I got my living room and dining room ready to paint last night. It was a loooooot of painter’s tape. Like, a lot. I was spent by the time I finished. I headed to bed and decided to read a little of my book about Abraham Lincoln and John Brown and then go to sleep. I was soon interrupted, however, by my son telling me the toilet was flooding the bathroom. And it was.
I stood in 2 inches of water while plunging the toilet with one hand and holding up the ball float with the other. Tried to turn the water off but the valve wouldn’t budge. Once the toilet was unclogged my son helped me construct a duct tape sling to hold the ball float up while I researched how to fix it. I got out my single lady fix it guide
and it was fixed in no time. Well, it was a bit of a struggle but pretty quickly anyway.
I also replaced the P trap on my kitchen sink recently. And laid some flooring. In the past couple of years I have dealt with mice and bats, sewage back ups, the moving of numerous heavy objects and setting up of various electronics. And it makes me realize how much I let myself rely on other people to do so many things, basic things. Not just plumbing and heavy lifting. I spent so many years feeling like there were only a few very specific things I was capable in. There was always a dad or a husband to depend on. And that’s what I chose to do.
I don’t know if I’ll ever find my person and have a long term relationship but if I do, it will be very different than it always has been. Because I’m very different than I always have been. I used to want someone to take care of me and someone I could take care of. In a childlike way.
Dependent on each other, chasing and being chased by one another, idealizing and devaluing one another. Anything to avoid stillness, connection, intimacy, vulnerability. It’s not just romantic relationships. It’s with everyone in my life and even with myself.
So many people went mad with the pandemic because they were left alone with themselves. In silence and stillness. And so many of us fear it. Because we fear knowing ourselves. We fear the shame, the weaknesses, the parts we’ve been taught are unlovable. We fear ourselves. Because we are the ones that have kept us from getting that hole inside of us filled. Surely it must be our fault. And who would want to know someone like that? Spend time with someone like that?
Judith Herman says trauma is being abandoned. By everyone who was supposed to protect us, humans and God himself. But who is the one who ultimately failed us? It was us. It was me. I made my choices. I just didn’t know how bad it would get. Didn’t know it would never end.
I have a ritual I complete each time I move. My therapist taught me that when I was fixating on something I should picture taking that thought and putting it in a box and placing that box on a shelf for later. I was fixating on The Ordeal at the time so I took the court transcript and literally put it on a shelf in the hall closet. It worked. Now each time I move I take that box and put it in the hall closet of my new house. And if there is a day I need to take it down for a while, I do. And when I’m done I put it back.
My ex-husband reads this blog and looks for things to use against me. I wish he wouldn’t but such he life. My therapist asked me recently why I keep writing it if it bothers me. There are a lot of facets to that answer. One being that trauma is lonely. If you were in war or a natural disaster, you have other people who went through it with you. But most of us who were raped went through it alone. And sometimes you need to talk to someone who knows what it was like. And that person doesn’t exist. And for me, this blog, I know it reaches other people who’ve been through the same thing. Not a lot, but a few anyway. I feel like someone might be listening who understands. And sometimes, when the box is off the shelf, I really need that.
I do my best to forgive myself for the choices I’ve made because wallowing in guilt does no good and is insincere. It is an indulgence. I sit with myself, but sometimes it’s okay to need someone sitting there with you in the darkness. Not because you can’t be alone but because it would be nice to not be alone for a while.
I hope you are out there sitting with me. I hope you know I’m sitting with you too. He did unspeakable things to me. Maybe someone did to you too. I tried to not write about trauma today. I tried to write about how proud I am of myself for fixing the toilet. But I would be lying if I said the box isn’t down right now. That I didn’t read through his appeals last night, late into the night, long after the toilet was fixed and the water mopped up.