Sitting on the floor of my therapists office, the skin on my arm stinging from burning myself, she tells me she can see I am feeling low.
Tears in my eyes, I am too scared to look at her, for I know she can read me like a book. My body language – my hair pulled across my face, my legs curled to my chest – show I am struggling. She has seen me sinking lower and lower the past few weeks. She tells me she can see me struggling to hold it all together. She is right too.
A culmination of things have made me feel this way. Things have been building up and adding more and more pressure.
My PTSD is bad once more. I am suffering nightmares, memories, every night.
Work has been tough with all the changes and my cut in pay. This month being the first with the changeover so my money is all messed up and I can barely pay my bills or therapy. A worry I didn’t need right now.
My abuser was once again rebailed. The fifth time in 20 months.
My case has finally been sent to the Crown Prosecution and I now await a decision.
“I feel like he just keeps taking everything from me” I whisper to her in tears.
“What is it he has taken?” she asks me, already knowing the answer but wanting me to talk. I begin to list them for her one by one. “My childhood, my innocence, my virginity”. I sigh and carry on. “My family, my mother, my health” I utter “My job, my happiness, my emotions, my safety”
“Yes” she replies “He stole them all from you”. She tells me I am allowed to be upset. Then she asks me another question “What hasn’t he taken from you?”
I shrug my shoulders and barely whimper “I don’t know”
“Your strength” she answers “He hasn’t taken your strength”
This makes me more emotional as I tell her I am not strong, not really. I am not as strong as people think I am. I just do what needs to be done. I force myself to get up, I go to work, I force myself to keep putting one foot infront of the other, to work with police on the case. I do all this because it needs to be done.
She mentions my blog and my art. Tells me that both of those, that wanting to help others, makes me strong. But then she says something else. Something that nearly made me burst into tears. “You have had to be strong for so many years” she says calmly “You don’t have to be strong all the time”. I am allowed to break down, allowed to cry, she says.
She explains that my strength has become an expectation. People tell me to be strong, to carry on, to move forward. I have come to believe that if I do anything other than that, I will be seen as weak.
I know people mean well, I really do. They tell me how strong I am. That I can stop him.
Yet they don’t truly understand.
They don’t see the triggers sending me back into a flashback of abuse. They don’t see him in my dreams, turning them into nightmares every night. They don’t hear his voice whispering in my ear, tormenting me, making me feel worthless. They don’t hear him telling me I will never be believed.
They don’t feel the pain in my chest from the grief beginning to surface. Grief from losing my childhood, my innocenece, my family. Grief from losing the job I love.
They don’t see the pain in my heart from new memories surfacing. Memories of what he did to me.
They don’t feel the guilt I carry for disrupting my family’s life.
They don’t see the weight I carry of knowing that I am the only one who can stop him. No matter how much pain or sadness I feel, I cannot back out of the investigation.
No-one feels or understands the intensity of the emotions I carry inside. They do not see the tears that I have never been allowed to cry. They do not see the emotions I have been forbidden to feel and process up until this moment.
Nobody sees how exhausted I am from sleepless nights and never ending pain.
I wish I could explain it better; hopelessness. I wish I could make you understand the feeling of despair.
It is like I am walking down a long, dark tunnel, never knowing when or if I will reach the light. A tunnel of emptiness and numbness, full of depression and mental illness. Each new day a battle in my huge war.
Hopelessness crushes the soul more than pain. It leaves me wondering how much more I can take as I sink deeper into sorrow.
The hell inside my head, the monsters, my abusers, never sleep. My tummy drops every time someone else tells me to be strong. I don’t want to let them down.
But the truth is I am not OK. Right now I am not strong like everyone thinks I am.
I am sad, I am hurting, and it is unbearable. I want to lock myself away and not have to face this hard, scary journey anymore.
There comes a point where all can become too much and I have hit it. I am too tired to fight anymore.
I am vulnerable and I am lonely. I have lost myself once more and I am unsure how to find myself again.
So now, the real work begins.
Now I have to try to find hope when I see no hope at all.
Thanks for reading
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