I haven’t shared this yet before to anyone.
I don’t have nightmares and flashbacks about the rapes. I feel degraded and I was physically hurt after them. I don’t have nightmares and flashbacks about the other violence that was done to me. These things don’t keep me up at night.
When I close my eyes, I see their faces. They are burned into my memory forever. The first one is the one that haunts me most. We were in the car, out-maneuvering a road block to try and get back home safely. We had been out trying to get food because we knew we wouldn’t get any in a while, and by the time we came back to the district it was overtaken. The road block was lined with bodies, we knew stopping was not an option, so we sped past it. And as we slowed down just after the block to try and get around it, there she was. This woman, naked, and covered in blood. She ran beside the car and begged at my window to be let in. Banged her fists against the glass. I started to open the door, when J leaned over me and locked it tightly, swerved out of there as the drunken militia men shot random shots at our car. I see her face. We could have let her in. We could have saved her. As we sped away, we saw them shoot after her, and her go down. We saw them catch up to her and chop her still living body to pieces. I did nothing. I said nothing. When it mattered, I froze.
The next one came knocking at our door a week after the fighting intensified and the streets were lined with raping, killing militias. Begging to be let in, for food, for shelter from the militias. J said no. No one can know we are in here, or we’ll die like the neighbours did. I didn’t argue. I didn’t even put up a fight. I just froze. And then we watched as bits were chopped from his body with machetes, while they laughed. We smelled his body burn through the night.
This happened several more times during the several months of occupation. I did nothing. I remember each of their faces so clearly. Their pleas at our door, or at my car window. I did nothing.
J said if we helped them, we wouldn’t be here. But we didn’t even try. I see their faces every night. I feel the cold of the tub under my foot as we propped ourselves up into the tiny window from the third floor where we would go to watch the militias when they weren’t in our courtyard. Watch and do nothing. Watch as these people begged at our door. Watched as the militias came and rounded them up. Watched as they butchered or lit them on fire. Watched. And did nothing. That was our day. Gather supplies from the house when the militia was out, one of us watching in the window for them to come back, then running to our hiding places when they returned. Staying in silence for days, weeks at a time. I swear, J and I could read each other’s thoughts by the end of it. We had short hand signals for everything.
I don’t even know their names. But I could describe every detail of their faces. They are as clear to me as if they were here right now, standing in front of me. I see them everywhere. When I go for walks. When I’m hanging out with friends. I’ll turn my head and see them pleading, as if they were right here, and I was back there in an instant. I shake it off. Go out for a smoke. Try to remember what I was talking about if I’m mid-sentence. I can at least recognize and not be terrified by it anymore, but it’s a constant. Every day. Everywhere I go. I see their faces. They haunt me because I didn’t do what I should have done.
Why didn’t I say something? Why did I just watch and do nothing?
People always tell me how strong I am, and I just laugh, because that feels like a fraud. When it counted, I wasn’t strong. I didn’t stand up for the people I could have. I didn’t stand to my core values. Of what I believe and always thought I would do if ever given the chance. I’m not a hero. I’m a freezer. I did nothing. And their deaths are on me.
No matter how much I try and rationalize like J did, that we did what we have to do to survive. I can’t. I did nothing. I said nothing. I put up no fight. I would have rather died there knowing I tried, then live with this guilt. It’s eating me up inside.
It’s so hard to explain to people that I’m ok, like I’m not going to kill myself or anything, but I’m really not OK. I’m struggling every day, and I try to hide it as much as I can, but some days, it’s overwhelming. I haven’t slept properly in years. It’s taken it’s toll. My adrenaline is constantly on overdrive. I still jump at loud noises, and cry or panic at fireworks. I still have days where I can’t leave my bed, or my house. Days where the outside world seems so scary that all I want to do is run and hide in the woods and never come out again.
I’m doing the things. I’ve done countless therapies, drugs, experimental treatments, healing ceremonies, counselling, acupuncture, routines, diets, you name it, I’ve probably tried it at this point. Most with this disorder never fully “recover”. They spend their whole life with flashbacks, nightmares, pain, numbness and tingling, hot and cold, insomnia, etc.
