Wednesday, July 30, 2008

He knew from our first enounter

He said he knew that I had been abused from our first sexual encounter. "I have a secret I want to share with you," he warned. "Your body told me you had been abused. I felt it from your vagina...almost from the beginning." What? How? I don't understand.

When we had intercourse my pelvic area was hardened, armored -- it [my vagina] was 'steeled' for intercourse...but not my breasts. The conclusion - the sexual abuse occurred before I had breasts - they were a non-entity and carried no trauma. I go back to the fact that our bodies carry our trauma.

Are you certain you are not just thinking this now because of what you've learned? Absolutely. I thought I was going to faint. I got light headed and leaned over putting my head between my knees. It just can't be. Oh god, no.

Yes, I fear it is true but I pray it isn't. I have so little, nothing, of a conscious memory of abuse...maybe an inkling here and a dream snippet there. But I do have a lifetime of symptoms and manifestations.

I made him question his intuition. I was so adamant in my denial of everything. It frightens me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I want to remember...I want to remember...I WANT TO REMEMBER!!!

Why can't I know the truth? Why can't I f*&%ing remember what happened to me? I'm ready to bring forth those repressed memories; I'm ready to confront the worst that I can imagine; I'm not afraid -- yet the truth still eludes me.

Patience. Movement is slow...too slow. What do I really want to remember? I want to know, unequivocally, with my own memories as affirmation, that I was or was not a victim of childhood sexual abuse. It's strange to want a positive diagnosis - yes, I was sexually abused as a child. Yes, I was and I remember. Yes, I was and now I can heal from the wounds that were ground into my flesh. Yes, I was and now I can forgive, myself and the abuser, and move on with my life. Yes, I was and now I am free.

I believe I was and I have all kinds of circumstantial evidence to prove it. Everything I have read; everything I have heard has led to me to a place where I believe it's true. But more important than anything I've learned in my research is that in looking at my life and the way in which I lived it,
there is no doubt. None.

So, do I need to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was sexually abused as a child? Today, I don't think so. Today I think I just need to believe that I was. But the rub is that I can't believe 100% - unless I have memories, it can only be 99% and that last 1% is enough to bring about doubt and I don't want any doubt. I turn doubt into denial and denial into dissociation and the cycle continues.

I need to remember.

Monday, July 28, 2008

the nightmare that was...

my life.

After completing what would have been 8 years of therapy in less than nine months of a continuing, intense dialogue with the LOML, he [the LOML] sent me an email outlining much of what we had been discussing about my life. Writing this made him cry. Reading this made me weep. Writing this over makes me feel faint and overwhelmed with sadness and anger and heartache.

The nightmare that was:
mom & dad / family dynamic - violence, emotional abuse, alcoholism, abandonment

The nightmare that was:
my ex-husband (#1) - violence, physical abuse, physical violation, abandonment

The nightmare that was:
my ex-husband (#2) - emotional abuse, sexual abuse of daughter, physical/emotional abuse of son

The nightmare that was:
sexual assaults - two rapes, multiple sexual violations

The nightmare that was:
time with girlfriends growing up - drugs, alcohol, violence, promiscuity

The nightmare that was:
time between marriages - emotional withdrawal, rape, loneliness, neediness

The nightmare that was:
Biopolar syndrome - depression, manic phases, powerlessness, out of control

The nightmare that was:
therapy - blocking history, minimizing events, amnesia

The nightmare that was:
childhood sexual absue - early teens

The nightmare that was:
breakup of the LOML's marriage - guilt, shame, neediness

Event Timeline:

  • Abused by father then abandoned
  • abandoned by mother
  • mugged / beat-up, hospitalized
  • Contracted hepatitis C - hospitalized
  • Hung out in bars daily
  • Smoked pot daily; consumed alcohol regularly
  • Acquaintance rape - age 29
  • Moves from apartment where rape occurred
  • Has sexual relationship with bosses client & friend
  • Meets husband #2
  • Moves to another state
  • Gets pregnant - has third child
  • Marries husband #2
  • Meets & gets involved with the LOML
  • Breaks up his marriage
  • Divorces husband #2
  • Lives in Hell during years of divorce proceedings
  • On and off relationship with the LOML for 10 years

Yeah, that's a mouthful.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Any drug will do...just PLEASE get me high!

Yes, any drug would do...uppers, downers, pot, LSD. Whatever I could get my hands on and often times, I had a drug store at my disposal. My mother had morphine in her nurse's bag; my best friend's grandmother had another assortment of goodies -- phenobarbital, demerol, valium; my brother - thorazine. Liquor was easily accessible from a number of sources. We were drinking in the local town bar at 15 -- no one seemed to pay any attention and a group of pretty, young wasted teens was a big attraction for luring in the middle-aged drunken men with a little more money to spend.

As a teenager [what I can remember from my years of being stoned]:
  • Marijuana
  • Opiated hashish
  • Opium
  • LSD (windowpane, orange sunshine, blue barrell...[laced with strichnine...yikes!])
  • Black beauties
  • Yellow Jackets
  • Peyote buttons
  • THC
  • Cocaine
  • and any prescription drug we could steal from a grandparent's medicine cabinet
I got pregnant at 25 and I immediately discontinued my cigarette and drug abuse, with the exception of one time which is still too shameful to address (later, I will, I hope). And I stayed drug-free (not alcohol-free) for the next decade. The drugs I became involved with at 35 were quite different from my earlier years infested with drug-induced escapes. These drugs were meant to 'fix' me, ground me in reality, help me cope with life, and fill me with hope and success. They did help; they also did harm to my brain. It was a trade-off as are so many things in life but I struggled mightily with both the medication effects and the stigma of being diagnosed with a mental illness.

As an adult [what I can remember from 16 years of being medicated]:
  • Lithium
  • Depakote
  • Neurontin
  • Tegetrol
  • Topomax
  • Lamictal
  • Geodon
  • Prozac
  • Wellbutrin
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Remeron
  • Provigil
  • Trazedone
  • Seroquil
  • Lexapro
  • Effexor
  • Celexa
  • Tofranil
  • Klonopin
  • Ativan
  • Xanax
  • Valium
Maybe there were more. I don't recall but I do know that I didn't like any of them. Some made me physically ill, some made me high, some made me depressed, some made me nuts, some made me numb, some made me flat, some gave me blurred vision, some gave me paranoia, some gave me acute hearing, some made me suicidal. It was by no means pleasant experimenting with all these different medications.

I did settle on Neurontin for about a year or so and I was managing fairly well. Then one day it started making me feel high and disconnected. I could barely drive. I was immediately taken off the medication and started on a new one. I don't remember the replacement. If I had a side effect from one, another was added to combat the side effect. If that bothered me, like sleeplessness, then another was added to help me sleep. Try it in the morning, try it in the evening; try it with food; try it without; take the mood stabilizer in the morning, the antidepressant at night or vice versa; lower this dosage - increase that one. I spoke with my psychiatrist a couple of times per week for years. It was a dangerous game I was playing with my mind trying to find the right cocktail to make my life bearable.

It left me exhausted, sometimes hyper, most times sleepless and depressed with panic attacks and states of high agitation and irritability. Then things would calm for a short time and I thought, yes, I'm cured. It never lasted long, however, and I would go back to searching for another alternative. I am highly sensitive to medication - my reactions were never typical so it more often than not stymied my doctor. He never gave up.

One day in his office while I was relating a dream [nightmare actually] that I had, he interrupted me to ask, "were you ever sexually abused as a child?" I said absolutely not and would not discuss it further. He didn't push. I had a therapist. That, my darling, was my answer but I emphatically denied this truth then and for many years to follow. All those medications were not going to fix me. All those medications did not fix me.

I settled on Lamictal for 5-6 years. It left me flat. My brain wasn't sharp. My vocabulary disappeared. I lost what creativity I once owned. But I was stable in my mood, my flat mood. I worked doing DBT to find an alternative method of responding to my emotions and all the trauma that still plagued my life. It seemed to work and it wasn't so bad after all. I mean giving up my mind for some peace and calm was a compromise I needed to make and I did. It served it's purpose well and helped me to get to this place where I am today.

Any drug won't do now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

solitary sadness

It was 92 degrees today, humid, stifling. I was lying on my bed 3:30 pm, flat on my back -- hot, alone and detached, in the sweltering heat and remembering another suffocating summer day, 1972 or 73, lying on my back on a cot in my stark and empty bedroom -- high, hot, alone, and wishing I were dead or rather wishing I had the courage to kill myself. I was miserable then and I connected with a little of that misery today. Reliving a summer afternoon from a year of hell.

Like it was yesterday, I can remember the feelings that possessed my body on those wretched summer days of my 17th year. Loneliness so oppressive and agonizing that it left me paralyzed. I couldn't cry; I couldn't get angry. I laid on my cot, not wondering if there was a purpose to my life - I knew there wasn't; just feeling hopeless and pointless and useless. I had nothing to offer so there I was motionless on the mattress, drenched in sweat, drowning in a monotony of nothingness. I was weary that summer, defeated. I had succumbed to a dangerous lethargy and my mind was sluggish. I had faith in no one, especially myself. Everything was tedious -- living was a chore. I would pray and will myself to please just stop breathing and be done with it all.

What did I have to look forward to? Getting high - a joint, a hit of acid, a shot of booze... anything that would numb the desolate hell I was living.

Where did this take me? It was one more push into the arms of my future abusive husband.

It disturbed me to connect with that feeling of long ago. I have been having panic attacks in the middle of the night for the past week. Panic attacks that stem out of an irrational fear of being alone. It's a jarring awakening at 2 a.m. when something in my subconscious remembers, hey you're alone, ALONE. It takes a few minutes for the attack to subside and for my rational mind to take back control. No, you're not alone, I reassure myself. I have the LOML.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What DO dreams reveal?

The truth? Maybe.

I saw Dr. B a few days ago. I broke the bad news (for me) to her that I was unable to continue therapy on a weekly basis. I was hoping she would lower the price; she didn't. I won't belabor the point - not then, not now. I brought up my dreams I had the two nights before therapy. I wanted to discuss them with her. As we talked I realized that the dreams fit together.

I am having a strangely difficult time [there is a very passive resistance] expressing my thoughts surrounding these dreams. It is because they are dreams that allude to my greatest truth and my greatest fear - childhood sexual abuse. Dr. B pushed, gently, for me to remember anything that might be relevant to the sexual nature of the dream but I couldn't grasp anything concrete. I couldn't even gather anything congealed.

They both were of a sexual nature. In the first dream I was on the verge of giving oral sex [willing, happily] to my boyfriend when I glanced down at his feet and noticed he was wearing white kid leather shoes -- white soles, white laces. I immediately stopped what I was doing, upset -- angry and shocked that he was wearing those white shoes. I told him I could not, I would not continue as long as he had those shoes on his feet. He didn't belong in expensive white leather shoes -- not the type to wear them. He laughed and tried to push my head back into the blow job position. I resisted again, refusing to do so until he removed his shoes. He didn't and I didn't. I was totally repulsed by the white shoes.

I woke up with a suffocating feeling in the back of my throat. It felt as though my tongue swelled up so much so that I could barely breathe...a highly anxious and agitated feeling. It stayed with me all day.

That night I again dreamed of my boyfriend only this time he was packing up his belongings to move and had accumulated a pile of women's clothing -- bras, panties (that weren't mine) to throw away. I asked whose they were and he said it wasn't important; I was being ridiculous. I then asked him for a ride across the river and he told me that he couldn't right then but for me to start walking and he would try to catch up with me and give me that ride. I was upset because I had a person I was lugging along with me...someone I thought was crippled or just incapable of walking by herself. I knew that this would be very burdensome on me and it was a long haul to the bridge and then over it. I was heading west over the bridge to the town where I grew up.

That burden? My secret. Where was I taking my secret? To its the white shoes perhaps.

Whose white shoes? Who did I know that wore white shoes? I couldn't think of a specific person, however, I could describe the type of person I envisioned wearing the shoes of my dream...a person who goes to a country club, plays golf perhaps, sips cocktails all afternoon.

Do I know people from a country club? Well, yes, actually I do. I spent most everyday of many summers in my adolescence living at the country club. It wasn't an exclusive, ritzy club but it was a private one and there were men and women who dined in the semi-fancy atmosphere of the club restaurant and drank all afternoon and parents and their friends included.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A doctoral defiling...

I wasn't quite 15. I had never been to a gynecologist. I was a virgin.

A debasing experience it was; one that I didn't deserve. I was preyed upon and I was too immature and frightened to defend myself.

The memory of this assault angers me -- at the doctor who molested me, and saddens me -- at my own weaknesses. I should have never made my first trip to the gynecologist alone but I had no one. I looked young and frightened and alone and the doctor knew it [I'm sure] the moment he glanced at me sitting by myself in a waiting room filled with pregnant women. He must have licked his chops at the sight of me.

The perpetrator - Dr. Scher. To this day I can see him -- 40ish (I think), moustached man (young Elliot Gould). His practice wasn't in the town where I lived but on the other side of the county. I must have taken a bus to get there.

A nurse led me into a small examination room and I was told to disrobe, including my bra and panties, and put on this very flimsy paper gown (opening in the front). I can still feel my discomfort with getting undressed and sitting on the examining table, alone. The nurse was not friendly; she didn't smile. She asked a few questions and left.

Some time later (I don't recall how long), Dr. Scher entered the room, gave me a big smile, walked over to me, and asked me to lie down and put my feet in the stirrups. He then bent over and kissed me on my mouth. He really just brushed against my lips but I didn't like it and knew it wasn't right. But I froze. I felt my whole body stiffen as he opened the top of my gown to begin a breast exam. I didn't know how it was supposed to feel but what he was doing didn't feel right -- and I hadn't come with any issues regarding my breasts. I held my breath, squeezed my eyes closed, and felt my body disappear and go numb. Somehow I instinctively knew (or I believed) it was futile to object. Do with me what you will...I believe that is what I already knew.

I felt exposed with my legs in the stirrups and no sheet over them. The pervert rolled his stool over and sat between my spread knees. I thought I was going to faint or puke or both. He stuck his fingers inside me (I don't remember if he wore gloves) and my body just cringed. Suddenly I felt something different and I opened my eyes and saw his face between my legs. His mouth and tongue were on my vagina. I jerked my legs straight forcing my pelvis back on the table; tears welled up in my eyes. I said nothing. He stood up, smiled at me, told me to get dressed and come to his office. I did as I was told -- slowly and deliberately I put my clothes back on and slunk into his office. I felt dead inside [and ashamed].

With downcast eyes and head hung low, I quitely slipped into the chair furthest from his desk,where I imagined I would be the safest from further harm. I was wrong, very wrong. Dr. Scher came over to me, stood right in front of me, his crotch in front of my face. I felt about two inches tall with this giant of a pervert lurking over me. He was rubbing his erect penis through his pants. I couldn't move; I couldn't swallow. He reached to unzip his pants and something snapped in me. My heart was racing with fear and disgust as I jumped up, pushing past him, calling him a FUCKING PERVERT. I ran into the waiting room sobbing and out the door. I don't remember going home.

I remember lighting up a joint later that night, by myself, and feeling overwrought with shame and guilt. What had I done? Why did I deserve this? I wanted to hurt myself...not the fuck who assaulted me. I was angry that for those few moments in the examining room my body betrayed me. I vomited.

Why do I remember this trauma? Because there was a roomful of witnesses? Well, not actual witnesses to the crime but witnesses to the immediate aftermath. This memory has haunted me for years -- no for decades. I have told the story to my therapists but in very limited detail. A doctor assaulted me, sort of. Well, there is no 'sort of' anymore. A doctor preyed upon me and assaulted me. I probaby wasn't the only one -- maybe someone had more courage than me and had him arrested. Maybe, hopefully, he lost his medical license and everything that goes along with the status and privilege of being a doctor.

Maybe now that I've written it down, I can put it to rest at long last.

Good riddens, scumbag.

Do you believe in magic in a young girl's heart?

Do you believe in the magic of a young girl's soul?

I did. It is a time when one is filled with idealism and hope and dreams for a future. Even if we don't really believe anything IS possible, we secretly harbor a dream that YES, we are the ones that will make the difference!

For me? College - maybe a writer finding inspiration by the sea, or an architect with the principles of Howard Roark, or a psychologist saving young women like I once was; or a Peace Corps volunteer working to save the world, or backpacking across Europe discovering cultures and uncovering history; or finding a job and apartment with friends - living, laughing, enjoying life. It was also about escaping the life you were living at home with your family -- good or bad; venturing out into the world on your own; doing things your family never dreamed of doing; not being limited by the fears or recklessness of our parents.

And ultimately, maybe marriage and a family...

Something went terribly wrong...the magic turned dark; my soul bleak. Dreams faded into black and I embarked on an angry, self-destructive path. I still married (twice) and had children but it wasn't what I would have ever imagined as a young girl with magic in her heart.

I do still believe in the magic of a young girl's soul. I think I'm just finding mine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Addendum to ailments

How's this for forgetfulness? While I was working so diligently on my list of ailments, I omitted a few serious maladies:

  • Panic attacks - irrational fear of nothing, of everything, of anything so intense I sometimes believed my only escape was suicide. Waking up in the middle of a cold winter night, pulling back the curtains, throwing open the window, gasping and sucking in the ice cold air to calm down -- running outside in my pajamas in tears - the pain and fear of being alone so fierce and frightening that all I could think of was escaping, fleeing, running anywhere as fast as I could. Standing there in my bare feet, shivering, sobbing, struggling to catch my breath.
  • Phobias - of heights, of flying, of suffocating, claustrophobic, public speaking. There may have been more; at this point in my life, there are many less.

words that hold meaning to my life...

...words that I want to expel from my vocabulary, from my life:

Insidious: operating in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effects. syn. deep, devious, harmful, alluring, guileful

This comes with denial and repression of memories. Hard to imagine that all those glaring physical side-effects of trauma were ever thought to be 'harmless.'

Permeate: to pass into or through every part of; to be diffused through, pervade, saturate; syn. infiltrate, pervade, penetrate, saturate

The effects of my life, the traumas I have denied and lived, are woven into the fabric of my soul. They have permeated every aspect of my life for almost as long as I have lived. Last night I was talking with the LOML and I asked him, "Do you think that if I hadn't been a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I would have dealt with my parent's divorce and the impending nightmare in a better way? Do you think I would have run into the arms of the most angry, violent man I could find? Do you think I would have had more my sister?" But my sister, like us all, made her own mistakes, and plenty of them. "I think it is impossible to know. I would like to think that yes, you would have made better decisions." I'm going to believe that.

Invasive: involving invasion or aggressive attack. syn: intrusive, interfering, invading

The devastating effects of childhood sexual abuse -- an aggressive attack on my self-respect, self-love, invasion of my soul.

Devastate: lay to waste; render desolate; to overwhelm. syn: destroy, ruin, ravage, despoil, desecrate, wreck.

Oh god, another word that so aptly describes my response to life. psyche destroyed, my hope laid to ruin, my emotional state overwhelmed; my soul depleted. It's depressing to think about. Oh, depressing, that's another descriptor that applies.

Traumatize: subject to or inflict physical and/or psychological injury or distress on someone. syn: to shock, wound.

Me, my life, summed up in one word. (and it's not SHIT)

Distraught: distracted, deeply agitated; mentally deranged, crazed; syn: distressed, frenzied, frantic, hysterical, upset, worried, unglued, troubled, insane; afflicted with irrationality or mental unsoundness.

During an evening discussion several weeks ago, the LOML interrupted me to express his desire for me to erase "distraught" not just from my vocabulary but from my life. I didn't realize how easily that word flowed from my lips; but I also didn't realize how connected it was with so many events in my daily life. It had become an everyday expression of emotion in dealing with the trials and tribulations of my life. Sadly, I have often felt insane, mentally unsound and completely irrational and I have lived countless days dealing with my children, my ex's, my finances (to name a few) that have left me feeling totally unglued. She's come undone. Yes, I did.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bipolar Disorder - Atypical, really?

I have been researching a little on whether childhood sexual abuse (CSA) can trigger biopolar disorder. Does a person have to have a genetic predisposition? There seems to be no real answer although a substantial number of bipolar women (I don't recall where I read this so I can't really verify its validity but it sounds true) have been sexually abused as children.

I was diagnosed at the age of 36 with Atypical Bipolar Disorder. A-Typical -- not Biopolar I (severe mood swings of mania & depression; Not Bipolar II (milder form of Biopolar I -- only with hypomania; not Cyclothymic disorder - with even milder symptoms. There's also a mixed biopolar disorder (both mania & depression at same time) and rapid cycling biopolar (which I was also diagnosed with over the years). But what the heck is Atypical? Is it anything that doesn't fit into the categories above?

Yes, but there is no official diagnosis of Atypical Biopolar Disorder; however, it is used in the medical profession. Symptoms include mood reactivity, significant weight gain, hypersomnia, leaden paralysis, and rejection sensitivity. I have suffered with these. Officially it comes under the guise of Biopolar Disorder (NOS - Not otherwise specified). This covers essentially any type of bipolar-like condition that does not fit criteria for the standard diagnoses.

I wonder if victims of CSA are diagnosed with Atypical Bipolar or Bipolar NOS with more regularity than wth Bipolar I or II. I might then make the assumption that it is nurture over nature.

But maybe I hit the jackpot because it runs in my family (both bipolar and schizophrenia) and I believe that I most certainly am a victim of CSA. I like writing CSA - it's a code, an acronym and it doesn't upset me to type the letters. It does upset me to type the words, "childhood sexual abuse."

There is one thing I know for certain and that is that I have had major depressive episodes. I can also slip into extremely agitated states where I feel like pulling out my hair or ripping my skin off.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The memories never leave...

Trauma causes memory to be fragmented. It doesn't fade in and out, like normal memory, but has abrupt and jagged chunks of time missing. The normal ebb and flow of my memory disappeared. It's been an uncomfortable feeling for years but like the many uncomfortable and confusing issues in my life, I tucked it neatly away into the folds of my brain. But they don't lay dormant. Apparently, neither do the traumas that trigger the fragments of memory loss.

They live on in our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our spirits, and they eat away at us, destroying our lives, our relationships, our dreams, our futures ... until somehow we learn to deal with them.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

whatever ails me...

runs deep and runs wild within the confines of my phsyical being. They (my ailments) range from very subtle to downright glaring and often leave me feeling chagrined. When living with low self-esteem, self-worth, or self-respect, feeling ashamed of the physical triggers that surface is pretty demoralizing.

So, what kind of things would happen to me?

Eyes: My pupils dilate to almost complete blackness; sometimes one eye pops open wider than the other making me look insane; an upper eyelid may swell; the whites of my eyes will turn bright red;

Complexion: Maybe my complexion will become waxy or maybe blemishes will spontaneously erupt or maybe both; herpes on my lip

Hair: My hair will lose its shine and become a dry frizzy unruly mess (brushing offers no solution) or maybe it will be nearly straight (it is naturally curly) and lifeless. It can change appearance in a matter of hours and has lasted up to a year. It was a most depressed year of my adulthood (the year of the rape) and my hair was thin, lifeless, and straight...not unlike the rest of me.

Small blisters may erupt on my of the insides of my fingers and the bottoms on my feet. The skin sometimes peels off around my toes. I have a small cyst right now on the outside of my right wrist and scrapes at the bottom of my right thumb where I scratched the skin off from nervousness.

Digestive Tract: more often than not suffers with some sort of disturbance -- gas, constipation, diarreah,vomiting, nausea - take your pick.

I suffer with insomnia but some days I just can't stay awake. I have been known to make a trip to the ladies room at work and fall asleep [comatose almost] sitting on the toilet.

I went through a spell (a year or two) where my knuckles swelled -- so much so that I was not able to make a fist. There was the time I had bruises all over me. It was as though any time something touched me, I turned black & blue. It wasn't anemia; it wasn't leukemia. I've had migraines and a cyst that in a matter of a week grew to the size of a tennis ball in my right armpit. I had to have it removed in the hospital. It was not cancer.

I have been diagnosed with ulcers, migraines, depression, and bi-polar. Many other disorders have been suggested include post traumatic stress disorder and candida. I denied them all and just took in all my little sufferings as a normal part of living.

I made this list a few months ago -- It's partial I'm sure.

Damage to my body

  • Broken foot - 6th grade (stubbed my toe & split the bone in my foot - cast up to my knee for 8 weeks
  • Four broken fingers - playing basketball; aunt stepped on hand
  • Broken nose - not sure how this happened
  • Kicked in chest - Mugged (I think)
  • Lost my front teeth - ex-husband (only this happened before we married) don't have memory
  • Scar near eye - ex-husband pushed my head (violently) into the edge of my convertible windshield
  • Bruised kidney - ex-husband (have only vague memory)
  • Hepatitis - senior in high school (spent 4 weeks in hospital in isolation)
  • Split chin (don't recall) but I believe I was assaulted by ex
  • Lipoma under arm - after my third baby was born
  • Digestive problems - all my life from my earliest memories (2nd grade)
  • Pink eye / styes
  • Sun poisoning - on a trip to Florida; wound up in emergency room
  • Poison oak - on a trip to California (age 17); wound up in emergency room
  • Abortion - age 17
  • Chronic IUD bleeding caused anemia - age 18
It's been chronic and I need to recognize and acknowledge this so that I can change it. I believe that we are connected -- spiritually, emotionally, physically. I grew up completely devoid of any spirituality; completely disconnected emotionally from my reality; and learned to live in a completely denied state of physical pain.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

12 of the last 17 pieces of evidence

21. Feeling demand to "produce and be loved," instinctively knowing and doing what the other person needs or wants, relationships mean big tradeoffs ("love" was taken, not given) - CHECK

22. Abandonment issues; desire for relationships with no separateness; avoidance/fear of intimacy - CHECK

23. Blocking out some period of early years (especially 1-12 but may continue into adulthood) - CHECK

24. Being generally secretive - CHECK

25. Feeling crazy, feeling different, feeling oneself to be unreal and eveyone else to be real, creating fantasy worlds, relationships, or identities - CHECK

26. Denial: no awareness at all; repression of memories; pretending, minimizing ("it wasn't that bad"), having dreams or memories ("maybe it's my imagination"); memory flashes without a sense of meaning; remembering surroundings but not events - CHECK

27. Feeling betrayed by one's body; trouble integrating sexuality with emotionality; confusion or overlapping of affection/sex/dominance/aggression/violence; compulsively "seductive," sexualizing of all meaningful relationships - CHECK

28. Pattern of ambivalent or intensely conflictual relationships - CHECK

29. Avoidance of mirrors - connected with invisibility, shame/self-esteem issues, distorted perceptions of face or body) - CHECK

30. Desire to change one's name - CHECK

31. Limited tolerance for happiness, active withdrawal from/ reluctance to trust happiness - CHECK

32. Aversion to noise-making (including during sex, crying, laughing, or other body functions); verbal hypervigilance; quiet-voiced - CHECK

33. Stealing, fire-starting - NO

34. Multiple personality disorder - NO

35. Food sensitivities/avoidances due to texture or appearance - NO

36. Compulsive honesty or compulsive dishonesty - NO

37. Hypervigilance regarding child abuse or inability to see child abuse - NO

I cannot deny the truth. Anymore.

Daddy dearest, why have you forsaken me?

You fathered five of us in seven years; you stuck around just long enough to witness my pubescent transition and initiation into the world of teenage angst. Then you left us -- sending our mother into an emotional crisis and downward spiral (she didn't think so) -- and leaving us defenseless and wallowing in a hell you orchestrated. Why?

I don't suppose I'll ever know because as I've written earlier, daddy dearest is now suffering from Alzheimer's disease and his wife, just a few years older than myself, is stuck taking care of this doddering, sometimes angry, often times crying, incontinent feeble old man.

The summer before the onset of my forced (but not entirely unwilling) emancipation at the tender and naive age of not quite 15 was spent in a small coastal town in Maine with my friend and her father who was starring in a summer playhouse production. We literally 'hung' around -- rocky shorelines, bottle dancers, spoon ring makers, and back doors of restaurants while feasting on fresh lobster and blueberries morning, noon, and night. We were cute and bubbly and funny and the lobsters were always snuck out to us for free. We were also pensive and dark and moody and the marijuana flowed free as well. Six weeks passed before I returned home; it wasn't something I looked forward to.

We always had family suppers in my house (6:30ish after dad was retrieved from the train station) and Sunday afternoon dinners, often with guests. On the day I returned from my summer holiday in Ogunquit, I sat down at my usual place at the round, royal-blue linoleum covered pedestal table for supper. My mother, who was still present [physically at least] during those days, asked me,

Do you notice anything different, anyone missing? No. No? Well, your father has left. He moved out. I don't remember my reaction. I already hated him by this point so if there was any reaction, it was most likely joy.

I had already been rejected by my father when he accused me of being a whore a year earlier after I went to the movies with a boy (actually I went with two boys - driven both ways by parents). His accusation? I fucked them both. Yes, he was that crude.

But what happened after his departure was not something I nor my siblings were prepared for. Our lives erupted into a hellish nightmare; the very foundation of my family collapsed and the five of us clung desperately to whomever we could. My choice, unfortunately, was extremely poor. We were a sightly bunch of kids, from ages 16 to 9, to behold, completely unsupervised and out of control, and without a soul that really cared to help us. Had this happened today? My parents would have been arrested for child abuse and neglect. But back then, everyone just looked the other way and minded their own business.

And we children said nothing. Both mom and dad taught us well to be quiet and pretend that everything was okay, even when our world was collapsing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Why do we always hurt the ones we love most?

Our past is our past -- you can't change your past, obliterate it, or bury it deep enough, forbidding entry. It will haunt you if you dare to deny or repress it. And if you don't remember or acknowledge your past, you can't ever understand it, rectify it, heal from it, and move beyond it. You can never be free. And that, my friends, can do unimaginable harm to the ones you love.

I recently discovered just how much suffering the pain of my repressed and denied past has caused to the people most dear to me -- my partner and my children. It is an insidious infiltration of cover-ups and lies that I perpetrated against my loved ones and even though it was not a conscious act to deny my past, I fiercely defended my emotions and my perceived truths. It did not work for any of us.

I began to uncover the depths of my denial when I tried to remember how I lost my two front teeth. All I know for sure is that I have two crowns where some time long ago my front teeth existed. I was so positive I had the answer to the missing teeth; I just was not able to access it in that particular moment. Only that particular moment never ended and a frustrating confusion over my teeth ensued. I wasn't even certain how old I was -- I thought 14 or 15; it turns out I was 18 or 19. I thought it had to have been an accident of some sort. I absolutely knew it wasn't at the hands of the man I would eventually marry and have two children with. I was wrong - almost dead wrong.

I learned from my sister that my teeth were knocked out by a "violent act committed by" my then boyfriend and future husband. She didn't know the specifics; she didn't even know it for an indisputable fact but she was quite positive. Didn't you also end up in the hospital with a bruised kidney? Yes, I remember that but I thought...another denial. I asked my mother - she had no idea; my brothers didn't answer my inquiries. Hush, don't tell; don't rock the boat. Six, maybe seven years later, after living 1200 miles away from home with this alcoholic abuser, I got pregnant. My sister, the same sister who knew that he beat me up, planned my wedding -- even made a wedding dress for her 6 month pregnant sister. Nobody knew what my life had been like the last six years and I was, after all, still alive, and obviously having sex, so things couldn't have been THAT bad. Could they? Maybe that bastard raped me... We didn't ask. We were afraid to know. We just needed to believe that everything was okay. We were barely surviving ourselves.

I didn't want to get married but I didn't say no. I just flew home, picked up a marriage license, and said, I do. No, please don't make me, my soul silently screamed. Save me! We spent our wedding night in a motel - he was drunk and just a little coked up...nothing to get upset over, he told me. He thought he should celebrate our newly found marital bliss as man (and I say that cringing) and abused wife by sodomizing me. Do a line, come on. I sobbed refusing both and maybe because I was pregnant or maybe because he thought he was being a good husband, he left me alone. A month later I gave birth to our son -- he was 1200 miles away drunk at his uncle's funeral. My beautiful boy, conceived in such violence, was born 10 weeks early weighing in at a tiny 3.2 pounds.

The memory of my missing teeth is lost. Knowing the violent behavior of that man, there is no doubt in my mind that he abused me; however, apart from two minor incidents (if abuse can ever be minor) that I do remember, in my heart I never believed he pummeled me with such violent disregard for my life. All that has changed.

Dr. B talked to me about my fragmented memory. If you bury trauma, you never learn from it. If you bury trauma, you deny its existence. If you bury trauma, the effects of that trauma rule your life. And if you bury that trauma, you behave in ways that those close to you can never understand.

When the truth finally emerged, I wasn't the only person reeling from the truth. The LOML was hurting deep in his gut and angry to his core because this heinous man violently and deliberately and hatefully beat and abused the woman he holds so dear to his heart.

And I end up hurting the man I love most [again].

But this hurt will heal.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

if there is a shadow of doubt...

you won't receive a guilty verdict but does that make it not true? I read all the evidence of trauma, of sexual abuse trauma, and I think, that's my life -- penned by many authors, many victims. But what about the memories? I don't have them. Does this mean it didn't happen?

There are 37 ways to confront the truth:

1) Fear of being alone in the dark, of sleeping alone, nightmares, especially of rape, pursuit, threat, entrapment, blood, night terrors - CHECK
2) Swallowing and gagging sensitivity (suffocation feelings) - CHECK
3) Alienation from body - not at home in own body, failure to heed signals of body or take care of it, poor body image, manipulating body size to avoid sexual attention, compulsive cleaniness - CHECK
4) Gastrointestinal problems, headaches, arthritis or joint pain, aversion to doctors - CHECK
5) Eating disorders, drug/alcohol abuse (or total abstinence)- CHECK
6) Wearing a lot of clothing, even in summer, baggy clothes, failure to remove clothing even when appropriate to do so - CHECK
7) Self destructiveness - CHECK
8) Phobias, panic - CHECK
9) Need to be invisible - CHECK
10) Suicidal thoughts, attempts, obsession (including "passive suicide") - CHECK
11) Depression (sometimes paralyzing), seemingly baseless crying - CHECK
12) Anger issues, inability to recognize, own or express anger, fear of actual or imagining rage, constant anger - CHECK
13) Dissociation (splitting), depersonalization, physical pain or numbness associated with particular memory, emotion (anger) or situation (sex) - CHECK
14) Rigid control of thought process - CHECK
15) Startle response, hyper-vigilance - CHECK
16) Trust issues, inability to trust, absolute trust that turns to rage when disappointed, trusting indiscriminately - CHECK
17) High risk taking, inability to take risks - CHECK
18) Boundary issues, control, power, territoriality issues, fear of losing control, obsessive/compulsive behaviors, power/sex confusion - CHECK
19) Guilt/shame/low self-esteem/feeling worthless/high appreciation of small favors by others - CHECK
20) Pattern of being a victim, especially sexually, no sense of own power or right to set limits, pattern of relationships with much older persons - CHECK

The evidence lies within me. The proof is my life. Twenty out of 20.

... words of wisdom

...because I am aware, because I have imagination and conscience, I can examine my deepest values. I can realize that the script I'm living is not in harmony with those values, that my life is not the product of my own pro-active design, but the result of the first creation I have deferred to circumstances and other people. And I can change. I can live out my imagination instead of my memory. I can tie myself to the limitless potential instead of my limiting past. I can become my own first creator.

I believe this is by Stephen R Corey (but I'm not sure)
It was sent to me by the LOML (love of my life) this morning.

Friday, July 04, 2008

the river of denial has strong currents

Rip tides, actually, that suck you into the turbulence...and, if you decide not to fight the currents like you were taught (just relax, float, they'll return you to the beach), you don't eventually wash up onto the shore several years later, beaten and bedraggled, but simply vanish...swallowed up like you never existed.

I am highly skilled in the art of denial, minimization, repression, dissociation, and withdrawal. I surmise that I began training at a very young age. How could I have known that I was witnessing and absorbing a way of life that could be so dangerous. Of course, this depends upon other events in your life and who you invite in. I, unfortunately, cracked my door open to only the most desperate, abusive, lost, and dysfunctional souls and they, in turn, nearly took my life. But it all started with denial. Look the other way, close your eyes, shrug it off, reassure yourself that it wasn't all that bad -- things will get better, and carry on. When you add violence and sexual betrayal to the mix, you dive in deeper than just denial and minimization, you learn to repress and dissociate.

