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a new memory (maybe)


today in my house i tried climbing up the stairs using my hands as well as my feet (because my body has been stiff). this was about an hour after doing a somatic exercise to release the hip joint (felt a little panicked at the trapped feeling i started to get so i stopped).

as soon as i started climbing in that way i had the overwhelming sensation of being a very young child and being hurt, crying, and being pursued by someone. im trying so so so hard to push that out of my mind because i have so many deadlines this week and need to not be a dysregulated mess. i don't really have a person in real life who i can tell those sorts of things to (trying, but my financial resources currently don't exist).

im trying so hard not to dwell on it but it feels like a flashback or nightmare of something new that is waiting to pounce on me. wish i wasn't so scared of moving my body. everything outside me and inside reminds me of what happened but i don't know in words or images what those things are yet (some i know but only fragments).

i saw the man responsible all week. this is the first day i didn't see him. i was alone with him at times during the week, which in the past i have tried never to be. it felt scary. but i wanted to be in denial so badly also, to believe all of this is a bad dream and he means me no harm (I know being in denial like that is dangerous, it has put me n harms way before, but i really want to not have to deal with this). it's so hard to talk about him and not talk about who he is to me (practically hard, emotionally hard). i have been going to a free counsellor through an ngo and she told me i needed to find some form of specialist help. she guessed who he is to me, asked me if i am still in danger. and honestly, at times maybe i am. it depends how you define danger.
struggling with feeling on edge today. that electric feeling like being plugged into a socket, like i have eyes in the back of my head, in my neck, in my back and arms- alert eyes everywhere that see in all directions. im so jumpy and i can't stop shaking even when to talking to other people.

i used this restless energy to be productive in the first half of the day. i did lots of things i've been avoiding and have lots more to do tomorrow.

i can't sleep. i'm supposed to be doing assignments but my material for them makes me so sad. because im in jumpy mode i can't feel that sadness.i don't know how to think analytically about these things when im always either flooded with them or numb about them. i used to love this way of being. it was so different from that spacey feeling that predominated most of the time (that feeling is worse, for sure). being wired all the time is so tiring. i have so much do to tomorrow. and so much to do this week.
Didn't sleep properly. this is how my problems usually start. i feel so out of it. disconnected but wired. i have counselling again today, and i crave the relief of the last 2 times. but im worried that telling her what i want to tell her will make me so dysfunctional, when i already am. i have friends coming to visit later this week, and so much written work to write before i see them. and so much cleaning to do that i have no energy for, because i am distracted, and tired.

im going to an initial assessment for emdr tomorrow. emdr sounds terrifying to me. but i know i need to try and process the traumatic stuff that i know i remember. what scares me also is ripping off the lid on the stuff i don't want to know, which i know is connected to the stuff i know definitely happened. i don't know if i am suitable for emdr anyway but i suppose the practitioner will tell me.
i'm feeling awful today. this morning i had an assessment for emdr. the practitioner seems to think i am a good candidate for it. he started by asking me which memory was the worst, to describe it. i did that in a very matter of fact way. he drew attention to my 'dissociated' manner and said that it could impede progress if i won't let myself really engage with the material. i'm so scared of doing that. what am i afraid of?
  • im scared i will get stuck in that state and won't be able to come back
  • im scared i will be harmed for my display of emotion (like diagnosed with bpd which will discredit me and give others a license to hurt me)
  • im scared whatever i tell or say will be used against me and i won't have the protective part of myself present to get me out
  • im scared i will end up in my history of abuse and not stay in work stuff
  • im scared i will uncover new and awful memories of being abused
  • im scared i will say who is responsible, and it will be ripped from my control again because of mandatory reporting
  • im scared the police will come after me again, and im scared they will send him a letter saying exactly what was alleged
there was a part of me that wanted to go there though. i just need to get used to letting that part come out. to trust it can be put away again? (it probably can? i mean, my dissociative defences are so good and can descend in an instant? ). but then, i felt awful today only after a little bit. i need to work on distraction and self soothing.

he asked me for images and emotions about the thing i described. images i gave him, the emotions- it took so much prodding and coaxing for him to help me articulate. he went looking for an 'emotions wheel' and said he would bring it next time.

