Posted by: Marie | November 22, 2010

(449) They had other choices – Part 1 of 2

Post #449
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, June 2, 2010]

It was therapy session day today! As I’ve come to expect, it was very worthwhile . . . after the usual preliminaries, Edward led things off with . . .

———–

Edward: So . . . tell me how you are doing!

Me: I’m doing well . . . things are going well, I’m keeping very busy!

Edward: Is there anything specific you would like to talk about today . . . anything that has come up for you since the last session?

Me: No, not really . . . Actually, I’m ready to get going on the stuff you mentioned at the close of our last session. And, since I don’t have a clue where to start, I guess it makes sense for you to lead the way.

Photo by Martin Chen

Edward: Well, thank you for trusting me to lead you. I have a plan in mind, but if something comes up for you along the way, I want you to trust it is your way of telling us that we need to pay attention to whatever has come up for you. If that happens, we will honor what has come up for you and bring it to completion before we return to my plan. Is that okay?

Me: That works for me!

Edward: Good. So, to start off . . . I would like to hear about your reasons for calling “X” by an anonymous letter of the alphabet rather than by his name. Let me be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t identify him that way and I’m not asking you to change. I just want to better understand your reasons for identifying him in that way.

Me: There are two reasons. First, when I started the blog, I went through the process of creating pseudonyms for everyone involved. I couldn’t bring myself to select a name to be assigned to the character of “X” – it seemed unfair to people who might be similarly named. So, I decided to make up an identifier that would not belong to anyone else . . . alas, the name “X”.

The second reason is I have never been sure I was molested. Even now, I’m only about 95% sure. And, I have never been sure it was “X” who did it . . . currently, I’m only about 80% sure it was him. So, as I have been processing all of this, I needed a “face” or an “person” to play the role of the molester in my mind. If “X” was not the molester in reality, I didn’t want to be thinking of him because I didn’t want to send accusatory energy in his direction if he didn’t do it. Instead, I created this “other, faceless person” named “X” to be the person I thought of during the processing.

Edward: In what ways would your current experience be different if you knew for sure you were molested? In other words, if you had some solid proof like . . . um . . . like . . . .

Me: Like a videotape of the rape?

Edward: Yes, like a videotape of the rape . . . would it make a difference?

Me: I would know there was a reason why I’m so messed up now . . . I would know I’m a good person reacting to something bad that happened as opposed to an organically bad person.

Edward: Do you think you are a bad person?

Me: Logically, my adult brain says, “Of course note”. But, my child brain says, “Yes”.

Edward: What evidence does your child brain have of your badness?

Me: I know people don’t want to be around me. I have a few close friends who want to spend time with me, but the vast majority of people would rather not have to be around me.

Edward: People don’t want to be around you?

Me: That is my experience of the world. It seems most people only deal with me long enough to get what they want/need from me, then they move away from me as quickly as possible.

Edward: Ouch!

(A few moments to allow us to feel the pain . . . )

Edward: I’d like to know more about what happened between you and your parents in your childhood. You have mentioned that you got hit. Can you tell me about that?

Me: Well, they hit me with belts, their hands, spoons . . . whatever.

When I got older, each of my parents slapped me in the face. It happened only once with each of them.

Edward: It may have happened only once, but it impacted you enough to cause you to clearly remember it even today, right?

Me: Yes, that’s true . . .

At one point, I started peeing my pants when I knew my dad was going to whip me. He solved that problem by making me go to the bathroom beforehand. But, I pretty much knew that, if he was telling me to go to the bathroom, he was going to whip me. I quit peeing my pants at some point.

Edward: You were so terrified of what was going to happen that you peed your pants. You must have been incredibly terrified! That is awful!!

Me: (Nodding my head in agreement . . . ) When I’ve talked to my sister about this, she says she doesn’t remember me being hit so much. My dad always took me into the bedroom to spank me, so I guess she didn’t see. She didn’t get hit because she was compliant.

Edward: What reasons did they have for hitting you?

