Apparently it’s PTSD awareness month in June. So.
Here’s to all the people who fight crippling pain to get a chance at living a normal life again.
Here’s to all the people who’ve learnt to wake up and pick up the pieces after dissociative episodes or convulsive episodes or god knows what, and keep going.
Here’s to the people who can’t remember what happened but live with the results every day.
I want to talk about this one for a bit.
I have huge holes in my memory. I can’t remember much of my childhood, apart from distinct feelings of isolation and being different. I have a few snapshot memories, ranging from a kindergarten birthday party through to getting the shit ‘disciplined’ out of me, but not many. And for my ninth year, when the most scarring by far of the trauma happened, I have a mixture of extremely vivid slow-motion memories and large blocks of none at all.
I can’t answer the one question that gets asked most frequently: “Were you actually raped?” I can’t. I really don’t know. The vivid flashbacks I get would indicate I was, repeatedly, and maybe once with a knife, but I have no memories to fact-check those against. I don’t know if they’re true flashbacks - I do have a vivid, and rather masochistic, imagination. And for years and years, that really bothered me.
But the thing is, it really doesn’t matter. I’m not gonna go on about how forgiving those who harm you is therapeutic or whatever bullshit, because that’s not it. The point is that, regardless what happened, I am here today and I am dealing with the consequences. Whether or not one particular act occurred does not legitimize or diminish my experience. I utterly hate it when people do think that rape is the metric by which to judge trauma. Some of the other stuff that I actually know happened is much more fucked up, and anyway each of us is affected differently by the same events. It’s not like someone suffering from flashbacks and hypervigilance because they nearly drowned is less of a person than someone suffering the same because they were assaulted. What actually happened does not negate the way it affects me now.
Moving on is about not letting my past define me, something I’ve really struggled with. I’m not “the victim.” I’m not “the one who was abused as a kid”. I’m a person. A person who just happens to have PTSD.
So I can’t define my past. So what? Because it’s been years now, and I don’t receive any actual benefits from being able to detail exactly what happened, I don’t really care.
And if I’m not looking back, I’ll be in a better place to move forward.