Friday, December 27, 2013

It Won't Go Away - The frustration of dealing with trauma

Written by: Fenna Vlekke

So here I am. Years later. I've evolved, I've grown and become an adult (well, sort of). And still my past can throw me off balance immensely. A couple of months ago I almost forgot anything even happened, but right now it feels like I got raped yesterday. Although I know this is how healing from trauma works, it is still frustrating. I know a lot of survivors can relate to this. There are different difficulties I face right now.

New memories

As a way of coping, I forgot half of the things that happened during the rapes. It was the only way to deal. I dissociated, which means that my mind disconnected from my body. I also pretended it wasn't a part of my life. This way I could deal with everything without going insane, which is a good thing. But now I hate how unclear my memories are. And how I could have sworn something did not happen, but then I suddenly remember it did. It feels like getting raped all over again. And I have to start the whole process with that specific memory again. It's very tiring and also kind of scary. Because I can't be sure about what happened as long as this keeps happening to me.

Intense sadness

I'm over most of the guilt and shame - that's why I was able to start this blog. That's a great achievement and it does give me a lot of peace. Guilt and shame are crippling and make you feel really bad about yourself. But it's like these emotions shielded me from a lot of sadness, which is now out in the open. I don't need much to feel depressed and really, intensely sad. This is something I haven't felt since it happened. It's something I've been able to push away for the longest time. But part of healing is going through all those phases, and this is one of them.

Triggers everywhere, all the time

Now that my past creeps up on me more often, triggers are everywhere. It can be a smell of deodorant, a specific comment, a picture in a magazine, a facebook update, a scene from a movie. It's everywhere and I can't seem to escape it. If it's a huge trigger, I can feel bad for a whole day. It's like everything around me keeps reminding me of what I've been through. It's difficult for others to understand, because it seems like it's not related to my experiences at all. But for me it is, in some small way.

Being really tired

Having all these emotions makes me very tired. When I have a huge trigger, it takes so much out of me that I just want to go to sleep immediately. I like to have a lot of activities in my life, but lately I was close to having a burnout. Because fulltime work, volunteer work AND dealing with trauma took everything out of me. I hate that having been raped in the past prevents me from doing all the things I like to do in the present.

I know people who have been through a similar traumatic experience will - to some extend - understand what I'm going through. I want to let them know they're not alone. It's hard, and sometimes it feels like there's no end to this pain. It's frustrating as hell. It can also feel very lonely, because people around you can’t possibly understand. It’s already very difficult to understand this whole process yourself. All we can hope is that the feelings related to these experiences get somehow less intense over the years. I’m still figuring out how I can achieve that. 

*Note: I got a message from a fellow survivor on Pandys, who wanted to let me know my blog and posts have helped her. Unfortunately I only saw the message a month later. I wanted to respond, but she already left the messageboard. If you still read my blog, I want to tell you I'm sorry I didn't respond to your message. I would like you to know I'm glad my posts and blog helped you. I hope you're doing well.


  1. Fenna, ik ben blij (en trots op je) dat we een aantal van jouw gedichten mogen uitgeven in de editie 2014 van onze jaarlijkse leporello.
    hartelijke groet,
    Ghislaine de Brouwer,
    voorzitter stichting Vrienden Podium Boxtel

    1. Bedankt Ghislaine, voor je reactie en voor het gebruiken van mijn gedichten voor de leporello. Ik ben er heel blij mee.