Filed under: Uncategorized
So I began EMDR therapy a few months ago. Holy shit is it ever some hard stuff! Unlike ‘normal’ therapy where you go into the therapist’s office and talk about whatever you feel like that day, this is a very trauma-focused therapy. The idea is that you focus specifically on the trauma until you come to resolution, and then you don’t have PTSD anymore. Voila!
The first session was a get-to-know-you. The second session she said “Ok, tell me all about what happened to you. Tell me your trauma(s).” So I told her everything. The babysitter. My Dad. My brother. The sexual abuse. The physical abuse. The marrying the love of my life that we both thought was a man who ended up actually being a woman on the inside, and now on the outside too. It was nice getting it all out with the therapist in the very beginning. No sitting there wondering when I am supposed to tell her all this shit.
She spent the next few sessions after that ‘strengthening me’. Those were her words. Basically, she had me imagine the little girl part of me and begin to establish conversations with her in a safe affirming way. Also, she began helping me understand how everyone has parts of themselves, but the adult part is the one that should be running the show.
Session 5 was when we started some actual EMDR. It’s some heavy heavy shit. We started with a thing that happened when I was 3 or 4: me witnessing my dad hitting my brother because my dad was mad at himself because he accidentally dislocated my arm. He didn’t know how to handle it, because that’s my dad, and when I got home from the hospital, he picked a fight with my brother and hit him. I have felt guilty about my role in that my whole life. I worked it out with her in EMDR. While we were working on it, I was crying and I felt so terrible. And then I came to resolution and it hasn’t bothered me since!!! Isn’t that amazing???
The next thing though was my new memory of my dad sexually abusing me when I was 5. This is way harder than the thing above, because it is so multi-faceted. Unlike the incident where he hit my brother, that only had one facet for me (my own guilty about it). But sexual abuse is never one facet; it’s a multi-faceted web of betrayal that takes a while to uncover, figure out, and resolve. We have now spent 4 sessions on it so far, and while I have gained some clarity as to the memory, I have not come to resolution about it yet.
It’s a difficult treatment. Remember that episode of the Office, where Michael Scott fucks everything up by trying to resolve employee complaints out in the open? He compares it to shiatsu massage, and he – wait – let me just link to it here
So anyway, it’s like that. It’s really painful and it’s really hard but at the end, hopefully, I will feel much better and stop being plagued by my own PTSD. That’s my hope, anyway. 36 years is a long time to be afraid.
Meanwhile I keep eating and eating. I am a hot fucking mess. Sleep is difficult. Having to do this therapy sucks serious shit. Not as bad as having to be sexually abused when I was a child, I suppose, but still sucks. This is of course why you shouldn’t fuck kids. I don’t want to spend my time like this, going to therapy, crying, eating, etc. I want to enjoy my sweet beautiful son, and learn to love and trust a man again, and enjoy my life, and go for walks, etc. But right now, my life is this, and I accept that. And I live it with hope for a better life to come.
The therapist has tried to impart two things to me, which I wanted to share with you guys, my loyal readers. 1) She said that when all that stuff was happening to me when I was a kid, I was alone and I was powerless. I am neither of those things now. While I am healing, I am not alone, and I am not powerless. 2) She said that I was a child when all this happened to me. I am an adult now. I have a whole range of choices open to me that I didn’t then. All of that was news to me, and was so empowering that I thought maybe you wanted to hear it too. :-)
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I had dinner with an old professor of mine. She is someone I admire, mainly because when I was in her class she disclosed her own history of trauma. After I graduated, we kind of became friends sort of – maybe more like acquaintances. But anyway, we randomly meet for dinner once every few years.
I decided to take a chance and disclose what my life has looked like for real. She already knew about my husband becoming my ex-wife, because she is on my holiday card list. We send out a newsletter every year that discusses our situation, because we figure people are curious about our shit now. During our dinner, I told her how I never would have predicted how the ex and I have come to such a happy place, where we are raising our child together and are close like sisters. It’s actually kind of cool living with my best friend/sister/ex-wife without there being a sexual component to things. It gives me a chance to repair myself and make myself whole before attempting romance with a man again.
