Growing up British and in a household with two seriously ill brothers I was taught the stiff upper lip, it’s not that bad approach from a very early age. I learnt to suppress emotions and feelings very well and I grew up believing that I was quite a robust tough woman, if I ever felt low or sorry for myself I would look at either of my brothers and tell myself to shut up and get on and for 32 years of my life it worked a treat.
I grew up with more than my fair share of trauma, I remember waking up screaming the house down from nightmares when I was very young, my dad would always come into my room make me a den and stay with me until I went back over, but as I got a little older it was suddenly a problem, I started being medicated, I was pulled around from drs, social workers and psychs.. I learnt that if I didn’t suppress what I was feeling I’d be forced into a situation I didn’t want to be in so I learnt to suppress and ignore.
I think in reality I’ve always been an affectionate person, I’ve just kept it reserved for those really close to me, like I say in my family it was about the stiff upper lip, we are fine things could be worse etc. Three years ago next month I let down my guard and cried in front of someone I trusted implicitly, I felt perfectly safe and I felt like it was ok to be vulnerable and he took that moment to turn into the worst nightmare imaginable. He physically attacked me until I couldn’t fight anymore and he then forced himself on me.
Afterwards all I could think was well why did you cry infront of him? Why did you let him hug you? You know showing these things only leads to heartache… In the months that followed I didn’t allow myself to feel anything, I got drunk and high as often as I could and I tried to coast through it only this time I couldn’t.
I didn’t know how to cope with the shitstorm in my head I didn’t know how to express my emotions and after a conversation where I tried to tell my ex partner what had happened, I was hit with the response that.. strong women don’t get raped and that men like that only go for victims. That shut me up even more. Eventually I cracked and attempted suicide, afterwards I told the nurse what had happened to me and I was met with self referral here self referral there… I was left on my own to deal with this stuff and I wasn’t equipped.
In the last few months I’ve been rebelling against my meds and against myself, I’m nowhere near as fiery as I was, things don’t get to me the same way.. I thought it was meds dumbing me down but actually I think it’s because I’m finally in a safe enough environment with the most amazing woman teaching me that however or whatever I feel is absolutely fine and if it’s difficult we talk through it. I’m not shunned anymore, called mad, weird, or fucked up.. I’m just allowed to be who I am and it feels amazing.
Since I learnt to trust that I really am safe expressing myself.. my nightmares are only weekly now, not nightly, my flashbacks are mere shudders not the whole consuming sensory ones.. I used to fight any new self image because I didn’t want what he had done to change me in anyway at all but now I’ve stopped fighting it and I’m ok with who I am.
It took me a whole truckload of trauma, a thousand betrayals, C_PTSD, terrible therapists/psychiatrists, and a good few suicide attempts to learn that maintaining that stiff upper lip is so self sabotaging! something awful happened to me and my reactions were only normal, I just hadn’t learnt that. Children should be encouraged to embrace and learn how to deal with things so if god forbid they find themselves in a seemingly hopeless place they know at least a little bit of how to deal. ❤️