Tag Archive | child sexual abuse

CPT trauma retelling 1

I feel so unsure about publishing some of the actual details of my past, not for me, but to spare my readers from having to read it. Because I am not there to comfort you, to gauge your discomfort, to see your face as you read, to how disgusted, revolted, terrified you may be.

But for whatever reason, publishing helps me do my homework for therapy. I don’t know if it is the accountability, the knowing it is out there forever, out of my brain and into the world now. And that someone somewhere will understand perhaps. Some silent reader will read my words and not feel so alone. Because as children – we were so horribly alone. And even now, I write these now for strangers online, no one in my real life wants to hear the truth. No one can bear it. I guess I don’t blame them.

So please heed this warning, the next part here is a highly triggering account of child sexual abuse that my therapist has asked me to write as a story. I have never done this before, not like this, not like I am a character in a book. I am supposed to pick one day and describe everything, every sense, sights, sounds, feelings, my thoughts, who was there, and what happened. My counselor helped me pick the first event to write about, one with a high level of emotions attached to it, one that is particularly disturbing.

So here goes. You do not have to read this. But I do have to publish it.


 

I was 12. It was a hot summer day, probably in July, because my spinal surgery was near the end of June. I was released to go home against the doctors’ advice. My father had to sign forms to get me out, he said two weeks was long enough to be in the hospital, it was costing too much to be in there. The surgeon wanted me to go to a rehab place that specialized in physical and occupational therapy and my dad laughed, saying any idiot could do exercise. NO, he would take me home and work with me himself.

So I went home. At that time my left leg had returned to 80% function and my right was 20% nerve signals. That meant I could bear no weight on it and if I concentrated I maybe get my toe to twitch. I was fitted with fiberglass leg brace from to toe that made my jelly leg solid to stand on, like pirate peg leg. It was heavy and painful. I used a walker and dragged my peg leg using my left leg that was not entirely great either.

My back was fused from T3 to L4. I had no pain pills or ice packs or anything. I tried to lay very still. But the pain my leg was worse than my back. My limp leg had a crushing, squeezing pain that gnawed at me endlessly.

We did not have central air in our home, so I would often hide out in my parents’ room, the only one with a window air conditioner. The big bed was also firmer and easier for me to lay on more comfortably. Using a walker on our thick carpeting was extremely difficult, each step had to be carefully planned and was agonizing. I would be sweating and shaking by the time I crossed a room.

I had made it to the big bed, unclamped and removed my brace, no easy feat to do when you can barely bend forward, and sat on the edge of the bed. Then I had to maneuver myself into position. I would put my left leg under the right to help lift it. I would grab my thigh with my hands and at the same time roll myself over into bed trying not to bend or twist my spine while carrying the dead weight of a limp leg.

I would usually have a few silent tears from pain at that point, sweating from exertion. I remember the cool air blowing on me and feeling so good on my bare skin. I usually wore night gowns at home to keep pressure off my spine from any waistbands. I remember how the material would stick to my back and then loosen as the cool air dried my skin. I would lose track of time that way, just being there, trying not to hurt, maybe I slept, maybe my mind created imaginary worlds.

My memory is fuzzy, of course, 28 years later. And I am writing about multiple events that may merge into one, so what happens next may be the same day, or it may be an amalgam of memories from that summer. It did happen multiple times in some way.

Dad came home from work and found me lying on his bed. He was always happy to see me. He would say hello, there’s my girl. And then some stupid joke about me laying around all day and being lazy and laugh that horrible laugh that still haunts me . And then get more serious, like I would never get stronger that way so good thing he was there, time to do exercises.

I never said anything. I tried to smile for him.

He closed the door and came over to the bed. He would start at my toes. Moving impossibly slow, touching every part of my skin, moving them up and down. I was laying on my back and legs were flat out straight. He was at the end of the bed, standing there. He would would move up to my ankles, half caressing, half massaging, rotating, exploring like he was fascinated.

I tried to tense up like I used to do…but I couldn’t. My limp leg let him do anything. I was trapped and he knew it. He lifted my limp leg and cradled it in his arms, caressing and kissing while he bended it up and down at the knee. Each time his hands moving so impossibly slow and higher up my legs. He would comment on how soft my skin was.

