"Haphephobia": An Interview on Healing
Questions by Monica Garcia
**Trigger Warning: MENTIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE**
M: This was an incredibly brave piece, thank you so much for showing so much courage in showing so much of yourself through this piece. What was the hardest part in writing this piece?
C: Details. I definitely felt anxious trying to remember those negative feelings, trying to remember exactly how I felt. I also had to keep in mind that my words could possibly be triggering to those who have gone through similar experiences, so I was constantly on the fence about whether or not a particular detail was too graphic or not.
M: I loved the part in your article where you talked about how you found refuge in Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows and found connection in Kaz Brekker. In light of this month’s theme on ‘connection’ -- can you elaborate a little bit more on the power of connection you have had in your healing process?
C: The message of “you are not alone” can be empowering, but is often hard to resonate with when you cannot truly connect with the person giving the message. I didn’t know anyone who had gone through an experience similar to mine, much less anyone who harbored the same touch aversion that so defined my trauma. Finding that part of me in a fictional character was incredibly comforting. More than anything, Kaz made me feel seen.
M: Presently, what are some things you do now whenever you may get triggered to past hurts to help yourself?
C: Step away and take a breather. Distract myself, maybe through playing games or hanging out with friends, or even just getting up and taking a walk. Also, something that I’ve found to be really helpful is practicing grounding techniques. Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. It also helps just to talk to people.
M: Thank you for taking us on the journey of your healing, to see the full spectrum of where you once were to where you are now, gives so much hope to the reader that it is possible. When you look at the full spectrum of your healing experience so far, what are you most grateful for?
C: It might sound cliche, but I’m most grateful for my partner. His patience allowed me the space to heal, as well as realize what I deserved in a relationship. In a sense, our dynamic is similar to Kaz and Inej (who I mentioned as the former’s “anchor” in the article). The burden of having to “fix” me did not fall to my partner; rather, he made me want to be better.
M: If you could say a few loving words to your past self when she was hurting, what would you tell her now to help her keep going?
I honestly wouldn’t know. I always found that people’s favorite thing to say was “it’s gonna be okay,” but I never really believed that. Maybe hearing it from a future version of myself would have more merit.
Though, I will admit that the words that kept my past self going were from a friend: “you will get through this.” It’s a little bit similar to the first sentiment, but there was certainty in overcoming my struggles. It will pass. It has to. No matter how endless the pain may seem, there is an end.
M: Can you elaborate on how community helped in your journey of healing?
C: Much of the words and phrases I included in the epilogue are actually words I’ve heard from other people. You cannot keep your hurt to yourself. When you are hurting and have no one to turn to, that feeling of isolation can be incredibly heartbreaking. I kept to myself for the longest time, and confiding in someone for the first time really took the weight off my shoulders. It may sound like just an expression, but I am really not lying when I say that it got easier to breathe.
M: For those out there that could relate to this piece, what is some piece of advice you would like to say to them?
C: It was not your fault. I cannot stress this enough. I blamed myself for the longest time, and it hurt so much to think that the pain was of my own doing. Again, treat yourself kindly. If you saw someone who was being abused or assaulted, your first thought would not be to blame the victim, but to be angry at the perpetrator. You did not ask for it. It was not your fault.
If you or someone you know has been or is experiencing abuse, and/or seeking resources and inf