What if….?

This is more of a thinking aloud post, but I would like your thoughts. I need to talk this out, and while this was the major subject of therapy today– which I will post about later– I can’t be completely honest with Bea about it all.

My question today: what if? What if he has hurt someone else because I never told? What if he is hurting someone right now because I never told? What if he hurts someone tomorrow or next week or next month or next year, because I didn’t tell today?

But I can not tell. I don’t feel this need to punish him, to get “justice.” I just….what if he is hurting someone else?

Can I report anonymously to CPS? Would that make a difference? Bea suggested that I could call the police anonymously. Or that she could call CPS and keep my name out of it. None of that sounds like a terrible idea. It might be do-able.

Except…..and it is this except that I can not tell Bea. I just….I don’t know, but she won’t like this. So, except it’s a small town and people there will know him. If CPS is from each town or whatever, chances are they will know him and they won’t believe it. If I call the police in town, well….he is the police. He is the director of public safety. No one is going to believe me, much less investigate it. And whoever I talk to will probably tell him, and then he will know I told and no good can come of that.

So what am I supposed to do about this what if?


It’s all real

I need to make a trigger warning for talking about church, and about sexual abuse. Nothing very specific is written, but it’s just this sort of messy, mixed up thoughts in my head and raw feelings that I wrote about. So, you know. Be safe. ❤️

Forgiveness. Anger. Revenge. Hate. Love. Grief. Guilt. Innocence. These are things that have been on my mind lately. I don’t know how much airtime the Larry Nassar trials have gotten where everyone else lives, but here they are big news. Huge news. I live in Michigan, and so I have been surrounded by news of the trials and sentencing.

I had managed to avoid it, for the most part, until Sunday. You see, I’ve recently been back to church. Church is hard for me, it’s triggering in a way I can not fully explain. It’s a place I want to be, because it is familiar, and yet, it doesn’t always feel like a safe place.

But, I like this church. I like the people, I like the sermons, I like the community of it. I like that my kid can go to Sunday school, because they actually are aware of kids with special needs, and they work very hard to accommodate them and make the kids feel safe and welcome, like they belong. And this church, it’s not just a church. It’s a community center, where all people are welcome. They have comfy seating, and an indoor play area. They are open daily. I love it there, my kid loves it there, and even hubby has been going to Sunday service with me and paying attention.

So, on Sunday, we went to church. And the message was all about spiritual health. It was about how we form a relationship with God, and what it means to believe in Jesus and to live your life knowing you are forgiven by grace. That was all fine and well. Not an easy message for me to listen to, because where I stand with God, and Jesus, it’s well, complicated. But that was okay. The thing that hit home for me, that has stuck in my mind ever since, has been this video clip that was played.

Have you watched any of the testimony of the women and girls that Larry hurt? I hadn’t. I had stayed away from it on purpose. I knew that it would hit too close to home for me. But on Sunday, I watched Rachel Dellhollander confront her abuser. The teaching pastor had picked out a clip where she is speaking of God’s forgiveness, of Jesus’s grace. He said it was one of the best examples he had ever seen of what God’s grace looks like.

You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well. —Rachel Dellhollander

Rachel was eloquent, and brave to speak out the way she did. Her words hit me right in my heart. It was like those words, sliced me in half. I sat there, listening to her speak, crying. *How? How is she forgiving him?* I thought. *She should be pissed, she should hate him, she should want him to suffer and burn in hell. She should hate him with every fiber of her being. I would.*

It hit me then. I’m so angry. I’m full of anger. I’m angry with Kenny, yes, but I’m angry with so many more people. I’m angry with my parents, his parents, other adults who should have seen but didn’t. I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at God. So, so mad.

Oh, there is fear and nightmares, and anxiety, and this feeling of needing to hide, and there is grief and confusion, so much uncertainty, but there is anger there too.

