I feel brittle, like glass exposed to the elements for too long. One tap, and I will shatter—break apart into a million pieces.
My health problems:
- Struggling to keep food down
- Wanting to be in bed all day
- Fear of the future
- Fear of each new day
- Too much to do
- Not enough time
I’ve lived in this place for five years, with all the symptoms I’ve described above, with varying levels of severity.
I am brittle. Like glass.
“Take care of yourself,” God whispers to me. “Take care of yourself.”
When I struggle to do so, and I cannot seem to slow down or rid myself of my insomnia, He sends me a nasty cold, complete with a fever and chills that make me rest all day and most of the night—ridding myself of my insomnia.
The cold forces me to take an extra day off of work, and I relax, finally able to get some extra stuff done, relieving my stress. Knowing I can just hide away and heal, and spend time at home, renews my appetite as well, and I eat and eat and eat.
And my family. I feel peace with them. Mom snuggles me as I cry. Dad delights in my silliness. Mom fetches me some hot tea. I snuggle into my comfy chair as they watch football, or listen as they banter with each other as they play cribbage together.
My anxiety is there still though, despite the peace I feel at home. It’s never a panic attack, like I’ve heard some of my friends describe. It’s always internal, and unless you know me, you won’t know it’s there or going on.
“You are a stone wall, with no cracks or weakness in it,” my guy friend tells me. It is true. I am a wall. And I rarely allow anyone inside, or even allow them to glimpse inside. Many people have hurt me, after I let them glimpse what was going on inside. Many betrayed me. Many used it as leverage for manipulation. Many others just plain misunderstood me—and in their misunderstanding, they added pain to the pain I was already going through.
Many turned me over to counselors who were supposed to “help” me, but who knew nothing about nothing. And how could I tell them: “I am traumatized by the professors of your school, by demons in the spiritual world, by the bullying I feel, by the emotional abuse a guy in class is heaping on me. I am traumatized because, for the first time, I know what it is like to be raped, because I am walking in the emotional footsteps of a gal friend who has been through the horror of rape. I am walking in the emotional footsteps of a gal friend who was raped, and is still being pursued and verbally manipulated and abused by that guy. I am her counselor, her friend, her protector, her confidant, the one who takes care of her, the one who holds her up in prayer as she dreams nightmares at night.”
How could I tell them? So, instead: I just sat in the counselor’s chair, using my actor skills to appear calm and confident, and to try to keep my fearful shaking from showing. I told them I was helping some friends through some traumatic stuff. I told them I was feeling much better this quarter. I knew if I didn’t tell them that, they would force me to go to more counseling sessions. I was terrified of them. What if they accused me of harassing the guy in class, when it was him who was hurting me emotionally, and who was seeking me out? Would they accuse me of proselytizing, sharing the Bible with him that I had? What else would they accuse me of? Surely they would take the professor’s side over mine. Surely they would minimize what I was dealing with. Surely they would dismiss what I was feeling. Surely, I was alone in this fight. And all I wanted was to get my BA and get out of there and never have to go back to university.
I didn’t trust these people. So, I used my acting skills to perfection. I smiled. I was confident. I was “vulnerable,” telling them that I had gone through a rough time last quarter, but I was doing TONS better now.
They asked so many questions, like a checklist. Yes, I had supportive family and friends. Yes, I was feeling less suicidal this quarter. No, I hadn’t been raped. But a friend of mine had—and I was helping her. What was her name? Oh, that’s her business. I didn’t tell them that the guy was still after her. He currently wasn’t a physical threat to her, else I would have told them or someone else. He was just an emotional threat to her (though I didn’t tell them that).
He had a strong hold on her emotions, and using guilt and manipulation to try to suck her back into his life. I had known that from the moment she had left to “take a phone call.” I knew then, that something was wrong. She never took phone calls out of the room. I had always told her not to worry about it. If she wanted to Skype with her sweet boyfriend, go for it. If she wanted to talk on the phone, my dorm room was her safe zone, and I didn’t mind. So, when she left the room, I knew something was going on.
And then… I had my eyes opened to a world I didn’t knew really existed. And my heart broke for her.
But being forced to see a counselor was traumatic. I didn’t trust them with ANYTHING. I felt shamed because I needed a counselor. I felt traumatized and exposed. I felt shamed because I had been stupid enough to confide in a guy (my classmate) I never should have confided in. But maybe God had His Hand in that too. Very few people would care as deeply about my friends as I had—I was showing Christ in me to that classmate.
I remember the disgust on his face. If my gal friend had told him that she’d been raped, I’m sure he would have been just as disgusted with her. I was worth nothing to that guy. All he wanted to do was sleep with me—I could see it in his face, and body language. I fled from him after that class—literally, fled. He pursued me, wanting to “talk.” I told him to back off, and that I was going to another class.
He assumed I had another guy there. He tried to manipulate me. I hurt. I had considered him a friend, and now he too had turned against me. And my other classmates? They were passive to the emotional abuse my “friend” was heaping on me, as well as the verbal bullying of the professor. I know now how awful it is for someone to be bullied, and feel that no one will save them. I know the trauma of bullying.
All that did traumatize me. It’s hard for me to “talk” with people nowadays. It’s hard for me to trust. I just tend to internalize all of it, which is not healthy.
When anxiety strikes, I repeat: “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
I repeat: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).
When depression hits, I pull away from the world, and find that place of peace where it’s just me and God. I pull away from all the “counselors” in my life telling me to do this, or do that, or that I’ve messed up, or that I will mess up, or those who say I should be freaking out (even when I know there’s nothing to freak out about). I pull away from them, shut out their voices, and find that still place in His Presence—just me and Him. Let me tell you: it is the most comforting, beautiful places to be.
I soak in His Presence. I remind myself how much I am loved. I remind myself of all the beauty and good things in my life. When I need someone to listen, I pour it out before Him. When I need to cry, I cry before Him. When I need to know I am loved and treasured and thought well of, I curl up, imagining His arms around me. I just get away. I retreat from the world. And it’s just Him and me.
Then there’s the PTSD… that’s a tricky one. I can’t just tell it to go away. I’ve been through a lot of trauma— more than I would wish on anyone. I think that one will just take time.
I must leave the places and people who hurt and degrade me. And I must also heal from all the memories. I must not bury the memories. No, they would just rot my insides. But I must work through them with God. He is the One I trust.
The memories. Those can’t just be wished away. Slowly, slowly, I work through them, cry through them, and give them to God. I’ve done a lot of crying this past week, just me and God. And it’s helped. God affirms my pain, and what I’ve been through. Not many people have been good about that. They’ve only minimized it.
God is the best listener there is. So often I get sick of people talking, talking, talking. I just want them to listen, and affirm my pain. I don’t want them to “fix” things. I get so sick of it—so sick I could scream. I cannot seem to get through to people on this: please just listen. All I need is for you to listen. And if you speak, just affirm my pain. Validate what I’ve been through.
I must rest. I must rest in each new day, knowing the good that God has in store for me.
And I must not fear the Evil One. He cannot touch a hair on my head without God’s consent. And God will never give me more than I can handle.
I am Job, though many have denied this. And God will bring me great victory in my life. And my story: that will be the most precious place in all this. I will have a story to tell.
Read my story, dear reader. Here is my heart and soul. Here is my essence. This is my sacrifice to God: the stories locked within me.