TW – Sexual Assault
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them because, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank
“I had another dream last night. It shook me.”, I told my therapist.
“Let’s start with what you did before you went to sleep. How did yesterday look like for you?”, she asked.
“I went to a ping pong game. It was okay. I met a couple of people but I really just liked playing. After the fracture, I wasn’t sure when I could play any of these games again. My foot was sore throughout the day, so I know I must take it slow. Later at night, I went to this social event. That was surprisingly good. I met some nice people and might have made a friend or two. I even flirted, it was good.”, I recalled my experiences from yesterday.
“Then what happened?”, she asked.
“Then it got late or at least late for me. I decided to come back and went to sleep. I had experienced this anxiety the entire day. I remember feeling quite helpless at one time when I got lost and wasn’t able to find my way to the ping pong place. Anyway, by the time I got home, I felt okay.”, I told my therapist.
“What was the dream about?”, she asked.
“Another one of those disturbing dreams. At least, they were all humans. So, I guess that was a good part. It started as a normal dream. I was with a couple of friends and I was helping them with some financial stuff. But, then, in the dream, I started to wonder if I could trust them with some of the information that I was sharing with them. To ensure that no one could take advantage of that information, a friend from my teenage years helped me take certain steps that would prevent those details from leaking out. There was this guy in the dream who was trying to exploit that information but my friend and I managed to secure it.
But I noticed that despite knowing the intentions of this guy, my friend continued to connect with him. I felt disappointed because she was continuing to connect with someone who she knew hurt us. And then the dream took a weird turn.”, I was now getting anxious again. My heart felt so heavy as if it was about to explode.
“Breath in slowly and let it out. Talk when you’re ready.”, my therapist guided me to calm my raising anxiety.
After grounding myself I continued, “I was talking to my friend when this girl came running towards her, shouting my friend’s name. We both turned towards her and saw that she was hurt and was crying. I don’t know who that girl was but I could see that she was scared. At this point, my friend changed into one of my guides. We asked the girl what happened. She was hysterical, breathing heavily. She said, “He raped me. He killed my mother and beat my brother”. As she was saying these words, I could also see who she was talking about. It was a guy who this girl knew and was probably close to her.
My dad walked up to us hearing all the screaming. When he looked at the girl, he just turned away because he didn’t want to get involved in that matter for fear of it tarnishing his image. I remember looking at him and feeling disappointed. I remember this anger flaring up in me but I also remember feeling helpless. I turned back to the girl who was still crying but had stopped talking. I asked her to lie down and started stroking her head. I could feel her hurt and also see it with my eyes. I remember thinking that stroking her head wasn’t enough but that’s what she needed at the moment from me. And that’s what I could do for her to help her deal with the situation. Then I woke up.”, I told my therapist my dream, feeling the anger build up inside me again.
“That’s a disturbing dream and I am not surprised that it brought up so many emotions in you. How often do you have these dreams now?”, she asked
“This is the fifth this year. Two others were equally gruesome but on a different topic and the other two were, well esoteric. When will they stop?”, I asked her
“I wish I could tell you when but I am sorry, I don’t know either. What I can tell you is that the frequency will keep decreasing, and so will the intensity. Have you noticed any difference in these dreams from the last two years?”, my therapist asked with genuine concern on her face.
“Yes, when they were at their peak, it was a nightmare every day for months. I’ve observed that the intensity has reduced and they feel more grounded in this reality.”, I told her.
“Good. I know it might not seem like a lot of progress but these things take time. You just keep doing what’s working for you and you will keep seeing progress.
What does this dream mean for you?”, she asked.
“I told you last time that my body, mind, and soul don’t let me ignore them anymore. A couple of topics have been coming up for a while now for my blog too – vulnerability, feeling helpless, losing hope in mankind, and feeling disappointed in humanity. I think all the changes are just triggering those feelings. By the way, I’ve disassociated now”, I told my therapist, noticing how my mind felt blocked.
