Trauma Return

Yesterday something happened at a doctors office that sent me straight back into 23 years ago,

when I just barely lived through a traumatic event,

and joined the ranks in becoming the 2-words that I would grow to absolutely loathe

,and feel shame about for a very long time:

rape victim. 


After awhile, I began shifting from using the term "victim", and replacing it with "survivor,"

but this change in vocabulary did not do anything for my lifelong trauma and PTSD and massive bouts of anxiety and panic. 

Calling myself a survivor instead of a victim was supposed to make me feel more powerful somehow. 

But trauma has all the power, and when it wants to take you down a few notches, it makes itself known. 


Trauma is a funny thing.

Well, not "ha-ha funny", but more peculiar funny, I suppose. 

Trauma and PTSD lie dormant, and then come back.

They sit still for hours or days or months even, and then something happens to bring them out again,

roaring and screaming and pleading to be heard. 

Maybe one day in the near future I will be able to write about the specifics of what happened yesterday, 

and how awful and helpless and powerless and horrible I felt while it was happening. 

Today is not that day. 


Re-living the act of being raped 23 years ago, and not being able to breathe properly because you are gasping for air -

and being forced to explain your trauma and tell the damn story in detail to three different doctors in the course of one months time - 

and feeling like a failure somehow, because none of the doctors can fully comprehend what is going on - 

it makes you feel weak, and small, and insignificant. 


It brought me right back to those first few hours and minutes and days and weeks, 

after the rape,

when I couldnt get up off the living room floor. 

When I showered with a glass bottle in my hand,

or slept with all the lights on and facing the door so I could see anyone trying to break in, 

in the middle of the night, 

to take the life I knew away from me. 

When I stared with deadened eyes, at the walls around me, for hours on end. 

Not knowing how to do the next thing,

and not caring much about being alive. 

When I became so severely depressed and outside of myself,

that I ate enough food to create a shield of armor,

protecting me from hurt and violence and attention. 

Nobody could hurt me ever again,

if I turned into this grotesque-looking monster.


When your logical mind is telling you and reassuring you,

in the doctors office,

that: "this isnt the same thing as what happened all those years ago," 

trauma doesnt listen.

It doesnt register.

It doesnt know the difference.

It feels like the same thing,

and things are being placed on your face,

and you feel like you are choking again,

or being choked,

or gasping for air,

just like that night,

when you almost died -


and so suddenly, 

you are back there again,

on that floor, 

helpless and bleeding and all cut up and so very much alone. 


So many things have changed since way back then. 

I met the man who would become first my safe place,

then my best friend,

then my husband - 

and then I would become his widow, 

and lose that feeling that everything would always be okay, 

as long as he was around. 

I would need to re-learn, 

in the years to come,

to feel safe without him, 

and to process through all the trauma and loss and death,

and make realizations in grief-counseling sessions,

and in life. 

I would grow and change and shift,

and learn not to feel small and not to hate myself or build shields of fat to protect myself,

from the world. 

I would try to like myself and build myself up and I would do this to varying degrees of success - 



But there are still plenty of days, 

where I am forced into re-living the yesterdays, 

and where I feel like that girl,

who will never be safe

or loved

or put back together, 

ever again. 


Trauma Returns,

and trauma dictates,

at least for a little while. 


Showing 1 reaction

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  • Sarah Treanor
    commented 2019-05-19 04:54:49 -0700
    I am so sorry this happened. That it happened in the first place and that it resurfaced too. I’m glad you are sharing about it these days, because it helps me to understand it more. It helps me understand the many other women in my life who have been through their own experiences with rape and what it does to you in a way I haven’t been able to understand it before. Thank you <3 And still, I wish I wasn’t able to thank you for writing this. <3