I was horribly embarrassed, ashamed, tortured, helpless. I knew he could see my underwear under my night gown when he lifted my leg like that. My face burned despite the cool air in the room. I stared at the dresser or the door, never at him or what he was doing. It would be over soon. That was all I could think.

His hands felt so big and warm on my skin on left leg or arms, but I could barely feel him on the right. It made it easier to disappear and pretend it wasn’t happening.

He was always standing next to bed, hovering over me, looking at me. He would bend my legs up and my night gown fell up onto my belly, exposing my underwear and hips. He didn’t lift it up, always like an accident from the exercises. He continued up rubbing my hips, cupping my hipbone, pressing his fingertips deep into my flesh, waiting for a reaction. He told me about ligaments, and lymph nodes, and why he needed to massage me. He asked “Does it feel good? I know you like it” I never answered. I never said anything ever. He never cared.

He would stand and caress my face, brush my hair back with one hand while the other is on my hipbone and moving towards my underwear. His hands were gentle, touching me on the way to the other leg, was it an accident? Did I imagine it? This isn’t really happening. He would tell me to relax, that my muscles were very tight, and good thing I had him to help me.

His pants would be bulging and hard. He would rub that along me too, my arm, side, leg, pressing hard into me. The feeling sickened me. I would try to squirm away, but it was so hard to move, and he scolded me in his whispering voice too.

Eventually my exercises would be done and he would leave. Just like that, he would just leave me there with my night gown up and me all terrified and not knowing what to do. I would pull my night gown down, roll over with great pain and effort, put on my leg brace, and go have dinner with everyone, seated next to dad, across from mom, next to my brothers. They must have all been home? Was mom busy making dinner? Was I supposed to say please pass the mashed potatoes and oh by the way dad is a pedophile, thanks. No. I think I thought they all knew and didn’t care. I hated them all and myself more. I was so angry and ashamed. I wanted to burn up and disappear.

 

Healing after suicidal crisis

Sorting out this will to live stuff is tricky business. I have so many areas of my life to fix, improve, deal with, dust off, catalog, file, sort, assess; and I’m ready to start talking about them all and actually get down to it too.

1. Choose Life – I have wavered on this choice for most of my life that it seems odd to me that most people don’t see it as a choice. I don’t have to be in a huge state of crisis to make my life pros/cons list. I’d like for life to mean something more to me personally some day and I continually search for ‘something’ to fill an emptiness that I also intuitively know cant be filled. I am no longer desperate as I was 2 months ago

2. Heal my Body – The flashbacks have given me a break – I am no longer forced to live in the constant pain of my childhood.  In March I was having so many flashbacks that I was reliving more than I was living, and they could hit any time without warning, and with an intensity like never before. They left me sobbing and weak and barely recovered before the next wave of memories.

Migraines have given me a break. I have still have some chronic visual/vestibular aura but no crushing pain for weeks now, it has been manageable on these new meds. Higher dose of zonegran has me feeling better each day. only partial weakness, no complete hemiplegic episodes.

I’m sleeping better on these new meds and actually get sleepy at night and wake up on my own in the morning. I’m trying to establish a routine. I’ve asked Hubby to give me space and not to wake me, bump me or startle me to minimize ptsd reflex. Now that kiddos are bigger, and meds control the pain and twitching from spinal cord injury, and my fears from AF are dissolving, I can actually sleep.

3. Heal Relationships – I’ve been avoiding most other humans for nearly a year, a true indication of how long I’ve been struggling something. First I am reconnecting with my kids – that was easier than I thought. We needed each other.

