Recovery Isn’t Linear
I recently shared an experience with a follower to show him that recovery isn’t linear; that although I appear to be doing well, there are times when experiences come back to haunt me, but my response is far better than it used to be.
I wanted to do this as a tweet thread, but sometimes content warnings on twitter don’t work as the word count is too short and then before you know it, you’ve read the tweet. And… queue those horrible feelings. I felt sharing it this way gave people “more of an opportunity” to decide if they wanted to read it.
Here is the drafted Tweet
Content Warning: rape & sexual assault
Even though life is much better now, I still have flash backs to 18 years ago.
Probably lose followers, but this might help 1 person.
I feel vulnerable sharing this, but here goes.
I’m 33 and stood still in my kitchen, but my mind was transported back to when I was 15.
We were kissing and took our trousers off. He went from 10-100km/h in 5 seconds and asked if we could have sex.
I said no.
I can still feel him holding my arms & trying to have sex with me, even though I said no again.
His shadow still lingers over me. I still see his grin.
Fortunately, I was able to throw him off me & put my clothes back on.
I came back from the nightmare. Still stood in my kitchen, I realize that I had stopped cooking and was just stood there.
Then I continued with food while reflecting on how far I’ve come.
For years, triggers made me curl up in a ball. I didn’t want anyone to touch or hug me.
I felt dirty, vulnerable and angry at myself. Plus, I never trusted anyone.
For years after this event, I tried to normalize it. I blamed myself and told myself that I should not have taken my trousers off.
It took me years of therapy and self reflection to finally say the words
“That was attempted rape.”
“You can say no at any time.”
“It wasn’t my fault.”
After all those years I realized that although I consented to taking off my trousers and kissing, I didn’t consent to anything else.
I would hate for my parents to blame themselves; parents can’t protect their children from everything.
This is to demonstrate to you that recovery isn’t linear. Although I have adventures, I still have setbacks.
I carry on with life, but I still am on guard. Another recent experience was September 2018 in the Dolomites. I was taking night photos 2 hours from the nearest road. I heard a noise like an animal walking on the rocks. My mind went into flight mode: at that moment my mind convinced itself that it was someone coming to hurt us (my wife & I).
Looking back, this fear in the Dolomites was so irrational, but in that moment it was real. It was pitch black, people would require a head torch to navigate that terrain in the dark and I saw no head torch. Which means it would most likely have been a mountain goat or a fox. But I left… I left and missed the milky way rising.
To this day, I don’t like loud noises, people scaring me or strangers standing in my personal space or anyone holding me so I can’t get away. I guess these are things that are as a consequence of the assault and things that will always be part of me. There are also other occurrences, but maybe they’ll be shared “if” the memories return to haunt me.
Recovery isn’t linear.
Be kind and patient with yourself.
It does get better.