i have the second part of the assessment in 2 weeks because it took longer to get less far than he was expecting.

ohhh, ok- writing that is making all my feelings come back. the ones i put away a few days after it happened and the ones i won't admit to myself, like:

why did i stop telling this story and looking for justice for that village? why haven't i kept in touch with them? why was i not able to convince other people that this happened? why did it not matter to other people? why did the organization i worked for not pursue it to the highest level?

and horror, the pure feeling of horror and is this really happening? and does this happen every day? and they were just farming, and they were just children and a paramedic shot innocent people dead because of what nationality they are. that's horrible, its always horrible, and it was horrible to see and to be powerless to help those people get justice because your voice doesn't matter enough? what's one more dead palestinian to the world at large? i don't have enough power to compel people to listen to what i saw. im more like the people who were shot than unlike them. but i have rights that my ancestors suffered in the same way for and i have the obligation to use them and i feel so much shame about what i haven't done. the action i haven't been able to inspire in those with power by telling this story. am i a defective vessel and that is why- and the people of that village deserve so much more than me?

im so glad i was there, if it happened im glad i was there to see it. but i need to carry this memory better because it's carving me out like a husk.

i brought it back with me, into the field. all that useless alertness, and then when it happened again- i knew what to do. i was waiting for it. and there was no help to get away that time. i did it myself.
trying to get my masters in a day. for some reason i won't allow myself the grace of struggling- i'm expecting myself to carry on with life as usual. my studies are the only thing i have going for me. they are also not going, but if i fail i will have even less than i do now.

i made the mistake of reading policies from the child protection agency that reported my allegations to police. i had emailed to ask for some because i could find those policies nowhere. it was harrowing reading. it's all, i mean literally all, about the rights of the accused. there's a massive list of things that they will disclose to the accused. including for some reason the victims mental health, addiction, location, literacy or disability, sexual history, sexual orientation, sexual preference etc. why are all of those personal details in there, about sexuality? what does that have to do with anything? the info also talks at length about the accused's right to a lawyer. it makes no mention of the victim's right to a lawyer. victims don't have any rights at all in this document, in this system. the entire process starts because the victim accidentally lets slip to a therapist that she was abused. or, in my case- the victim attempts to sign up for counselling for abuse victims and joins a waiting list for the next year. meanwhile without her knowledge or consent all of this stuff happens.

it feels like it's designed so that we kill ourselves. so that we do that without opening our mouths first, without saying what we went through. so those poor men can live comfortably and not feel 'demonised'. the calculation my father made when he decided to be abusive- 'i can get away with this' was so f*cking right. it was right, it was right, it was right, and i feel like i cannot live on this earth any more because the earth and all of her people look into my eyes and don't see the human light there. just see a histrionic woman who needs to shut up and do what she was told. which is what i was told every day of my childhood and my adulthood too. that he was right, that the world was his. he was right. it's his world. his hurt feelings trump the wounds he inflicted. he deserves compassion and understanding while i deserve castigation and being thrown out of society. why did he win? because he knew the world thought that he was more important than me. and it did. and it does. i hate that and it makes me not want to be alive.

i hate men so damn much. i'm failing my degree and it's the only thing i have going for me.
today i feel so tired that i basically feel drugged. i forgot to take my medication last night (mirtazapine) but fell asleep anyway. i slept terribly though. i know i had nightmares but i can't remember them. I felt so sweaty when I woke up and think I might have been screaming or trying to scream in my sleep ( I don't think I was actually screaming though because I live with other people).

