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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bringing in the New Year

I've been whining here for a very long time. It seemed the only place where I could talk about the things I thought sounded crazy, irrational, and huge--no matter how trivial in reality they might be. It's good to have a place to dump things.

Therapist spent a great deal of time during my last appointment talking about the ways I've grown and progressed. He says I'm someone he admires. I definitely don't see what he does, and when I went to my appointment I was at the end of a rather nasty, lengthy PTSD episode. I tried not to read negativity into his words ("If he tells me how wonderful I'm doing, I won't need to come back as often and he won't have to listen to me for awhile," or "He's trying to be positive because I'm always negative--I'm depressing," or "He's lying to me--I wonder why? What does he have to gain? Why would he do that???"), and for the most part, I succeeded.

Actually, I succeeded because I asked him what was motivating his comments. Someday I won't need people to spell that out to me anymore, I hope. And Therapist thanked me for asking, and for letting him know I was having difficulty hearing what he was really saying--then he explained that the words were exactly what he meant and assured me he was not trying to make me go away forever. I don't think I looked convinced because he laughed and said, "Sam, you're my only appointment today. It's the Monday before Christmas and I'm taking the whole week off. As soon as we finish here, I'm going home to start my vacation. I wasn't even going to to come in at all this week, but I told you at your last appointment that I'd be in, we scheduled an appointment, and I wanted to keep it if at all possible. You've never canceled on me--I don't like canceling on you. Does that sound like a person who's trying to get rid of you?"

No. It doesn't.

And we covered a lot of ground during the session--much of which I hated, but needed to talk about--and some of which I didn't hate.

That was almost two weeks ago.

And I've had no symptoms since that visit.

No flashbacks since August 2nd, and no PTSD symptoms for two weeks.

I'm not stupid. I know this is probably not going to last forever, but while it's happening, I just have to say how amazing it feels to know the emotions I'm experiencing belong to me and aren't tainted by unreality or extremity.

If I should have a flashback again, it won't feel like a defeat or a failure. I've been without them for five months. That's a victory no matter what happens in the future. And I've gone for weeks at a time without having overwhelming PTSD symptoms, but always within those stretches of time I've experienced small twinges or short spurts of the symptoms. This is the first time I've felt absolutely free of them (discounting the month of drug dependence in which the pain killers made the PTSD all go away--this time was drug-free).

I thought, with time, I would find answers to the many questions in my head. Instead I encounter more and more questions. It's possible the questions have always been in my mind and that only now am I finding the courage to ask, but I don't know.

I thought I'd understand how I fit in the lives of other people. Instead I find it more of a mystery the longer I remain in those lives. I don't know why I'm there. I don't know how they perceive me. But I also find my anxiety easing, especially concerning the possibility of those relationships relaxing or disappearing. If it happens, it happens. No amount of raging or stress will change that. And in my own heart things will never change. I know this because as time has passed--as I've become more and more aware that young Sully, who once loved me, no longer feels anything kind toward me-- I still love him as deeply and purely as ever. I suppose I could work on letting go or changing those feelings--but that is not who I am, nor who I wish to be. That love has nothing for which to apologize or be ashamed. I believe I will keep it, always, and I don't believe my love for any other person will go away either. This is my choice. Therapist reminds me that feelings are always in flux. I remind him that I choose to be different.

I have lost the eternal youth I used to feel inside. I don't believe anyone can accept the things that I have finally accepted and not be changed, worn, weathered by them. I have become ancient, quiet, less inclined to turn cartwheels or dance spontaneously. I find myself baffled by small talk, unlikely to attend events involving large groups, more wary of hugs and handshakes. I feel as though I began talking when the dam broke nearly five years ago and now the words have subsided to a trickle--a tiny, relentless repetition of the torrential phrases spoken initially and no longer of interest to anyone.

Recently I was interviewed. The topic was not rape and abuse survival, but I mentioned those two things. The interviewer mentioned he would be interested in hearing more. I assured him his interest was misplaced, and returned to the original topic.

I have survived. I did that years ago--I just didn't find out about that survival until recently. I believed my story would somehow help others. I don't know why I thought that. Perhaps it justified my need to endlessly repeat my narrative. I'm not sorry I spoke. I'm only sorry that my story is so common it is impossible to care about it beyond a momentary shock and short-lived, if heartfelt, concern. No one has the energy to continue caring--not even me.

I'm thinking about the words I've just written. They reek of depression and despair.

I am not depressed--I am realistic. This is my reality.

I am not despairing--Therapist has told me of the many ways I'm healing and progressing and I believe him. But this is acceptance, my acceptance.

Perhaps one day things will be different and little girls and boys will no longer be raped by people they trust.

Perhaps one day abuse by a parent will be unheard of.

Perhaps one day the emotional, physical, and psychological problems I experience will be forgotten maladies like polio or smallpox.

I don't know how that can happen, but I hope it does. After all is said and done, I still have hope.


  1. Hi Sam! You wrote: "I believed my story would somehow help others. I don't know why I thought that. Perhaps it justified my need to endlessly repeat my narrative."

    I believe your story DOES help others and that you should continue to tell it. It doesn't matter if 2 million others have experienced rape and abuse; your story is unique because it is you and we all benefit from hearing the stories of others. I admire your courage in persevering and following your story at this point in the game reinforces the truth of hope.

  2. Debbie--thanks for saying this. I needed to hear it.