Anyway, I took a chance and told her about what my life has been like with C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). I told her about the hotel incidents. I told her how if I didn’t have this disorder, how cool it would be if I could just take a walk outside if I felt like it. (That right there – that is why you shouldn’t fuck kids. We should get to enjoy nature and take walks outside without fear of our next rape.)
I told her that I guess this is my life, and I should stop trying to fight it. I am obviously going to live in panic and fear forever.
She said “Butterfly, you don’t have to live like this. There are gold standard treatments now for PTSD. There is prolonged exposure therapy and there is also Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Both of those therapies cause people with PTSD to be asymptomatic. Are you receiving either of those treatments from your current therapist?”
I said “No, but it took me like three years to even trust my therapist. Plus it would be disloyal to her for me to seek out another therapist. It would be like I am telling her she isn’t doing it right, when I think she is really great.”
She said “If your therapist is any good, she wants you to heal as much as you do. Keep her for your life stuff, and see a trauma therapist for your trauma stuff.”
I said “You think I should see two therapists??”
She said “Yes. You still think you are going to get victimized again at any moment, and that’s not the truth. You need someone to do EMDR or exposure therapy with you for you to get through and past your PTSD symptoms. Talk to your therapist, she will understand.”
She gave me the number of a local person who does EMDR work. The idea of sharing my shit with yet another new therapist is daunting, but I also hate living like this. If my professor is at all right, I deserve the chance to give the new therapy a shot. The idea of telling my current therapist about this is also really scary, but I am going to do it. If there is even a chance that EMDR would be successful for me, even if it only meant a reduction in symptoms as opposed to the disappearance of symptoms – even that would make it all worth it. I will talk to my therapist at my next session and I hope it goes well.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: fear, panic, panic disorder, phobia, PTSD, survivor of child sexual abuse
I had to go away to a conference again, and this time I went with someone from my new job. A new friend who seems very nice, but kind of plays her cards close to the chest. I have told her a tiny bit about my childhood, opened up a little bit to share my world. She has been safe to confide in so far. I haven’t ever said anything about my PTSD though, because it’s work and I don’t want work people to know that I am so fucked up because then they will think I can’t do my job, and so far I have been able to do my job no matter what. If anything, my job has always been the only place in my life where I have experienced success.
So anyway, we had to stay in a hotel for this conference. Remember how I had to stay in a hotel for that conference a few years ago with the woman who used to cut herself, and I got scared of the imaginary man behind the curtains?
So this time I remembered to check the fucking curtains. We settled into the hotel room, we both got changed for bed, talked for a long time, and by midnight we laid down in our respective beds. We turned the lights out except for the bathroom light. You know, now that I think about it, my friend was the one who left the bathroom light on and the door opened. I wonder if she doesn’t like sleeping in the dark too? Or I wonder if it was her way of being kind to me?
So I laid down in my bed and I went through a mental checklist. I had already made sure that the door was locked in every possible way, and I checked behind the curtains. We were on the first floor, which is inherently unsafe, but I couldn’t control that. I didn’t check under the beds. I shifted in the bed so I could see under her bed. It was way too low to fit a human being under there. THE CLOSET. I didn’t check the fucking closet. I started panicking. He could be in there right now, waiting for us to fall asleep so that he can rape us by surprise.
I tried to talk to myself in a soothing way. There’s no one in there, Butterfly. There’s no one in the closet. I had such a strong vision of a man hovering over me in bed, breathing on me, me paralyzed with fear. He’s here. He’s waiting for me to relax and lose my attention on him and then he will pounce on me. I can’t. I can’t go to sleep like this, knowing he is in there. I just can’t. I leap out of bed and check the closet. I am breathing heavy and scared, and I hurriedly open the closet door. There’s no one in there, thank G-d.
I walk back to my bed and I see that my friend is staring at me with a WTF expression on her face. I am too tired to make something up. I explain that I have to check the closet or I wouldn’t sleep all night. Her face changes a little bit, but it’s an unreadable expression, and I can’t tell what she thinks. It almost seems to confirm something for her, but I can’t be sure. I don’t care. I am just so grateful that I was able to check the closet and that no one was in there and that I can go to sleep already.
