Tag Archive | Sexual abuse

Reasonable Expectations from your Partner

Before I start this topic, a quick update may be in order for anyone that has noticed my absence. Feel free to skip this part if you only want the subject matter I planned to write about. I am fine. Relatively. I graduated my trauma recovery program, err, rather, we mutually decided to end it due to several factors. I was working on exposure therapy and we went through several key events, but I could never work through them all, there is simply too many, thousands, 10 thousands actually for my entire childhood. We decided to end before the holidays to reduce my stress at that time so I could enjoy it more with my family. We decided not to continue in the new year to reduce my medical bills that I already cannot pay and need to dodge bill collectors calling me. My credit rating is tanking.

We decided to end it to give me a break. That is also why I was not blogging. I needed some time to stop thinking about my traumas and let some of the open wounds heal.

I was not completely unsupported in this time. I have still been using 7cups.com and amazingly enough, I have found an online friend that I chat with daily that understands my history and is both strong enough and empathic enough to listen to me. I am truly grateful.

Today I want to talk about some reasonable expectations from your partner if you have been abused. I have found some other sites that seem to expect more than I have from mine. This one was great https://sworddancewarrior.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/primer-for-partners-of-sexual-abuse-survivors/

I read through that one together with hubby, explaining the parts that didn’t quite fit with me and what really did. What I loved about this was the idea of the safety list. I’ve included an excerpt below.

“6) How do we have the best sex possible with my survivor partner?

Make a written ‘safe sex’ list and stick to it. In this context safe means ‘no or low abuse triggers’.  The survivor can make a list of things that are sure fire abuse triggers and things you can do that have no abuse gunk attached to them. These will be unique to each survivor. Group the list by level of safety. Green light items are things that never trigger flashbacks. Red light things will pretty much always trigger flashbacks. Yellow light things might be possible from time to time but the survivor should initiate them.

If there is a sexual act or practice on the red light list that you really really like, give up all hope of ever doing this thing with your survivor partner. She or he might give in and do it, but it will do serious harm to your relationship if she does, and will set you back a lot.”

I extended this idea to all triggers, not just the sexual ones. I created a red light list of things that will always trigger me, make feel unsafe, cause a flashback, cause me to dissociate, or large amount of panic. This list is not really that long and is incredibly specific. I explained each item to hubby even though it was traumatic for me to do so. Most of them he knew already, somewhat, but we had never categorized and gone into this level of detail before. Some things I even modeled or demonstrated for him to be extra clear even though I thought my heart might explode as I pretended to be my abuser.

So why, please tell me why, hubby still does things on the red list? Here is what he says. “Oh, I forgot”
“I thought it was okay like this”
“I wasn’t thinking about that”
“You seemed fine”

I don’t think all rules are meant to be broken. Some are funny when they are.

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Okay. He is human. He is bound to make a mistake or forget. Yes? or NO? I’m not sure. I mean there are other red list behavior items in his life if he thinks about it.  I’m not the only one that has created rules for him. He doesn’t break many rules. He doesn’t walk around naked. He doesn’t swear at his boss. He doesn’t bring home every puppy he sees. He does have a memory and impulse control. So why can’t he remember these few things that are important to me and my recovery? I have explained that once triggered, it can take me hours, sometimes days to get over it. I have explained all of the triggers and my feelings multiple times over the years.

And yet this morning he does it again before he leaves for work. Leaving me here alone to deal with it. Yes I told him. And he said he was sorry, and acted all confused. I don’t understand his confusion. I don’t know what to do.

Am I being unreasonable in my expectation? Is he correct that he shouldn’t have to remember? Or should it be on him now to periodically review the list we wrote out together to make sure he is being supportive and not adding more trauma to me?

I understand it is my responsibility to heal. I have been working very hard in therapy and completing worksheets and excruciating homework. I understand he is not responsible for my reactions or what happened to me. But I feel like if he told me “I don’t like when you do this” even if no trauma were associated with it, I would never do “this” again.

So I’m here again, where I need to try to understand. To forgive him. To rebuild trust. To feel safe in my world.

 

 

My World Less Triggered

Life has been easier lately. Less stress all around, even though not much has changed to an outside observer. Same house and Hubby and kids and job. Same activities. Different thoughts. I am thinking so differently from before, as every event no longer proves I am worthless.

I am taking much better care of myself, and allowing my needs to be known. I am changing my world to fit me, rather than feeling trapped in a world that scares me. I have limited the PTSD triggers I encounter on a daily basis by simply asking others to behave differently around me. It took me 9 years of having children in my house to realize I could ask them to change. It took me 18 years with Hubby to realize I could ask him to change.

