Collapse and terror

I’m ‘trigger warning’ this post as it is about ecological collapse and societal breakdown again, which I know I find deeply triggering at times. I thought about posting it on my other blog, but the therapy relationship and young parts and complex trauma is so central to what I’m struggling with that it needs to go here, and there are young and teen parts around that need to have their say too so I expect this post will have some switching so we can all get our words out.

It is hard to find the words to express the level of terror my system is experiencing right now about what is ahead for us humans and the planet that is our home, about how it will affect us personally and the reality that, once the environmental shit really hits the fan, we will not be able to see K anymore. This fear feels so primal. At times all I can feel is blind panic at the idea of being left alone to die (ring any bells…) and the acute pain of being abandoned. My greatest fear about the societal collapse that is being driven by intensifying climate and environmental crises is not being able to get to K, and of course this has been triggered – again – by the news of her house move. It had settled for a while again, awareness of the crisis had been mostly integrated into my daily life instead of surfacing in waves of shock and horror and subsiding, and healthy grief had surfaced. I had – for the most part – settled back into the present again, and had connected with joy and beauty and found solace and affinity in spending time with new, like-minded, open-hearted people. Then K’s impending house move came along and totally obliterated everything and sent my system spiralling back into utter madness over the prospect of near-time societal collapse.

Today has been so fucking hard. I have felt all smashed up inside, have barely done any work, have dissolved into sobbing grief over the loss of the house and all it symbolises, have text and emailed K with questions, and am now waiting for tomorrow when at least she will hopefully know where exactly she will be living in 5 weeks’ time. All of these things, these worries, can be resolved by settling into a new pattern, getting to know a new place, learning that she is the same in the new house, and so on. They are worries that can be soothed and can subside, but underneath all of that is the creeping, debilitating fear of societal breakdown and being taken away from her, being unable to reach her as the planet burns and wars rage, and crops fail, and water runs out. And this is not a fear that can be soothed away because as irrational as it seems, it is also a rational fear based upon what science and experts are telling us. We are in the sixth mass extinction and a million species are threatened with near-time extinction. We are running out of time to avoid mass starvation and displacement on a global scale. These fears are so young but they cannot be soothed by evidence of K’s care and commitment because they are fears of what is very likely to come to pass, whether it is in two years, or five or ten.

K will only be about 26 miles further away than she is now when she moves, but those 26 miles make all the difference between being able to get to her still after societal breakdown (whilst there is still food and water at least), and not being able to get there at all.

Now – 13.3 miles: a 70 minute bike ride

After the move – 39+ miles: a 4 hour hilly bike ride

Even with a skill to swap as we (hopefully) transition to a skills-based economy, that is too far to do regularly, perhaps even ever if things really go to shit. The horrors we envisage, the horrors we know will be unleashed as the crisis intensifies, are beyond comprehension, and the thought of not having K there as it unfolds is literally the worst thing imaginable some days. So yes, there is worry about adding 60-90 minutes of travelling each week to an already busy life when K moves, but beyond this there are fears of what this change means in the face of the collapse which is coming, even though we don’t and can’t know precisely when.

Ecological collapse-induced societal breakdown is not far off. Some would say it is already happening. Things are happening so much faster than expected – The Arctic is literally on fire, pouring the equivalent of Sweden’s total annual emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere as it does so, permafrost is melting 70 years sooner than was expected even relatively recently, fascism and the far right are rising as environmentalists predicted would happen with the declines in the Earth’s resources, the list goes on. And we have to phase out cars if we are to survive as a species and I am invested in that, but I will need my car to get to therapy once K moves, and I am invested in that too. I am deeply invested in this aspect of the status quo even as I rebel against it. It sickens me. If we manage to salvage parts of this civilisation as it goes down maybe there will be some kind of transport available to get me there, but if not then 40 miles between us might as well be 400.

