“Just Trying to Survive” is the title of the first chapter of my book-in-progress, “Phoenix Rising.” For those of you just tuning-in, this work is an autobiographical account of the sexual abuse I experienced during my childhood and what it took to heal from it. This particular chapter is a description of as many of the episodes of abuse that I can recall and it is the most difficult one to complete. The book – and my life – wouldn’t make sense without this chapter.
I am so happy to say that I am three-quarters of the way through this chapter. I started this section in September 2010 (when I began this blog) – this is an indication of how long it is taking because it is sooo exhausting (as well as exhilarating) to write. (I am also working on other parts of the book which are much easier to ‘give birth to’ than this one.)
Below is the beginning of this section which describes the lowest level I sank to in my adult life before I turned things around for good. I hope this helps anyone who believes or feels that they cannot overcome helplessness and hopelessness.
(Please note that there will never be any description of abusive events on this blog as it is an open medium where not everyone knows what they might be stumbling upon.)
“I was numb – staring at the ceiling while lying in my bed. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to move. Breathing was difficult because I didn’t want to breathe. I had reached the lowest point one could ever reach in life. So severely depressed, I wanted to stop breathing – existing had become too difficult, too painful.
Some time passed before I got out of bed through sheer will power. I began sobbing uncontrollably – suffocating, agonizing wails filled the house. Crying brought some relief as it was a sign that I was alive, still able to feel, to express my agony. Despite this release, my pain was still so profound that I began to think of ways to end my life.
The idea of overdosing on sleeping pills appealed to me as I always thought that this would be a peaceful way to go. I started planning what I had to do to get them…go to the doctor to get a prescription, fill it and then return home to guzzle them down before my family got home. When my family entered my thoughts my sobs increased in volume and emotional intensity as I realized how my permanent absence from their lives would devastate them. I cancelled my suicidal plans and decided to prepare myself to face the day as usual.
At one point, I tried putting a lid on my tears believing I could get ready much faster this way. But the ongoing ache in my chest indicated otherwise, so the howling continued as did my morning ritual in a kind of robotic, slow-motion manner. My breakfast consisted of a slice of bread which I had to force down my throat.
Before leaving the house, I gave myself a choice as I did not want to go on like this anymore. My depression and suicidal thoughts had been a constant companion as I was growing up but this time a firm decision had to be made. Today was the day that this unbearable suffering would cease by one of two ways: ending my life (yes, it became an option again only minutes later) or getting proper help in order to live instead of merely existing, which was itself a struggle most of the time. I chose life.
This decision alleviated my tears temporarily so that I could get to University. There was a student counseling department that I returned to in order to get ongoing help. (I had a counselor from there a year earlier that left soon after therapy began. As I no longer wanted to be passed around from one therapist to another through the public education system, I decided to deal with things on my own – this was very naïve.) It wasn’t the last time I would see a healer but it was a major turning point in my life. At the age of nineteen, I ended this depressive rollercoaster ride and began an arduous journey of profound healing which transformed me forever more.”
Copyright Helen Papadopoulos 2010
Here’s to Hope, Healing and Happiness.