These changes are so tiny, but have made a huge difference in my overall stress level.

With PTSD, I startle very easily. A quick or loud sound or movement will cause symptoms in me like I had been shot. My heart races, I get cold and sweaty, I scream – loudly, I jump, I tense up, I have trouble breathing, I get dizzy, sometimes nauseous. And these effects would last for hours, sometimes days as I recovered from that one second startle. Fight or flight had me imprisoned in the ups and downs of my own nervous system.

I’d like to say I am trigger-free, but I am not. But I am considerably trigger-reduced! (PTSD light?)

Here is the list of some of the requests I have made:

  • I asked my 4 year to stop hiding and saying “Boo!” to me. I explained that even though he thought it was fun, it wasn’t fun for Mommy, and made me feel kind of sick. He said he just wanted to be funny, not make me sick, so he has stopped this.
  • I asked my kids not to suddenly speak loudly around me, especially not behind me. I used nearly the same explanation as above, saying that I am sensitive, and we all have different bodies, so to be kind to me they can be a bit quieter. They are, of course, kids, and will still go completely bonkers on occassion, but not as often, and they stop sooner when I ask. Sometimes I just have to hold up my “Stop!” hand (Like the Pointer Sisters) and they take it down a notch.
  • I have asked my whole family not to touch me – sometimes. I tell them that I need some time not being touched for a bit, but I would love for them to sit next to me instead of on me.
  • I have asked Hubby to warn me before coming in for a hug or smooch. He actually started saying “incoming” before approaching, and it is so funny, but helps me not to startle and freeze up, and instead accept and return his affection. Geez I love that guy. But now I feel loved instead of attacked.
  • I have asked my Mom to stop dumping negative vibes on me. If she emails them, I simply don’t respond. If we’re on the phone, I tell her I’m not in a good place to listen to that right now. She backs off instantly, or she knows I will end the call. Boundaries!!
  • I have asked Hubby to allow me plenty of cuddle time before bed time. I have found that even though I am filled with desire, I can’t respond quickly to his advances without fear, triggers, or flashbacks overwhelming me. But if we take it slow, having close, but non-sexual contact for about an hour, I feel safe, warm, and ready to respond naturally. So he’s learning he needs to sit with me on the couch and watch some TV before giving me those bedroom eyes. It’s OK, I now know I’m worth the wait. 😉

Actually that is the main idea here, is that I now know I am worth whatever little trouble these requests may cause. At first I had no idea why I felt so much stress and pain. And then when I identified the triggers, I just felt helpless and trapped in a life full of them. Now I know I have the ability to make these little changes and feel safer in my own skin. Life is much easier when you can avoid pushing that Red Alert button all of the time.

 

Understanding Does Not Mean Instant Change

(content may be triggering today – explicit details of abuse ahead)

I am an impatient person. Sometimes I am a desperate person. It is not a feature of myself that I am particularly proud of, but it is true. And it is especially true about my recovery. I am soooo ready to be all better, to put all of the past in the past, but it simply does not work that way. Even though I understand the changes I need to make in my life, I struggle to make them. Why? Because I am human.

I am trying not to beat myself up about some setbacks in my healing process. Trying. See, I also understand I am human and imperfect, but it is hard to change the self-hating habits too.

Yesterday I started posting about my sexual healing journey. I finally feel like I can discuss these issues. I try to be happy with that, because that is huge, but I want more. I want to be better now! I want to stop thinking about my childhood trauma. I want the slimy tentacles of this past abuse to get out of my brain and leave me alone. I used to think I was so damaged by my monstrous father that I was also a monster. That kind of thinking led to a few suicide attempts about 10 years ago. I used to think it would be better to kill the monster within me, as I had no hope of removing it. Slowly, I started to see those tentacles were no longer living, but were deeply embedded like shrapnel. I had to get them out, but the digging was so painful, and required small recoveries from the process itself. Finally – I found the bottom and feel like I have the understanding to truly heal. (God I hope I found the bottom, but part of me thinks I probably haven’t and will have to dig and battle a bit my entire life)

Another mind-whirling section of The Sexual Healing Journey, by Wendy Maltz, showed how to identify and remove triggers from past abuse from our daily lives, and then from our sex lives. It had a series of questions meant to be helpful. And I suppose for someone who had experienced 1 attack, or 1 instance of sexual trauma, that this could be helpful. The idea is to (at least for now) never repeat something the abuser did. This makes sense in the case of rape or other brutal attacks. But nothing my Dad did to me all those years were physically painful, and were things that could be part of a healthy sexual relationship. Excluding every way he touched me would mean no sex life at all. OK. So gulp, breathe, keep reading.

