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.