“The protector is trying to protect you from feeling all the emotions. It’s okay. If that’s what you need right now, it’s fine. Can we ask him if he can take a step back so that we can see what’s going on underneath? It’s okay if he doesn’t want to.” My IFS therapist asked me.
“Yes, he is willing to take a step back.”, I waited for my therapist’s guidance.
“Is anything coming up for you?”, she asked.
“I used to be a fighter. I used to fight for justice. I used to get angry when I witnessed any injustice, especially against women and girls. Then, I stopped.
I think my father represented that part of me. The part of me that has stopped trying and didn’t want to get involved anymore. When she said, he killed my mother, I think that represents the motherly aspect of me which I found hard to connect with. My teacher told me once that to him, mother energy was very evident in me. For me, it never was. However, that has always been the guiding energy in my life. And I think the brother represented the protected side of me which continued the fight for me. I think the girl herself represented the wounded part that has finally escaped captivity. She’s finally willing to come out of the shadows.
I sometimes just feel that I’ve lost hope in humanity.”, I told my therapist.
“Is this the female part of you talking again? Can you ask her to take a step back and allow you to be the witness? Or are you identifying as her right now?”, my therapist asked me.
“Almost identifying with her. There is not enough distance. She’s wounded. She says she’s beyond repair. She says she’s been hurt too much and she doesn’t trust anyone. Not even God. Not her family nor her friends.”, I started crying.
“Talk to me.”, my therapist asked me to continue.
“People are so unapologetic for their behaviors. There is so much hatred and hunger for power in this world that we’ve lost our humanity. We have no shame, no empathy, and no love. We don’t care enough. That guy is still out there and there is no justice. Who knows who else he would have done similar things to. Whereas I am continuing to struggle every fucking day of my life.
I have witnessed the men in my family being so unconcerned about these disturbing acts. They continue to blame women. Not just them, but so many other people. It’s disgusting how our society continues to ignore the wrongdoings and allow the perpetrators to roam around freely. While those who have suffered, continue to struggle.
I’ve met too many people in my life who see no wrong in how we continue to discriminate and see no injustice in the way we force our beliefs on others. They have issues with people asking for equal rights but don’t take a stance when they witness discrimination or harassment. They don’t take a stance and instead find excuses for the behaviors of those who they love irrespective of how their loved ones hurt others.
It’s so disgusting how someone can just decide to control and violate another human being without any remorse. This part has lost hope because it has witnessed so many instances of these crimes and has seen people show little to no concern. It has seen how there is no justice. This part doesn’t trust humans, especially men, because it has witnessed too much trauma at the hands of men. This part doesn’t trust in God’s intentions or power either because they’ve made her go through too much. If there was a God, she says, then it won’t allow these things to keep happening. She says either that God is not as powerful as we have made them be or they don’t exist. It’s too much.”, I continued crying.
“It’s okay, let it out.”, my therapist nudged me to continue and not get lost in the pain.
“What was my mistake? I hardly knew how to walk. I was a kid. I was helpless. My biggest mistake at that age was to trust the humans around me. Do you know how hard it is for me to connect with another person? How hard it is to feel vulnerable with someone else? I am constantly scared. When I try to connect with men, a part of me just wants to run away because it scares me. It scares me to think about getting into a relationship with a guy because I know I’ll just want to run away. Not because I won’t love him but because I can’t stand him touching me. Because I won’t be able to trust him. Before I knew that I was carrying all this pain, I used to just go numb. It was easier that way. Now, I can’t do that. And it has just made it harder.
When I got together with my ex, I thought it would be different. I thought being with a girl would make me feel safe. It did, emotionally. But my body remembered. And I froze again. I wanted to run away from her too. That’s how broken I felt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman. I am still scared. But it was a little different with her. Not because she was a woman but because of who she was.”, I continued telling my innermost fears.
“How was it different with her?”, my therapist asked.
