Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rip VanWinkle

One of the fairy tales I recall from my childhood is that of Rip VanWinkle.
Remember that one?
This young guy falls under a spell and sleeps away his entire life.
He wakes up years later only to find that he has become an old man;
complete with a long white beard. That’s what I recall most vividly.
Poor old Rip looking in a mirror with shock at the sight of that old face.
A boy inside an old man's body touching that long gnarly beard.

Call me Rip.
I’m in shock and I’m grieving.
I slept through most of my life too. I should be a teenager, but I’m not.
I look in the mirror and I feel shock and confusion too.
It’s not because of vanity that I can never remember my real age.
I have to consciously think of my husbands age, then subtract 4 years.
Even then I’m never really sure.
Dissociative identity disorder, (DID), saved my life and my sanity.
There is a price for survival. I missed almost everything.
What I have in my memory banks reads more like a scrapbook
or a youtube montage video. Highlights and snapshots, stories and fantasy.

I sat in my therapists office yesterday and it hit me. I’m about fourteen.
I don’t know too many fourteen year olds who want to be married
to a fifty-one year old man or who want the responsibility of parenting
teens and twenty-somethings. I’m overwhelmed and afraid.
I feel trapped and I’m angry. I feel ripped off.
I awoke to a face that isn’t mine and the body of a middle aged mother of three.
How did I get here?
Oh, sure, I can flip through the images in my memory banks
and I can see exactly how I got here, but I’m still confused.
I can see it, but it doesn’t feel real.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Red Flags

So, I started Atkins nine days ago and despite some massive
migraines, I'm alive and well.
Fifteen pounds lighter... and very, very grateful!

When I decided to trust God to hold my hand and help me do this,
I really had no idea what that would look like.
I'm still unsure of what the rest of this journey will be like.

Here's what I've seen so far:
God used my niece to get my attention and she was obedient to Him by calling.

I was obedient once I realized it was from Him and my husband followed bravely.

I asked Him to do what I have never been able to do and He did.
I had NO cravings the first whole week- which, from what I read is uncommon.

I suffered through some powerful, painful migraines, unrelieved by medication.
These headaches lasted about five days... a very looooong five days!

I prayed and I reached out for support and got some great advice.
That support and my faith allowed me to push through and stay the course.

I felt really good going into week two and had lost more weight than expected!
Unfortunately for me, along with my new found confidence,
often comes pride... and not the healthy kind of pride either!
I started feeling empowered and self sufficient.
Whenever I'm not struggling, I start forgetting to pray.
I wasn't struggling this week.

I decided to buy some sugar free jello for a treat, after all, "I'm doing so well."
The night before last, I made a box of two servings.
Rather than pour it into two bowls, I left it in the big bowl I had made it in.
Innocent enough... right? (First red flag)
I woke up yesterday and thought of the sweet treat almost immediately.
I almost didn't make coffee because I wanted to eat that jello.
I talked to myself aloud, negotiating and rationalizing.
I made a deal with myself, (Red flag number two).
I would eat some "real food" first, then I could have the jello.
Ok, the plan sounds reasonable to me! I fixed myself some food.
Normally, I really like tuna salad with onion and radishes and I enjoy eating it.
I took my plate of "real food" and the bowl of jello to my seat. (Third red flag)
I began eating. I hurried through my "real food."
All the while thinking about my treat.
I don't remember whether or not I enjoyed my food.
Once I swallowed the last mouthful of "real food", I dove into the jello.
At first, I planned on only eating half... "well, maybe a bit more"...
I used the side of the spoon like a knife to carefully cut the jello in half.
Then I shaved off "just a little more"... (Red flag number four).

In short order, I had eaten all the jello. "Duh"...
How did I not see that one coming?
Because I'm used to playing the game, that's how.

Here's another shocker... I started having cravings yesterday!
Let me repeat myself, "Duh!"
I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but I am able to recognise
something that folks in the AA community call "stinkin' thinkin'."
I am a carb addict after all.

Yes, I know that sugar free jello isn't going to hurt my body.
Only 20 calories and 0 carbs. It's not my body that's the problem.
That jello and all the insanity surrounding it, messed with my thinking.
THAT'S where the real problem lies.
My eating sugar free jello is the equivalent of an alcoholic drinking
an O'Doul's non-alcoholic beer!
It's way too soon for me to be flirting with danger!

So, here's my revised plan:
PRAY. Honest and often.
Stop playing games that will become my undoing.
Back away from the jello and no one gets hurt!
Hold myself accountable by talking about it.
Go back to what works.

So here I am, fifteen pounds lighter, humbled and grateful.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I know what I want.

On September 26, 2005 I was 41 years old and I weighed 324 lbs.
I had gastric bypass surgery on that day and I lost 183 pounds over the next 18 months.

For the first whole year, I followed the rules to the letter. I ate NO sugar ever. I ate slowly and didn't drink while I ate. I always ate my protein first. I gave up all carbonated drinks and drank no alcohol. I worked out a minimum of 5 days a week and weighed in at least once a week.

A little over a year post op, when our daughter was about to head off to college, I went back to work in the hospital. That's when I began to flirt with sugar. This would mark the beginning of the end of my extremely strict eating. Someone was always bringing something yummy to work and I resisted as long as I could. The job was so stressful. I was emotionally triggered and slowly, I gave into temptation.

It didn't affect my weight at first. I continued to lose weight and I continued to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. I leveled off at about 150 lbs. Then I had major surgery; three of them within a year. I had two plastic surgeries on my body and one for a bowel obstruction. I lost even more weight and ended up at 141 lbs. This was too thin really. I’m 5 feet 9 inches and I was wearing a size 4/6. Before my bypass I was in a size 30/32. After I recuperated from my other surgeries, my weight bounced back up and stayed right around 150 lbs. or so for another year.

I became very depressed and my child sexual abuse trauma symptoms really flared up. The job was too stressful, so I left. Once I stopped working I was eating sugar fairly regularly but I still didn't notice much difference in my weight. Soon I was an 8, then a 10. I remember that because I was so sad to be double digits again. Then I was a size 10/12. The depression was in full swing by this time and I was on 5 different psyche meds; none of which were working.

I went back to work at a local nursing home when our son went off to college.
I was wearing size small scrubs at the time. I got put on the night shift and started eating really badly. I began munching all night long on crackers, lifesavers and doughnuts or cookies. I went up to a medium in my scrubs. At first I was still active. I'd fast walk up and down the hallways or go walk around the parking lot.

I started therapy about this time and weaned off the psyche meds. I started doing EMDR and getting into really scary incest and trauma stuff. I left that nursing home in search of 12 hour shifts so that I could have more days off to do therapy. I went to another nursing home to work in their geriatric psyche unit. This was a big mistake. I worked 7 pm to 7 am as the only RN for my unit and often covered another unit on another floor. There were residents there who triggered me so badly, I truly thought I might snap and hurt one of them. I had never experienced this level of anxiety at work before. I was in a constant state of high alert anxiety. To cope, I ate high carb foods NON-STOP for 12 hours 3 to 4 times a week.

