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The Reality of Trauma – Loss and Rape

This blog started out as a blog to inspire positivity.  The name itself ‘Dream and Pursue’ is reminiscent of dreaming big, following those dreams and making them a reality.   I started it shortly after I separated, and I believed that. I believed anything was possible. Sometimes, people would tell me different, even friends I deemed close, but I believed I was smart.  I was motivated. So long as I focused on the positive, worked hard and let that infiltrate my being, I’d succeed and be happy.

It worked, for a while.  

The problem with life is that we don’t have control over it.  As much as we’d like to. And as much as I always believed ‘You create your own destiny’

Sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control.  And they can shake you, change you, to the core.

In the end of August, my Grandma died, My Dad died, I was raped – violently, by a complete stranger – on my way to my Dad’s funeral, and then my best guy friend committed suicide a couple of weeks later.

I went into shock.  I was able to focus on my Dad’s funeral and my family while I was home – somehow decompartmentalising the rape (although I did go to the pharmacy and get a morning after pill, and googled like crazy when I was alone – there was no emotion attached).  I even came home to Ireland and went to the British Hairdressing Awards – I probably drank more than I normally would, but I was happy and in full on hostess mode. I went back to work, but my memory started failing me. I wasn’t functioning well at work.  I did have a job that was high-demand, and I had previously thrived in that. One day, on my way to work, I drove past the Cork Rape Crisis Centre.

I thought to myself, “I should probably be tested for STD’s”. It was a practical thought.  Again, no emotion. I carried on to the office, and when the work-day was done, I phoned them.  I don’t even remember the phone call, but I remember hanging up and bursting into tears.

Within the week, I took a leave of absence from work.  Although I remember my first visit to the rape crisis centre, while I waited for the therapist, I was working ‘like a boss’.  She came in, and said something like ‘look at you, taking over the world’. Part of me was still able to compartmentalise. That didn’t last long.

I didn’t even recognise myself.  I fell into such a dark place. Where I had always enjoyed dressing cute, getting my nails and eyelashes done, doing my makeup and hair.  All of a sudden, none of that mattered. Where I had always been outgoing and loved people, I became a hermit. Where I had always been career-driven, I didn’t even care if I had money for food.  I barely left my house, and when I did, I wore my sons’ sweatshirts and my gym pants – no makeup. Part of me didn’t care or have the energy, and part of me felt safer, not feeling attractive.

I’m six months in now – it’s March.  All of this happened in September (my Grandma and Dad dying within the last 10 days of August).  Most of this time has been spent ‘trying to get back to myself’. I still haven’t been able to focus on each individual event, or grieve properly.  I lost myself. I felt like my soul and personality were taken from my body, but my body was left, still living, but not.  

Sometimes I felt like I was subsisting – no emotions, just going through life.  Other times I felt incredible sadness and despair. Only recently, within the last 10 days, have I started to feel anger.  This is foreign to me, and scary. I have reacted in ways I wouldn’t normally.

Mind you, there are other things that have happened since those traumas.  I won’t go into them here, mainly for the sake of people I care for that would be affected.  But it has seemed like every time I have gotten my head above water, some ‘god’ or whoever controls the universe, was playing whack-a-mole with me.

I can’t handle stress like I used to.  Things that may have upset me pre-September, now send me into a very dark spiral.  OR the contrast, some things that would have normally upset me, I’m so detached from the last few months.  Like I don’t care about anything.

My son is missing part of his brain.  This might sound unrelated, but bear with me.  When I was pregnant, the doctors said he would die at birth, or if he lived, he would only live for a few days.  And yet, he lived. And thrived. He was seen by so many neurologists and specialists in the early days, but they eventually told me that my son was advanced for his age,and had they not had the brain scan, nobody may have ever known of his condition.  I told the doctor of all I had been reading online – it was all hopeless and dark. He told me, “Naomi, people write when they are desperate. When they are hurting. When things are going okay, people don’t go online. For the very reason that things are going ok”

I have been diagnosed with PTSD.  I’ve looked online for cases of people who have had PTSD and then reverted to their normal lives. I couldn’t find any.  I believe that is for the same reason my doctor told me years ago “When things are going ok, people don’t go online”

I haven’t yet made it to the end of the tunnel.  I’m not back to my pre-September self – although at times, I see glimpses.

But, I want to be two things – I want to help give women a voice, to de-stigmatise rape and trauma, and I want to be the source that shows ‘Thing can be okay – even amazing – despite hell”.  I don’t want it to be some shallow ‘positive thinking’ sense of okay. I want it to be real amazing. Despite real hell. I’m not there yet. But I invite you on my journey….

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by

A Canadian girl, living in Cork, Ireland. I believe life is to be lived, and lived fully.

4 Comments

  1. I’m so, so incredibly sorry that you’ve had to go through all this trauma. You already know this, but therapy/counseling is imperative to processing all of it and moving forward, as a newer version of you. I’ve heard it said that grief is like a plate of spaghetti… Nobody goes through the stages of grieving in any specific order. With every bite, every day, there’s often a slippery tangle of anger, denial, bargaining, etc…

    I’m really upset about everything you’ve been forced to endure. Writing and giving tender attention to your journey, without expecting yourself to respond in any specific way, might be the best way to show yourself grace. And you’ll need that to heal. Be who you are today, keep reading, keep putting one foot ahead of the other, and don’t EVER compare yourself to the woman before the trauma.

    You are loved and all of your beautiful, passionate emotions will return and be validated by the supportive people around you.

    Be open, be private, be loud or angry, be silent and subdued, be undone and be done up or outdone or overcome; be stoic, be rational, be irrational and rude, be hurt, be protective, be fierce or weak and unmotivated or relentless. Just BE. I’ll go with you on your journey and listen and learn too.

    Like

    • I somehow missed all the comments on this post until now! But I love this – so much truth in what you wrote. I particularly loved your last paragraph ‘Be open, be private, be loud or angry, be silent and subdued, be undone and be done up or outdone or overcome; be stoic, be rational, be irrational and rude, be hurt, be protective, be fierce or weak and unmotivated or relentless. Just BE.’. I have been ALL of these things over the past many months. I haven’t even understood it myself, but I think you are right – ALL of these things are part of the healing process and we need to give ourselves the freedoms to BE – whatever that looks like. It’s a journey to a new happier normal.

      Thank you for this x

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  2. I’m so upset reading this. No one deserves to go through these things and in particular not someone as nice as you. If there is anything I can do please let me know. Greg x

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