“She has a Master’s in Trauma. I told her about my past and about my struggles. She went above and beyond to make me feel safe. She let me know it was okay for me to say no and asked for my consent. That it was okay to take it slow. There were still instances where my body would go numb and I would witness the disassociation take over my body. I wouldn’t allow her near me in those instances and would retrieve myself into a cacoon. In those times, her education and training helped me bring myself back to my body. She wouldn’t pressure me but just let me be. She wouldn’t get near me but would not leave either, letting me know that I wasn’t alone. And then when I was ready, she would ask me to let it out. She made it safe for me to feel and didn’t treat me like I was broken.
She had a Master’s in Trauma – who has that? It’s as if she came into my life to show me that I can feel safe too with the right person. But not everyone has a Master’s in trauma, do they?”, I told my therapist.
“Sounds like she had a lot of empathy too. And she respected your boundaries. Is that something that you can offer this part of you? Empathy and allowing her to grieve like she wants to?”, my therapist asked me.
“For how long? How long will I keep going down this road?”, I asked.
“If you had a friend who was going through these struggles or if someone you loved had that history, how long will you give them?”, she asked.
“As long as it takes them to feel safe.”, I answered honestly.
“And how will you do that for her?”, she asked.
“By loving her and caring for her. By allowing her to grieve, to feel, and to let out when she feels like she could. By not forcing her to move past that trauma. By playing the role of a healer in her life and by listening to her when she feels like her boundaries are not respected. By continuing to work with her instead of against her. By letting her know with my actions and words that she is safe. By stopping telling her that she’s broken. She has suffered enough to have another trauma added to her pain.”, I responded.
“Is that what she needs? Patience?”, my therapist asked.
“Yes. She keeps asking me to be patient. There is a part of me which is so ready to move on and there is this part that doesn’t trust anyone or anything. Not this society and has no trust in the Universe either.”, I told my therapist.
“It makes sense why she has trouble with trust. Can you see why?”, she asked.
“Yes. She was left to deal with a lot of stuff by herself. This, the teenage years, the accident, the nightmares, the emergence, and her struggle with her identity. She doesn’t believe in a God and doesn’t feel like there is anyone out there to guide us.
It’s so weird to be in this situation because I struggle with something that I have experienced myself.”, I voiced my struggles with faith.
“I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for you. To me, it sounds like a part of you wanted to remember to have faith despite everything that you’ve been through.”, my therapist tried to help me find my strength.
“Yes, there is a part. A part that hopes. That was a big part of my identity growing up. Hope – hope in a better world. That’s why I used to fight for justice. Fight for the vulnerable. You know, my ex had that – hope and a fight for a better future. It’s something I admired in her. But also constantly felt like I had lost somewhere along the way, especially during and after the awakening.
She asked me once, why did I stop? I told her there is no point to fight. I don’t believe that we can be any better. We’ll just continue to hurt each other, to cause pain. That’s what we do. We hurt the vulnerable and we celebrate the predators, the conquerors. We love those who cause us and others pain and we don’t take a stand for those who are hurt. And somehow all these people who cause pain, continue to get what they want. Because no one ever takes a stand against them. We just continue to ignore the impact of their actions and instead make the ones who were hurt, suffer more by isolating them. We make those people heroes who have no empathy but don’t bat an eye before hurting someone who is just trying to survive.”, I laid my heart bare.
“I can see the disappointment that this part of you is carrying. It reminds me of the book that you mentioned last time. Can you tell me again what you read.”, my therapist asked.
“It’s called “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It’s about a man, a psychiatrist actually, who was captured during Holocaust. It talks about his experiences where he witnessed the worst and the best of mankind. It was a miracle he survived but he made it alive. After he was released, he continued the research that he had started before his capture and came up with a type of therapy where he helped people find meaning in their suffering.
He says, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how'”. That’s what his therapy aimed to do. Help people find their “why”. That’s what I feel I have lost – the why.
