Thursday, 29 August 2013

On The Harassment Of The Invisibly Wounded

Try to imagine going through a very traumatic event. Feel free to imagine anything you like, be it a car crash into water and nearly drowning, your love of your life dying, getting assaulted and/or raped, witnessing the murder of a close friend, doing a few tours in a battle zone as a soldier or medic. Anything. Feel like you got through the event and had lots of time to reflect upon it. Feel the weight of it on your mind.

Now imagine someone telling you to get over it, to leave it behind you. How does that make you feel? Does it feel like genuinely good advice, or does it make anger well up inside of you? Does it make you feel frustrated and sad?

In most cases where a person undergoes a traumatic event no physical scars remain, and the person appears to the outside world to be healthy and capable. They can not see inside the head of this person. They can not see the brutal images and horrors inside the soldier's mind playing over and over. They can not see or experience the unimaginable images inside the rape victim's mind as she flinches back from a single touch or hug. They can not experience the sickening, desperate fight for survival of a drowning person. To them there aren't the eternal tortured images of humans cut up by bullets, the total violation of one's mind and body or the realization that there is no more air to breathe.

Maybe it's simply perfect innocence which underlie many of such comments, but it's also possible that it's more an automatic exclusion by the environment so that they do not have to imagine even a subset of the traumatic experience. See the countless scathing remarks thrown at rape victims as an example, as well as the denial that anything might be the matter psychologically with them. It's easy to show that you are in terrible pain when your arm or leg is cut up and bleeding. When I had an accident as a child whereby I suffered a head injury people around me were in an absolute panic, even though in the end it was just a mild concussion and a some nasty cuts and bruises which left me with no ill effects.

Looking back at my experiences during the past nine years I can still see everything and feel every insult, even humiliation, every moment of frustration and agony. The endless confusion and loss of any sense of identity was especially brutal, combined with the continuous brainwashing. I honestly can not comprehend in any fashion why the Dutch physicians, psychologists and politicians thought I had to go through this hell. How am I not to equate what was done to me with the experiments performed by Nazi doctors at concentration camps? Actually I think that their experiments at least resulted in some scientific data. What was the point of my suffering?

"Just ignore it, you got what you wanted with your new passport, right?"

No. That's akin to telling the prisoners at Auschwitz after the Red Army freed them that were now having a jolly good time since they had accomplished all that they cared about, being surviving and escaping the horrors of the place. Just leave it all behind you and start your new life. No worries, right?

Actually, that's not quite an accurate comparison. With the Nuremberg process many survivors of the genocide found some peace, even if none of them were ever able to shake off the memories of the horrors at that place. In my case some of those responsible are now facing a process as well next month, but I know that there most likely won't be any punishments. No acknowledgement of what has happened to me and many others like me. There won't be peace for me and the nightmare will stay alive.

I recently had people I hadn't seen in a while comment on how healthy I look now compared to a year ago. This surprised me. Inside my head I don't feel healthy at all, with a constant struggle to convince myself that it's not time for suicide just yet. In addition to almost constant lower abdominal pains I'm stressed beyond belief about so many things, from being cut off from most of my belongings, the resulting issues with the tax office which have to be fixed, the hearing against the VUmc, the moving to Germany and getting my belongings back. I don't even want to talk about how depressed my upcoming birthday makes me feel.

I guess I do seem healthy enough from the outside. Nothing of the turmoil inside my head is visible to the outside world. I'm not bleeding, expelling unusual bodily fluids or displaying other symptoms indicative that the abdominal pains I suffer are anything but psychogenic in origin. I'm sure there'd be enough people who'd gladly start a relationship with me right now, as all they see is a pretty young woman who just needs a few hugs.

I honestly don't know whether anything will fix me to the point that these horrible thoughts and memories cease haunting me. Next month I'll hear whether the German surgeon has any interest in helping me. To get actual medical help which will once and for all put an end to the 'is she intersex or not' debate would be most helpful. I very much doubt that there's any psychological help which could help me heal, however. Maybe that's something which is only possible after the medical help. First the fixing of the original issue, then dealing with the other damage, so to speak.

I would wish the horrors I see inside my head only on my worst enemies.


1 comment:

maria welborn said...

thank you so much for this. If anything else it helps me understand why i feel dead inside.

My bullet scars are nearly invisible now, but the scars inside aren't. Getting shot is probablythe /least/ horrific thing i've suffered - i think you're the only one in the world who could understand how that can be.

Your writing made me realize i minimize my own damage. I tell myself to toughen up, get over it. it's making it worse. Now i know :)