A penny drop of freedom

Trigger warning: sexual violence, abuse and self indulgence.

My desire to prefix this blog with an apology is almost unbearable. But I am trying to unlearn apologising with every breath and so forgive me if I just plough on. If the issues raised here do not affect you, you will probably feel this is utterly self indulgent and sympathy-seeking to write, but on the off-chance there is someone out there who may have their healing speeded a little by these words, to you, I write.

I just had one of those penny-drop moments, where the brick wall I have been pushing against just turned to glass. I have not shattered it yet, by the light shone right and I can suddenly see it for what it is.

For years I have been restraining my life and myself into the victim role. I have terrible health issues, I screw up relationships, I (ab)use my body mass index to denote my worth; I generally treat myself appallingly. I use the book mark of rapes to explain if people get close enough to listen. And sometimes I shout it because I think they are just not hearing the epidemic of abuse (2 women a week in the UK are murdered by their partners or former partners. I’ll say that again: 2 women a week.). I’ve been trapped in an abusive relationship with myself for years.

And I have just figured out why. The self blame / guilt / I-hurt-me-so-you-can’t-hurt-me logic always sounded good on paper but it never felt like that was my reason (or not all of it) and it certainly didn’t provide me with a fire exit.

I have heard so many different tones of disbelief (from “Did that really happen?” through to calling me an attention seeking liar) that my defence mechanism kicked it to make it real. You don’t believe me? Well look how fucked up I still am after all these years. Look how things never worked out for me. Look how I perpetually put myself in danger because I am not worth looking after. I can’t prove to you that I said no, that he punched me into hospital, that I was just a kid, dammit, but I can prove to you that something really fucked me up. And I am going to keep proving that because it’s the only evidence I have when no one believes me.

And with 8%-12% conviction rates for those who are brave enough to report rapes to the police in the UK, it’s the only evidence I have.

I remember facing the same issue when my Mum died. For months, I traumatised myself because I was petrified that if I forgot what her dead face looked like - who else would know? And then that essential part of her journey would be lost and forgotten and fade into history. It’s the same with rape. As long as I can keep proving to you what a complete mess I am, then it must have happened, one day you might believe me. And one day I might believe me.

But once you spot trap, it is easier to avoid it. I don’t have the answers or the solutions, but what I have just woken up to with this revelation, is that as long as I entwine my healing with the judgement of others as to my honesty, achieving my own peace and freedom will be impossible.

    I hope there is something in here to aide someone else’s journey to healing. Please be gentle with yourself, whoever you are. I hope these words find you.

    If you need to speak to someone, you can contact Refuge on 0808 2000 247 or http://www.refuge.org.uk/

Autobiography in Five Chapters
by Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost...
I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in...it's a habit
My eyes are open; I know where I am;
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.