(Trigger warning, abuse/rape/self-harm)
I wake crying in the early hours of the morning. This is when my heart is breaking, when I can no longer ignore it. I lay there this morning and thought “These are the feelings that I used the eating disorder to numb. And I can see why, they are just unbearable. It feels as though I could die from this pain.”
In the dark, I travelled to other dark times. Ones that I’ve revisited far too many times.
When I was still living in the place I grew up with the family, I used to escape outside every night that I could. It would be after 10pm, when all the shouting and screaming and bashing and hair pulling had mostly died down, and the others were getting ready to sleep in their soft safe beds, having their nice warm baths.
I used to sit there in the back yard and stare up at the sky. More nights than not, our mutt Whiskas would come and just sit next to me, leaning on me, and we’d peer upwards in comradely silence. He got it.
The stars were brilliant out there. It was pitch black at night, not close at all to any city or even town that could dull the amazing galaxy up there. And I used to dream. Plan and dream – but mostly dream.
These escapes kept me sane.
“One day I’m going to be free from here. I’m going to be safe. I’m never going to be hurt so much again. I’m not going to go without anything. I’ll be happy. I’ll be successful. I’ll be free.”
Years into the future, Wanker forced me to drive with him out to a secluded national park on the outskirts of the city. This is the same night that he drove to the big bridge in our city, leaned past me and threw open my door. “Jump!” he taunted me. “If you want to kill yourself, just go ahead and jump already.” And I sat there, frozen. He’d torn my pants off after a fight to keep them on that evening, and seen my self harm efforts on the tops of my thighs.
(This was the very beginning of my years of self harming – and I had been terrified at the urge to do it, never having known that people actually did that sort of thing. I never read about people doing it in books or all over the internet like you can, today. My self harm went hidden for years, known only to myself and to Wanker, because I was so terrified of what they would do if they saw what I did to myself, surely they would call out the men in the white jackets..)
At the national park, it was darker than even back at home. Terrified and alone. Nothing but trees as far as the eye could see. And the stars, brilliant above, the first time I’d seen them so brightly since back home.
And as I gazed at them over Wanker’s shoulder, through a film of tears – the smell of the grass strong in the crisp cold air – I remembered those nights of dreaming. And something in me shattered.
“…so this, this is freedom.”