I figured this needed two titles, because let’s face it, this isn’t gonna be the one and only time I’m gonna write a post called ‘Breakdown’.
The 15th was my grandma’s birthday, a day that comes with flashbacks and memories and triggers, but strangely, it was none of these that pushed me into almost completely breaking down. If anything, I’d half forgotten or forced myself to forget. I’d spent the entire night writing and avoiding sleep, November is never a good month for me as I’ve said in earlier posts and my sleeping has been a whole new layer of bad as a result. I gave in and finally tried to sleep at around 9am on the morning of the 15th.
I was lying in bed and despite the lingering sleep deprivation, found myself struggling with insomnia and my mind wandering. I ended up, weirdly, thinking about my other grandma, the one on my ‘dads’ side (he’s not my dad, but just go with it), I guess my head had half realised the day and had vaguely clicked on ‘grandma’ as a theme. I don’t really have any memories of my dad’s mum, I never got to see her that often and when I did, I was generally so out of it and just more focused on having a chance to breathe and not be hurt that it’s hard to hold on to memories of her, now.
What I do remember about her is that she was nice to me, she genuinely cared about me and she never hurt me, at all. I remembered how no matter what I put her through (breaking down and acting out in her house – I was around four-five years old and for some reason I cut up her shower curtain before cutting myself, it was around the time that my mum started selling me out, so I guess I just dealt the best way I could, but my grandma wasn’t even remotely mad at me. Suicide attempts. Lack of contact. Dropping completely off the radar etc. etc.) she always stuck by me, never got angry with me, was still just nice to me. She wasn’t exactly a nice woman, she was horribly racist and a working-class Tory and I was often ashamed of her and the things she’d say about various groups of people, but she was nice to me and with a family like the one I had, that meant the world to me.
I was lay there thinking about her and I suddenly realised that I couldn’t remember her face, I couldn’t remember what she looked like and I had to really force the memory. I ended up feeling so sick and guilty, realising that I hadn’t seen her or been in contact with her since I escaped three and a half years ago, that I hadn’t seen her properly at all for quite a few months before that. I know she’s worried about me, when I escaped, I found myself sending a letter to my ‘dad’ and left a care of address (this was a bad move on my part, but barring the emotional impact each letter I receive has on me, I am safe. I have never wrote to any of them or replied to any letters since.) and my grandma has been writing to me and sending me cards on birthdays and Christmases since, she’s repeatedly said she’s worried about me and that she hopes I feel able to get in contact with her soon.
I just ended up curling up in guilt and shame. This woman who had never been anything but nice to me, who had never hurt me, who had no hand in my being trafficked is worrying about me because I left with no warning, completely disappeared. I callously cut her off purely on the basis she was related to me, connected to my traffickers, I punished her just as much as I punished them.
My brain kept spiralling, I felt so much guilt over all of them, my entire family, including my traffickers and those that enabled them and/or abused me in other ways like my other grandma, the ones whose birthday I finally remembered it was. I curled up in guilt knowing that I was missing her birthday, that I hadn’t been in contact for so long, that I didn’t even know if she was still alive or not. Despite the fact that I know she hurt me, despite the fact that she knew I was being trafficked and abused and did nothing, despite the fact that she abused me herself, I was the one feeling guilty and so sick. I missed her, I missed her so much because she was one of the few members of my family that could be some semblance of nice to me outside of the abuse.
I ended up in a huge spiral, missing my family, feeling so guilty for cutting them all off, especially those who had never hurt me (especially my little brother) and I just kept getting worse and worse. I started questioning myself, questioning if it was even true, questioning what I’ve done.
What if I’d just made it all up? What if none of it is real? What if it never happened? What if I over-exaggerated? What if I’m remembering wrong? I felt so fucking guilty, like I’d destroyed my family and my life over fucking nothing. That I’d never be able to fix it. That too many people know now; how do I explain to my girlfriend, my adoptive ‘family’, my friends, my therapist, other exited women that I just made it all up? How do I get myself out of the mess that I made? How do I fix things with my family now?
I cast around for proof that it was real and it was as if my brain had completely shut down, I couldn’t find any memories or flashbacks of abuse. I was finding excuses for the physical proof I had. The old injuries, I obviously got them some other way, clearly not trauma related. The scarification, the branding, on my thigh – I’m a self-harmer, I clearly did it to myself (I casually ignored the fact that it had been there for nearly my entire life, I ignored the fact that I remember it being there before I could even spell the word).
I started doubting everything, convinced myself I’d just made it all up, convinced myself that I was just a fucked up piece of shit and a disgusting human being and that I should just die. I couldn’t stop crying, sobbing, screaming; so disgusted with myself, so overwhelmed with what I’d done. I just curled up and I just wanted to scream. I just wanted to cut, so badly, cut out the sin, cut out the dirt, cut out my lies, bleed out my guilt and my shame. I just wanted to starve myself, stop eating again because how could someone like me deserve to eat anyway? I just wanted to kill myself, because I knew that was the only way out of my lies. I managed to avoid actually hurting myself, purely on the basis that I couldn’t move.
More than anything, I just wanted to go home, to go back to my family, to try and fix the mess that I’d made. I just about managed to convince myself to wait, knowing that if there was even the slightest chance my memories were true, that I’d be putting myself at suck risk if I did go home.
I eventually cried myself to sleep, stupidly exhausted and drained and I woke up feeling marginally better. I still felt so guilty, I still missed them so much, but I was just about holding on to my truth again, just about able to tell myself that I wasn’t lying, that my memories were real, that I couldn’t go back home. But for those hours that I lay there crying, I was just so convinced that I’d made it all up, just so convinced that I should go home and try and fix everything.
I’ve spent the rest of the week kinda numb, kinda in a daze. Thursday was my mum’s birthday, usually one of the worst days of the year for me, the day a breakdown is basically guaranteed but I got through it… OK? I knew, I knew from the moment I woke up that my joviality and the fact that I was OK was an act; it was too much, too much OK-ness, my brain was clearly trying to make me feel more OK than I was, but it was what I needed to get through the day.
I didn’t even care that my adoptive family had all forgotten; they usually make sure they’re here on the 19th, make sure I’m not alone because each year since I’ve left I’ve been more prone than ever to go back home. My girlfriend was here, so I wasn’t alone, but honestly I don’t think it would have mattered anyway, I was just so numb.
I cancelled therapy on the 19th because I didn’t wanna poke the hornets nest, I didn’t want to spoil what was even a false sense of feeling OK on a day that is usually one of the worst for me. I didn’t want to take away one of the very few things what was gonna get me through the day.
I have just been in such a daze, since, I still feel it now, still feel kinda numb, kinda not anything. Not like I should be, not like I know is under the surface. I’m still struggling to hold on to knowing that I am telling the truth, that it is all real.
Other than really bad sleep, a lingering sense of anxiety and nausea and my head occasionally drifting, I’ve actually been OK since I broke down Sunday. I know it doesn’t sound like an especially bad breakdown, but I know I can’t put exactly what I was feeling in words, but I was in so much pain, felt so much guilt, just missed my family so much and I wanted to hurt myself more than I have in a long time. I just wanted to tear myself apart, destroy myself completely.
I’m so scared of those feelings coming back. I know I’m far too numb and I know there’s so much under the surface of that numb. I know there’s so much hurt and so much pain and so much guilt just waiting for it all to wear off and to be able to overwhelm me again and I’m just so scared.