Bleeding your venom out

Sometimes I think about you and more than anything I want to spit all the venom you forced into me back out at the world. I want the world to know the shape of your darkness so they recognize the patterns left behind on me by your teeth.

I want them to know you like I know you.

I want them to see what writhes beneath that smile, that laugh, and easy charm. Those touches, the mischief, that flirty personality.

I want them to know the shape of the welts you left across my thighs and down my back in the name of discipline. To show how I had to count to 40 when I was in preschool as you hit me and how I had to start over because when I was sobbing and gasping for breath I skipped over 17 and you made me start from 1 again. I want them to see that time I looked at you with my anger and clenched my firsts and you charged at me from the other side of the room to slap me into the door frame because I had dared challenge you with an expression.

I want them to look at us and watch the way you raped an 11 year old me while I laid frozen on the bed with my eyes tightly shut. I want them to hear the prayers in my head and acknowledge the exact moment my faith in God and love died. I want them to hear the whispered, “This will make it better for later. Don’t tell anyone. They won’t understand. You don’t want me to go do jail do you?”

I want them to watch as you carved all those pieces off me that once made me whole. I want them to be forced to reconcile what I should have been with what was taken and the hideous fucking scars that were left behind and worn down and ripped open again when you got the urge.

I want them to watch as you still serenade me a love song from my childhood, about how I was your special girl. One Mom says your wrote for her. I want them to watch everyone around us tear up and get swept away in your fatherly nostalgia and I want them to feel the bile rise in my stomach and the shame that weighs down when the others look at me and tell me I’m too hard on you. That you love me. That your temper and your own childhood make it hard for you to love someone. That you still deserve a chance because you’re my daddy and you were once hurt too.

I want the world to watch the way you burned me and got away with it. I want them to see how your family and mine tells me I should forgive and forget because you’re just human.

I want the world to see how I was made to feel that because you penetrated me only once it was somehow just a weak moment on your part and that it really wasn’t that bad. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but they don’t know the monster in you like I do.

They don’t know you and mom had sex in my room after you raped me. They don’t know how you raised me to massage your body from the time I walked in diapers and that you raped me after I refused to give you one for the very first time. Or that you still made me massage you for hours after that when I was growing up. They don’t know that it’s hard for me to fall asleep and I stay up for days on end sometimes because once I tried to fall asleep beside you and you broke me. They don’t know that you never stopped talking about my body, you never stopped grabbing my ass or brushing your knuckles across the side of my chest when you wanted to make a point.

But mostly, I wish the world could hear the conversation we had about all that when I was 25. The one you made me promise to keep secret and I lied through my teeth to you because I knew the cost of silence around you. I wish they could hear how you still had no problem with the way you touched me. I wish they could hear the way you said I was still your special girl. I wish they could smell the beer on your breath (fresh from the bar where your lady friend stood you up) as you started to talk about how some families are okay with fucking each other and how you think I’d probably be mischievous in bed a few minutes later. I wish they could hear how you denied penetrating me, like that was where you drew the line, but that you didn’t feel like touching me that way you had was bad. That you just loved me so much and I was beautiful and special.

I want them to see how I verbally danced around the dangerous tones of that conversation, how I kept my shit together, how I made sure you didn’t touch me…all while I had a couple of drinks too. I want them to see how I tucked your drunk ass into bed and listened to you beg me to stay for just a little longer. I want them to see how I held your hand even after all of that because you’d raised me to understand the sort of violence that follows refusal with you. That picking my battles meant fighting to the death if I had to, but otherwise be diplomatic.

And I want them to know, on a deep and personal level, how painful it was, how messed up it was, for me to have to do that for you given the circumstances. That I kept my shit together until the end and didn’t fall to pieces until I had moved out of your reach. I grew up feeling like a hunted creature, something I learned only from you. That feeling is something that I struggle with even today. I haven’t seen or heard you in months I still remember what it feels like as if it were something abrasive over my skin rubbing back and forth whenever I breathe. It makes me overwrought and my body doesn’t know if it should panic or shut down when it remembers the feeling.

The Doctors say I have PTSD which helps me feel like maybe I’m not worthless because of the things that are wrong with me. They try to assure me that you really caused actual lasting damage and it explains the things that make me feel crazy. I wish I could truly express the weight of what I feel, of the things I’m contemplating and battling so people stop looking at me strange when I need to leave a room because they started talking too loud and my body reacted to the volume levels like it would have if you were yelling.

