirl before my eyes. In shock as I realise I’m faltering. 

I hang between parts. 

I look on, confused, and wonder how I got here. Which bits of me I sold out, in order to be here, again. Like this. 

I retreat slowly.

It doesn’t feel right. My gut, my instinct, feels violated. Nauseated. Voices I had closed off, now vocal, coaxing me in retreat. 

And I stumble.

And I try, desperately, to right the stage. To fix the situation. To resume, the way things were. To set the level straight. 

I no longer have the means.

It has fallen through my fingers like sand. An empty, vacuous feeling swamps me. Once, pillars, now dust, I stand, defeated. 

Anger rises within me.

As I push aside the grief because it is not loss I feel. It’s hope of freedom. From chains I helped to build. Helped to build around my own neck. 

I can cast them aside.

I stand strong and undivided. Yet my heart bleeds within and I cower instinctively on the inside. Terror, like bile rising within, plucked from time gone. 

My voice wavers

Tears cloud my eyes, yet I murmur “It’s not my fault.” And again in the next breath “I didn’t do anything wrong” I pause and listen for my heartbeat. 

I want it over. I sink to the floor. 

I want the pain to end. I lay my head against my hands. 

Patterns make sense before my eyes. I whisper,

It is over.” 

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Process

I held it in my hand a little longer. 

Wondering if it would change. 

I willed for something, anything. 

As I held it there. 

That little longer. 

I stared till my eyes stung. 

Until my hand grew sore. 

Until I knew. 

I must release it. 

My hand unfurled and let it go. 

I felt so much lighter. 

More free. 

And then. 

I wondered why I’d held on. 

So long. 

On the road to recovery

When you live with something for a long time. When you’ve lived with something, for forever,

you don’t believe it’s gone. 

You can’t. There’s a certain air of impossibility to it. 

And you carefully sidestep what might be happening rather than voice the absurd – that you are cured or healed. 

It feels like that with me and my journey to recovery – recovery! Ha! Is that even a place? Isn’t it only the carrot dangled just out of reach? That leads you on but you never quite reach? 

If so, I have, then, somewhat blindly, chosen to believe that I can reach it. That I will. Reach it. 

But. 

Markers along the way…I am loathe to tally. 

Ever conscious of the precipice that I walk upon. I do not want to hold up a success as a trophy only to have it crash to pieces in front of me. With dark foreboding thoughts callously reminding me that I won’t succeed. That I cannot get better. This is who you are. 

And so it is quite loosely that I hold onto the thought that perhaps I have made changes. That perhaps there is progress. 

It is like that with my once familiar suicidal thoughts. 

I cannot believe they are really gone. 

They’ll come back at some point when life drives me to the cusp again. 

But it does feel differently. It feels like something that was so inherently a part of my life, part of how I dealt with life, is now gone. 

It is not the first thing I think of. Not even the fourth or fifth thing. It seems no longer an option. It does not plague my mind when I am in crisis. Other thoughts and phrases and strategies take up space where once…

I am, however, not certain. Though I am extremely hopeful. 

The loss of suicide as an option changes things. 

Changes how I look at things like suffering and trauma memories and therapy and times of crisis. 

It gives space for other things to grow and flourish in my mind. For paths to widen and hope to blossom. 

Yet all the while, cautiously, for fear that maybe it’s still there. Lurking behind the next trigger or crisis. 

I ponder too. 

Can Bird be healed. Is that word, healed, too deeply steeped with Christian overtones for me to even consider. Is it then perhaps, not healed, but that maybe she is going to be okay?

Has she learned from the ever growing disparity in our life, that she is not bad, that what happened to her is not her fault and that she will be ok? 

I do not know. 

I cannot write with finality. 

Still, I toy with the idea in my mind of being better. Of life moving forward and of change and of progress. 

When desperate one day and crying to my therapist that I’ve tumbled back down into the abyss and I am stuck in the jaws of the past, 

I ask her, if I this is me going backwards. 

And she challenges me softly, 

You know it’s not. 

I do know it’s not. 

I know. 

Perfectly well that progress is tangible. That I can hold up a measure and exact a result. 

That should I wish to acknowledge or even, god forbid, celebrate. I could. With evidence. 