Even when I was off duty, I continued this raging carb addiction. I left there after only 3 months because the local nursing home offered me a day shift position if I would come back. I was so stressed working in the psyche unit that I was willing to leave after such a short time and go back to 8 hour shifts.
Within 2 weeks of going back they put me back on nights again. I negotiated a 16 hour shift from 2:30 pm to 7:00 am 2 times a week plus one additional 8 hour shift. This was VERY hard but gave me more days off to focus on therapy. Now I was eating non-stop for a 16 hour shift. I left there about 4 months later wearing X-large scrubs.

I went from a small to an X-large in less than a year.
I have gained another 20 pounds in the last 4 months.
I have now regained 119 pounds.

I would rather have never lost it in the first place, than to feel the shame and agony of such a massive failure. My back hurts again and I have pain in my legs and knees. I have dependent edema with pitting edema of the left ankle and foot. I'm having more migraines too.

About 3 or 4 weeks ago, my niece Rachel called me, out of the blue, to tell me that she had been eating according to the Atkins phase 2 plan and had lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks. We are no strangers to eating disorders and dieting in my family, but they all know that I don't do the "D" word and they are careful never to raise the subject with me. Food, eating, weight and dieting have always been major triggers for me. I'm especially sensitive since I gave in, broke down and had the gastric bypass that I swore I'd never have.I have essentially been in hiding since I regained. This is a VERY delicate subject with me and Rachel respects that. So, it was really unusual for her to make a point of calling me to tell me this. She felt that God put it on her heart to share this with me and I agree that He did.

Last week while on vacation with my family, I ordered two of the Atkins books on my Kindle. I shared this with my husband, who isn't one for the "D" word either.
To my surprise, he immediately agreed to do it with me and essentially gave me "permission" to purge our house of all non-Atkins approved foods. We made an agreement to do it right away.

We got home from vacation yesterday and I went right to work cleaning out the pantry, the fridge and freezer. I was feeling very anxious and guilty over "wasting" so much money and getting rid of perfectly good and expensive food. He was so supportive. Before pitching things like real maple syrup, I asked him, "Are you sure? Even if it's expensive?" His response was so reassuring. He simply replied, "Why not?" He was right and I felt free to go for it.

I bagged up 4 or 5 bags to go back to the dorm with our son's fiance, 4 or 5 bags to go to Manna's food pantry and another 4 or 5 bags of expired or not very good food to go to the dump. I washed out my refrigerator so it sparkles and smells so clean. I worked on that for several hours. Then he and I made a grocery list according to the Atkins guidelines and bought $176.00 of fresh, whole, Atkins-friendly foods. I was tuckered out with very swollen feet by the time I sat down last night, but I feel inspired and ready, albeit a bit anxious.

I am a carbohydrate/food addict. There is no doubt about that. I purposely use food, especially carbs to self soothe and self medicate. I eat to avoid and to numb out. I've been doing this my entire life. The only exception to this was that period of "sobriety" after my gastric bypass. If I was using alcohol instead of food, I would have been a "dry drunk" during this time as my relationship with food and my feelings about it and about myself never really changed. I was essentially forced to eat well by altering my insides. Sort of like forcing a raging alcoholic into rehab and giving them the drug ‘Antabuse’ to make them sick if they drink again. They may be alcohol free but they are far from real sobriety.

At 47, I am finally committed to healing from my child sexual abuse trauma. I believe that if my food addiction is in check and I'm not self medicating and eating to avoid my feelings, the pace and quality of my trauma recovery will be improved. My memories have been very slow to emerge and I have been extremely frustrated by the snails pace. It makes sense that by continuing to use food and weight as a way to avoid feeling and remembering, I am my own worst enemy for remembering, feeling, dealing and ultimately, healing.

I believe that the Lord did put it on Rachel's heart to call me and tell me about this way of eating and because I believe it came from Him; I trust that He will give me the strength to do this thing. I am terrified of being hungry and I feel powerless over my cravings. The thought of restrictions on my eating sets off a chain reaction of negative thoughts and fears inside of me.
I am praying that God will give me His strength to resist temptation and to follow this eating plan. I want there to be no idol before God. I want to turn to Him and not turn to food for comfort. As long as I'm still using food, that can't happen. So, I'm trying to see this as the gift that He intended it to be when He told Rachel to call me.

I know that I want a more intimate relationship with God.
I know that I want a deeper and more loving relationship with my husband.
I know that I want to recover my lost memories and discover all the parts of myself.
I know that I want a lean, healthy body and I know that I want an active lifestyle. Because I have faith in Him, I also know that I will have all of these things and more as I become free from the strongholds of food addiction and eat the way God intended.

“Dear Lord, please carry me through the scary and hard parts of this journey and give me the strength to make good choices. In Jesus' name” ~ Amen.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Attic

As I lay in bed last night I tried to go to “the attic” of my mind
where my emotional parts live.
Several times I said aloud, “Go up, up, up.”  “Up, up, up” 
but I couldn’t really get there.
I thought it would be easier to do for some reason, but it was not.

Then, I found myself lying on my back, wrists crossed
and arms extended over my head.
My legs shook and I heard a voice, “Open up. Spread your legs Gaye.”
My left ear shut off and I felt a part coming up. I felt small and silent.
I felt that familiar pressure on my abdomen and a cramping feeling.
I felt a warm sensation between my legs
and I had a gripping pain in my right thigh.
My ankles felt stuck to the bed and I couldn’t close my legs.

I heard a male voice with my ears, not just in my mind but
I couldn’t really make out what the word was that he had said.
It was something like “Julie or Jules” or something, but I heard it.
I started to doze off and I was awakened by a clinking sound.
It sounded like something metal on my headboard. I heard it twice.
I heard it with my ears. My heart raced and my eyes popped open.
I lay there frozen; motionless and terrified. Eventually, I fell asleep.
I had dreams but I don’t remember them now.

I woke up with the distinct sensation that I had been choked.
I feel a dull ache in my neck to the left of my trachea.
It hurts to swallow and when I touch it, but it’s not a sore throat.

I have a hard time sometimes to separate body memories
from actual pain unrelated to flashbacks, triggers or memories.
They all hurt and they all feel real.
Usually though, once I identify that it is a body memory, it goes away.
A couple of times over the past few weeks I have been alarmed by a clear feeling that someone is squeezing my upper right arm.
It’s real and it hurts.
I knew immediately that this was a body memory and it went away fairly quickly.
This has happened two, maybe three times over the past few weeks.
I believe that not only was I restrained probably with handcuffs,
but I think I was either choked or held down by my throat.

I woke up early, sometime before six o’clock, and I lay in bed and prayed.
I went to “the attic” briefly.
One thing I noticed is that I think there are “garment bags” hanging
on one side and I feel that someone or more than one
someone is hiding behind or inside of them.
I wonder if it’s my bigger, older parts.
Some of my parts aren’t afraid and have come out a lot over the years.
Where are they? Why don’t I see them when I go there?
If they aren’t afraid, then why don’t they come out?
The wee ones that hide under the eaves seem afraid.
Jersey girl, (the scrapper), miss showmanship, (the great entertainer),
and the sexy one aren’t afraid.
Where are they?
Who else is in there?

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Taking the Trigger Train to Crazy Town!"

I woke up this morning feeling good. Hubby has the day off,
the sun is finally shining.
The coffee was already made when I got up...
A great start to this Independence Day!

Last night, our 20 year old son was supposed to have loaded the dishwasher, (with mostly all his own dirty dishes), but instead he fell asleep on the couch. Before I went to bed, I woke him up to send him to bed and tell him to get up early in the morning and get them done.

Today, when I got up, my son was still asleep in his bed.
I came downstairs, got my coffee and came in to see my husband,
when I noticed that he had done the dishes himself.
I was so mad!
My husband is always so nice; he’s a very thoughtful man. Unfortunately,
he enables our son and we fight about that more than anything else.

I went to the landing of the stairs and hollered up to our son to get up.
I scolded him for not getting up early to do the dishes as he had said he would.
He made a wise remark and I reacted by hollering
at him to get out of bed and contribute something to the house.
He made a wise crack and then I really yelled! 

I came out to the sunporch and reamed out my husband.
I began to feel some familiar feelings from my childhood
that have repeated into my adult life.
I felt disregarded and unheard.
I could feel something escalating inside and I fought against it at first,
trying to communicate my feelings in a controlled, adult way.

The next thing I know I'm SCREAMING at my husband to "Do something!"
"Don’t just stand there, do something!" Of course, he just stood there...
I’m sure he was stunned!
It began with one good shove; then I hit him. Then, all hell broke loose.
I started wailing on him as hard as I could with both fists.
I hit him over and over again, screaming
at him. I kept telling him how much I hate him. 

Neither one of us is violent and hardly ever even yell or anything.
He was stunned, teary eyed standing there letting me pound and pummel him.
I don't remember some parts of it but suddenly, I came to the realization
that none of this had anything to do with my husband.
I don't hate him-I adore him.
Although I realized that the rage was misdirected, I still couldn't stop.
I continued the raging and punching and screaming.
I just kept screaming over and over, "Goddamn it! Goddamn it! Goddamn it!" 

Then I turned it on myself and pulled my hair and began to punch myself
in the head. I was like a crazy woman!
Then I just screamed but no words-just screaming and crying.
My husband stopped me, held me by my wrists and hugged me tight to keep me from hurting myself.
I fought until I was exhausted.
He tried to get me to sit down, but I resisted and then came ‘round two’ of the screaming and more crying. I backed away from him and cried some more. He just stood there until I calmed down. I kept saying, "I'm sorry" over and over. He held me for a long time.

By then I wanted to sit down because I was shaking and exhausted.
I sat and put my head on his belly while he stood beside me,
holding me for a long time.
To some, my husband standing there allowing me to unleash on him
might seem like weakness,
but let me tell you, he showed such strength and compassion in that moment.
Don is my rock and my safety.
Almost like he’s magic, Don has a calming affect on me.

Then he said, as if to lighten to mood,
"If I'm ever involved in a brawl, I want you on my team!" 
He always knows what to say to make me feel better.

Other than some tired, achey muscles, a really sore hand, a sore throat
and pulling out some hair, I'm OK now.
I keep sighing. I feel relieved and exhausted.
This feels as if it came out of nowhere
and although, I'm a bit embarrassed, I’m grateful.
I'm grateful for my husband and for getting rid of some of that rage
that I’ve carried around for over forty years.
My husband helped me explain triggers and flashbacks to our son,
so it turned out to be a good opportunity for bonding and healing
and I am also grateful for that!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

“My name is Mabel and my glasses catch my tears.”

Early one morning as I was waking up, I met her. 
So small and sad- so afraid.
Mabel has all my sadness and she cries very quietly. 
She told me that she wears those big glasses
to catch all the tears so they don’t leak out. 
She is small and tender. I’m guessing she’s around eight and she is very sad. 
Mabel knows it wasn’t safe to cry.
She knows what happened to me that made me sad 
and she has done the crying for me.
She doesn't believe that it's OK to cry. 
I wish she would let me have the pain so she could rest.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rage peeks out, then hides again.

    I’m supposed to reflect on what we talked about in therapy this week and then, stop thinking about it on Friday or I’ll mess up my whole week. On Wednesday when my therapist said that it sounded plausible enough.
    Here it is Friday and I feel as if I missed my opportunity to mull it over and get any mileage out of the EMDR we did 2 days ago. When I was supposed to be thinking about it, I barely got any alone time to do it. Now, here it is Friday and I’m alone. I can neither think of it nor not. I’m fog bound and stuck ... again!
    Goddamn it! I hate myself and I feel like I’ll never get it right. My therapist tells me that I can’t trust my compass right now and part of me understands that. My feelings are messed up and I’m confused. All I know is that I’m MAD!

***Warning Possible Triggers***
    I feel so MAD! I want to kill. I want to stab, rip, tear and destroy! Smash, stomp and scream. FUCK YOU!!! I want to bite, kick and spit. I want to rip flesh from bone with my teeth! Snarl and growl. Back off! Get OFF of me!
    I hate you. I hate your mouth. Your tongue. Your smell. You devil. You Satan. You pig! I’m disgusted by the very thought of you. You make me want to vomit. I want to tear at your face with my claws and laugh at you. I feel like I have a demon inside and I’m evil-just like you.
    I hate you! That smirk. That filthy lusty look on your face. The way you lick your lips. I want to slash your face to bits and stab your eyes out! I don’t want your DNA-your blood-your smell-your spit-your breath-your filth. You make me sick. I detest you. I want to kill you! I want to draw back my legs like a kangaroo and send you flying onto hell where you belong!
***End Possible Triggers***       

    I sat here silently for a while and then I reread what I had written. I feel confused and numb. I don’t know who I wrote this about. I think it should be about my father. I can’t even remember my father right now. I can easily get this mad at my husband but part of me knows it has absolutely nothing to do with him. I feel this mad at myself-a lot! Why do I see my mother’s face then? I’m so confused. I feel queasy. I feel tired and numb.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Triggers and Learning To Do Things Differently.

     Last night I was triggered and ended up feeling helpless and cornered which led me quickly to rage and the familiar feeling of wanting to run away. I felt like I hated everyone and wanted to throw things and scream.  I wanted to run away from home. I became short tempered and it felt like my nerves were raw. Noise bothered me even more than usual and I was seething inside. I snapped at my daughter for making too much noise while doing the dishes and was furious with my son for unplugging the wireless router by mistake. I pushed the dog away from me and wished I could disappear.
     However, I didn't run away from home or scream or throw things and I didn't allow myself to disappear.  I toughed it out and talked about it. The difference for me these days is that I can recognize triggers sooner and talk about it which helps it go away quicker and not to escalate. Last night was a good example of how choosing not to act instinctively on my feelings, but listening to my head is a much better choice.
     My feelings last night were not really rooted in the “here and now” anyway. These feelings had much more to do with the "back there and then." My usual emotional reaction has been to feel cornered, get mad and then to run away either physically or emotionally. If I had listened to that and reacted as I'd always done, I'd still feel badly today and be fighting with my "here and now" family.  In reality, it was really my "back there and then" family that I was mad at.
     Because I did what I knew to be right rather than what I felt like doing, I was able to talk to my husband and even to apologize to my daughter for biting her head off. I decided to post it on Facebook, (which I NEVER would have done before), and got some good support from people I wouldn't have expected it from. I told the truth about how I felt and I didn't die! That might sound silly, but that's really how I used to feel. I was so afraid of letting anyone see the ugliness I had inside that I actually thought it might kill me to do so. In the past, I always pretended I was alright, no matter how bad I felt.     
     Today I am learning to be real with myself and others, so, today is a whole new day and I'm OK just as I am!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Will the Real Me Please Stand Up...

I’m beginning to emerge from my recent hibernation and today, 
I can see that light at the end of the tunnel! 

     I had gone into hiding for a couple of months feeling pretty hopeless. I stopped returning phone calls, stayed home alone as often as I could and I found it difficult to find my words. I was feeling disconnected from my family, friends, my therapist, God and myself. My mind wandered back into thoughts of self loathing and despair. Again, I found myself in that familiar dark place. 
     When I go there it frightens me because crazy things begin to seem rational. In that place, death feels inevitable and welcome. I flirt with the macabre and fantasize about dying. When I’m there I am unable to reach out for help. I don’t even want help when things are that bad. I want only unhealthy things. I don’t sleep enough and I eat too much. I can’t stop worrying about how messy my house is, yet I feel powerless to clean it.

When I’m that bad, I can barely manage to shower or brush my teeth.

    Considering how badly I have been feeling, it seems especially freeing to crawl out from the isolation and sadness into the light of a new day. I have turned another corner and I have hope. So how did this happen exactly? What is different today than last week or last month?

I think there are a few things that may have contributed to this upturn. 

     The days are getting longer and there are signs that spring has indeed “sprung!” Warmer weather and brighter days have always helped to lighten my mood, but there is something more going on here.
    I’ve continued to move forward with the work of healing even when I didn’t feel like it was working because I still have faith that it will. I am blessed with a loving husband, dear friends and an awesome therapist, but mostly with the belief that God has not forgotten me.

These things sustain me even when I feel like I cannot take one more step.

    Even though I can’t always find my words, I still connect through on-line support groups and social media like facebook. Reading what others have written about their struggles, writing about my own; supporting them and being supported by them has helped more than I ever would have imagined.
    All these things have made a difference, but perhaps the biggest change I have made is that I have become more genuine with others, with myself and with God.

I am allowing myself to be real. 

     It’s not that I’ve been a phoney or have pretended, but it has been my practice to try to be what I think others want or expect me to be. I have a real fear of letting people down or disappointing them. I hide my pain, fear and shame. I worry about making others comfortable at my own expense. I stuff my anger and I hide my true self because I’m sure I’m no where near good enough.

I want to please and I want to be acceptable, although I rarely believe that I am.

    Today, however I am choosing to believe that I am God’s girl and that He loves me; therefore I’m lovable. I know that I will have hard times again and I pray that I can remember how I feel right now. I want to remember that today, I feel hopeful. I want to be helpful to my fellow survivors when they too have dark days. I want a better life for myself, my husband, my kids and for God who does indeed have a plan for my life.
     I will end on this positive note and I hope that you, the reader will help yourself to my strength today. God knows, I may need to borrow some of yours someday!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wait, which one of us is in charge?

    My little ones live in the attic of my mind, under the eaves in the shadows in the back of my head. Each one is contained within a bubble, oblivious to one another and to me. Some of them have bodies but others only heads. Some have words while others only have feelings. It’s dark in there and the only light is what comes in through the windows of my eyes. They are small, lonely and afraid.

    The one I am most familiar with is Gaye. She’s about 14 and she is my fighter, my NJ girl, the boss. She has been in the driver’s seat much of my life-I just didn’t know it. With her, it’s like I’m the co-pilot. I see what she does and I hear what she says and I know how she feels, but I can’t always do anything about it. She’s a scrapper and she can be scary-even to me. I went by the name Gaye until I was about 12 when I took back my legal name. Just because we share the same name doesn’t mean that she is anything like I was when I was young. I think she’s more like what I WISH I was. She will go toe to toe with the best of them and believe me, she has!
    It was Gaye who 'threw down' years ago with that old drunk when we were at Wal-Mart. That big, nasty, scary man shoved my 6 year old son. I was scared, but Gaye stepped right out, getting in his face. She wasn’t backing down either. Unfortunately, I was pregnant with our youngest daughter and could have gotten hurt if security hadn’t come along when they did. Gaye didn’t seem to notice me or the fact that I was very pregnant but even if she had, I don’t think she’d have stopped. She is my constant protector and I love her.

    Having an adolescent in charge when you’re an adult can be problematic, especially when it comes to marriage. My little ‘go-to-girl’ loves my husband in the same way any little girl loves her father. She doesn’t recognize him as my husband, she relates to him like he’s her Daddy. The good kind of Daddy; not the kind of Daddy that has sex with his daughter. Not the kind of Daddy I had.
    You can imagine how this complicates my marriage. Gaye is very strong willed and she gets so mad at my husband for wanting to be intimate with us. From her perspective, that makes sense. Of course she gets mad! Fourteen year old girls want their daddy’s to love and cherish them. They want to be nurtured and cared for. They don’t want to be thought of “in that way” by the man who’s job it is to protect her. Gaye believes that my husband is her Daddy and as long as sex isn’t a factor, she likes him. She loves him, but she puts up one heck of a fight whenever we think about anything sexual-especially where he is concerned. Within a nanosecond, I can go from thinking about the possibility of being intimate with my husband and starting to believe I can do it, to a raging teenager smashing the windows in my mind!
    Shutting down is what I have learned to do best to avoid the her wrath. Shutting down is how I avoid the mixed up emotions; the guilt, shame and sadness. Unfortunately, shutting down has caused the man I love more than life itself, so much pain. I can hardly bear to think about it.

    A couple of weeks ago, my therapist made this simple, factual statement: He said, “ You know you’re not a virgin.” Any rational person with any intellect whatsoever, would seed that point without question. The indisputable fact is that I have been married for 23 years and have 3 kids. Of course I’m not a virgin!
Let me tell you though, Gaye was pissed! She glared at him, clenched her teeth and didn’t hear much of what he had to say after that. Those words replayed in my head all week and I felt her raging and then sulking about it. Gaye ranted  about his observation; “What kind of sick thing is that to say to a child?!” “I am SO a VIRGIN!” “P-I-I-I-I-G!” She hated my therapist for a few days.
I felt really confused by it all. I felt sad. I vacillated between sad, angry and confused. I’m not sure which one of us was feeling what feelings, but it all left me kind of queasy and embarrassed...and guilty...
...Always so ashamed and guilty.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Courage to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Our youngest daughter got a pair of hermit crabs for Christmas.
As much as I hate the little buggers, I can really relate to them!
If you pick up a hermit crab and wait long enough, it will start to emerge from it’s shell. Slowly, one claw peaks out. Then another begins to show itself. However, the instant you being to touch one of these tiny appendages, the cautious little crab retreats back into the safety of it’s traveling home. In an instant, the crab is gone! All that's left is a shiny red painted shell with a pair of jiggling plastic eyes glued on. Creepy, yet effective!
It reminds me of being a child, eyes closed and hands over my ears, chanting, “I can’t hear you, I can't hear you...”
If I had one, I would have hidden myself away inside the safety of my shell too!
I didn’t have a fancy painted shell Per Se, but I certainly knew how to retreat into my own metaphorical shell! I spent a fair amount of time curled up inside pretending nobody could see me. Hoping that if I were still enough, I could become invisible.
Peeking out of my shell was a risk that I rarely took and I paid a price for it.
Although it may be safe being hidden away in here, it also gets lonely.
As an adult I have found that I am able to take risks,
and in many ways, I know I am brave.
I find it frustrating though, that there are still areas of my life where I am just as fearful as the little hermit crab. There is a part of me deep inside that, like the crab, is small, fragile, tentative and ugly.
I keep a proper looking shell, so nobody knows I’m in here if I don’t want them to. Unfortunately, I’m so accustomed to hiding that sometimes people don’t know I’m here even when I wish they would!
I can imagine that the fear of making myself vulnerable by sharing my real feelings is something like what the crab might experience when it ventures out of it’s shell. These days, it’s the hermit crab’s sudden retreat when threatened that I relate to most.
I catch myself doing an about face when I begin feeling vulnerable.
On Valentine’s Day, I made my husband a card and inside, I wrote a note. It was real, honest and not particularly well written. I felt uncertain and embarrassed about sharing these genuine feelings.
What I had to say seemed childish and I felt stupid. I thought about starting over, but I stopped myself from rewriting it. I had made myself vulnerable and as always, my husband was loving and didn’t judge me at all.
I do enough judging on my own!
We exchanged cards, candy and even stuffed animals and we had a lovely dinner at home with the family. Seems like one of those “Hallmark” moments, right? Not to my scared little parts hiding inside. I took a big risk and even though I am safe and loved, my fear was too much for my little ones to handle and I retreated back into my shell. I got angry with my kids and at my husband. I felt ashamed and exposed and like those ugly little hermit crabs, I was gone! Nothing left but a shell; an angry shell.
I did catch myself and I was able to reel it in before I did any harm or hurt any feelings, but I still felt small and angry. I was scared and defensive, but I was able to recognize it.
I am starting to understand that I am safe and I am slowly learning that it’s OK to be me.
These days the good news is that I am putting myself in the position to feel this terrifying feeling much more often as I continue doing the work of healing.
I know that I am brave because I am choosing to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Setting Healthy Boundaries

I was reading one of my favorite online blogs today and the topic was
“Setting boundaries with abusive family.” This was my comment:

“My parents are dead. 
They are buried about one and a half hours west of where I live. 
My aunt is angry with me for not tending to the grave. 
This is just about the only boundary left for me to set. 
My father stole my innocence, my sexuality and very nearly, my soul. 
My mother did nothing while it was happening. She refused to help or believe me when I did disclose to her. I can think of NO good reason why I should drive an hour and a half to a town that I hate to pick weeds and plant flowers for them. 
I will NEVER get on my knees for him again! 
PS-I think I'm starting to get in touch with my anger.”
I started thinking about the way that my idea of boundaries has changed over the years. As I was growing up, I thought people who were clear with their boundaries were mean, scary or selfish. I had absolutely no idea that it was OK to say, “No!”  The notion that I didn’t have the right to set limits also extended to the emotional. I didn’t even have the right to FEEL what I was feeling! 
I had to say, “Yes” and I had to LIKE it too. Well, I didn’t like it. As a matter of fact, I hated it! I hated that I wasn't allowed to get mad. I hated that I had no right to privacy, individuality, safety or my own feelings.
Even the air I breathed was contaminated. I was subjected to all manner of pain and humiliation and I was subjected to a house and car filled with cigarette smoke. I couldn’t protest my abuse, (in fact, I couldn’t even THINK about it.) However, I did do my very best to protest the stinging, suffocating air I had to breathe.
What happened when I did speak up? I was ignored at first, and then belittled and called “a pest.” When I was in the fourth grade, I presented my mother with materials I got from school that talked about the dangers of smoking, but I was laughed at. I begged for an open window in the car and sometimes they would crack it open about half an inch or so, hoping to shut me up. Eventually, I would be punished for continuing to complain about the smoke.
Smoking remains a big issue for me to this day. For me, it symbolizes the years of abuse and rejection I endured and how helpless I was. I didn't even have air! My buttons are pushed and I recognize how I am triggered right back into the role of that helpless child when I’m near a smoker. I absolutely hate it! I remain militant about not allowing anyone to smoke near me or my children.
As an adult, I have gone overboard in setting this boundary.
Never learning healthy boundaries can be very confusing when it comes to setting or keeping them today. Like so many things in my life, I have been very “black and white” with boundaries. I have often found myself vulnerable with no limits whatsoever, or locked into an unbending ideal with no room for compromise. I was angry, but didn't know that I was allowed to feel that way. This has led to depression that comes when you are not allowed to feel your feelings. Rage that has been buried, now needs to come out.
Several years ago, I took a class at the Baptist church called “Boundaries.” It was good for me and I learned a lot; but one thing really stayed with me. Healthy boundaries are loving and necessary. It is loving and kind to say, “No?” Wow! Now there’s an idea! Children need healthy boundaries to feel safe and secure. They need loving limits to know who they are and where they fit into the world. I never got that growing up. I’m learning how to be real with people and speak up about how I feel and what I think. I am finding that the clearer I am with my boundaries and the sooner I set them, the easier it is to navigate through the twists and turns of life. I'm starting to get in touch with some of that repressed anger. I can see now that I have a right to be angry. It feels good to be real and I like myself better this way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I paved the way for us

