Loving a Survivor: How Prolonged Trauma Impacts Relationships

Women, generally speaking, are empathic creatures by nature. Some deem empathy a curse, others a powerful gift. Nevertheless, we feel every sentiment as deeply as we feel every chastising word…down to our very core. And with each blow endured, we slowly forged the piecemeal armor that now adorns our delicate skin. Yet a kind word and gentle touch from a kindred soul has the power throw all inhibition out the window. We are but living, breathing paradoxes, one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

But sometimes, we guard ourselves so relentlessly that we block the greatest gift of all: LOVE. We build walls so high that even the most skilled climbers come crashing down before reaching the summit. Sometimes, we even become so bitter that we conclude an opinion about men in general, forming the very stereotypes that we, ourselves, oppose.

However, there are also those of us who are brave enough to give love another chance. The ones who never turn their backs on love because we know in our hearts that there are still good people in this world. Though we are not without flaws either. Because sometimes when we enter relationships while we are still trying to heal, we unconsciously project our pain and emotions onto our partners.

Many women can conceal emotions as if they have never known heartache at all.  But often things occur that trigger the pain we’ve buried within our bones. Those suppressed emotions then float up to the surface where we relive them all over again causing us to compare, to remember things we would rather forget, and to feel the very things we have avoided. We may then unconsciously hold the person we love accountable for someone else’s mistakes. This is extremely unjust and unfair, to us and those we hold dear to our hearts.  It is also why healing is vital to our growth!

I once made the mistake of committing myself to a relationship with a man at a time when I barely knew or even liked myself, much less loved myself. I was just beginning my healing process and having the veil ripped from eyes at the same time. I was miserable in almost every life situation and circumstance around me. My heart was full of anger, resentment, confusion and bitterness, but when he came in things seemed to get a little brighter in my world. Yet no matter how hard he tried, he still wasn’t able to stop the darkness from consuming me when it came to feast. No matter what he did to try to please me, it was never enough. I blamed him for my suffering and misery. I know that it wasn’t really his fault, nor was it his responsibility to save me from myself. But that wisdom didn’t come until now.

Here we are years later and I am finding myself full circle once again, spiraling back to the lessons I failed to learn then. The same pattern is emerging in my current relationship and I am finding myself conflicted by my own afflictions. Is this my own inner turmoil surfacing and I just fail to recognize it? Are these red flags I am seeing figments of my imagination designed by my own unhealed trauma and insecurities? Am I making things worse in my head than they actually are to subconsciously continue a pain cycle? Or am I really seeing and feeling these things as they are? These are the thoughts that plague my sanity. These are the parasites that feast on the soul of a warrior who has spent an entire lifetime mastering survival mode. These are my ugliest of truths, the demons I have come to know by name.

You see, no matter how happy I am when we are together, or how much joy he brings to my life, I must also be completely accepting of myself and content with my solitude. Otherwise, I am not whole on my own and healthy, which means I will seek wholeness from another. And if that is the case, then I am certainly not the proper vessel for the embodiment of my higher-self and I cannot truly live an authentic life aligned with my soul.  I know that now. I deeply want to be all of those things.

I am working hard at healing my scars to ensure that they no longer bleed on those I love. I want to be healthy, happy, full of life and vibrant energy, smiling, laughing, joking, light-hearted and free to genuinely be myself. But I have let my pain become my hindrance for so long that I forgot how to enjoy these things, and I feel myself longing desperately to remember.

I am learning. I am growing. I am healing. But this process is absolutely fucking brutal! It’s the destruction and reconstruction of my heart. It’s the dearmoring of false protection and delayering of programming from my body. It is painstaking and unnerving at times, leaving me wandering aimlessly through the catacombs of my mind on a search and rescue mission to find my inner child. And I have come to realize that the man who loves me likely feels this confusion and pain as well, especially when I cannot explain what I’m experiencing and I instead project my emotions onto him.

Women tend to forget sometimes that men too can be emotional and vulnerable. They carry pain and sorrow around like heavy baggage, much the same as we do, although they are often better at keeping their feelings hidden. We need to remind ourselves that they too have experienced heartbreak, betrayal and loss.

Learning who I am carries a great responsibility to take ownership of my life, my choices, my feelings, my faults, my needs, etc. It dawned on me today that I likely make the man I love feel the same way I have felt most of my life – like nothing he does is ever good enough for me – but that simply isn’t true. I have pointed out his “flaws” and the things he does wrong, and even things he doesn’t do to meet my often-impossible standards, yet I seldom take into account all that he does right. When I am on an emotional warpath, he becomes my target simply because he is the closest person to me. That is completely unfair and is actually borderline gaslighting. It is a narcissistic means of shifting blame to another instead of taking responsibility for myself. That learned behavior ends here. I know better, therefore I must do better.

Self-reflection has shown me some profound revelations. I know I am often an overly sensitive mess of emotions, but my heart is in the right place. I know I sometimes expect too much and give too little in return. I also know I am not always the person I should be, but I am trying to be the best ME that I can be. Although our lives have been extremely traumatic and tumultuous since childhood, we are both healing, learning and growing and I pray every day that we have the strength to survive these trying times together.