And it terrifies us. Not being able to get to K while the world is burning and everyone is dying fills me with genuine terror. To survive, maybe communities will be built and some people will transition to a gentler and kinder way of living, but even so her community will not be mine. She will not gather me in and scoop me close to her as the horrors unfold – even if she wanted me in her tribe she could not do that. And there is no one to talk to about this. So many people think societal collapse is an irrational fear or cannot comprehend it at all, despite what the scientists and experts are saying about its likelihood, despite the food shortages, droughts, famines, wildfires, storm surges, flooding, earthquakes that we see all around and are told will worsen to the point of catastrophe as the planet warms and the ecosystems collapse. And those who ‘get’ the horrors that are ahead wouldn’t get what the fear of being separated from a therapist is like, or what it is like to look like a grown woman but to have a host of freaked out child parts living inside you, peering out in horror at the future they envisage. I am scared there is not even time to build a community or fall in love with someone who will love me back and hold my hand through all this. And I am so fucking furious that my life is finally basically how I want it to be and I am in a place – physically and emotionally – that I could imagine being in for years and years, and yet it is being taken away from me. All those years wanting to die and now I want to live, I want a life, and yet all the time the ticking time-bomb of environmental and societal collapse is counting down. I am finally getting what I want and I cannot keep it. And I am finally in a place in therapy where I really believe that K will not go away and we can work together for as long as I need, and yet she could so easily be taken away by forces outside of our control. I literally fucking hate the fact that I am alive during this time. Out of all the times to be alive the one where the future is disappearing in front of our eyes as we look on powerlessly is actually the worst imaginable. I literally want to fucking die to avoid what is ahead.

No matter what

Unexpectedly (for her as well as me) K has finally sold her house and will be moving on 5th September. She is moving to the countryside the opposite side of the city we both live near at the moment, so it will be an additional 20-30 minute drive each way, on top of the existing 25 minutes I already travel, for me to get to her new house. This should be fine. It is not a big deal. We will still be able to work (although it might need to be a longer session every other week when work is busy because the drive is longer and the traffic can get really bad going that way) and everything will be the same and the room will have all the same things and be set up the same as far as possible (we know because we have checked and asked lots of questions in our session today!) and yet it still feels like a catastrophe is unfolding. It is such a small change in the scheme of ‘things that could happen‘ (i.e. last summer when we were ending for at least a year and maybe forever, or the spectre of her moving to live in her Portugal house permanently which loomed over us for years, or sickness or a bereavement, or some other horrifying thing that would take her away from us), but it is still so unsettling and there are parts who are definitely having a near-death experience right about now. We have sobbed and sobbed this evening. It is not how it was. We are not losing it and slashing up our legs (or even thinking of doing that) or buying wine or anything else mad and destructive – there is an adult present and I will make food for everyone later and we will get a blanket and watch Netflix and all will be okay. But it still hurts. It seems silly that something like this could be so hard to deal with, but K was so validating so I guess I need to validate everyone too, and acknowledge that if she acts as though it is a big deal for us all then that is because it is a big deal.

It brings up so much, any change like this. Inside it feels as though she is going away, even though she is not. And even though I know this is old stuff and parts are having a meltdown over nothing, over things that have already happened, it still feels so difficult to comprehend. We love her house and garden and our room so much. They feel so central to our healing, the place we have slowly learnt to hold in our hearts when we are far away and struggling, or needed something external to steady us all. It is the first place we ever felt safe, the first place we knew what safety even was. We have done so much work there and it really hurts that we won’t be there anymore, that other people will be in our room, that we will not drive down the lane to her house that we have driven down more than 300 times, week in week out, over the past four years, that we have just 4 sessions left and then we will never go there again. It was some comfort to hear K say today that we have been in that room more times than anyone else, spent more hours in there with her than anyone else has (by quite a number I would imagine, as she’d only just moved there when we started going 4 years ago). And she says we will spend some time talking about the new space together and how it will be before she moves, to integrate the old and the new, but the most important things will be the same – her and I –  and she will be the same in the new house, except maybe a little happier.

