Writing for release…and survivors.

I feel a little guilty whenever I write about shit that’s happened to me in the past and post online. Most of all, I feel selfish. Because I write to get it OUT OF MY FUCKING HEAD. By hitting “publish” , it’s like hitting a button that says, “Get the hell OUT! Ahhhh, that’s better! Now I can breathe and go back to work again.” And most of the time, it works. Really well. Which, is good…AND bad. Bad, because there seems to be this perception that when I write about something, I’m suffering and in my WORST place. When actually, since I’ve let the thoughts GO, in a cathartic way — it means I’m feeling relieved, and much better. But, I realize — on social media the posts stick out, because we usually only let people see when we are having good times, yes? Baby pics, vacations, new jobs — all of those things are great, but…it’s not the true reality of what’s going on behind the scenes.

The irony is, if you attempt to be transparent — there are always reactions like this:

“Why do you always have to be a victim?” 
“Stop seeking attention.” 
“Get over it. I did.”

The thing is, yes…I do want people to read about the experiences (if they aren’t triggered) — but, not for attention. Not for shares, likes, comments, or whatever the hell social media metric people are using these days. These posts aren’t for traction.

They’re for me. To vent. 
They’re for other survivors…so they don’t feel alone.

When I went through my rape, I felt isolated. I thought nobody would understand or care, and that it was something I should just deal with because I was drunk, and other people go through shit like that too, right? There was/isn’t anything special about my situation, I’ve told myself. Because the majority of women, and many men — suffer similar fates. When you’re beaten down, honestly — the LAST thing you want to do, is find a counselor and talk about what has happened, and re-live those memories all over again. So, often times we suffer in silence. Allowing our minds to convince us that we are weak, worthless, and deserved every single thing that has happened.

AND THAT ISN’T FUCKING TRUE.

The same happened with both of my attacks, a stalking incident, and some harassment at work. Again, I’d say to myself, “Suck it up. Shut up. Move on. Life happens. You aren’t special, ignore it and it’ll go away.”

But, it didn’t. Those things didn’t go away.

When I Started Writing

Not until I started furiously typing up the thoughts when they appeared, did the the flashbacks start to go away. I saw a counselor, purged my thoughts on paper…and voila — sooooo much better. But, that timeline looks different for each survivor — and the thing that helps?

Knowing you aren’t alone.
Knowing that someone else who is strong and happy…survived trauma, too. 
Because having hope, and knowing it gets better — is sometimes what someone needs, in order to seek the appropriate help. To take that first step.

Earlier this week, I made the decision to step back. A recent incident brought the PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) full force, and suddenly I found myself bursting into tears and having uncontrollable fear at random times, even if I was having fun — because the flashbacks would hit me like a truck. Everyone I saw seemed to be an attacker in a disguise. Dreams turned into nightmares, and I started waking myself up, yelling at the top of my lungs, with the feeling that someone was pinning me down, and it was happening all over again. This isn’t uncommon for survivors. It’s called being “triggered.” I don’t want to talk about what happened to cause it, because that’s not important. What follows, is.

I decided to shake up the routine, and work near my Grandma, in Iowa. She needed some help during/after surgery anyway, and removing myself from situations that would cause further embarrassment if I had a flashback, helped stress levels immensely.

When I posted on facebook about it, the support was overwhelming. But, immediately I had some feelings of regret for telling people what was going on. Paranoia.

“Oh God…will people think I’m begging for sympathy? I fucking hate that.”

But, the more I thought about it…the more I realized I just needed to do a better job at communicating the reasons WHY I share what’s happening…so, that’s why I’m writing this.

Why Sharing Is Important

Sharing normalizes the conversations surrounding these events and hurdlers that are FAR MORE COMMON than we make them out to be. I’m not a fucking trauma surviving unicorn. I’m a normal person, who just remembers how much it sucked to think I was alone and crazy.

So, to hell with that.

YOU AREN’T ALONE. 
YOUR FRIEND GOING THROUGH IT, ISN’T ALONE. 
YOUR FAMILY MEMBER GOING THROUGH IT, ISN’T ALONE.

And the more we talk about it, the less shame we place upon ourselves for being human. Having feelings.

We should not be ashamed or scared to talk about the fact that this shit affects survivors for not just the moments it happens, but — for a long time. And maybe, just maybe…if we’re more transparent about it, the next time a potential thinks it’d be funny to take advantage of the fact a woman/man is passed out, and take liberties with their bodies — they WON’T.

Because, they’ve heard the story of a friend who’s had to recover.

The Attention Whore

So, label me an attention whore. That’s fine. 
Because if the survivors read it, I’m happy. 
And if the potential predators make one different move because of it, I’m happy.

Lastly, and…selfishly, if it gives my mind a break for long enough to enjoy life for a few weeks, months, years — by writing, then…I’m going to tell the goddamn story as often as needed.

Because this, in addition to therapy — is my cathartic release. 
And when I don’t write, it’s stuck inside…that voice telling me lie after lie about how I should or shouldn’t feel.

But, when it’s on the page — I have control of tossing those thoughts overboard.

Thanks for reading :)

In a great place, 
Erica