The stress, hurt, and fear piles on creating a jagged mountain of distress. Then, all it takes is a feather landing on top or a whisper of breath for it all to come tumbling down. The taste of blood in the back of my throat, a raging migraine, and my heart beating out of my chest – the consequences of holding it all in for so long. Afterward, there is clarity and motivation to carry on.
One “black day” is manageable, most of the time. Many of them crammed on top of each other can feel insurmountable. These “black days” have been plentiful recently, and respite is nowhere in sight. Instead of feeling desperation and defeat there is numbness. Even anger is unable to be roused leaving a sense of complacency and acceptance. There is still hope for the seed of happiness to sprout and grow, but for now, it is firmly buried under the weight of too many “black days.”
Draining boiled pasta water into the sink is a trigger for me – every time. Chopping onions, doing laundry, mopping the floor, planting a garden and driving – these are just some of the mundane everyday activities that start a movie playing in my head. I hear every word, see each expression, smell the scents, and experience all the fear as if it were happening again right now. Even after all these years the memories still give me pause, and I must consciously stop the movie playing and add a narrative that explains these events are in the past. Remembering past events is not my choice but my reaction to them is, and I choose to see the ridiculousness of the people who hurt me. It makes them seem small and less threatening which helps me keep moving forward.
The realization and acceptance of my role in past experiences is a driving force for the fear I struggle with daily. The belief that pure chance had brought unhappiness and strife to me was blissfully ignorant. After all, the odds were in my favor that all the bad hands had already been dealt to me and the future held good luck. There may be a small nugget of truth to chance or luck but the bulls-eye painted on my back is made highly visible to those seeking to harm by my tolerance and lack of self-confidence. The fear of repeating the past is exacerbated by the knowledge that I am not entirely healed, so I reinforce my walls to rest in the safety of solitude, for now.
The damage from abuse is like a slow acting poison requiring a painful antidote. Sometimes I find it hard to remember what it felt like to be trapped in an abusive relationship and then a trigger brings a flashback encompassing every sensory detail. Numbing the pain and emotions allowed me to stumble through life for a few years, but eventually, my deteriorating condition forced me to confront the trauma. Chronic, debilitating migraines were the primary physical manifestation of my unprocessed trauma. These migraines significantly interfered with my ability to work and care for my children, but if it was not for this physical ailment, I might have delayed my search for help even longer. In working towards reducing the migraines, I met several wonderful and caring doctors, physical therapists, counselors and everyday people who helped me get back on my feet. There are so many things I would do to keep from ever having another migraine, but I acknowledge they are the proverbial straw that broke the camels back and started my healing journey. The process has been excruciatingly slow at times, but I am much stronger now and have a great deal more patience. The poison is still leaving me, and the antidote is unpleasant, but in the end I will be free.
The road to healing is full of bumps, potholes, and detours. Some days it feels as if I will never make it to my destination and the effort is futile. I find myself exhausted by devastating setbacks and crushed by the weight of the baggage I carry. As I continue to move forward despite the obstacles in my path, I find that no matter how small of a step I take it adds to the overall distance covered. Every inch is progress and it all adds up in the end. Not every mile marker will come easily and I’m sure I will lose hope again, but only momentarily. I understand now, that the road to healing is not linear and the ups and downs are to be expected along the way.
Secrets breed pain and misunderstanding. Seeing your story in writing or hearing it told through spoken word denies the secret of it’s power. Stories should be told, pain must seek relief, and the shadowy world of dark secrets needs light.