Instead. I cautiously play with words and metaphorically wrap in cotton wool – lest they shatter – markers of progress. 

All the while tenderly nourishing and feeding them so they will, 

in fact, 

Grow. 

The only way out- living through flashbacks *trigger warning*

I wake with a feeling of dread. 

Nothing is in my mind. And the empty blankness is not welcome nor comforting –  with the feeling of dread it’s alarming. 

I try to ignore it and fall back to sleep. I don’t want to know what the dread is. I want sleep again. But I can’t. It’s too late. 

My mind is already wandering around searching for a reason. 

And it’s so early in the morning it’s still dark. And I’m sleepy and my mind is foggy. So as I search anything in my mind is fair game. 

I vaguely recall that yesterday was a massive day. But in searching for the dread I stumble deep. Too deep. 

And suddenly I’m small. And the bed is huge and it is no longer dread I feel. It’s pure terror. 

Nausea overwhelms me as his body crushes me and the pain is unbearable. 

I force my eyes open and launch myself from my bed and dry retch over and over again. The past clinging to me like the monster it is.  

I have to be quiet like in the past. But for different reasons. My sons are asleep I cannot scream and cry instead I cower over the basin. Silent tears streaming down my face and I shake. 

I’m too cold or is it shock? I force myself back into bed for the warmth despite the memories. And I remember what yesterday was about. 

Why I had been to the doctor. 

Why yesterday had been massive or life changing or horrible or brave or all of these things. 

And the dread and terror wave over me again as I try and suppress the tears. 

I think instead of work in three or so hours. And how can I possibly manage?

Or who in the crisis world is available at this time of the morning as my body shakes and I know it’s too early for anyone of any use. 

I’m not suicidal, though as that thought is acknowledged, I feel the longing for everything to end. 

I want the pain to go. I want not to feel this now. Ever. I’d rather have died. 

Somehow, later,  I have texted my boss. I booked an online appointment with my doctor. 

I force myself up and smile at my sons & make myself tea. Drive them to school. Constantly chanting in my foggy brain it’s 2018 it’s 2018. 

I don’t make much small talk and as I pull away from the school. Tears explode down my cheeks and I struggle for breath and calm so that I can get home safely. 

I can barely walk once I’m home. My body feels so broken and I cannot get it to move properly. I hobble up the stairs. And I look at the bed as memories of being r*ped flash across my mind. I fall to the ground instead and lay on my side. I feel so sick. My stomach heaves again and a clear strong voice tells me to get up that this is too much like the past. We can’t stay here. 

I’m sobbing wounded guttural sobs. That hardly make a sound. 

I stumble out of the room onto my balcony and climb pathetically into my pod chair, my nest, my safe space. And I rock myself and cry. 

I am immersed in the pain and the feelings. Dredged up from the past.

And it is unbearable. I’m incoherent. Feeling pain like…like I’ve been hit by a truck and left for dead, 

Or rather, as I correct myself to my therapist, like I have been r*ped. 

She’s on the other end of the phone now. I’m crippled in pain, writhing with great sobs of grief, wanting escape but caught up in the seemingly unending release of emotions, pain and body memories. Finally able to acknowledge to someone the horror and the pain and the fear. Finally having someone hear me. No longer having to be silent. 

Knowing that the only way out is through I cry and cry. Longing, wishing for anything, but this. Yet so glad someone knows, someone is listening, someone is helping me. At last. My body has carried this for too long. Decades. The release is horrific.

I don’t know how she makes sense of me as I cry out to her but she does and my sobbing slows as I listen to her voice and the familiar words of encouragement. It’s not happening now, you are safe now. I’m reassured that it’s different now and I am not alone. 

And, again, I make it through to the other side. 

Wounded but alive. Hurt but not by myself this time. 

I allow myself space. I cannot brush this aside. 

My body won’t allow me to anyway. It hurts too much. I cannot carry on as though nothing has happened. 

I rest. I slow down. I know I will be okay again. I’m a survivor. I do not give up. 

Flashbacks and body memories *trigger warning*

I feel sick. 

The kinda sick that violates your whole body. 

The kinda sick that makes you want to wash yourself

In bleach. 

I feel hurt. 