Next I’m trying to be honest and open with Hubby and get that stoic guy to open up to me. We both have things to say that may hurt each other. I feel so much pressure not to hurt his feelings that I find myself not speaking my mind again. Here we are again, I feel the distance and the burden like the problem of our relationship is all mine, like he loves me more than I could ever love him. He is my best friend and I wish once and for all that’s all it was – a friendship, not a marriage. I still feel like a kid most days, like life has piled on me unfairly, and I don’t want to work out how to be a good wife too. Its hard enough being good to me, and then being a good mom, I have nothing left and no desire for anything else. I told him this today and he said he doesn’t believe me, he knows I love him, that this is real love. I asked him to stop forcing affection on me, the hugs and kisses and caresses make me uncomfortable. It took a lot for me to ask him, so I am hopeful he is respectful and doesn’t make a big issue. I can’t help how I feel. I asked him to back off and maybe we can be better coparents if we don’t have all that pressure, we are always bickering and snapping at each other, always misunderstanding each other and it wears us both down.

http://www.drgmbarton.com/articlesbydrbarton/coupleshowtocriticize.html

4. Continue therapy – I’ve jumped back full force into my own growth and mental healing, weekly counseling, on waiting list for special intensive trauma therapy group, tried family counseling but that was just awkward and stressful, tried a few different psychiatrists but I don’t feel any of them understand my needs and I refuse one size fits all meds.

5. Plan for the future – I’m starting to think ahead, way ahead. Not just which crappy job will I get as filler once I feel better and the migraines ease up, but which job might not feel crappy and could actually feel meaningful longterm. I’m trying to see how to get into the medical field somehow, maybe I can start taking classes here and there over the next few years and maybe once the kids are older I could have a job I care about. These are important plans for rebuilding hope and showing me I have options and choices and I’m not ‘trapped’ as I often feel when over stressed and overwhelmed.

I’m almost ready to start writing about my experience in the psych ward, my ability to think and use words and language is coming back to me. I was so fearful it had left me forever.

Connected events – finding our worth

So much to say. My life is evolving at exponential rates. After being stuck, trapped, motionless for so long, I am amazed by what is happening around me.  (The best part is at the end, so skip down there if you’re short on time)

But of course I can’t sit back and watch, I must explore and analyze and see how events are connected. Because they are connected – everything is. Kind of like the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon theory. If you are not familiar, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon

 

I’m going to list out some things on my mind, and then maybe detail them later. For now I need some room in my brain to get through today’s tasks, and I’m feeling too cluttered in there.

First I need to talk about my marriage. But I’m struggling to find the words to express what it feels like to accept that I am loved. (I am loved!) I realized I used to live each day, each moment, waiting for him to hurt me or throw me away. A simple argument would ‘prove’ to me I was terrible and unworthy, and I would wait for the divorce papers. I abused myself when he didn’t, thinking he surely wanted to, and that I deserved pain, but that he was too good to actually do it. That is so twisted. I see that now. Why did I hate myself so much? Why? Why does abuse in childhood lead to self loathing? Pretty crappy survival mechanism if you ask me. More on this later.

Next I need to talk about my brothers. Our roles, the ones we filled in our dysfunctional childhood home, are dissolving. The eldest brother, the invincible, aloof, super-star, shows his vulnerabilities and admits to anxiety. He has become a good friend and another link in my support chain when things go swirly for me.

The youngest brother, that took in my father, into his home, with his own children there, and then took in a girlfriend and her children – well –  I am still quite pissed at him. But trying to accept this reality and still be his sister. He asked last week if I would be able to join them for a sibling portrait to give our mom for Mother’s Day. All my brothers live a few minutes from each other, and I live about 2 hours away from them. I said I would do my best, knowing this photo would mean a lot to my mom, to show her we are still a family, no matter how strained. We had the day/time/location planned (I had some irritation that they chose a place close to them, no thought of meeting in the middle, but let that go) and I was ready to do this. As the day crept closer, I was feeling anxious. And then anxiety turned into fear. Why? Why was I afraid to do this? Well, I had some thought about being in a photo and trying to smile. Would it come naturally? I thought not. The photo for mom means nothing to me. I love my mom, but it is an aching love, as there is a huge hole in my heart where her love and protection should be. And then the thought of being in the photo with the brother who molested me, and the other brother that is sheltering the father that molested me, well, guess what? My fear turned into anger. I am not afraid of these men. I am angry for the lifetime of shit and pain.

