In the nighttime (camping)

I hear voices, male voices. I bolt upright in bed, on high alert. My heart pounds. I can’t place where I am, I’m lost, I’m trapped, what is going on? A full minute later, I remember. I’m camping, I’m in our cabin. People are walking by, outside, and I’m safely locked inside. I’m a grown up. My husband is next to me, and my daughter is in the room opposite ours. 

Except, that doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel real to me at all. I feel like a child, maybe 8 years old, that is pretending to herself she is a grownup because grownups can do whatever they want, and that sounds pretty good to her right now. 

I can’t get up and go for a walk, like I would back home. It’s not safe to go walk outside when it’s dark. (In retrospect, I’m sure it was safe, but it didn’t feel safe at the time). I get out my iPad and type out an email to Bea. I tell her exactly what is wrong, the nightmare, the fears, the feelings. All of it. And then I delete it. It’s all too embarrassing to tell her. 

I try to lay down, but I still can’t sleep. My heart is still racing, and I’m like a watch dog, scanning the room around me, listening for any sounds out of place. It doesn’t feel safe to lay down, so I use my pillows to prop myself up. I type out another email to Bea, and delete this one, too. 

I want to write about this thing that has been happening since the reunion weekend, when all the things were massively triggered. I want to write about it and I’m embarrassed. And maybe there should be a trigger warning at this point for, well, I don’t know. I guess for sex words and feelings. πŸ™ˆ

I think this is happening because I’m more present in my body, and I’m more aware of things I am feeling than I have ever been. For example, I bruise easily, and two years ago, I would bump into a corner of a table, not feel it and have no memory of where the bruise that would later appear came from. Now, though, I tend to know what caused every bruise because I feel it when I bump into things. I think this newfound groundedness is allowing me to feel my body more, and lots of those feelings are triggering for me. 

My nightmares have been causing me to wake up…aroused. πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ Flashbacks have also been having the same effect. Even talking about memories has been causing feelings of wanting to be touched. I feel disgusting over this. It makes me feel like a shameful, worthless whore. I HATE feeling sexually…..you know, excited. 

The worst part about these new feelings is they don’t seem to go away easily. Even when I am feeling sick and disgusting and wanting to die because of how my body physically feels, the feelings don’t go away. I don’t know how to explain it, really. It’s not an emotional experienced at all. I’m not wanting my body to feel like this. It feels almost like a betrayal, to have my body feeling things I don’t want to feel, to have the body crave sexual touch. I feel dirty and broken and wrong. 

I know sex is something that is okay between two consenting adults. I know that in theory there is nothing shameful or disgusting or wrong about having sex with my husband. But I feel wrong. I feel bad. I feel like I am disgusting for having pleasurable feelings. 

Feeling sexually aroused makes me want to hurt myself. Having sex with my husband and enjoying it makes me want to hurt myself. It all feels bad and wrong and not okay. 

I can’t even talk about it because of the intense shame and self hated I feel over this. How can I ever share this with Bea? I’ll never be able to look at her again. 

I reacted during the games that Kenny played, and I reacted when the boyfriend was….well, whatever you want to call it. Maybe I am just over-sexed, maybe I was just born slutty. I don’t know. But I reacted it, and things felt good, and it doesn’t matter that sometimes I hated it even though things felt good, because I also sought him out, I wanted him to touch me. And now, I have these nightmares and flashbacks and when it’s over, my body craves touch. But it’s not just any touch, my body wants his touch. 

I’m sick. Twisted. There is something really, really wrong with me. How does a person deal with this? How does a person cope with all of this? I’m at the end of my rope, and while Monday’s session helped some, and almost all of me believes Bea is here, a part of me also believes that if she knew all this, she’d think me disgusting and she wouldn’t be able to look at me without wanting to vomit and she wouldn’t be able to keep working with me, even Bea won’t be able to contain this. But I need help. I literally want to cease to exist when I have these feelings, and those combined with being triggered and overwhelmed and having no resources left…….I need Bea to come back soon. I won’t see her for almost a week because of her vacation. I’m also truly terrified that she won’t come back and be herself. I’m so afraid that will happen, I’m almost thinking about emailing and cancelling that whole week and the next. πŸ™ˆ

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14 thoughts on “In the nighttime (camping)

  1. Don’t email and cancel. She is supportive and she will be able to support you through this. She will not be disgusted. I have dealt with childhood sexual abuse as well and I relate to so much of what you are saying right now *hugs*

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    • I didn’t cancel, and it was okay. I didn’t really talk, but she was there and present and supportive and that was enough. I’m sorry you have dealt with this and can relate to what I wrote about but I’m thankful you are willing to share that. XxπŸ’•

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  2. Oh, Alice, unfortunately, what you describe is all too common of a response for sexual abuse survivors. It isn’t often talked about because of the shame around it, but it’s far from uncommon. I would bet a large sum of money that Bea will feel no disgust towards you, just lots of compassion. She probably will feel anger towards Kenny, though, and she probably finds him pretty disgusting for what he did to you.

