New beginnings.

Readers of this blog will undoubtedly know I suffer from PTSD. Some of you know why, some of you may not.

I was attacked. Brutally attacked. Violently attacked. I was held at knifepoint whilst he invaded my body, brutally, violently, against my will. I had no will. He took that from me. My voice left me during that harrowing ordeal. My power was taken from me.

If you want the ugly truth, I was raped at knifepoint when I was 16 years old by a serial rapist.

I’ve tried to blog about this in away that isn’t harrowing so many times. But the truth is that it is so very harrowing, there is no way to make it less so. I’m not going to detail the attack here, it’s too much. I’m establishing a space for myself as I go through the next part of my therapy – reliving my trauma.

My therapist has encouraged me to write about this process in a way that I feel comfortable with, mostly this will be done in a private journal. As you can imagine, some of what will come up will be excruciatingly challenging for me to deal with, therefore baring my soul to the world in such circumstances isn’t going to be the best thing for me.

That said, as we are here, at a new year, I wanted to share my journey and see how I evolve over the coming weeks and months. I know this is going to be tough, the reason we haven’t started the hard work yet is because my therapist wanted me to be able to enjoy the festive season with my family.

But now the new year is here I am ready to face this challenge.

I’ve had therapy several times before for this trauma. After the attack I spent almost a year receiving treatment from a child psychiatrist. She taught me how to control my flashbacks and triggers. But I think I took her technique a step too far because I switched a lot of my emotions off completely. I also managed to block out huge chunks of that period of time, the attack, the aftermath, the subsequent days, weeks and months afterwards. Yet snippets of memory play out in my mind, mostly when I least expect it. Quite a lot of the time I get triggered by TV and social media and this often brings about another snippet that I have unsuccessfully blocked out.

I’ve had a couple of counselling sessions for issues that were kind of connected to the trauma, but looking back now I can see those treatments were inadequate for the monster that hides inside of me. Yes, we’ve established I have a huge monster simmering away inside of me, who let’s rip every now and then, but gets squashed back down.

The monster needs to be released. The monster prevents me from experiencing life on all levels. I’ve been dead emotionally since 1987. I’ve been operating at a hyper vigilant state for 31 years and I am exhausted. In simplistic terms I switched my emotions off so that I could deal with the trauma inflicted upon me. I became emotionless and hyper vigilant. That meant I was in control.

But we all know what happens when the tipping point is reached. And yep, you’ve guessed it, my tipping point was reached when I had the MRI. This time I couldn’t get it all stuffed back inside, it just wouldn’t fit.

And so that is how I’ve landed on this path, the path that will finally deal with the trauma that almost broke me so many years ago. The path where I have to face the huge, scary monster that lurks within and terrifies the crap out of me.

It’s time to face my demons and slay them once and for all.

I have to admit, I am really not looking forward to the upcoming sessions, what needs to come out is dark and ugly and nasty. But I need to let it out, to release it and let go of it completely. It’s time to heal the young girl inside of me who hurts so badly from what a sick and evil bastard did to her. She’s still writhing in agony inside of me, seeing the trauma, feeling the trauma, reliving it over and over again; she needs healing and only when she heals will I heal.

I need to reconnect that young girl with me, the me in the present. My therapist told me that it’s interesting how I often talk about the young girl as if she were someone else. Logically I know she’s me, but I fear her. She’s hurt. She’s battered and bruised, both outside and inside. She’s afraid.

I fear her.

And so the journey begins………

Yule.

I normally share ideas and pics that tie in with whichever sabbat I’m blogging about, but this time round I felt it wasn’t right. I usually feel that I need to share sabbat cheer on my blog, regardless of what is happening in my own life.

I’ve always done that, put on a brave face to the outside world. You would never know there was anything wrong with me, both physically and emotionally, if we were to ever meet anywhere.

OK, I have a disability (or two), but I’m just trying to make a point about how I keep everything bottled inside. You see, the truth is I’m scared. Scared to let the emotions spill out. Scared to lose control. Scared to go back to the place I was in before I got so good at pretending I don’t have my shit together.