So the evening before the portrait, I was considering canceling it. It just didn’t feel right for me to drive 4 hours to be in some photo with a fake smile. But before I could, there was an email from the brother with schizophrenia. He says he needs to cancel, that his pills were just adjusted and he’s not up to going out. Phew. I slept well that night. (Yes I felt relief and off the hook, this brother cancels most things, so I was not overly worried about him, he has extreme social anxiety, and I wonder now if he also didn’t want to be in the photo for reasons similar to mine)

But then in the morning, an email from the brother that had this photo idea – he says he wants to wait until 4pm, the time I told him I would have to leave to get to our 6pm appointment, before canceling, to give the other brother time to change his mind. What? My stomach knotted up and I felt dizzy. I really did not want to go now. And then more anger. How dare he put so much pressure on my sick brother? I think of how much courage it took for him to write that email to us, to let us down. So I decided to let the pressure off of both of us. I canceled too.

Now the interesting part here is the first email I drafted came from my old habits. I wrote a long detailed explanation with all my reasons that I could not make it, and was addressing it to only 1 brother. I didn’t want to let him down. Ugh – and ugly. I erased all that BS nonsense, hit reply all to go to all brothers, and simply stated that I could not make it, and maybe we could try again another time.

Still no reply, and that was last Friday. That’s OK.

Guess mom will get her Happy Mother’s day e-card from me again this year. It’s better this way, to hug her from afar.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

So that was longer than anticipated, see I knew I had too many thoughts up there. I hope you’re still reading, because this next part is amazing.

My brother with schizophrenia has taken a stand against our father. I found out he has not seen or accepted calls or emails from him for many months now. It has been so sad to watch my brother trying to squeeze love out of the  soul-less being I call my father. My father has been using him for years for trips to doctors and pharmacies, since his emphysema has him stuck in a scooter with constant oxygen flowing. My brother would tell me how my father insults him, calling him terrible names and laughing (I cringe to think of that laugh, can still hear it and feel his breath on my ear).  Well, I guess my brother reached his limit. He said No – to our father. This is not an easy thing to do. I guess it has been 3 months now and still my father punishes him with emails and unanswered calls, but my brother has realized that he has the power not to answer. (Joy for my brother!) Now I don’t know, but I have a feeling that my insistence on an abuser-free holiday dinner this year gave him strength to follow suit. I’m not going to discuss this with him, so I’ll never know. But what I do know, is he also found a bit of self-worth.

All I can say, is it is about. damn. time. For all of us to know our own worth, and not let this shell of man we are forced to call our father torment us any longer. Not sure how to get the message to the brother that welcomed him into his home. I know he’s sorry, and can’t find a way out. I recommend an exterminator.

 

Reactions to another post, Protecting our children from sexual abuse

I read this post at another blog and had so many reactions to it. Some were very intense, and I was not able to immediately write and share. I am finally ready. Thank you to Morven for posting such a difficult, but important topic.

Please note, my intention is not to agree or disagree, but to share my point of view after reading something like this as an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and as a mother of young children. I’m going to copy and comment on parts here, but you can read the original at the link below.

http://morvensblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/protecting-our-children-from-sexual-abuse/#comment-1068

Teach children to use the proper names of their body parts. Just as you teach your children to call their nose a nose, they need to know what to call their private parts. This knowledge gives children the correct language needed for understanding their bodies, for asking questions they might have, expressing concern about parts of their body, and for telling about any behavior regarding sexual abuse.

I did not grow up in a world where the proper names were proper. As a child, I certainly knew the proper names for vagina and penis, but I would have been scolded or punished for using those “dirty words”. Those words tend to make people uncomfortable and can actually distract from the conversation. I am still uncomfortable using those terms with children. As a teacher, I used the general term “private parts” when necessary to avoid embarrassing kids – or myself – further. It just is not reasonable to ask a 1st grader who slipped on the playground if she hurt her vagina. So we need to have common words, but depending on the age, social situation, and location, sometimes the proper names may not be needed. My own children, still young elementary and preschool aged, call it a “pee-pee” or a “pee-er”. Because that is what it does – it pees. They can also say crotch, privates, butt, boobs, behind, chest, etc. Lots of words, and never any confusion. My eldest niece was raised with the proper terms, and made everyone uncomfortable by asking loudly “why the dog was licking its penis?” at age 3. Socially, it just makes us uncomfortable to hear those words from children, and I think that is ok. As long as you have a word that you and the child understand and everyone is comfortable using, this can vary by family. 

