Still Here: On Surviving

There are times in life when you have no idea what to say or what to do next. I’ve been seeing hearts since my last post, over a year ago. Every time I would sit down to write however, the words would evaporate before they ever emerged, fully formed.

I’ve struggled with what to call it and most importantly how to manage it, only because the real name for it still elicits strong responses that have nothing to do with me. The official words for what it did to me go by names like PTSD and the friend it made much worse, ADHD, alongside a learning disability. I spent so much time fighting what reality is and though overall it’s improving, there are still really hard days.

There’s a certain kind of hell when a situation won’t go away no matter how you’ve tried to move on, because the people who bullied you, harassed you and subjected you to a psychological torment unlike little else are still invested in your failure. I never used to understand why some took the route of legal counsel and pursuing cases in the justice system before now because of how much more that process can take. It’s important though, to heal from the #metoo moment that won’t leave me alone, saying, #nomore right alongside it.

The hearts I write about on this blog took on a different meaning since my last post here, because though I tried shutting the world out, and turning down the volume on pain, the hearts reminded of something bigger watching over me. Whenever I feel like I’m losing the connection to the things around me because numbing helps on hard days, the hearts remind me that no matter how lonely I feel, there are unseen threads connecting me to the people and things in my life that hard feelings made me think were out of reach. Just before I try to slip behind the curtain of my life unseen, a heart shows up.

img_0439

There are hard days where I want more than anything to know that people don’t see me for the trauma alone and I wrestle with it because this is just a part of who I am now. It’s not me entirely, but it is among the pieces I’ve put back together since the summer of 2016. There is little point in denying what is, and what reality looks like now. The care I’ve had to put into each piece alongside loved ones makes it hurt a little bit less. There are some pieces whose sharp edges still cut deeply, but I’m finding ways to be whole again even with these parts.

I’ve been hesitant to share because I’ve felt that there is little point to vocalizing the pain and healing I’ve done, alongside the healing I’m still doing. I’ve wondered what others will think of me or how they’ll treat me once they know and can’t go back. I’m still learning though, that telling the truth isn’t about what I did, but what he did and how they harassed me afterwards. It says nothing about me, but the way that others treated me and shamed me into silence played a cruel trick with the light so that I thought it had something to do with me. I did not survive that time, just to shrink into a violet-tinted decoration on someone’s wall and I think about others who can’t tell any part of their truth because their horror may still be happening.

This isn’t about getting revenge via the blogosphere, either, because all that’s left now is the truth and what I’ve done with it to heal. I haven’t done much writing for a solid year, aside from blogs I’ve been asked to write or participate in so long as they were unrelated to what happened to me. I tried to write in circles around a black hole which as you can imagine, hasn’t ended well.

Someone told me shortly after everything happened, while trying to figure me out that, “It’s like there’s a light inside you that just died.” Only lately have I begun to feel some sort of spark again. I wrote a post on another blog about feeling free, but I realized that I was free of the four walls that contained the first wave of harassment and bullying, but the internal freedom I sought was something I had to build for myself, brick by painful brick. It was hard, but I did it and I’m doing it. I’m still here.

img_0335

I’ve heard people talk about how they knew they were a writer and the past year I realized that writing is in my bones and inseparable from the core of who I am. Writers have a way of looking at the world and galvanizing inner resources around translations of nonsensical things, into that which we can comprehend. What I didn’t anticipate was how I lost a sense of myself without writing about the heartbreak because it was my best chance at comprehending the pain and what happened to me.

I wasn’t ready to tell the truth and stayed away from writing about anything too personal because I was afraid of harassers pursuing me further or trying to harm me in more complex and elaborate ways. I tried to insulate myself from the fears that someone else might pick up where the people harassing me and engaging in illegal behaviors left off, and cease only when I succeeded at taking my life because then my truth would die with me. It was how they would win, leaving only the version of reality people wanted to believe about both the person who sexually harassed and assaulted me, and those who tried to vindicate him by harassing me into silence.

