Posted by: Marie | November 18, 2009

(187) It all makes sense

Post #187
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, July 18, 2009]

All this week, I have been experiencing the recovery of more memories around what happened with “X” . . . or, again, what I think are valid memories, assuming something did happen with him.

Photo by Martin Chen

Photo by Martin Chen

Fortunately, they have been arriving in a gentle manner – they are more like passing images and impressions that float through my consciousness as I transition between being awake and asleep. I’m grateful for the gentleness of their arrivals – that they are not coming in violent flashes like I tolerated last summer . . . .

I am remembering taking Sunday afternoon naps in a basement bedroom at “X’s” house . . . the bedroom was near his office in the basement. I have a sense that he would walk into the bedroom while I was napping and wake me up.

I have a sense that he allowed me (encouraged me?) to touch him affectionately when he woke me up from my nap – as well as other times. I have a sense that he encouraged me to hold hands and link arms with him, to lay my head on his arm or chest, to pat his face . . .

I have a sense that I enjoyed doing that . . . because it was a form of affection that I was not experiencing at home. I have a sense that having his undivided attention and affection felt very good to me.

I have a sense that he justified his deviant behavior by the fact I “initiated” the “touching” – that I obviously “wanted it”. I think the guillotine blade that appeared in a recent dream represents what he did after I innocently reached out to him with affection. At least, that’s the passing impression I keep getting.

It would explain why I become physically paralyzed when I want to initiate affectionate touch.

It would explain why I feel unsafe when in the prone position.

It would explain why, at age four, I one day announced to my mother that I was too old to take naps. I remember not being able to give to her the real reason – but I didn’t recall the real reason until this week. The real reason was because my body would, as I attempted to drift into a nap, repeatedly jerk awake with every little noise. I would try to be compliant and fall asleep, but I would lie awake for the entire time I was supposed to be sleeping. I didn’t know how to explain all that to my mom, so I just told her I was too old for naps – and she bought it.

It would explain why I still am unable to take daytime naps, even as an adult. If I do lie down and shut my eyes, as soon as anyone shuts a door or answers a phone anywhere in the house (for example), my heart starts racing and my breathing quickens – and I snap back to full awareness.

It would explain why I feel trapped and out-of-control when someone gives me verbal instructions on how to perform physical fitness exercises or any other body-oriented activity.

It would explain why, as I’m writing this, my heart rate and breathing rate are accelerated – and why I find myself somewhat sexually aroused by the remembering.

(Deep breath . . . it’s okay, Marie, it is to be expected, given your history – nothing to be ashamed of)

—————————————-

It is easy for me to be angry with “X” – or at least, it would be if I knew for sure he did what I think he did.

It is not so easy for me to be angry with another source of trauma . . . my parents.

This week, I went back over what I wrote about rationalizing the behavior of my parents, specifically the physical and emotional abuse they incorporated into their method of discipline. I have been resistant to holding them accountable for their behavior because they were doing the best they knew to do.

As I reviewed what I had written, a memory from childhood came flooding back . . . a memory of a time I intensely struggled with understanding my place in the world. I remember lying in bed, trying to figure it all out . . .

At the time, I didn’t have suitable language, only vague feelings. But now, if I go back and feel those feelings, I can put adult language to it . . .

In trying to figure it out, I reasoned that such punishment could only exist if at least one party was bad. If my parents were abusive because they were bad, there was space for the possibility I was a good child – a good child that was being treated unfairly.

If my parents were good, then they necessarily were acting in my best interest – which meant I must truly deserve what I was getting – which meant I must be a very bad child.

There was no doubt in my mind that my parents were good – they were “in tight” with God. However, I was still unsure about my standing with God and about my goodness. It was easy for me to conclude I must be a very bad child if I had to be punished that violently. This week I discovered I have continued embracing that conclusion even to this present day.

As an adult, I have consistently defended the goodness of my parents. I have been so attached to defending them that I had not noticed how their “goodness” came at the expense of my “goodness” (according to my childhood beliefs) — in other words, if they were good, I necessarily was bad. I had not been free to discern the untruth in my long-held belief that child-Marie was bad — until now.

