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.