I was reading through the journal I kept when I was in rehab last night, and I couldn't help but smile. Every fellow 'inmate' I met I viewed with a suspicion and hostility surely Stalin would be proud of. My comments on my fellows were less than complimentary... and on reflection, entirely projection. By the time I came to leave I had nothing but love and respect for these people. We had laughed together and cried together and been vulnerable with one another, and when the words ran out we had offered all that we had to one another - hugs, ciggies, just our company.
The people I went through rehab with knew more about me, knew more about my life, than anyone had ever known before. In my using, everything had been hidden, I had been lost in a sea of secrecy and lies. I lied to cover up shame, I lied to avoid a truth I couldn't face, I lied with the justification of protecting others, I lied to support another lie... and sometimes I just lied. On my knees with addiction, there in rehab I finally got honest, and hurt, shame, and fear came tumbling out.
And now, 2 and a half yrs later, outside in the real world?
I still struggle with the concept of honesty, of being open and honest with people. I still tend to think: why would I let anybody really know me, let anyone really near me? I still tell little bits to different people - safer, surely, than putting all my eggs in one basket. They say knowledge is power and I'm not about to hand anyone power over me, thank you very much. My default position will always be one of profound mistrust of others, which somedays I make a conscious and monumental effort to overcome. That's working my programme, baby! Somedays, though, when I'm hurting and scared, I don't manage that so well. I can find myself isolating, find my words falling away. But I guess I need to learn not to be too hard on myself for that. When I look at my past I understand how I learned to mistrust, and how it kept me safe.
When I was beaten and raped, sold and tortured and treated like an animal, I lost my ability to talk. It was like becoming mute: speaking made no difference so I didn't speak anymore. When I went out with black eyes and people looked right through me, I felt invisible. When they scolded me at hospital for 'going back to him' when I was terrified and asked for help, I stopped asking. And now I'm clean and sober and still these words are hard, so hard, for me to say:
Please can you help me.
I was raped.
I was sold.
I was abused.
I know I have to talk about this stuff, to reach out and trust someone and open up about it, and if I don't, I'm not going to make it. Sometimes I feel I'll never be over it, never be ok around men, never leave the nightmares and the flashbacks and the replays. It's f****** tough. My ability to gloss over stuff, to appear very together and sorted and confident and articulate, works against me here. I'm none of those things when it comes to this stuff. And as more memories come back to me as I stay sober, I can feel the pressure building inside. It's hard to leave the past in the past when it confronts you at every opportunity. It is with me every day. Constantly reliving experiences of prostitution and abuse would test the strongest person and I defy any of the glib therapists I have thus far encountered and not opened up to to do better.
I'm just trying to make my way through.