K says it will be okay, she is not leaving [county we live in] and will be staying here for the rest of her life now. There are two possible houses she will move to and she doesn’t know which she will get until later this week, but if it’s one of them it will be the house she dies in she says, and if it is the other then she will still be staying in the same area even though she may move again. She will be 40 miles from me at the most, which really isn’t much. We will be able to go for beautiful walks together and she will be happier and the energy of the new village is nicer and softer than where she is now (where people are very right wing and go fox hunting and voted to leave the EU). She said ‘the most important aspects will still be in place, no matter what’, because the most important things are her and I. And I believe her. I do. Even though parts are having a meltdown because it feels as though she is actually going away, adult me knows she is not. I know we are lucky, so incredibly lucky. All that pain last summer brought me to a place where I could finally really take in all she is able to give me, where I could settle into the support and love and care she gives me, instead of always wishing it was something else or being terrified it would be taken away, and I feel so lucky to have done, and to be able to continue doing, this work with her. Two and a half years ago, in January 2017, when I was having one of the toughest times I ever had in therapy (there were quite a few of these, but this time was particularly horrific I know) I remember being so full of terror and grief knowing that one day she would not be there and that it would really, really hurt when that day came. She told me we both just had to hang in there, even though it was intolerable, and even though I didn’t see how that pain would ever transform into something else, we hung in there, her and I and the parts, and it did get better. And even then I remember thinking ‘what if I get to be one of the lucky ones who gets to keep their therapist as long as they need them, what if I get to finish this work with K, but I spend the whole time terrified that I won’t?‘ And here I am – one of the lucky ones. It does feel incredible that I’ve been able to do this work, this big work, all with her, that I’ve done ‘the work’ now and we will be able to finish this process together over the coming months and years. I have been one of the lucky ones. The big work is done now, and getting to do the rest with her is like an added bonus.

I am worried about how the winter will be, when the busy time at work starts again and it is dark and grey and my energy drops and then I have an extra long drive every Monday to get to therapy and back. K is trying to make it as easy as possible for me – giving me a fee reduction to cover the extra petrol we will incur, saying we can work later if I need to, that everything will be the same and that we can still be flexible and do extra sessions and phone sessions if hard stuff comes up, that we will fit in with what I need and allow time and space so I’m not rushing to get there and back. And she is not going away, she is working, and she is moving to the place which feels like her spiritual home which makes me happy for her and relieved for us because she doesn’t ever want to leave there and we don’t ever want her to leave either.

I could really feel her care today, could feel how hard she was trying to make this easier for us and answer all the dozens of questions which came tumbling out because she genuinely really cares and not because she wanted to avoid ‘a fuss’. Being able to feel this care and love is something that is so different from how it was for so many years. I think in part it is because I am able to be open to it, able to feel it and allow myself to experience it now, instead of being so triggered and certain I was being abandoned that I couldn’t feel anything else except that old and well-worn pain. But I think it is also that it is so much easier for her to care for me, and offer me extra support when I need it, when I’m not a triggered state nearly all the time – it must overwhelm her so much less to be working with me now, and it must be easier to offer extra support from time-to-time knowing it is because of something that is unusual now, instead of the next in a near-constant stream of crises. She said this week was different and that we could be in touch via email before Friday and to message this evening if I needed. And in her reply to the inevitable message from young parts when we got home she said ‘I hear it all and somewhere it will all be fine‘. ‘Because no matter what?’ we asked, to which she replied ‘No matter what dear CB’ (with some emojis of course). And even though there is so much fear over what will happen and how we will make it work when life is already so busy, I also know an hour’s drive instead of 25 minutes will be okay, that we will make it work, that she is committed to this work and so am I, and that I am so lucky that she will be walking beside me on this journey for as long as she possibly can, because she wants to be here, and because it is important to her too.

Does she know?

