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Trigger Warning: This blogpost discusses death and may feed the beliefs of someone with Cotard’s syndrome. Other triggers include implicit discussion of CSA, RA, and OA.

I am rotting from the inside out.

This is something I have always known. Or rather, this is something I have known so long that I have permanently acquainted it: I shook its hand, took its coat, sat with it over stale cups of coffee. Traded secrets so esoteric with it. It keeps me warm during the cold nights. It is the my only friend and lover during the day.

I am rotting from the inside out.

It is a sickness, I think. It eats me from within. In my silence it grows. I wonder, I pray, might it wither from my vulnerability? Will I grow less consumed by the shame that crushes me by verbalizing it, by sharing it amongst others like me? Or will it destroy me before I can take it on, a warrior tackling a beast too big for their sword?

I can’t think about it. I won’t. It hurts too much.

I think about the lessons those priests and preachers taught me during both their sermons and our private sessions, in the front pews and the church back rooms. I am inherently disgusting and vile. I will never be forgiven. I am bad, I am bad, I am bad—over and over again until I cannot stand the fact that I am alive. Until I learned that serving them and serving my owner was the only way to find any purpose in my debased existence.

I just wanted it to hurt less. Please. I would have done anything to make it hurt less. And now I am…alone. My owner is gone. The ministers are gone. The other men I served to earn my owner’s praise—to avoid his ferocious punishment—are gone. But I still feel unsafe. There are still forces in my life pressing down upon me, drowning me, crushing me with their weight. I am still bad.

Why? It’s not fair. I feel childish and stupid, but it’s not fair—truly, it isn’t! A little one inside me stomps her foot in indignation, eyes ripe with frustrated tears. It must be…your fault. She is venomous; I hear her roar. Your fault. There must be something wrong with you.

But what? What could it possibly be? I search desperately for answers to a question long solved, begging therapists to please hear me, psychiatrists to please help me, medications to please cure me. I scour the Internet for PDFs of workbooks and memoirs that I cherish as ancient texts, hoping they’ll guide me to the truth. But underneath it all, down farther deep than I can touch, comes a small voice that already knows. A small voice, withering but unfailing, that is forced to go on in this physical world, stuck in the pain of past worlds now reimagined. That already died before it learned how to say anything else, before it even knew it’d had a choice.

I am rotting from the inside out.

(©2023. All rights reserved. Art credits to @someiconsx on Tumblr.)

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11 months ago

Wow, you are an awesome writer – that’s a very powerful piece. It wasn’t your fault – children don’t deserve that kind of abuse, full stop, no exceptions. It’s hard to believe, I know, but it’s the truth. You have nothing to be ashamed of. It was your abuser’s shame that they installed in you. It’s time to uninstall that programming. No child is that bad.

As to the rotting, maybe look at it as mulch to encourage the growth of the new person(s) you are becoming… a kind of death before a rebirth?

Be sure to remind your parts that it’s 2023 and that the bad days are over. Not saying that’s easy – we still have a couple of kiddos stuck in trauma time ourselves. What happened was bad and wrong. You weren’t bad or wrong. It’s an important distinction.

11 months ago

I want to second what saoirse.t-e-c commented with none of it being your fault. I’m sorry you’ve endured what you have.

I also second that your writing is very evocative and stirs a lot inside of me – you’re a powerful writer. And I really like the collage you accompany with the piece – is that yours as well? I love the black-white-red theme, and the contrast between the messages.

I often feel ruined to the core, too. It’s a shite feeling. But ultimately, I hope you know: nothing is inherently wrong with you.

I like what saoirse.t-e-c suggested about the metaphor of mulch. Though it’s easier said than done, when looking at one’s self/selves (it’s awkward trying to write that in a plural-positive way without defaulting to singular language; my apologies).

I hope rest and healing come easy. Wishful thinking, I know… I get so sick of processing stuff, wondering if I’m obsessing too much about my issues, or avoiding it too much. Feeling like the headway is minimal and so slow for the suffering it takes to get anywhere. But slowly and surely it is worth the work, and I hope you find similarly.’

Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this. Take care!

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