Before anyone asks, no, I'm not well enough yet to sing. My body still hurts and my throat and chest are still filled with phlegm. But I REALLY need to get this off my chest. Call it a 'vent,' if you must.
I'm not doing this to justify any actions (because I imagine each person has different ways of coping), but I'm here to tell people what it's like for me, and exactly why I get angry when someone wallows in self-pity.
In the daytime, between 6:00 and 9:30, I am woken up with a jolt, from having suffered an awful nightmare. It could involve my parents, or the school I went to, or conscription, or being raped or molested. All these things did happen to me in the past and now they are playing on repeat, the old spectres haunting me. This happens nearly every day, and I often need Seán's and my friends' help to remind me that it's only a dream. My memories take on nightmarish forms in my dreams, which is why when I remember that it's only a dream, it's only my memories. I may be in a much better place now with people to love and cherish me, but I am plagued by these awful things.
Sometimes I get flashes of my mother and father, with their angry, fiery eyes, ready to slam a massive spoon or a belt or a feather-duster or their fists straight to my body, then bruising me where it is least visible. They didn't want to attract any attention to what beatings I got, so any bruising would be covered by my school uniform. Where I grew up, many people mastered the art of torture without leaving a trace: they would hit areas that did not bruise.
I have been getting more of these flashes lately. My father treated me as his property, to be treated as he pleased, and married off as he pleased. (Bear in mind I was already a legal adult by this time.) His attitude towards me was simply shameful. You know the kind of father who sends his daughter off to be married and undergo FGM? Well, imagine that. Just without the FGM. Domineering, cold and unwilling to listen.
I remember the apartment where I grew up, in very vivid detail. I know where everything was kept, what everything looks like, and I can even see the images in my mind. I remember the room where I was nearly beaten to death multiple times, what it looked like, and I can still remember it in vivid detail. I was 2 when it first happened.
Yes, two years old! -- and that image and my cries for help have never vanished from my mind.
I remember the pain. I remember trying to run away from home -- but where could I go? -- I remember being treated like a pariah for my ethnicity and my supposed caste, multiple times, with people smearing my name, not wanting to go near me because I 'wasn't of their kind', etc., etc.
And that only covers a summary of the abuse from my family. That's only the tip of the iceberg, and my family weren't the only abusers.
Sometimes you feel you've overcome it, and sometimes you're struggling like a fucking emotional wreck. In those times it's easy to think that the whole world is out to get you, because you've had it happen to you many, many times. But the fact of the matter is, there are also people who are willing to love, and give, and not expect anything in return. It's easy to shut yourself away from these beautiful people, who make humanity good just by what they do.
I have suffered suicidal thoughts and on many occasions, have been close to doing it. It's easy to think, at those moments, that you don't have agency over your actions. But you do. All you need is just ONE moment of will to believe in the people who want to help you. It's fucking difficult to get to that point, but it's worth it. That one moment can change everything. The feeling of lack of agency will then pass like a ghost, and with it come cathartic tears. No one will judge a person for feeling suicidal after he's recovered. More often than not, people would be extremely happy that they managed to pull someone away from the brink. It feels like the one sheep missing from the pen that the shepherd has saved, while leaving the ninety-nine behind. It feels like the one denarius that the widow has lost and found again. That's what it feels like, both inwardly in myself, and outwardly from other people, when they manage to pull me back from the brink. People are proud of someone who has emerged from a suicidal stupor alive, and willing to seek help.
For all I know, one day, the PTSD will get worse and resurface, and much like a long, unresolved grief, I would have to go through many stages before coming to the point of acceptance. Self-pity is not a stage of grief -- or if it is, it is utterly damaging. We have every right to be angry and sad over wrongs that had been committed against us. And many of us fight passionately for that right. But if we're not careful, we could be thinking, "I'm a fucking joke," or somesuch. Self-deprecation and self-pity are two sides of the same coin.
And the problem with self-pity -- and I know this, because I've been in that frame of mind -- is that it shuts the door against people who are trying to help us. It shuts the door against any chances we make for ourselves.
If in the family home, I wallowed in self-pity, I would be no different from my own narcissist parents, who treated me as they pleased, and used that "oh poor me" excuse to justify doing whatever they wanted against me, because I was certainly lower in status than my parents -- I was a mere child and needed to be put in my place. "Oh poor me" was used as emotional blackmail against me, to never question their actions or to never call them bad parents -- which is what I really ought to have called them. If I went on to say, "oh poor me," I wouldn't be much different from my abusers. And they say that those who have been abused become abusers themselves.
But I don't want to. I want to break the cycle. That's the only way healing can happen. That is the only way we can go on.
And then you'll go on to say, "but Trois, you have a far better strength of character than I do, of course you can do it no problem!" BOLLOCKS. One, I am just as bad as any sufferer of PTSD going through awful episodes, and like others around me, I don't feel I am strong. For nearly succumbing to my suicidal thoughts, I feel I am weak. Two, if you want strength of character, then you gotta do it. There may very well be times that no one's going to tell you that you're strong.
As a result of the abuse my family (especially my parents) inflicted on me, I have lost ten years of my shitty life. Being forced to study what they wanted me to on pain of death, suffering constant harassment from said family, and then having no control at all over my future because I saw myself as having no means to achieve my deepest dreams. But life is only shitty if you can call it out for its bullshit. That is, if you can actually stare it in the eye, and say, "Oi, don't fuck around with me."
I do not trust my blood relations anymore. Now, my family is what I make of it. I love Seán, and I look forward to marrying him. And all the friends I've made these last few years, they are my family. They are the replacement for the strong and secure family unit that I did not have a chance to enjoy. No, they are more than a replacement -- they are family. It can take one split-second to make all the difference between embracing them when they're trying to help me, and rejecting them forever.