When I was looking for answers to what is the purpose of it all, I kept re-reading the parts where he says, “Ultimately, we should not ask what the meaning of life is, but rather must recognize that it is us who are asked… It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us… It can be said that they (prisoners) were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom—which cannot be taken away—that makes life meaningful and purposeful.“. It’s an inspiring book. I might read it again”.
“What do these words mean to you?”, my therapist asked.
“In the book, he talked about how the prisoners had turned apathetic after witnessing such horrendous acts. I wonder if that’s what most of us have turned into because of all the crimes and injustice we witness every single day. The problem is, I am not that person. I can’t stand injustice and I can’t pretend to be that person, not anymore. I have tried to be silent but it feels like I am going against who I am at my core. And that’s what this part needs from me – to be myself and stop turning into someone I am not – a human being who doesn’t care.
In the dream, when I saw that girl, I was filled with anger. I remember thinking that I wanted to hurt that guy. But my guide, in the dream, asked me to be there with her instead. To stroke her head and help her deal with it because that’s what she needed the most. She needed to be with someone who she could trust and I could be that to her. She needed me to be with her. I think that’s my innermost desire. To find someone who I can trust completely. And also to be by myself and feel safe.
I wonder if, earlier in the dream, the version of my teenage years friend and her continued connection with that guy who had conspired to hurt us represented just that – disappointment in those who choose to ignore the wrongs in the world. Those who don’t take a stand against what’s wrong and choose to, thus, be complacent. Those who don’t act when their action can mean the world to someone in need. They are as responsible for all these sufferings as are the ones who commit such acts. I read a stance in Gita once, “It is a sin to commit injustice, but it is a greater sin to tolerate injustice“. I think I know what that means now. I think I know now why I found it hard to ignore the wrongs.
There was another aspect of that dream. About me feeling vulnerable and not trusting others with the information that I shared with them. I know now what it feels like to have your secrets spilled out without your consent. Your inner desires and feelings are shared with someone you didn’t consent to have that access. You feel vulnerable because a part of you that you had been hiding is out in the open. You fear judgment and criticism. You feel betrayed. You’re hurt. And in cases like mine, you are re-traumatized. I think I can see the importance of trust and privacy more clearly now. I struggled with that lesson when I invaded someone’s privacy and didn’t understand it then but I do now.”, I confessed.
“Sounds like you’re trying to focus on the learnings. That’s a beautiful thing to focus on. How will you summarize your learning?”, my therapist asked. She was finally smiling too.
“I have no idea why I went through any of it. And I have no control over that past either. What I do have control over is where I go from here. And how I can help another person who is going through something similar. That’s the only “why” I can bring myself to care about right now. I don’t know about expecting humans to be any better but I can help myself and those who’ve suffered. Maybe that’s how I find my hope back.”, I wondered. I had finally stopped crying and could feel the heaviness slowly lifting from my heart.
“Helping others can be a form of therapy itself. You’ve experienced so much in your life and you have much wisdom to share from your learnings. A lot of people can benefit from that. I sincerely wish you consider it someday.”, the therapist expressed.
“I tried to join a domestic abuse support group to help those who are victims of domestic abuse back when I was in University. I applied but then backed out because I felt that it would be too much for me to handle. Over time, I have taken a step back from any kind of activities concerning women’s empowerment.
But, I’ve realized, that was always what ignited the fire in me to continue. I stopped because there were so many individuals who refused to change. People who were close to me or people who sometimes I admired continued to lead their lives with limited beliefs. People who had the power to speak up chose to remain silent. I witnessed that in my own family and among my friends and I lost hope. So, I stopped trying.
I’ve also worked with orphanages and seeing that glimmer of hope in those kids whenever they experienced an act of kindness, was what used to drive me to do something more.
I lost that passion. Especially after the experiences with emergence, I felt too hurt, lost, and alone in my struggles. Too disappointed.
And then, I would see people around me make life decisions and succeed in their lives without much struggle and here I would struggle to find a way to have a good night’s sleep. People do horrible things to each other and move on with life with no care in the world. And here I was, either getting injured or suffering from PTSD. It felt so unfair. That’s why I have been angry with the Universe. That’s why I don’t trust it.”, I expressed the source of my disappointment.
