Many people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse use dissociation as a coping mechanism. Those of you who understand such things will hear me when I say that it feels like we were made for living through a pandemic.
Due to circumstances beyond our control we were forced to become masters of survival, in total isolation, unsure if we would ever make it out alive. But if that is the case, if I am in fact a master of survival, why am I having such a hard time coping with this current situation?
Is it the physical distance between T and I? Or with other people? Is that what’s causing the distress? I know that I am struggling constantly with the fear that someone I can’t see right in front of me (T mostly), has gone and disappeared off the face of the earth. But I also experience a deep internal struggle between wanting and not wanting connection. At the same time as wanting someone to be close to me, I find that I am absolutely terrified of having someone too close. I know we are born needing to connect with others, but all my life I have been uncomfortable with the type of connection others find easy. For me, connection alternates between move closer or die and move closer, you die. So is that what’s happening here? The lack of connection? The fear of connection? Is that why the isolation is hard?
Or is it because of all the changes in routine? I’ve never been one who has been able to cope well with changes in routines and I find it quite anxiety-inducing at the best of times. Not so long ago T described changes for me, however minor, as catastrophic. He has said that is why separations and changes are so difficult to manage for me. So, is that it? Is that why it feels so hard? Because my routine has changed? Because everything has changed?
Perhaps it is both the physical distance and change of routines that have me on edge. I don’t know really but I do believe they both play some sort of a role, yes. But I also think there’s more.
It’s this house. I am trapped in it. Literally. And I have come to realize over the last 5 weeks that the only thing I want to do, is leave it. But I can’t. And knowing that I can’t, is almost too much for me to bear.
I find myself surrounded by a sense of hauntedness. Yet, I’m not sure whether I am actually haunted or if it’s just a feeling of being in a haunted place.
This house, it’s haunting. These walls, they know all of my secrets. The ghosts of my past roam within these rooms. These are the ghosts who come for me in nightmares. I can hear their voices even though I haven’t seen them in years. I catch glimpses of them in the mirrors. I can remember all the things they used to say, all those words. What did they all mean anyway? The words still haunt me in ways I can never explain, never shake.
When I think of this house I do not remember times of love, laughter or safety. I’ve often wondered whether or not it is cursed because good things never seemed to happen here. Things like fists, tears, rage, leather belt buckles and immense sadness are ways I would describe my childhood home. I try to imagine there must have been something or someone along the way that gave glimpses of hope because it feels impossible to have survived with nothing. But perhaps telling myself this is just a way to make it seem less horrific somehow. I don’t know really.
I’ve tried to change the way it looks over the years. Out with the old so they say. But coats of paint and tearing down of wallpaper do not make the ghosts go away. And now that I’m working from home, spending so much time here, it’s hit me how uncomfortable I am in the one place that should feel safe.
I’m starting to wonder if we can ever truly escape the ghosts of our past.