Press Pause - Chapter 1
In order to jump behind and support a cause there has to be a connection. Although there are many, many people who have never endured sexual, physical, mental or emotional abuse I believe we all know someone who has; a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, a cousin, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor.
I am one story in thousands of stories that will never be known. When I speak I do my best to share my experiences in a thoughtful and gentle way, leaving out the details. I am always mindful that I may trigger someone who is battling their own abuse. I am fearful that if I say too much I may turn potential supporters off. But, the fact is people need to know my story in order for She Is... to gain support, momentum and credibility.
I've been writing Press Pause for several years. As easy as it is for me to stand in front of a room filled with strangers and speak is as difficult as it's been for me to re-enter my past and write the details of the events that have shaped my life.
Following is Chapter One. I won't be sharing the entire book - only the first three Chapters - because once it is complete I hope to have it published. But, I do believe it's important to share in order for those who come to the site to believe me when I say She Is... is a necessary concept whose time has come. It is a concept that will help victims gain the support they need to move out of their trauma.
I welcome your feedback and thank you for reading...
“I am sinking; hostage of this nameless feeling. Hell is set free, flooded I’ll be, feel the undertow inside me” - Frayed Ends of Sanity (Metallica)
Does everyone who sits here feel the same way I do right now? I have never felt so lonely. I have no idea what to expect, or what we’ll even discuss. I know we’ll be discussing my course of treatment and medication, but beyond that I cannot put together one rational thought. How do others feel at a time like this? Here I am, 49 years old, sick, vulnerable, exhausted and terrified. I'm waiting for doctors and clinicians I’ve never met to call me in to explain everything I need to know about my illness. How do others take in all the information that will be hurled at me all at once? How can the person responsible for making sure I receive all the facts and information regarding my illness possibly know how heavy the confusion and desperation sits on my chest? Will they understand that right at this very moment I cannot fathom ever coming out the other end well and whole? Have they been through this? Or are they simply going to tell me what they know can and probably will happen to me physically and emotionally because they’ve seen it happen to so many others who came before me?
Two days ago I woke up in silence. The alarm went off like it did every other morning, the dog licked my face the way she does every morning, I sat up in bed and heard cars pulling out of driveways, and the garbage truck rumbling down the street like every morning before, but internally there was only silence. My body’s internal volume button broke. I ended up in a hospital emergency room and was given two options: the psych ward, or an Intensive Outpatient Program. My beautiful, intelligent, healthy daughter is coming home from college in less than a week. How can I allow her to come home to her mother in a psych ward? How would I be able to explain that to her? Even making the choice to be in an IOP has me agonizing over what I will say.
The guilt and sadness hit me like a fire hose; I’m slipping, falling, tumbling, and I can’t catch my breath. My anxiety is so high all I can hear is thumping in my ears. I can’t feel my head; it’s pins and needles numb. It is taking every ounce of will to force myself not to bolt off of this chair, jump in my car, and drive as far away as possible from all of the unknowns that await me.
There’s a friendly looking woman in front of me. I’m looking at her, but for a few seconds I don’t see her. I’m so far detached from what is going on anywhere other than in my head that all I can manage to do is look up with a blank, hollow stare.
“Are you Maureen?”
I nod and stand up from my chair.
“Hi Maureen, I’m Linda. I have to tell you right off the bat that I’m already impressed because not only did you show up, you’re early! I’m going to take you on back, and I’ll give you a tour of our facility”.
Linda starts off by explaining to me that I will be coming here 5 days a week, 5 hours each day the first few weeks. As treatment progresses I will work my way down to four days a week, then three days a week, until I’m only coming once a week before my treatment is completed. From start to finish, it is a three month program.
“I know at first this is going to be overwhelming. That’s completely normal and understandable”.
Normal? I want to cry out “There is nothing normal about any of this. Everything I’m about to do for the next three months was never supposed to be part of my life. None of this was supposed to happen to me. I want to know why?! WHY?! How could my life come to this?! Everything I tried to sidestep and avoid – it was all for nothing. I did it all wrong, and now I’m here. I don’t give a shit if every patient here has felt exactly the way I do, I’m the one walking through this door. Normal is the last word I would use to describe every scenario, every fear, and every ounce of anxiety running through my mind and body at this very moment.” Instead, I walk next to her as we tour the clinic - silent, terrified, and shuddering as I become aware of the shame that is blanketing me.
“On the left are our administration offices. As we walk up further, on the right we come to our treatment rooms. The building is divided into two areas; adults, and adolescents. This is where the adult treatment rooms are, and this room right here is where you’ll be. Why don’t you take a seat and Ariel will be in shortly to get things started.”
As I walk into the room Linda gently touches my shoulder.
"I want you to remember one thing; 90% of your success in the beginning comes from simply showing up. We'll get you where you need to be if you just show up so simply set that one goal every morning. The rest will come, Maureen."
I sit in a corner chair and take in my surroundings. Yellow walls. Blue chairs. Paintings of beach cottages along a shoreline. I guess this is considered soothing for a treatment room. Perhaps one day I will feel soothed, but for now all I can think is that this can’t be my life. I don’t want to meet Ariel. Oh God, PLEASE…please...I can’t face any of this. I won’t live through these treatments. If I have to do this, I will die. I don’t think I have the strength to fight anymore. Please, God, PLEASE MAKE THIS STOP. Please don’t….
I shut my eyes because I don’t want the tears to start, but it’s too late. All I can hope for now is that I can quiet the sobs as I completely break down. An avalanche of thoughts and questions invade my mind. But, the one question that never leaves…will I ever be able to find my way back to my life?
“Here you go.” The unfamiliar voice startles me. I feel something on my lap, open my eyes and see that there are six other people who have assembled in the room with me, and one of them has placed a box of tissues on my lap. I smile gratefully, dab my eyes, and take a deep breath.
And, so it begins.
Welcome to my nervous breakdown.