Me: Umm . . . . I don’t remember, really . . . I think it was mostly because I was being too loud or I didn’t do what I was told to do quickly enough. I’m not really sure.

Edward: How terrible to be hit because you were expressing yourself naturally, as children do, and to be told you have to stop acting like a child and you have to be compliant!

Me: The same thing happened with my older siblings . . . my brother got hit a lot because he was defiant, and my oldest sister got hit very little because she was compliant. She was also very sick and not expected to live, so I’m guessing she didn’t really feel well enough to do much beyond being compliant.

Edward: So, let’s get back to talking about you and your experience . . . tell me more about how you were disciplined.

Me: Sometimes, when my dad was hitting me with the belt, my legs would buckle and I’d fall to the ground. To fix that problem, he would make me face the nightstand – he always took me into their bedroom to spank me – and put my hands one on each side of the top of the nightstand. Then, he would tell me to keep my knees locked. That way, I wouldn’t fall down and curl up into a ball. But, then, sometimes I put my hands on my butt. He didn’t want to injure my hands, so that is why he made me keep my hands on the nightstand.

Edward: Do you know that is child abuse?

Me: Yes.

It was worse with my mom. Her aim was bad, so her hits would land anywhere from my knees to my shoulder blades. I would have trouble sitting down at school the next day because of the welts in the tender areas. It wasn’t as bad with my dad because he had better aim – he hit harder, but he usually kept the hits on my butt. My butt was a less sensitive area.

Edward: Is it possible that your mom didn’t have bad aim?

Maybe, if she had calmed down first, before she hit you, her aim would have been far more accurate. Is it possible she was enraged and out-of-control, and she chose to physically take it out on you? Do you think it is possible she could have had improved her aim by first cooling down, but she chose not to?

Me: I hadn’t thought of that before, but I suppose it is possible. I just always assumed she had bad aim.

(I sat and pondered that for a while. I couldn’t think of anything else to say about how I had been punished as a kid, other than to repeat it all again.)

Me: I guess I’m done talking about this. (Tears welled up in my eyes)

Edward: Based upon the emotion that I’m seeing, I’m guessing you aren’t really done talking about this, but maybe you’re done talking about it for today. Would that be accurate?

Me: Yes.

(A pause while I let the emotion settle a bit)

Me: Why should my experience of child abuse be considered a big deal? Isn’t child abuse common?

Edward: Does it matter how common it is? If it were common, would it make your experience less painful?

Me: No, I guess not.

(Another pause while he watched me wipe my tears . . . )

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. I think you’d be an awesome friend: you’re fiercly loyal, empathic, caring, and I can tell you’d be wickedly funny. You’ve had interesting life experiences and I think you’d be just plain facinating to talk to. Please don’t shut yourself off to new relationships, you would be depriving someone of a wonderful, kind and nurturing companion and friend. (As well as the comfort you would get yourself from a true friend.)

    • Thank you, Grace, for the kind words . . .

      Just last night, as I was leaving the home of one of my piano students, the mom stopped me, looked deeply into my eyes and expressed how much she and her 14-year-old son cherish me and my teaching style . . . and how I fill their home with laughter when I’m there . . . she said they value me as a person and really enjoy having me in their home.

      Wow. I needed to hear that.

      So . . . I’m learning that there are people in this world who do enjoy and cherish me. Thanks for the reminder!

      – Marie

  2. Awful stuff for you to have gone through. It does seem like you are able to express it and see it for what it was – big achievements both of them.

    A quibble, sometimes you get the colours of the speaker wrong. This doesn’t usually matter but sometimes it takes me a while to realise who’s speaking. Not a big deal – and I guess you can’t get others to proofread, but I did want to mention it.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I think just having an attentive and engaged audience plays a huge role in being able to move through all that stuff. The validation is so important.

      So . . . about the colors . . . I double checked and the colors match up correctly. However, I can see how it might be very challenging to keep the colors straight. So, I went back and inserted who is speaking throughout the conversation. I think that will make it easier to read. Thanks for calling this to my attention!