Teach children to set boundaries. Have a child practice moving your hand away from their body within a simple safe touch (like a shoulder or hand) and saying something like, “please stop.” This prepares children to set boundaries with a more uncomfortable or dangerous type of touch. Teach kids that it’s okay to say “NO” to touches or situations that make them feel uncomfortable. You might also consider having them practice interrupting a busy adult to say, “I need help.”

This one bothered me greatly. Just reading this paragraph filled me with fear, anxiety, and anger. Why? A few reasons, but perhaps mainly the thought of even pretending to inappropriately touch my own child, to make them uncomfortable, does not seem right. I could never do this. My young children would not understand anyway. Touching their shoulder and having them say stop will not prepare them for someone all of a sudden touching their privates.  Now we do enforce that “Stop” means stop and support and empower whoever says stop. More so with the siblings wrestling or tickling, that they need to respect each other and stop immediately.  I understand this suggestion, but would never actually do this. Just reading this, made me remember actually saying “stop” and “no” to my brother and my father, who both molested me during my childhood. But these words only work on people that already respect boundaries. They were useless to me as a child. The only way I could actually stop them from touching me, was to leave the room, and that was not always possible. And I didn’t even know I could actually leave the room, or even should leave the room until I was much older. When I was in preschool, I did not understand the sexuality part, and did not even feel uncomfortable enough to say no to Daddy. It was just how he touched me. In preschool, my privates did not seem any different from my knee tickle, or a tummy raspberry, and if Daddy wanted to touch me, I didn’t really care. I remember liking the attention and feeling very special that Daddy loved me so much, and only me. It took a few more years for me to realize what he was really doing. And not until my twenties to fully realize the extent of his grooming, brainwashing and abuse of me. This may be shocking to some. But when you don’t know it is wrong, you just don’t know it is wrong.

I have often thought what happened to me, and how it could have been prevented. But I always come up blank. My Dad knew exactly how to control his family, and orchestrated every step. Could my mom have helped me? If she had done some of these suggestions? If she had talked to me? Well, I think if Mom had talked to me, or actually, had listened to me – ever – then my whole life could have been different. But by the tame I came around, the youngest child, into a family already so dysfunctional, with dad as supreme being and everyone else bowing down to him, Mom just barely survived herself. She did not know exactly what happened in my room. Should she have? Well, I say yes, but, to move on with my life, I can’t just blame her for not stepping in, not following dad when he left her bed each night, for keeping her blinders on. We all feared making daddy angry. Mom was also a victim, and so could not always be a mom. I do think she knows he went into my room, but I have to believe she did not imagine he was capable of molesting me and never thought she needed to protect me from that.  I am not excusing her completely, just trying to explain how complicated living with a brilliant, pedophilic, psychopathic father really was.

that no one is to touch them in their private areas—and that their private areas are the areas their bathing suit covers. Teach them that the “safety rule” is that other people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to in order to provide care (like a doctor)—and even in those cases, a parent of trusted caregiver should be there with them. Explain to the child that “you need to tell me if anyone—no matter who it is, or how much we love them—breaks this safety rule and touches you inappropriately.” Also explain kids that it is unacceptable for someone else to use manipulation, blackmail, coercion, control, etc to get them touch someone else’s body.

