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.

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