I have a lot of learning to do about how to approach my health issues. I'm not used to being a patient, and I'm anxious when doctors don't explain things to me. Saw an endocrinologist and psychiatrist this week. I want to heal my issues naturally if possible but I'm gonna have to do some work to understand them, especially since the scientific studies that Western doctors rely on aren't there, so they can't tell me some things. I know at some level that my stress hormones being raised and having post traumatic stress are connected to each other- they have to be. I'm happy taking mirtazapine because I need to sleep and have done every conceivable other thing to help with that- eventually admitting defeat. I don't think I want to take quetiapine as well (which the psychiatrist gave me this week, because I am still very hypervigilant). I think I want to try everything else before such a blunt sedating instrument. i have emdr next week and i'm terrified, but i think that it might help much more than a new medication. i am starting to feel the benefit of talking therapies so i will try to weather the ups and downs as best i can without taking anything too sedating.

im in a place i think i was raped in. feeling nauseous and i think nausea is a huge trigger for me. i can't really keep those pictures out of my brain, but i want to. i love being in denial. im on the cusp of remembering so many things, i think i potentially could remember so many things. but i don't want to. life is so complicated and weird. im crossing borders all the time. between countries and between the present and the past. at times, crossing into the country i was raised in feels liberating and at times it feels like death. at times the new country- the one i was born in- reminds me so viscerally of the young age i was when i moved back to the country my parents come from, with them. navigating both of these countries all the time now is reminding me so viscerally of navigating them when i was young, when i was the age i was raped at. i don't know if i was raped in the old/new country or only the one i was raised in. i know that in moving back where we come from my mother lost a lot of power, as a woman. both countries hurt women and children, but in different ways. im in both of them all the time, it's weird. the sensation of traveling between the present and the past is so tangled up in this. i can't keep anything straight anymore.

i don't want to talk to men about being raped, i think. the female psychiatrist yesterday didn't ask for details. she recognised i have problems without making me feel like an object of total pity either. i needed that.

i feel like the universe is throwing me across the path of friends who are going through weirdly similar things to me, in a way. my friend i've known since i was teenager, who i once loved, who loves art, who feels lost- who gave me back my feeling and whose mind i know i have changed- she turned up this week in my house, on a boat from where my war memories come from. she calls that country by a different name. i wrote about all those things with her asleep upstairs and it was comforting and strange- life going full circle in a way. i appreciate being steady enough to be her harbour the way she was mine.

she would love my other friend, whose house we were in (but who is away). my other friend is in denial too. about things i've been in denial about before and things im now in denial about too. if i am looking to breach the border, to make a new horizon (and not just for me) it's not just for me but for others too. we've been forced into shapes we can't stomach and are all trying to open spaces in our lives so we can take new shapes. my hope is that in solidarity we will give birth to ourselves. our collective selves.
Last night I told the counsellor I've been seeing that leaving my family felt like becoming a person again. I struggled so much there with suicidal feelings, with feeling paralysed and like I can't move, with feeling like I'm going to die of shame, with nausea and with an image lingering somewhere on the horizon of a very young me covered in a sticky spider web my dad made on me.

I went to the second assessment session for emdr this morning, about the work life stuff. It was hard to trust the practitioner with all of info i shared, and I felt like such a fraud. I feel shame, I think for being as deeply affected by these things as I am. I am so deeply affected, and in trying to summon the sensory images for another person I'm beginning to understand how the chains of things connect to each other. The striking orange and white paramedic uniforms, being dragged and dragging, freezing and running. These things all have a sensory history as connected to each other.

I think I might want to write a book of everything I saw and experienced in that country. Because people need to know. The details live with me in a sensory way also, because they are traumatic- but that gives them a vivid and a literary quality somehow. There's an awful lot of talk in my academic field about needing to write sensuously, and the stuff I remember easily lends itself to that because of its vividness. The emdr practitioner sent me a video about how writing shifts the prefrontal cortex back into the picture and can actually be used to take the amygdala down off alert. That makes a certain kind of sense to me. How cathartic it was to really sit down and write those assignments, to feel permission to say what I have to say. It's cathartic to write this also. To keep expressing myself- this is exactly what I haven't been able to do and now can, I can keep expressing myself over time now that I have the outlet for it. And the therapeutic supports to manage the fallout of engaging directly with this traumatic material. I'm so worried with emdr that letting go of some of my control, accessing my emotions about these work events- will lead directly back to my personal life: which I only half remember, which I still need my dissociative barriers for.

I feel so incredibly fraudulent about the things which torment me. Maybe that is a side effect of dissociation and being in denial.

