I am ready to have the upcoming
year bring me new life.
Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft
This is another one of those kinda things that I just scorn at. I don’t do self-care, I don’t do mindfulness, I don’t do hope, I don’t do future.
The thing is, when you spend your life being prostituted, abused, raped, used, manipulated, controlled; when nothing is yours, when you have no choices, no freedom, no rights, then you kinda give up on the whole ‘future’ thing.
I spent my life barely expecting to see the next sun rise, never mind the next month or the next birthday or the new year. I didn’t plan any further ahead than I had to. When I was forced to plan further ahead, I either made it up, not holding on to any real expectations or I just nodded along, not really expecting to be here when the time came, not really daring to hope. I knew that at any moment I could come across an extra violent client, that my mother could completely lose control, that Dom would kill me, that I’d just give up, that I’d just become another statistic. I never expected to see the next day, so I never planned any further ahead.
I lived my life in a way that reflected that, even after I exited. I made sure that my flat was reasonably clean, that I never owned too many things, so once I was gone, there wouldn’t be too much for others to handle. I always had my important paperwork organised so, again, it wouldn’t be too much for others to handle. I made sure I always had a bag packed, ready to go, either back home or to just up and leave here if I needed to. I had the number for the Cat Protection League in my phone, so I could ensure my cat was taken care of. I always had a stash of pills on hand so I could check out any time I needed. I’ve nearly always lived in a way so that if I don’t see that next sun rise, I’d never be too much hassle to anyone else.
I never made New Year’s Resolutions. I never made plans for my birthday. I never actively planned future career choices. I refused to play ‘in five years time…’ style games. I refused to engage with my therapist when she tried to get me to plan for the future.
It’s just not really a skill I have. It’s an alien concept to me. So often, it really does just feel like I come from an entirely different world; a world where futures don’t exist, a world where career options don’t exist, a world where needs and wants don’t exist and when it comes to engaging with this world I just feel lost and confused. Plan for the future? Why the fuck would I do that? I’m probably going to die today. It doesn’t matter anyway, this is all I’m ever gonna be. I’m never getting out of here, so what’s the point?
I’m still slightly bemused each time I see the sun rise; even more bemused when I see a New Year come in or I reach another birthday. I don’t quite understand how I got as old as I am. I should have died by now. Statistically I shouldn’t be alive. Medically I shouldn’t be alive (I have technically died before now). I just shouldn’t have made it this far and it’s always a little bewildering when I realise I have. I’ve been free for nearly four years and I’m still utterly bewildered when that sun rises. I’m still so surprised that I’ve somehow managed to survive another day.
So yeah, when it comes to hopeful little messages like this one, it’s hard to just not laugh. A year? An entire year? Ha, like I’ll make it that far.
But then, I guess things are different now. There’s no more pimps. No more punters. No more abusive boyfriends beating the crap out of me each day. There’s just me. And my girlfriend. And my cat. And the biggest risk out of those is, well, me. (Though, the cat does have a tendency to try and trip me up!)
My life has changed a lot, recently. There’s the obvious, having escaped prostitution and escaped Dom, but it’s changed in so many other ways, too. I built closer and stronger connections with my friends, I made new friends and allies, connected with my sisters – both survivor sisters and not, engaged more and more with radical feminist theory, started to find some level of joy in simple things, started a really healthy and positive relationship. And all those changes have meant that, for once, I am actually planning for the future. At least for the short-term. I know where I want to move to. I know what I want to go back to Uni. to study. I know who I want to be with.
If I’m being honest, I think I’ve already had my ‘fresh start’. It started the moment I decided to exit and simultaneously get away from Dom. But I was so trapped in flashbacks and memories and trauma and pain that I could barely have that real ‘fresh start’. I was stuck in a limbo. No longer being prostituted or beaten or abused, but not healing or moving forwards, either. I was just stuck in a limbo. Constantly teetering on that edge. Constantly on the verge of returning to my own life, because whilst it might have been so horrific, beyond what words can describe, it was at least something I knew. And this world? This isn’t something I know. I understand the language of abuse and threats and violence and trauma. I don’t understand the languages of love and compassion and care and freedom. But I’m learning. Good Goddess, I’m learning.
It’s only really been the last year or so that I’ve been able to make any real changes at all, that I’ve really had something that resembled a ‘fresh start’, that things have actually been getting better for me. I can’t really remember what it was that changed. I know I was working on an incredibly hard memory; a memory that left me with so much guilt and shame. A memory I couldn’t deal with and I was more than prepared to just kill myself over it. As far as I know, the people around me had no idea how badly I was doing. I was hiding my suicidal ideation from everyone. It was so far past suicidal ideation.
I don’t know what got me out of that. I honestly don’t. I somehow managed to forgive myself for Nicky’s death, which is surprising considering I still blame myself so, so much. I at least stopped holding myself quite so accountable. Honestly, I don’t even know, I don’t know what got me out of it.
But things changed quickly once I was out of it. I was really engaging in therapy, in healing work. I was building more and more connections. Making new friends; friends who would persuade me to stretch out even further and build even more connections. I started a relationship (which is something that I never, never would have been able to do before). I even started doing things like travelling. Meeting up with large groups of people. Going away for the weekend with people I barely knew.
I already had my new start. Whilst last year was filled with terrible, terrible things. With so much pain. So many flashbacks. Even though I barely even made it through that year, considering how close I was to either killing myself or going back. Despite everything, last year was quite possibly the best year of my life. (Holy fuck, I have low standards.)
I still might not really believe in the concept of ‘futures’, but I think I might actually kinda have hope, this year.
Who’d’ve thought it possible?