    It’s natural for there to be strong feelings of disgust around the abuse. The challenge is learning to turn them away from you and towards the people who are responsible for the disgusting acts. Manipulating a child into a sexual relationship is disgusting.

    Sending so much support.

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    • Thank you Cat. There is so much shame. Just oceans of it. I haven’t really managed to tell her these things. I’m just too disgusted with myself, with my feelings, with all of it. Bea has called him *very sick* and *evil* and some other things that I don’t remember exactly but we’re the same type of thing. She is angry with him. Sometimes I’m angry with him, but she is always angry with him.

      The last sentence you wrote, if I just read it, take myself out of the thing, it’s a no brainer. The person who manipulates a child like that is disgusting. I just can’t put myself in that sentence as the not disgusting one. Not yet, anyway. XxπŸ’•

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  3. DV says:

    This something that I am struggling with as well, both the feelings and the difficulty of discussing it in therapy. Pretty much every time I’ve tried to talk about it I get overwhelmed (and I also see a pattern that this leads to picking fight with my therapist within a few sessions of doing this, supposedly for some completely unrelated reason, and storming off or quitting therapy temporarily). I have no answers as to how to deal with it yet, but I want you to know that you are not alone and not disgusting and you and Bea will find a way to manage it.

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    • Oh my gosh, yes! The fights, avoidance, ending therapy after disclosing/sharing the things I feel most shame about happens often. You think you’ve done it once and that’s that, only to have it happen again and again. My therapists says it’s because I’ve reached another layer of trust where I am more vulnerable and it scares me because I fear she’ll reject me. Nothing ever seems to be too much for her to handle, yet, I’m sure I’ll visit this again.

      We are all within shouting distance of each other and there is much comfort and reassurance to be found in that. Thank you!

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    • DV, I have read your posts about struggling with this, and I’ve been so glad you were brave enough to share that part of your story. It really made me sad for you, of course, but it also made me less alone with my own feelings and struggles around these issues. Maybe one day we will manage to talk about it, and until then at least we are in very good company. XxπŸ’•

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  4. red says:

    The thing that helped me the most was when I could finally talk to my therapist about the arousal – she said “that was your body protecting you from worse damage’. We talked about how tricky it was, and she explained that it is a very common experience for survivors, and that bodies are clever. I hope you will tell Bea. I hope she can help you with all the tangles.

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    • Thank you for sharing this. You were really brave to talk to your therapist about it. I like how your therapist explained it. Bea has talked about this before, and has said how bodies react even if we don’t want them to, and that can be very confusing. I just haven’t been able to really talk to her about it. It feels very vulnerable and shameful and there is a lot of fear around her reaction. Maybe one day I’ll be braver. XxπŸ’•

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  5. When I finally found the courage to tell my therapist about waking up aroused and wanting to be touched and sometimes turning to my husband in an “aggressive” way and the shame I felt over it because I realized that there were times that I initiated the contact with my brother (this occurred between the age of 9-12yrs old), she told me “that’s because you’re intelligent and your intelligence is what allowed you to survive what so many couldn’t. By initiating the contact, you controlled when the abuse would occur instead of sitting in fear of being taken by surprise.” We were children Alice. We were taught sex is abuse and dirty and our fault because that’s how they made us keep the secret. We are biological beings and our bodies react to touch whether we want it to or not. That is not a shame to carry. You did nothing wrong. It was never your fault and you never deserved it.

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    • We were children. Yes, that’s true we were. But somehow I still feel like little girl me somehow caused it all. I don’t know. I mean, these flashbacks and dreams where I end up initiating being with hubby ……..it just feels very much like seeing exactly what kind of child I was. I don’t know. It gets confusing.

      Thank you for saying I did nothing wrong. It makes me feel better to read those words. XxπŸ’•

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  6. My guess is that you know intellectually you are not the twisted one, or bad. It is the feelings though that stick and stay a very long time.
    Try to have a mantra ready that offers compassion, comfort and relief from the immediate bashing that occurs. Like: This is how children feel when abused. This is what is carried into adulthood. I deserve safe love. I deserve safe touch.” Then cuddle up with your husband and be warmed by human contact.

    Those feelings stuck because your personality was forming. And no one came to help, protect or intervene so that you could move forward without this debilitating confusion.

    What was taken here is so very deep, to the core of one of the very things that brings joy to the life of being human. Touch— sensual, loving, warm, safe touch has been mixed up, like crossed wires. But you can grieve the loss while at the same time learn to allow safe, warm touch that you now control.

    This is a big deal. That you address it takes courage. It is very hard to talk about. Safe touch is needed like air and water, yet too often stolen from those abused. T

    The betrayal of the body? Well, bodies are made to respond. That is a simple fact and has nothing to do with a child being good or bad. When the attack is so confusing, and is so wrong, why is my body responding?
    So a child decides she hates her body and herself. And that feeling stays. No one comes to help her believe otherwise.
    And when sexual feelings are aroused too young, we naturally want to do what feels good and may initiate more with the attacker or other children. It is instinct, and a powerful one. It is the one that keeps our species going. But that is also another reason why this crime is so cruel cracking the very foundation that a child’s self-worth and instincts are built on.

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