The War Inside

“I tell myself it is not
my fault for surviving.”

I feel these chains wrapped around me, holding me hostage. And this anger — this hatred — this guilt — that has bottled up within me is boiling towards the surface as I remain motionless. The fury overcomes me and it begins to eat me alive. I have no choice to but let it out before it consumes me. My heartbeats pick up in tempo, like they’re building toward some epic ending of a drum beat. I feel the rush of my blood in my veins begin to boil as a battle cry echoes across my mind.

But on the outside, I look normal. There are no chains, there is no expression on my face. If anything, I look blank, like no one is home behind my eyes. A vacancy in a body being defiled. The only sign I’m still alive is the uptick of my breathing. Yet as I endure you without moving, my insides are waging a war. Screaming at me to do something. Anything. As the moments go by, nothing happens. And for a few blissful moments, I feel like I’m floating above my body, and all I feel is emptiness. Afterward, when it’s all over, I tell myself it is not my fault for surviving.

This is what it’s like to be trapped in a body that cannot defend itself.

© Sarah Doughty

This is what it’s like to freeze
in the face of danger.
To dissociate.
These are learned behaviors.
I know it all too well.
And far too many people have experienced it.

If nothing else, hold on to this:
it is not your fault
for how your body responds.
It is an instinctual defense mechanism for a reason.
Don’t let your guilt and self-hatred consume you.
Don’t blame yourself for surviving.

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