This kind of humiliating shit is why you shouldn’t fuck kids.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: foster care, incest, lesbians, survivor of child sexual abuse, The Fosters
Last night I was watching that show “The Fosters” on ABC Family. It’s a really great show about a lesbian couple raising four foster children (most of whom they have adopted), and one bio kid. Anyway, on the show there is this one teenaged child – Callie – and she is a survivor of child sexual abuse from a foster brother in a previous foster home.
In last night’s episode, they showed her trying to navigate a relationship with her boyfriend Wyatt. She and Wyatt decided they wanted to try to have sex but after they got in bed and started kissing, she freaked out, pushed him away and then pretty much ran away. She didn’t want to talk about it or talk to him. Eventually she figured out that she had to talk about her rape history with him, and she dreaded it.
I found myself crying through the entire episode. The freaking out in bed thing was so true to life, as was the dreaded talking about it afterwards. I posted about this several times during my marriage, like when I freaked out before we even got into bed together, , when I described it to my therapist as ‘fucking it up’ for us, and when my voice became that of a little girl’s. Each and every one of these experiences was humiliating and embarrassing.
That’s why you shouldn’t fuck kids. All intimacy becomes a minefield that we have to navigate while injured.
And an innocent act like watching a tv show becomes something entirely different by the end of it. I thought about it this morning, and cried again. This is where I am. This is what it looks like to survive child sexual abuse. These are the parts that no one ever sees. That’s why I keep this blog, logging every detail about the hidden ways surviving has affected me.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: anxiety, depression, incest survivor, panic, panic attack, survivor of child sexual abuse, survivor sleep
Last night I was so tired. It was well past midnight and I was so tired and I really wanted to sleep. I laid down in bed and I got so scared. I was thinking “What if there is a man hiding in the closet, waiting for me to fall asleep, and then after I fall asleep he will surprise me and attack me?” My heart started beating rapidly, my eyes flew open, my breathing became irregular. I reminded myself that not only had I already checked the closets, but so did my ex. Then my thoughts went to the same surprise-attack scenario, but involving a home invasion. I looked around the room from my vantage point on the bed; no one was there. I listened carefully; I couldn’t hear anything out of the ordinary. I reminded myself that I am safe, just like my therapist and I have been working on for years. She says that you have to recognize safety in order to recognize unsafety. I reminded myself that my home has an alarm that goes straight to the cops when tripped. Plus I have a dog that sleeps next to me. I reminded myself of all this, but I was panicking anyway. The reminders of safety were helpful, and I eventually used thought-replacement exercises to get to sleep. I kept my mind busy with thoughts of a beautiful life with my next husband in a beautiful log cabin, etc.
I have really been hating the nights lately. My next contracted jobs don’t start until the fall, so until then my schedule is willy nilly. Since my work was the only thing I’d been doing in my life that gave me any sort of self-esteem (not to mention a regular schedule), I have been sad and I guess a little depressed.
Depression and suicide is all about a mostly false thought process inside a person’s head that tells them (over and over again) that the situation they are in will be the situation they are always in. That things will always be like this. That I will always feel this way. I know it is false, because life changes a lot, and sometimes it happens very quickly. Sometimes it happens slowly, but the point is, something always happens to change a person’s life.
I have been trying to think of ways to make the night easier. Maybe I should take up a hobby, like crocheting or cross-stitching during the night. The panic-sleep thing totally totally sucks. Maybe it’s time to do a meditation, or some sort of positive affirmation before bed.
Remember that time I went away to that conference with my friend, and I got scared of the imaginary man behind the curtains in our hotel room? Writing this blog post about last night, alone in my own bedroom, feels like that. But I figured I should put it in the blog today because the entire point of this blog is to keep a running tally of the many ways that surviving abuse in my childhood has fucked me up in adulthood.
This is why you shouldn’t fuck kids. We get completely afraid of being assaulted again, and we find inventive ways to be afraid, and inventive ways to manage those fears. I am 40 years old. It’s been 35 years of survivor sleep. When the fuck does this end??
