The No One Told Me Series: Trust and Control

The No One Told Me Series: Trust and Control

The No One Told Me Series is a compilation of nuanced thoughts, feelings, and issues that can develop after sexual assault. These issues aren’t always discussed in large media outlets, help guides, social media, or in everyday conversations. This series is meant to shed some light on the issues we face that make us feel the most isolated and alone, and remind us that others are feeling like this, it’s OK to feel this way, and it will get better. 


No one told me that it would be years before I could even fully assess the damage that has been done to me. I still don’t understand the scope – how far reaching it has been, and will continue to be. I feel like a junk drawer – full of tangled cords and paper clips. When you try to pull one item out, everything comes with it all tangled up like a snake. So you just put it back in and shut the drawer, vowing to clean it out next weekend. Or next month… No one told me I would feel like a junk drawer.

Well, that’s not entirely truthful. Everyone tried to tell me – “you won’t go back to normal”. “You’ll never be fixed.” they said, time and time again. And I ignored them. I have created a new normal; so. many. times. And as soon as I become comfortable with the new normal, everything changes. New issues spring up, so I adjust and create another new normal. I feel like a puppy chasing my tail at this point.
It feels pretty damn hopeless to accept that you will be dealing with a major issue for the rest of your life, so I prefer to live with the hope that I won’t be like this forever.

Control
No one told me that I would turn into a major control freak. I’m a monster at work, I boss my family around, I have an incessant need to be in charge. Everything needs to feel perfect and under control. I want to fix everything and everyone. By this point it is pretty much a compulsion, and it’s constantly at odds with my love for chaos. I thrive on chaos and disorder, and it makes no sense when I lay it all out side by side.

My mom has always called me bossy; I wanted to be the boss of the world when I was 6. But this is a whole different beast. I didn’t like how I was acting, and I didn’t know how to stop it. I’m still working on it if we’re being honest. But I have discovered that there is NOTHING uglier than an out-of-control control freak. When asked why I want to control everything I said “well if you have the option, why would you choose not to be in charge?” And that’s when I realized that maybe it’s gone a little too far.

One thing I’ve learned that I can control 100% is my food intake and exercise. And that may not be a good thing. Have you ever gone out for dinner and then spent 3 hours at the gym, furiously trying to stop it from settling in on your hips? No? Oh, good… me either! (I know, I know. I’m fixing it)

Trust
Trust issues – don’t even get me started. I can’t even count how many times I’ve used humour to deflect a serious conversation, or downplayed an issue I’ve been dealing with.
I worked at a crisis centre for a bit, and there were peer support personnel on hand for debriefings. I’m sure they were wonderful people, but they were strangers. They kept asking if I needed support and I eventually told them in no uncertain terms that they are NOT my peers and I do NOT need their help. I’m sure I needed their help but couldn’t bring myself to talk to a stranger. 

Any time I start with a new health care provider (doctor, nutritionist, counselor, etc), there are several meetings consisting solely of surface level small talk. It takes a few sessions before I can even tell them what I need. Sometimes I ignore whole chapters of my life when giving my personal history. It takes a long time for me to become comfortable around new people. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain myself – like that’s just another burden or task that’s been put on me and I refuse to deal with it.

I’ve already written about this, but it keeps coming back up. No one told me that trying to date would be actual, literal hell. I spook after a couple of dates, every damn time. I haven’t felt interested enough in anyone to have “the talk”. I shy away from physical contact – most people think I just hate hugs, and I have a pretty strong “no touching” rule. But on the inside some days I’m kinda dying for a little PDA.

I know the psychology behind it. It’s because we’ve been in a situation where we have had no control and we’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We are trying to control things because it makes us feel safe. When we are in control nothing bad can happen. But the joke is on us because we can never be 100% in control. The world is a weird, scary place, and we can barely understand it, let alone control it. So, let’s move on to Plan B “not my circus, not my monkeys”.

If you’re struggling with trust & control issues, here’s what I’ve learned about them:

  • They may spring up later – years later
  • They really sneak up on you
  • There are some things you just can’t control. I’m trying to be OK with that, but most days I fight it.
  • Give it time. Time is on our side now.
  • Life is more fun when I can laugh at myself. When I make mistakes, mess up, or am just not as perfecet as I was hoping, it helps to find something to laugh about.
  • Getting out of my head is very helpful – thinking about bigger picture things than what is happening in my brain. Volunteer, check in with friends, hang out with family, throw myself into a new project.
  • There isn’t a lot of information available about it but I am going to keep looking and I will post anything I can find.

Keep talking, keep sharing
-Elizabeth

Author

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're Ready.org I spent 2 years struggling with PTSD and panic attacks following a violent attack. I want to use my experience and my voice to raise support for others. I desperately want to make the world a safer place for girls and women, especially my two little sisters. Keep talking, Keep sharing. When You're Ready, I'll be here.

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