Severing Diseased Roots to Overcome PTSD of Sexual Abuse

Taproot of Callirhoe involucrata, Purple Poppy...

Taproot  (Photo credit: Vietnam Plants & America plants)

My blogging friends and community have done it again. We are all connected here on our personal healing journeys, but what we find is so similar and helpful to each other. I feel supported and understood for the first time in my life. Look at how we are working together. One blogger reads a poem I found meaningful and adds on to that with another blogger’s post and it all combines to something very powerful indeed. We have the power to heal ourselves. We really do.

Excerpt from above link: “The monster has a tap root. One that he uses with cunning skill. Gaslighting, manipulation and brainwashing. He uses it to grow that tap root straight through what makes US strong, healthy trees (I know…bear with me). It’s like a parasite that uses all life energies around it to survive, while sucking that same life force dry from living things around it. The damage he caused also has it’s own tap root. Separate from him, it’s developed into it’s own ‘living’ breathing entity, in a way. That’s what gaslighting and psychological abuse creates in the survivor. It’s it’s own seed, that grows when we ‘feed’ it. Another thing, with the tap root firmly placed, you can cut the tree without killing the tap root. Often times, a new tree will grow from the root. The only way to kill it entirely, is to sever the tap root. See where I’m going with this?”

My response to this blog: “This has really made me think. I often don’t trust my own perceptions and judgments. I know it was started from my abusive parents, but that root remained. So when I met someone who was not abusive, or did not mean to be abusive, I still got hurt, because that root was so deep in me and still feeding me putrid, rotten thoughts. And then, when depression got its grips on me, and the first thing the doctors and therapists tell you is that depression makes your brain lie to you, causing you to mistrust everything in side your own self. It was from that place that my husband unintentionally emotionally abused me. My situation set him up to gaslight me, Wow. I see this now. He became the one I trusted, more than myself, and that unhealthy boundary has caused an imbalance and much resentment between the two of us. My diseased root is so strong within me, that even though it has been hacked and severed, it only takes one drop of malnourished activity to set it growing again. I am so grateful to have found such a supportive environment here to discuss these issues. I am determined to kill that root, once and for all. I thought I could grow blossoms on my diseased root, as I named this blog. But now I’m thinking I need to grow new roots completely. Hmmm.”

Hubby is gone, staying at his parents to give my mind and body space to heal and grow. He is so hopeful that we are close to actually making me “better” and I love that he is so enthusiastic and supportive, but honestly not as hopeful as he is right now. The problem seems too big, that monstrous root still holds me down. I don’t want to keep Hubby away from his home and children, but now that I see it isn’t his actions, but his presence that makes me doubt myself, makes me rely on him, and makes me afraid and guilty and shameful – well I know now that I need to kill that root too. I’m afraid to hope about forming a new one there, can’t even think about that right now, as it feels too far away, too many steps. He can hope about that for us. Right now my hope is a selfish one for me alone. I am hoping to be me, free from the evil that raised me.

See, take this taproot imagery a step further. My dad placed that initial damaging, parasitic root, but just like any invasive plant, those roots spread to every relationship I have. The foundation of my marriage is nourished on a diseased root. That is why we can change all these external actions, change so many of our interactions, and why we appear to be growing, but we are not yet thriving.

I am committed to killing the root, and growing my own. I really am. It will take time and self-love.


The rest of this is intense and triggering

I bought a new book yesterday, The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Wendy Maltz. I am afraid to read it, but based on what I have read already, it claims it is going to help me heal the sexual wounds of being sexually abused for so many years by someone who should have protected me. As I write this, I don’t believe I can heal that part of me. I feel too hurt and broken. And afraid. I feel naked and exposed and so, so vulnerable. As the first new root extends from the seed, it needs just the right conditions to continue to grow. I have no instructions for what these conditions are, and so I keep trying something new. And although plants need fertilizer, they die when too much shit is dumped on them too, and I have always had way too much. That’s really all I’m asking for right now, is just the right amount of tolerable shit. What a funny thing to wish for.

So far I am reading about blocks to healing, and that false explanations by an abuser lead to false beliefs that we carry into adulthood. I was bale to believe it was not really abuse, not really that bad, just how daddy showed his special love for me. I allowed that belief to remain for a very long time as I grew up, because I had to. The alternative was just not acceptable. My reality was not acceptable, so I believed the one he created for me. That was how after grooming me since, what I now think to be, since birth, I had no other reality and never knew to resist or even try to stop him. There was nothing wrong with it, except how it made me feel inside. I also did not like taking medicine or brushing my teeth. I remember thinking it was just another part of life like that. Shedding that other reality took me so many years after the abuse ended. And I created my own, new reality then, that still was just as false. It was the world where I was OK. Everything thought I was OK. Even me.

Until I wasn’t.

