Being chronically ill can make one feel helpless. Feeling helpless can bring up emotions of the past, when being assaulted felt extremely helpless.
Since having a muscle disease I have been physically challenged. Having a strong body gives a sense of the ability to protect yourself. Having a weak body…well it opens the door to many fears and what ifs.
When I could fight back, I didn’t. I had the strength in my body to fight I thought. If only I had fought. But the truth is even if I did fight it may not have changed the outcome. And when someone is abused for an extended period of time, the manipulation and confusion that puts in the brain makes fighting not always an option. I learned to endure. I learned to persevere. I learned to fight just to get through the next time it happened.
There has always been fight in me just not in the sense that others perceive fight. Anyone who has endured sexual abuse has fight in them. If you are still here. You have fight! Never ever doubt that you have fight.
The feelings of helplessness are really a different story because they are emotions. I try not to let my emotions run wild. I let myself feel them but I try not to let them take on a mind of their own!
I was stuck on the side of the road the other day for 45 minutes because I was in my electric wheelchair and needed help that was 45 minutes away.
That made me feel helpless.
I think the important thing here is not to allow one emotion to bring up another one. Feeling helpless on the side of the road is not feeling helpless during an assault. It is helpless. It does feel terrible. But letting that one emotion take you back to another and keep you there is just plain not healthy. It makes a bad situation worse.
So try to intentionally think about the past if you are going to do that and not allow your mind to wander there when it feels a similar feeling to what it has felt before. I have found it is more empowering to go to that past moment and face it straight on than to feel stuck back there because of another emotion leading you there. And if that happens, separate the emotions from the events that are happening. You have strength in every moment. Just remember it.
It is not always easy to separate emotions. It is hard to sort through the emotions that come with feeling helpless.
One way that has always helped me is I have always chosen to write. When I have nightmares, I write. When I have thoughts and dreams or disappointments and frustrations, I write. It clears my head. I was reading through some of my writings today. This poem I wrote after I was diagnosed with a muscle disease 8 years ago. I had just had a muscle biopsy and I was just laying in bed thinking of the things I could physically do a short time ago but couldn’t anymore. As I was reading this poem I realized that having a muscle disease is truly a helpless feeling and helplessness in any form reminds me of when I was being sexually abused. It is such a similar feeling.I already knew this but reading through my poetry and thoughts was just another reminder of how the feeling of helplessness can evoke so many other thoughts. I thought I would share some of these writings as I realized that they could easily pertain to anyone struggling with feeling helpless whether from illness or abuse. I have also had terrible nightmares. When I have a nightmare, I wake up, and I turn it into some sort of poetry form and then I let it go. I have included them too here. When you have been through a traumatic event there has to be some way to release the feelings associated with it, especially if you have nightmares every night. I have found over the last 20 something years, that writing is a great release for me. I put it all on paper and close the book.
If I could run away I would
I would drive as far as the road could
To the mountain tops
That I’d known before
I would dive into the lakes
And swim to the distant shore
Wishing for nothing
Needing nothing more
I would scream to no one
Scream until I had no voice
Then sit in the silence of it all and rejoice
I want to run to freedom and jump in its arms
Then dance with it from dusk until dawn
And when the first bird starts to sing
I’ll do it all over and over again
I’ll spin and dance and run some more
And god will know the me from before.
But for now I am trapped in these prison walls
No voice no hands to catch me when I fall
I sit and I wait and then wait some more
But nothing ever comes
And soon the wait is all there is
And that sadness can’t be undone
A glimmer of hope
Is fleeting at most
As reality stomps it out
Crushing any promise into the ground
filling it’s space with doubt.
All my emotions are trapped inside
No one will understand
When you have the strength to run a mile
There is no way that you can.
I hear the world going round and round
As I lay here not making a single sound
Wondering what will become of me
Broken in pieces tiny and small
Hoping god can find them all
And make me the me before the fall.
The words are all empty
The net has a huge massive hole
So if I fall I will hit the ground
Heard the sound.
I was falling one day
And then I fell
A difference only I can tell
I can’t run away
I can’t even run
I can’t drive to the mountains
Or swim in the sun.
No one can know
Though I’ve tried to express
The depths of my pain and loneliness.
I am gone
but no one noticed I left.
This next poem I wrote about a repeated nightmare. After I wrote it down I stopped having it.
The Land of Forgotten Souls
The land of forgotten souls
Where torment runs wild
And anguish walks on two legs
For miles and miles.
Searching and searching to find a way home
Wandering helpless lost and alone.
The darkness now crawling on me
Pulling at my skin
Screaming people reach for me
Trying to get in.
Where did they come from, how did they get here
And why am I with them now?
I try to run away from the blank sad faces
But I keep falling down.
The houses are all empty, the halls all wet and cold
I find the people once again locked in their rooms of stone.
They want me, they need me, but I do not know why
Their desolate faces I fear.
I run without moving as I call,
“God please get me out of here!”
Then I hear a voice ever so steady and sure
Filled with a peace from above
“They need you to give them love, each and every last one.
Love those who hate and set them free
This job I give you starting today
Those in the land of forgotten souls
Can still be saved.”
The fog began to clear in my head
The path I could clearly see
And after I hugged each person
Steps were presented to me.
I walked up each steadily as I could not walk before
And into the light of day.
The words of God still upon me
Knowing it was I who was saved.
This is another poem I wrote after having terrible nightmares. I didn’t have this one anymore either after I wrote it down.
Floating into dreamland, the crickets hum,
the whip-poor-will sings and a lull takes over the room.
The menagerie of shadows sets in the doom.
All in black and white this presence controls my mind
passing through only to leave its memories behind.
Terror sets in while being hunted
as I turn and ask what to do
In my reflections it clearly shows
I’m now in the hunter’s shoes.
Bashing and beating this poor helpless soul
laughing so loudly in vain.
Sickened by emotions slowly emerging
torn between pleasure and pain.
Its presence now fading as all black and white
and a scream shakes the sleeping to confusion.
Gasping for air searching for light
trapped in an ongoing illusion.
What does all this mean?
Could it possibly be as bad as it seems?
When his arm reaches round and whispers so softly,
“Baby it was just a bad dream.”
I wrote this poem when I was very young. I don’t even remember writing it.
My little ragdoll
tattered an torn
battered and worn
losing her cute
sentenced to life
on her bed.
My little ragdoll
eyes of green
held and squeezed,
trapped to a life
on her bed.
My little ragdoll
smothered to death.
This poem I wrote as I lay in the bed frustrated that I had just walked further than I normally could but realized no one would really even notice but God. That I wouldn’t get the cheers from a crowd after finishing a race.
The Finish Line
Who will be there waiting when you reach the other side.
When you step the final step and cross the finish line.
Who is in your corner, who is on your team
Who will be there to cheer you on with their loudest scream.
Who will be there for me
Or will I stand alone in my victory.
When I do the little things that no one knows
When I reach my own personal goals
Even if it’s as simple as I rose and I stood
On a day I didn’t think I possibly could.
I may not have a yellow line to cross like others do
But I have my own finish line that I will make it to
And there will be hands together
Clapping in silent applaud
Giving me a smile and a gentle nod
Giving me assurance that can only come from God.
I haven’t needed to write in years. As I was reading this I realized again the isolation and loneliness a person can feel that is suffering. I do not want any of you to suffer alone. I know how it feels to suffer. I know how it feels to be trapped, helpless, and forgotten. You are not alone in these feelings.But we have to move forward.
I pray you know now, you are not alone.