Two-thirds of the month is almost gone and my initiative is burning strong, though day to day the inspiration is hit or miss. Some days I have trouble addressing the topic at all, but one thing a survivor or witness of domestic violence knows is that when the memories come at you, it’s like being attacked or watching someone being attacked all over again. It can push you down, it can trap you, and it can make the road to healing feel like an impossible feat. What it can do on the contrary though, is it can help to set you free. Many survivors suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and if I understand correctly, there is an intense form of therapy in which a trained psychologist or psychiatrist will guide a PTSD patient through the episodes in a controlled manner, over and over again, until the patient learns to lower their pulse, feel less panicked, breathe a little deeper, break their frozen gaze to find a point of concentration outside of their mind’s eye, and learn, most importantly, to detach from this entity of the past and focus more on the present with each new session.
It sounds like a bit of tough love– like being told, “this was your life, your experience, now deal with it,”– but with a safety net below you so that every time you fall, you learn to release the tension, fear it less, and come to trust the therapeutic value of catharsis. This is what writing has done for me, both in the past, but especially during this month in which I have dedicated a poem a day to the very topic whose ghosts had once nearly destroyed me. I didn’t go to a shelter to escape because I was afraid it would cost me everything, so instead, I suffered a slowly churning and dangerously in-your-face process. It was years ago, but I am still dealing with the consequences of a court system that failed me, as I was treated like a criminal for bringing these matters forward. How dare a victim with nothing to give except for her wisdom come forth and accuse a man of these things without the almighty dollar to prove it. I am still dealing with isolation and have difficulty, therefore, in making connections outside of those that were not broken or lost over time.
I am urging you now to give in to the power of words. If you have suffered trauma, please tell someone you trust– unabashedly, and without restraint. Write your story down so you can see it, read it, touch it, and eventually, release it. Every time I write about it– and I mean, really write about it– I tap into something new, something darker than I had remembered it before, and by writing about it, becomes enveloped in light. The more I remember, the easier it becomes to move on and to rid myself of those overwrought feelings of emptiness, guilt, and despair. I deserve to heal, and so do you. We all deserve the chance to be heard, so speak out, and know that somewhere, someone will hear you and it will change your lives forever. It will get better.