PTSDiaries: Entry Two

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As a survivor and a mentally ill person, I’m always keen to undertones of mental health and recovery narratives in popular fiction.

I’ve noticed quite a few in the Avatar series. For those of you not familiar with this amazing cartoon, it is…you know what? I can’t describe it. On the surface it’s a story of an alternate world of four nations, each based around one of the four elements, with individuals in each nation who can bend one of the elements. The Avatar is the master of all four elements, and is tasked with maintaining and bringing balance to the spirit and human worlds. It’s so much more. It’s a story of love, of hope, of pain and of the power of goodness. I love it.

The Avatar Series is made up of two different shows: Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: Legend of Korra. Both spoke to me, as an abuse survivor, in different ways. I want to talk about Legend of Korra, because I just watched the series finale and damn.

In Legend of Korra, season 3, Korra is kidnapped, poisoned and nearly killed by a man named Zahir. The fourth season of the show is essentially about recovery. Korra withdraws from the world because she feels she has failed as an avatar. The poison Zahir gave her is still inside her. Despite support from her family and friends around her, she is haunted by Zahir. She manages to get the poison out, but his memory still haunts Korra.

Korra goes to see Zahir in prison, to tell him that she is no longer afraid of him. He charges her, and laughs when she startles. She tells him that he ruined her, that she thought facing him would end her suffering but that she will never be the same. He tells her that she needs to stop blaming him as an excuse against moving on. He leads her into the spirit world, and she is finally able to reconnect with her abilities. In the end she is able to accept what happened, and thinks that will make her stronger.

Does this remind you of anything? If you replace “poisoned” with “raped” it still works. She might as well be singing my life with her words, insert more song lyrics and poetic stuff here.

I realised, watching that episode, that I’m basically going through the same stuff Korra is. I respect the writers and creators for not having Korra’s struggles end after she gets the poison out. That would be the easy way out. A lot of people assume that when you get out of a toxic environment that everything will magically get better and that’s simply not the case.  I also liked that Korra was able to  make peace, kind of, with Zahir, instead of just one of them destroying the other.  I think that’s another thing that people don’t realise–confronting the rapist doesn’t make it easier. It doesn’t solve jack shit, most of the time. Avatar has always taken a restorative justice standpoint, and I respect that. It takes many people to right a wrong, even the wrongdoer.

And yes, before you ask, I would like to sit down with R and talk it out. But I really doubt that’s going to happen. I’ll just settle for living vicariously through Korra. And the experience does make her stronger. She states that it made her more compassionate in the season finale, and uses it to establish common ground with the villain, who she eventually defeats with talking.

What I didn’t like is how Korra took the “it happened for a reason” standpoint in the series finale. As previously discussed I disagree heartily with that idea. The experience did make Korra more compassionate, but I feel that she would have got there on her own.

I think that I’m biased. I’ve accepted what happened, but I’m still withdrawn from the world. I feel as though I belong to no one and nothing. The poison is still inside me, and I can’t bend it out.

PTSDiaries: Entry One

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I was raped when I was 14.

Every journey begins with a single step, it’s said. My journey began with forcible penetration.

I was raped when I was 14.

I’m 21 now. I thought this would get easier. I’m getting queasy just typing this. Maybe the more I say it, the better I’ll feel. People used to tell me to talk about it, but they don’t anymore. I think they got sick of hearing about it. I’m sick of feeling the aftermath.

I was raped when I was 14.

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For legal reasons, I won’t tell you his name, though I doubt he or any of his shithead friends care enough to read my blog. I’ll just call him R.

R was my boyfriend. My first boyfriend. Everyone thought he was so supportive, since he stayed with me after I got diagnosed with depression. Because anyone who stays with a mentally ill person must be a fucking saint, because no one else would put up with basket case teenage girls. I loved him with the passion only a teenager can love with.

There’s got to be a special kind of hell for people who take advantage of that kind of love. Mostly populated by advertisers and rapists.

I have to wonder what percentage of my current PTSD predicament is made up of the actual abuse or the stages afterwards. There’s no manual for having to go to high school with your rapist, to sit in class with him as he insults you in German from the other side of the room.

Oh, I knew what you were saying, R. I’m not stupid.

Maybe these diaries will be the manual. Probably what not to do. Before I embraced writing as a healing art, I carved my body like soapstone. I’ve only recently started feeling much in my wrists. They were almost numb from the scar tissue.

What do people expect? I was raped when I was 14. I had barely developed breasts, how the hell did they expect me to develop coping mechanisms?

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People who say “everything happens for a reason” are full of shit.

I was not raped and abused by someone who said they loved me for some grand cosmic reason. It was not meant to be. The only reason I was raped and abused was because I happened to date a monster. That’s it.

I’m trying to turn the experience into something more than a cancerous mark on my soul. That doesn’t mean it happened for a reason.

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First step taken.

PTSDiaries: Introduction.

I’m starting something new. A project, of sorts. I say that a lot, but this project is one that’s been a long time coming.

I’ve written in the past about my mental health issues and sexual abuse, whether here in explicit prose form or on my poetry blog in the form of free verse. Now, it’s time to hold the space.

I’m going on a journey. It’s a journey I should have started years ago. As of November 28th, I made the decision to begin treatment for PTSD. I have been writing down my thoughts and feelings as I’ve been preparing for the treatment, and I plan to continue to do this as the journey continues. I want to share my journey with you. As I go through this treatment, I will be posting my thoughts, as well as poetry and prose I write during the experience.

I should warn you, though, that I will be discussing rape, sexual abuse and mental illness honestly and openly. I’m done with silence. I’m holding nothing back. If that is an issue because you are on a journey of your own, that’s alright. I also understand that some of my followers may not be interested in this project, and that’s okay. It won’t be the only thing I’m posting. Any of my PTSDiaries posts will have the banner below at the top, to provide a signal for those who aren’t interested to skip it. But I really hope you join me.

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God bless,

Kelsey J.