Next section asked details about the abuse, like time of day, time of year, what I was wearing, what the abuser was wearing, etc. This part is meant to avoid triggers, and again, I could see how this would be helpful to a rape victim. The idea is if you were raped in the early morning while jogging through autumn leaves, that you may have more triggers in the autumn, in the morning, and while jogging or seeing people in jogging clothes. Makes sense. But see? I had some form of abuse every day, every time of day or night, every time of year, from age 3-16. Pretty much if Dad was in the room with me, I could expect to me groped, fondled, grabbed, or touched by some part of him. He could do these things in plain daylight because many of them would look innocent – I think. (I have to think this way or I can’t bear to think of my family members not protecting me) These are some of the memories I had to sort through while reading this book. Each example happened many, many times in some form throughout my childhood, not isolated events.

Example, if I would stand at the kitchen sink getting a glass of water, he would come up behind me, put his hands around me to fondle my chest and kiss my neck and ear and whisper horrid things (I still feel his breath on me, can still hear those words) if no one was looking, or if they were, he would wrap his arms around me and grind his pelvis into my rear. I assume it looked like a bear hug. I don’t know. All I know is a little girl should not know what her father’s erect penis feels like rubbing on her bottom. He’d bend his knees and slowly stand up so I could feel him the whole way along my bottom until his erection was in the small of my back. Then he’d walk off as silently as he approached. It would be over quickly, just a minute. But the nausea, confusion, and shame would last forever, until his next touch. That would be just one time during the day, a normal occurrence, a normal part of my life. I have memories of this particular action from ages 8-16, when I was tall enough I guess. When I was younger he did that same move only while I was lying down. When I was younger I thought it was his knee rubbing on me sometimes. (see how matter of fact I have to be – this was my life) So I don’t like being held from behind and can avoid this trigger.

Example, when I was little, maybe around first grade? I would often sit on his lap, as little girls do. Sometimes he’d get me to straddle just one of his legs and would bounce and push his thigh into my crotch, asking how I liked that. Or if we were at a table, he’d have one hand in my crotch or up my shirt, out of sight under the table, while we sat and played games with the brothers at that same table. He’d usually just grab and hold still, and I’d hold my breath, because I knew it would be my fault if he got caught. And I remember him getting caught and laughing it off, saying “Oops how’d that get there” and no one said anything else. Later he’d tell me we had to be more careful, that no one could know I was his special girl and I’d be in trouble, because it was very bad. I remember being so confused. I had no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t know why he wanted to touch me or keep it hidden. I didn’t know. But I wanted to be a good girl and he was scary when he was angry, and so I helped him keep his secret.

Example, I used to have asthma attacks in the middle of the night. Or nightmares. Or I wet the bed. Or I would see scary things in my room. (I know now it was actually him hovering over my bed) Many things would frighten me. I have so many fuzzy memories of waking at night and then being comforted by Dad, but it took me years to realize he was the thing that had actually woken me in the first place. I used to think he had come to my rescue when I called out, but see, he was already in my room, that’s how he got there so quickly. On other nights, I would awaken and seek him out in his room. Mom would always say “Go back to bed” and offer no comfort. But Dad would open his arms and say “It’s ok, you can sleep on my side”. It felt so warm and safe in his arms, I’d fall right back asleep. I’d wake up with his hands inside my top, and his penis inside my underpants. And then I’d freeze and I know now that my mind left my body. I knew I had to be quiet. Good girls were quiet.

I used to feel guilt and shame about choosing to sit on his lap, or going to his bed. But see? I was not the wrong one. I was doing what little girls do. He was doing what monstrous, psychopathic pedophiles do. He used my love against me.

So I am left with the damage.

I startle easily, actually scream if someone touches me unexpectedly, or a loud noise, or even a quiet noise can startle me to the point of nausea if unexpected. Some days this response is extreme, and a simple “Mom?” from my child can have me scream and jump onto the ceiling fan. I forget where I am , what I am doing, and it takes several minutes to regain composure. It takes several hours for the heart pumping, choking and adrenaline to wear off.

