Please note that this entry may trigger.
“Are you safe?”
This is the question I’m often asked by a friend who knows the extent of my self-injury. I often hesitate in answering, not because I don’t want to answer, but because I don’t really know what “safe” means. When you’re a survivor of abuse, your goalposts surrounding the concept of safety often shift – it could be that “safe” becomes not being physically assaulted, but still experiencing psychological abuse. This is what most of my marriage was like. He rarely hit me, so I thought I was “safe”. This sort of understanding ignores the broader definition of safety as being secure from danger, harm, or evil. Many survivors wouldn’t know what that sort of security means or feels like.
It was interesting when I was asked this question today, I hadn’t been safe over the weekend and I realised that I didn’t particularly care. This isn’t because I’m suicidal or tied to a feeling of deserving the self-injury, but because I don’t have any sense of it being negative or being “me”. Up until last week I was actively trying to work through the self-injury so that I knew what had triggered it and could potentially prevent it in the future. That’s all changed. I’m no longer worried about preventing it, because I don’t have any sense of it impacting on me in any way. I know this is a dissociative event and compartmentalisation, but I can’t move beyond that knowledge into any solid concept of it doing harm. I know that this is probably tied to the denial that I’m currently experiencing, but I don’t get a sense of needing to move beyond that denial. This all could also be contributed to ACC still not approving any further sessions with Liz, I’m not sure. I know that this is a potentially dangerous place to be in, but it also has it’s benefits. I’m moving back to my high functioning at work, I’m enrolling for another qualification and am getting back to exercising regularly. This is close to my functioning during the middle years of my relationship with my ex-husband, when I was considered high-functioning and an asset.
I’m not sure of what to make of it all and I get a sense that I don’t want to analyse it. All I know is that the screaming inside my head has gone. Everything is back in the boxes behind the wall. I don’t even get a sense of that having occurring, I just get a sense that this is what has happened. It’s both confusing and totally clear at the same time. When I saw Liz on Monday, I mentioned the denial and she responded that I wasn’t wanting to look at the past. But I don’t have any sense of the past, I don’t need it or want it. All I have a sense of, is my life becoming a tickable list of things to do – mow the lawns, check FaceBook, go to bed and read for an hour, etc.
Not quite sure what is happening, or how long it will last. But it’s an easier life than the one filled with anxiety, flashbacks and suicidal ideation.