It’s been a long month. I’m still not sure if I’m ready to write this, ready to be here. I feel raw, vulnerable. Putting my Self, my words out in the world right now – it’s scary. There’s a hard knot in the pit of my stomach that only wants us to keep on hiding.

I can’t though. There’s life outside and I’m feeling the urge to participate again, to contribute. The time for hiding is over. I’ve spent a month poking at the darkness I feel – the fear, the anxiety, the panic – and now it’s time to start letting some light in there.

This past month has been painful. I haven’t cried this much in a long while. There were days where I didn’t think I could handle anymore pain. Some days, I’d just numb out. Survival instinct, ya know? You just can’t take another second of the memories, and so you grab your blanket, your cookies, and you hide. You check out for a few hours.

I know I’m being really vague about all of this – “memories” etc – but I’m not ready to be totally open yet. I don’t know when I’ll feel ready for that, or if I’ll choose to share it here. It’s personal, it’s painful. I don’t want any negative ramifications coming my way.

Suffice it to say, there have been some periods in my life where unpleasant things happened. Things that left Memories with a capital M. Memories that you’d often like to forget, but come upon you at unlikely times, sabotaging your mind and leaving you shaken, sad, humiliated, and scared.

I shake – literally, violently – when I talk about what happened. It’s like my body is trying to expel something.

But the fact that I am talking about what happened – the fact that I have opened up that discussion – is something that I’m proud of. It’s the beginning of a process that is going to take a while, but that I am so happy to be doing.

A journey back to myself

During the incidents that caused the Memories, I gave a lot of myself away. I lost parts of myself in the pain. I was not in control of the situations. I was sad and lost and lonely. I often didn’t know what else to do.

For a long time, I was really ashamed of myself and what happened. I blamed myself. I would berate myself for not having done this or that. I thought it was all my fault. I took on responsibility for other people’s actions. I felt guilty, not good enough, ashamed, used.

And those feelings, sadly, have poisoned so much else of my life.

That’s what caused me to take September off. I have a wonderful life – I have a loving, supportive boyfriend, amazingly kind, goofy friends; I live in a city I love, in a home I love, doing work that I love, growing a business that I adore.

And it was absolutely impossible for me to relax and enjoy these things. I was almost always tense. Every day situations would cause emotional flashbacks. I would spend hours a day in an anxiety-filled haze. It was hard to function, to do the work that mattered to me, to love freely the people I loved, to communicate with clarity, to ask for what I needed, and to be in this world in my own skin.

Some days, I so desperately did not want to be me.  I felt broken beyond repair. Damaged goods.

Slowly, a bit at a time, things are changing. Some days the process is mind-numbingly slow. Some days I feel like I’m sliding irrevocably backwards. Some days, I’ve ground to a halt.

And yet – change is happening.

I am reclaiming myself.

I am taking my power back. I am taking control back. I am separating out my own guilt from the behaviour of others. I am learning that I am not the one to blame, that when others decided to hurt me, I was not responsible for their actions.

I want my life back – my power, my body, my strength, my pride, my happiness, my beauty, even my fear. It’s mine, and no one else is allowed to have it. I am reclaiming my wholeness.

I am not damaged goods. I am not beyond repair. I was hurt once, but now I’m healing. I get to be me again. I get to let myself shine again, without fear of consequence.

It’s hard. I am terrified. There is a part of me that is certain that, by declaring this, I am going to cause the world to end, the sky to fall. It feels dangerous and risky to be wholly myself. It feels powerful and strong, and that’s not a feeling I’m used to.

It’s going to be a long process. This is not an overnight miracle cure. But it’s important – maybe the most important thing I can do.

Wish me luck.

It’s good to be back.

Comments: I am feeling pretty scared about posting this. Please use your nicest voices. I’m not really looking for advice, but empathy, compassion, hugs and support are welcome. Also, tea and chocolate cake. And sparkles. Possibly a shot of liquid courage.