The kinda hurt that penetrates every inch of you. 

The kinda hurt that makes you want your whole body 

To die. 

I feel fear

The kinda fear where you whole body is tortured.

The kinda fear where you cannot control  

Your bowel. 

I feel sad

The kinda sad where your panic is suffocating 

The kinda sad where your whole body is committed

To grief. 

I felt it all

At once, now, this morning as tho I was only just raped. 

When really it was three decades ago all stored up 

For now. 

Shame.

The black cloak.

I hold tight.

Around me.

Carefully.

I make sure it covers. 

All of me. 

 

It enfolds me.

I am caught.

In its darkness.

I must.

Be hidden.

I must hide.

The shame. 

 

She tells me.

It is okay.

She tells me.

It is.

Not mine. 

 

And I look.

At it.

And then.

I.

Pull it.

Tighter.

My black cloak.

 

I sink into it.

I cannot look.

In her eyes.

I don’t.

Believe her.

It is mine.

I am the one.

Here.

In the black cloak. 

 

Still.

Each week.

She listens.

And says.

It is not your.

Shame.

I don’t.

Believe her.

But.

I.

Hear her. 

 

The black cloak.

Hides everything.

It hides.

What happened.

It hides.

My shame. 

 

And she tells.

Me.

It’s. Not. My. Shame.

And she tells.

Me.

It’s. Not. My. Fault.

 

And if I look.

In.

Her eyes. 

I know.

One day.

I will leave.

The black cloak.

On the floor.

And I will.

Stand.

With.

My own. 

 

Dignity. 

i’m going to be okay

You’re always better off dealing with reality she says. 

And I sit here on my balcony. Now. Here. Today. In reality. 

It’s not the past. Though it always lingers. It’s not the future. Though it always calls. 

It’s today. 

And it’s spring. 

And my life is not so bad. 

And I pause and wait after I write that. 

But we agree it’s not so bad. 

I’ve always wrestled with the betrayal of life being okay. 

That somehow if life is okay, if life is not so bad, that makes it okay what happened to me. 

It is not okay. It will never be okay, what happened to me. 

And 

for the first time in my life I know that while,

It is never going to be okay what happened to me, 

I am going to be okay. 

I am going to be okay because I am strong. 

I am going to be okay because I never ever let it defeat me. 

I am going to be okay

because I work hard every single day to be okay. 

Because I chose a different path for my life. 

Because I chose the path of hope, the path of belief that I could be okay, that I would be okay. 

And this path is hard. This path is the worst. It drives me into the blackest nights and the darkest of days. And I do long to give up. And I look for an out. 

This path has one direction and it’s through. Through those horrid times. That sink me. That always threaten to win. 

And I know now, tonight, as I swing here on my balcony waiting for my boys. 

That there’s still more darkness to come. 

That this journey holds more blackness, sorrow, and pain. 

But I also know. For a fact. 

I am going to be okay. 

Chronic disease: life changer

I want to write about what it’s like to be diagnosed with a chronic disease. After already having chronic disease and mental illness. After always struggling for my health. 

To write about what it’s like to have to manage your health like it’s another full-time job, or worse. What it’s like to have to visit the doctor so regularly she bulk-bills you just to make sure you actually come. 

What it’s like to see multiple different health professionals just to stay on top of your health. To have to fit these visits in between work and your personal life. To remember, schedule, turn up and pay.

What it’s like to fight for your health, when parts of you do not want to. Parts of you don’t believe you are worth it, or deserve it. When it’s so much easier to turn a blind eye to it. 

To firmly and completely focus on the two sons you must live for. To make radical changes in your life in determination because of them. 

It nearly sunk me. To add another life threatening diagnosis on top of it all. It nearly sunk me to be told that I had type 2 diabetes mellitus. 

How? How was I going to manage this? 

I was so unhealthy. Alongside my mental illness I was also suffering from an eating disorder I was already seeing a dietitian and my regular therapist. But it was slow hard work. 

I have asthma. Sleep apnoea. IBS, depression, anxiety, complex trauma PTSD, DID oh yes – multiple personalities that make eating a veritable nightmare. This was too much. 

This? Diabetes? How was I going to manage this? I cried. And cried. And I paid for yet another vital medication. 

