Last week (and the beginning of this week) has been a lot for me. The holidays can be exhausting as it is, yet the 2018 holiday season was so much more difficult to get through.
A beloved member of our church passed away on Christmas Eve, and no one was expecting it. I, as well as most of the church members, was in shock. Coping with his death was not easy.
On top of that, my assailant was there for the wake and funeral services. I already had to see him twice during that week (23rd and 25th), so seeing him last Friday and Saturday was difficult. I stayed away from him just as I always do.
It’s hard to explain, but when he’s not in the room (but at the same place), I get very paranoid. I’m worried that he’ll walk in without my knowledge and that I’ll be defenseless. When he’s in the room, I feel paranoid because I’m not sure what he’ll do. It’s not great either way.
I had to help out by ushering people and telling them where to go during the viewings. I’m okay with volunteering. However, I get nervous when talking to strangers in person, especially if I have to tell them what to do.
My assailant has also been showing up in my dreams. I’m not having nightmares or flashbacks, but he’s still a presence. What happens in these dreams is relatively realistic, which is weird. It may be because I saw him so much last week.
I think the volunteering, seeing him, the dreams, and the feelings associated with the death made my paranoia and exhaustion worse, especially on Friday. I also had to meet family and friends on Saturday night and Sunday, so I didn’t get much time to relax.
The most interesting day was New Year’s Eve. There was a service, which meant I had to see him.
However, I noticed that I wasn’t mad at him. I don’t think I’ve been mad at him for a while. I had thoughts like, “Ugh, why does he have to be here?” but I wasn’t consumed by anger. I was still paranoid, and I glanced at him. My fight, flight, or freeze response was active, and I still felt drained after seeing him.
I think some part of me was afraid to stop being angry at him because I didn’t know what feelings would rise to the surface. Anger can be used as a defense mechanism, and maybe I had been using it as a defense mechanism for a while. Maybe I was scared that I would have feelings for him again.
I can say that I’m not attracted to him, but to deny that I care for him a little bit would be dishonest. That being said, even though a small part of me cares for him, I know that my health takes priority. I’m not going to bring him back into my life because it’s detrimental for me. The only thing I can do now is take the lessons from that experience with me, which is what I’ve been doing. I’m not sure if I’ve reached forgiveness yet or if I even want to forgive him. What he did still stings, but I’m more accepting about how I responded back then.
2018 was a year in which I was dealing with a lot of anger, especially with my assailant and my parents. I’ve noticed my progress. I’m not as angry with my parents either. I still get frustrated when they invalidate us, which is understandable. I’m accepting that their attitude toward emotions has shaped our (my sister and I) interactions with others. I know that their invalidation is what they’ve been taught and that it has everything to do with them, not us. I don’t know if I’ll ever talk to them about it, but I know that I can try my best to prevent myself from invalidating others.
I’m aware of what I have to work on, and I feel hopeful about this year. My New Year’s resolution is to have a more balanced life, and I want to start using the counseling services on campus.
As of now, I feel much better. Giving myself space and time to process everything has helped.
Thank you all for being here and reading this update. Your responses mean so much to me, and I hope you’re all having a great week!