Some days I don’t want anyone to touch me at all. Including kids and Hubby. No hugs, kisses or snuggles. Not even a shoulder tap. On those days I can’t stand to go to shopping, for fear a stranger will get too close and send me into a panic. I hope my kids still feel loved on these days. I do my best to connect in other ways, without touching, but some days I just can’t do that either. I know Hubby struggles on these days, as I pull away from his return-from-work kiss. He’s supposed to understand and not take it personally, but I know that must be nearly impossible. I would be hurt if he did the same to me.

The part that really stinks, is the no-touch episodes come on with no warning. I can be going along fine, enjoying – no cherishing – snuggly moments and then BAM! Terror! I can’t breathe! Stop touching me! I try to contain this terror and not frighten the kids, and get myself out of the room, usually to work on the computer or do dishes or some other natural sounding excuse. Sometimes Hubby doesn’t know that is why I left the room and comes over to rub my shoulders or sneak a kiss or playfully swat my bottom. I still freeze sometimes. I can’t always tell him to stop. I just gulp and pull away and make him ask what is wrong.

 

Don’t Lament Time Lost Healing – Recovering From Sexual Abuse

http://positiveoutlooksblog.com/2012/11/03/right-time-quotes/ Click to visit the original post I used to struggle with this one. I guess I still do a bit – the idea that I am only now growing up and taking charge of my life, that I missed out on a ‘normal’ childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. That type of thinking gets us no where fast. Better to think that all those earlier years were not lost, not wasted, but shaped us into who we are now. Of course that thought was not comforting at all when I did not like myself, or even accept myself. Actually added to my ‘life is pointless’ train of thought.  I guess every abuse survivor gets stuck on the “Why me?” every now and then. I don’t have an answer for that, and I suppose I never will. But I have mostly accepted that and am now able to define myself in other ways. Yes, I am an abuse survivor. Yes that shaped who I am. But it didn’t shape all of me. I have been me all along. And the parts that have been shaped, are still capable of being shaped. People are much more like clay than stone. Life makes impressions on us, may even flatten us at times, but it is never too late to get back on the potter’s wheel and take another spin. Every day we have another chance to shape ourselves – and the possibilities really are endless!

I have recently discovered so many parts of me, my attitudes, my inner thoughts, my beliefs, my actions, and my perceptions were all shaped by my childhood. I have discussed before the need to sever the taproot of my monstrous father that was still feeding me foul, putrid lies. Many of my beliefs came crashing down on me this past November when I questioned again, if I could ever be happy in my marriage. We had come so far into the world of intimacy – I felt closer to my husband than ever, closer to him than to anyone, closer than I ever thought possible. But then I panicked. I felt trapped into ignoring my past, pretending I was not in daily pain and triggered with horrifying memories when he touched me. I realized that disassociating my present mind into some other safe place had become such a habit that I didn’t even know I was doing it. And then I didn’t know if I could stop. I wanted to turn back time and un-realize this. I didn’t think I was capable of healing my sexuality. I thought the task was too large. I thought that my Dad had done too much damage to my spirit to ever allow someone to connect to me spiritually. I was wrong. I started reading The Sexual Healing Journey, by Wendy Maltz, a few months ago. I finally finished it last week. This was NOT an easy task, to read this book, to face my troubles, and wonder if there was any hope. I highly recommend this book to any adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse – but only when you are ready, and only if you have support. I had my therapist and my husband, all 3 of us working together to understand, and then to heal.

The book starts out fairly early with a chart that literally blew my mind. I had no idea I had so many unhealthy thoughts, attitudes, habits, behaviors, and feelings about sex. I have included the chart below. I’m not listing out which ones I had specifically, but let’s say only about 3 of these fell onto the healthy side. I was literally shaking and in tears after just reading this chart and realizing all the work I had to do to heal myself, and have a healthy relationship with my husband. It was honestly all too much, combined with Thanksgiving stresses (I have not shared that story yet – just too much to tell) and I felt like I had to start on my own, without Hubby any where near me while I sorted things out. And that was another huge reason for our healing separation back in November, when he stayed at his parents’ house for a while. We weren’t bickering about taking out the trash or disagreeing about raising kids – we were trying to recover from my childhood trauma. Something worth mentioning here – Hubby did not have many unhealthy views of sex at all. And he had no idea, that all these years, these were my inner thoughts. It was devastating to us both. To think that I had 18 years of marriage with so many unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. At first I was so saddened by this that I could not function. I was angry at life for damaging me. But then, slowly, I started to read more of this book, talk more to my therapist and Hubby, and started thinking, “What if I can get better? I could have a whole healthy life ahead of me to look forward to, to share with a man who loves me! What if this book is right? What if I really can actually heal, and not just tolerate being hurt and unhealthy?” And so I jumped in to this messy business of healing. I threw out every idea I had, and was ready to start over. I’ll try to fill in some of the details of the past few months in a few more posts here, but as you can imagine, this is not easy to write about, and even harder to hit that publish button. But I know I am not alone in my struggles, and if my words can help even one other person, be it someone who was abused, or someone who loves someone who was abused, well, then, I can hit publish.