I grew up in church. The perfect little church girl. And every Sunday, he was at church, too. And he was loved by the members of our church. He was so kind, and so helpful. He was such a great example of a Christian. That wasn’t true, though. He wasn’t good, or kind or loving. Even when he pretended to be nice and caring, he wasn’t good. He was evil. A monster. He was not nice. That’s maybe the worst part of this. I couldn’t let him be bad, so I became the bad one. I let myself believe he was nice, I let myself believe I was special. I let myself believe I mattered, and that he was my friend. In truth, he was a monster, and a part of me knew it. The part of me that hid in my closet, alone and scared, knowing something bad was going to happen; that part always knew the truth.

Even though I can see that clearly now, it doesn’t make things better. It makes the fear and the terror and the disgust and the out of control feelings real. It makes the little girl, hiding in the closet with her teddy bear, praying to God to help her, real. It makes everything all too real, and I don’t know what to do with that.

The toothache 

So, my life turned crazy this week. Well, really it sort of started last week. I don’t know. I really want to write it all out in detail and explain it and sort through it, but I’m afraid if I do that then I will never catch up to the things happening currently in my life, so, I’m going to just summarize it all as best I can. 

Starting with last week Thursday, something started to switch, a little. I’d been in this “very disconnected, super far away, nothing is real, I’m not me”, place. It wasn’t a good place to be. Bea had suggested trying to be present in the moment, aware of what is happening in the present. I had tried, but only managed to end up overwhelmed with feelings and shutting down. So, when I went to therapy last week, we talked about this. 

“I tried…..I just….I don’t know, I can’t.” I said to Bea, feeling frustrated with myself. 

“What did you try? Like, what things did you focus on to bring yourself to the present?” She sounded curious, and maybe a little surprised that I was allowing the conversation to continue in this direction. 

I shrugged, and it took me a while to answer, but I finally mumbled, “Washing dishes……knitting…I don’t know.”

“What kinds of things did you pay attention to? Can you walk me through the process?” 

I felt a little annoyed at her questions, partly because I was afraid that once I answered it would be obvious I had done it wrong, and partly because I didn’t really have an answer.

After a moment of silence, Bea began to offer up suggestions. “Did you pay attention to how warm the water was, or what the soap bubble felt like? Maybe the sound of the water running?” 

I was so confused. No, that wasn’t what I did at all. And that was when I began to realize that my “far aways” and my “being present” were maybe different than Bea’s, and that there were different levels of being not just far away, but present. I didn’t say this though, I just shook my head, and whispered, “I don’t know.” I told her how I tried to be present but had shut down so much that I didn’t even remember washing the dishes. 

At this point, I was curled up into my normal ball on the couch, my face buried in my knees. Bea suggested that, maybe, I needed to start smaller, find something simple and very non threatening to focus on when trying to be present. “I have these scented markers,” she had told me. “What if I got them out, and you picked one to smell and draw a line on paper with? You could guess the scent, and see if the color is is on paper matches the color you expect it to be.” 

I sat very still for a long time, wavering between wanting to nod my head and say okay, and wanting to go farther away. Just the idea of intentionally being present felt threatening. We talked it through, a little bit. I admitted to feeling so stupid for not being able to do something so simple. 

“The present wasn’t a safe place when you were little. You needed to be able to go,far away. It makes sense that the present still feels scary. But it is safe now. You just haven’t had the chance to learn that it is safe here, in this present moment.” When Bea said this, I felt so understood. It felt like a turning point in our relationship; I started feeling like she was still Bea, and like she was here. I nodded my head, and sat up. 

It took a long time for me to grab a marker off the table, and longer still to uncap it. Bea let me sit and take my time. She went through the exact exercise with the markers that she had asked me to try while she waited for me to start. I chose orange. It smelled like the liquid orange Motrin to me, and the color of the marker was a much prettier orange on paper than I expected. Just that little exercise was frightening and draining, and I felt like crying afterward. I shut down pretty quick, but not so much so that I couldn’t function. 