How could I possibly do this? There are good outcomes – they tell me -with healthy eating and exercise. Something I had never managed. Exercise? Healthy eating?

Me? How???

I was in despair. Why had they not found it sooner when it was pre-diabetes and I could hold it off. 

I had had it for at least 2 years undiagnosed. Left untreated I was facing early death, and complications including blindness, amputation, heart disease and stroke. 

To say I was terrified was an understatement. 

Food was my comfort. I had turned to it my whole life. How? How was this going to change? Could I change this?

I cried and cried. “I cannot do this! I can’t” 

And the tears were real. The fear was real. My hopelessness was real. 

Until it wasn’t. 

Until I realised I could do it. 

Of course I could. 

This was nothing. 

Nothing compared to what I had been through before. 

This was nothing compared to leaving an abusive relation. Nothing compared to surviving my childhood. 

It was hard. Is hard. But I could do it. I knew I could. Because I had done much much harder things before. And survived. 

And so I added diabetes to my list of things to conquer. Diabetes is not going to win. It is not going to beat me. 

I am not alone. I have had a lot of support. And with that support I have been able to make gradual change, I’ve replaced things in my diet and slowly added exercise to my life. 

It is hard. It isn’t a fad diet that I’m trying out. It’s my life now. It’s been about four months. And I feel better for it. 

It’s busy. I have blood tests, eye tests, foot checks, appointments with my dietitian, exercise physiologist, Doctor, therapist, and psychiatrist. 

As well as the need to fit exercise somewhere in between these and my full-time job & single parenting.

It is still early days and I’m working hard to see my blood sugar drop to a normal level as well as improve my overall health. 

It’s been a game changer, a life changer. And I am not going to let this beat me. 

Blossom.

The trees are old. I suppose. Their trunks are thick and their branches are wide. With secrets woven into their bark. They stand tall and silently in the sun. 

The breeze is still cool as it flutters their small pink flowers gently around. A ripple of bright colour flashes and the scent of spring fills my nostrils. 

They were bare, the branches, last week. Stoic and bland in the last days of winter. Reflecting the empty, barren, cold days of life. 

Alone, and affording little protection to the wild life that should chatter in its boughs. The trees stood majestically, yet sadly, as a bitter reminder of death and decay. 

Then almost without warning. Quite suddenly. And somewhat strangely. Yet not without precedence. Transformation. 

Radically, brittle dryness is replaced with new growth. Pink flowers, with the sweet scent of spring, flourish on empty branches. Smiling and bringing to life,

Hope. 

Split

It’s her truth I have to hear.

She needs me. I need

to hear her truth. It’s her I must seek. 

 

Entwined as we are. Two

parts of one whole. 

She holds all the darkness.

So I can be in the light. 

 

She comes, and I go. This

is how we survive. Silent

ships passing in the night. 

 

We should never meet. It

keeps me safe. She takes it

all, as I escape. 

 

Separate lives is what we

lead. Where she succumbs

so I can live. 

 

It is not fair. It is not right.

You have to do what you

cannot, so you survive. 

 

And now. I have to bear her

truth. I know I have to. I

know I must. Bear it. 

 

There is only one road

ahead. I know it in my soul.

One way ahead where the

two of us will, collide. 

 

I must turn and face her. I

must cross that safe line.  I

must enter her darkened

world. And leave the light

behind. 

 

It’s there that she is frozen

in darkness. She’s stuck in

time. She is stuck in fear.

She’s crippled and she’s

broken. 

 

I long to turn away. I want

to leave her there. I want to

walk back. Behind the line. 

 

But always. Always. Truth

leads me on. Every path I

took. Every road I walked.

Every life I lived. 

 

Leads me to her. 

 

I can no longer circle past

her. She is no longer in the

shadow. I have to turn and

embrace her. 

 

I must accept her. But even

before I am sure. She

reaches desperately for me

 

And 

 

I’m here frozen in the

darkness. I’m here, stuck in

time. I’m here stuck in fear.

I’m crippled. And I’m broken.

 

I have found her. I have found

me. I hold her hands. Entwining

my fingers in hers. I know, I whisper,

though my voice shakes.