by Jamie Wilson
Numb. An aching in my head. Tightness in my chest. My face collapses into my hands, I sit limp on the edge of my bed. The day has arrived.
30 days, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months – and now one year.
My back hangs heavy over the front of my body, slumping toward the floor.
But instead of falling, I rise.
Instead of collapsing, I stand.
I am a motherfucking phoenix.
My combustion was November 5, 2020, while the world was suspended in the frightful unknown of the global COVID pandemic. While the world lay in crisis, silenced and slowed, my mind was also in crisis. Longing for death was my day dream and nightmare.
The most bizarre, unanticipated culmination of months (years even) of crippling depression, and anxiety; the suicidal ideations would finally show their roots. My vicious self-loathing could no longer hide behind a larger-than-life persona.
I don’t know why. I don’t know how. But for some godforsaken reason my brain decided on November 5, 2020 to replay a horrifying scene, complete with sound and bodily sensations. A flashback. What. The. Fuck.
I was naked and ashamed….but no longer because I was a failure as a human being. The self-hate and self-harm and loneliness were no longer the result of me failing at being a good human, but because my father had stripped me of my covering and shown me my womanhood in a vile way. My frame of love and self-worth were filtered through the ongoing experience of an adult caregiver touching me like a wife. I knew it was wrong, but the adult said it was right so I began gaslighting myself to try to make sense of a senseless situation. I must be wrong. This must be right. My caregiver knows better than me. I should feel good about this, why do I feel bad about this? I learned how to black out.
The past twelve months, one year, 365 days have been hard.
I fantasized about signing divorce papers, leaving my phone, and driving away from my home, husband and my children.
I fantasized about starting over where I couldn’t hurt anyone and I was not responsible for engaging in human relationships, let alone raising other humans.
I would sit and stare out my window into the matching bleakness of the winter scene of barren trees and fallen leaves that would have to wait their turn to rot.
I reverted to sobbing in my closet, hunched as small as possible in the fetal position.
I called out for help.
I shared my pain with professional resources, such as Crisis Text Line, Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern CT, and RAINN just to name a few. I began regular counseling/therapy sessions and medication. I made some very large changes to my life in order to lighten my load. I was willing to let my marriage be collateral damage if needed in my quest to claw my way out of my pit of darkness. My husband stood by my side, lay on the floor by my side, listened with an open heart and open mind, and loved me harder than I can understand still to this day.
I took a good, hard look at my own thought processes and my damaging behaviors with the help of counselors and psychotherapists. Any time I wanted to point a finger, I had three more pointing back at me. I was now the parent and I needed to stop letting my inner wounded child run the show.
I screamed, “HELP ME, I”M DROWNING!” and I fell.
I collapsed in my weakness, my smoke-and-mirror tricks of “I’m good” vanished like the morning mist. I surrendered. And I actively reached out for help.
It’s unfathomable for most of us, the subconsciousness we live with. I’m so completely empathetic if you also experience at any point trauma and/or abuse flashbacks.
I’m here to encourage you to search for your answers. Search for your research. Search for people with similar situations.
It’s been one year since my “rape” anniversary, the day I realized I had been raped.
I have fought and will continue to fight for me. I will learn more about myself. I will not let anyone’s words be ammunition for my mind against me. I will not gaslight myself. I will stand. I will fall. I will rise. I will sink. I will love myself through it all.
I’m sending love your way,