Yes, absolutely! Except for the last sentence. Children don’t understand those concepts, or even those words. Possibly for teenagers, not my little ones. And the problem here, is that my dad made it clear he was the only one supposed to be touching me. My mom never told me that “no one” was to touch me.  I never told anyone when I was little because Daddy told me it was alright. Now my Mom never told me these things, she never told me much, other than not to interrupt her and other grownups. So I do wonder if she had known to tell me this, would it have helped? I’m thinking no, because I think it would have been impossible for a 3 year old to mistrust her dad. Daddy was always right. Always. So these suggestions may help older children, which I think many people assume sexual abuse happens to girls who are sexy, but pedophiles start grooming quite young. Way before sexy.

that their bodies belong to them and they can make choices related to the boundaries of their bodies.Let children know that it is okay for them to decline a friendly hug or kiss, even from a friend or family member they love. Making kids feel obligated to kiss or hug people when they don’t want to, sends the signal that they must use their bodies to make others happy or that they are responsible for the emotional state of others.If your child doesn’t want to sit on Uncle Joe’s lap and read a book, or if he doesn’t want to kiss Gramma or hug family friend Phil goodbye, don’t force the child. Teach your child multiple ways of greeting people, like high-fives and hand-shakes…or do like the Bromley’s and pass out fist-bump-explosions. 

I do follow that one. My kids have never been required to hug, kiss, sit on laps. Not Grandma, not Auntie, not even Santa. We encourage affection, but respect boundaries. If a kiddo wants to hide behind me while a very loud Auntie seeks out a way too big kiss, well, then, I am happy to be a physical boundary to enforce that psychological boundary. I remember being forced to kiss relatives goodnight and sit on all kinds of laps as a child. It was never my choice what to do with my body, and how or when to express affection. I never learned to be affectionate, only to follow commands. Even now, I don’t naturally feel like hugging anyone, even my own kids sometimes I must remind myself to touch them, that they need it, and it is ok. Once I do, it feels right, and we get all snuggly. But it is not automatic for me. I learned very young that affection was to be hidden, kept secret, or “special” as daddy said.

I decided to finally share this post today because my daughter asked me last night what “sex” is. What??? Panic. Sweat. Die. Run. Smile stupidly while brain races for an answer.

(So I froze up at first, wanted to die rather than answer this, but somehow managed to ask her where she heard the word.  Girly reads many years above her grade level, so characters in her books are older than her. Hmmm. She said someone read a book in her book, and said “it was OK but needed more sex” . I then provided a simple answer based on her context. I said “It is what mommies and daddies, or husbands and wives do together to show they love each other”. She said, ” Oh, like kissing?” I said “yes”. She was satisfied, so I stopped there. I know more will be needed. I hope I did ok for now. I hope she continues to ask me questions, but really I don’t want her to at all. Deep breath. OK. I did it. And I didn’t die.

Oh man, my babies are growing up. I need strength and guidance to continue raising these kiddos, prepare them, love them, guide them, empower them. I am going to make mistakes. But it seems that if the mistakes come from love, then it all works out eventually. Life is meant to be a bumpy ride. So we can’t remove the bumps, but we can give our kids helmets and bandages.

Sabotaging my own Therapy

I discovered I have been sabotaging my own therapy for a while now, perhaps even a few years. I’m not ashamed of this, and see it as inevitable really. I started to care about my therapist a long time ago, and jeopardized our client-therapist professional relationship. It is just impossible to remain completely objective.

Are You My Mother?

Now I don’t mean I was attracted to her or anything like what I hear in stories from time to time. But I realized I started thinking of her as my surrogate mother (she is about 20 years older than me), someone to look up to, and trust, and ask all kinds of advice. I’ve never had a guiding light, someone looking out for my best interest. I so wanted her to fill that role. The problem here, is that I also wanted her to be proud of me, and so started hiding my thoughts and behaviors.

Healing from childhood sexual abuse is at best, tortuous and complicated. Having a professionally trained therapist to guide me on this journey has been a necessary and integral part of my healing and putting myself back together.

I’ve actually taken a break (about 2 months now) from my regular and frequent therapy sessions, for several reasons:

1. The last session was extremely painful, and took a lot out of me. I was so exhausted by it that I was unable to function at work or enjoy anything for several days. I’m in avoidance mode still.

2. My husband started seeing a therapist to support  me, and to work on marriage issues together. We don’t have the budget for both of us to go.

3. I’ve connected with my husband and don’t feel so alone in the world.

4. I’m at a good place in my life. I still have down days, but overall I am content.

5. I have friends now!

6. I have many activities outside of the home now – many with kids, but also many just for me.

I realized therapy has become ineffective, for several reasons:

1. I care about my therapist as a person. I wanted her to feel successful, and would hide some of my problems so our session seemed like I was all better.