Nearly one quarter of those with PTSD attempt suicide. The number with C-PTSD, which is what I have, is even higher. I can see why. It’s literally hell every day. I don’t want to die, but living like this for extended periods of time can be unbearable. There’s no relief. I’ve reprogrammed my life through all the different CBT, dialectical, etc. therapies, so that I can live mostly a “normal” existence, but I don’t sleep. And they’ve got nothing for that that I haven’t already tried. It puts stress on all my organs. I have constant pain. I feel like half the person I once was. I can’t concentrate, my intelligence is dwindling by the day. My memory is non-existent.
I’ve decided to try an experimental approach again, and am going to take DMT in a therapeutic environment. I figure I have nothing to lose. I’ve got a month until I can try, and I am eagerly hoping that this will give me even a little bit of relief.
Until then. Back on the scheduled tasks tomorrow. Back to the routine. Keep at it. Fake it till you make, even if you never make it. Fuck, it’s depressing.
I did what I was supposed to do today so far. I’m trying really hard to stay on track, but I’m still running on almost no sleep. I get maximum 3-4 hours a night it seems. Sometimes much less.
I had a meeting with my therapist today. She suggested I see a neurologist since I never saw one after the war, and I had my head kicked in severely, and cerebral malaria in that time. Maybe there’s some damage there. It would explain a lot. I can barely think anymore and my fear centre seems fucked.
It’s probably just the PTSD though. It’s always that. It overtakes my physical health in so many ways. It’s incredibly destructive.
I met with my new nurse yesterday and worked out options for me. I seem to have already lost the one sheet she gave me with the list on it… soo.. shit. That’s my biggest problem is that I don’t remember what is said because I’m overdrive during the appointment and I miss things. I feel stupid. So stupid. All the time now.
I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. I want so badly to be normal. Or at least, not damaged anymore. But that’s never going to be reality for me again. I’m damaged.
I’m feeling really lonely. But the weirdest thing is that lately, the last few months, I’ve had zero sex drive. Normally, the more depressed I get, the more I masturbate, seek out sex. It’s an addiction, my self-calming mechanism. And now, I feel like I may never want to have sex again. I haven’t watched porn like I normally do. I haven’t had sex with anyone, and I haven’t masturbated in months, and I don’t want to. I’ve never felt this way in my entire adult life and it’s making me concerned.
I’ve got so much shit to deal with, and I’m barely coping. I don’t know how I’m ever going to manage to be a productive member of society again. I don’t know how I’m ever going to manage to have a full time job again. I can stay at a job, and do great work, but then, inevitably, I can’t sleep for days, weeks at a time, and I can no longer function for anything else. I miss work. I miss deadlines, and then I get fired. No one wants a worker who isn’t always reliable.
I have only slept about 6 hours in the past 6 days. 6 hours out of 144 hours.
Today, at least, I got my second wind. Energy like crazy. So I’m going to expend it, and try and get some shit done, wear myself out so that I will crash.
I took several sleeping pills over the last 6 days, with no effect. I’ve tried every sleep strategy known to man in this time, taken every supplement I can, and still my mind tells me, nope. You are not sleeping today. I’m too afraid.
I can’t blame it, since every single time I close my eyes, all I see is torment and horror. It’s re-traumatizing each and every night. It’s like living that torture again every single day.
I’m done. I’m just physically done. At most, I get 3-4 hours sleep a night. It’s been that way for most of the past 5 years since the war. It’s not enough to function on. My body hurts constantly, and it’s no surprise why. I can’t concentrate, read, focus, control my emotions. Everything is screwed up because of the lack of sleep.
And yet, every couple months, I go through this same routine again. No sleep. No matter what I do, for days on end. The worst was almost 10 days. I started hallucinating. Talked to God. I’m really hoping it doesn’t get to that again this time around.
I have safety plans for what to do in these types of situations, but I never like the options.