I am now seeing the need to embrace the fact that all parties were/are good – imperfect, but good.

Including me.

Quotes 098


Responses

  1. I have always been ashamed to admit that I feel sexually aroused when remembering moments that I was put into an abusive situation. So many of the details are fuzzy, yet they come out for me sexually in such a way that sometimes I start to panic. First arousal, then guilt and shame at my reaction, then panic. The moment is too real, I’ve experienced it before.

    • Hi, Tamra –

      I think the arousal is used by the abuser to justify his behavior (“I’m teaching her about pleasure”) and to control the abused with shame. Then, the damage is multiplied by well-meaning parents and church leaders who are trying to keep children on the straight and narrow by using the threat of shame.

      The child knows she already is “bad” and cannot see a way to ever be “good” . . . but she can’t talk about it because doing so would allow her caretakers to see the truth — that she is bad and unlovable and shameful — and they would stop loving her and she would be rejected and she would die (at least on some level). So, she suffers silently in her own venomous “truth” and no one steps in to help her see the real truth.

      This combination damages self-esteem, a relationship with God, sexuality, etc., etc., etc. It is a fatal combination for the children trying to survive it (at least to their souls).

      Maybe, by talking about it, we can change the life course of children who are still growing up. And, maybe we can change the life course of adults who never before have felt free to seek another way of living.

      I’m proud of you for sharing the opening lines of your own story on your blog. You are amazing and courageous.

      – Marie

  2. Thanks for raising these things Marie. Many people I think are still working from their childhood decision that they are bad.

    I’m glad too that you raised that arousal can be associated with abuse. I have found that this is a very difficult issue for abused people to deal with.

    Thanks for another brave post.

    • Hi, Evan –

      I appreciate your supportive words . . . I agree that many people are working from poor childhood decisions about themselves.

      The arousal piece is a kicker, all right. That is where the deepest shame was rooted for me.

      I’m glad you added to the conversation!

      – Marie

  3. The arousal response as adults and children are physical manifestations of our bodies, I get this very well, I understand this and at first in my healing journey it was very difficult to wrap my head around, but with time I’ve been able to discern that I can and did have responses.

    Like you naps as a child were terror raising for me, so I stopped, i ended up with an ulcer by age ten due to the stress…so I do get this post eloquently and thank you for posting your words and journey so brilliantly. Thank you!

    xo Gabi

    • Hi, Gabi –

      I so agree that the arousal piece is very difficult — as kids, it isn’t really socially acceptable to be sexually awake — it adds to the pile of secrets.

      Yikes . . . an ulcer by ten! I’d say you had stress in your life as a child! I’m so glad you are moving forward on your journey to wholeness. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

      – Marie

  4. It’s a curious thing, how frighteningly backward our society is about children’s natural sexuality, which exists in them when they are born. It is so obviously a sick and criminal thing to take advantage of a young child’s natural hunger, and feed it things that would make it ill, for the pleasure of control and manipulation (and indeed, that is a surprisingly common form of child abuse) — and nobody argues that the child cannot control its hunger response … it would be a rare person who would blame a child for being hungry, or imply that the child encouraged the adult to abuse it by having natural hunger.

    And yet, when it comes to a child’s natural physical response to sexuality, somehow that line is blurred, though it’s the same type of unstudied response. Somehow, the issue becomes about the sexuality, rather than about the dynamic of an adult exploiting a child who is not on equal terms of knowledge or personal power. The fact that children have sexuality doesn’t mean anything other than that they are fully human; and yet there is such a stigma about sexuality in our Christian-warped society … it’s so unfair to those who have been sexually abused and molested, for all the reasons you eloquently discuss in this post.

    • Hi, David –

      You are making some really great points . . . I think the damage was increased because when I asked for help, for information, for guidance . . . my request was met with shame and silence from my parents. I had nowhere else to go, so I turned it inward and that started killing my soul.

      My parents had an opportunity to start me down the path of healing way back then, but they didn’t, only because they didn’t know better.

      Great thoughts, David!

      – Marie


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