What Safety Feels Like to the Body of an Abuse Survivor

When I am afraid, absolutely afraid, my entire world collapses in on itself. My perspective shrinks down into a small pin, my feet loosen from their place upon the ground, and all the normally amplified sensation in my body throbs under the surface of my skin. I hear my own heartbeat, I taste my own spit, and my vision blurs at the edges. My external hyper-awareness flips inward, and I become my only focus. Frozen, yet vibrating with a compulsory need to react.

It is in this state that I begin to use every tool my abuser’s injected into me to convince myself of some pretty intense lies. I become the manipulative voice of my mother, I embody the insidious calm of my father, I morph into and befriend their torture in an effort to deny that I was abused. The emotion and embodiment of my autonomous truth is something that I never had the option to experience until now. Which makes new safety is my gateway drug into madness before it is ever my pathway into freedom.

Self-belief is the only way out of the hellish labyrinth that is reclaiming my autonomy after losing it, and/or never having it in the first place. Learning to sit with the disorienting madness in the aftermath of new information in my body is never easy. In fact, the agony of it derails me to this day. However, as I continue to walk out my privilege of healing, these new sensations of safety do become more known and less jarring to my system. As my individual, autonomous, embodiment becomes more common, I am able to exist in states that were once “not allowed” (e.g. most emotional states) and slowly learn how welcome I am to be there now.

Even when the experience may push me into the aforementioned states of denial and delusion, I get to learn how to hold even this with compassion. To allow my fear to exist. To welcome the pre-planning of some of the intense choices my mind is begging of me to make just to give that part of me that is terrified some assurance that they’re heard. That ensures my screaming insides that, even if we don’t choose these panic-driven choices in the end, they’re not alone.

Being thrust into states of delusion is rather common for me, I just don’t react to these states the same way I used to. This means that they often become far more drawn out. For example, I have been in one for the last two weeks. I wake up at 1 am and I feel led to erase as much of me from existence as possible. I weep as I look out at the mountains I live, and feel disgusted over how unworthy I am as a settler to exist there. Not in a necessary and proactive way, but in trauma bound way that prevents me from being an active participant in any form of restoration that could be possible. I experience a visceral sickness that partners with wanting to deny every part of my story and deny every piece of myself on a daily basis. I project harm upon my heart as I process my relationship with my dog (see previous post). I strip healthy responsibility away from my partner and thrust all blame upon myself for any issue. I isolate, I cower, and I self-sabotage.

Finding balance in being compassion towards these traits, and holding healthy responsibility towards them is an ever-fluid experience. Abuse is real, and the impact of trauma in our bodies is undeniable. I believe your individual, autonomous, intersecting residual impacts wholly, without any demand to know why they exist. Just as I get to believe my individual, autonomous, intersecting impacts wholly, without any demand to know my whole truth. It is the dance within our self-belief work that changes everything. It moves the screaming, the weight of the hurt, from our bodies and into the open. It provides us with the option to be internally led, to find rest along the journey, to lean back instead of push through. To find grace in the once armoured reactions, and place our feet back into the metaphorical soil of our own ground.

I do not question your authority in your own healing work, nor in your survival. I do not doubt your experience of trauma, nor your fight to surface the madness. Your quest for stability, your silence and your rage, your human is welcome here. You are valued and valid here. The trauma lasts for generations, but so does healing from it. I stand beside you in your work. You are not alone.