The cave you fear to enter…

Part Two 

Följande inlägg av Lovisa Rydén är skrivet på engelska, då detta är språket som hon främst använder i sin roll som författare. Användandet av ett (för inläggen på RSMH:s blogg) nytt språk görs i förhoppningen att nå ut till fler personer med psykisk ohälsa.

UPPDATERING: På förfrågan finns en kort svensk översättning av ett utdrag av texten, i slutet av detta inlägg.

TRIGGERVARNING: Texten innehåller berättelser om sexuella övergrepp.

You never feel your soul more than when you’re being raped. You feel it break physically. As the trauma is happening, you can feel it start to crack up like thawing ice. Most of the panic and pain I experienced happened from the moment it started breaking until it exploded into a gazillion pieces, and I died. Because you do die when you get raped, in a very literal sense, you die in every single way except the fact that your body is still alive. I never understood why the rape victims I knew weren’t afraid of being raped again until it happened to me. You can’t lose the same someone to death twice. I was raped six times during the span of two weeks, and I have forgotten most of what happened after the time that I died; after that point, everything else lost importance. Because without a soul, there is no life. And you never realize how pointless a body is without a soul until yours is gone. I had never been suicidal without mental illness causing it until I felt that feeling. That kind of emptiness is hard to fight because, in a way, you lose everything that you have ever had and been since you were born. You don’t even have the sense of self that the narrator of nature documentaries describes in orcas or other intelligent animals when they compare them to humans. You are empty. You don’t know what kind of fruit you like, or what hobbies you want to spend your time on. You don’t know who you are because you have become a blank page. You are no one. Well, you are someone, but you don’t know that at the time. You have to relearn everything about yourself, everything about the people in your life, and everything else that life encompasses. You have to spend years remembering and discovering who you are. 

For the first time in a long while, I decided to watch one of my favourite documentaries. Finding Joe is basically about how to find/create the best life you can have, based on Joseph Campbell’s teachings. It’s a sort-of feel-good documentary for me, and it helps me focus on what’s important. Watching it this time was a real aha-moment. It felt like the puzzle of the last few years, and what I should do with the experiences I’d had, fell into place. ”The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek” has always been the most baffling Joseph Campbell quote to me. Mostly because I couldn’t imagine what kind of treasure I must’ve missed when I was trying to escape my horrifying cave. Watching the documentary, I realized that I wouldn’t fully have dealt with everything unless I spoke about it in public, so here I am. (Hi! Welcome to 101 Fascinating Ways to Die by Lovisa Rydén. Have a marvellous time!). I also realized that I had been doing something I had always been strictly against: not talking about something because others didn’t want me to. When my memory came back, many people in my life didn’t want to talk about it. They were afraid of being useless and had that ridiculous idea that people often have: that they are supposed to fix everything. So, instead, they become afraid of failing that they hide. Don’t get me wrong; my loved ones didn’t abandon me. They tried to help me in every way that didn’t really work, and God knows I love them for it! (Side-note: if you want to know how to be around a person who’s been raped, think of it as the death of the closest person to them. That is, in effect, what has happened). After that fear passed, some still didn’t want me to speak of it in public because they were afraid of other people in my life finding out and wanting to kill the guy. I felt the same because I still felt powerless after my last relationship. Not anymore. I can speak about it now, without the feeling of needing permission. I decide the consequences of what happened to me, no one else. It happened to me, no one else. They don’t get to take my right to decide away. Going after him would only make things worse for me in every possible way, and if they did, the result would only be disaster, betrayal and that I wouldn’t be able to stand the sight of them. They would be risking themselves and me. I would feel guilty over anything that happened, and with that, they would be risking my well-being. My life would be ruined all over again. I can speak those words out loud now. I’m not hiding anymore; I’m not going to stay silent. 

