I wasn’t quite sure what to title this post. The past few weeks have been on an upswing and the outlook is looking good for a while. November is usually a difficult month for me and while life has been on the upswing, there have been some dark days.
I’m overcoming trauma and I have a handsome boyfriend who is helping me. I am thankful for his patience, but sometimes I still get frustrated with myself.
“If I wasn’t raped, I would be a better girlfriend. I wouldn’t be so damaged and slow.”
“Is this fair to him? Am I being unfair by being so emotionally and psychologically damaged that he’s my first relationship in 12 years, and I was raped 8 years ago?”
“My PTSD is going to drive him away. I’m awful! I’m awful!”
Friday was such a dark day with thoughts, that I needed to listen to TED talks. I found this gem of a TED talk:
I could relate to this. I can’t change what happened to me. I had Phantom Life for so long, I had a habit of comparing my situation to a better one. The truth is, that was making me miserable. 2013 was a year of loss, first Nan, then rape, then being shamed by the detective, and him dropping the case despite some admitting on his part. I lived in negativity bias for so long.
Medicine and therapy helped me see the anchor that Lindsey Roy talked about. I learned that I tend to empathize and give grace to others, but can’t give it to myself. After my trauma, my “wow that puts it into perspective” trains didn’t arrive often either and didn’t take me to new places either.
I had to start asking myself the same questions as Lindsey began to ask herself. I asked myself on Friday, what five things could be worse now? What’s the advantage?
The truth is, I could have died on 7 November 2013, but I didn’t. I have the opportunity to wake up every blessed day and start fresh. I could be still stuck in fear, but I am not. I could hide who I am. I could hold it inside.
The truth is, I can’t compare myself to day 2 of my recovery. I can only compare day 2920 to day 2919. It doesn’t make sense to compare day 2 to day 2920 because I am at a different point. I’ve had therapy, I still have therapy. I am medicated for PTSD and depression. I told Tom the truth. He knows. He could have walked away, but instead he hugged me and told me we will work on my timeline. He checks in with me and asks if I’m okay, he respects my boundaries. I began to cry tears of joy. I wouldn’t have dreamed about this on day 2 of recovery; hell, I couldn’t even imagine this last year, at day 2555. It’s amazing what a year brought.
I had to watch another TED talk. I’ve watched this TED Talk before and I’ve always loved this one.
I can’t change what happened to me. I’m never going to be able to go back and change it. It’s not going to change and it’s part of my story. However, my pain has begat joy. By telling others my story and being able to help, it brings me so much joy.
My experiences make me empathic at my new full-time job. I can make victims feel at ease and I know how to work with them. I am so good at my job and I don’t know if I would be if what happened to me didn’t happen. Anyone who is nervous about things that happen to them, I can tape in with my empathy and help them work through it. I am to them what other case workers were to me when I needed help after my trauma.
I don’t live in spite of things anymore either. Of course I wish what happened to me didn’t happen to me, but it isn’t going away! Instead, I count my blessings to the people and places that have been connectors to joy.
And the boyfriend? I told him I was feeling self-conscious. His response? “I like you just the way you are.” I told him the same thing – I like him the way he is. I smiled. I am enough and I am worthy. I am so much more than what happened to me. My story isn’t only that one dark and painful moment, and other dark and painful moments. The darkness helps me see the light.
One thought on “Only Light Can Drive Out Darkness…”
Hi, Jessica Marie!
Your last paragraph sums it up perfectly. Know it and own it. Focus on the new world of fun and excitement that has opened up in the years since that terrible period in your life. Live in the here and now and celebrate. Don’t dwell and don’t over share with Tom. You don’t want to force him into the role of counselor and caregiver. It might work for a while, but eventually it will get old. There needs to be balance. True story: I once had a friend who did nothing but complain about all her aches and pains and losses. They defined her. They are all she ever wanted to talk to me about. As I said, I once “had” a friend…
It’s human nature to eventually withdraw from someone who sounds like a broken record, someone who has no balance in their life and forces you to listen to their same sad stories over and over again. If that friend had stopped making every conversation all about her, asked me how I am doing once in a while, found fun, funny and uplifting topics for discussion, we would still be friends. As it is, I haven’t spoken a word to her in 2.5 years.
Every one of us takes hits and suffers losses in life, often repeatedly. Only two days ago, a close family member died. It was someone I loved dearly and had a lifelong relationship with. She died young, of sepsis brought on by COVID, and I am devastated, but I am not about to drag my friends down by dwelling on it or even mentioning it. You are the first and only friend I have even told about my private suffering. I will survive and I will laugh and dance again. That’s what life is all about. You simply owe it to yourself and others to be resilient. Break the chains and get back in the game. That is what your guiding star Nan would want you to do.
Happy Thanksgiving, dear friend JM!