As a trauma survivor, the fact remains that there is a lot of fear that lives in my body still. The body remembers and holds on to feelings, emotions and experiences. My body remembers what it was like to be enslaved to another person’s control. It remembers being ridiculed and touched in ways it did not want to be touched. It remembers being looked at in the mirror and judged for not meeting some unattainable beauty standard. It remembers when it’s owner mistreated it with drugs and alcohol. It remembers and sometimes that memory makes its way to my mind and I’m overwhelmed with emotions.
I get triggered by certain people, places and things. Sometimes there seems to be no cause at all – I’ll just suddenly become overwhelmed. It’s a hard thing to try and explain to other people sometimes. I usually retreat, say nothing and spend time alone.
I believe this comes from years and years of conditioning as a teenager. Going to my room was what I did when I didn’t know how to process my emotions. As a teenager, I knew exactly squat about how to process my emotions. I talked to virtually no one about them. I opened up to very few people. I had a lot of religious guilt that stoped me from really sharing what was going on. From the ages of 14 and beyond, I just shut down to those around me and I prayed but that never seemed to do anything. I believed if I told people about what I was going through, I would be punished for how I felt, what I was experiencing internally and so I mostly just hid everything and spent a lot of time in my room listening to music or writing.
I often times felt like a burden to those around me and so I often actively tried not to put everything on any one person. Sometimes I’d just bear the full burden myself, whatever that may have been. I hid the darkest parts of my alcoholism from pretty much everyone. No one really saw the full depth of those days. If they had, I feared their judgement would have caused them to abandon me. This isn’t their fault of course, this is all based on my own brain and perception. People got glimpses of my darkness and those glimpses showed me how overwhelming it might be for someone to really know what I was actually going through. Those times where I was writing suicide letters apologizing for being too much to those around me. Those times when I was sucking down bottles of vodka and snorting rails to stop from blacking out by myself because I was afraid I might actually die.
Then there’s sexual trauma. How many times my body has had to serve as a masterbatory object for some man to get off on. The times I disassociated and went numb. The times I don’t really remember but woke up next to someone after a drunken mistake. The times I said no and they did it anyway because I was not strong enough to fight them off or I blacked out. Much of my twenties I loathed sex and believed it was a burden. It was a weapon used against me in my marriage. I was guilted into it a lot while being shamed at the same time.
I never felt desirable or like I was any good in bed. I constantly sought out approval. I believe that’s why I turned to polyamory and BDSM for a number of years. It was healing to have multiple partners encourage me and provide safe places for consensual sexual activity. I believe a lot of healing came from those days regardless of how many people may feel about a woman who has multiple partners or engages in BDSM. Regardless of the religious guilt that still lingers in my mind about how a woman is supposed to be (pure and virgin) and not be (promiscuous).
My body remembers going through all of that. Sometimes it just hurts or is tired for no reason at all and I believe its lingering affects from those experiences. Sometimes I’m just fucking tired. It only happens for chunks of time and then I’m back to living normally again. But when it all floods back to me, I feel debilitated. I barely leave my bed, I sleep a lot and I just try to get through it. Once I’m on the other side I can usually gather up understanding and insight from it – identifying new triggers or coping mechanisms.
I’ve noticed more recently that I’m mostly afraid of losing myself again. I fear that I’ll make the wrong choice and end up back in that dark place I was in 2 and a half years ago. I’m not lying to you when I say that it was one of the scariest times in my entire life. I was afraid I was going to die. That fear still lives inside of me. I still feel it. I can still feel that version of myself clinging to life. I don’t ever want to be her again. So there is a very strong fear that I might fall back into that life.
If I take a drink, if I get into another abusive relationship, if I start self sabotaging, if I let people take advantage of me…..the list goes on. I can get caught in this cyclical thinking sometimes and work myself up into an anxiety state that takes hours to come down from. My sleep patterns will be thrown off, I’ll be more irritable and my work and social life will suffer.
I feel that being aware of this fear is actually a good thing. While right now it causes me a great deal of anxiety, being aware of the actual fear can be beneficial. If I know what the fear is, I can face it. So I find solace in that. I face the fear when it creeps up. When my body starts to remember hurtful things from my past I get to remind myself that we don’t live in that life anymore. That I am taking care of us and I won’t let it happen again.
But the fear still lingers and perhaps it won’t ever go away, but I can make my peace with it. Somehow.