After this, I went to a support group that meets in the middle of the day- I rarely go to this one but when I do it's because it's in a part of the city that attracts people of my ethnicity. It differs so much from the groups in other areas of the city. The free coffee and tea and food for one thing- but also the nature of what people are dealing with. There was only one man there and a woman said something about childhood sexual abuse. And it turned out that every last woman in the group had experienced that. I don't know how that made me feel. I'm glad she said that, that we know that about each other. If i've ever tried to say that in a group before I've deeply regretted it because people back away from that, and they back away from you if you say that you have experienced that- or if you even allude to that or talk about other forms of abuse. I felt so much for that woman. She said a number of things which make me suspect that she can't read or write, and she's young enough but doesn't use the internet.

My university emailed me to give me a chance to submit assignments again, in October. These are the ones I missed last week. I did manage to get one in and I did really well in it, even though I wrote it delirious when my friends were here.

Last night I read most of a book about pcos and how to approach the different subtypes of it. It cleared up a lot of confusion for me. It's not clear yet if I do have that or only something that mimics the symptoms of it. But if I do have, I know what subtype I have- increased adrenal production of DHEA. I've seen some info on the internet that suggests that might be connected to ptsd- it certainly is connected to stress anyway. I'm going to try and drink green tea everyday, eat salmon, tofu, green veg and whole grains and see if that helps.
Feel like such a zombie today. maybe it's the second emdr yesterday. binge eating sweet stuff seems to be a problem for me again, after a long time of being cured of that. unsure if it's dissociation or mirtazapine driving that. maybe also relationship and money problems too.
love- we haven't been in touch all week. i think she read the articles i sent her, because her last messages were nicer. i'm trying to hard not to overexplain myself, not to plead for compassion and not to apologise when i haven't done anything wrong. i wrote to her, and will see what she replies. i miss her and hope she wants to learn how to talk about her feelings with me. i don't want to break up- i want us both to be able to grow. but i can't just submit anymore.

work- i got two part time jobs since last week. both are quite easy- one in an office and one as a cashier in a food place- but i'm feeling how impaired my ability to work full time is. im exhausted but so happy i'm finally on the way to not being broke anymore. the food job has me hearing the language i used to speak where i worked all the time- the men in the kitchen remind me so much of those i used to work with. the office job ends after next week and i have an interview this week for another job. soon maybe i can start bike courier work as well.

study- my college extended some deadlines for me (god bless them). i think i am going to be able to get things done, and i have hope that emdr is going to help me.

therapy- i finished the assessment stage of emdr and next week will try to work on something small. i was late to my other counsellor this week because i got the time wrong (i feel guilty). i also feel so grateful they are seeing me for so much longer than they are supposed to, because yeah- i still need so much help.

activism- i finally met a woman i had been trying to meet for weeks. she left a flyer somewhere and i found it. i met her for coffee and we talked about what we went through. the similarity between our stories was uncanny. she made me feel sane. we understood each other, i think, on a deep level. we have both tried to support others, in similar ways, we both had the police called against our will, we are both studying in the same college, about material that directly relates to our traumatic experiences and we've both had trouble finishing our academic work. we'll meet again and i feel really warm about it.

health- my stress hormones remain out of control. i've noticed im greying, and im gaining weight. im reading about how to try and reduce these naturally. i can maybe afford supplements soon.

future goals- im beginning to have tentative ideas about these. ideas beyond getting my degree. i really want to make a difference and use all the information i have about life to make the world better for others. so that no one has to suffer what i did. exactly what that looks like, im not really sure. but i have so many ideas.
Feeling so lonely today. I worked so much this week and I'm exhausted. It turns out I forgot my partner's father's death anniversary (one year). She's not going to listen to me because I've done something wrong again. I feel like it's so hard for me to be a good person in our relationship. I also feel like she relishes telling me how awful I am- and I know that's not how I am at my core. But she doesn't.

I didn't realise how often my housemate would have her boyfriend over. Living with a couple is different than just with friends. My new housemate is messy. She cleans more deeply than I do but I'm a lot tidier on a day to day basis. It bothers me. I cleaned all of her dishes out of the sink this morning while they were at the beach. They came back and are cooking again now- I hope they clean the kitchen this time.