Lastly, I want the world to know how goddamn scared of you I still am. More so now than when I was a kid. You told me to my face you didn’t even see anything wrong with the few bits you could acknowledge. I wish I could relay just how badly it hurt and tore at me to find out you didn’t deserve a second chance and that I still had your attention in a sexual way and that I had probably never lost it. I guess I want to world to know how equally fucking painful it was to learn, with the mind of an adult, that you really had meant everything that happened and it hadn’t just been a mistake or something that you didn’t even remember. I know you’ll never touch me again and still you are the thing I have nightmares about.

And just to be perfectly clear I want the world to hear me sometimes…but there is never a time when I want you to see or hear or touch or smell or anything me again.

Not even if you are sorry one day.

I hope when you die it’s with apologies on your lips; that in the end maybe you’ll have gotten enough humanity on you to truly comprehend the horror your life inflicted on us. I don’t want you to suffer….none of this has been to make you suffer. I just want the world to know why it is that I suffer when they ask what it is that’s broken, when they point out what I’m lacking.

It’s not about you. It’s about me. It’s just that sometimes I have to talk about what you did in order to fix what you did/do to me. I just want the world to know everything so that I can stop talking about it and move the fuck on and focus on the things that make me stronger and pull me forward. Things that do not involve you in any way, shape, or form.

So sometimes I think about you and spit venom….but it’s not my own. It was always yours. And while my version of events is brutally hideous in it’s bluntness it’s 100% more fair and truthful than when you cut me off from the rest of the family by telling them ‘her mother brainwashed her when we split.’

Before giving advice to someone you care about…ask yourself if you’ve really listened to them.

Then ask yourself if you’re been listening to the right things.

Sometimes people are asking for help about a different subject than it sounds like. Ask questions. Important questions, not thoughtless ones. They don’t have to answer you and you should let them know that, but being able to work through it with this kind of guidance is an important life skill. If they do answer your questions and have this conversation…don’t judge them. Don’t give opinions yet. It’s not about you, not at this moment. Wait. Listen.

When you stop talking it’s amazing, even without experience in the subject, what you can hear. What you can learn.

When they need your help focus on being more of a support guideline than a teaching one. You’re there to ask questions that get to the heart of the issue that’s bothering them so they can feel better and live healthy and slowly make the changes they need to make. You know them, you know what’s important to them right? You know what makes them passionate and happy and you want them to get there right? Sometimes (more often for some of us than others) there’s so much upset going on all at once that it becomes a writhing mass of confusion and ache that is really damn difficult to understand. Try to imagine perceiving so much negative feedback from life that it’s hard to focus on just four or five or six problems anymore.

When someone’s so desperate for survival, so desperate to find the light again you’ve got to support them in getting there their way. There are cracks in them so personal that no one will ever be able to 100% relate to.

You want to help them? You need to support them instead of trying to shape them. Help them listen to themselves when they’ve lost their inner voice to the over powering nature of what they’re going through. To me this is what true love looks like. Someone who accepts me as I am and just holds my hand when I’m timid about moving forward. There is a time and a place for your experience and opinions to come into the picture, just don’t let the importance of what you think will help overpower their own faltering steps. It’s already hard enough to walk forward without having to navigate how everyone thinks it should be done.

I know you’re busy world, but I wanted to tell you this anyway…

I’ve been through a lot this year, but I feel like I’m slowly moving a long. Anxiety and wanting to isolate are still a battle. It’s so much easier, calmer, and more peaceful to just stay on my little island. I know it won’t always be this way, but there is a certain amount of guilt, a little shame at not being able to reach out or check in with everyone of you. My anxiety levels choke my voice most days. I get so anxious over posting little messages on Facebook/Tumblr/Reddit, like I’ll log in to find all hell has broken loose or something when there’s really no reason to expect that. None of you are going to grab your pitch forks and chase me down over something I say. Still…it’s so hard to actually speak up when I have an opinion. (It’s exhausting, I feel drained after even if it wasn’t even an argument.)