Things have gotten so bad in my life I’m actually having to have therapy. I’m not ashamed of that, just pointing that out in case anyone thinks I’m slating anyone in therapy. I’m not. So, I’m in therapy and it’s going to take a while to sort out my problem.

I have complex PTSD – Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a psychological disorder and the mental health charity mind explain what it is here. My therapist is hopeful that she can help me process the trauma and learn to deal with it.

I’ve only been working with her for a short time and already I’ve remembered two things that I’d buried so deep inside of my mind. So far we haven’t gone deep, and by this I mean I haven’t gone through the re-living process that should allow me to process the trauma by reliving the experience and then allow myself to deal with it all, and also to recognise it as a past event.

Part of my C-PTSD means I have spent 31 years being hyper vigilant. I constantly scan my surroundings for threats. I never fully relax at home, I’m always listening for something. Being hyper vigilant is exhausting, I really would like a break from it all.

With that going on in my life I’ve been less present on social media. I’ve felt a mix of emotions with regards to social media and because I don’t want to lose it altogether I’ve avoided so many things.

But what has any of this got to do with Yule?

Well, for me, Yule marks a time of rebirth. It’s also a time where I reach the pinnacle of my inward spiralling – as summer comes to an end I have noticed that I feel myself spiralling within, becoming more reflective in my life and preparing for the long, dark days of winter. At this time though the light begins to grow, ever so gradually at first, but enough to spark a flicker of hope inside of me.

This year I feel it is even more poignant and I’m gradually feeling hope return to my life. It is just a flicker, but it’s there, and I have a tiny flicker of optimism about the coming year that has been absent in my life for a very long time.

Yule falls on or around December 21st and other religions have similar festivals around this time of year; Hanukkah is celebrated by Jewish people. Kwanzaa is celebrated by Africans, and of course Christmas is celebrated by Christians and many, many non-Christian people too.

For me, Yule is about reflecting upon the past year. It’s about making plans for the coming year, not too far removed from traditional New Year’s Resolutions. I may perform a ritual, it just depends on what I have planned, but if I don’t do anything remotely like that I still mark the occasion in some way. Besides, I class Christmas as Yule anyway. Some of the family celebrate Yule in the traditional sense, others just celebrate Christmas in the non-traditional sense. I never get hung up on celebrating Christmas, even though I am a pagan. We see this as a time to come together and celebrate us. To exchange gifts and have an absolute blast.

Whatever you’re doing this Yule time I wish you much love, peace and happiness.

A lesson I needed to learn.

Sometimes life will trip you up and you’ll feel all the feels. Sometimes people will lie about you and convince others that their story is the truth.

Words used in such a way to wound and hurt, to destroy. False stories created to cover the truth.

But I’m not responsible for these lies told about me. I’m responsible for me and my behaviour.

I try as hard as I can to be honourable and decent. Often I will fall short. What I will never do is lie about a person just to be popular.

Sometimes the breaking away feels like you’ve cut a limb off, but the lies that were festering in the undercurrent made it impossible.

I am responsible for my words and actions.

Going inside.

To hear my story you would think I’d never actually healed my wounds. I have been healed, maybe not wholly, maybe that’s part of the problem, or maybe this kind of wound heals akin to a broken bone; the wound knits together but there’ll always be a niggle there.

I’m reading a book at the moment that is an accompaniment to my self discovery journey and in it the author says “we have to go within and address the soundings that live inside”. Going within over the last few weeks I have realised that time and feeling safe will help me heal the massive wound. But the wounds I didn’t realise I carried inside of me, the wounds inflicted upon me by other women, well, I have absolutely no idea how to heal these wounds.

Today I’ve made lists, if you know me you know I love my lists. Lists of the people responsible for the wounds and the affliction that caused each wound. I’ve listed how I felt at the time and how I feel now. It’s helped somewhat because I’ve identified hurt I hadn’t realised I was carrying around with me.

My lists and the book have helped me to realise that I’ve skirted around each wound that these women have caused me, making excuses for their behaviour, not acknowledging that they have well and truly screwed me over.

Going inside has allowed me to face these wounds, and yeah, they’re pretty scary to deal with – it’s all a huge mess that really could do with cleaning up – it’s allowed me to see that I am not the braveheart people call me. A braveheart would’ve faced these wounds and dealt with the messy business of the pain and the suffering and the raw emotions that are part and parcel of self discovery.

