A dear friend of mine was telling me about a book he read, and I immediately ordered myself a copy. It is a book entitled The Third Man, by John Geiger. “What happens to people who are tired, afraid, alone, and have no choice but to address their threatening situation? This fascinating book explores the ways in which some are helped by a welcome presence.” Now, that little excerpt is actually from the Foreword, by Vincent Lam, also a gifted writer. In fact…..the Foreword is the farthest I have progressed before I got this familiar tingling that inevitably moves me to dig out this old computer. I think I am so inspired because book encourages the validity of what I have experienced, again and again. I had always known that I have been blessed with a guardian angel, that while i have spent my life feeling like Sisyphus there were times when I felt someone beside me with their hand out behind me in case I fell backward trudging up the hill with that impossible load. But there is one such experience that stands out from the rest, for it was an entirely different sort of feeling, it was a unique presence that never took defined shape, just a very rough and fuzzy shape of someone standing far into the distance and surrounded by a golden glow in a very, very dark room.
This post is because I am a woman, which means I have more responsibility but I am more vulnerable. And how those two issues hold and dance upon the grave that was this day. I went in to planned parenthood to have my IUD replaced…out with the old and in with the new. And the bravery in this act was that I knew it would trigger major PTSD and it would be a suffering but I did it anyway. Because I am responsible. I didn’t know how traumatic it would be. I had done this multiple times in my past, always alone. It was hard and stressful each time because the feeling of it reminded me of being raped. But, since I am tough I get through it generally unscathed and I am over it fairly quickly. But, in all the times I was alone in the office…I was not isolated. This time, I was alone alone. with the exclusion of two very close friends, I had cleaned house recently, which means I informed the toxic people in my life that if they are incapable of being kind guests then they must leave me home. Unfortunately, this left me rather alone.
I went into the exam room and sat down, water already welling in my eyes, visibly shaking, trying to replace that feeling of being a child with one of being a warrior, reminding myself that I am “strong like bull. I am Titanka”. I told the doctor, Veronica, that this was going to be traumatic for me due to multiple sexual assaults. I told her that no matter what, no matter what I do or say she should continue with that task. because there is no way that I can do this more than once, i will be spent and depleted and too afraid..and, most importantly, I don’t want to prolong it. She offered the idea of a safe word and i just looked at her, disappointed, and told her “NO stopping!” she got me a hot pad to hold onto. I accepted it, thinking of how much it was a bandaid on a fleshwound, but it amazed me how helpful it was. It was a grand idea, once that i will use again. I was sobbing before I got on the table. I was surprised that i could not control the tears, normally I can. I put my knees up, we draped the cloth, and i had never felt so vulnerable. never. And then there was the pain. As with many of the times I was raped my mind would simply dissociate, leave my body in blank darkness and return after the worst of it had passed. I felt my world going dark again. I could hear the sounds of my bellowing sobs, i had never heard anyone cry like that in real life. I couldn’t believe it was me who was making those sounds, it sounded so far away. deep wails of grief and suffering, scraping the bottom of my gut and the depths of my throat. I was feeling a history’s worth of vulnerability, trauma, victimhood all in each single moment….that familiar desperation of waiting for it to be over and hoping it would end soon. Each moment stretching like taffy, longer and thicker, over and over.
I was staring at the corner of the ceiling, off and on between wincing….and to the left there appeared this warm glow….very aloof but warm. and i new that it was there for me. it was more of a suggestion that i am not alone, more than it was a promise. but it stayed with me. it watched me and looked over me, it helped witness my experience. Sometimes, what we need most, is a witness. It stayed until i was suddenly enveloped in great big arms.
Veronica was crying as she worked. She was crying for me. with me. as soon as she finished she threw down the tools, rushed to me and covered me with such a loving embrace. I was still lying down and so she kind of scooped me up and sobbed with me. She whispered in my ear how proud she was of me, how very brave i am, how sorry she is that this happened to me, how strong i am. everything i have always needed but never once received. I was loved. I finally forced myself to stop crying. got dressed. I said goodbye and went to the front to sign the check out papers. the girl up front had been crying, i could see it in her eyes.
all of these women cared. they loved me. they shared and honored in my trauma and therefor, triumph over it to do what needed to be done so that i can be as responsible as possible. but in the spaces in between my experience and the reality of the moment….a place no one could ever reach me, there was that glow holding court so that I would never have to be in a completely dark room all alone, ever again.
And now…I will continue to read this exquisite book, with gusto and great appreciation.