So it has been 10 years since I attempted suicide, and only now am I ready to get real. We’ve been trying to fix our marriage as if it is a “normal” marriage with petty issues that everyone has. I have been playing a role of wife and mother, keeping my emotions in check, and displaying what I thought I should. And crying privately. I have been showing Hubby I was all better by being wild in bed. Because if I can do all those acts, then surely I am OK? No. No I am not. Those acts leave me feeling cheap and violated. If he initiates, I internally panic, and then force my body to respond by placing my mind elsewhere. When I initiate, it does not come from love or even emotional desire, but some sense of power to be able to seduce someone, and a sense of needing to please him. I don’t feel attraction for him. If I do, I wouldn’t feel safe or in control. When I go out dancing with my crazy girls, I feel intensely attracted to other men. Not usually random strangers, but men I know from our circle that we hang out with. Someone who knows my name and greets me, and is kind to me, but we don’t actually know each other. I feel wild inside, rebellious perhaps, and love that out of control feeling as I fantasize about going home with them and enjoying each other’s bodies with no hang ups, no past baggage, no hesitation. I think this is the ultimate fantasy for me, because it can never happen. First of all, I have never, and will never cheat on my husband. Second, I would be terrified and run away even if I somehow managed to go home with someone. My pain and baggage will always be there, (although this book says I can remove it eventually) and so this is purely fantasy. I have no guilt over this – any more. I used to think I was a terrible person and wife for having these thoughts and feelings.

So what if I can feel that attraction for my own husband? What if?


16 thoughts on “Severing Diseased Roots to Overcome PTSD of Sexual Abuse

  1. Roots, sometimes the best thing to do to encourage growth is to go dormant for a season. To lay down and just care for yourself like you would a good friend, or your own child. When spring comes, and it will, your life sap will start flowing in such a way that healing will be easier, and so will grafting…grafting of new habits, and new ways for relating to your husband, and loving yourself. It is a process, but my gut tells me that you need a season of domancy terribly bad. You need to rest and be you as you, all of the good and beautiful and the other stuff, too. Rest for a season and see what happen. If you rest, you will have more internal strength to kill that bloody taproot, and I KNOW that you can do that! Xoxoxo

  2. Oh…I do that…attracted to someone who is kind to me… I’m always thinking, “Don’t be nice to me. I don’t know how to handle that.” Of course, the fantasy of meeting a stranger and no strings and no hangups is a popular theme in romance novels. Unfortunately or fortunately, there’s no such thing as no strings and no hangups. Ns teach that over and over and over. Ns are all about strings and hangups, but they gaslight by saying those things don’t exist… Wow…

    Today is day 1 of loving me. It’s 9am my time. I’ve been up for 3 hours, and so far so good. 🙂

    • Now that I know that about myself, I will also be more cautious when men are kind to me or show me some innocent attention. I don’t owe them anything. I don’t have to respond, other than with kindness. 3 hours of self-love? Is that a new record for you? I hope you continue to break that record.

  3. Roots, i do the same thing. For me, I think it’s because the fantasy or feeling is due to there not being any REAL intimate closeness, there. Those men are attractive because they aren’t part of my intimate life, I think. I know that would change if I allowed something tangible to begin or flourish. I would again, feel trapped, exposed, etc.

    As far as conquering the tap root: I have mentioned about seeing the forest for the size it is, in regards to recognizing everything going on around you. This is a good thing when you need to see the “whole” picture. When taking on a seemingly insurmountable goal or task, the journey is with the first step. I’m catching myself being overwhelmed with this part of my journey, too. I know it’s big. I know the battle is going to be difficult at first. In this, I think we need to focus on closer, smaller goals to aid in success in the big one. Any journey begins with the first step. We need to take a deep, thoughtful (positive) breath, then move our feet…one step at a time…one day at a time…breathe in, breathe out. Don’t look at the big expanse it is, yet. That’s reserved for when we are at the end. We’ll be able to look back and see what we’ve accomplished! That will be wonderful!

    • Yes, I am figuring this out finally. I have always separated intimacy and attraction. I have never been attracted to those I feel close and safe with, only those I don’t know or should not be with. What a powerful realization, and now I can work on changing that, slowly, somehow. Yes I can’t look at the whole picture right now, just focused on where I’m at and what is the next step. Been doing that for nearly 2 years now, and if I look back, my whole life has already been transformed since then, with all those baby steps, so I will continue on this path.

  4. Gosh this really struck some difficult nerves with me as I read it. I’ve done an awful lot of work on healing myself from the damage of an abusive childhood, but from time to time one of those roots pops up. Am amazed at your strength and how you still always to keep positive.

    By the way I have nominated you for a Sunshine Award on my blog. You can check out your link here: Love and hugs xoxo

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  6. I honestly think that some things are healed so much faster when you get the right kind of help. Books can be great, and therapy can be helpful. But sometimes it takes something like hypnotherapy or NLP to get to the root (no pun intended) of the issue and re-program yourself so that you change how you respond to things and can start healing faster. Have you tried anything like this? Good luck. Hugs.

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