Does K know what she has given us? Does she know that the reason I increasingly feel safe inside myself and safe to be myself is because of her? Does she really know?

She has given us the greatest gift it is possible to bestow on a traumatised child, and there are 23 of us!

Consistency

Validation

Time

Space

Warmth

Care

Respect

Safety

Concern

Consideration

Understanding

Predictability

Security

Availability

Compassion

Interest

Stability

She has listened, heard, watched, seen. She has held me up and steadied me. Even now I am finding my feet, still she is always there.

Mouse (19)

Tangles

Dear R,

It hurts when you tell me everyone is a mess. It hurts when you tell me everyone has this pain, everyone’s parents are as bad as mine, that love is imperfect and everyone is traumatised as a baby. It hurts when you liken my pain to your own, despite telling me before you’ve only ever felt suicidal fleetingly, for hours at a time, not days and weeks and months on end like I have had. You say you’ve been doing this work yourself for 30 years now, but this just confirms that you cannot know the work I’ve been doing with K, cannot know the intensity and extremity of what I’ve had to come to terms with. You closed your eyes against me and reflected back to me what I touched upon in you.  It makes me feel small and dirty and ashamed when you tell me everyone knows this pain because I am so in need of being seen and heard now, after a lifetime of pretending to be like everyone else and keeping my pain – physical and emotional – locked away and hidden from sight.

And it makes me angry. Really angry. An anger I am now ready to own. It is not anger that you were not who and what I need, it is anger that you are an unhealed healer, causing damage sometimes even for all the good you do. It is anger that you cannot see your own limitations when it comes to working with traumatised people and you think you know more than you do. You know about trauma but you don’t know about formational shame and dissociation and abuse and relational healing. You think dissociating is when we choose to do something to numb us out – drinking, drugs, cutting, eating, shopping – and you have no awareness of the automatic dissociation developmental trauma victims experience, the type that is entrenched by shame over connection and belonging and existing, the type that it is virtually impossible to give up because there is no moment of volition to act upon. There is so much you don’t know and your not-knowing causes harm. And it is anger that you don’t allow what is in me to be the size it is and liken it to something smaller, something ubiquitous, something everyone could relate to if they chose to look inside themselves. Perhaps it is how you have done this work, felt less alone with the process of healing, comforted yourself that you are not more damaged than others, but this inability to see what happens for me and that it is a different wound and a different path to healing is exactly why you are not a therapist and shouldn’t be trying to do trauma work. For me, after a lifetime of invalidation and not being believed or taken seriously, after a lifetime of not allowing my emotional pain to exist even to myself, I needed to be told my childhood really was that bad, that my mother was abnormally ill and abusive, that she is the reason I split into alters and experience near-permanent DP and DR. I needed to know why I was so damaged and struggling. I needed to look inside and see it was really that bad, so that I could heal myself.

We’ve known each other for 15 years. You used to be so wise and helpful, so soothing, so full of insights. I learnt so much about myself and the world through you. Years ago I used to be so excited to share my growth and insights with you. You helped me see that losing Jess opened up all the old, buried trauma, you helped me see that my mum couldn’t see me, you helped me begin to break away from her when I was absolutely terrified of hurting or angering her despite the damage she was inflicting on Nina. You helped me put my daughter first, helped me see that I was sacrificing myself and her for my mum’s happiness, that I had a choice over whether and how much to see her, even though 4 years ago it didn’t feel that way at all. You allowed my pain to be huge and raw and untamed, but you refused to see what it was caused by.

And then you triggered me. You told me everyone has a mum like mine, that every baby is traumatised in the womb, that everyone is a broken, struggling mess. You told me everyone is living a defended life, escaping from their pain, unable to face what is inside them. You said everyone is split like me, everyone has flashbacks, everyone has complex trauma, everyone is knee-deep in survival all the time. It made me wonder what is wrong with me for struggling so hard if everyone feels this way. It makes me uncomfortable – what is wrong with me that I react this way to a pain that everyone else has too? It makes the enormity of my attachment wound invisible and invalid. It makes me feel as though my pain means nothing at all.

