A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

Trauma work

on October 20, 2012

Oh….trauma work.  It’s the reason I haven’t posted in over a month.  Trauma work took all I had…and sometimes I wasn’t standing on my own two feet.  Sometimes, I was face down as a sobbing mess.

I wasn’t willing to call the rape a rape…for months.  I was told at 3.5 months later (when I had to ask a confidante–“Does no REALLY mean no?”) that my word counts…and it was in a conversation with that trusted confidante and then reaching out to the RAINN hotline that I started to realize…No really does mean no.  At that time, I said “issue”…or “that night”…it took a few more weeks to say “rape”…although, at that point, I would say “There was a rape”.

In a turn of events, I’d gotten a call from the person who had raped me…he missed me…I, with my newly-found ability to set boundaries, (and the help of my psych!) texted him that I want no further contact.  After a contemptuous response and a brief hello from him at a location we both frequented, contact ceased.  I was so grateful.  It took every part of me to continue with plan and turn my mind and be effective those few days.

As I graduated from IOP, I was sad…I loved those people and was so scared of what the next phase of recovery would look like.  I was following meal plan, my nails were growing, my hair wasn’t breaking so much and it was growing, I’d lost the lanugo on my face and neck.  I had moved past hypermetabolism.  I was determined to succeed in recovery…and scared that without the intensive treatment, I would just slip and relapse.  With the help of my IOPeeps and my clinicians, I made a relapse recovery plan.  I planned on twice weekly outpatient appointments and also planned a weekly meeting with my pastor.  I thought about emotions, updated my comfort kit and had go-to meals on hand that met my meal plan.

A couple weeks after graduating from IOP, I was scheduled to speak at an event regarding my Chiari.  I thought I had a dress to wear…however, since I had bought it 8 months ago I thought I should try it on before the event.  Good thing…it was ridiculously big.  This realization brought on a stream of “crises”…the tears in a try-on room and texts to my IOPeeps as I have no idea what looks good or not (let alone had no clue what size I’d become), a trip to the dr for my brain stuff (and comments from the nurse, after I declined to be weighed–she kept pushing–I finally said “I am in treatment for an eating disorder”–at which point she said “Ohhh–You don’t even look like you have an eating disorder!!!”–ED was shouting “See…you’re even too fat to have an eating disorder!”)….and ended with me meeting snack…and trying to relax by having a cup of tea.  It sounded like a good plan.  My children were playing in the yard, there was a nice breeze, I sat outside and took a sip of tea.  And then–all hell broke loose in my brain…the smell and taste of the tea immediately caused me to start flashing back…

I hadn’t thought…and hadn’t remembered….that I’d made this tea on ‘that night’…and the smell and taste overwhelmed me like never before.  Flashes of memories, nausea, tears…I didn’t know what to do.  My children headed for a planned evening with their dad and I lost any composure I had.  I sobbed, I tried to reach out, I thought of hurting myself…and then I tried to purge the tea.  Because–my perfectionism is still under the surface–and I hadn’t just had a sip of tea, I drank the whole f’in mug.  Thinking “I cannot let him live in my head anymore.  This is just tea.  You can drink the tea.  You are fine.”  I wasn’t fine…and in gagging myself and trying to purge and scratching my throat (yeh–those nails are stronger now!!!!!)–I couldn’t even purge…and ED was shouting “Look….you cannot even purge right any more!!!!!”
This evening started the next few weeks of flashbacks and tears and horrible nightmares…as everything from those terrible two hours came back.  Apparently, the brain stores memories in different ways.  And, the combination of smell and taste ‘unlocked’ much of what I’d ‘forgotten’ about that night.  It was so painful.  I didn’t think a moment would come…let alone a day or a couple days…that I wouldn’t be so entirely overwhelmed that I’d be able to breathe without reminding myself to breathe.  I took each and every aspect of self-blame I could find to try to keep some responsibility on me.  I sent thousands of messages to my psychologist for him to read (between the rapist and I) to find where I’d asked for this or encouraged this or should’ve known better or more.  His willingness to work with me and not to judge to to fully support me with where I was, is getting me to a place where I feel….at peace with it.  Less that two weeks ago, I wrote and believed for the first time “I was raped”.  Saying those words and actually believing them was huge…in saying that, I am admitting that I didn’t have control that night…and that terrifies me.  In holding onto the bits of blame I tried to find, it still gave me some control.  I’d rather beat myself up for making mistakes…than admit it wasn’t my fault…because, if it wasn’t my fault, it meant I was raped.  And I didn’t want that to be true.

I understand that it was true.  I did everything I could, at that time and place, to stop it from occurring.  I used my ‘no’ and “stop” over and over and over.  My no didn’t carry any power that night and it should have.  It was not my fault.  I was raped.


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