As a society, we must remember to show compassion to one another when words fail, and to have patience with each other when insecurities prevail. You see, we have all been devastated at some point. So it is imperative to heal and to love ourselves so that we may lead and teach others how to love us by example. Unchain your heart from the shackles of past trauma. Elevate one another and give your love a chance to bloom into something beautiful.

Love always,

D. Luna

👑🌛🌝🌜👑

Trauma – A Doorway to Divinity

Trauma has been like a close friend of mine since I entered this incarnation. I am no stranger to suffering at the grips of her merciless hands, or to feeling claustrophobic within the self-imposed mental prisons I lock myself behind to seek solace from her infliction. My mind often becomes the dark labyrinth that I must somehow learn to escape without a compass to lead me back to the light. I rely heavily on internal astral navigation to guide me. However, at times I find myself shipwrecked, lost on the shore of the tiny peninsula floating somewhere between the right and left hemispheres of my brain, struggling to make logical sense of my emotions. Mission impossible, if you will. I find myself there today.

Today makes 6 days since I was both physically and mentally battered, and held hostage in my own home by a man who claimed to care about me. You would think under these circumstances that my mental filmstrip would resemble scenes from a Lifetime movie, but all I can think about in this moment is how our entire universe supposedly was created in only 6 days. SIX DAYS! I think perhaps creation and destruction live out the same life span because for me the entire world stopped spinning 6 days ago.

My sun has grown dark and ominous, the sky cries every tear my eyes have yet to shed and it wails in agony, howling like the whipping winds that attempted to uproot me. My majestic moon has lost her glow and even the tides now cease to ebb and flow. I find myself trapped in a state of suspended animation where everything moves around me but my body feels like its hibernating through a frigid winter. And though all my sensory receptors are at their peak, I feel completely dead inside, numb, as if the weight of my own limbs is almost too heavy a load to bear. I have become completely cumbersome.

I find myself weighing my trauma on an unbalanced scale, as if one event is more or less impactful than another. I think of all the possible ways I could have handled this situation differently. I have listened to all the “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” rants from those who would never even try on my shoes, much less walk in them. I have analyzed the scenario repeatedly from every perspective possible only to conclude that I need to just accept the fact that I handled things the best way I could have. I must also realize that hindsight is 20/20 and while people talk a good game, survival wears a different guise before innocent eyes. Through this experience I am learning that my reaction to external events is not typical, but that is okay. My atypical response to trauma is the very reason I am still here to speak of such an atrocity, and I did not become another statistic.

While my life certainly feels like it is in shambles right now, at least I am still here. I am still fighting to make a positive impact on this wretched world. I am still breathing, and I am still standing on my own two feet trying to pick up my broken pieces and put them back together. My descent is not my demise. I am merely resting, gathering my strength and spiritual arsenal to defeat the demons who dare to test my will. I am truly a Goddess (as I was reminded by my best friend); I don’t just call myself that. I have a divine purpose here. I was given this life to live because I am strong enough to withstand the storms that shower over my soul. So to you most high, beloved Pachamama, I say, let it rain! Come and cleanse me of this pain. Blessed be.
-Dena M. Daigle

I Remember

Wide-eyes in amber hues brimming with salty tears
Four years old in red ruffles and day of the week panties
Mama’s precious baby girl
Trembling, frozen with fear, cold and confused
Silenced, but I remember

Truth or dare on the trampoline
Triple dog five second French kiss or eat worms
Mama’s little daredevil
and innocent boys following the footsteps of their forefathers
Busted, I remember

Open window and moonlit shadows dancing on the wall
Thirteen and rebellious; Mama’s little wild child
“Everyone else is doing it. Don’t you love me?”
Pressured, I remember

Head down, tears flowing, pushing past the picket line
Fifteen and pregnant, Mama’s dirty whore
Cold steel forced inside me, life ripped from my womb
“MURDERER!” I remember

Strobe lights and rap music, twerking teenage dreams
Sixteen with nothing to lose, Mama’s party girl
Beer run – two guys in a Chevy truck looking for some fun
“Drink up baby girl.”
Room spinning, losing consciousness. I remember

Bright lights, bloodshot eyes and grunting,
hip bones pounding into supple flesh
Incoherent but coming to, Mama’s naive fool.
Struggling to scream and unable to move
Tossed curbside next to the trashcan, battered and used.
Damaged, I remember

Butterflies taking flight, head floating in the clouds
Young and reckless, making plans for the future
They said we’d never make it so we set out to prove them wrong
Independent and headstrong, Mama’s girl on the run.
Head over heels, I remember

Dimly lit room, cold gel smeared across my belly
fluttering of a tiny heartbeat, fear and joy intertwined
Mama’s gift from the heavens, I shall protect you with my life
I often dreamed of the day I would cradle you in my arms
My existence had a purpose, I remember

Blood dripping down trembling legs,
Blurry lights passing by in a frenzied pace
pain unimaginable as the room fades to black.
Floating between dimensions, struggling to find my way back.
Wings gifted, Mama’s little angel
Inconsolable, I remember

Silence shattered like broken glass
“Ms. Daigle, I’m afraid you may never bear children…”
A woman’s worth destroyed in thirteen syllables
Fertile soil now barren – hopeful heart destroyed and abandoned
Mama said it was for the best, I remember

Consumed by heartache, weighted by grief and despair
I sought love in the form of flying fists and rage
Black eyes and body bruises, Mama taught me well
I deserved it, I remember

Surgical steel piercing my vein
Injecting poison to numb my pain
Mama’s little junkie
There was no escape, I remember.