Delving deep into my inner core is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. It’s a journey I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Defences shattered.

I have lived my life, post attack, in a very defensive mode. My emotions were locked tightly away. I’ve been referred to as cold, this was my choice to be seen this way, I had to be in control of every aspect of my life and I certainly couldn’t afford my emotions to get in the way.

It is very common for a survivor of rape or abuse to need this level of control. The attack that happened left me feeling like he controlled my life. During the months that followed me being attacked I constantly listened to an album by Tears For Fears. The album is The Hurting.

The image of the child, so clearly hurt and in pain, resonated so deeply with me at the time. For all I thought of myself as an adult I was technically still a child when attacked.

One of the songs that really spoke to me at this time, and still evokes those feelings I experienced at the time, is a song from this album called Watch Me Bleed.

Watch Me Bleed

Tears for Fears

Heaven comes to he who waits

But I know I’m getting nowhere

And all the deeds of yesterday

Have really helped to pave my way

Though there’s no one near me now

How come everyone can touch me

You see the torture on my brow

Relates to neither here nor now

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

Although my face is straight, it lies

My body feels the pain and cries

Here the table is not bare

I am full but feeling empty

For all the warmth it feels so cold

For one so young I feel so old

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

It’s not allowed to be unkind

But still the hate lives in my mind

I’ll make no noise

I’ll hide my pain

I’ll close my eyes

I won’t complain

I’ll lie right back and take the blame

And try to tell myself I’m living

(And when it’s all been said or done)

Where do I go?

Where do I run?

(What’s left of me or anyone)

When we’ve denied the hurting? Oh oh oh oh

Where do I go?

Where do I run?

(What’s left of me or anyone)

When we’ve denied the hurting? Oh oh oh oh

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

And all the deeds of yesterday

Have really helped to pave my way

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

Watch me bleed

Bleed forever

And all the deeds of yesterday

Have really helped to pave my way

Songwriters: Roland Orzabal

Watch Me Bleed lyrics © BMG Rights Management

I shared this with a friend once, she said it explained so much about me. With all that had happened, the state of mind I was left in, the emotional pain that I cannot describe because it is a feeling, it was no surprise that I built impenetrable walls around myself. My first boyfriend after the attack was shocked at how broken I was and he admitted he couldn’t breach the walls I had erected.

When I met my Mr. Wonderful I had just broken up with J. Mr. Wonderful was made aware of what had happened to me and I explained to him I never wanted to have an intimate relationship. He understood where I was coming from, a place of pain so great that I would probably never trust a man ever again.

Yet his friendship brought me back to life. His friendship healed me and I started to trust him. The wall was breached enough to let him in. But the rest of the wall remained in place with regards to anyone else new in my life.

Over the years it feels like every now and then a brick will be removed from my wall, but the wall was still fairly solid. The tight control I had on my emotions and not letting anyone in was still fairly intact. And so it was until I shared the deepest part of myself with some people. I felt a strange sense of relief sharing my feelings with regards to how this one incident shaped my life.

I believed the wall was still intact, right up until the PTSD episode struck. That brutal experience last month has demolished every defence I had carefully crafted to protect my shattered innocence. During this time there was also a betrayal. That hurt as much as the trauma being replayed every day in my head.

And so it was a shock to find I had no defences left when it came to doing an exercise of self discovery yesterday evening. The question was to journal about a wounding to your woman-self. Obviously there was the attack, but letting the words flow I wrote about how other women had wounded me by their actions. As I journaled, the tears flowed so freely, I couldn’t stop them. Normally I’d take a breath, pause what I was doing and regain control over my emotions.

But I just couldn’t this time.

My defences are well and truly shattered.

I’m afraid of where this discovery of self will take me. But I’m also excited to greet the new me.

Self discovery.

August was a brutal month for me. It began with an appointment for an MRI scan on August 1st. Only that didn’t happen because the scan was to be of my head and so the equipment had to be really close to my face. Cue the mother fucker of all flashbacks and a massive panic attack.