On Friday night, I woke up with a toothache. It was terrible. Even with hubby being so distant lately, and everything feeling very messy with him, he managed to be there for me. He took care of me all weekend, called a new dentist (my old one won’t see me anymore because I had cancelled too many times, and so I hadn’t been to the dentist for over a year), and made an appointment. He scheduled an appointment on Monday morning. 

I emailed Bea to let her know I had to cancel, and that I was sorry. She emailed back, and we ended up maintaining an email connection through the weekend, and on Monday morning. She told me that a lot of people with trauma are very afraid of the dentist, and that it makes perfect sense. It didn’t help get rid of my fear, but between her emails, and hubby doing his best to make the dentist trip as easy as possible on me, I felt supported, understood, and cared for. The wall between me and the world seemed to be lifting. 

I ended up needing a root canal, and was lucky that they were able to do it that day, and use twilight sedation along with nitrous for me. So the whole thing was a lot less frightening than it could have been. Hubby held my hand the entire time, and stayed with me. 

There was plenty that was triggering though, and on Tuesday, I emailed Bea about the whole thing. I told her how I cried, and how I can’t breathe, and how I hate laying back, and hate having things in my mouth. I hate that hubby has to take responsibility for my dentist stuff because I’m so scared, I just won’t go if I’m not made to do so. I hate that this dentist and the entire staff was nothing but kind to me, and all I wanted to do was run and hide but felt frozen. I hate that the dentist was concerned about what made me so scared, asking if there was something specific, a fear he could help alleviate or of I had just had a bad experience. I wrote to Bea that I have no answers for questions like that. I’m just scared. 

She wrote back pretty quick, and reassured me it was a trauma symptom. She suggested that if I liked this dentist, or whomever I decide to see longterm, I might want to communicate to them that I have PTSD, and that would help explain my fears, and hopefully stop them from thinking it was something a dentist had done to make me so scared. She also said that she was glad hubby was experiencing the reality of my trauma. That made me feel really looked after for some reason I can’t quite explain. 

The dentist trip– and tooth pain– wasn’t pleasant at all. And I won’t say it was worth it, but some good did come from it all. I felt like Bea was really there, like she was herself, and I was able to feel her support. I felt like hubby really did care about me, and wanted me to feel safe. I haven’t been able to feel any connection with anyone in my life since finding those emails, and even before that, I had been feeling like everyone was changing everything, and very unsteady. I still feel unsteady, but I don’t feel shut off from people who care about me anymore. 

Does it feel like your world is falling apart?

Last week, my world started to feel like it was falling apart. It started with the nanny who isn’t our nanny anymore texting me because she was having a breakdown. Hubby has been distant– it like he isn’t here– and I don’t feel listened to or seen by him. My friend who lives near me is having a really hard time lately, and I don’t know how to help her. Hubby and I had a big fight about Kat needing to get rid of her pacifier (hubby wants to just take it away, I feel it is a need and taking it would be cruel). Kat has been crying about camp and school and I’m terrified she is going to end up back in that “everyone hates me, I hate me, I hate you” place. Hubby and I are still in a weird place after all the stuff with his mom; it’s like he wants it to disappear and I want to talk through it more.

The big thing though, the one that sent me over the edge, was when I called my mom. I wanted nothing more than to go hide out at my parents for the weekend. My mom informed me that we could meet halfway between our homes on Saturday, but that she had rented herself a beach house and wasn’t at home right now. She said things were not good and both she and my Dad were seeing therapists. My world collapsed inward. I don’t know what else she said. I mumbled a lot of supportive things and got off the phone. Panicked is how I felt. The world can not be okay if my parents– who refuse to talk about problems, who wouldn’t even go to therapy with me when I was a teen– are in therapy. Bad things are happening.

