Another Day of Self Care

While skimming through some of my older blogs I began to feel overwhelmed, of which feeling was then replaced with a mute kind of inner strength. I have finally found my voice, after all of those years of not having one. This is me. I am allowed to be me. I can say what I want and it’s okay to feel up or down without having to put a mask on. It’s not “fake” to smile at co-workers when I’m not feeling good. It’s merely a social courtesy, and a gift to the passer-by, because if you smile at them you are giving them a sort of positive, momentary human interaction. The ones that bother me are those two people at the office who say, “Hi, how are you?” They ask every time how I am and it’s pretty obvious they just want me to say “fine” so I’ve been ignoring the last part of the sentence and just saying “Hi” back. They don’t seem to notice the difference.

I am sitting on my usual spot on my couch, upright supported by a pillow behind my back, my cozy white blanket over my cross-legged lap and a brewed chai tea to my right which is no longer hot. (I hate water so I drink tea instead). My phone isn’t blowing up, but occasionally there will be a buzz, and it’s usually my cousin who posts on Facebook 12 times a day, nothing directed at me specifically, so I don’t read those messages. My roommate has been gone all weekend, but we rarely see each other anyway. I quickly did the dishes in the sink so she will find it clean when she gets home. Her life-sized teddy bear sits lazily on top of the small, white bench we never use. It is still light outside although it feels dark to me. That’s the cloud over my mind. I have this habit of rubbing my skin with my fingers to find dirt, because I’ve often felt as if I’m dirty. It started years ago. I’ll rub the skin on my upper chest until it gets red and I’ve managed to scrape off a minuscule part of dirt combined with dead skin cells. I’ve read somewhere that this is a form of self-harm like self-scratching to an unusual extent, which I have done before too. I just see it as a formed habit and I only do it when no one is looking. Like picking my nose.

I’m not sure what to do with myself for the next three hours before bedtime. I do have to shower, which as usual, I am not looking forward to. Tuesday is almost here. I needn’t ready because I already have sent to the DA’s office my 20-page written statement, which encompasses most of the horror story I lived through. I was abused, raped, tortured, manipulated, forced to drink, coerced, bound, kept, owned, encouraged to do awful things, received praise for doing those awful things, pimped out, prostituted, used, undignified, hurt, infantilised, objectified, put down, isolated, ostracised, stigmatized, hated, pressured, constrained, changed, ignored. I was all of those things and more. Those things defined me at the time, yet are now a part of an increasingly distant past, though the past is so real and often encroaches on my present healing. It is important for me to repeat to myself the truths of my story including, “I was raped” because it validates my past, which is a part of me. I’ve been repeating that one a lot lately, kind of like an unhealthy but necessary mantra.

I’m not feeling positive, but also not negative, but also definitely not neutral. I’m on both ends of the spectrum. I know that going into the interview on Tuesday will feel surreal and scary. I know that I will be mentally exhausted afterwards. I know that I have scheduled to meet with a friend afterwards to decompress and distract my mind of the difficult undertaking.

I didn’t go to the adult birthday party last night. Instead, I went to bed super early and stayed in bed for the next 18 hours. Pretty typical for my weekends. I would rather be in bed than be alive sometimes. I had some really vivid dreams, although I do not remember the content of them, just that at times my ex-husband was there and at other times my brother was present. I do remember dreaming that my ex touched my bottom with his hand and I smacked him hard. What I really did was reach out, extend my arm, and collide into the wooden frame of my bed. The pain on my wrist woke me up momentarily. I’m finally fighting back! Even in my dreams!! That’s great. Good for you. Good job. Kudos. You are strong. You can do this. You’ve got it. You’re good. You’re amazing. I’m so proud of you. I am in awe at what you’ve been through. Talking to myself in this way helps.

I ate half a bag of cookies for dinner. Earlier I ate cereal and soy milk for lunch. At some point I might microwave something a little more substantial, or not. It’s really up to me. I can do what I want in terms of self care. I am autonomous. Thank the Lord I did not choose to become institutionalized for my mental illness. My psychiatrist at the hospital, after my round of ECTs, gave me that choice. It would have set me back in my healing process. Or it could have helped me. But I think it would have taken me many more years to get back on my feet. I wouldn’t have the good job that I have now. At work, they have no idea what I’ve been through and what I’m going through, and it’s better that way. One day, though, I want to tell the world my story. This blog is a first step. And I’ll be known by my pen name. I want other abuse survivors to hear my story so that they know they are not alone.

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