The staff were excellent with me and fetched my husband. As soon as I saw him I fell apart. The tears flowed and the painful memories scorched my mind, descending me into a pit of fear and paranoia.

The dreaded day is of course in August. August 23rd. August 23rd 1987. So long ago, yet it could have been yesterday, the pain is still just as raw. All things considered the day passed without incidence, but I’d had a torrid time up until that day. Some of my actions during this time have been questionable, but I won’t go into that right now.

Towards the latter part of August the healing finally began. I guess I had to go through all of the pain and suffering once again, there was no other way around it. The healing felt blissful, it still does. Finding joy in simple pleasures. Not taxing my brain with difficult tasks or problems, but being gentle with myself.

I’ve fought the urge to do too much, there have been times when I’ve been asked something and I haven’t been able to get into whatever it is, the magnitude of the situation not being too grand but my ability to deal with it in the here and now certainly reduced.

During August I also started a journey of self-discovery. For me it is a very personal journey, so no, I’m not going to go into too much detail. I will say it’s a path I stumbled upon around 2015 and it involves the divine feminine.

There have been subtle nudges in my life that have made themselves known to me and I have been putting off committing to this journey. But then the PTSD episode struck and was pretty relentless for a while, and I eventually succumbed to trauma that was resurfacing and allowed myself to feel the pain and suffering that 16 year old me felt. And then I just felt ok again. As quickly as it had returned it left me alone again.

I feel tender-hearted at the moment, emotionally unstable, but nevertheless whole. I can’t spend too much time on social media because there is so much suffering being shared. Right now it hurts too much to even look at the words and images that are shared there. So I have limited my use to responding to my kids and one or two other people who have held my hand throughout this reoccurrence.

My self-discovery journey feels like the right tool for me to get back on track with my life. I feel like I have come out of the other side of a particularly nasty PTSD episode. I feel battered and bruised, but I am surviving and that is what I take on this new journey with me.

Tune for Tuesday.

I’ve somehow let someone dull my shine, I’d stopped believing in myself. Then a friend reminded me I’m not the person I’d been left feeling like. The song I’m humming today reflects the sentiment she’s reminded me of.

Healing.

I am sat here at a little after 11pm on a Saturday night listening to the rain. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but here goes; I’ve missed the rain, really missed it. I know, I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either!

I live in a part of the UK that sees a higher percentage of rainfall than most areas and I’m often to be found moaning about the excess precipitation. But we’ve had an actual summer this year, not as hot as the south of the country, but that’s fine because it’s been far too hot for a delicate soul like me!!!

All joking aside we actually need the rain. The ground is so dry. The river outside my house is exceptionally low, well it was, the rain we are forecast may actually change that. Plus, the rain means our reservoirs fill up and this means we are no longer at the mercy of a hosepipe ban. Where I live hadn’t actually enforced the ban, we’d had a few showers over the last couple of weeks and people had been really good about saving water. Hopefully the latest band of rain that is set to sweep across this part of the country will help to prevent any ban coming into force.

I’ve also found I actually miss the sound of rain. Despite moaning about it most of the time I actually find it soothing. OK, yes, there comes a point when this area has too much rain, but too little has an effect on us too.

So, I’m sat here listening to the rain and contemplating life. It’s been rough, really rough for me lately. An old wound got opened up and horrific flashbacks seeped out leaving me crippled with PTSD symptoms. I’d struggled for a while and then finally managed to get a decent night’s sleep a few days ago, which certainly helped me gain some much needed clarity. But yesterday and today have been pretty rough for me and I’ve struggled with the enormity of it all.

Then came the rain. This will sound strange, but for all the rain makes noise as it falls, it also brings a hushed presence with it. People are less inclined to be outside. I’m not such an ogre that I can’t stand people being outside in their own gardens, but when you’re battling demons inside your own head other people’s noise really can agitate your already frayed nerves. The energy around me feels calm now. Clean. How it should be. I feel cleansed, as does the energy around me.

Monday Motivation.

I’m going through a hard time right now. My mother is in hospital and I’ve also got a situation in my life that needs my attention.

I’m tackling life by putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. It’s hard, but I’m doing it.

Life can be hard. Life can be crazy. We don’t have to let it defeat us. We can all do this.