As my fingers grace the soft, delicate keys of my keyboard, my eyes become fixated on the black lettering appearing on my screen and I go into a sort of trance. I have been writing for years, and the assuaging cadence of the words never fail to lull me into this deep place of comfort. I feel comforted at being able to put my thoughts and feelings into words, even if it’s just a long drawn-out description of how much I enjoy the sensation of writing. For it is writing that keeps me alive. Every time I connect with my therapist via email, whether short and cryptic or long and sensuously, unnecessarily wordy… it all seems necessary to me at the time. I need to connect with him. I need to connect with you. I need to connect with my reader.
The tears have dried up and my breathing has become regulated again. The snotty sniffling of the after-cry shock has subsided and I’m back to my “normal” self. But then again, what is normal, where I often feel depressed and all I want to do is to sleep? I can’t bear to pick up a figurative pen and let the words flow out of me. There are times whence I am stunted and just dead-to-the-world and I can’t write. Luckily today is not one of those days.
I got triggered. You see, I used to model. I used to model for photographers and I was skinny and very unhappy. The modeling brought me a sense of something that I could control, in the midst of a time when I was being abused and my life was very much not in my own control. I was miserable and trying to not let anyone know that fact. Now, it has been over a decade that I’ve been in recovery. I’m no longer skinny nor do I want to be. And I read an article about a model whose risqué images had been published by a photographer in a book without her consent for his profit and gain. Why “his”? Well, it had to be a man. I don’t think a female photographer would have done such a thing. Prove me wrong please!
When I think of my modeling days, I think of the sexual abuse I endured at the time. Being sold for sex and raped by countless men. I was drugged with alcohol and was told to comply. Well, it’s not like I was given a choice. Being raped was my normal. Being sold, and my body used as a commodity, that was what was normal for me. I had become accustomed slowly by my abuser to that sort of life. During the thick of it, I simply didn’t know any different. I didn’t have any friends I could talk to about my feelings.
My abuser was staunchly against me seeing a therapist but that was one thing he couldn’t keep me from. You see, I knew something was wrong with my life, but I didn’t know what that was. I wanted to be the “perfect wife” for my abuser, and I thought a perfect wife did everything her so-called husband told her to do. She was obedient. When I did what I was told to do I received what I thought was endless praise. What I now know to be a mockery of my very being.
For the first couple years of therapy, I didn’t talk about the sexual abuse that was happening in my relationship and outside of it. Everything was intertwined. I don’t even know anymore. But I talked about other things, until finally, here and there, I began mentioning that there were things that I didn’t like, or things that seemed off. Up until then, I hadn’t had a voice. I was not allowed to have an opinion. I didn’t know who I was. I had no sense of self. But slowly, over time, week after week for an hour at a time, I began to have a voice for the first time in my life during those therapy sessions.
Looking at the self-aware person I am now, I don’t know who that bold, sexy, seemingly sex-addicted abused young woman was. Admittedly I did look somewhat sexy in those modeling photos. But I also looked emaciated, with hollow, empty eyes peering forth at a relentless truth that was staring me in the face, only I didn’t see it at the time. I had to get out. I had to get out of the relationship because it was killing me. Either I was going to die or I was going to kill myself.
I thank my lucky starts that the inevitable happened: after years of being sexually abused I became so severely depressed that I couldn’t hold a job. With our two incomes my abuser had planned on buying a second home to house his girlfriend (while he was still technically married to me). He couldn’t do that when I announced one day that I had quit my well-paid corporate career job. Of course he was pissed! It took him two more years to divorce me. Or should I say, it took two more years of me going to sometimes twice weekly therapy before I could leave him. Either way you slice it, the apple is cut, and we separated.
Years of recovery ensued. He was a narcissist. Nothing he had done was wrong and he quickly moved on with his life and got remarried, even had a kid. I feel sorry for that kid and worry about the potential of her being abused. But that is not my responsibility. My therapist tells me it is the parents’ responsibility to keep their child safe. So unfortunate is this world where children get abused, even sexually, by the ones who are indebted with their safety.
The type of life I have now is unimaginable. Ten years ago I could never have imagined the sort of life I have now. I have room to breathe. I have an income. I pay my bills. I am in charge of my life. No one else tells me what to do. I no longer starve myself. I no longer cut on my arms with knives and scissors to punish myself and to make myself bleed. I no longer wish to kill myself. I’m not in and out of psych wards. I live in a suburb in a one bedroom apartment by myself. It’s just me and my dog, Samuel. He is my ESA – Emotional Support Animal. In fact, if I didn’t have a note from my psychiatric doctor stating such, I wouldn’t be allowed to live here with Samuel. He keeps me alive. He keeps me going. He gives me a reason to get up each day and go to work.
Working 40 hours a week isn’t easy for a formerly and somewhat still currently depressed person. There are often mornings I wake up and I don’t want to be awake. I’d much rather sleep the day away and not be conscious, because when you are conscious, you think, and thoughts can go awry if you think of the unpleasant, and in my case, traumatic, past. To top it off, I’ve had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I don’t know if that diagnosis would currently apply, but certainly my unstable behaviour of the past was indicative of a traumatised person.
And this all brings us back to the act of writing. If I couldn’t write, I don’t know what I would do. I need, in a visceral way, to connect to other people. I’m writing as if I’m writing to one specific reader, and I hope this touches each individual person who has taken the time to read the words I have written. Thank you.