I’ve learned over the last year that there are two ways people generally deal with traumatic events similar to what happened to me.

The first is managing to make yourself so busy with so many other things, people, activities, and distractions that you simply don’t have time to think about anything else but running away from what happened. Hoping the pain will just fade or go away the busier you stay. I’ve seen a lot of people go on to do great and creative things while running away from terrible pasts, the problem is when they are alone or still for too long everything comes crashing down a hundred times worse.

The second is quite the opposite, and it is the one I have been stuck in for over a year.

I went into hiding.

If I didn’t leave the house or interact with anyone I couldn’t get hurt again. No one would be able to get close to me. I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable or feel scared or ever wonder if it will happen again. I once trusted people, a lot. I was kind and outgoing and was always the one championing the benefit of the doubt.

I used to go out in bright colors with my face towards the sun.

Now I go out fully covered with my eyes down so I don’t have triggers, flashbacks or worse — see him. Or someone that looks like him. Or someone who knows him. Or something that reminds me of him.

I stay quiet so I don’t draw attention to myself.

People have told me that by staying quiet and locked away I’m letting him win. That the best thing I could possibly do is pick myself up and become even stronger than before as a proverbial middle finger to him and what he did to me.

You will either understand this or you won’t — the idea of building myself back up gives me the same sense of dread as threatening to drop me in the middle of the ocean without so much as a life preserver.

My insides have been nothing but a knot of anxiety, fear, and sadness for over a year. I don’t remember the last time I was truly happy for any extended period of time.

I don’t say this because I want sympathy, and the truth is I am trying to get better.

In fact, I am fighting like hell and I’m fucking exhausted.

I say this because I never thought I would be here. That I would be so damaged from the actions of another that I would consider myself completely broken. A pile of pieces slugging through a life I once knew and only participate in out of habit.

Comments

  1. I know it’s so hard to reach out. I also know what’s it’s like to try to keep so busy that the thoughts stay silent… until they creep into everything. Yes, I know. I need to be better about reaching out, texting you, but I also don’t want to push you too much. I don’t want to make this about me. I just want to be a support for you. Are you free this weekend anytime?

    Please know that you are loved by so many and we want to help you through all of this. I miss you.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been a longtime reader but not the most regular commenter. I had noticed you weren’t in this space much anymore and chalked it up to blogger fatigue. I’ve missed you and I’m glad you are back, in whatever form or however many pieces. I’m so humbled at how you are sharing your story. This is your story. Not his. Not anyone else’s. You have been through so much already and you’re here. You are so strong. There is so much strength in even admitting that you don’t feel strong. And now I feel like I’m rambling. But I’m here. Im listening and holding space for your feelings and your story.

  3. I am pulling for you.

    You may feel broken, but I can guarantee that you are not broken. Something in you is very, very ok. It’s that part that is reaching this tiny tendril out here. Be gentle with that small growing part of yourself that is reaching for light.

    Love you.

  4. Casey- there is an awesome 12 session therapy called Cognitive Processing Therapy that is used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which sounds like what you might be experiencing. Check it out and if you have any questions please feel free to email me. I have used it with several people who have experienced sexual assault with great results. Huge hugs.

  5. Hey you!
    I’m thinking of you.
    I’m rooting for you!
    And I’m sending you a HUGE virtual hug.

  6. Amanda Gee says:

    I wish I had some magical words that could give you some comfort. Sadly I don’t. I am thinking of you and sending you good thoughts.

  7. It’s not your fault and I hate that a person can do this to another person. It sucks for you and your family. I don’t know if you can ever come back from it but damn at least you are trying. You are trying…That is enough.

  8. It’s seriously going to take time. But in time you really need to talk to someone about what happened to you. I know you hate to be reminded of it, and talking about it at first may not feel as if it’s doing any good because all you feel is anger and hurt, and just want to crawl under a rock and never come out. I know exactly how you feel Casey, but please know you can get through this. Beginning to write about it is a start, and you’re doing good! I love you, and know that I’m here if you need me.

    love, love, love you girl!

    xo

  9. Casey – I can’t even pretend to know what you are going through and it makes me incredibly sad to know this has happened and left you where you are. All I can say is that there is hope. I do know what it feels like to be broken (although for entirely different reasons) and have just begun to put my life back together after years of just going through the motions. It does get better…in time. How much time? I can’t answer that for you. But it will. You will feel alive and happy again. I promise.