2. I care what my therapist thinks of me, and so would hide embarrassing details from her.

3. I didn’t want to freak her out, and so would not discuss some of the more disgusting memories in my life.

4. I don’t want to believe I still have PTSD, or depression, or any type of mental illness, and so I portray myself as “better”.

5. I bring her resources to use with her other patients, like useful websites and books, to show her I’m not like the other poor souls she counsels. I always have to be “not as bad as them”.

6. I started sharing only the positive parts of my life, and each session was more like old friends chatting. No work going on.

7. I make sure I am reading something interesting in the waiting room, so we can start the session with easy small talk and she can see I am doing well because I am reading such great books. (I really am demented, I see this as I write this)

8. I wanted her praise. I shared things for her to say “good job” to me.

So what do I do about these things?

Obviously I should discuss them with her, but I don’t see that happening, or going well. I should schedule another session, but I get this horrible feeling when I even think of it. She took me to a scary, scary memory last time, and actually said, “Oh my word, I knew your dad was a pedophile, a predator, but I didn’t know we were dealing with a psychopath too, oh, no, oh . . .” as she scribbled furiously in her notes. Turns out in nearly 10 years of therapy with her, we had never gotten to his animal abuse, and how he used my love for my pets to control and hurt me.

I actually can’t remember the few years of my life surrounding my suicide attempt, when my depression was so bad, and I was on so many meds. I have no idea what we discussed then. But I know I went to therapy several hours a week, sometimes 2 hour sessions, as we dove into the sexual abuse. She was the first person to know any details, what it was really like for me as a child. And here she thought she had the total picture, a father using me for sexual pleasure, keeping me from my mom, my mom adding her own narcissistic goals for me, never unconditional love. We also discussed my physical health and disability, which I rarely talk about on this blog, and it seemed like enough. So I think it was just too much for her to handle another level of trauma to me, this little girl that she now loves.

And so, I am avoiding her. (I have many avoidance behaviors, so not surprising here) To prevent causing her more pain and grief. To prevent having to relive even more traumatic memories. It is so much worse to tell to someone, while they look at you, then to write about it to my computer screen. My blog doesn’t cringe in disgust, doesn’t feel pity for me, so I can type and type and get it all out. I can’t see my readers faces or hear their gasp of shock.

I will go back to therapy eventually. I am sure of it. But I’m not ready yet.

Hitting Publish on Private Posts – Do I Dare?

Sometimes hitting the publish button takes a bit of extra strength and energy, as I decide if I really want to subject my private life, thoughts, and my little world to the general public. I mean look at those options, visibility: Public. Yes, anyone can read it if they find it. Publish immediately. Yes, right now. Hitting Publish means ANYONE can read it IMMEDIATELY. And so I hesitate at times.

But publishing on a regular basis, I think has been responsible for so much of my personal growth and healing over the past year or so. I started blogging about fluff. Cute things, things that made me happy, all happy, happy positive. I attached my name and photo to that blog. I never spoke of my abuse, and my troubles. But then I started reading some blogs that were intense, and personal, and I admired their bravery, and I wanted to reach out to them, but felt I could not, not with my real name.

And so Roots To Blossom was created to share ALL of me. Not just the nice and cute and positive. I do share that too, but now I have complete freedom to share any thought at all.

My blog is mainly for me. My brain gets all jumbled up with too many thoughts, and writing has always helped to settle my emotions, bring about a sense of peace and closure to an otherwise chaotic mess. I also periodically re-read old posts to see how I used to feel and compare it to now, for therapeutic reasons, and to get to know myself better. OK, So why post publicly?

It keeps me real. I can’t explain, but it does. I feel I need to be honest, more precise, and write clearly if there is a possibility of someone else reading it. Even 1 reader makes me re-read, edit a bit, and give most posts a point. I don’t promise to get to that point eloquently, but it is usually in there some where. My personal journals with no external readers lack this focus and were not as helpful to me. Fascinating really. The internet has brought people together in such amazing ways. I can’t believe the connection I feel to other bloggers here, like my extended family now.

