For this blog post I will be following the same format as “What I Do Know” because #relatable.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started.
I remember sitting on my boyfriend’s bed. Looking at a four year calendar, trying to plan where we’d fit a wedding in between college graduations and grad school beginnings and moves away from Nashville (NC, I’m coming for you!).
Our talk of marriage led to talk of children.
I wanted to adopt. He didn’t. We had had this conversation before. This time was different. The conversation escalated to “I don’t think it’s fair that you get to plan the rest of our lives based off of the fact that you refuse to deal with your trauma.” What? I had dealt with my trauma. It had been 15 years. I’m fine. I’m never having sex and that’s fine and normal. Leave me alone.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but things got hard. My nightmares that were a rare occasion (maybe once a month) became every night. I pulled myself away. I missed class and work and church because all I could do was lay in bed and stare at the wall.
If I left my room I wanted to be in the baggiest clothes possible. Maybe hiding my body would protect me from the abuse that I was sure would happen again. If a boy even looked at me, I cried. Johnson 374 quickly became the only four walls I saw everyday.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but one night I wrote my roommate a note. “I can’t hold this story inside me any longer. Can I tell you what happened?”
She sat in her bed. I made her face the wall. I sat in my bed, under every blanket I owned, and told her my story. I cried. I shook. My voice quaked. But I told my story.
Afterwards I walked on my desk over to her bed (best pathway to get over there). She hugged me. I cried more. I felt exposed and vulnerable and dirty, but I felt truly seen for the first time.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but my medicine stopped working. My low dose antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds could no longer stand up to the strong emotions that trauma brought on.
I became manic.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I drove to Kentucky one day without telling anyone where I was going.
I fell back into the same coping mechanism that I used when I first remembered the abuse when I was 13.
I cut for the first time since 2014.
I don’t know what I was trying to do. I don’t know if I was trying to numb my pain, or if I was trying to feel something. I don’t know. I don’t know if I was in so much pain that everything hurt, or if I was in so much pain that nothing hurt. I don’t know. But tearing apart my skin made everything stop, even if just for a moment.
It gave me a second to catch my breath, only to leave me suffocating even more just moments later. But the second was enough.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I tried to kill myself.
All I could do was feel his hands. I wanted out of my body. I wanted it to all just stop.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I drove myself to the psychiatric hospital.
My roommate sat with me in the waiting room for three hours as we talked to doctor after doctor. We tried to joke, we took stupid pictures to “commemorate the moment,” and we called two of my other best friends, but it was heavy.
One of the hardest moments was when they came and told me that they were ready to take me upstairs. Kayley and I stood up. She promised she’d go straight back to the dorm and bring me clothes and toiletries and my journal. We hugged. I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to be left alone. This drop-off was a heck of a lot harder than the Carolina House drop-off.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I spent the next five days in the mood unit of the psychiatric hospital.
I journaled. I colored. I sat through stupid, unhelpful groups. I made friends. I joked and laughed and rolled my eyes at other patients. I watched way too much tv. I sat on the window sill and eaves-dropped on too many conversations between the nurses.
My friends visited. My boyfriend, my roommate, my CH bestie, my old RAs. They brought my favorite foods so I didn’t have to eat gross hospital food. They loved me so well. They were tangible representations of Jesus and how he comes when we are broken and loves us just the same.
One night was hard. I wanted to cut. I doodled on my thighs as a way to calm my anxiety. I had written “I really want to cut right now, but I am not going to” in big letters across my leg. My nurse saw what I was doing. He brought me more pens. “I thought you might want some more colors. You’re being really brave right now, you know. Keep it up.”
My doctors changed my medicine. Things were looking up. I wasn’t feeling suicidal anymore. I felt sad and overwhelmed, but I just wanted out of those white hospital walls.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I discharged from the hospital.
It was exam week. I almost made it through the week. I went to work, studied my butt off, and took my exams. I took my new medicine. I went to my appointments. But I cried a lot. And I stayed in bed a lot.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but my relationships began to fall apart.
It hurt. It was hard. It still is. Those relationships still aren’t here, and if they are, they aren’t the same as they were.
Everything happened so quick. Fifteen years of brick walls enforced with steel crumbled in the matter of weeks. I’m not exactly sure how it all started.
Except I do know how it all started.
It started when I was five.
It started behind my church.
It started when I was thirteen.
It started in the alcove of my bedroom, having a panic attack remembering what happened, convincing myself that it would happen again.
It started when I was fifteen.
It started when I decided I would adopt kids, because I was [am] too afraid of sex. I never wanted my body to be that vulnerable again.
It started when I was seventeen.
It started when I entered my first relationship and had to choose–will I deal with my trauma or stuff it down? I chose to stuff it down.
It started when I was eighteen.
It started when I woke up sobbing at Carolina House because I had my first nightmare of trauma, thanks to my brain being nourished and coming alive again.
It started when I was twenty.
It started when my boyfriend confronted me about my trauma.
It started when I became so sad that I stopped eating and going to classes.
It started when I wanted to keep the lights off all day, even though my roommate and I used to argue about how I wanted the lights on all the time.
It started when my medicine stopped working, but I was too scared to go to my male psychiatrist to get a medication change.
It started when I went to Walgreens and bought a blade for the first time in almost four years.
It started when I swallowed too many pills.
It started when I stopped sharing my location services with my friends.
It started when I knew the psych hospital was the only thing that would keep me alive through the weekend.
I know how the pain started.
But something else started–healing.
Healing started when I became angry with my boyfriend for bringing up my trauma, but later realized he was right.
Healing started when I let my story cross my lips for the first time to my roommate.
Healing started when I signed up for a Bible class the following semester taught by a professor whose doctoral thesis was on sexual abuse and how that affects faith.
Healing started when I signed up to begin trauma therapy.
Healing started when I got rid of my blades (again, and again, and again).
Healing started when I texted someone when I felt unsafe with my thoughts.
Healing started when I began searching for a new psychiatrist.
Healing started when I drove with P!nk’s “I Am Here” blasting.
Healing started when #MeToo happened.
Healing started when I read Rupi Kaur’s poetry.
Healing started when I decided that I needed to go to the hospital.
Healing started when I chose to eat at the hospital, despite a nurse upon learning about my eating disorder telling me “I can get you some fruit” because she assumed I would want that instead of the mac n cheese.
Healing started when I drew on my legs instead of cutting.
Healing started when I sat on the window sill and colored with my wacky shack friends.
Healing started when I discharged and came home.
Healing started when I was gentle with myself.
Healing started when I actually studied for my finals.
Healing started when I cried when my boyfriend broke up with me.
Healing started when I went to work the next day.
Healing started when I didn’t cut from heartbreak.
Healing started when I decided to live, despite all odds.
Healing started when I decided that staying was worth it.
Healing started when I decided that what happened fifteen years ago was not going to have a say in my future.
Healing started when I chose me.
Healing is still happening.
If we’re being honest, I still haven’t begun trauma work. I had to get stable on my medicines before I could. But I’m starting soon. And I’m scared. But I’m choosing life.
It’ll be hard and it’ll hurt. But I’m not going to try to destroy myself as a way to cope. I’m choosing to live, no matter the pain in the progress, because I’m choosing to believe that healing IS possible.
I haven’t believed that my whole life. I thought it wasn’t meant for me.
But I’m going to make it meant for me.
Healing is mine.
Healing started. Healing is happening.
Healing is going to be how my story ends.