“I hate what I’ve become. The label of victim has always been so opposite to being such a strong woman. But now…it sticks. Some things happened to me at work. Intellectually I know it’s not my fault, I know it could have been worse and I know I should stand up for myself. But…”
Recovery from trauma requires self-care and takes time. I know this, I should believe this. Instead, all I do is retreat to an alone place and cry. I’ve never been much of a crier, my exes call me cold and stoic. I’ve always been high achieving, goal oriented and constantly moving forward. Now the future seems stalled. I have severe headaches as I prepare resumes, I cry in interviews and I weep as I type. I can’t concentrate long enough to read a chapter of anything and I fail to comprehend as intuitively as I usually do. I submerge into self-imposed chastisement when I see myself incapable of doing 1/3rd of what I used to do. I used to be highly effective, productive and brilliant.
I mourn my current reality – crippling disability, limited capability and lost potential. I don’t know what I am now.
As an extrovert, networking and job schmoozing were second nature to me. Mentoring came easily and I was always helpful in guiding a person who needed my professional insight. Now it drains me to even think about engaging anyone new or doing public speaking. I’m a strategic person, self-motivated and independent. Now, I take pills the night before and another set in the morning, then anxiety medication just before even a coffee meeting. Then my memory has patches and my mind processes slow down with a foggy disposition that scares me. I need help to fill a basic form or meet deadlines.
I’m a joke, but no one’s laughing.
Journaling helps because I love to write, but I can see the imperfections. On the rare very clear day when my intellect goes up a notch to a healthy 50%, I read over what I publish. I break down in self-loathing at the inadequacy of my output. As if I was an elite athlete now operating with a broken foot, I’m frustrated and upset. I used to be much kinder to myself, and it doesn’t help that I obsessively ruminate. Most days I feel useless. Just enough energy to get out of bed to pretend to be myself for my family to leave to carry on their normal day. I fake the smile I used to have naturally in joy and gratitude for life. Then I curl up in my isolation and lose time.
It’s getting harder to pretend.
I’m now often mean and short tempered, and snapping at my sweet love. He doesn’t deserve this, and he just wants his mommy back. I want his mommy back. I used to be a great mommy.
You never know just how important safety and security is until you’ve lost it, twice.
I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do. Gotten help, sought counseling and now I’m taking medication. I’m on an imposed pause and allowing myself to heal physically and emotionally. But my mind never stops…so many questions, so many what ifs, so many anxieties, so many doubts.
I spend a lot of time pondering – is depression really real?
There’s a massive economic cost of racism, sexual harassment and workplace bullying. I’m told that it’s natural: this feeling I can’t describe, as it takes me over during my solitude attempt to overcome the experience of being dehumanized, belittled and treated as unworthy for no reason other than your gender and skin. Though no one can quantify a reasonable or average baseline and unfortunately, I’ve not come across any research on it to help me cognitively accept my own truth.
No one can see the “broken limb” à la my brain, but I can sense the clouding. I can feel the pain when I try to push through. I can’t escape the sensation of deep deep inability.
I’m frustrated and miserable and helpless and hopeless and sad. Oh so sad. But it’s not just a mood. It’s the realization that the law protects this international organization and let them do whatever they want, to replicate whatever prejudice spread the world over, and to allow anything that goes. Why, because it enjoys a space immune from actual accountability. A system so rigged against me that I’m too afraid to fight. So crippled and damaged that I can’t see myself deserving fairness. I used to be brave. Fear has never been me.
Something in me has been altered. I’m falling endlessly, head first in a dark pit, and I can’t see up.
Anger I could handle. Rage I could understand. Justice I could demand.
But this…this…this is heartbreak.
END PART III