Tag Archives: trauma

Oh, what a night

8 Oct

11:27 pm

I have been thinking on and off all day about whether I should write about this night again–the Sunday before Columbus Day, 2009.  I mean, I think about it every single day because my arm hurts every single day, doing yoga or working out, or fully extending it; it is shorter than the other one, as a result of the way it healed beneath the shoulder cap, which literally took weeks to unfreeze after I stopped wearing the sling!  I wrote about it years ago on this blog, when I was, I guess, processing how traumatic it was years after it happened.

The thing is, I feel like I must recap, and commemorate, if I’ve been thinking all day about it.  And, I will write about it because, well, it’s amazing how things have changed, and I’m grateful that I didn’t let it define me.  Yes, I think about it, and it does haunt me; but not in a way that I still feel like a victim, or was somehow unable to move on emotionally.

In brief, I got shitfaced that night, got into a verbal fight with the dude I had just slept with–or attempted to mess around with; I will never know because most of the night is lost to the blackout–we physically fought somewhere outside his apartment, on a sidewalk; he pushed me hard, and I fell down and broke my arm.  I was in one of my blackouts, which happened almost every night I drank by that point; but this was one of those severe ones, black hole-type memory blanks where not just hours are missing, but the entire night is gone.  (If you’ve never blacked out, let me say:  if you have any memories of that period of time, they’re like shards of glass on the floor, each one reflecting a glimmer of light for a moment before it turns dark again.)

It was right about now, getting on toward midnight (on a Sunday; granted, I had Columbus Day off the following day, but YIKES to me routinely starting my nights at midnight, weekend night or not), and I went out to–let’s face it–hook up with this guy whom I really despised but could pretend was someone else while I was uber-drunk.

Isn’t that what we do?  That is exactly what I did.  I mean, MOST times I got into bed with someone I had been flirting with all night, fueled and numbed by wine or beer, it was not because I wanted him, or her; it was because they filled the role of the fantasy I had created while drunk.  I’ve written about this before, but really, when I drank, and flirted (during the years when I was drinking to excess to escape and numb), I drank and flirted with my own mind, with what I was creating or had created in my mind that night.  It was all delusion, made even more delusional by the booze.

Anyway, what I think happened was this:  we drank; and after drinking, which I don’t remember the details of, we were somewhere outside his apartment, in some shack, or cottage, or garage-type building, and he was telling me that we had to go out there because his daughter (who was like, in her 20s) was inside, staying over that night.  The last thing I remember was him putting a blanket down, and me feeling like, WTF, what am I, a dog?  Of course (of course!), this man was super-gross, and he treated me grossly every other time we hooked up; but, that was what I was willing to accept because I had my needs, too.

Yes, I had my needs.  I needed to flirt and feel wanted–even if it was in a delusional state; at least he wanted me, right, is what I must have told my drunk self?  (Nine years ago, I was in no way “unfuckable” or “unloveable,” but at that time in my life, I think I sort of believed that was true.  I was also terrified of relating to men as my sober self, for fear of rejection, or the effort it would take to be myself, to be a partner when all I wanted was to drink, really.)  I needed to get shitfaced to be able to pretend that he was someone else, maybe an ex that I hadn’t really yet gotten over.  I needed the release from always listening to the voice in my head that said, You shouldn’t do it, You shouldn’t be like that.  I needed to get drunk, physically and psychologically.  Devolving into some other horrible version of myself was the price I was willing to pay.  Until…it wasn’t.

Until, the booze wore off enough for me to come to, for the writer and professional and good Midwestern farm girl to come back online and be like, WTF, what am I, a dog?

I remember fighting, screaming, being belligerent at him; I remember walking on the sidewalk–it was cold outside–storming off somewhere, maybe?  I don’t know if he was following me or I was chasing him, but…I remember him pushing me down in the cold night, falling and bouncing off the cement on my right shoulder, realizing with some momentary lucidity that something “really bad” had probably just happened.  He said that I attacked him, and maybe that is true.  He fought back, and hard; that is also true.  After all was said and done, he didn’t really care what had happened to me.

It was like a dream sequence, and I wasn’t sure if it was real.  I remember nothing from that point until I woke up at about 1 pm in his bed–and the pain.  OMG, the pain.  Not to mention the pain and anxiety of being hungover/still drunk, after a night like that; and then having to stumble out of bed, put my clothes on with one arm, and wander to not just one, but TWO emergency rooms in the city,  both being full, before giving up, getting into a cab, and going home to sleep it off so that I could actually think straight to figure out my plan as to what the EFF I was going to do about this shit now.

