Halloween

Oct. 31st, 2014 04:16 pm
aparrish: (nosblech)
[personal profile] aparrish
Halloween is different for Sabrina and me, because October 31st is the day that she and her mother decided to leave her abusive father. (Seven days later, he took his own life.) Little things about the season that other people find enjoyable, or don't even notice—people dressing up in costumes, jack-o-lanterns, the leaves turning color, even just crisp autumn air—for her are PTSD triggers. The date on the calendar is itself a trigger. All these things remind her very strongly of that traumatic period in her life, and all the events that led up to it.

Early in our relationship, I was so angry about this—the fact that we couldn't be like other couples in October, doing Halloween things. I didn't understand how post-traumatic stress worked. I thought the anxiety and dissociation were self-inflicted—that anniversaries were just silly superstitions, and if she just committed herself to an act of will, she could be "normal." It was years before I allowed that her feelings might be "real," and then only after a close reading of Trauma and Recovery. But it shouldn't have taken a book to get me to trust her. I am ashamed to say it now, but I didn't believe her when she talked about her experiences.

Believing others when they talk about their experiences is the most important thing I've learned how to do as an adult. Without learning how to do that, I would never have learned how to trust—and act on—my own internal experience of gender. I am sorry that for so long I didn't extend that trust to Sabrina, that I spent so many years in our relationship making things worse for her in October, instead of making them better.

Sabrina has been writing on her blog about her life and experiences as a survivor of abuse. Her writing is strong, beautiful, and hilarious (just like Sabrina). I share these entries because she wants other people to hear about her experiences, and I want to amplify her voice. Here are my favorite entries so far:


... but really you should just read all of them. Follow Sabrina on Twitter. She would love to get feedback, so please send her a note if something she wrote spoke to you.
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