These emails may be triggering, so please read with caution.
After therapy on Monday, I am unsettled. I go through my routine, trying to get some cleaning done, spend time with Kat and of course, write. My head is messier than it has been in a long, long, time. I end up emailing Bea, because of all the things that were unsaid in therapy, and because of all the new thoughts swirling through my brain. She wrote back, and we ended up in an email conversation over the next two days.
You asked me last week, I think, if I could talk about the feelings about myself and this memory. How I felt about me. I really didn’t want to do that. I’ve made such a point to make sure I have this….I don’t know, facade of a person who is a grown up and who is smart and likes herself and is confident and believes in what she says and does. It’s very much at odds with how I really feel. But I can’t go there. Not really. I don’t want to think about it. I said I was mad at myself. That’s not exactly true. It just seemed the easiest, the safest thing to say. Because as much as I dislike mad, it’s somehow okay and acceptable to be mad at myself. The reality is I hate what I did, I’m disgusted with myself. Sometimes I think maybe I was just born defective, bad, wrong. And I’ve just managed to hide it somehow, fool everyone. I’m guilty and ashamed, and I’m sure that if people knew, really knew, they would hate me, not even want to be anywhere near me. I don’t want to think about it. I want that part of me to disappear. It’s like I can just trace from when I was a child all the way to when I flunked out of college and got pregnant and had an abortion…I hate it all. It’s all just one screw up after another, me, never doing anything right, unable to be good. Because I’m twisted and defective. But we grow up, right? So I pushed that all away, and ignored it. You can’t walk around letting people know you hate yourself and are ashamed of who you are. That’s how you get hurt. So I built this fake me, this pretend me. I’m very good at pretending. And met hubby. He was safe. I think I loved him because he was safe. So I married him. I built this whole life on lies. Lies that I’m normal, and good. That I had a charmed childhood, that I was bright, graduated early, chose to do hair because I was too creative to be stuck in a school…that I like me, am proud of who I am, love life, love everything…lies. Just lies. And he believed me. And now I have this beautiful life, with this wonderful husband, and this perfect child who teaches me things everyday and loves so much and is so smart and amazing and frustrating at times, and it’s all because I lied. I don’t actually belong here, or deserve any of it. And no matter what I do, I’ll never be good enough. I keep trying and trying. But it doesn’t work. Because it’s all a lie. Half my life is based on a lie. And the other half, before hubby, is spotty and blurry, and full of random memories. And everything I ever told him was the story my parents created, the good story, the story that makes me a good girl. Which just isn’t true. So. That’s the how I really feel about me. And even that doesn’t really explain it but it’s the best I can do. I just don’t have the words, or something. But I don’t want to feel like this. I’m so tired of feeling like this.
I kissed him. I climbed in his lap and I kissed him. And he moved my hand, so I could feel what I had done. I asked his mom if I could go home to change, but I had to know that she wouldn’t let me go by myself. She told Kenny to take me. I went anyway. I knew what would happen then. I had to have known. But I went anyway. I think I wanted him to touch me. That’s not abuse. That’s a very disturbed and naughty child. It’s wrong and twisted. I don’t know. I feel sick. I don’t know how to explain what is in my head. I don’t know how to put it into words. Which is horrible, because words are my thing, I am good at words. How can I even call anything, any of it trauma, and say it hurt me, when I very clearly was a willing participant? It negates everything. I feel like I’m wrong to even be needing to talk about it, like I’m making a deal over nothing, being a drama queen, making problems where there are none. It was a game, I had fun, it wasn’t scary, it didn’t feel bad. That’s the story, that’s what I always said, and push everything else– scary feelings, confusion,– away. Maybe everything else is just to make my guilt over being a bad person go away. I don’t know what’s true anymore. Nothing makes sense. Ugh. I don’t know. Are you following this at all?
I’m so confused. I want things to make sense, to be neat and tidy. I tried making a timeline. I tried making notecards. Nothing makes things make sense. It’s not fair.
And now, do I send this or not? Obviously, this is unfiltered. And messy, and unedited. 😕 ugh. And probably reads like a crazy mess of thoughts. And I am sorry this is so long. I am okay, really, truly. My head might be a little messy, but I’m okay. (And I would still tell you if I wasn’t okay. Really.) There really doesn’t seem to be a good way to end this email. It’s too messy and all over the place.
