The Never-Ending Healing Work

{CW: Rape, Murder, Trauma}

Last Monday I was talking to my sex coach as I do each week. We were talking about my masturbation and sex issues that we have been working on. I kept saying “Penetration hurts me”… but I know that it doesn’t (There are several reasons it might hurt folks, I am not saying to ignore it if this sounds like you- just sayin’ that’s not the core issue for me right now). It doesn’t physically hurt me, it mentally hurts me. My mental pain mimics physical pain often, but I am usually aware of where it’s coming from if I stop long enough to listen.

I kept asking her “but why now? Why after I’ve enjoyed it for so long?” and she reminded me that trauma resurfaces when it’s safe to do so. For so long I wasn’t in a safe environment.

I have written about being raped before, and I always knew it happened and that it affected me, but I never had the time to process it the way I needed to. I was a teenager when it happened, and then my mom was murdered in front of my eyes and that became THE trauma, there wasn’t room for anything else. Shortly after, in my early twenties, I was married to someone who was so unsupportive and emotionally abusive that each day was spent getting through while trying to hold on to any piece of myself that I could. Life was ALWAYS rocky from 18-28.

Now, while life never stops moving, I am in a stable environment with support. I am processing ALL of it. I peel one layer back to find many more hiding underneath. Memories of my mom are coming back, some of the ‘damaged files’ of my brain (as I call them) are being reorganized, and apparently, it’s time for the rape trauma to come to the surface again as well.

I realized during our call that I also say “it hurts” when things graze across my stab wound scars on the side of my chest. It’s the same as what I said above, it doesn’t physically hurt- it has a different sensation because of the scar tissue, but it mostly reminds me of what happened to me. I hold my chest and have to take a deep breath and remind myself that I am ok, and the feeling goes away.

I told Leigh how tired I am of this healing work. She said something along the lines of “Yeah, not only do you have to go through the traumatic event, but then you have to deal with it and process it and do all kinds of work to get through it!” It truly is exhausting.

In the past, I’ve attempted to run away from my traumas. Drugs, alcohol, new relationships, shopping… all the ways I tried to stuff it down or avoid it. It didn’t ever really matter, the things that need healing kept coming up in varied ways. I fantasize about what it would feel like to turn it off. A day without anxiety, depression, insomnia, or simply just a day without any of the traumatic memories or triggers from the past. What would that even feel like? I know my mental health issues may not ever be fully healed, but I do think I can find a way to get closure with this rape stuff.

When everything feels overwhelming I think of how far I’ve come.

I was stabbed in the lungs. I witnessed my mothers murder. My body healed after surgeries and months of bandaging my wounds. My lungs healed and worked on their own again. My mind never forgets what I saw that night, but after years of therapy and talking and sharing and releasing, combined, I guess with plain ol’ time… It doesn’t haunt me as much as it once did (most of the time!).

Last year I felt strong enough to get my moms hospital records, go back to the house she was murdered at, and begin writing about and talking about her again. I also did knife play, which is something I never thought I would EVER be into since being attacked with a knife (Remind me to finally write about that!). I guess, while exhausting, I am still committed to this healing work, not only with my mom’s murder but also my sexual healing journey. I’ll just keep following it wherever it takes me, and keep reporting it to you all as usual.

“Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.” 
― Bessel A. van der KolkThe Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

About Megan Ashley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *