the other night i came home from a barbeque at a neighbor’s house to find that my power was out. i walked in, flipped the switch, and nothing.
it was literally my worst nightmare.
i mentioned before that i have nightmares on a pretty regular basis and they aren’t any fun to put it mildly. a lot of times they’re flashbacks about the assault and those are the worst but often i don’t remember what they were about - i just wake up panicked. one nightmare that i have repeatedly is about a light switch. sort of. in the nightmare i’m trying to get away from something. i don’t know what it is it’s just this vague, scary “thing”. so i’m running and i find a safe place to hide and i feel so relieved. i go in, close the door, and turn on the light. but when i flip the light switch instead of getting lighter the room gets darker. in that moment all i can feel is cold terror, a sinking feeling in my stomach and then panic. in the dream the more i try to turn on the lights the darker and scarier it gets.
what does this have to do with anything?
sometimes i feel like that’s how my life as been going since the assault. this awful thing was forced into my life and more than anything i wanted to get away from it, to move on and to feel better but nothing worked. it seems the harder i’ve tried, the worse i’ve felt. the first therapist i saw was the wrong therapist for me and i felt defeated. i confided in a church leader when i was in california and they unintentionally made me feel worse. i saw doctors who were unsympathetic and cold and i felt ashamed rather than helped. after telling one of my closest friends she stopped speaking to me and i felt worthless. i moved to utah to start over but living by myself has been scarier than i expected. nothing was getting better. the light that i so desperately wanted to go on seemed to only get dimmer no matter how hard i tried. but here is the tiniest, faintest silver lining - on good days i can look back now and see that those things and feelings were only temporary. i eventually found a therapist that i feel comfortable with and can trust. my bishop here has been patient and kind. i found a new doctor who showed concern and care and helped me feel safe. despite the one friend who didn’t want to or wasn’t able to be supportive i have many friends who have stuck with me no matter how crazy or boring or depressing i must seem sometimes. even living by myself as gotten a tiny bit easier.
one of the things that i strongly believe is that this life is not all there is. i believe that there is something beyond this that we are striving for. that knowledge helps me understand that most things that happen in this life are only temporary. having said that it's important to say that things don’t always FEEL temporary and that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that happen that aren’t extremely painful or scary or heartbreaking. there are hard days when i can’t imagine what life will be like on the other side of all of this pain and fear and doubt. there are nights when i am so tired and i feel like i will ever get a good night’s sleep again. i find myself wondering if i will ever sleep more than 3 or 4 hours at a time. gosh i hope so. there are moments when i think about the future and i’m completely overwhelmed by so many unanswered questions.
but what gives me even the tiniest bit hope is that those moments and days have always, eventually, passed. the night my power was off was long, painful, and frustrating and involved a lot of crying and a lot of praying. it was awful and i hated every single minute of it. but eventually it ended. not to sound completely cheesy but the sun eventually came out and i was able to get a little sleep, take a walk and get back to work. clearly i don’t have this all figured out yet but i’m writing this as a reminder to myself. i, maybe more than anyone, need to remember that these things are temporary. i have a dear friend who waited ten years for an answer to a prayer and i’m sure that while she was living it those days and weeks and years felt endless. the thought of spending even one year feeling like i do now seems horrible let alone ten... but even ten years is vastly different than forever.
so this is my reminder to me for the next hard day or hard week or sleepless night. it’s only temporary.
photo by me - my first ever polaroid.