Every person I’ve ever worked with who has been sexually abused fears messes and messiness. It’s a metaphor for things being out of control. It’s also literally about things being out of control. But messiness is also freeing–playing with thoughts and viewpoints and what ifs and whys is creative and gets us out of the stuck rigidity of trauma. Messiness is scary, but healing. It allows us to walk around the trauma and look at it from all sides.
I’m not sure I’ll ever just sit and talk unfiltered, but I’m trying harder to write more unedited. So this is messy again. But maybe that’s okay? Messy seems to be okay with you, even if it’s not okay with me.
Yes, messy is okay with me
I had sex with my husband. Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday– Christmas Eve–morning. I instigated it. Me. Not hubby. I started it. And then once I had, I wished I hadn’t started anything and I wanted to stop, but it was too late. You can’t start something like that and then just stop. I went away. It was fine. And I just continued to repeat this. What is wrong with me? It’s like I can’t stop myself. I feel like I am losing my mind. And I don’t know why I am so upset by this. Or if I can even actually email this to you. And if I do email it, this is not something I can talk about. Write about, email about, maybe. Talk about..no.
I don’t know. The whole thing. It was just messy. And am I even allowed to be triggered and upset about things that I did, that I caused? Ugh. This is so confusing.
People who have been traumatized are compelled to reenact their trauma sometimes. It’s sort of a “this time I’ll control it” sort of thing. ” this time I’ll initiate sex and then I will not be the victim.” There is tremendous power in seduction–many women have told me this, even some who have prostituted. Except the feeling of power doesn’t last, and the cycle repeats itself. I’m sure it’s also very exciting, and “naughty.” I’ve no doubt that all of the initiating with hubby came about because of this memory you’re working on. Sexual stuff is complicated. How could it not be when it emerged as it did for you?
I don’t know. I only know I don’t want it to be complicated. Well. I mostly want it to just not exist at all, but if that’s not an option I don’t want it to be complicated. How is it ever going to be okay? Is it ever okay?
It’s not okay right now. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t want to be reenacting anything. And how twisted is that? I’m initiating something with my husband because of what happened…Ugh. I can’t even hardly write about this. I’m so disgusted with myself. I don’t know what I’m doing. Why am I starting something I don’t like, don’t want to have happen? It’s fine, well, not fine, but fine, until it’s obvious he is going to go along with it. Then it’s not, and I want it all to stop, right now. But I would never ever say that. So I disappear in my head until it’s over. And poor hubby. I’m being horrible to him. He must think things are good between us, that I’m better. And in reality, all I want is for him to be different, to say no to me, to not want that from me, even if I try to initiate it. Oh. I didn’t know that was it until I wrote it. Crap. I don’t know what I am supposed to do with this. Every time he doesn’t stop, it’s like….I don’t know. Something I can’t quite put into words. Ugh.
So you figured out something important–that your wish is for hubby to say “no.” That this is the reason for doing it again and again–finally someone will react in the way Kenny should have. It would be so nice if you could just explain it all to hubby and tell him to play his part correctly! But…. that gets complicated too because that bumps up against the part of him that wants you to desire him in that way. It probably does feel great to him that you are into him, and you’re right, he probably thinks it’s a good thing. So if you were going to talk about this with him you’d have to find a way to stroke his ego while at the same time telling him you’re struggling with something from the past. That would take a lot of thinking about, and I doubt you want to go there. Hubby is clueless about the needs of the child who needs him to play a role and say no–maybe your recognition of that will be enough to help it resolve itself. There can’t really be a “do over” in real life, but in your imagination there can be.
I can’t explain it to hubby. Not any of it. He can never know what I did. He would hate me. Maybe it might be at a point where I should maybe try to tell him something more, so he understands why I get so upset about all this. I don’t know. I’m afraid for him to know more. And I don’t even know what more would be. But it seems like “my babysitter abused me” isn’t enough anymore. I don’t know. But then how can I tell him anything when it might be all my fault? I had a nightmare last night, and woke up at 1:30. I’ve been up since then. I did let hubby know that I couldn’t sleep, that it was a bad night. So that’s something. But I can’t explain it to him. I can’t tell him.
I don’t think it’s necessary to tell him. You may decide there are some things you want him to know, but it’s okay if there are things that aren’t shared.
