*In the 9th Circle of Hell, bed bugs warrant a CW. Respect your mental health when reading.*
I have a standard caveat on my blog that I will change minor details or abstract timelines for the sake of maintaining anonymity. Despite that claim – sensible though it probably would be to actually do that – to my knowledge, I have only actually changed two tiny details about my life for my blog. Both have been about the specifics of what my workplace produces and to whom it markets it, which are probably sensible precautions given my bully-of-a-boss’s penchant for firing people. The 9th Circle of Hell seems to think themselves so far above the law I probably could call out the abusers by name and they’d just laugh that they were still invincible, but my boss might just be the kind to fire a person on suspicion alone because he thinks a random anonymous blog with less than 1,000 followers could possibly be about him.
I’ve not changed any details about the 9th Circle of Hell. All the crap I’ve written about it – past and present – is true. It really is that bad. In fact, if anything, what I’ve written to date on my blog remains only a sanitized version that leaves off a lot of the nitty-gritty everyday horrible things I’ve experienced dealing with that state in favor of sharing the biggest atrocities. I’ll stay anonymous forever for my own and others’ veil of pretended protection, but it turns out I can’t actually alter details of my life when talking about the 9th Circle of Hell. I can’t even always be as vague as my PTSD hypervigilance thinks would be prudent. My PTSD brain simultaneously wants to protect itself by maintaining a veil of “generic everyman-ness” to my story, yet also keeps demanding I share details that are very specific to my story. It can no longer contain all of the things that have happened within and because of that state without the refuse overflowing, and my blog seems the safest place to dump the trauma wastewater.
If I don’t talk about what I’m dealing with – after a lifetime of being taught to hide because experiencing trauma is somehow “shameful” – I’ll unravel. I can’t just tell the truth, I apparently have to tell the whole truth (well, with just enough vagueness that I don’t permanently trigger my readers or compromise my attempts to get justice), and nothing but the truth. After thirty-odd years of compartmentalizing and emotional numbing, the only thing that seems to be halfway stitching together the mental tatters that are all that remains of my mental “rope” seems to be telling my story in real-time. Judith Lewis Herman apparently was not wrong when she said that those experiencing trauma must be allowed their voice lest their continued silence suffocate them.
In my past and in my present, my reality has been pretty routinely trampled or re-written by those with more power. After that much erasure of my reality, even any voluntary, self-made attempts to alter my own story in minor ways triggers me. I’ve probably shared enough that a truly determined person could figure out who I am, but my Partner claims that the minor risk of giving away my identity is probably worth it, because, well, I’m not famous or important enough that I’m worth the effort to look for dirt on, especially when the 9th Circle of Hell isn’t afraid of me anyway, and my blog is actually true even if those it paints in an unflattering light would love to deny that.
Thus, you can be absolutely certain that if I write that something horrible has happened – even if its the latest in a long, long line of horrible things – it truly happened. I’m not some attention seeker sensationalizing how bad the 9th Circle of Hell is for dramatic effect. I doubt any of you were thinking that, because you all probably have dealt with the reality deniers in your own life regarding your own story, but, hey, I have a history of my story being disbelieved because “how can things possibly be that bad.” I feel the deep need to assert my reality even when no one on this blog is actually questioning it. I still remember how easy it is to allow others to erase it. I’m still so afraid someone will try to, even here in my “safe space.” That’s the legacy of gaslighting.
And, frankly, if I hadn’t lived my life this year, I might almost understand how someone could think I was making it up for attention. The unending litany of crap is just so…unending…that I might – if I came from a safe world and had never had to see the dark side of social services up close and personally – begin to doubt that so many unique agencies that are state-licensed to provide HCBS services to disabled adults and others with intense medical or psychiatric needs could be that bad. I might begin to think that maybe that bully-of-a-boss who told me “resolve it before you return or don’t return” was on to something. I mean, surely twelve weeks can resolve anything, right?
It depends on what your definition of “resolve” is. Did I “resolve” the situation for which I went on not-FMLA? I guess. I mean, the abuse that we discovered was substantiated, my sibling was moved to another agency – despite others’ best attempts to prevent that at the last minute because a trauma history made him sufficiently undesirable – and for all of the however-many-weeks it has been since mid-August (the linear progression of time kind of loses its visceral perceptual meaning after enough trauma) my sibling seemed reasonably happy and like maybe he was recovering from what happened at the last place. (This would count as a miracle because my Partner and I sure haven’t recovered, and we only discovered, not endured, that abuse.) This would also count as a minor miracle because my not-FMLA time is most decidedly up at the end of this month. Wouldn’t it be nice if this story had – if not a truly happy ending – at least a nice convenient lull that neatly coincided with my boss’s imposed timing?
I didn’t succeed in landing another job during my not-FMLA. My one interview didn’t lead to an offer, sadly. So, I will, most likely, have to return to a rather unpleasant work environment. Money is a thing. So, trust me, if there were any way to just be done with it all, I would so be ready to write about my happy ending. I would even gladly accept a conveniently timed lull in the crap. I don’t want attention. I just want things to no longer need my attention and for my wearied brain to maybe have a break.
Thus, I hope my readers won’t do like too many others in my life and refuse to believe I’m telling the truth when I then report that – while I suppose I did “resolve” the original situation (aka the abuse) – my life is never so easy as to have that be the end of it.
Of all the idiotic, stupid, fuck-the-9th-Circle-of-Hell-and-everyone-in-it things: the new place in another part of the damn state that finally ended up with my sibling after the game of pass-the-trauma hot potato has a severe bed bug infestation. And, when my family member returned my sibling tonight, she found a bright green notice on the door of that the agency’s home reporting that the renters (aka the agency) had failed some kind of inspection (possibly related to the bed bugs, or – who knows – something else I’ll soon discover) and if the city code violations aren’t corrected within the allotted window and the proper fines paid, the tenants will be evicted.
My sibling has been at a new place after a move necessitated by substantiated abuse at the prior group home for less than a full month, and that place has already managed to screw up in a way that threatens to get their clients evicted. Oh, and guess when the thirty days listed on that bright green scary notice is up? If you guessed “the very last day I could possibly be out on not-FMLA” you win the “I’m deeply sorry for whatever life experience has taught you to also know to expect the worst” prize.
You know that old saying “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite?” The “sleep tight” part came from old rope mattresses that had to be manually tightened because they liked to unravel. That is a very apropos metaphor for my mental health after hearing about all of this.