Sexual Abuse and Addiction

Healthy Sex

Sex is uncontrollable energy Sex is controllable energy
Sex is an obligation Sex is a choice
Sex is addictive Sex is a natural drive
Sex is hurtful Sex is nurturing, healing
Sex is a condition for love or devoid of love Sex is an expression of love
Sex is “doing to” someone Sex is sharing with someone;
sex is part of who I am
Sex is void of communication Sex requires communication
Sex is secretive Sex is private
Sex is exploitative Sex is respectful
Sex is deceitful Sex is honest
Sex benefits one person Sex is mutual
Sex is emotionally distant Sex is intimate
Sex is irresponsible Sex is responsible
Sex is unsafe Sex is safe
Sex has no limits Sex has boundaries
Sex is power over someone Sex is empowering
Sex requires a double life Sex enhances who you really are
Sex compromises your values Sex reflects your values
Sex feels shameful Sex enhances self esteem

Chart From the Sexual Healing Journey, by Wendy Maltz

 

 

 

More resources from Wendy Maltz at http://www.healthysex.com/

The World is Scary Without Walls

Experiencing life and ME without my protective walls is scary. No, it is terrifying, and painful, and I want to retreat and go back to my safe fantasy world.

Being aware and mindful and experiencing every emotion as it comes, rather than carefully controlling them has not been a fun ride the past few weeks.

The shell of who I presented to the world is not just cracked – it is shattered. Getting real for the first time – ever – really sucks, to put it in simple terms.

I’ve lost my written voice for the moment, as I am in survival mode, and feel out of control. My emotions that I used to keep at a pleasant level for all, are too intense and have me cycling between tears, terror, and fury each day. Some of the emotions are coming from no where, no trigger, no event, just spewing up out of me because I am allowing them. But I am not allowing them, I have no choice. I am me, and those are my feelings – blah. I hate this. I don’t feel safe as me. I don’t even like me.

I have realized that it was easier to accept I may be a bad person, and may have deserved the childhood abuse. The problem was me. That was easier to accept than the reality that I was unloved and abused, and that I was a beautiful innocent child, deserving of love and protection and guidance.

I created a fantasy world where bad things did not happen. I was the perfect student, because no one looks too closely at the perfect student. I had to hide my reality from the world so I could hide it from me. I see the patterns  now in every action I ever took. Every choice I ever made, in school, in college, in boyfriends, in marriage, in becoming a mother – every choice was to fulfill the fantasy that I am OK and that bad things did not happen to me.

Well, bad things did happen to me. And I am not OK. But I will be, one day I will be OK, I just have to get through the terror of seeing my reality, accepting it wholly, so that I can accept myself wholly. I don’t know how long this will take, I have taken any deadlines off the table. I have no expectations any more. I have never been where I currently am. I am relinquishing the control, letting fantasy me slip away, and letting the hurt, terrified girl within me see the world as it is. I am allowing a few people that seem safe to help me on this journey. I don’t trust them, but I am taking a leap of faith and holding their hands anyway. I can’t do this alone, no one can. That is the biggest lesson I have learned in life.

I am unstable and unpredictable right now. I can lash out in anger one moment, and then feel afraid or tearful in the next. The force of the bottled up emotions seemed overwhelming at first, but it is already smoothing out – a bit. The return of panic attacks, nightmares and flashbacks was a shock. I feel like I have been trampled. But I think I need to let these things happen, and not force them into submission by sheer will, which is what I have done for so many years. I need to feel them, feel the terror, feel the outrage, and let it pass through me once and for all.

I thought I could control it. I thought I was OK if I had no outward PTSD symptoms. I had no idea it was all just waiting for me beneath the shell of perfection I so carefully crafted all these years.

So now I am real. Hello. My name is Roots To Blossom, (one day I’ll attach my real name to that statement) and I am an abuse survivor. My childhood was terrible, traumatic, painful, horrifying. But nobody knew. I never let anyone know, so that I also would not have to know. No one deserved what I went through. Not even I was bad enough to deserve the daily emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse delivered to me by my own dad. He was supposed to protect me. I was supposed to trust him. It wasn’t my fault.

