Pain is good

Explicit!
I was too young. That morning I woke up with a terrifying pain in my lower tummy. Nobody ever told me about it, they probably thought it could wait for another couple of years. I must have been 11. I’m not going to go into too gory details here, but waking up with what looked like two litres of blood in my bed, made me think I was dying.

Of course I didn’t tell anyone. Dying was an ok option, he couldn’t hurt me anymore.

Well I didn’t die… and my effort to try to hide this from the world using huge amounts of toilet paper and hiding the sheets was not successful. It was my sister that told me what this was all about, she was 17.

My excruciating pain had me in bed for three days a month. And more painkillers were introduced. Nobody knew about the broken arm painkillers from a year back, and now I got more.

I got proper sleep. I got painless days. I imagine my body to be a tight bundle of hard strung muscles that would never let go and loosen up. The pills made me relax.

I wonder what the doctor must have thought. Did I appear to be a normal little girl? Did anyone see through the picture perfect family he tried to create?

My pain threshold became lower each month…

My period also gave me a break, he would leave me alone.

In one of my flashbacks I cut myself wanting lots of blood to keep him away. I don’t think it happened often, it could have happened just once.

Pain gave me relief.

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Something in me believed

He started traveling. He got a job where he didn’t stay home for long at the time. I remember our housekeeper complained over him, leaving the kids, and that traveling for 150 days a year was never part of her plan.

For me, it was probably a lifesaver.

When I was eight, I got appendicitis. That day, we had been to town, shopping maybe, only her and I. When we got home she had made porridge. I can’t eat that. The consistence, the taste, the colour… She made me try, and I did. A bit. And started vomiting. Of course everybody thought I faked it. So it wasn’t until my fever got so high that I went in and out of consciousness, that she thought of contacting a doctor. I remember my sister was there too, she was worried.

Afterwards everybody was jealous of me, getting to go to hospital in a real ambulance. I hardly noticed. I was in so much pain, that I was sure I would die. And get to see my mother again. (She died just over a year before this happened). There should be a heaven for all dead people, I thought.

I stayed in hospital for a week, got presents, a barbie doll, and a Tarzan book. It had more than 200 pages, I read it all, and was proud. I hardly ate at hospital, the feeling of being sick sort of just stayed with me for the whole week. And the hospital smell. Only thing I would eat was bread and ham. I got bread and ham and white cheese. I never ate the cheese, I hid it under the mattress when nobody saw me.

He came home on the day I was released from hospital. He had bought me something. I don’t remember what it was.

Burnt child

One of my friends and her family went to visit her uncle. I got to come along, being the girl without a mother that people felt sorry for. It must have been one of the school holidays, it was more than two nights. But there was a weekend during those days we spent there. A house on the countryside, as the fruit trees blossomed. Sunshine.  A farm. I am scared of cows. They smell bad too.

We borrowed two really huge mens bicycles to get a couple of kilometers to the petrol station, it must have looked ridiculous, we didn’t reach the pedals. It was all downhill. We wanted ice cream and sweets, maybe it was a Saturday. Day for treats.

I went to the to the back, to go to the toilet. I didn’t realize I was followed. Couldn’t get away either. He put one hand over my small breasts and the other down my panties. He said I liked it. He smelled of petrol and grease and tobacco. He let me go again, and I don’t remember the way uphill. Don’t remember any ice cream. Never told anyone. Not until now.

That night, we went to a party, or, no, not a party. Kids (though some over 18) getting together, playing music. There were a few beers there, and as the older ones got a bit drunk, no one cared about me, or my friend. Well she did, I probably told her to shut up or something. Or went on talking to someone else. Then some real booze came on the table. Nobody could just go buy it, it was expensive, and hard to find someone over 18 to buy. So it was homemade, and awful.

That didn’t bother me much. I drank until I was unconscious, woke up vomitting, drank some more. It was my first time.

The next day we sat talking in a field. My friend and me, and some of the others, probably agreeing it was a good party last night. One of the real cool boys sat in a tree, I liked him.

Then I set fire to the dry grass, and it spread very fast. I burnt my hand. Fire engines didn’t come for more than half an hour.

The others covered for me, but I was never invited again.

Like music in my ear

A facsimile sheet of music from the Dies Irae ...

A facsimile sheet of music from the Dies Irae movement of the “Requiem Mass in D Minor” (K. 626) in Mozart’s own handwriting. It is located at the Mozarthaus in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always liked music. My mother played the piano. Slim fingers doing simple tunes on the keyboard. We had a piano. I think I remember when we got it. Petrof, in teak. Besides, there were a shelf with booklets. Chopin, Mozarts menuets, Christmas carols. My brother took classes, with an old woman he described as a witch. He never liked it, at least not until he got music sheets for Beatles. “Lady Madonna” was a hit.

I practised when no one saw me, I could go on for hours. If I had the house to myself, it would be the thing to do.

Later I started playing the flute. I got a very good teacher, he was old, and had had his career in the local symphonic orchestra. I only saw him every other week, but then we practised for one hour, maybe one and a half. His wife brought us tea and cookies, he talked about life. Told stories, forgot about the time. He only had one student each day.

I was fascinated with the music, the patterns of the sound, the way things fitted together. I fell in love with Mozart. And Bach. And some of the crazy neo-classical stuff. I went to the library, and took home both the music on tape, and the music score. From the easy flute-related stuff to operas and Mozarts’ Requiems. All the symphonies, and then I went on to Beethoven. Wagner. Verdi’s Requiem. And Rilke and Goethe and Nietzsche. Went on to philosophy and developed a genuine interest in our strange Europe, the whys and hows. Descartes, Kant and Wittgenstein. I read essays, librettos and lyrics. I studied the music scores at a total nerd level 🙂

I felt rich.