Recently, someone I love disclosed a history of sexual abuse to me.
Once I got past the tears for her and the outrage at the abuser,
my next thought was about how I could help.
I thought about all that I had been through in my search for healing.
The multitude of failed attempts.
The litany of treatments that cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars and two decades of my life.
Neither of these things will I ever get back and none of them helped.
There was no way I could let this person whom I love so dearly suffer as I had and lose what I did. I want to be there for her in her hour of need. This will no doubt be a painful and difficult journey for her, but if I can make it even a little bit easier for her, I will. My experience is like a "what not to do" in the search for healing. I pray that my ordeal will be an example of perseverance but also that it can help her to get to what does work sooner.

Over the years, I have done everything in my power to get help. 
I have attended workshops and 12 step groups.
I’ve bought motivational tapes, listened to subliminal C.D.’s.
I've done guided visualizations, role play, inner child work. 
You name it and I’ve done it!
I went to therapy alone, in groups and with my husband.
I prayed, hard and often.
I sat under a full spectrum light for half an hour a day, I took prescription medicine, vitamins, herbal remedies. I used creams and gels. I went on special diets. I exercised.
We went on marriage retreat weekends. I tried “tapping in” with EFT.  I looked into the mirror reciting daily affirmations. There were chakras, auras, crystals, contacting the dead and even the Ouija board.
I was broken and needed fixing. I was desperate.
I have been treated for dysthymia, post-partum depression, adult A.D.D., multiple medical issues, anxiety, eating disorders, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, dyspareunia, seasonal-affective disorder and bi-polar disorder. Many of these were outright misdiagnoses while others were merely symptoms or aftereffects of abuse.
I ended up having a total hysterectomy at thirty-nine after a lifetime of endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. I had a gastric bypass at forty after a thirty-four year struggle with obesity. I had multiple plastic surgeries to correct damage done to my body after gaining and losing 180 pounds. None of these things ever dealt with the real issue.
Every practitioner was aware of my history of sexual abuse, but none of them ever really put two and two together. I saw counselors, social workers, family physicians, gynecologists, an endocrinologist, a uro-gynecologist, a psychologist, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, my priest, a marriage counselor, a Christian counselor and finally, the right therapist.
At 46 years old, I found Robert, a masters level social worker who is also a Christian man. Robert is EMDR level 2 certified and a gift from God. Robert and I have covered more ground and made more progress in 7 months than I ever did or would have done without him. E.M.D.R.- eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is an amazing therapy.
With this therapy, we have gotten down to some long buried feelings and thought patterns. We’ve even uncovered some memories with it.
The real turning point for me though, was when Robert spoke the words, “dissociative identity disorder.” That’s when it all finally made sense to me. I still have a way to go, but the end is in sight now and although it took twenty years to get here, I’m here and that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Letting Go of the Fantasy

Today I am forever changed. 
Today I no longer have doubt. Neither do I have “hope.”
For 22 years I have lived under a cloud of doubt. 
I was in a tug of war between believing and disbelieving 
that I REALLY was sexually abused. 
What started out as a hint of the truth 
that I had been abused, had grown over the years 
to a solid 90% certainty that it was true. 
Oh, but that 10%... How I clung to that bewildering 10%...
Was it “hope” or just wishful thinking? 
I now KNOW that my father raped me...100%. 
Up to now I had a sliver of “hope” that I was 
wrong, crazy or that I had made it up. 
There was still a shred of “hope” that I was loved. 
In some strange way, I would have rather been wrong, mentally ill or a liar than to admit that my own father would 
force himself on and into my little body. 
I would rather be crazy than to admit that my Daddy was evil. 
I would rather be a liar than to admit that my mother 
would choose her status as the captain’s wife over 
the desire to protect her daughter. 
I wanted to be wrong because I wanted to be loved. 
Now I know I am not crazy but I also know that I was not loved. 
I have lost my grip on that tiny piece of “hope” 
and that’s a good thing; a VERY good thing. 
That tiny sliver; that 10%; that fantasy that I desperately 
held onto was just an illusion of love and protection.
That illusion kept me sick and kept me stuck. 
I've been stuck here for 22 years and painful as it is to lose that dream, I am finally free to move on now. 
The time has come for me to heal. 
This is the defining moment of my life. 
Today I am changed because today I am ready. 
I’m ready to remember. I’m ready to rage. I’m ready to grieve. 
It’s time and I’m ready.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For

    Before I fell asleep last night, I talked to the little ones again. As has become my custom, I thanked them for protecting me all these years and for enduring the pain so that I wouldn’t have to. I told them "It’s 2011 and We're all grown up. We live in a safe, loving home with people who love us and would never hurt us. We are big, strong and safe. We are loved now."
    I asked them to talk to each other and to me and share what happened when we were abused. I asked them to use all of my senses to get the information to me. I always ask them to let me: “know it, see it, hear it, smell it, taste it and feel it.” I need to know and since some of them don’t have words, I ask them to tell me in whatever way they can. I know it will take time for them to trust me enough now to share the very thing that I have needed them to keep secret for all these years.
    It really is a lot to ask of these wee ones and I’m trying to be patient and kind to them. They have seen what no one else has, and that’s TORTURE for me. Even though I know it’s not their fault, I sometimes feel embarrassed, frustrated and resentful towards them. Today, I’m feeling especially grateful to a brave little one I’ll call “Wednesday.” 
    I woke up and dozed off several times before I finally stayed awake. I was dreaming but I’d forget each dream as it was replaced by the next. I find that VERY frustrating. The last time I awoke, I realized that I was having a conversation with a little girl in my dream. The conversation carried over into my waking. I was lying in bed with my eyes closed but I was fully awake by now. This little girl looked like Wednesday Addams, the character from the old TV show, “The Addams Family.” I’d say she’s about seven and has long dark hair pulled to the sides in braids. She’s pale but very cute with a devilish little grin and big dark eyes. She was telling me how much she enjoys “playing jokes” on people. She was funny and engaging as she giggled mischievously, telling me how she likes to be silly, to trick people and make them laugh.    
    I don’t like practical jokes at all, so it really strikes me, how different we are; Wednesday and I. This is the first time I have ever been aware of her and I told her that I was glad she came. I thanked her for responding to my request last night by coming to meet me and telling me a bit about herself. I knew I had better not miss this opportunity to ask her about the abuse. God only knows when or if she’ll come back and I don’t want to miss the chance to hear from her. Cautiously and as gently as I could, I began to ask her about what she knows. “Can you tell me what was done to us?” “What did he do to our body?” Again I asked for the information in whatever way she could give it to me. She looked me in the eye and I leaned in, preparing to hear her response.  Just when I felt we were getting somewhere, I was zapped into an old episode of Law and Order, Special Victims Unit.
    “NOOOOO! Come on!”  Why would my mind wander to some TV show when I was so close to getting what I needed from Wednesday? The snippet of the scene that played in my mind was from an episode where detectives Benson and Stabler are interviewing a witness to a rape. This witness was from the Congo and she herself had been raped and tortured by soldiers there. In this scene, she bravely tells the detectives in her best broken English, “He put his gun in my sex.” That’s the snippet that popped into my head.
    “He put his gun in my sex.”  OH MY GOD! My eyes sprang open, I gasped, my heart raced and I realized that my mind hadn’t wandered at all. In the only way that she could, Wednesday had given me what I asked for. She answered my question, “What did he do to our body?” In an instant my mind was flooded with images and memories that, like random puzzle pieces, finally fit together.
Suddenly... I KNEW...
    Almost in a panic, I realized that I had forgotten Wednesday in the shock and confusion of this new information. I had to go back for her. She had trusted me. She had done what I asked of her and I ran away. I re focused and went back to look for her but it was empty and quiet. I called out to her but she hid in the shadows in the back of my head. I apologized and thanked her for giving me what I had asked for. “I’m sorry I ran away. I was just startled. I got scared but I’m OK. You did good sweetie, you did real good! Thank you for trusting me. I came back. I promise I will never forget you and I will try harder to stay here and not run away again. Please come back...” She never did and I am sorry about that.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Working Harder Than I Ever Have Before.

