Friday, April 13, 2012

Climbing the Stairs

Two days ago, I hit a low. I had a winter low, too, a couple of months ago. That low was inspired by the realization of the big dark fear I'd been carrying around with me all my life. This low was inspired by the realization that I was still participating in an abusive relationship.

Part of the project I'm working on involves me writing about my personally history with abuse. I've always considered myself a witness of abuse rather than an abused person. As far as I was concerned, my personal experience of direct abuse amounted to a handful of occurences where things had gotten out of control, or I had butted my nose into other people's business, then shared the burden of being abused for the evening.

As I began to write my story, I saw the accumulated events together in one place for the first time. Oliver would read through it and say, "What about this time, or that thing that happened?" I would cringe and say, yes, that needs to be included, too.

It got to the point that, even though I'd been working steadily for months on this project, taking care to nurture myself through the difficult material I was immersing myself in, I'd sit down to work and feel immediately ill. My muscles would cramp, my stomach would knot, and my mind would not allow me transmute my memories through my fingers and onto the page. My whole self was in resistance mode.

For three weeks this went on. I'd squeeze out a few paragraphs and then collapse in a heap of exhaustion unable to cry, unable to think. Then Easter happened. It was like the time that my high school sweetheart finally slammed me up against the wall shouting in my face. It took an amount of violence at the time for me to see that I was in a terrible relationship. While there was no physical violence over this past weekend, there was undeniable evidence--which still took me a few days to acknowledge--that this relationship that I didn't know how to live without was indeed directly abusive, and always had been.

That realization catapulted me into about 24 hours of depression, which I am no stranger to. I feel so deep and so suddenly that I could not even remember my usual tools to wake back up to my life. I actually had to ask Oliver to remind me how I best heal during this moments.

I could sense that it wouldn't last long if I just surrendered to the grief, because that's what it was. Just grief. Grief for the relationship that had to end, just like that, once I finally allowed myself to see the true nature of it. Grief for the last little bit of innocence that I carried around in reference to that relationship. Grief for myself and all the shit I've trudged through all this time, while trying to salvage what hope there was left for a semblance of normalcy and real love.

This morning I looked in the mirror and told myself that I don't have to worry anymore, because I won't let anyone hurt me that way again, and that I really and truly am at long last safe and secure, both within myself and in my surroundings.

Since Wednesday's plummet to the dark, damp basement of my psyche, I've been methodically climbing the stairs back up to ground level, and with each step I climb I see myself a little more clearly. I see what I'm worthy of, and capable of. I grow more firm in my resolve to keep going with this work, and I grow more sure of the truth that I'll figure it all out. Everything I'm not sure of right now...I'll figure it out.

I am releasing my need for perfection. I am redefining humility. I am acknowledging the rage that is splitting me at the seams.

Mostly right now, this moment, I am grateful for the presence of the stairs. They were not always there, and they did not magically appear. They are strong, sturdy wooden stairs, built by me during the last ten years of trying to get a grip. Once upon a time, the stairs were not there, and I stayed in the deep darkness for a long, long time until I pooled my resources, picked up a hammer, and got to work, building my way out.

Even as recently as last month I was beating myself up for my lack of productivity over the past decade. All I'd done was produce two human beings and heal myself from a childhood of abuse. I didn't see anything worthwhile that had come from that.

Until I fell face first into that deep dark space, and clammered around until I grasped my salvation. Sturdy stairs of wood and nails built to last a life time, right there where I left them.

Thank you, younger me, for having the presence of mind to start building your way out. It was very well done.

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