I’ve been focusing on going through treatment for my PTSD almost a full year now. A year ago I broke down and realized things were beyond my strength to fix. I met an amazing therapist. I spent a year studying myself, healing, trying to grow and find new ways to live with my disorder. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve learned so much about the people who love me. A year ago all I knew was that I couldn’t make it better, but I was so wrong:

Last year I began the long process of treating my illness and kept at it with dedication. I got married to the man I’m completely in love with in October. I got rid of old, unhealthy, ties. I strengthened relationships with people who mattered. I met an amazing writing partner (who as soon as we’ve known each other a few more months will totally be in the running for my BFF spot.) I wrote over 300,000 words trying to finish even one of the stories that help make up that figure. Compared to last year I know I’m happier than I was, I know I’m more optimistic. Last year was my rock bottom and I was so wrong about not being able to make it better. (Couldn’t do this without my amazing support system. The biggest nod to my husband Louie, who helps me work through things every day.) I took thousands of photos and hundreds of videos of everyone and everything around me. I experimented with my dreams and I tried to figure out who I am now, instead of some image of who I think I should be. Then I learned to love the person I found. I’m still learning to care for that person like I would anyone else. I’m sure I did lots of other things too, but it’s so difficult to remember what you’ve done that’s worthwhile. I tried to speak up more this year and I think it’s been good for me. But how do you place a value on any of that when people are asking you what you’re up to?

I managed to do those things while suffering regularly from night terrors, flashbacks, high anxiety and panic attacks. My longest period without sleep was from Monday-Friday a few months ago. I can’t count the number of 48 hour days I had because even though I was exhausted my mind was too stimulated by fear and memory that it would not shut down for sleep. I lost about 30 pounds this year from pacing in a hallway to relieve my anxiety levels. The longest stretch of time I lost to that without a break was six hours. There were times when my feet were covered in blisters and my skin was eventually stripped from the bottom of my heels and the ball of my foot and under my toes from the hours doing this through out the day, everyday. I did that with people thinking my problem is I’m too lazy, or I sleep too late, or I’m not trying hard enough to be happy and I’m just sensitive or over emotional. Or that there was nothing wrong with me at all.

I’ve learned that this kind of mental/emotional damage is so pernicious because it subtly effects so many behaviors that we don’t necessarily associate with the trauma itself. Because of that it’s really fucking hard to identify what the problem is and what will make you feel safer/better or promote healthier states of mind. The most bitter sweet lesson I’ve learned is that I can be happy again, but with that lesson I learned that this isn’tsomething I can just fix. PTSD won’t just go away because I have the perfect husband or I’m really excited about certain aspects of my life. No, I’ve learned to be happy about what I can be happy about while I’m still suffering with the affects of PTSD. This won’t go away. It’s something that can be triggered by things I will never have control over. I can only learn to live with it as a part of who I am.

And it’s because of that I’m sharing this. I want you to know and I want you to know how I measure my day so we can understand each other a little better.

I got properly diagnosed with PTSD at 19. It’s not something I’ve shared with a lot of people and I’m 26 now. This is not something that I’m going to be getting over any time soon though and it’s not something I want to be ashamed of. I have gone through treatment before and was living just fine until a year and a half ago when I went through a very triggering situation that kinda fucked my world up. Things will never be the same again. I will never be the same again. But I will get better, stronger, more relaxed, and more refined at coping. This might be a bit of a plot twist for some of you, but that’s okay. I’m still who you knew ten minutes before you read this. (Just maybe some of my quirks make a bit more sense now?)

TL;DR A (not so) secret revealed- I have PTSD, I’ve had it for around 15 years. I’m going through treatment. I’m still in a slump where every day is a fight. Things will get easier.

P.S. I want to give a shout out to all of you who struggle with mental illness or emotional disorders and keep quiet because of stigma, lack of support or worrying that you’ll be a burden to someone. We feel like we’re broken and failing all that damn time. Lots of people feel that way, but we feel it with a pureness and regularity that is truly disheartening, that drains away bits and pieces of us we need to function. I hope you are met with all the love and support that you need to find and maintain happiness and balance. The world isn’t perfect and it really can be terrible, but it is still never as dark as we see it. We’ve just got to keep searching for the brightly lit paths and hope for good company to cheer us on in the night. And don’t ever stop looking for the starlight inside of yourself. It’s there even if you can’t see it at the moment.