Feeling so despairing that anyone will care for me the way I have cared for others. I've barely ever been single since 22, I've had many friendships, I am involved in my family- but in all of these places I give so much understanding and listening but don't get a lot of it back.

I'm not a bad person. I wish there was anybody who looked at me and saw how hard I was trying.

I didn't do much today except make food and eat. Meant to go to the sea, meant to garden, meant to swim and wash my hair at the gym. But I know I need to conserve my energy for working. I have to work constantly after emdr this week and I hope it doesn't kill me. I meant to practice the safety things- the scents and images- but I haven't. Have been feeling like making food and eating it is going to be a form of self love for me.

It makes sense I guess that I'm recovering from being really food poor. Was relying on food pantries which has malnourished me. So it feels like a luxury to eat fruit and vegetables. Also, in my childhood at weekends I was very often hungry (and cold, and only knew how to make cold food). Learning how to cook (around 12?) was a gamechanger for me. All of a sudden I didn't have to rely on a man who believe it was emasculating to feed us. It was something I could do to make things better.

I need to make real, genuine, true friends. I have them but they have all moved away. Covid killed some friendships, me putting my girlfriend's insecurities first and me being depressed killed others. I've spent years in therapy without talking about the meat of what bothers me. A part of me feels that I was such a lucrative client for my therapist, and an easy one because I barely talked about anything that was deeper than surface level and she didn't enquire. The last time I saw her, her reaction to what i said about my dad made me feel like I had left human beings and passed over into a world where I wasn't that.

I feel so sad, all of a sudden. I don't cry anymore, and haven't since the first time I came back from xxx. Maybe it's having a job? Being more stable, how much I've suffered is crashing down on me all of a sudden. I've been so destitute and hungry recently, and not for the first time. I've struggled to keep the roof over my head but I'm still not homeless. But I have been before. At that time I had never heard of a women's shelter (if I had known about them, I would have gone there). I don't have to sell myself for food or shelter anymore. I'm renting and therefore you never know, but this is more stability than I've ever had in my life. I'm 31 and still learning to feel safe.
emdr yesterday was so tough. today was tougher. i couldn't get out of bed until after 2pm. I missed work (my pleasant daytime job:( ) have felt so achey and weak all day, and sad. it feels like that comedown from cocaine that destabilised me so much back in march. all day long i've been trying not to cry, and struggling to move. i was too weak to make food so im starving but i found some cashew nuts and am eating them. at least i will be able to try and keep my thursdays free with the cashier job, because they will ask me what days i can work. even if that means i will be working all weekend- I really don't want to be a bad employee and miss work again, because that feels awful and will get me fired.

i'm somewhat concerned about if im stable enough to be doing emdr. I'm isolated, might be going through a breakup, am desperately fighting realising I was sexually abused and struggle with suicidal thoughts (and these are all things that are not being addressed by emdr) . this comedown from it has been so intense. but also, i have a stable living condition and work lined up at that puts me in the best position I've ever been in. And the wartime events affect me so badly that I can't function in any of those other ways either. And I might soon be able to go to a support group and thus start speaking more openly about what's going on.

my girlfriend texted me a long message of vitriol yesterday (but she deleted it before I had read the whole thing). i was relieved that she contacted me at all. i've missed her intensely today. feels like she's heading into a period of raging at me, some of which i probably deserve and some of which i definitely don't. i'll try to be kind to myself because she's not going to be.
it's been my day off and i'm avoiding everything. struggling with self sabotage, struggling with denial. i can really see how having ptsd is affecting me, compared to others I know who don't have it.

i went to counselling yesterday. I'm so grateful to have one. i told her about flashbacks a bit, about how i didn't fully understand the reactions i had when i was in sexual situations with men years ago. i knew that i was experiencing a way my dad behaved with me, but i took on all the shame of that because i told myself there must have been something wrong with me to find that so sexually violating. i didn't at that time have any memories of what those feelings came from, i just assumed it was obviously not meant sexually. now, i am not at all so sure. certainly if i believe my flashbacks, some awfully sexual stuff did likely happen (incl rape). she told me there was an awful lot of stuff i needed to grieve- the loss of a safe childhood, of protective parents etc. im struggling with denial i think because i have a core belief that if that happened, i have to kill myself- that i can't possibly live with this information. part of not being in denial is going to have to be convincing myself that i can.

