Thursday, October 15, 2009

Therapeutic Thursday

Okay, today is a day for therapy. As i take a break from our lessons and pick up the book i am reading for healing past betrayal, i am compelled to blog about my journey. Maybe God knows this will help someone else. Maybe God knows it will help me. Whatever the benefit... Therapeutic Thursday is born.

In the book The Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes, i have discovered some things about myself, not the least of which is that i am waaaaaaay better off than i could be.

As a child, i was abandoned by my mother. Not her fault, i have told myself, because she has always been a bit emotionally unstable. {incidentally, reading this book shows me clearly WHY she is emotionally unstable, and it truly isn't her fault} My sister and i were placed with our father by the judge (not normal in the 1970s), but he had us only by a thread, and he knew it. Not long after our upheaval, Daddy found us a new Mommy and went off to work. In his mind, he had replaced what we were lacking - because, really, what did a 20-something man know of raising daughters?? - and set off to show his love for us by providing for us. He was in sales much of my life, so he worked a lot. Yes, that is abandonment #2. Incidentally, this is when the preschooler who was me stopped attempting to bond with people. But let's keep going.

Sometime after my step-family was introduced, the molestation began. By a family member. I cannot be sure when it started because i have blocked most of those memories, but i am almost positive it began when i was 4 or 5 and continued until i was about 10. I have memories of being 9 or 10 and knowing that this was a normal part of my life, but actually having memories now... just a handful. As an adult, i have often told myself, "at least i wasn't raped" and "it could have been worse."

Anyway, the abuse was discovered during the summer i turned 11 (i think), and a new leg of the journey began. Kidnapping, police, social worker, foster home, courtroom, psychiatrists... yuck. {hard to believe that is my life i am calmly typing about, but that's just another sign of the trauma} Eventually, a plea agreement was reached because i was too traumatized (or manipulated - not sure) to sit in the witness stand and speak of it all in horrifying detail, and the offender went to a rehab facility of some sort. By Christmas of that year (i think), we were back to "business as usual" - only this time with secrets. We should attend the traditional Christmas Eve gathering at this person's home, but we should NOT speak of the abuse to anyone... never mind that there were female cousins i thought had a right to know. {you keeping up with all the betrayal?} We were to pretend we weren't afraid of the offending family member... act no differently toward him.

During all of this, my alcoholic mother, who was sexually and physically abused as a child by her father, had a major meltdown about how it was all handled, and the Battle of the Exes intensified for her. We got to listen to the verbal bashing of our father, stories that may or may not be true about how he wronged her, reasons our stepmother (the woman who has been raising us for years, mind you) was horrible, and all while dealing with stepfather #3 (i think) and the abusive situation between the two of them. Not long after that, my mother filed for divorce with strangulation marks on her neck, and i began to feel insanely afraid for her - her mental well-being as well as her very life. I think this is when i began to take on the worries of adulthood - with the coping skills of a child. {trauma, anyone?}

Sometime in my teens, i realized that my mother picked men who could be pushed to abuse, then she repeatedly pushed them there. {the Betrayal Bond book also explains this} I remember calming her down after such episodes, all while my older sisters were out partying because "she did this to herself." She even tried to commit suicide (maybe just a plea for help/attention) at least once that i remember clearly (swallowing a bunch of pills when no adults were around, then telling us kids about it and blaming us for her pain) - the time i remember clearly, we had to call 9-1-1 to have her stomach pumped. I also remember her sending me to hide in her bathroom one day when i was in my teens, then listening to her talk to the police on the phone while her current abusive boyfriend was trying to break down the door to "kill her." I remember trembling and wondering what i would do if i had to listen to him hurt her - would i stand there in that bathroom and pretend i wasn't there so he wouldn't hurt me? Or would i rush to defend her, possibly getting us both killed? To this day, i have no idea what i would have done since the police were fast enough to scare him off. What i do remember is that these stories became more secrets. Secrets that i couldn't share with anyone because that would cause my father to restrict my visits (if not revoke them altogether) - and then who would she have? I also wonder, as i work through this book, if the secrets were also kept because it allowed me to pretend it wasn't real... it wasn't my life... it didn't happen.

I am going to stop here for now, but i want to say this: if any of this reminds you of your life and you are feeling like you haven't healed, ask God to help you. I have been through at least 3 different Bible Studies and healing books, and i have received some amazing peace. However, i am finding the healing is not complete; the damage for me is so deep and the manifestation so extensive in my adult life. I have also discovered that i am likely to gloss over the pain because that pattern helped me deal with an unpleasant reality growing up.

The process of healing takes time.
Don't wait to begin yours.

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