“What does this part of you need from you right now?”, my therapist asked.
“Patience and space to be.
There is another part that’s showing up. It asks me to remember how I’ve struggled but have also continued to find my way. As a kid, I was struggling with my identity so I told myself early on to create a life for myself where I could be free to be me. I never liked the way people around me underestimated the role of women in society so I told myself that I will find my freedom. That kid would be really proud of me right now. I am now in one of the most inclusive countries in the world. When I was struggling with the accident, I found a way to heal my body and found a career path for myself that I wanted instead of settling for what I was given. When I was struggling with the esoteric experiences, I kept fighting to find my ground. I brought myself therapists and healers who could help me and found a way to support myself throughout the way. When the fracture happened, I found a community of friends who supported me throughout my healing. When I was unsure of my future, I found a way to make myself feel safer. I keep showing up for myself. I keep finding my way. In your words, I keep manifesting the relationships that I need at that point in my journey.
The female part in me just wonders sometimes if I am just fighting with the Universe since I was a kid because it feels like the pieces have always been set up against me. So it feels like it’s always me vs the Universe. It feels tired of fighting.”, I expressed.
“What do you think?”, she asked.
“My ex used to say that my highest self wanted an intense course for spiritual awakening. She said it wanted me to experience everything in this life because it’s a high achiever.
I think I believe her, as crazy as that sounds. For some reason, I chose to experience this, to heal, and to keep moving on. And for some reason, this was the path. I sincerely hope it makes some sense someday.
I’ve started to ask myself if I am doing something because it will bring struggle or because it will bring me happiness. If it’s the former, I reconsider my situation and the next step. I’ve also started to pray to let me breathe.”, I expressed my opinion on my life.
“Maybe that’s just what it is. Do you think you look for struggles?”, my therapist asked.
“I recently realized that I do, yes. As a kid, I wanted to live a life where I was not as “privileged” as I was while living with my family. I didn’t allow my family to help me whenever I could and took it upon myself to find my way. I moved to a new city and, then, to a new country when I didn’t need to. I chose to live away from everyone I loved and who loved me to find myself. I chose to live by myself even after a year of struggles with the awakening. And now, I am in a completely new place. Although when I made the decision to move here, it was to find a break from all those struggles and find some peace. We’ll see how this turns out.”, I confessed.
“Do you know why you do that? Find the harder path?”, my therapist asked. I felt like she was onto something.
“I wanted to find myself. I used to believe that if I didn’t go down the harder path, I won’t understand what it is like to make it through. I won’t be free. I told myself that I need to struggle because that’s what I am meant to do.”, I realized.
“Why do think that’s the case?”, she asked.
“I think I believed that I don’t deserve to be happy. I don’t deserve to be loved for who I am. I am too broken to be loved by anyone. I wonder if a part of that comes from my identity and another part because I always felt like I was not normal.
I believed that the more I struggled, the more I could prove to myself that I deserve any of that.”, I uncovered a belief that I have held onto for years.
“Do you think that’s true now?”, she asked.
“Logically, no. But I don’t know. I have to still learn to love myself unconditionally. I have to continue to heal myself and find myself with love.”, I told her.
“Have you? Found yourself?”, she asked.
“I think I’ve found parts of myself that were either hidden or lost. Now, I have to remind myself that I don’t always need to struggle to find myself. There are other ways to do it.
Sometimes I feel like I am going back to who I was when I was a kid. That makes me feel good because it tells me that I am getting over some of the past hurts and bringing myself closer to who I really am. I just need to continue to bring myself some healing.”, I told her.
“I hope you can see how you’re doing that. Every time you blog, every time you cry, every time you uncover a belief that’s holding you back, and every time you have a therapy session, you’re healing parts of yourself. It takes time but you’ll get where you want to be. I believe in you.”, my therapist said with a smile.
“I hope so. Look at that, I found some hope already.”