2.47. The Gun ~ False Accusations

Recent events have led me to become far more aware to my triggers. It is no secret to those who know me well, to those who have read some of my work, and to those who have shared late night conversations that I am the survivor of multiple acts of abuse over the course of my life.

Triggers can send someone into a flashback, force them to live a repressed memory, to be frozen in a traumatic moment until the moment has passed. I can stop these flashbacks just about as easily as a soldier can stop the images of war replaying on a sleepless night. A trigger can be anything from a smell to a scent to a word to a bodily gesture.

In the last two weeks, I have identified two flashbacks though the triggers have varied. The latter flashback is something that fully came about a day after the actual trigger. This is a bit disheartening and scary but something that I am learning to work with.

When I young, a movie came out by the name of KIDS. Back then, and even now I’m sure, the movie was graphic and explicit in it’s sexual content and drug usage. It stared HIV dead in the face and addressed the issues facing youth at the time. I was 11 years old. 

While most kids were watching the movie in secrecy, against their parents wishes, my father said we would watch it together. He wanted me to get the message and we would talk about it afterwards. He encouraged dialogue and for me to feel safe in talking to him about anything involved in the movie. We talked afterwards and I had a million and one why questions. The sex didn’t seem important to me. I wanted to know if that was like real life and my father said, sadly, it was. 

My mother came in after the movie ended and erupted once she found out what we’d watched. She snatched me from the floor of the living room and forced me to put on shorts and tuck in a shirt for my bed attire (normally, I wore a long shirt). She berated my father and called him a pedophile, a molestor, a rapist, a sick fuck, a disgusting pervert, a piece of shit, a no good piece of garbage, a pathetic man, a waste of air…and the list went on for hours. “He’s not even your real father,” she screamed, as if that would somehow make things understandable. She had me hide in my room and I was not allowed to talk to my father. She walked beside me from the bathroom to the kitchen and every room in between to “protect me” from the “pervert living in our home.” I watched my father cry each time she had me march by him, “you like that, you sick fuck, you like little girls?” 

I didn’t get to talk to my father for almost a week. After a week, she decided she had punished him enough and life went on like “normal.” It didn’t elude me that if she really thought he was a pedophile, she’d just allowed him to stay in our home. It didn’t elude me that once payday came, she suddenly felt inclined to forgive him. Looking back, I find it ironic that she was quick to label my father, the one person who NEVER ONCE put his hands on me in any harmful way (he only cursed at me twice in my life and both of them were ‘damn its’), all the while I was being molested right under her nose. 

I remember the pain in his eyes. The sadness for such labels. I remember feeling like I trusted this man more than any of my own blood and yet, I was being torn from him. He was being punished for the sake of my mothers insecurities as a parent. She wanted to drive a wedge between us because she knew I idolized my father. Her jealousy turned to venom and she tried to brainwash me that my father was hurting me. But I knew he wasn’t. He knew that talking to me was the best way to keep me smart. To keep me aware and safe. That if I could watch this movie with him and have no shame about asking questions, I would never have shame when it came time for me to face the world of peer pressure, teen angst, and sexual dialogues. 

That was 18 years ago. And yet, it was crystal clear to me just a day ago. I relived that moment and could only respond with “oh my god.” I could not stop my father from being berated. I could not stop someone from being embarrassed. I could not stop a physical gesture that my body instinctively recognizes as a threat. Since I was five, when someone put their hands near my face…it was to punch me, slap me, pull my hair, or push me down. A hand near the face had never been a peaceful sign to me. And it never will be.

I am working through my triggers. I recognize myself as a person living with PTSD.  As do the multiple doctors who have diagnosed me (I’m not a web diagnosed individual). I have about 24 years of therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists visits under my belt and with good reason. I’ve had some pretty ugly things served to me on a rusty platter. Sometimes, new things literally take me back to those horrific moments, those debilitating memories, those scary moments of programming. But I AM STILL a work in progress. And there is hope for me that I will be able to create new memories, new bonds, new moments of trust. I cannot control what other people do or say. I cannot necessarily keep every trigger silent. This should petrify me. I have to remain strong and remove all toxins from my life. No exceptions.

I may have flashbacks but I will not set up a zip code.

Pull the trigger but your bullets will not scar me anymore.

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2.46. The Wounded Soul – My Proudest Failure

This post is not about the many known names who have died over the course of this year from apparent suicide. Their deaths are sad and a loss to the world but there is nothing that can be done for them.  Their chances have ended. It’s sad but what can you do about it now? This is not about the unknowns who are gone from this world. Their story is no different. This is about the ones we can save. 