I stopped playing at 17. My teacher wanted to find someone better for me, and he found one. He taught at the music conservatory. But it was never the same. I still read music scores, and after reading, I listen, to see if I was right 🙂

The smell of summer

English: Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Common Blu...

English: Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Common Bluebell). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We used to have our vacations at the house where my family originated from. My granddad moved to «town». Before that, before WW2 the family lived in a little house in a little place, in a bay, surrounded by high mountains. We had the north winds coming in every afternoon. It could be a bit cold. I remember the smell of all the flowers and the grass in the field. The smell of summer. I picked bluebells. That little house used to give me a break from the terror at home.

We went fishing in the river nearby, for large salmon and trout. My granddad told stories of a bear hunt, from way back. I never believed it was true, imagined it was something he made up just to make a good story. Some years back, I found that it was actually true. There had been a real big bear in the area, and it got shot, not by my granddad, but by someone nearby that he knew. (Probably relatives, it is a VERY little place). It was a good story!

I loved swimming in the river. I put on a diving mask and fins, and snorkel for hours in that ice cold water, snow melting water. I swam up the river, some hundred metres, and drifted down again. Sometimes I saw salmons more than half my size. I wouldn’t move at all, and we were just eyeing each other out, before she would hurry upstream, and I had no chance of following, drifting downstream. My body not shaped for that purpose at all.

We used to have boiled eggs for breakfast.

We went fishing in the sea too. My brother and I went out with the dinghy, it wasn’t that small, we had an outboard on it.  Once we found ourselves in the middle of the boiling sea, I had never seen anything like it. Pollock swim together in large flocks, and then sometimes, something scares them from down under, and they surface. There were thousands. Like the area of a soccer field, boiling with jumping fish. Imagine sitting there on a sunny day, with a lazy fishing rod outside the boat, and suddenly everything was total chaos. We caught about 60 of them, before they went under again.

I remember my mother coming to the house by the seaside. I sensed she was on edge; I couldn’t have been more than five. She wanted me to wear a life vest all the time. Once, she took us out in the boat, not far, and we lowered a little anchor to have the boat stay at one place when fishing. When she started the outboard again, she’d forgotten about it, and the propellers cut the rope.

She started to cry. I imagine she was afraid he would get angry. I cried to, because she was afraid.

When I got older, must have been 12, we had a new and larger boat. My brother and I had an argument on the boat, I have no idea what it was about. But it ended with him saying he was going to kill me.

I didn’t go out fishing with him for a long time after that. Once he asked me why. I told him, and he said he never meant anything by it. He had probably forgotten about it.

I went swimming instead. No one saw me cry.

PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, what is this, really?

PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after one or more events that result in a psychological trauma. Re-experience of the original traumas is one of the most common symptoms.

There is lots of information on this out there in cyberspace, not all of it good. My symptoms are quite awful. I have trouble falling asleep, almost every night, no matter how tired I am. I wake up with a feeling of terror in the middle of the night, not being able to dissociate from what I am feeling, from who and where I am at the instant that this is happening.
Many years this made me rush out of the house in the middle of the night, not being myself again until I had walked for at least 20 minutes. I used to have special places to “hide”. By the rocky seaside, where nobody could see me, I regained my breath and found my heart beating at a not so panicked pace.

The horrible memories coming up are not always the same. They change, and as there still are lots of stuff I really don’t remember, it is really scary. Many times I find it hard to relate to the things that happens “in my head” as I don’t remember. But I have learnt that the bad re-living of all these things have a reason. It is not something I make up. I can go on for days with only minimal sleep, 3-4 hours a night. After periods like these, I used to do drugs, desperate to get to sleep again. That’s a stupid thing to do… Turning life into even more chaos, and not being able to stop using again for maybe months. So then you have a circle going round and round with hardly any possibility to change or stop it. Now I haven’t used since October. Quite happy about that!

Another symptom is that I get really tired, worn out, maybe a bit indifferent or even moody. Being so on edge, scared and sleepless does that to people… But it is as if there is something more to it, the tiredness I mean. I am not just tired, I’m so fatigued that I think I can sleep for a week. If only I could fall asleep… I argue from time to time with my lovely therapist whether I am depressed or not. She thinks I am… I disagree:)

Sometimes I get terrified during daytime to. I haven’t identified all the triggers. It can be a smell, a noise, a very special pair of shoes, a feeling of not being able to get out. I am not afraid of flying, but whenever the plane door closes, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. Neither am I afraid of dentists, but the idea of lying in his chair not being able to get out, scares me. Kind of claustrophobic…

My PTSD is not related to one particular incident, as you can see. It is because of long-term abuse, and a childhood where there are few things I can really remember. Of my biggest problems are that some of these memories have no language. I have some images that is hard to describe, I have some smells, some feelings, strongest one is that I am dying. Being so terrified and not having the language to describe these non-verbal things going on inside me is tough! Specially because I work with language and words, as a journalist!

If PTSD has a colour, for me that is red. As in blood, dark red.

Green

Italiano: Fuochi d'artificio a Vinci, FI, Ital...

Italiano: Fuochi d’artificio a Vinci, FI, Italia. English: Fireworks in Vinci, FI, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first day… Just trying it out really:)

Wishing to be totally anonymous, and tell my story. This is not going to be a sad story. I hope it will be an honest story, honest to myself and my own feelings, my set backs and leaps forward. I know it is a hard story to tell. I know it is a strong story to read. I hope I will feel better telling about it, and I hope someone will feel better reading it.

I can’t know if that is true.

I can’t know if I am going to make this happen. Deep down I wish for the ability to tell my story. I have tried before. Failing is never easy, but maybe something is different this time? I think it is.

Today, it is Friday, the best day of the week. I go for green.

Back soon:)