Long story short, I had help from my friends and roommates–the select few people I ever told what really happened–and the arm eventually healed.  I have to say, that night was probably the most traumatic of my drinking life, but it wasn’t by far the worst thing that happened to me.  It’s been the hardest to let go of, for some reason.

I gave my consent, but all the reasons behind it were convoluted and very personal–and, influenced by alcohol-induced delusion.  I gave my consent, but it was SO not what I wanted.  So, did I deserve what I got?  Sigh.  Most of the time, I say, yes and no.  I don’t believe anyone deserves to be in accidentally disastrous situations–I don’t remember picking a fight with him, he didn’t really mean to literally throw me down onto the sidewalk.  I also don’t think most people CHOOSE to try to understand what happens to people when some of us drink.  They will never know, which is why any and all of this is so hard to talk about, to explain, to reveal.  But, he didn’t force me to do anything.

I think this relates to Me, Too, but I am never sure how to talk about nights when you choose to drink and choose to flirt but then…find yourself in a situation that does not feel right, that you don’t want to let happen.  It’s so hard to talk about it without someone feeling either blamed or unheard.

I would not say that I was raped that night.  There are other nights where what happened was much closer to rape, but…there was ALWAYS alcohol involved, and always an element of consent on my part.  I was never ambushed at night, or assaulted at a party; I always played a role in getting myself into these types of situations.  I can say, though, that I didn’t hold onto these events the way some people do; and maybe that speaks to the difference between “some consent” and “no consent”?  I don’t know.

SO, today?  Today, I spent the day cleaning the apartment, walking my dog, and lifting weights  at the gym.  I have started doing more of that, and I love how it makes me feel:  strong inside and out.  I think it makes me feel a bit like, look at me now, Loser Who Pushed Me Down.  I will NEVER let anyone push me down again!

Seriously, my life nine years later has so moved on, and for that and so much more, I am  grateful.  I can’t forget that night, but I am glad to be able to feel continuous relief and gratitude that not only will that never happen again, but that I survived AND thrived in the years since–I didn’t let it get me down, or make me believe that that girl was forever me; that I was broken, that I couldn’t change.  Fact is, I rocked on, and I changed.  People can change.

On that note, off to bed because another full week.  Just super-glad, still, to be here, and not there.

 

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Shamanic journeying through acupuncture? Yes, yes, YES!

18 Sep

11:43 am

Wow. Another KUH-RAZY experience during my acupuncture session yesterday!

(Warning: Psychobabble ahead.)

So, I’ve been to acupuncture three times now (with a new, and highly trained, it seems, therapist). Each time, I noticed an near-instantaneous buzzing feeling all over my body, and an immediate “delving” into self — the physiologic calm that acupuncture provides turns on my brain and makes me able to think deeper, more profound thoughts. Thoughts I’ve been putting off — or dreading, and therefore, TURNING OFF.

Yesterday, I realized that I’m a trauma survivor. I know, I know. WHATchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis? Come ON, DDG, give me a buh-reak! Seriously. I grew up within a very volatile, ugly marriage. My parents would yell and scream and sometimes even wield knives (true story). Everyone knew. They’d often tell us to go outside and “play,” which was code for, We’re going to shut the windows and scream at each other now. It was usually my mom screaming at my dad, and it usually happened when we were in bed, “sleeping.” It usually ended with her thrusting our living room doors closed with a loud BANG, and going to bed alone while my dad slept on the couch.

This went on for as long as I can remember (from about 5 to when they finally separated at 14). It was ugly. I would often and regularly hear things like, “Go fuck yourself if you even know how.” When they’d fight at night, I would weep in my bed. Silently. I learned how to cry really hard without making a sound. I was afraid, and I was also ashamed — my brothers slept in the same room (we had no doors on our two-bedroom upstairs), and I never heard them make a sound, so how horrible would it be if I did? Repression was the name of the game.

