I had a dream I lost my car keys. Retracing my steps to find where they were I was still unable to locate the original set, but I did find my spare. Frustrated about losing my keyless entry, I griped on how difficult using my spare would be. Then I woke up. When I looked up the dream it said keys were about power and car keys were about moving forward and making progress. I took that to mean I’d lost my power and my ability to move forward. I had a spare so I could still access my power and be mobile it was just going to be more difficult than it would have been previously.
Which is exactly what I discussed in therapy this week. That and the idea of yet again having to appraise myself. Let me back up a bit…so obviously the loss of power alludes to the rape, but my therapist helped me to reframe it a bit. I explained to him that I’d just watched Orange Is The New Black and watched Pensatucky “accept” her assault quietly with just chilling stillness and a single tear. Watching the scene, I told him, was like watching me. I cried about that for two hours. One hour before therapy and all throughout. I told him about my feeling like an air nomad: all defense no offense, not one to anger, and anything to keep peace. He reminded me that even in my choice to remain still and remain silent it was still a choice and not to let myself believe I was powerless or weak. It was a decision I actively made about my survival in that moment. Which may seem like the same problem I’ve been struggling with for a while, but it was a shift for me…he then asked me if I felt betrayed by my fire side (the opposite of air).
Sidebar, I love that my therapist has seen and can allude to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. I told him he’s my tribe.
I told him no at the time. But after thinking about it, I did access my fire. That is actually what ended the assault. My temperament changed and I fought him off of me and put myself in a corner ready to defend myself if needed. I spoke firmly and assertively telling him I was done. He listened. Dr. D says that rape is often described as happening both fast and slow at the same time. I can agree to that. Perhaps I can have a bit of grace with myself knowing that when I needed my fire, it was there.
Next to the appraisal…I explained that it went back to my father. Constantly trying to be in his favor and repeatedly falling short. He says he loves me. Loved me. I never felt it. What I felt was not good enough for his attention. Real attention. Not just money, not just a quick fix to a problem, not sending me shopping with a step mom but for him to take real interest in my life. What I used to feel was that I wasn’t worth it. I worked for years to tell myself a different story until it finally stuck that I was full of value and he was simply missing out. Then I was sexually assaulted. It came after a year of sexual trysts triggered by the ending of a very significant relationship (P2AD). All that year I just wanted to feel wanted because I’d felt so discarded by him. Once again questioning my value as a woman I looked to other men to help me assess my worth. Of course that did not work and ultimately the behavior led to me meeting my rapist and being sexually assaulted by him.
All the things I prided myself on being: intelligent, creative, a good friend, a great listener, pretty, sexually liberated, hell and Southern, I lost them all. Or I felt I did. My inability to perform at work and at school made me question my worth. My poor choices with men made me wonder if my sexual liberation was really just a desperate girl seeking validation, anxiety stole my ability to listen and focus and many of my friendships were affected by my new need to focus more on me. And the southern thing…having to file for FMLA meant no more Georgia residence, I’m officially a Californian.
What I’m working towards reconciling is that all the things I thought/think I lost are not gone forever. Some are temporary, like those things affected by my panic attacks. Some, like my Southern identity, cannot be taken away. And some, like my sexual freedom, are still in flux. What I can say is that I am working my ass off to be better the right way. Acknowledging that “right” is simply the way that feels most authentic for me. I am crying when I need to. I am presently in a ball, muscles tight and in pain from an attack that I’m just trying to breathe through. I am falling apart daily and finding ways to put myself together again enough to get to tomorrow.
I know I have power. I know I have value. I know that right now I’m relearning how to make sense of both. What are the things that make me strong? What are the things that make me priceless? What are the things that make me Me? Dr. D said after the roughest patch with my dad I defined myself in specific ways and that the rape attacked that foundation. It was an accurate summary of how I felt. How I feel. But what he urged me to consider was how much of that foundation was actually lost?
I am still writing. I am still sharing. I may not be a friend in the way I was before, but I am still compassionate, fun, a good listener, and accepting. I am still intelligent. I am still creative. In fact I have new perspective on so much now, especially things that relate to the feminine. I am still me. Even when I don’t feel like me. I patiently await the day when I don’t feel so all over the place. When I integrate. Until then…Onward.