Tuesday 5th October 2021
Today was smear test day. I know what you’re thinking, uh oh, smear test and sexual violence victim, being touched “down there”. Well, it’s not that simple. So let’s take it back a step.
I can’t be exactly sure but I’m pretty certain that 34 days preceding this entry have seen me have approximately 4 ½ hours sleep per night. Through one thing or another, I have either not been able to sleep or not been able to get back to sleep. Any victim reading this will know this bullshit well. Even after all these years, the sexual violence I was subjected to still affects my sleep. It’s the stored trauma in my unconscious or is it subconscious, I can’t remember which one. It comes up to bite me in my sleep either dreaming of “them” or other more worrying dreams. The dreams are often recurring and often involve animals that are in distress and dying. I for one am a human who needs and loves her sleep. While yes I can cope and get used to 4 ½ hours something happens to me that I find odd. I lose my sense of humour, I want to be on my own and those poisonous voices in my head tell me how utterly pathetic and useless I am in their nasty authoritative whisper. So last night, and knowing that the smear test was coming up today, I took sleeping tablets. My sleeping tablets of preference are really just antihistamines, but these little babies are great at knocking you out, hence them only being available via prescription. Four blue wonders later and I slept for 7 hours, hitting snooze three times (I never, ever, ever hit snooze - ever) Sleep done ✔️ but the thing is, sleeping tablets + 34 days of not sleeping come with a price, its called a sleeping tablet hangover. It’s the equivalent of feeling as light as a balloon AND as heavy as lead. Tricky huh! Walking around in public with a sleeping tablet hangover reminds me of how our elders must feel when their bodies don’t work as they used to and they know they’re slower than everybody else. I can imagine that they feel betrayed by their own bodies and minds.
It was with a head lighter than helium and a body filled with lead that I went for a smear test.
The smear test itself wasn’t so bad, the nurse was gentle natured and kind. I know the workings of my vagina and am able to direct swift access to my cervix. So no it wasn’t the smear test that hurt.
What was sickening were the flashbacks. The uncontrollable and throat tightening memories of that flash up and take me back to those times when the things that happened, happened. You never know when these flashbacks are coming and they are so scary and real, bringing EVERY memory and feeling back for those moments that it makes me never want to think of the bad things again. It makes me want to run and hide. To not face up to what happened, to not look at it for lessons, to NOT want to turn towards the pain and examine it. So what do I do instead?, I reach towards my trusting eating disorder to comfort and numb. I go even quieter than I was before, I isolate myself from those that know and love me, why? Because I know they see what I’m going through. I know they see the pain and sickness but I don’t want them to ask me about it. I don’t want to see the worry on their faces because with them as witnesses, I can’t ignore it and right now I don’t know how to face it either. It’s too painful. It hurts.
The book I was reading yesterday Burnout completing the ‘stress cycle’ by, Emily and Amelia Nagoski says that after stressful situations a person should process the stress by completing the cycle. Exercise, a 20-second hug with someone, a 20-second kiss and or creative expression. I know my body needs exercise to process this but I don’t know how?. How is s human, a human in my situation, able to complete that stress cycle in when an increased heart rate evokes flashbacks? Weird right, but the very thought of jumping around for 20 minutes scares the hell out of me. For me am increased heart rate brings on flashbacks, it takes me back to ”those places”. Hugging someone for 20 seconds makes me want to puke in my mouth and swallow it again - actually I’d rather puke in my mouth and swallow it than hug someone right now. I’m not being defeatist, what I’m saying is that maybe this book is a good book but not written for survivors of sexual violence. We need soothing, calming and safe BUT and you can see that is a big butt, how are we supposed to complete our stress cycles? Please put your answers on the back of a postcard and send to leannalarkin.com.
What did I do? I slept, woke up, moved around the house and slept some more. I sat in silence, I did not answer textual questions of “how are you” and I feel numb. Numb in the face and numb in my heart.
Tonight I will be taking more sleeping tablets, I don’t want to sit into the early hours or wake up in them. Tonight I want oblivion, I want reprieve I want relief. Even if it is only a drug-induced sham.