The past week has felt particularly difficult, I have found sleep hard to come by and I have found myself doubting my own abilities to stay safe. The fact is like many survivors of abuse I struggle on a daily basis to cope with the damage my past has caused. It’s often like a roller-coaster ride sometimes it feels as if we are making progress then suddenly we get hit by what feels like a downward spiral.
In the last few weeks it’s felt a bit like we are on a downward spiral, the flashbacks I wrote about the other week have really hit me. It has made my sleep more difficult and it’s also led to me thinking and ruminating about my past and myself. I have found myself struggling to not resort to self harm, or laden myself with guilt and shame, one of my negative default positions. The reality is of course it isn’t easy when your struggling and yet I am trying to take from this any positives I can and there are positives, let me explain.
Over the past year I have been slowly reducing my benzodiazepines and in the last few weeks with the reduction in that medication and helpful techniques from psychology – I am feeling. Feeling for what feels like the first time, I now sense some of the feelings that other parts of me carry. Those feelings are currently mostly negative, so I sense deep sorrow, hurt and pain leading to me crying without warning. Crying that is often uncontrollable and for which I still have limited understanding as to why. I sense the hurt of a part of me whom until recently I didn’t even know and I know that is progress on my healing journey yet it is still hard to deal with.
I have also found that my vulnerable part has been more evident too and her default is to cry, be anxious and stressed, so I am currently going through plenty of tissues. Feelings are strange things they seem to have more strength than I ever realised. Perhaps that’s because I am feeling for the first time instead of being an automated, robotic person where I box all emotions away.
The flashbacks have led to me having difficulty sleeping so the past few nights my sleep has not been great part or parts of me have tried to keep us awake, I don’t know why they just have and they are quite good at doing that. I haven’t slept before 2am at the earliest and the worst night was a 5.15am bedtime!
In sheer desperation the other night I plucked up the courage to call the crisis team, normally I avoid them at all costs. Yet I was hurting so much that I knew it was a battle to stay safe and I was really losing that battle. The care plan I have allows me to call them out of hours, so I tried only to find that the number I had on my care plan no longer worked. I couldn’t access crisis support it felt horrendous and I became angry and even more distressed, it was awful. I ended up calling my poor family at nearing 4am begging for some help I felt so confused and distressed. They were great, very understanding and supportive even if I had just disrupted their sleep. With their help we were able to keep me safe till morning when I was able to fall asleep. My family thankfully have ensured I now have the correct number to call the crisis team on so in the future I can hopefully access the planned support from crisis.
Having attempted to call the crisis team once, I now think I will feel more able to call them before we hit the point we did in the last few days, I have said to myself that if I am still awake by 2.30am and feeling how I did the other night I should call them then instead of waiting till 4am. You see I now recognise that on this journey of healing I may well need more help at times and if I do it’s ok to ask. One day I will have the skills to stabilise myself and then I may not need their help but I guess in recent days I’ve seen my own limitations.
The flashbacks opened up a huge wound, before as a non-feeling human I tended to box away the emotions attached to these memories, somehow acknowledging logically the past I have lived and yet not taking the feelings or emotions that go along with that. Yes there were feelings and pain but I’d box it away, dissociate and not take that pain myself. I’m sure now that pain went somewhere possibly to the part of me that I’m now learning to feel or somehow it’s just boxed away deep within. Now I am feeling it’s much harder to box it away and therefore I have had face the raw pain that goes along with being a victim of abuse.
My psychologist has been really helpful and understanding, he is helping me to accept feelings are ok and that hurting is ok too. He has tried to explain to me how I have boxed these things away and that I need to unpack them but only when I am strong enough. In other words when I have the skills to keep me; all of me, stabilised and safe then and only then can we unpack these boxes and the memories they hold.
He has also helped me to comprehend that this isn’t new knowledge that I have been abused, but my default position before allowed me to detach the human feelings that co-exist with that knowledge. Hence why I have at least one part who is carrying so much hurt and sorrow, that part of me hasn’t been able to share with me before just how much she is hurting. What I mean is I never felt it I just lost time and she took over and showed the rest of the world, yet I never knew what she did I just felt frustrated I had lost time. Now I’m feeling her anguish and though I can’t control her actions, her tears, I don’t dissociate and disappear that’s progress.
Perhaps for the first time in my life I am experiencing the rawness of anguish, the hurt that goes alongside each memory that either I or a part of me holds. It’s a tough realisation and in truth it’s been a wake up call, no one ever said this journey of recovery would hurt in this way. But I have to try and focus on the fact that hurting is a natural response to what we have endured and actually a positive sign we are moving forwards, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
I’m slowly coming to accept that I am most probably grieving, grieving for the past I wanted and didn’t get, grieving because of the hurt and anguish which I now feel. Not just logically thinking I was abused and I happen to have Dissociative Identity Disorder as a result but now feeling all the emotions that come with that abuse. Grieving as a victim who desperately wishes she hadn’t been abused whilst feeling the anger, the hurt, the distress and the fear and so much more too. People say there is a grieving process and I’ve no idea how far into that process I am, I hope this is progress, I so need this torturous pain to be for something good.
Copyright DID Dispatches. 2014