Go to my mom’s house. In the biggest city in the country– nope. Besides the problems associated with staying with my mother (eating terribly, having nothing to do, and having to deal with my mom’s severe mental health issues), I am terrified to be in the city, especially heavily populated areas. I can go to my dad’s. But I can’t smoke my marijuana, which I need to function, and he wants me out of bed and doing chores outside all day long, which is sometimes near impossible for me if I’m in pain. Also, his bitch of a wife is there, and I fucking hate her. I can go to my sister’s, but I have to sleep in the cold basement on a blowup mattress. They work all day, so I’m home alone anyways. I could go to the hospital, but I’ll get treated like shit, get degraded, locked into some room, treated like I’m not intelligent, and sent home with sleeping pills and no sleep. All of these options have the problem of what to do with my cat. Who doesn’t like to be alone, or away from me, specifically.
So I try and manage it myself from home, but it’s scary. I worry about what might happen if I start to hallucinate. Last time I took a bottle of sleeping pills because God told me I needed to sleep and that was the only way to do it. I didn’t want to kill myself. Not in the slightest. I just wanted to sleep. But in my sleep-addled brain, that made the only sense.
At least I got some of my spring cleaning done today. Pruned my plants. Did some of my chores. Got some things done. Anything mindless is perfect right now.
My week has begun to take shape once again.
A scheduled routine of monotony. But it’s ok. It’s the only way I’ll ever heal again.
My Mondays and Tuesday are work days. I do my freelance writing on these days for any clients I may have.
Wednesdays, I do grant writing for a nonprofit I’m working with, and then go to Healing Circles in the evening.
Thursdays I work on new poetry and any leftover freelancing.
Fridays, I have my songwriting course.
Saturdays are usually fun days where I have dinners or hang outs or parties.
Sundays, I do the soup kitchen.
These regular scheduled things where I have to go out of the house and do things.
My other daily task list ever lengthening. Trying to get back to routine, but also to catch up on the things I’ve been missing in my illness for so long.
I’ve got to have a shower. I have to play the guitar for twenty minutes or so. I have to do yoga in the morning and the evening, at least a sun salutation. I have to do write in my journal. I have to write here on my progress. I have to do my dishes, at least every second day.
This has always been my dread. And now it’s my life.
I went from being the most interesting person, to being dreadfully boring, at least in my day to day.
I applied to work at a restaurant as a server one night a week. Just to get out of the house. In place of the farm, which was working so well for me over the warmer months. The only problem with steady work is my illness. Freelance works so beautifully because it’s project work. Do this one item, at my own pace and hand it in a short time later. I can take on work at my leisure, and turn it down when I’m stressed or sick.
But working at an office. Or a factory. Or in the service industry. Where my attendance matters to the employers and I can’t just do the work later in the evening, or the next day when I’m feeling better.
It’s almost impossible for me to get a full time job for this reason. I can manage as I am now, with what I do, but I live cheap. Very cheap. And I try to stay within those means.
It’s not a glamorous life, but I’m not lacking for anything I need.
I did my daily excursion for the day. I went to the healing circle. And it was a good day to go. One of the Aunties who never comes was there and had some great wisdom for us. I feel like this is a new positive in my life. That I leave the circle feeling much more grounded and at peace.
I had so much difficulty getting out of bed today. But I did the work I needed to do, I did the writing I needed to do, and I’m even doing the writing here to mark my progress.
This journey to healing is a lot more complicated and long than I thought it would be. I never thought 5 years later, I’d still be here suffering in this way. Still not sleeping. Still struggling through the cognitive behaviour therapy. Still struggling to get through each day.
Today, I got a lot of hugs. And it’s amazing the power of touch to help recentre you sometimes. I got very warm, loving hugs from mostly strangers, yet they held me in the embrace as if we were old friends. It’s amazing to me when you can find that connection with an absolute stranger and share some warmth.
I’m at a bit of a loss for words today.
I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of emotional labour for other people this week, and have given very little time to my own self-care. I really wanted to visit with my grandfather today, but it didn’t happen, yet again. I feel so guilty about it, but it just devastates me for days every time I visit with him. Seeing him in this state, in a home he hates, having people care for him, when he was so independent for so long, it rips me up inside. And the entire time I’m there he talks about how depressed he is and how he wishes he could just die, and I can’t handle it.