Yesterday, I woke up with a flicker of an image in my mind. I saw a foreskin being retracted. It was disproportionately large compared to me and I felt nauseated. I feel certain that this was a memory fragment. I am not aware of any personal experience in my adult life with an uncircumcised male, although as a nurse, I have taken care of male patients like this.
I believe this is a memory for two reasons. The first reason being how large the penis was and how close it was to my face. Even though it was only a flash of an image, there was movement and it was quite detailed. Which leads me to the second reason I believe it is a memory; the way it made me feel. I felt repulsed, nauseated and disturbed. I held my breath and I winced. Clearly, this would be the reaction of a child being sexually abused and not the reaction of a registered nurse caring for a patient.
You might think that as a survivor, I’d have difficulty dealing with people’s personal hygiene and handling various body parts. However, I have become very good at compartmentalizing. The “me” that goes to work has had absolutely nothing to do with the “me” that was sexually assaulted. These parts are distinctly different and until recently, they had never even met.
This really got me thinking about the part of me that functions out in the world. The one that raises a family, manages a home and goes to work. I realize now how much mental energy is required to pull that off and that I have always struggled to find balance in my life.
Of course I don’t do “balance” well in my “black and white” world. I have one foot in the past and one TRYING to stay in the present. I’m like one of those Irish River Dancers jigging around trying to stay here and function while simultaneously trying to run from the past AND the present. All the while, not moving anything above my waist in an attempt to look “NORMAL!”  Honestly, it’s exhausting...and not very attractive!
I have spent a great deal of time living in my head completely detached from my feelings and my body. This has served me well in my work life in so far as being able to work 12 to 16 hour shifts on my feet, running from patient to patient, (often without a break to eat or go to the bathroom). In true “care giver” fashion, being detached from myself has allowed me to put the needs of my patients above my own.
This worked well for me throughout my professional career EXCEPT, while in therapy recently, I cracked open the Pandora’s Box of feelings and memories. Having used up every drop of mental energy trying to stay in my head so that I could function at work has really taken a toll on me. I started dissociating more and found myself being triggered badly at work. What used to invoke compassion, concern and empathy now caused me tremendous anxiety, lots of non-hunger related eating and sometimes overwhelming rage. I have always been the type of nurse to sit with my crying patients, holding them and praying for them. I now found my heart racing and imagining I could cover my ears and scream to drown out my patients moans and cries!
I just couldn’t STAND it anymore! Something had to give. I had a choice to make. Therapy or work. For now at least, I just can’t manage to do both. For two decades, I put the work of healing on hold in order for me to function but now I found myself depressed, dissociated and barely existing. I want to live my life. I want to heal and feel and the only way to get there is to do it.
I have had to take some time off from working so that I can focus on the excruciating work of feeling and healing. I am working harder now than I ever have, but this time, I’m working on myself. I am so grateful to have my husband supporting me and encouraging me through the fight of a lifetime. I want to make him proud and I won’t let him down!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grieving the loss

I read something on one of my favorite blogs today that really got me thinking. 
This is from  Overcoming Sexual Abuse on Facebook:
“As a survivor of child sexual abuse, you have a lot to grieve for. You must grieve for the loss of your feelings. You must grieve for your abandonment. You must grieve for the past and grieve for the present, for the damages you now have to heal, for the time it takes...You grieve the opportunities lost while you were too busy coping.” ~ The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
I realize that today I AM grieving. No differently than I would if someone I loved were to die. 
I see that I haven't allowed myself to grieve before now. I think there are several reasons why not.

1- Denial. Flat out, "I don't know what you're talking about" denial. Why grieve something that never happened? Even after I started having flashbacks, nightmares and body memories, I was STILL in denial. I doubted everything I was remembering. I didn't DARE believe it could be true.

2- Fear. "My father would kill me!" This message played over and over in my mind whenever I even thought of talking about it. The fact that he had been dead since I was 19 never entered into the equation! I was still so terrified to tell anyone.

3-Doubt. "What if I'm wrong?" That one has been the toughest one to let go of. I still worry about that. One thing that helps me to believe myself is knowing that people aren't born with dissociative disorders. I have D.I.D. because I was traumatized over and over again from the time I was born. Being raped by my father and unprotected by my mother caused me to dissociate. I don't do it because I'm mentally ill. I'm not mentally ill; I'm traumatized.

4- Lies. The truth hurts. I need to believe that I was loved and protected by my big, strong, handsome police captain father and my compassionate, loving special education teacher's aide mother. If I allow myself to grieve the loss of that fantasy, then I have to admit the truth. The truth is that I was of no consequence to either of them. They didn't HATE me, they just didn't really notice me one way or the other. Except when I could meet their needs. That was my purpose in the family. I was an object; a thing that my father used to make himself feel powerful and good about himself. I was a reflection of my mother's identity as "a good mother". When I looked good, she looked good. People would look at me and think how lucky I was to have such a good family.