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: affirmations, father-daughter incest, Louise Hay, survivor of child sexual abuse, survivor of incest
So my job ended recently. I knew it was coming to an end, and I was grateful for it. It was a planned thing, because it was kind of a contract position. I have a bunch of new little contracts in the Fall. It was time for that door to close so that new ones can open.
A party was thrown for me to celebrate a successful end to that job, and that boy that I like was there (which makes sense, since he was one of my co-workers). In all of his emails to me, he signs them with the word “Best”. But in a card that he and my co-workers gave me at the party, he signed it “All my love”. Isn’t that interesting? I don’t know what to make of that. And since the party, we’ve had little to no contact. Even if that is the end of us, it’s still fun to think about him. As my therapist says “It’s a safe crush.”
I woke up from another rape dream today.
I keep contemplating (and failing miserably) at losing weight. The night before last I prayed to the Universe for clarity regarding my weight loss efforts. I prayed for knowledge on the right way for me to lose this weight that I am carrying around. I woke up the next morning with a very clear memory of an instance of sexual abuse from my father when I was 5. It was something I have been suspecting for a while, and now I am sure. The whole thing saddened me, as I had always considered him my last perpetrator. Now I have reason to think he was probably my first. I am not sure what to do with that knowledge, but I find it interesting that it came after I prayed for clarity in my weight loss efforts. Apparently I am not going to lose this physical weight that I am carrying until I lose the emotional weight of what has happened to me first. And maybe that is okay. Maybe I can deal with these memories without batting them away like flies that are bothering me. Maybe I can work through the memories until they become something that happened to me, not something that is still happening to me.
I reminded myself the other day ” I am a 40 year old woman. I am not a little girl anymore. I am strong and powerful.” I believe the first two sentences; I am having trouble with the last one.
Louise Hay said that when we say positive affirmations, we are stating things the way we want them and then leaving it up to the Universe to work out the details. I like that. I will continue saying I am strong and powerful, and let’s see what happens.
I heard a lovely quote the other day: “The Universe is conspiring towards my highest good.” I think that is true. I have always said that the Universe takes care of us, in spite of ourselves.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: brother-sister incest, father-daughter incest, first kiss, panic, survivor of child sexual abuse
Last night I found myself thinking about my first kiss. I was fifteen, almost 16. I had been kind of dating my friend for a while. I think he felt that at a certain number of dates (3? 4?) that we should be kissing. So on our third or fourth date, we came back to my house, and he leaned in and kissed me. My reaction to this kiss was – not good. I pushed away from him, got up and ran into the bathroom and locked myself in there until he left my house.
He was a nice guy, not a rapist. He thought I was into it, and he kept apologizing. He was so upset. I was so upset. It was a hot mess.
It sure was embarrassing too. At the time, I understood enough to know that my reaction to all of this was weird, but I wasn’t exactly sure WHY I reacted this way. I figured it probably had something to do with my dad or my brother. At that time, I didn’t even know I had a third abuser (the babysitter) – I found out about her like four years later.
It’s been 25 years since my first kiss. I now understand why I reacted that way to such an intimate act. This is what happens when you fuck kids. A beautiful innocent act like our first kiss becomes a complete hot mess because it’s not our first go-round with intimacy. I had already experienced my brother’s head between my legs when I was way younger, but I didn’t want that experience. Even now, the memory of what he did to me – it’s painful.
This is why you shouldn’t fuck kids. What should be beautiful and pretty and sweet and innocent – like first boyfriends and first kisses and ‘I like you’ – becomes a whole other thing fraught with rape potential in our heads. We can’t separate who you are with who has already used our bodies. Even though we want you – the ones we have chosen – we can’t figure out if you are like the ones who have already hurt us. The piss is – we want to figure it out. We are just like all the other girls and boys; we too want healthy beautiful romantic tangible love that we can feel with our hands and our hearts. But we can’t get there because of what has already happened to us.
I went to sleep thinking about my first kiss last night. This morning I woke up from a terrible rape dream. That’s why you shouldn’t fuck kids.