When I saw Bea on Thursday, I handed her my notebook. I had scribbled a random list of all the things going wrong right now. It feels like I am holding on very tightly to many glass boxes, and if I let go enough to look inside one of them, I will lose my grip on all of them and they will crash to the ground; every last one shattering into a million pieces around me. I told her I felt silly, like a drama queen, to be upset over all these small things. She countered that they were big things, on top of some big changes taking place in my life, and that while they weren’t trauma things, they were still things that would send anyone over the edge.

She asked how I was doing. I shook my head. I was numb, and under the numb, somewhere far away from me, was panic and fear, anxiety and overwhelm. She nodded and told me numb was okay right now, it was good. She sighed and laughed a little, and said, “I’m not sure I should be asking this, but does it just feel that your whole world is falling apart right now?” I felt so relieved when she asked that. It was such a genuine question; like she was asking because that is what she would be feeling if she were me. I didn’t feel like such a drama queen after that.

We didn’t talk through much, I was too afraid of all the boxes shattering. I told her I have been doing a lot of organizing and cleaning. She said that was okay, a good way to find control in my life. At the end of the session, I told her I was heading home to organize the playroom and that I was running out of stuff to clean. She joked that it was really too bad it would be unethical for her to let me organize her house. I laughed and said maybe it wouldn’t be unethical if it was therapeutic. She joked back that she would let me go to work on her closet in the office. I laughed and said that would be great– I could hide out in a closet and organize to my heart’s content? What could be better when I’m panicked?

Too close to home

To my fellow abuse survivors, please, please be aware that this post deals with child abuse is fairly descriptive. Please read with caution, it could be very triggering.

The other night I recieved a text message from my friend Jasmine. It shook me to my core, and once again, I wondered how I had ever managed life before hubby knew about the sexual abuse I lived through.

I can’t talk right now but do not let Kat alone with M….She molested my daughter. I do not blame M but it can’t continue. I have already talked to Belle and I don’t know of she gets it. Someone is touching M and showing her this stuff…Its not normal child curiosity. text me tomorrow and come over to talk. A will be gone at 3 so I can talk about it..

A said finger in the front and mouth or kiss on her vagina. M was very aggressive and just sneaky and weird. A had no idea what was happening and she was scared. She said she never wants to see M again A also said it felt good. Damn it. How confusing for A .

I didn’t even know what to say. I was shocked. Speechless. I stared at my phone, and wordlessly handed it to hubby. M and A and Kat are the same age. M is admittedly more socially and emotionally mature than A and Kat, and she is a bit of a bully. Hubby doesn’t like Belle; he never has. He sees her as lazy and careless, as a user. I saw her as someone who needed help, as a person who was hurt and maybe didn’t have the opportunities in life I did, and I wanted to help her.

Her response to her daughter abusing another child…..I have no words. I don’t believe that young children just do these things. They learn them. I believe that M’s behavior is a form of “telling”. Belle refuses to see that. She is living in denial. She claims this is normal childhood curiousity, that Jasmine is over reacting.

I may not be the best judge of normal childhood anything, but I trust my hubby and when he says “not normal,” I believe him.

After it sunk in, I began to worry about if M had hurt Kat. I know that M has bullied Kat in the past, and called her names. I know there have been times after a play date with M where Kat has needed extra cuddles, and has slept in my bed that night because she has been so upset. I started to reevaluate, to wonder what had really happened. I thought it was being a bully, maybe not following all of Kat’s convulated, unspoken rules for play. Hubby, and later Bea, have each assured me that Kat has shown no signs of abuse, sexual,or otherwise. It still puts fear in my heart; the kind I can feel deep in my belly that makes me feel like I might be sick.

I can’t stay friends with this woman. Besides the fact that hubby believes Belle to be a toxic friend, I don’t feel it’s safe for Kat to be around M. I can’t risk my child’s safety. I can’t be around someone who takes the issue of child sexual abuse so lightly that they can deny it is happening. It’s not healthy for me to be friends with Belle.

If Belle decides to open her eyes, and see the truth to stop living in denial and allowing her child to be harmed, I will be there to support her, and M. Until then, I have to sever ties to keep my child, and myself safe.