In November, there was an article in MORE Magazine called, “A Hidden Cause of Chronic Illness,” written by Alexia Jetter. It was about the long-term effects of domestic abuse. I was not, nor have I ever been physically abused by a partner, BUT the information was enlightening to me. Ever since my attack I have had one physical thing after another come up. At first it made sense, sort of, that this was happening. While I was in therapy and was in quite a lot of physical pain, not to mention the psychological and emotional turmoil I was experiencing, it was at least understandable that I would have stuff come up. And, really, for the most part, my body did remarkably well, considering all I was dealing with. The truth is, until cockroach boy was sentenced to prison, I did not get sick. Not even when my boyfriend did get sick (now I know it was my attack that caused this) and stayed that way for close to 2 months, and even with all the time I was spending with him then, I never got sick. So when I did get sick after the court date (just a cold, but annoying nonetheless, especially because it was summer,) it made perfect sense that the entire 9 months before, my body was, essentially, keeping me where I needed to be to get myself healed. And if you’ll remember, 5 days after my therapy was finished, my back went out and I spent 96 hours not being able to move at all. Again, I realized that my body had been holding onto the physical trauma until I was through the emotional work and could then deal with another aspect of the entire process. I got through that, and then about 2 months later, my boyfriend broke up with me, which resulted in more trauma, both emotional and physical. In this case, my emotional sadness and heartache manifested itself into my foot, resulting in a neuroma in my right foot.
So I have spent the last 10 or so months having acupuncture to heal my foot. Some people choose to have surgery to deal with this type of injury, but I opted for the alternative route. Besides not wanting to pay for surgery, and already knowing how my body responds to surgery, there was no way I was putting myself through another traumatic experience when there was another option. Being injured proved very challenging for me. After my attack and the sharp decrease of my physical activity, I had had to learn how to, basically, walk again. As I mentioned in the story of the day of my actual attack, I went from walking 60-90 miles a week to zero. That was a huge loss. My walking was not only my physical exercise, but it was also my praying/meditating/me time. Even after I was able to walk again on a somewhat regular basis, it was just not the same. And then my injury occurred and I was once again sidelined. I was still doing yoga, at least to the best of my ability, modified to allow me to practice in spite of my hurt foot. But, at least for me, yoga will never be enough exercise for my body. I started getting depressed again with the lack of ‘moving.’ Luckily, I realized what was going on and looked for other ways to move my body without walking. I rode my bike to the store or uptown to the book store or library, activities I normally walked to do. I joined the gym again, and rode my bike there, as well. I sometimes just rode my (beach) bike around the island, though that was a more leisurely activity than anything else. And I kept going to acupuncture each week.
After my attack, with the loss of my ability to exercise in the way I was used to, I gained ten pounds. I was pretty much able to limit my weight gain (in that year and a half) by walking, in time, as much as was possible. Then when Bill broke up with me almost a year ago, I gained ten more. You have to understand that when I was attacked, I weighed 135 pounds, and at 5’10” that was thin. So I eventually ended up at 155 (maybe even a little more, but as I do not have a scale, I am not exactly sure) which really isn’t too much for my height, but it is too much for me. My clothes did not fit and I was not comfortable in my own body. For me, exercise and moving my body is as necessary as food and water. Without that outlet, I am not happy. Something had to change. I was still self-soothing and it was definitely taking a toll on me. In the summer and fall it wasn’t so bad when my clothes did not fit; but once it got colder and I needed to be wearing something besides loose dresses or yoga pants, I had to make a choice to stop what was clearly not working and do something different.
What I did was a whole food cleanse with Elizabeth Hirsh and Charlette Preslar. It was 14 days and it changed my attitude about food and my body. I cannot say that I am exactly where I’d like to be, but I am more accepting of where I am. Although the cleanse was not a weight loss program per se, I did lose some weight. And I am happy to say that my jeans fit me again. I learned a new way to eat, and though I am not 100% good, I definitely have incorporated the recipes we used on the cleanse.
Back to the article about the hidden and long-term effects of domestic abuse…although I do not know of any studies that have been done about the hidden effects of sexual assault on our bodies, I KNOW this is the case. Since my attack I have had more things happen and I been sick more than I have in the last 20 years. I have no way of knowing if and when this will stop. I am ever hopeful that, in time, these things will at least lessen. It is very frustrating not knowing what else may come up. All I can do is continue to put one foot in front of the other, literally and figuratively, and believe that it is possible to completely heal. Clearly, I am not there yet.
On 3 January this is what I wrote in my journal: “Not sure why I am surprised that I am still healing from my attack. Matt (this is my acupuncturist) pointed this out to me this morning. I guess I think I should be all better by now. The mistake I seem to have made was in thinking I would be finished when my therapy was done. Ha! Joke’s on me, except it isn’t so funny. I suppose the best thing I can do for myself and my state of mind/sanity is to just let go of all and any preconceived notions I’ve had or continue to have around how long or exactly the path my healing will take/is taking. I keep thinking I’m done/it’s done and clearly this is not the case. So, I’ll say again, I am not sure why any of this comes as a surprise. It will take as long as it takes and no amount of wishing it were different seems to be working. Well, rats!”