When I was 26, after my son was born, I suffered from postpartum depression while simultaneously suffering from an infection, which caused me to lose part of my right breast. The fake glue that was holding my doomed marriage together melted away. My world crumbled very quickly. I recall sitting in a bathroom and penning a letter to my child in which I apologized for failing him, for not being strong enough to have the desire to continue. I remember calling a crisis hotline while sitting on the curb of a dark street and telling some stranger I was a horrible piece of shit because I had a child but I wanted to die. I remember going to a hospital and asking for an evaluation. I sat in a cold, bare room, and waited for someone to tell me I was insane. After talking with Tom, he informed me I was suffering from PTSD, from events earlier in my life,  and Postpartum. When I said I wanted to die, he explained, I was simply asking to sleep…for rest…escape from pain I could not seem to get away from. I was released and attempted to pull myself out of that darkness. 

When I was eighteen, after being caught in the act, I admitted to battling Bulimia. It was a slow way out but I often hoped I would just become extremely frail and collapse and that same sleep would come. My mother told me to get over it. 

When I was 13, my father found me in our trailer in Clintondale, New York. I’d swallowed a ton of his painkillers and anything else I could find in the medicine cabinet. I was ashamed of my life. I was scared of being a nothing. I wanted to quit. 

When I was 11, I was admitted to a mental health ward, against my will (and my parents) for a mere 16 hours (a lifetime to an 11 year old btw). I’d gone in after a referral from a childhood therapist. Because I wouldn’t discuss things that were happening but implicated myself in several acts of self-harm, I was held for evaluation. I can still remember the screams and belligerent rants of those held in rooms next to me. After those 16 hours, I conned my way out of that hospital, claiming it was all an act and absolutely nothing was wrong with my home life. I learned how to lie on that day. 

When I was 5, a sibling found me on the ledge of our apartment window. When asked why I was up there, I said I wanted to die. My mother beat the ever-living piss out of me and sent me to bed. 

I have tried to die, thought of dying, hoped for dying…TOO MANY times in my life. I’ve purposefully put myself in dangerous situations, in the hopes that I would find release. Through those years and failed attempts…I never found it. 

I’m not telling you this because I want pity. Because I want you to think I’m epic and strong for “surviving.” I don’t know why I wanted to die from such a young age. I don’t know why I wasn’t “built” to better deal with the hardships of life. I don’t know why the unknown seemed so much better. 

What I do know are two things. 

  1. I was already dead. My body didn’t have to perish. TRULY, I believe I was a walking tomb. My son gave me my soul. I still struggle. I still panic. I’m still a hot mess. But I have never hoped for another breath the way I do now…as I have my son in my life. 
  2. Someday, I will die. I will not try. It will be against my will. And I will not want it to happen. I will feel pain as it all slips away because I will not see the tomorrows of my child, his children, the life I will miss. Someday, I will not have a choice. 

All of that being said…

I AM NOT AN EXPERT but I know the helplessness. I know the desperation. I know that feelings of sad hope that the damn phone will ring and someone…ANYONE will pull me back from the ledge and say, “I care about you. Please don’t go.” We all want to know that someone wants us to stay. That someone NEEDS us to stay. That our fire lights another persons world. We all need a reason to have no desire to step on that ledge. It’s ALL about love. 

The trauma that happened in my life, very early on, stunted my growth in MANY ways (so the doctors say). There are many times that I am stuck back in that mind frame of a child and I am terrified. I am frail. I am lost. It’s a fight to not go back there. To train my brain that I’m not reliving those traumas. That things are not repeating themselves. That I am capable of dealing with it IF they are. 

I am telling you all of this because we all know someone who struggles. Who is fighting. Who may be too quiet. May say the wrong things. May lash out at the smallest occurrence. May come off so angry. May push people away. May be an emotional punching bag. May live a lifestyle that is reckless. May be unaware that they are begging for help. May be pleading for rescue in their eyes but not their words. 

If you are that person…tell someone. ANYONE. Talk until your blue in the face. But keep talking. If you’re talking…you aren’t dead. AND THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. If you know someone like that…listen. Listen and really hear. You don’t need to fix it all. Just listen. Sometimes, that is all a wounded soul needs. 

Dear Suicide – I am proud to have failed you. 

Sincerely not yours…this girl.