You hold my pain but you won’t allow it to be uniquely mine. It is always the human condition, something everyone has, a darkness that is with us all. You say everyone is traumatised, and I can see how this is true, but not everyone is equally traumatised. You say ‘we’ when you should say ‘you’ because you don’t know this pain. You don’t know it. You don’t know it. You don’t know what it has been like for me since I started work with K. You don’t know the depths we have been to together. You don’t know this pain, you don’t know this hole in me, you don’t know what it is like to have alters and be permanently dissociated. You have never cut your skin so deeply just to make the pain inside more tolerable or to make you feel more real so that for days afterwards walking is a real struggle and the pain keeps you awake even as it soothes you. You’ve never felt as though you don’t exist, even to yourself. You didn’t know what depersonalisation and derealisation even are when I told you. You don’t lose time, switch out, wake up to things you don’t remember doing and writing and saying. I know these things because you have told me. Your experience is your own but you talk about the pain I am in as if you know it, as if it is the same for you. And it just isn’t. I can see people whose pain resonates with my own and you are not one of them. You’ve had difficulties and trauma I know, but your mother is in your life and you have a happy marriage and you made a choice to do this work. You went looking for it. You made a conscious decision to look more deeply inside yourself for personal growth, you chose to face what was in you, face your shadow side.

It wasn’t like that for me. You praise me for going so deeply into this work, as if it was a choice. It was not a choice. I was planning to kill myself and Nina. I was an absolute mess. I can’t even go there with how traumatic therapy was without triggering myself. For the first 3 years it was the worst pain I can imagine, nearly every day. I look back now and I don’t know how I survived. If someone told me I had to go through those years again I wouldn’t do it, even if it meant I would get to where I am now, because the pain I had to face in therapy was intolerable and unbearable and it felt as if I was dying nearly all the time. K and I were in touch nearly every day at the start. We worked for 3, then 4 hours a week, sometimes more. Maybe it was a choice, but it doesn’t feel that way. If I’d not had therapy I don’t think I would be here. And not everyone has had that experience. Not everyone has needed to face what I have needed to. Many do face it, I know. And many who need to don’t. But there are ‘good enough’ mothers who haven’t destroyed all their children and there are people who seem to be living a normal life, relatively unscathed by what has been thrown at them.

You make me angry for other reasons too. It angers me that you are meant to be all about love and compassion and yet you eat animals (“mindfully” – as if there is any such thing!) and are complicit in their torture and mass murder. It angers me that you see suffering as a uniquely human thing when animals are suffering at a rate that far exceeds humans. It angers me that you avoid facing the reality of the state the planet is in by talking about how much love there is all around, and how there is a paradigm shift in universal consciousness. It angers me that you are deep in climate denial. It angers me that you shut down that pain because it is one you are not ready to face. It angers me that you invalidate my ecological grief at the same time as you over-identify with my other feelings and experiences. And it scares me that someone like me 4 years ago might come to you and never get the help they need, because if I hadn’t found K when I did, and had tried to do ‘trauma’ work with you, then I don’t know where I would be.

The only good thing is that you make me feel so grateful to have K. You wanted to be something you are not to me. And I wanted to do this work with you but I couldn’t. You are threatened by her, try to give me something she cannot, try to be what she cannot. And it is all about you. You try to relate to a pain that is not yours to validate yourself. You try to help but you project all over me. It leaves me feeling such complex and contradictory emotions that I struggle to unpick them. I know you love me but I know she does too. I know because she has shown me week in and week out for 4 years nearly. You told me two years ago that you didn’t feel connected to me because of K, that me working with her made you hold back and you felt pushed aside and left out. You left me holding that. You are meant to be a professional and you should not have shared your process with me. It hurt me. You hurt me. You have hurt me more times than I can count by reducing and minimising and trivialising my pain. I spent my whole life telling myself I was dramatic and that it wasn’t that bad, even as I battled chronic pain and emotional instability and felt scared and unsafe all the time. The day I first contacted K I was triggered by your words into a shame-filled suicidal emotional flashback, because you told me everyone is either feeling or avoiding what I am.

