Every other week, I get an individual session with Lisa, the therapist who runs IOP.
My session yesterday was very intense. Lisa goes straight for the kill and takes no prisoners. I think I cried at least three times in the hour. On Friday in group, we talked about the five stages of healing a memory (adapted from the five stages of grief). The one about denial got me, and I wrote in my journal that “I always tell myself it happened to some other girl, some dumb slut who got what she deserved… I don’t know how to accept that it did happen to me without also accepting that I am that dumb slut.”
When I shared this with Lisa, she wanted me to challenge that belief. I do not like change, nor do I like being told what to do. I brushed her off, “I’m a smart slut…?” I said. She didn’t laugh.
I started to cry, “I hate myself!” I wailed. “I feel like I’m never finished. I don’t know how to just be okay. I feel like I’m always a work in progress, whether it’s losing weight, working towards a degree, or just trying to heal myself.”
“That’s life!” Lisa said. “There is no finish line. We should always be growing and working on ourselves.”
I contemplated this. I’ve always clung to the idea that someday I will be 100% better, no longer need therapy, and have a medication cocktail that will work forever, that someday my mental illness will not be at the forefront of my life. Perhaps I will always be a work in progress. Maybe I can be okay with that.
I have been thinking about Tim a lot lately. The three-year “anniversary” of the attack is next month, and I’ve been struggling to put the past down and stop ruminating.
An excerpt from my journal:
I was in a bad situation with Tim. I had just come out of a painful and messy breakup. I was halfheartedly trying to get sober, but still struggling with “the disease of more.” I was cutting on myself with alarming frequency. He told me he loved me once, and I was desperate for anyone to tell me that because I did not love myself. I was trying to fill an emotional void the best way I knew how.
When I said what I said to him on that December day in his parents’ living room, I was lost. I was in over my head. He knew that I was somewhat inexperienced with men, that I’d never had sex with a man, and that if I was going to do that, then I wanted it to be special.
He disrespected me, those wishes, and my body. It was bad sex. It was scary, alarming, and traumatic sex.
But it was just sex. It was something that happened to my body and me due to a series of events and circumstances for which I was partly responsible.
I can leave Tim in the past. I can leave that lost, scared, shaken, confused twenty-year-old girl in the past.
While I don’t have to forgive Tim, I can forgive that girl I once was. I can put down the blades, stop beating her up, stop calling her “stupid whore.” I can let go.
I’ve been talking to myself a lot lately, and after I wrote this, I sat up in bed, looked out the window at the moon, and said, “I’m free.”