But then the guilt comes when I don’t visit. I feel like if he’s sad, he needs us more. How I wish I was normal and had a house I could afford to move him into. That I could pay for private care. Have him socialize with my family of friends. Have some homemade food. I miss my grandma so much too. She loved us soo much. We couldn’t have asked for more love. She was dedicated to us like none other. Mother bear to us all. I know without her, grandpa too is lost. She had their days filled, the meals made. She gave him company and love.
Tonight Auntie’s words got to me. She was resigned to go to the spirit world. To leave this existence. And she didn’t want us to cry for her, yet tears streamed down every face.
The memories we hold will stay with us. Their spirit is never truly gone as long as we remember them.
Again. I could barely get myself out of bed. My body is moving slow, but it’s my brain that’s the biggest obstacle.
I did the basics on my list. For the most part. But it’s just pure dissociation and anxiety the last few days. Fleeting thoughts of uselessness, worthlessness, loneliness, isolation. I feel like the world is spinning without me. I’m here. But I’m almost just observing. I’m not in my body. It feels like an entirely separate entity to me. I can barely control it anymore.
The strangest thing of all is that I have stopped having a desire for sex entirely. My sex addiction is not only under control, now I have zero desire. Zero drive. I just don’t care anymore. I don’t think I could even cum if I wanted to right now, which is the weirdest of all, because I can usually come in like 2 seconds, without even being touched…
I guess the depression has finally won. I don’t feel sexy anymore, and even stranger, I don’t feel like any of the people I meet are sexy anymore. It’s been several months like this. Ever since my friend died.
I think his death blocked me in some ways. About five months before he died, we had been quite intimate and spent a lot of time together. Stupid shit was happening with the one guy I had been dating on and off for a while, and I said I couldn’t be in a relationship. He started dating someone, and I went back to fucking my other fwbs and we stayed close… but then he died. Out of nowhere. And I felt like a train had hit me.
Now I feel very alone.
The three people I used to confide in as my regular close friends are gone. One dead. One insane. And the last too deep in addiction. Even though I have tons of friends, I no longer have the regular hang out that I used to have with those three. I no longer have someone to tell my day to. It feels lonely.
I no longer have the physical touch I used to get so regularly. I almost cringe when people touch me these days. I don’t know what’s going on with my body anymore. I just want to be normal. What I wouldn’t give to be normal again.
In my younger days, I traveled a lot, and did some work in some extremely dangerous places, and was very careless of my body in the process. As a result, I encountered and contracted several different parasites over the years. This poem is about those parasites and is in honour of Futurama. Sweet zombie Jesus, do I miss it. It’s called My Parasites.
How I wish my parasites were builders. That they would make my body strong instead of weak. That they could enjoy the gift I have given them within my flesh and repay it with kindness.
That within my milky white layers they would lay ideas. Strength. And courage. Instead of larvae.
That the leader of my liver would loot toxins instead of life. That the mayor of my colon could colonize regularity.
How I wish my parasites were builders. That they would make my body strong instead of weak. That we could be friends with “benefits” or at least besties.
But my besties, who know my breath and brain and bowels better than any beings, have betrayed me.
They say your body is a temple. Mine certainly feels like a shrine. These parasites are plundering my pieces, pulled to my parts as holy protozoaen pilgrimage.
Over the years, I’ve had more than my fair share of these unwanted spawn of satan use my body as a breeding ground. Feasting off my cells as their source of life, draining it from my own. These unwanted party guests who arrived early, got way too drunk, broke my fine china, clogged the bathroom toilet, and then refused to leave.
How I wish my parasites were builders. Securing their home instead of destroying, consuming every last resource to extinction before jumping ship. But I guess they were made in our image, much like us, resembling their God.
I remember the first ones.
Boil-like larvae nourishing themselves on the meat of my legs. Human botfly is not “fly”. Let me tell you. Then giardia. Ugh.
Then sand fleas below the knees. Unable to take quinine, I got malaria. Then giardia. Then malaria again. Six more fucking times. The last so severe as to leave me comatose for days. My doctor dismissing my distress as “women’s troubles”, my diagnosis delayed through biogtry.
Then cyst making tapeworms, organizing my organs as a smorgasbord. Laying in wait …. for weakness.
How I wish my parasites were builders. We could live in harmony.
But alas fickle friends. Get the fuck out of my house. It’s time to go.