I’m afraid that you will get tired of hearing this and listening to my nonsense, my drama. I’m afraid if I take too long to figure it out, you will fire me. I’m afraid to even say that because you might agree, and say yes, if you are taking too long to get your head straight and I will fire you. Or if I tell some of the memories, or feelings or thoughts, you will not be able to stand me, and you’ll fire me. You want me to turn off my filter, but turning it off means more vulnerability which means more fear that you can hurt me in someway (like firing me from therapy). The more of the ugly stuff I talk about and share, the more afraid I get that something bad is going to happen. And I don’t like this at all. And i don’t really want to talk about this. Because i am scared.
I would never “fire” you as a client! You are doing excellent work in therapy,and I find you extremely inspirational. I see nothing inherently flawed about you. Everyone has their dark side and their struggles. That’s the nature of being human. I see no disturbed or naughty child in you–just a child responding to her circumstances. As for this “streak” of badness running through your life–the good and bad, perfect and imperfect are all a part of us. We have to accept it all as part of what makes us who we are. The shades of gray.
I don’t why this is so hard for me. It’s always black or white– especially when it’s about me, or something I have done. It’s like I’m either good or bad, not both, only one or the other. Right now, I feel like the “good” is the pretend me, the fake me…the “bad” is the real me. I don’t know how to see it as grey. I just ignore it, and try not to think about it.
We need to keep working on the black and white issue–that is definitely something we can make progress with–we will morph you into one gray person!
I’ve been thinking all night, and today. I’m sorry I keep making you repeat yourself, but I need to know– you really believe that I had no control over the situation when I was a child? I don’t like that…I don’t know. If I wasn’t in control of any of it..Then it was on purpose….he hurt me on purpose? And it wasn’t me? But then it was an act…being nice, being my friend, caring? It was all fake? To make me do something– what he wanted? He didn’t really care? That shouldn’t matter, shouldn’t bother me, but it does. The idea…I want to scream no at someone, that it’s wrong and not true. But somewhere in my head, i am wondering. Maybe I just over tired, and that’s why I’m thinking about this. Part of me is frozen in scared with the idea that I wasn’t in control of anything. That’s not okay. Part of me is frozen in disgust with myself over what I did, and I feel like I am making a big deal out of nothing, out of things I did, and I have no right to be upset and hurting. I feel like everything is mixed up in my head. What is right? Why can’t I make sense of this? What did I do wrong? I can’t change how I feel. I feel wrong. I’m sorry because I just keep going around and around the same thing. Ugh. I trusted him. I trusted him, my parents trusted him. I kept trusting him. Even after. What’s wrong with me? Who keeps trusting someone…I don’t know. I’m trying to make hubby react in the way Kenny should have. That’s what you wrote…summarized what I said. Ugh, That’s why I keep repeating this over and over. Hubby can never know. But then…Kenny should have said no. No matter what I did. Then no scary memory with tights. But it doesn’t change what I did do. I think you have talked about why I might have…I forgot what you said. I don’t know what I was thinking. I certainly wouldn’t have kissed anyone else. So it was him. Ugh. I don’t remember 9– Not how 9 year olds think and act. My niece–Megan –is 9. She’s smart. Extremely smart. I’m trying to picture her in that situation. She wouldn’t. That’s the thing, she wouldn’t be. My brother would never allow it. They don’t have babysitters. Ever. I never thought about it until now. Why? Why doesn’t my brother trust babysitters? The only way Megan would kiss someone so much older than her is if she was taught and told it was ok. But I’m not sure I could just be taught something like that…wouldn’t my parents have untaught it? Ugh. But then I think, kids don’t know..Kat didn’t even have words to say what happened, not really, and I use proper words with her. Kat wouldn’t know anything about some– almost all– of the ugly things in my head from when I was younger, littler. So why did I know? What was wrong with me that I knew these things? You say you don’t see a naughty or disturbed child in me. Then where in the world did this stuff come from? No where good. It is not fair that the more I try to figure this out and make sense the more lost I get. This is all messy again….I should probably edit it, I’m sorry, but I’m too tired to do that right now. I hope you could follow this.
I realized that this would be a better conversation than email–we’ll discuss it in the morning! See you then,
I was dreading going to therapy on Wednesday morning, and at the same time, knew how badly I needed to go. I had so much swirling inside me, messing my head up, that I needed to get out and try to talk about. The emails were just the tip of the iceberg
To be continued……