“My past is an armour I cannot take off, no matter how many times you tell me that my war is over” – Unknown.
As I wake suddenly in a sweat, I panic when I roll over and my partner is not next to me. Panic rising, my breathing getting heavier and tears rolling down my face, I sit bolt upright. My partner hears and comes running in from the TV programme he was watching in the other room.
He climbs in bed, snuggles behind me, wrapping his arms tightly around me, while he whispers and tells me that he is there and that I am safe. I am with him. I am safe. “Open your eyes” he whispers, “Look where you are. You are with me. Here, now, you are safe.” I wriggle, struggle to breathe, “Open your eyes babe” he says louder, firmer but kind, knowing what he needs to do to get me back to him.
Finally I open my eyes. They dart around the room. Adjust to the light. To my surroundings. To my partner. I am safe. I am here. I am in the present. Not back there. Not back in the danger, in the darkness, in my childhood. But my face is covered in blood, I have cut myself above my eye in my struggle to try to free myself from the monster who had hold of me in my sleep.
Another PTSD nightmare. I am haunted by ghosts and demons when I sleep. Except for me the ghosts and demons are real. Not just nightmares, but flashbacks from my past. From the trauma of my childhood. My ghosts and demons are the monsters that laid their hands on me. The ones that raped me.
For you see my trauma isn’t just in my past. It is still here. Still in my every day. Locked inside my mind. My worst enemy is my memory.
People always say that dreams can come true but nightmares are dreams too and my dreams are very, very real.
For when I eventually manage to fall asleep again, I may be quiet but inside I am screaming. I am running but I am not leaving. I am unable to escape. My hands scratch at my skin as I try to get the monsters, my abusers, off of me. I don’t feel it but I am bleeding as my fingers dig deeper and deeper (only stopped if my partner wakes and wakes me from my terror).
Suddenly I cannot breathe as I feel their hands around my throat. Choaking, writhing in pain, I suddenly sit bolt up right in a panic. My partner wakes, holds me, comforts me, helps me breathe. I am safe. I am here. I am now.
But as I drag myself out of my nightmare, there is no relief in waking. For some days the memories still knock the wind out of me.
Darkness settles in as the memories are relentless and emotions begin to fill my soul.
Fear looms. I am afraid to feel. Feeling makes it too real. Sadness, anger, pain. It is real, very real. Dissociation settles. Fog is easier. Feelings are too hard. I know that reliving will help me heal, but it will also hurt my heart.
Insomnia hits. I am too scared to sleep. For I know what is coming and no matter how hard I try, I cannot stop it. Exhaustion. I will have to fall asleep eventually and so the cycle will start all over again.
I am lucky I have a patient partner, for my nightmares wake him too. He is kind and patient and knows how to bring me back to him. To now. To safety. He never moans about the sleepless nights or the times I fight him in my sleep because I am in a terror. I am lucky to have him by my side.
Unless you have lived through these terrors, through PTSD nightmares and memories, you cannot understand. They are real. They are very, very real.
How I long for a fairy tale dream in a world full of nightmares.
So maybe one battle is over. The battle of my childhood. But a new one of facing it has begun. The PTSD makes it that way.
So you see, my war is not over.
Child Abuse is a war the length of a lifetime.
And for right now, my armour stays put…..
Thanks for reading
**Image courtesy of Google Images**