Almost 7 months ago, I had one of the worst experiences I’ve had in years. I had some really significant trauma utterly flatten me, then had relational trauma compound on top of it, and then never got a chance to explain what had happened to me or why I went through a complete mental breakdown. In an effort to hang on to a shred of my sanity, I started writing about my experience and the monsters under the bed that were haunting me and not giving me a break. I did what I have done for more than half of my life, specifically when things are causing my sanity to shatter…I wrote about it, and I posted it and received much needed reassurance of being seen by the people who have my back.
But I then received a phone call from someone I had fallen in love with. Someone I had once thought would be in my life for a long time. They called to yell at me and accuse that I was fucking up their employability, and demanded that I remove all references to the extremely triggering drug use I had witnessed. Even went so far as to say they couldn’t see how even saying the word “drugs” lent itself to my story.
I never used any names, I only spoke about the location because not only was it relevant for the scope of the trauma I experienced, I was also only one of close to 10,000 people at that venue. All that to say, there was absolutely no way whatsoever anyone could have figured out who I was with or names or anything like that. Unless you had a very close connection with me, you wouldn’t even had known I was dating anyone.
It felt devastating having this person, whom I had trusted and loved, completely dismiss and not once acknowledge how broken I felt and how horrifying my experience had been. I blamed the drugs they had taken and the after effects of those drugs. I blamed outside influences, surely this wasn’t who this person is at their core. But I also felt like I was having to go into massive self-protection mode and protect myself from them. There didn’t appear to be any other options. It was protect myself or get pulled into their spiral which I was not strong enough to handle. My own stability was nonexistent and I had friends and my nesting partner expressing grave concern for me.
It felt like all of the work I had done for the previous 9 years lay in shards at my feet. Despite the reassurances from my people that they could see the evidence of all of the work I’ve done on myself, my grief and instability was so so loud. When I think back to where I was during that time, I know how close I came to harming myself, to doing anything I could to give myself relief. I didn’t know it could hurt that badly.
I have never been trite or un-serious about whenever I have felt the pull towards self-harm or even suicidal ideation. When I was a teenager, death often felt like the only viable option for me. Constant abuse has that affect…there was no other out available. As an adult, SI has only showed up maybe a handful and a half times. Last October was the latest incident of it showing up. I briefly considered creating a plan, but I also knew that I was more desperate for relief than wanting to die.
Between my partner being gentle and supportive, therapist who kept reminding me of how far I’ve come and that I truly did have all of the tools I needed to pull myself out of that hell-hole, and besties who held compassionate space for my grief and gently pushed back when my brain kept going to worst case scenarios. Through all of those people’s support, I was able to come back into my body and my mind and start piecing myself back together. By mid November, I knew it was time to begin the work needed to finish my book with a tentative deadline of publishing it sometime in 2023. I realized that the progress I thought I had lost had simply been paused and pushed just out of reach while I dealt with intense heartbreak.
She said, “Tell the ones you love, you love themAfraid Of The Dark – Talk
Turn your minutes into moments
Don’t be scared to give away your heart”
But I’m still afraid of the dark
Still scared of my shadow
Still looking for monsters under my bed every night
Oh, I wish you were right there
To fight off the nightmares
You were the night light on a dark night like the stars
I’m still afraid of the dark
Always looking out for me
Always seeing my best
You’d be proud of my story
Now I’m writing the rest
I remember the bedroom
At the end of the hall
I’ll be walking beside you
Till the end of it all
I look back over the past 7 months, feeling teary eyed and sad at how much I’ve pushed through, but also proud of myself for getting through it. The grief has faded, and been replaced with a desire to not make the same mistakes. I am able to see what I have worked through and how I have grown, and I am grateful I can see those things.
I published an entire well written book about my life, I have registered for college, and am building some absolutely incredibly rich connections; connections that came out of that grief and heartbreak. And yet, the monsters under the bed have remained.
I have accomplished so much and still have the days, or nights, when those monsters creep out and whisper over my shoulder that they can see me and they push me into the corner that then clouds my vision and makes me feel the remnants of being drugged. Their power in being able to destabilize me is greatly diminished, but that doesn’t mean I have to do a swift grounding right then and there, pulling the pieces back together that they’re trying to separate and isolate. The nausea that comes roaring through my body when I start feeling my vision getting wobbly and my head feels fuzzy and heavy is still present when they start messing with me. I hear the internal screams of my younger selves as I freeze in my adult body and do damage control.
I know that I am now stronger, I am gentler, I am braver, and I am able to look the monsters in their hideous faces and see the scared little ones hidden behind those fronts. I can talk inwards to my younger selves and comfort them and reassure them that they are safe and that I see them. I am learning to hold the grief and fear in one hand and pour compassion and love and gentleness over them from the other hand. I am learning to hold the nuance of trauma and the grief that comes rushing through when you realize what has been lost in the halls of abuse.
I am facing the monsters under the bed and slowly yet surely talking them down to their real versions. The versions of themselves that are the scared little persons who don’t know anything but betrayal and pain from those who were supposed to protect them. Those monsters under the bed are really just the shadows of the little ones trying to protect themselves. The field mouse projecting a lion to scare everyone away. They deserve gentleness and kindness and to be seen, even though they have caused a lot of grief and pain. They are still deserving of my love and tenderness as I work to heal that remaining broken part of myself.
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