You felt pushed aside by K but what she has given me is a whole world away from what you could offer. I needed someone to tell me it wasn’t okay. My mum’s abuse and neglect is so subtle, I still ask myself if it was really that bad, if what I’ve done is really just cruel and selfish and melodramatic. And K validates everything. She has seen everything. And when I talked she listened to what it was like for me instead of looking to see what it touched in herself. She told me mine was the biggest family mess she’d ever seen, even after years in the NHS and state hospitals, and I began to believe her and it helped me face it and begin to understand myself, so I could start to let it go. I couldn’t let it go until I had grabbed on to it and really looked at it first.

“I don’t think everyone has this at all” said K this evening. And my heart filled with love as I heard the words I needed to hear. I know I am not the only one, I know many, many people have this pain and worse, and I know there are many different ways to be a bad mother, but I also know not everyone feels this pain, not everyone has a mother wound the size of mine and the people I most relate to, not everyone has attachment trauma, not everyone has disorganised attachment wreaking havoc in their lives, not everyone has complex-PTSD, not everyone has alters. I still expend so much energy hiding what is inside me some days. And it makes me want to scream and hurl things when you take away my emerging sense of the injustice of what happened to me. The flashbacks I had on Friday to being abandoned as a baby are not something everyone can relate to, that abyss that opens in me is not something everyone has, the feeling of my Mum never having been there is not a universal experience.

I don’t want to lose you but I am done with being told the things you tell me, which are all about you and not me. Having my experiences validated and not compared with others has made them smaller and less consuming. When I speak with you about it I feel all twisted and distorted and there are voices in my head screaming ‘what about me?’ These are the voices of people you’ve never met and who K and I know intimately. I want to hurt you and I hate myself for that because you have done so much good for me and your love and support has strengthened me so many times. I hate myself for needing this pain to be valid and real, but K makes me feel like I am worthy of love because of it, rather than making me feel like I am making up how bad it is and making up how bad my Mum was.

Ripples

We just saw my brother as we were driving back from swimming training. He was walking with his head down, clearly sent on a late-night supermarket errand by my Mum, who he still lives with. My brother is 48, disabled, severely traumatised by our mum’s abuse and mental illness, and still experiencing abuse now, still trapped in that hell I grew up in. At least I am safe now even if I still live with the imprint of what she did to me, he is still stuck there going through what broke me so badly every single day. His life is fucking awful and I know being estranged from me and Nina, who he adored, has made it even worse. It’s now 2 years since we saw him because it’s impossible to see him without involving my Mum, and because she is likely to be so awful to him afterwards and cry so much that it’s not worth it for him. Seeing him breaks my heart. The way he walks hurts, a clear indication of how he feels about himself and his place in the world. I want to see him so much, but I also don’t. I can’t. It all hurts too much.

Today has been really hard. The pain over Zara, my student, rippling through me still and I kept crying at work. Yesterday we did a phone session with K and she validated it all, said what we needed to hear about not being dramatic or selfish or over-reacting. She said we could do a ritual or ceremony together for Zara, so I can tell her the things I wish I had said and find some kind of closure. I plan to go to the inquest as well – I had to write up all my dealings with her for the coroner on Tuesday and that was so hard, reading through her emails and also remembering how triggered and upset I was after her disclosures. I have so many questions about what happened and how she was this past year. And of course her death brings up so much about my own experiences – years of being suicidal, Jess, my maternal grandmother who committed suicide when my mum was 12, sexual abuse and rape and DID and not being believed. I told K how hard it is imagining Zara being in hospital with no one believing her about DID and repressed memories – I’ve experienced that lack of belief in a disorder I so clearly have, had parts yelling that no one thinks they are real but they are, but to be sectioned and experiencing that… I can’t even imagine. We’ve text K today as well and she was so kind and says she is here for us all through this shock, and it does at least feel as though that is true now. I want to text her now about my brother, because it just couldn’t have come at a worse time. I will wait until our Friday email tomorrow to tell her though, even though it is so hard not to reach out.