Now, I realize that these are techniques that victims develop to survive trauma. We create alternate selves and live through someone else's eyes. But what I have recently discovered is that the "someone else's eyes"
are really our own distorted perspectives of who we are at any given moment. And believe me, it changes, sometimes from moment to moment. It can be frightening and challenging and it leaves me almost always in a state of perpetual emotional exhaustion.

It's 9:05 and I'm feeling optimistic -- filled with hope -- I can do anything I want!; it's 11:10 and I find myself staring in the refrigerator looking for something to quell my anxieties -- maybe things aren't quite so wonderful; it's 12:40 and I'm lying face down on the bed, eyes closed, praying silently to just fall into a deep sleep so I don't have to think or feel for just a little while, please...; it's 12:55 and I'm still awake and oh god, no time has passed,and I sigh, rolling over onto my back, and the tears begin to streak my cheeks; now it's 1:15 and I wearily force myself back into an upright position, staring into the mirror at my bloodshot eyes, unkempt hair, clothes in total disarray, and search inside myself for that little something that made me feel optimistic at 9:05 this morning.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

to Hit or to Hug - to some it's all the same?

Can it be true?

Dr. B told me that some people (mostly women) who have grown up without physical affection may confuse physical abuse with the desire for touch. Now imagine your man grabbing you by the shoulders, violently jerking you toward him, his fingers digging into your flesh, berating you for something you may or may not have done, reeking alcoholic vulgarities being spewed at you, "I love you, you fucking bitch. You drive me fucking crazy, you cunt!" Suddenly he tightens his grip on you, pulls your close, then slams your body into the living room wall, a sharp pain draws all your focus to the back of your head. It feels as though your skull has cracked... Can this really be misconstrued as affection?

Maybe it happens when your significant other puts his arm around your waist while you're walking through a crowd or a mall because he wants everyone to know that you belong to him. But it's not a gentle, protective act - he's hurting you and you're uncomfortable and you want to break away but you know what might happen if you try. After a few scotches -- not worth the risk.

I understand that it may be difficult -- it may be impossible -- to get and give hugs. I remember standing stiffly as arms wrapped around me, my head turned to the side, my heart stopped. Okay, let's get this over with. I've changed. I learned to hug, to really hug, to enjoy -- no to actually love -- hugging and many other acts of expressing affection and love. My siblings and I all learned to hug. My father hugs now but he's old and has lost his mind from alzheimers. He has no clue who he's hugging. Does it matter? The hugger is still my father albeit a hollow frail shell of the man he once was. (This isn't so bad really) My mother hugs but it doesn't come naturally. She does try. So, I learned to hug and I was in an abusive relationship. But I don't think I thought hitting and hugging were interchangeable.

We all need touch. It's true.

diving in

Swan dive or belly flop. Well, that's yet to be seen. I'm preparing for a beautiful swan dive into a cool turquoise pool creating ripples of concentric rings which emanate from where my body smoothly and quietly penetrates the water's surface. But maybe a toe dip into some tepid water to in somatic experiencing. What? Let me explain.

It's what Dr. B calls releasing the trauma from your physiology. We don't shake off trauma like gazelles being pursued by a leopard. Humans bury the trauma, subsequently, carrying around the after-effects for years, decades, a lifetime even.

So, we talk in therapy and I most often find myself getting very emotional and just when I feel like my throat is going to totally swell shut and I'll suffocate, or I'll break down and sob, or I'll do the usual shut down, Dr. B interrupts me and gently but firmly tells me, "put your feet on the floor, feel them connect to the floor...the floor is part of the house which has a foundation which is securely grounded in the earth." It's a gentle jarring back to the moment. "Now scan your body. Is there any place in your body that feels okay? a toe, a finger, your ear, anything." I feel like screaming but instead I sit back into the couch, my feet firmly attached to the floor, and attempt to 'scan' my body for that place that feels okay. My whole body is tense and aching and stressed. My temples are pulsing and my feet are abuzz with pins and needles. But I keep scanning and finally I realize that my right calf is okay... It doesn't actually feel good. It doesn't feel like anything. Yes, that's what it is -- absence of pain and that makes it okay. "Yes" I tell her, "my right calf." "Okay, hang out with your right calf for a bit. Just be one with the feeling in your right calf and notice if the feeling moves or changes." Well, I've been distracted away from what was getting me so upset. Is this good? We talk a little about the travelling bodily sensations I am having. "Now, dip back into that traumatic time you were just telling me about...just dip your toe in." And be aware of what you're body is doing. Go back to your calf. Is it still quiet? What else is happening? Dip that toe again and then find the place within you of calm, of okayness.

I leave her office and I feel calm. My head is not throbbing, my throat is clear, and my breathing is quiet. See you in two weeks -- on vacation next week. Practice dipping that toe into the firey, not so tepid, waters and returning to safety.

starting out ... starting over

Why would you want an anonymous blog? Either you want someone to read it or not. Obviously I harbor a hope that someone one day may read this and maybe they will anonymously respond. I have a great deal to say but I'm not quite certain this is the venue within which to express my sorrows. Yes, I'm sorry to say it is mostly sorrow but it is also an archaeological excavation of my life. I know... who really cares but me (and maybe a few others). It helps me to make sense of the things I've done and the places I've been. My wish is that all this uncovering will alter the trajectory I have been locked into. Perhaps writing here will feel safe as long as no one can trace it back to me. It's not on my laptop at home where someone may read it before it's ready to be shared nor is it a journal slipped beneath my mattress waiting to be discovered.