But sometimes I really struggle to hit publish on my private thoughts and actions. Especially the ones about sex and intimacy with my husband. Part of me thinks this should remain private. But the part of me that hits publish, wants to reach out to anyone else who may stumble across my blog, and has been sexually abused, and offer my little view of the world. And I think my blog would be lacking important information if I skipped over the fact that childhood sexual abuse creates problems in adulthood sexuality.

Sex is a part of my earliest memories. I recall my dad was touching me when I 3, and I assume it started in infancy. He made me watch porn with him. He told me dirty jokes.  I can write this now without vomiting. I have accepted it, grieved for that baby girl in me, and I’m still working on becoming whole. My dad stole a part of me that may never be fully whole again. I have accepted this too. It does not mean I will stop trying, stop growing, but it does add the idea that I’m OK right now. I’m OK even if I don’t become whole.

This idea is so important I think, and what is missing from most self-help books, and most counseling sessions. In my experience, books and counselors actually add to the notion that we are damaged humans, and that we must work hard to fix that. Maybe I added the judgment that I am not OK until I fix that, but I do think it a message supported in psychology more than any other medical field. I’d like everyone who is hurting to know that they are OK right now!

And right now, I have made it through a bit of a sexual identity crisis. Not a gender or homosexual thing, just figuring out my sexual side, like I should have done in my adolescence or as a newlywed but was not ready to do then. Hubby and I have been a bit like teenagers in the bedroom lately, except with maturity and experience to make it even better, re-connecting mind, body and soul. It has been wonderful for us both, as we both feel loved and desired. It has been wonderful for our marriage.

But it was not easy to get here. Not easy at all.

So I keep debating, do I write about the sexual side of marriage, and actually hit publish? Yes, I think I need to. I mean what’s the big deal, no one out there can see me blush.

No more nightmares

My abuser was particularly cowardly. I see this now. But he will never know what his sickness and cowardice did to affect my overall health – forever.

My father would wait for me to fall asleep, then come in to my room, most nights if not every night, then molest me. I would wake up with the impression of someone hovering over me. He usually stopped whatever he was doing once I was awake and moved away from him. And would then caress my arms and hair and “shhhh” me back to sleep. He was gentle. Always gentle. I think that made it worse, as it was so confusing for me. He never hurt me, meaning he never caused pain when he touched me, so what could be wrong?

He later told me, when I was in my twenties, that he fell in love with me when I was a baby (so I assume the abuse started before I can actually remember which is age 3), and only acted out of love. (Come back after I vomit)

But I would lay there after he left my room and returned to my mom in their bed. She either never knew he left, or assumed he got up to pee, never ever imagined what he was up to.

Anyways, these nightly visits had their toll on me. I started bedwetting. I had acid reflux in first grade. I would try to stay up all night to catch him entering my room. I had nightmares. Terrible nightmares. The bedwetting continued off/on up through middle school. The acid reflux was finally diagnosed and treated as an ulcer when I was 16. Until then, I ate Tums like candy. Bought it myself with my own money. I never told my mom, I never told my mom anything, I was told she hated me and had learned to stay out of her way.

But the nightmares, they continued until about age 30, about 5 years ago. I was still working through therapy, trying different antidepressants, sleeping pills. Interesting thing about zoloft, it can cause extra vivid dreams. When you suffer from nightmares, adding zoloft it like adding HD 3-D widescreen. I thought I would have a heart attack from the intensity. But then my daughter turned 3, the age I can first remember my abuse. The sight of her would make me shake with fear, vomit, and feel like I was being crushed or strangled. Yup – PTSD.

Seeing my beautiful innocent daughter made me finally understand that I was beautiful and innocent at age 3. It finally cleared me from the guilt I had forever. It gave me strength and new direction in therapy. I never cried so much. I cried for the little girl within me, the one who had her childhood stolen away. And amazingly, after all that crying, the nightmares eased up, and then disappeared. I felt powerful – a little – that I could finally defeat that monster in my soul.