Body gone limp, heartbeat slowing
Discarded by a coward, left there overdosing
Silent screams as tears rolled down my cheeks
Vomit staining sweat soaked sheets
I am fading and Mama can’t save me now
but I was born a warrior, I remembered

I begged God for mercy and fought my way back to the light
Never again will I be swallowed by the darkness of the night
I am immortal, and I remember everything.

-Dena M. Daigle, 2018

 

This piece was inspired by a beautiful piece written by Rachel Finch that moved me. Her words helped me find the strength to release those that have been locked inside of me. It is a testament to her strength and resilience which we can all appreciate. Rachel’s piece is featured below. 44710536_2209525525995879_526698698571251712_n.jpg

Constellations

If I drew a map for you across my body, one made entirely of stars marking all of the places ever violated by human hands, my bones would be wrapped in a galaxy made of flesh.

A pink protostar would mark the spot where my innocence was once sacred and pure; and those tiny flecks of stardust due north would represent the seeds of my womb that never got to bloom. The black hole covering my mouth would portray the silent screams and pleas for help that were written all over my face, yet no one heard. And the supernova adorning my chest would depict the moment that my heart exploded into millions of pieces because no one would save me.

I’d draw the blue supergiant, Rigel, and its star cluster family to represent the bruises left across my throat by those who hoped to silence me. And if the stars didn’t paint the picture vividly enough, I would sketch a grid around my head to show you the way the fabric of time seems to fold in on itself and repeat in infinite loops of pain.

You see, this is the map leading to the little girl who lost her sense of direction once upon a time in the Milky Way. So if I showed you the way to my soul, would you love me enough to trace my constellations, or would you simply look the other way?

🖤 – Dena M. Daigle  2018

I Will Not Write Your Obituary

Heroin addiction is a destroyer of the human spirit, completely obliterating not only the heart of the addict, but the hearts of those who love them as well.  The harsh reality of this cyclic battle is that some souls simply cannot be saved no matter how hard you try to help them, or how much love you offer them. We can’t walk the path for anyone but ourselves, and there is no way to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. – Dena M. Daigle

This is a piece dedicated to my sister. I tried with everything in me to make this a spoken word piece, but I could barely get out 5 lines before I broke down in tears. Wherever you are sister, just know that you are loved and I hope you can find yourself one day.

 An Open Letter to My Sister 

I reached out to you with three simple words,
“How could you?”
And your response was “I need help”
But how many times are we supposed to save you when you won’t even save yourself.
You said “Fuck help. Fuck life. I give up”
Never giving another thought to the children who need you;
nor the mother and sister who would succeed you.
You told me that I would never see you again;
and I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to feel about that.
Is it a ploy for attention, or a cry for help?
I don’t know,
because most don’t give a warning before they kill themselves.
And you have lied so much to anyone who would listen.
They obliviously cater to your bullshit while you feed your addiction.
You leave devastation in your wake;
a winding trail of shattered hearts as long as the river Nile,
robbing piggy banks and leaving bones scattered on the shores of denial.
But you tell me “Just remember that I love you.”
As if those words could ever ease the pain of losing my sister;
my own flesh and blood
the girl I would give my own life to save.
Then you block my messages and calls and vanish without a trace.
How dare you lay down your sword at my feet as if I’m supposed to end this battle for you.
How dare you lay your burdens on my fragile heart as if I haven’t suffered too.
I will not clean up the endtrails you recklessly leave behind.
I will not hide your rotting corpse from the wolves that come to dine.
I will not place you gently into the river trying to save your soul.
And I will not write your fucking obituary before your body turns cold.
But if you reach out to me, I will answer your call.
I will sit with you in the gutter and we will write graffiti on the walls.
I will write you into poetry of painted skies and butterflies
and you will laugh at me.
You will think I have gone completely mad
unless the only hue on the palette I’ve chosen is black.
But I would do it anyway because I just want to see you crawl out of your cocoon.
I want to shed my light on your darkness and guide you to brighter days.
I want to see your babies smile and seek solace in your embrace.
I will stay at your bedside and watch over you as you sleep,
and I will help you slay your demons on the days you are too weak.
I will roll up my sleeves and grab a broom and we will clean this mess together;
but I will not let you sweep it under the rug again
nor let you decide which storms we have to weather.
I will not watch you destroy yourself any longer and tear our family apart;
and if that means you hate me,
I will just have to keep you safe in my heart.
But I will not write your obituary.
I will just love you from afar.
-Dena M. Daigle ©️ 2018

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