  10. I love you so much, sweetie. I’ve been through this before myself, and I’ve also dealt with it using both scenarios. I don’t have the answer, because time was the only thing that eventually helped me. But, I’m here if you need to talk, and I’m pulling for you. I know you’re strong, and exhausted from fighting so hard, but I have faith you will pull through the other side, sweetie <3

  11. There’s a chart with the stages of grief listed in a line that goes down and up again, like a capital U. I’ve also seen this chart with scribbles in the valley part, and I think that’s more accurate. You don’t experience the stages in simple, linear fashion. It will be one thing one day, and something else the next. But eventually, it will get better. There are a whole bunch of people who care, even if we’ve never met you in person.

  12. I want you to feel the sun on your face again. I want that so badly for you.

    I love you so much it hurts.

  13. I’ve been there and can only tell you that you will be okay…not the same but okay. (((((hugs)))) very big hugs!

  14. I…I wish I knew what to say. [insert the positive, affirming, somehow appropriate things people are supposed to say.]

    ****. This sucks. This ****ing sucks.

    I don’t know how you even do the pretending thing, because crawling into a hole and never coming out seems like the only sensible response.

    Damn.

    xox

  15. I just love you.

  16. <3 <3 <3

  17. Casey, I have read your blog for years. I’ve been where you are. It will not last forever. Please email me if you want to. I know I am nothing but a stranger, but I am here for you.

  18. Sending love, light and strength.

  19. I’ve been so out of the loop.

    I have no words but I love you bunches.

  20. Oh Casey. I love you.
    Can’t pretend to understand
    but just know my heart is with you.
    Missing you.

  21. Lots and lots of love to you. I’m in the same trenches. It’s hell. But we’ll get through this.

  22. There are just so many things I wish I could share with you. I wish I could tell you that you’re walking in the footprints of so very many – SO many – women who have walked before you. I wish I could tell you that you will see the sun again. You will. You may have to fight like hell for one little ray, but one day you’ll see it and feel it shine on your face and it won’t occur to you so pointedly that you had to fight like hell to find it. YOU ARE WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

    I also wish I could tell you that it’s the kind of thing you just “get over.” I was a Columbine High School student on “that day” nearly 17 years ago. Different kind of trauma, sure, but I had to fight like hell not to be a broken wreck of a person every day – and I succeeded. And now, all these years after I thought I’d conquered it, I’m a wreck again watching the events that have transpired recently. That PTSD I thought I slayed has reared its ugly head and I again find myself hesitant to do things in public, like go to church or downtown with my kids to a holiday parade. You don’t just “get over” it. There’s a big black line marked “Before” and one marked “After,” and we’re on that other side. But I can tell you this for certain: there is so much on that other side that is beautiful, wondrous and worth finding. Worth fighting for. So here’s the hard part (when you’re ready, and if you’re not yet, that’s okay too. You will be): it’s not about what happened. It’s about what happens next.

    I’m rooting for you. You’re worth rooting for.

  23. Amy in StL says:

    I had such a great group of friends where I lived in the first part of this century. Then my best friend’s boyfriend raped me on a weekend away. A weekend where she didn’t come and I wasn’t worried because we were all such good friends. When we got back she told me it was no big deal, they have an open relationship. I was crushed. She was my bestie; like we were so much alike. I moved away a couple years later and I don’t have a best friend anymore. I haven’t allowed any females to get that close to me; especially ones in a relationship. It’s been over 10 years and I’m glad I moved so I didn’t have to stay home from every event our group of friends had (which was a lot). But I wish the old me was still here. Now I stay home a lot and don’t encourage friendships; sometimes I’m tired of being a hermit but I don’t know how to stop.