There are many ways to recover from trauma. (For a deeply fun and oddly analytical account of my recent sexual assault, head HERE).
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve tried loads of different methods of recovery: talking therapy; walking; reading; eating well; resting; avoiding too much stress…
I’ve also made sure to allow myself to feel all the emotions: shock; despair; denial; anger; fear; guilt; shame…
Everyone keeps telling me that it will take time to heal. That I must be patient and look after myself and trust that one day I will look back on this incident and this entire, most hellish year, and see that I have grown as a person, learned from all these awful experiences and can then move on with my life, confident that I now know what’s good for me and can finally make positive life choices.
I know they’re probably right and I love them for trying to help. I make sure to thank them and promise that I am looking after myself and working hard to improve myself and I let them hug me even though my body still hurts and being touched makes me want to cry and then I walk away feeling like even more of a hopeless tit-rash than I did before.
Because all that self-improvement feels exhausting and annoying and like it might take forever; that I might come out the other side, in my sixties, self-aware and healthy and positive and also an insufferable, deeply unfunny, self-righteous fucktard.
Also, do I really need to fix myself? Am I really to blame for all the shitty cards I’ve been dealt recently?
Certainly I am a player in my own downfall. I am the clown with no employment history and no money. I failed at my marriage every bit as much as Gwyneth did. I am the one who then allowed myself to fall deeply in love with a man who broke my already cracking-up heart. And it was me who invited a stranger into my home and put myself in grave danger.
Of all those pains and mistakes, by far the greatest has been the man who broke my heart. Being in love with him was joyful, revelatory, a feeling of being inflated and lifted, understood and accepted. It was also buckets of fun and so simple, a love that could be boiled down to a single fact: my world is better because he’s in it. But his world wasn’t better with me in it, so he left. And it is inevitable that the end of that love is deflating and flattening, that it physically burns and leaves me gasping for breath. It boils down to the single fact: my world is now worse because he’s not in it.
To recover from him, from my marriage and from the assault will take more than a few walks in the park and a six-week online course in mindfulness (yes, I actually paid for that shit, that’s how bad things are). To recover I need to replace; to swap the heartbreak and loss with tangible experiences that fill my heart and make me feel alive again.
It only took me one marathon three-hour bathing/wailing session (the bath being the only place where epiphanies may be allowed to occur) to work out what those recovery experiences should be.
So I have now secured myself an agent, a producer for my Edinburgh show and an editor for my book; three bones I have wanted to excavate for the longest time, three buried treasures which I couldn’t begin to dig for whilst I was so busy dicking about on the surface of my life, getting my heart broken.
I will finish my book and get it published. I will take all stand-up slots. And I will take my show to Edinburgh next year.
Frank Sinatra said, ‘The best revenge is massive success.’ Of course I can’t be sure of any success, let alone the size of it, and I’m not driven by a need for revenge exactly, rather by a determined ambition to answer back to all this pain; to give it some lip and some wit; to regain my power over events, over my life.
Maybe, by the time I get up to Edinburgh, the end of my show will be re-written, will have a finale so absurdly romantic that it will be almost too good to be believed.
Maybe. Though that’s not the finale I’m looking for. The best ending will be simply that I recovered. And that I did it, as I used to mis-speak as a child, all by my own.