Monday, December 6, 2010

what's the trauma you talk about having endured?

It comes at you before you know it, being shoved into boxes that feel too tight: you're choking before you're breathing. One calendar day flips into the next and you're fearing fists, you're wondering when you're going to eat next, you replay the words over and over again in your head: "stupid little bitch" because you are 10 and this is your father. You learn that love means fear. You're screaming, you're fighting: he has you pinned down, beaten. Watch him jerk the wheel with you in the front seat, he says: "I could die just like that. Jail is better than this. Death is better than this." He makes you hate yourself, hate your mom - regret every penny that went towards child support. You grow the mentality that your death is good, that it will benefit the world: less resources will be used upon you. You are worthless. A's are not A+s, normal is not perfect: fingers sliding into the grooves between the ribs of childhood. One bagel lasts a whole weekend. Leave the bed and blackout, fall to the floor. Your vision goes for gaps at a time. Stop visiting the other house, stop eating, work harder. Snap awake, ignore fatigue. Internalize. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Palms catch glass. Memories filter themselves, repress themselves for the sake of optimism in a cynical world where hope is necessary to live. Back into the corner as rage overcomes him (another him, always another him, him, him, the cycling): fists pound into your (my) head. Cross your arms across your chest. Fall asleep in the fetal position. Trust no one, not even yourself. Your heart beats to the rhythm of hyperventilation: everything floods. Life is a static rash of screaming that no one hears. Mold, smile, ignore bruises: perfect. Silence yourself. Live in the shadows of everything that nicked you, the angry voices that forced their way into your innocence. Feel every moment by the thick of what isn't being said. Hibernate in your own consciousness, inflict harm upon yourself when you're not already psychologically full of it.

The worst trauma I've ever gone through is the silence, derived from my childhood in its various different veins - I struggled with my brother, I got severely bullied all through elementary school and into high school, my father repeatedly abused and manipulated me, and many adults ignored everything that was going on despite how evident it was. I spent a lot of time struggling with myself and with others due to the effects of these occurrences, becoming severely depressed and garnishing an incredibly low self-esteem. It made me naive and susceptible - I ended up legally homeless at the end of high school due to an alcoholic stepmother. I struggled with drugs. I was stalked and sexually harassed/assaulted my first semester of college. Add in an emotionally abusive relationship, and another stint where I was legitimately seconds away from being date raped at a party (where there were legitimate bystanders who saw what was going on and did nothing). This is all to say: until we recognize the impacts of trauma within us, it is likely to perpetuate itself. It is also important in this conversation, and in any conversation discussing trauma, to recognize that trauma is everywhere and relative to the sensitivities of the person experiencing the occurrence: the violation or exposure to crisis. Trauma is fluid: it will not align to a set of diagnostic criteria. And I hope we all learn to grow and respect each other more, carrying each other’s stories considerately.

Ask me anything

1 comment:

  1. I think that the worst part of whatever trauma we experience in our lives is that we're expected NOT to talk about it. Especially women. And especially if that trauma is sexual in nature. We're supposed to bury it deep down and never, ever talk about it. And if we do... then we are probably just seeking attention, which is probably how we got ourselves into "that situation" in the first place. For me, the most therapeutic thing has always been open, honest dialogue with other women.