Here is something I’ve realised. I’ve been out of my violent, abusive marriage for almost a year now. It’s been a year of wonders (fans of the wonderful Geraldine Brooks will recognise the reference!), a year of growth and strengthening, of learning safety and realising anew the strength of my friendships and the abundance of my blessings. I am discovering who I am and how I want to live my life. I am learning how to have leisure time and how to speak my mind without being frightened. I am learning to be happy.
But here’s the thing: for the last eleven months, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve been waiting for it to all crash down around my ears. To lose what I’ve worked so hard to gain. To be plunged back into the captivity I’ve fought so hard, and paid such a high price, to escape. Because happiness has always – well, for most of the last decade, anyway – brought, for want of a better word, punishment. Lurching from crisis to crisis, bound to a person who was so miserable and out of control that he needed me to be miserable, and frightened, and under control. And who could not cope with the idea that I might be happy – in anything – while he was so unhappy: so happiness invited its opposite.
I think that’s what the nightmares are about. I think that’s what the depression is about, and the sudden strengthening of the PTSD symptoms. I think that I’m learning safety, and strength, and finding my creative flow and re-claiming who I am and what I value. Now I need to get it through my head that this is not too good to be true. This is just good. Full stop.