This inability to write about the pain reminded me of how my words are an extension of me such that they make the world a place I can understand. I certainly wrote about what mattered to me, though it felt like trying to wring out water from a cloth that’s almost dry. They call it writer’s block but all I know is that I finally feel like I’m catching deep breaths after trying desperately to inhale over the past few years.

It made writing about anything nearly impossible, because it was the one thing I needed to write about but one I was too afraid to, because I couldn’t handle much else from people who harassed me. It makes sense too, given that up until last July or August, people who were a part of the torment that happened at my old job kept showing up at new ones, interrupting my work. They were asking questions about why I really left, questioning why I worked where I did for the hours I used to and tried asking about how much money I make as if to justify the reality they were projecting onto me. They would also circle the space like hungry vultures, as if to remind me of some power they perceived about themselves that didn’t translate the same, outside of the corporate structures that seemed to protect them from any consequences for their actions when we worked together. I refused to let them win though and I’m still here, standing strong.

I was afraid, but writing is taking these pains and fears and turning them into something powerful again. There’s nothing left to fear anymore because I’ve had everything negative imaginable take place, but I’m still only left with the truth. It doesn’t matter how I’ve been shamed or harassed because the truth still stands. What happened never changes and I know this, because it lives in my brain on a loop.

Everything about what happened helped me understand the way that hateful actions leave marks you can’t erase. What happened made me hate my body and made me hate being an out member of the LGBTQ2+ community who frequently passes as straight. It made me hate the world assuming that I owe men something for breathing in a way they feel looks attractive. I hated that people still looked for reasons to defend him even though I said no over and over again. I hated that my neurodiversity complicates reactions to people who do not understand that one no should be sufficient and should not require 20 of them, especially when one of them is, “I’m gay”. I hated the person who went to management about what happened, before I had the chance to tell the truth myself, beginning a process I had no way to stop. I hated that some days getting out of bed was all I could do, let alone remembering to eat properly. I hated navigating triggers and finding out just what put me back in those places, so that I needed to run to the bathroom and cry at the jobs I had up to now. I hated that it was poisoning the good I was doing my best to put back together with every ounce of strength I had. I hated that it made me so hesitant to make friends at any job, and suspicious of why people might want to know me when my existence proved such a consistent problem for others. I hated that it made me go to the hospital because I didn’t trust myself and the need to escape the pain a few years ago. I hated that it stopped a career trajectory I was so excited about. I hated that it ended friendships because I had no idea how to hold this pain and people I cared about at the same time. I hated that even when I thought I was done crying, I would find more tears to cry because the pain felt bottomless. Small acts of hate, create so much more of the same.

I did not realize I was capable of feeling so much pain, but I also did not realize I was capable of overcoming so much and along the way, I realized how great my capacity for forgiveness in the face of tremendous adversity. It made me realize that if I could survive this, there were others who had already survived it and were thriving, too and that I could make it through. I’m the one writing the story of my life again.

img_4096

The healing process felt endless because of its many layers and my only hope is that no one else had to go through the same thing and leave the truth inside them to die alongside parts of their spirit. This fight to stay alive inside and out, while learning to tell the truth can still take entire days. I used to do affirmations to feel powerful and capable and now the one I say to myself to make breathing easier is, “I am more than what happened to me. I am loved, loving and lovable. I accept myself exactly as I am.

I share all of this to say, that I’m still here and the hearts haven’t gone anywhere. They’ve been comforting me while I remember what it feels like to use my voice. Posts here may take twists and turns into the personal, and the ways the political can affect that, or they could land on spiritual as they often have in the past. The one thing for sure is the hearts aren’t going anywhere and I’m still here.

And to those who read this and see any part of their experience reflected back in sharing what happened to me, this song, Stand By You, by Rachel Platten, is for you.

It feels good to be back.

Cheryl

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s