(I often wonder why kids blame themselves, or at least, internalize their parents’ anger and guilt and sadness when it comes to divorce? Here’s what I now think (thanks to my acupuncture “meditation”): kids KNOW that they represent the connection between their biological (and perhaps even nonbiological) parents. They know that they somehow make up each, and are (or were, LOL) the union between them. Thus, if there is a schism between the two, it’s somehow their fault. Somehow, it comes back to them, and they feel/take on the responsibility to “fix it.” It’s hard to explain, but I definitely KNOW that this is true, on an emotional level, even though intellectually — even as a kid, when we were told again and again that it wasn’t our fault — I might not believe it.)

As you can imagine, this kind of environment came with a lot of not-talking-about-the-elephant-in-the-room, tiptoeing around landmines, and (guessed at) battle lines not being crossed. I spent a good part of my teens feeling VERY ashamed and full of self-loathing (I had entire notebooks of hate poems to myself), and I wonder if that isn’t related to other, deeper trauma, but anyway… The trauma was never properly dealt with, I now believe. It was never confronted, handled, resolved, on the level that I needed it to be. So, I think I’ve spent my entire life putting up that early-learned stance, the one of me crouched, gut clenched, breath held, arms covering my face — ready for the punch. I was never physically abused, but I think emotional and psychological abuse — however inadvertant — can be just as bad. I know it was for me.

As I lay on the table, I realized that perhaps I have been hiding from this trauma my whole life, as a way to “make it” or “live my life,” never realizing that I hadn’t fully embraced it. And, without having fully accepted what happened to me, I was never able to let it go. Like, it now seems that ALL of my jobs, ALL of my romantic relationships have been situations that have helped SERVE my denial, my hiding from the trauma. (Hiding from being overly sensitive? Find a partner who doesn’t seem to notice anything! Not wanting to deal with feeling unloved? Become an overachiever and work yourself to the bone!) And, drinking has not only been a way of hiding from it when it bubbled up too close to the surface, but also a way to *experience* it. Too bad I was digging in the wrong hole.

Digging in the wrong hole? There came a point toward the end (last two or three years) of my blackouts where I was wanting the release, the unguarded expression of what I thought were authentic feelings. I wanted to express my trauma, but I was using booze to do it and that only served to hide myself from it further. On the table, I saw how traumatized I was as little girl. I saw myself on the table, and I saw the little girl (almost as a dream, but more real). I wanted to go and hug her and tell her she had nothing to be afraid of, that she was protected. I felt sorry for her. Which made me see clearly that, for some reason, as a little girl I think I just never felt protected. And I never realized this could have trickled down into every corner of the rest of my life. Yet, it has. Hence, the panic stance that I’ve been carrying myself in my entire life.

It was then that I realized that the “soul retrieval” aspect to shamanic journeying is not such the load of bullshit that I thought it was! Like, I honestly felt that I had been living in two “pieces” my whole life, one being myself, the person who works and lives and loves and tries to make it through life; and the other, the little girl self, the one who has been stuck back there, living in that trauma day in and day out for the past 33 years! In journeying, they say that soul retrieval is about picking up a part of your lost self and fusing/fixing the splintered whole, or schism, within. I need to subsume that girl and make us whole again, I thought. (Have you ever seen “Insidious?” Astral travel? Along those lines.) By doing so, I realized that yes, my trauma can be ended, that it IS over, that I don’t have to keep trying to find it OR hide from it via booze and blacking out.

I felt really sad, very emotional (cried all afternoon), and well, tired. I went to bed at 9 pm and finally dragged myself out 12 hours later. I woke up with a huge headache (that may be a caffeine headache, though). In essence, I felt hung over. BUT, I felt like I really did have a powerful experience of healing that has MADE ME WANT TO DRINK TO BLACKOUT LESS.

This is profound, to me. It makes me see that rehabilitation surrounding booze IS real and CAN work. It flies in the face of “rational recovery,” which basically says that there is nothing behind your drinking besides your selfish, overindulgent hand. NOT THE CASE. I honestly believe, at this moment, that drinking to excess would NOT be preferable to me now, mainly because I no longer need to dig deep to bring out that trauma; I’ve recognized it, and now, I can let it go. Wishful thinking?

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to drink — or even want to — but it does mean that I’ve finally begun feeling the real, authentic shit behind my desire to black out, which in essence, means that I won’t be striving — secretly wanting to simultaneously fill AND empty the void — to black out when I drink. Which means, this desire may have nothing to do with the substance itself. Which may mean that in a few months, or years, from now, I WILL be able to pick up a glass of wine and put it down. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Maybe not.

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