At bedtime Nina said she doesn’t miss my brother anymore, that it would be too hard to see him because of her grandma. I said I miss him but I don’t want to see him. She said you can’t miss someone and not want to see them. You can – she will learn this one day. You can miss someone every single day and still not want to see them because seeing them would hurt even more than not seeing them.

 

Goodness

‘And if you can, come back to your goodness, CB, because you are nothing but good. The intentions within you are all good’.

‘Do you really think that?’

‘I really think that. But you taking that in is another thing altogether’.

‘I wish I could see the me that you see. Then I wouldn’t have to try and be better all the time’.

‘I think you glimpse her sometimes. I do. You glimpse that person sometimes’.

I believe K sees good when she looks at me, but the picture my mum painted of me still clouds my vision and makes me think that she is wrong.

Shock

TW suicide and CSA

I got back from therapy feeling okay. Nina was out and I sat in my study looking through the box of special cards and other things K has given us or we have made together over the years. There’s a lot in there and I felt safe and warm as I looked through it all, a testament to the love and longevity of our relationship and a record of some lovely things we have done together too.

Then I got a text from a colleague telling me she was sorry to tell me but one of the young people I work with had died at the weekend. She is someone who came to see me one evening last year in May and was with me in a psychosis or severely dissociated state for more than 3 hours as she disclosed horrific details of incest as a baby and young child, other awful abuse and multiple rapes, persecution by her peers, suicide attempts, years of not being believed. It was an incredibly difficult evening and left me triggered and unable to sleep or work the next day. It was at the end of an incredibly busy year at work and when things with K were difficult and it really sent me over the edge. Too close to home. Witnessing someone dissociating and completely leaving the room was disturbing, knowing I do it. And I couldn’t help her. It is not my job.

I found out a little while later she was sectioned after I saw her. And I received an incredibly distressed email from her from hospital, saying no one believed what had happened to her. I was advised not to reply and I didn’t. That was a year ago. She has been at home as far as I know and now has coursework to submit which she deferred from last year. Except she has died.

I know she killed herself. She had tried many times before. And to be honest I can’t say I blame her. After I saw her I was scared for her future, scared for all the darkness she would need to face if she was going to have any chance of a stable and worthwhile future. What she disclosed to me resonated with me but it was also so much darker and more disturbing than my own story. And I know in the hospital where she was detained they thought she was psychotic and was making the abuse up. She must have been terrified knowing no one believed her and that she couldn’t get the help she needed.

I wish I had replied to her email. I wish I had told her I believed her. I wish she hadn’t taken her life thinking no one believed what had happened to her.

I feel so shocked that she is gone. She was beautiful and so clever. I knew her for 3 years. I had no idea until that day of all she had been through.

My manager wants to talk to me tomorrow and I don’t want to because it hurts too much and I can’t bear how baffled people are that someone could be in so much pain that they take their own life. I want to scream at them how lucky they are that they’ve never thought of doing this, never tried, never soothed themselves with its possibilities.

It hurts that humans do such terrible things to each other and that babies are broken and their futures destroyed. It hurts because it could have been me. It hurts to think of the pain she endured and all she achieved in spite of it. And it enrages me that victims are not believed and despite the prevalence statistics showing how widespread incest and CSA are when victims come forward their stories are doubted, as if the statistics must be based on someone else.

I text K and she says to text her in the morning and to remember to breathe. We can speak if I need to. But there are no words. And maybe this poor girl made the right choice for her right now, because she had suffered too much already and recovery would have involved unbearable pain too.