5- It's in the past. It happened so long ago, I think I should be over it by now. "Forgive and forget." A good Christian honors their mother and father. A good Christian forgives. I want to be a good Christian AND a good daughter. I suppose I might be "over it" by now if I had EVER been validated. If I had EVER felt the sadness and rage I have buried for so long. "Nobody stopped it, nobody talked about it, nobody believed me and nobody wants to hear about it any longer." Unfortunately, part of me still believes the part about nobody wanting to hear about it. Which leads me to the last reason I haven't allowed myself to grieve until very recently.

6- Shame and guilt. "Nobody likes a complainer." "If anyone KNEW, they would hate you." "You had it so much better than some kids do." "You have so much to be grateful for." How dare I feel sorry for myself? I have a lovely home, an amazing husband and 3 beautiful, loving children. I was never a drug addict, alcoholic, a cutter, a prostitute. It could be so much worse. Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me when I count my blessings and I end up riddled with shame and guilt instead of gratitude. Shame and guilt drive me right back into denial and the whole vicious cycle starts again... but not today...
Today I'm giving myself permission to grieve. 
Today I'm allowing myself to feel the overwhelming sadness and the molten hot rage that boils up inside of me. Today I grieve for my husband having to wait in the wings for 22 years paying for the crimes of my father. I grieve for the loss of the fantasy that my parents loved me. I grieve for the what I could have been if incest, abuse and neglect hadn't murdered my soul before I even knew how to walk, or talk. So much loss. My loss. My pain. My grief. Nobody can take that away from me until I decide I'm ready to let it go.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gaye and the Little Ones

    Almost every morning I wake up with a phrase, a word, a name or a place in my head. I either hear myself saying it or another voice saying it. Sometimes it relates to a dream I had or sometimes it seems arbitrary. Sometimes it’s familiar and other times it’s something I’ve never heard of before. Often it leaves my mind quickly but sometimes it sticks with me and I find myself replaying it throughout the day or even longer.
    Yesterday, I woke up to my own voice saying, “I met myself last night”. That statement haunted me all day yesterday and it got me thinking about my most pronounced, developed alter part of myself, “Gaye.”
    My therapist thinks "Gaye" is about 14 now. She was about 8 or 10 when we first became aware of her last summer. It seems as if her role has primarily been my protector, my “go-to girl.” The “boss.”  That describes her really well.
    As I thought about that, I had a very clear memory of being a small child with my babysitter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy. I don’t know how old I was, but I had to have been less than 8 and I’d guess much less because I was standing up in the back seat of their car leaning up against the back of the bench seat. So, maybe I was about 5.
    I remember the white leather interior with red trim and it smelled of cigars, (I HATE the smell of cigars). Mr. Murphy was driving and Mrs. Murphy was riding in the passenger seat and we were talking. I think I said something cute or funny and he turned his head to look at me. I was a VERY shy little girl, so what came out of my mouth would have been unexpected and surprising I’m sure. I boldly, precociously said to him “keep your eyes on the road!” Based upon his response to me, I must have sounded like I meant business because he replied, “OK boss!” They both found it amusing but he did turn back and kept his “eyes on the road.”
    I think that’s my first memory of “Gaye” as a separate, protector part of me. Something about being in his car and the way he looked at me scared me subconsciously and she stepped right in to save me. I don’t have any memory of anything bad ever happening to me while I was in the care of the Murphy's, but I think I was triggered by the way he looked at me and by being in his car. Maybe that’s when I figured out “Gaye” was the boss and she could handle what I couldn’t.
    I will always be grateful to the parts of myself that took the abuse so that I wouldn’t have to. They allowed me to go up to “the attic” of my mind, to live in TV land as one of the Brady Bunch, to float away to wonderful places and to “sleep” through it. Without “Gaye” and the little ones, I surely would not have survived. They allowed me to get up and go to school everyday, to make friends, to go to college, date, meet my husband and raise a family. The blessings I have in my life, I have largely because of them.
    The challenge I face today is in discovering, reconnecting and putting my “pieces” together again. What once saved my life, now gets in the way of living that life. I had no awareness of this internal family of mine and because I was oblivious to it, I abandoned those little parts of myself. You can imagine how hurt, scared and angry little ones might feel about having to “stay and take it” without any thanks; about being left behind and forgotten and finally, about being rejected and resented once they were noticed. I owe it to them to come back for them. I owe them my gratitude, acceptance and nurturing. I'm trying to earn back their trust and get them to share memories and feelings with me. Today I need them to help me remember who I was and what I've experienced. I need them to help me heal. I want to help them too and I promise to never forget them again.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Resolving to Keep My New Year's Resolution!

So I took the first public step towards keeping my new year's resolution. Along with a link to this blog; I posted this as my Facebook status: 

"This is my New Years resolution. I will be real. I will not lie to protect someone's reputation. I will not pretend to be who others want me to be. I will be genuine no matter how much it scares me."

 I "outed myself" on Facebook for all the social networking world to see! Since then I have put into practice the notion of being "real" and not pretending to be what it is I think others want me to be... and it has NOT been easy! It is a risk that I'm finally ready to take. 

As an incest survivor, I learned very early on, not to believe what I see, hear or feel. I learned that it isn't safe to tell the truth about myself or my life. I learned that you cannot believe people and I learned that I am not OK as I am. I have believed that my purpose is to fulfill the needs of others and to be what people want me to be. As a child, I dissociated so much that I created different parts of myself to meet those needs and to keep me from knowing the terrible truth that was my life. Shame permeated every fiber of my being. I was bad- period. 

Unraveling truth from lies and re-learning four decades of false teachings is a daunting process for sure. Like poor shattered Humpty Dumpty, it's time to start putting my pieces together again. Telling the truth seems to be the place for me to start. 

I know all too well the lies I was taught by my parents. Lies that were reinforced time and time again by teachers, cruel children, the church and abusive relationships. Even therapists and doctors unwittingly participated in the perpetuation of the facade. I didn't even know the truth about who I really was and what I've experienced. I bought it, "hook, line and sinker." I've been drowning for 46 years.

So, what IS true about me? I haven't got it all figured out yet and I'm learning more and more as time goes by, but there are some truths I do know. I am God's girl. He is my perfect father and He loves me- just as I am. When I was a tiny helpless child being violated and shamed in my own little bed in my own little room in our little house, God was right there with me. He was crying with me and for me. He has always been right here with me and I could not be brave enough to do what I'm doing without Him. 

I know that the Lord has a plan for me and that He is using my pain for good. I can help others who are going through this. With the statistics that tell us that as many as 1 in every 3 children have been, or are being sexually abused; odds are that a child I know needs help. I want to be that safe person to whom a child can turn. If I were to remain silent for fear of embarrassing my family or making people uncomfortable, I might miss that opportunity. I cannot imagine what might have been different in my life if I had someone to turn to. I wish I would have known that I wasn't the only one. Even that knowledge would have made a difference to me.