      – Marie

  3. You’d be an excellent friend Marie…you’ve been nothing but kind to me that’s for sure. And you are interesting and funny, and have great taste in photography! But I know about those self-fulfilling prophecies about people not liking us, because I often feel the same way.

    And reading about how your parents treated you makes me furious. Good for you for facing that pain. It must be tough.

    And the remembering issue – I have that also…even though I clearly remember parts of the abuse, but not the parts that come back as flashbacks. For many years I have not wanted to believe this is true….not the flashback parts, because they are so confused and in pieces, and also, who would do this to a child? It doesn’t seem possible to me.

    Lately though, I have accepted that part of me that knows that this happened, all of it. It’s painful to believe, but it’s worse to think I’m crazy.

    Take care

    • Thank you, Ellen, for the kind and supportive words! It feels good to read them! I have found a group of really great folks in the world of blogging . . . I don’t have much support in my 3D world beyond my therapist, so I value the support I’m finding via the blog.

      I think what makes trusting the flashes of memory so difficult is that I have always believed I had a “good” childhood . . . I was always told I had it very good and I had no reason to complain . . . and I bought into that. It is very difficult to now, as an adult, start considering my childhood might have been less than “good” and there may have been some very ugly parts to it. How dare I consider those possibilities? How could I be so ungrateful and irresponsible and overly dramatic?

      But, I agree with you . . . is it worse than thinking I’m crazy?

      – Marie

  4. Does it matter how common it is? If it were common, would it make your experience less painful?

    That is wonderful. And it’s so true … if we consider any group of people who have shared pain, it seems it’s only ourselves we disregard.

    • Hey, David –

      So, do you think that comes from being told and shown, repeatedly, that our pain doesn’t matter?

      – Marie

  5. Partly, yes. But in the case of people who were abused as children, I think a lot of it also comes from not being in a supportive community of people who are willing to talk about their pain. If we take, in contrast, a group of people suffering from ethnic ostracism … the group as a whole is abused, but there is mutual support and understanding within the group that fosters understanding and recognition of the ways in which the group is abused. Child abuse survivors don’t usually have that group validation.

    • That makes a ton of sense, David. Thanks for the additional input!

  6. The abuse you experienced from your parents is really bad, Marie. Being beaten to this severe extent by both your parents is a really big deal. I know when it’s your reality, it seems like it must be how lots of kids are raised, but it’s not. Being beaten by both parents is worse than by one only in some ways because of how it sets the survivor up to feel unsafe around both men and women who are close to them.

    About the molestation thing, if you’re 95% sure, that’s probably about as good as it’s going to get, unfortunately, denial and post traumatic memory being what they are. We almost never get 100% proof. I did, but only 20 years into my healing when I found the scars. You have 100% proof that you were severely abused as a child by your parents though. This was not just a little unfair spanking, this was beating you with intent to seriously injure you.

    You might find it helpful to read this book: “Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders: Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children” by Anna Salter. I found it good to see how well my abuser lined up in the rest of his life and behaviour with the profile for sexual abusers. You might find it validating. It might make you another 1-2% sure.

    SDW

    • Hey, SDW –

      It still amazes me how difficult it is for me to label this behavior of my parents as severe abuse. Logically, I know it was, but it was so normal for me back then that it is hard to shift my labels of it.

      Back then, I had stories running through my head about how I must deserve it, that everyone’s parents behaved like this, that it was for my own good . . . and those stories are also hard to shift.

      So, it is always helpful to have other people share their opinion with me that the abuse was severe . . . it helps shift my sense of the norm.

      Thank you for all the great input and for the suggestions of the books . . . those do sound like helpful books!

      – Marie

      • My guess is that your mind is protecting you by telling you it wasn’t that bad so you don’t feel the feelings or because you don’t feel safe to have them. If you still have regular contact with your abusers, it seems likely to me that you might not feel safe enough.

        My two cents,
        SDW

        • I think you are right on the mark about my reasons for telling myself what I told myself. The good news is that I’ve been experiencing significant healing in this area because of the work I’m doing with my current therapist. But, it has been a battle to give myself permission and space to feel what there is for me to feel.


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