Trust. – Rat_Girl


One of the things that I have struggled with the most, having had the majority of my trauma inflicted on me by people I thought were my friends, or my partners, or my loved ones, is that I cannot unknow that people you believe will keep you safe are sometimes the people who hurt you.

I cannot go back to living the kind of life I had before I knew definitively that my own home, and my own bed, were not safe. That my own partner, who told me they loved me, could, and did, hurt me, over and over in that space that was supposed to be my own. I cannot unknow the feeling of terror or pain in my body. I cannot unknow the feeling that I was betraying myself because I didn’t react the way I thought I would, when my strength of conviction about “killing your rapist” was more bluster or theory than actual praxis when he is in your bed, drunk, or in your arms crying because you are upset and he did it again. I can’t return to the happiness I felt when I was naive about the ways that places, and people I thought were safe would choose, intentionally to hurt me, and choose to do it in spaces that I thought were made by myself, to keep me and my loved ones from danger.

As time goes on, it has taken from me again and again. People who for whatever reason feel the need to hurt me for their own needs. People who never admitted to me their feelings about me had changed. People who never let on to me that they were hurt by me. People who had asked me to go to the barricades for them, and I did, who surrendered me over the lines instead of going to the barricades for me when the situation turned. People who linked up with others who have hurt me for terrible selfish, reasons, because I am a common enemy now. People who I never would have turned on, no matter what they did or said about me, or what they did or said to me when we were struggling together. People who I tried to understand and to offer compassion and reasonable space to be imperfect and grow and learn to be themselves and not simply an expression of their pain—who threw me away, like I was nothing. This is an ongoing theme, I feel like sometimes I am the only one in my relationships willing to see others as people, as complex human beings who are not necessarily bad, but have learned to use bad things to secure themselves. I Feel like I have spent a very long time trying to soothe and to accept, and it has put me in harms way again and again. Because I don’t believe we can really care without trust, and I don’t believe we can feel secure unless we both are in an equally vulnerable place, and so I put myself there—vulnerable, and trusting. And when it has been met with the same, I have had the most fulfilling and wonderful relationships. And when it fails, it leaves me feeling inhuman, invisible, unaccepted, unworthy, and disposable. Recently, I trusted again, and was vulnerable. I expressed many times that I felt that I shouldn’t be involved in things or that I wasn’t welcome to be reassured over and over that I was, and so I dropped my guard and let myself believe again that maybe I would find someone, something to be connected to. That choice has taken from me one of the last things I had left that felt like a safe place to retreat as well as a sense of belonging in my community, new and some old friends. I trusted that I belonged, or mattered, or was valid—and in that trust and vulnerability I left myself open, and again, I have felt completely rejected, foolish, and embarrassed.

My PTSD has returned. And worse, I am not speaking to anyone—I am not reaching out for help or speaking in detail, even to friends I have had for years, who I know I can trust and who I know love me. Every time I start a message or an email I think “what if they share this? What if it is screen grabbed? I know things I thought I was writing in private communication about my feelings or vulnerabilities are being shared, and I never thought that they would be. So how can I know for sure that in 3 months I won’t fuck up and this person will never tell me but will instead just take all of this and go find the people who hate me and show them?” I go through this thought process several times a day and instead of seeking out help, which feels unsafe, I just deal with it alone. As much as I possibly can. I downplay it and I hold it in and I say I am fine, but I talk 70% less, and I can’t remember the last time I laughed. I’m swallowing all the razorblades again. And unwilling to burden my loved ones with my pain, which I feel I have no right to, and even if I do share it, I am so careful and vague that it becomes empty, and they are completely unequipped to actually help.

It has been bad for my PTSD because back when I was processing my rape in my 20s, my whole friend group turned on me. They either refused to hear what I was saying, flat out denied it happened, or started to avoid me, avoid inviting me anywhere, avoid talking to me. I had burned a bridge with my best friend while I was processing the abuse in the relationship itself several months earlier, because I didn’t know how to manage how she would have reacted to the information, and so I chose to just be abused and swallow it. Then when it ended and I was overcome with pain and fear and anxiety, I chose to swallow it again. I had no roommates or friends at school. I had quit drinking and didn’t feel safe going out, so my other, casual relationships strained as well. And I still hadn’t been able to say the word “rape” to anyone, not even myself. I made an attempt to get along with my rapist because at least that could undo all the folks mad at me for outing him. But I couldn’t. So I started sleeping all day and being up all night because it meant I could be by myself and things were peaceful. It meant I didn’t have to worry about things harming me in the night because I was awake. And I could sleep during the day when it was too noisy to pinpoint a specific sound or feel anxious. Today I woke up at 2pm. Because I am here again. This lonely, horrible place where I feel I belong, with no one at all I feel I can tell what is going on. What is *really* going on.

I started doing survivor support, finding people who were only making small mention of what happened or how they felt in comments or on threads because I never wanted anyone to feel how I felt then. I started what I could say has been the most important mission in my entire life because I was committed to not leaving people to go through the pain alone, because I had. And here I am again, afraid of my own friends and my own community because I am certain that I am not a good person, and that I am not worthy of community or of the support, friends, love… even though I know others are worthy of it, and I have tried to be that to anyone who is alone in the darkness.

I don’t really know why I am expressing this now except to say, that healing and surviving aren’t linear. People usually get to read things I write about how I overcame or crawled out or fought back against the blackness. How it felt “back then” but rarely how I feel right now. And I am 10 years out and have metabolized all the pain from the attacks themselves, and the trespasses on my life and my body. Sincerely, I am not triggered by any of it anymore and that as such a victory. But I still haven’t managed the long shadow it left behind. So I encourage people who are in radical communities and circles, who maybe love survivors in their own life to understand that there are a lot of things that trauma builds, things trauma teaches us that takes a long time to unlearn. I still hold out hope to learn love, and acceptance and trust for myself. I still have a lot to heal from, and so do many of us. I may always be healing. On days like today I feels like It won’t ever really end. But I know pieces of it will. And tomorrow is another day. And I’ll survive this too.

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