Trigger Warning- Sexual Assault
It only took one right to realise exactly who I was to him
Weeks of sharing and sharing and oversharing
And in that hour all I was to him was a fallen leaf to pick up and take away to wherever he wanted
I learned I was most wanted
When I was undressed instead of speaking
I was no longer a person when my voice was unheard
And I was all his when I gave up and gave in
No matter what I said or didn’t say
I was silent to him
I was a leaf picked from a growing tree
And once admired
Joined the ones growing brittle on the earth beneath the canopy
And from that place I could see
Exactly how far and how fast I had been pushed
And exactly how far and how long it would take me to climb all the way back up
~by Emma Cunningham
I swear to god I wish it were a movie
I wish at the end of the day I could push the scene around me down to the floor
Take of the makeup from my eyes
And the skin off my face, neck and limbs like it was latex
Step out of these clothes that feel tight against my knees and my chest
But I know that
Once I am home I can’t stop being her
I can’t close the script and turn off the accents and the mannerisms I never chose in the first place
Oh the luxury of being an actor
They know what sadness, anger and elation feel like
But living in the shoes of someone who never stops feeling
Who can never stop aching when the curtain comes down at the end of the show
Who can’t quite just
The music doesn’t stop playing
And the dramatics don’t stop exploding
And the spot light will keep on shining
Even if it’s a bank holiday or a birthday
And it never will be
A play that I put on life like it’s a stage
Don’t think for a second I got lessons on surviving this
Because you don’t audition to be ill and weak and lonely
And I’m never sexy and sad, or exciting when I can’t stop drinking or fashionably mysterious like you wish I was
So you better quote me like I’m your idol
You better clap and throw flowers and cry with me when I bow
I hope you start to love me
I hope you start to understand me
When it’s over
When it’s the final scene
I hope you love me
Will you love me when you realise it’s not an act?
-by Emma Cunningham
I think of ‘trauma’ as a massive umbrella term used to describe an event or events that have occurred in your life, and what you experienced was unpleasant and/or distressing and has been hard to cope with and had an impact on your life in some way. But this term is very flexible and means different things to different people. There are no set limits on what can be classed as a trauma. Personally, I’ve been treated mostly with respect when talking about my trauma, but for many people opening up about it can leave them feel not only vulnerable and upset, but sometimes very invalid. It is not okay to invalidate someone’s trauma, don’t let anyone tell you that it wasn’t severe or ‘bad enough’ to be serious (every trauma is serious). The same can also be said for forms of addiction, no matter how long your addition lasted for, or how serious the physical impacts were- you are still valid, in the same way weight, inpatient stays and how you look do not impact how valid or serious an eating disorder is. Often playing in to these natural and common insecurities about how severe and valid a mental illness, addiction or trauma is, can encourage an unhealthy, toxic and often deadly sense of competitiveness in mental health communities. The trauma is valid no matter if you did or didn’t develop a mental health problem like PTSD or anxiety because of it. How long it lasted, the age you were when it happened and who it involved do not have any impact on the perceived ‘severity’ of the trauma. And of course it is absolutely never your fault. I think the way to think about it is that trauma is not about *what* happened, but about the way it affects/affected you and the impacts of what you experienced. Everyone is allowed to work through, move on and heal from what happened- you are worthy of that. Always.
This house is haunted.
There are doors that slam in the night and
I feel cold hands slip into mine
from time to time
This house is cold and
I am followed by a ghost that
Makes me shed my skin from now and again
But it is far from dead
It is alive and screaming in the evenings
An unhappy family is a noisy one.
This body is haunted
No need for a costume
I have a wardrobe full of masks and capes and witches hats
To keep me warm on a cold night
Footsteps run from the back of my head to my eyeballs
And voices loud enough to make me shake
My body feels like a skeleton on bad days
My body is a skeleton some months
My mind is haunted
My brain a living nightmare playing over and over and over
And there is no running away from a mind you can’t escape
There are no nightlights in my head to keep the monsters away
Even on days where the only sound I know is
the beating of my heart on the inside of my skull
But I am not scared of monsters
You learn to steady the tremble
And sit through the jump scares
And wait for the morning
Some days recovery is a field. And a yellow weed is growing in a beautiful ploom in the centre.
It takes your energy and all of your strength to pull the weed (as beautiful and wild as it seems) out of the ground. But when you turn around there are hundreds of new weeds, some of them yellow, some of them green and blue and purple and crimson, sprouting up from the earth.
Then you realise you need a helping hand to get rid of the weeds. You enlist family, friends, therapists and doctors to help you clear your field. It feels good to have a helping hand.
From time to time weeds pop up here and there but now you have a team to help you pluck them away and help the earth beneath you heal. As seasons change and sun shines the condition of the field changes and varies but it always remains your field.
And soon you see flowers blooming on the grass in vibrant colours and shades. A fiesta of energy and life.
Other days recovery is a battlefield.