Some stories don’t want to be told. Experiences we go through that lock themselves inside of us, holding on to us like leeches, preventing us from sharing them while they slowly suck life and meaning out of us. Creatures of darkness, the things that haunt us in the night, do not want to be dragged into the light. Light washes away fear and prevent the shadows from making things bigger, darker, and more frightening; light is where darkness dies. And often, when people around us see them, they want us to hide them away too. Because they feel helpless, thinking they should be fixing us but not knowing how. So, for their sake, we hide them away. As I said, I have been struggling with this issue for quite some time. In several of my Swedish posts here on RSMH, I have danced around the issue, trying to explain certain circumstances without actually mentioning the fact that I was raped. Except for the reactions of my loved ones, there was an additional reason for this: the other thing light does, is show what is and isn’t real. This is frightening for anyone trying to bend reality until they can believe that the demon in the middle of the room isn’t there and that the ghosts haunting them are not real. That everything is fine, and they are feeling great. That there are no shadows. As a rape victim, you also feel a bit like something used, something that should be thrown aside and that will never be interesting to anyone ever again. Because look how little that’s left of you. That’s how you feel, but you are wrong. Because the more difficult things we go through, the brighter we shine. Every scar is a diamond ore. You don’t get strength without pain or empathy without suffering. Isn’t it time to stop hiding things away and just talk about things openly? Most of us experience most things anyway; what is the point of pretending it’s not there? Think of all of the wasted energy. Think of all the wasted opportunities to help and save. It drives me mad(der!). No matter if your monster is made of trauma, mental health issues, gender, sexuality, or just heartbreak and painful experiences, shine a light on that sucker. Monsters in the dark can eat you slowly, while monsters in the light have no teeth to bite. Even when it’s hard, it gets easier in the long run. I wrote this post because I needed my monster to be drowned in light. I used to read these kinds of posts, thinking they were kind of dumb. I didn’t understand that my monster was consuming me like a parasite and couldn’t see that talking publicly is something we do to crawl out of our caves. I’m not only writing it now to make it easier for someone else, even if I want that too, but to tell every other ”younger me” out there that maybe you need to do it for you. Maybe you need to talk about it, not for others, but for you. My pain is not a secret that I should have to carry, and neither is yours. You are beautiful the way you are, warts and all, and you don’t have to hide. This is the last step of the Hero’s Journey. Don’t take my word for it; ask Joseph Campbell. 

I remember reading a book by survivors of sexual abuse. One of them said, ”You are going to have to try everything anew to find out who you are, and you are going to make mistakes, and that is okay.” I want to thank that person because reading it was the start of my journey to find my way back. I hope anyone who needs to hear it and is reading this will take it to heart. You will make mistakes, and that is okay. And that goes for anyone who has been struggling with anything. Don’t ever feel like you need to defend your struggle to heal from pain, trauma, or any other kinds of obstacles. You do the best with what you have, we all do, and it’s okay to make mistakes. Just make sure you learn from them and find your treasure in that cave you fear. Let your dark creatures into the light and remove the power they have over you and everyone else. We are pack animals; we get through things together, so let’s do it together. And remember, every wound heals if you just give it time – so give it time. I hope you guys have a wonderful year and that you find your bliss. And if you feel alone, know that all of us stand with you. You are our people, we are your people, and we stand and fight together. And remember: 

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are” – Joseph Campbell 

A thousand hugs and lots of love, 

Lovisa.  

På förfrågan kommer här en svensk översättning av ett kort utdrag av texten: 

Du känner aldrig din själ mer än när du blir våldtagen. Det känns som att den går sönder, rent fysiskt. När traumat inträffar kan du känna att den börjar spricka som tinande is. Större delen av paniken och smärtan jag upplevde kom från det ögonblick den började gå sönder, tills den exploderade i en gazillion bitar och jag dog. För du dör när du blir våldtagen, i bokstavlig mening, du dör på alla sätt utom det faktum att din kropp fortfarande lever. Jag förstod aldrig varför de våldtäktsoffer jag kände inte var rädda för att bli våldtagna igen förrän det hände mig.  

(…) 

Jag läste en bok av överlevare efter sexuella övergrepp. En av dem sa: ”Du kommer att behöva prova allt på nytt för att ta reda på vem du är, och du kommer att göra misstag, och det är okej.” Jag vill tacka den personen, för den läsningen var början på min resa tillbaka. Jag hoppas att alla som behöver höra det och läser det här tar det till sig. Du kommer att göra misstag, och det är okej. Och det gäller alla som har kämpat med något. Känn aldrig att du behöver försvara din kamp för att läka från smärta, trauma eller andra typer av hinder. Du gör det bästa med det du har, det gör vi alla, och det är okej att göra misstag. Se bara till att du lär dig av dem och hittar din skatt i den grotta som skrämmer dig. Låt dina mörka varelser komma in i ljuset och ta bort makten de har över dig och alla andra. Vi är flockdjur; vi tar oss igenom saker tillsammans, så låt oss göra det tillsammans. Och kom ihåg att varje sår läker om du bara ger det tid – så ge det tid. Jag hoppas att ni får ett underbart år och att ni hittar lyckan. Och om du känner dig ensam, vet att vi alla står med dig. Ni är vårt folk, vi är ert folk, och vi står och kämpar tillsammans. Och kom ihåg: 

”Livets privilegium är att vara den du är” – Joseph Campbell 

Tusen kramar och massor av kärlek, Lovisa 



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