i found a woman who is trying to set up a support group not too long ago. i went to the first meeting of that today- in a new part of the city i don't know well and which it felt nice to visit. the meeting was inside a technical school for women, that teaches them practical skills like plumbing and woodworking (wow, i was so impressed). and there were four of us. i think i am for sure the person in that group who experienced the least, and i'm not used to having that experience any more. another woman there comes from the same city originally as me. she dropped me home in her car afterwards and we talked about our backgrounds. it was her father too, and she spoke about it. she got taken away from him and then sent back, so instead of going back she went into exile where we both live now (in the next country to where we come from). listening to her i felt breathless anticipating everything she said because i felt i already knew it- that there is so much oppression where we come from i could basically finish her sentences for her because i saw them all coming. she's at a much more advanced stage of accepting her abuse than i am- and she has been in recovery from alcoholism for 12 years. i told her i was still part in denial, i was still avoiding everything i could and i was only half sure what happened. and she told me i needed to love myself and allow myself to feel my feelings, that i've already been through whatever happened. she's right, and that's what several months ago when i was having nonstop flashbacks i was saying to myself. that i've already been through anything i might remember. and that i finally might be finding the resources to heal.

im scared im going to kill myself. there are certain facts i am going to need an awful lot of help to learn how to face. i am so scared of emdr, and im scared that it will derail my life, make me unable to work, make me more dissociative or suicidal based on how the trial small session last week was. im scared i won't be able to work and will lose my jobs and be plunged into crisis again. but i'm also scared that if i don't do it now i will never heal. i know how hard it has been to work with having ptsd not as bad as this and i've reached a point where i absolutely will not survive without serious treatment now. so emdr is my best shot and it's what i have available (and it won't be available to me again). i spoke my semi regular support group about doing emdr and people were really happy for me. a woman who i always feel a kinship for said she's done it before and it affected her so much too- that she couldn't get out of bed for 3 days afterwards. and that at the time she was just soldiering on and not telling the therapist how it made her feel. my emdr therapist encourages me to email him between sessions but i've never done that. but now i'm thinking maybe i should- to tell him about the fear of being nonfunctional and if there are things i can do about that. i want to stop avoiding everything and actually engage with the material and ideas of emdr outside of the session as well- journal more with the information he has given me, reflect more. because i am still avoiding so much.

it's funny that the woman i met today told me i need to love myself because i've been realising that as well. i've been going into relationships and passively hoping that someone will provide me the understanding and gentleness that i don't have for myself because i don't feel permission to take my own side about things. i don't feel permission to give myself the love and care that i need and i treat myself awfully sometimes. i sign myself up for things it takes colossal emergency effort to pull off and castigate myself when i fail. i push myself to the point of exhaustion because i am so scared of being dissociative or depressed- then i collapse and it feels like a catastrophic confirmation of the things i'm afraid of. i need to try and teach myself to rest, to avoid getting to that point. to be more reliable and able to trust myself. because that's a key deficit for me- i don't feel like i'm reliable, and i have good reasons for feeling that way.

my sister doesn't trust her own perceptions either. having psychotic experiences has really affected the way she experiences trusting herself- basically she doesn't. i am aware on some level that what happened to me has probably happened to her too. she doesn't remember her/our childhood basically at all, and has no idea why she doesn't. she has managed to keep that barrier of amnesia up so far, as far as i am aware. she doesn't have the same danger signals as me (she doesn't have danger signals at all which makes me worry about her).

i have an awful lot of terrible patterns i carry with me into all friendships and relationships, and all jobs and everything i do or might do. and i really want to learn to undo some of them. passivity, being afraid to speak, self sabotage and avoidance, and punishing myself, and projecting my shame onto other people assuming it's their disgust (i do this one all the time). i wonder if men are this afraid of themselves- of their bodies and their unstudied medical secrets, their symptoms that can get you ignored and labelled hysterical, their long and deep reptillian memories and what they might force you to face if you only get triggered in a particular way.