Living With the Aftermath

It’s over. It’s in the past. I know that. That’s the good news. And it is good news. Really good news. It’s the present that gives me problems.

The results of the abuse are always lurking. They show themselves in the fear of the future, the “knowing” that what’s coming is going to hurt and more than what’s hurt in the past. The sense that, in spite of the horror of the past, the other shoe still hasn’t dropped, and it’s only waiting for me to make a mistake. One mistake and it will all fall apart, all the good that I’ve worked so hard to build — my home, my family, my life. And I will be responsible.

That’s why I work so hard to keep all the balls in the air. I have to be good enough; I have to pray enough; I have to work hard enough; I must be the perfect mother. No stone must be unturned. I’m sure that the one time I forget to buckle a child’s seat belt will be the time there will be an accident, and I will be responsible for the results. I will miss one essential plea before God’s throne and a daughter’s brain tumor grow beyond treatment. I forget a job contact and my career is unsalvageable.

I think I can take whatever life can throw at me; after all, I already have (or so I think). Then PTSD steals up from behind and brings the awful memories to life in living color complete with sounds, the sense of being touched and the smell of the people and things around, and I realize I’m not prepared at all.

The dissociation steals my mind away and I have car accidents. Then I realize that I am not in control at all.

The nightmares from which I cannot wrench myself suck me back into my position of vulnerability, and sometimes, in my sleep I whimper or beg for mercy. I wake up drenched in sweat.

I wonder. Am I losing my mind? And what do I do to get it back? Can I get it back. Does anyone care if I get it back? Or do I just let my head fall on my pillow and allow the nothingness to take me away. Would it be a relief? And yet, even when I give in to the temptation, my thoughts will not allow me to just abandon my sanity. They bring me back to the now of how do I do this life, and I find there are no easy answers. So, I let the tears of sadness, loneliness and fear soak my pillow with salt water.

I may not be alone, but the journey of clinging to sanity is walked alone. Oh there can be people who support, who love, who encourage, and I have learned to let them. But, the journey in my head is made alone with only my voice trying to be the voice of reason tepeating the words of others, though always wondering how they know that what they’re telling me is the truth if they’ve never walked this journey themselves.

This is the sojourn I have been on that recently resulted in two and half weeks in a psych hospital. I had gone in for what I thought was a deep depression brought on by very difficult circumstances. However, once inside, my wise mind let me know there was so much more to be dealt with. Namely, years of memories that had lain untouched since the last time I had been in the hospital and had seriously addressed them in therapy.

You see, I had thought all that was in the past. I had thought that once I had integrated, I had dealt with all the memories, the hurt and the pain of the past. And I was anxious to put it behind me, so I walked away. I put that part of my life neatly in a box and set it on a shelf in a dark corner of a closet that I never entered and tried hard to forget. I seemed OK and I wanted to be. I wanted to be “normal.” I wanted to be the Jessi that I once had, the Jessi that people remembered. The Jessi that was all together.

But the “monster of abuse” refused to stay locked away. Now, I know that it is not a monster, maybe not a friend, but a companion that will probably always walk with me. I think there will be times, when it will be content to keep her distance and others when it sidles up to me and whispers in my ear. I’ll probably never get used to or be happy with its presence, but, as a survivor of abuse,it will most likely stick by my side. And now I know that I CANNOT ignore it. It has a tendency to throw tantrums. And they’re not pretty, and I seem to end up the loser.

So, I have committed to ongoing therapy that I had been neglecting because of financial problems. Now I know that my therapy is as important as my phone or electricity. I cannot function without it. I am working with my psychiatrist to adjust my medications. And, I have learned to “never say never” when it comes to going back to the hospital when I need it. It may have saved my life, and I’m so glad it did.

Now, that I’m doing what I need to: journaling, seeing my therapist and my psychiatrist, and working with my meds, the PTSD seems to have subsided, the dissociation (at this writing) seems to be at bay, my nightmares have gone away for now and I no longer think I’m losing my mind.

Life is not a panacea. Loneliness comes and goes. I miss my children. But I see a hope for the future. A hope that promises life does not have to be filled with only the remnants of a painful past but also with the threads of a promising future.

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11 responses to “Living With the Aftermath

  • Sue Bohlin

    Jessi, your honesty is gut-wrenching. And so helpful for those of us without the monster of abuse, to inch closer to understanding how important it is to be a grace-giver to you who live terrorized by the monster.

    I’m curious why you make the monster a “her” instead of an “it”. . . ?

  • Anne Pierce

    Jessica, you are right…the healing never ends even when we think we’re on the other side of the pain. Hopefully with maturity and wisdom, it will get a little easier and we will be able to apply the lessons we have learned before. I wish you peace and joy.

    • Jessica

      Thank you, Anne. Spoken like one who is enjoying that peace and joy. I’m very pleased for you and hope that you will do what it takes to remain there. I had found a false peace based one denial, and now I’m working to get to the real thing. Thank you so much for your kind wishes.

  • healingfrombroken

    I admire you so much, Jessica. Your honesty is a godsend. For the past several months I, too, have been struggling with… everything. Deep fear of losing my mind. Wanting to give up, and not wanting to give up. I, too, had thought I was all better. Denial? Or just a temporary remission, a time to catch my breath, before going on to the next step in my healing journey? I don’t know. I’m not sure it’s important for me to know.

    Thank you for your honesty.

    • Jessica

      I understand. It doesn’t sound like denial. Sometimes, I just think our minds know we need some recovery time. When we’re emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually ready to deal with more, our minds reveal more. Don’t give up. You’re not going crazy. I’ve learned that sometimes our anxiety becomes so severe that it makes us feel like we’re going crazy. Hang in there, rest, go to therapy and talk, journal. You’re going to make it. You’re going to be Okay.

    • serenityforanne

      Healing takes place in layers…we think we’re “fixed” and then something else happens to jar us loose from our place of serenity. I’m afraid that as long as we have our memory and our mind, the healing will never be complete…that sounds pessimistic, but unless we find a way to wipe the slate completely clean, we will always be affected to one degree or another by our past experiences.

      It helps me to list everything I’m thankful for each day, to jot those things down every night before I go to sleep…and when I catch myself mulling over the ugly stuff, I remind myself that that was then, and this is now.

      I wish you the best in your journey.

      My book will soon be out on Amazon! “To Love and to Cherish…facing sexual abuse in marriage”. by D. Anne Pierce.

      • Jessica

        I think you’re right. Being “fixed” is an illusion, healing is a lifelong process. It can seem pessimistic, but it’s really just the way our minds work and requires dealing with issues as they come up.

        Glad to hear you’ve written a book to address this difficult topic. I know many women and men will welcome it!

      • serenityforanne

        Hi Jessica, just wanted to let you know that my book, “To Love and to Cherish…facing sexual abuse in marriage” is now on Amazon for Kindle, cost is only $5.99.

        I hope it will help other women who are facing similar circumstances.

        Thanks for speaking out about your pain and recovery and I wish you all the best. You are not alone.

        D. Anne

      • Jessica

        Thanks for letting us know!

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