It was NOT MY FAULT!!!

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.

http://theprojectbyjudy.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/roots-to-blossom-post-set-me-thinking/

http://lifebegins45.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/ptsd-and-moving-past-the-triggers-to-better-change/#comment-700

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?

Life is Different Today

As I go up and down, as one commenter said, even zigzag through life, I’m starting to see that some events change my life, and that some don’t. Well life is different today. I am calm and looking to a different future. Therapy yesterday has given me new understanding.

I feel like I have given my marriage everything that I can right now. It has consumed me. The effort of making a broken relationship function properly has nearly done me in – again. That is why I dream of escaping and can’t enjoy my children. I’m all used up. Everything is just work, just too hard.

Hubby and I do well as friends, enjoy time together when we are alone, eating out, dating and drinking. But remove the fun and alcohol, and add in kids, chaos, sex and intimacy, stress and daily life, and well, it just does not work. Old resentments and old routines always surface. There are too many things I can’t forgive, both in him, and in myself. The pain is too real, and bigger than the both of us.

Our counselors have both told us they don’t think this relationship can heal. What? Aren’t they supposed to be positive we can work it out? Well, maybe not always. They did not tell us to stop trying completely, but they did tell us we need a break from one another. A break from the trying and constant effort and stress to regroup and just breathe.

I have put Hubby in a terrible place, where he feels he needs to be perfect for me to love him. I know that place is terrible, because I grew up there, and I will not stay in that position, feeling like I am my parents and he is the struggling child trying endlessly to please me. No matter how much I tell Hubby to stop being sorry and saying sorry, he feels the constant need for my approval. His happiness depends on my mood, and I feel responsible for him. Just like I felt with my Dad. Yes, I said it. Just like with my Dad. Well, fel, not feel – past tense, now that I understand what this is – I can no longer do this.

Over the years, I have told him many times that although I love him, appreciate him, feel grateful to him, and often enjoy being with him – I have never felt like I am in love with him. There just has to be something else for him to be the love of my life, just has to be. In my twenties and plunges into depression, this feeling of emptiness was blamed on my depression. He would convince me to hang on, that my feelings would change when I feel better. I hung on and tried. During my thirties we were all in survival mode. I had so many babies so quickly (not quite planned that way – stupid malfunctioning ovaries – but I can’t imagine not having my little ones, well, except when I’m worn out and dream of tropical islands, but anyways . . .) and we had barely enough money to pay half the bills each month, and it was pure hell. We filed bankruptcy when the first was just a few months old. We sent out resumes daily for him, and he was forced to accept the first low-paying entry job that he could. His stress at that terrible job left him unable to support me and babies emotionally. I think now he sank into his own depression there, and I felt abandoned. For about 8 years this went on, with me and kids as a unit, and him as an outsider. We took care of him and got little in return, except fear from his temper and yelling.

For the past 2 years, I have been trying day in and day out to make this family what it should be. I have read every book, blog out there. I have gone to therapy. I have even prayed, which is not a habit of mine, but I had to try everything.

But sadly, I can no longer play the good wifey role. I need a break. I realized this week that some of my resentments actually stem from my mind/body connection, or rather my survivor’s ability to disconnect mind and body. In our early years together, the flashbacks of my dad’s abuse would be so terrifying, but I knew from a past relationship that I could not share that with Hubby. Instead I suffered in silence through years of intimacy combined with terror. I learned to listen to my body and react to the pleasure and shut off my brain and heart. I suppose that is what prostitutes must do, wow, eww, just had that thought. Eventually the flashbacks faded, but I never had a desire for my husband. My body would want him, as a need, like my stomach feels hunger. But there was never any emotional desire. So sad. Sad because for years I accepted that life. I never thought I deserved more, or could even ask for more.

And so I am left with a man, that I often fear and resent, one that I feel responsible for making him happy – not one that I desire. And I don’t know how to get past that.

And so, we will be spending separate holidays this year. Him at his parent’s house with the kids, me home alone. I’m sad that it has come to this, but really just feel relief to get the break I so desperately need. Will we need a more permanent separation, or at least a longer separation after this week? I don’t know yet. My guess is ‘yes’, his guess is ‘no’. He does not want to leave me. He still does not understand any of this. But he can’t keep me forever in this state of twisted obligation. I need to be me, and that seems impossible while trying to love him.