Strength?

I’m tough. I am the strongest person I know. Is that conceited? Either way, it is true. I have endured much and have lived to to talk about it.

I escaped my abuser and I found a good man to fall for.

I am strong.

I’m not sure I always was.

Where did that come from and why does it bother me so?

In therapy we somehow got on to talking about a friend who helped me. Someone, who was his victim too. Someone who saved me more than once and someone I relied on to help me cope with the pain, the panic and the fear. We talked about her for some time. It proved to be very painful and incredibly upsetting. I wasn’t altogether successful at holding back the tears.

I have been writing about her since I got home. I ache. Not for her, I don’t miss her. I don’t want her. She belongs back then. In my memories. But in talking about her, once again I was touching on who I used to be.

It’s a very strange place to be. Not quite grounded, but not “in it” either. It’s scary, but also a powerful, intense place to sit.

I remembered how I used to feel and I do not remember strength then. I relied on her. And most of all, I relied on my abuser.

When it got too much and I couldn’t calm down, I relied on her gentle touch, to bring my breathing under control. It was her closeness that stopped the shaking. I couldn’t do it for myself. Not then.

And then there was him-who could shut down my pain with just a look. It worked. I was grateful for that at least.

Did I grow strong over time?

Is my strength a direct result of what was done to me? That disturbs me. I do not want to be strong because he made me so. I do not want to be able to shut down my pain because of years of his control and fear enables me to do so.

I need this to be mine. Not another result of grooming.

My strength. Not his.

 

Why after all we’ve talked about today, is this my focus? My T suggested that I may need to talk about her again, however it may be more like how we dealt with disclosure, sometimes once was enough. Perhaps he is right? I get the feeling that we stumbled upon her because she blocks where I need to be (which I am guessing my T suspected too). After talking and writing about her, she is moving out the way and what lies behind her is mountains and mountains of pain.

 

Pain that includes the reality of his control. And somewhere in all that I am caught up in a desperate need to find something of myself now (or before) in myself back then. By that I mean, something of me, the real me, perhaps that was there before, or would have been whether I was abused or not. Instead of the completely broken child that I am beginning to see in some of these memories now.

I lost so much. He took my body and he took my heart. Did he take my soul too? Was there anything left? Was I strong before? Did that remain and then grow?

I need for there to be something. A spark, a flicker. I badly need to find something he didn’t create. I need to find something he didn’t take from me. I cannot be a result of his abuse. I cannot.

 

Am I making any sense? I’m not so sure.

 

 

Needing him.

I have wanted to write since Friday. Journal, or blog. Something. Anything.

I need to write, I know that. I need something out. I can feel it.

Except now, I finally feel I can, I find myself hesitating. Although it seems as if my journal is calling to me, I am struggling to find the courage to pick it up. I hold back here, but maybe I can at least find some relief.

 

Therapy last week, was, as it has been for some time – excruciating. I was closer than I have ever been to who I was and more importantly, what I felt and what I feel.

I’m glad to have been able to step away from that somewhat since then. After a great deal of grounding this weekend, the triggers are not as persistent as they were on Saturday.

It was a scary and stomach churning experience on Friday (therapy day). It was like stepping back into my old shoes, right back into who I used to be. Looking through her eyes as the horror of my daily life unfolded before me. Hell. 

I connected with myself. And I could feel a familiar emptiness and most of all, need. An all encompassing need.

Back then, I could have killed for that need.

My T suggested that it was a need my abuser created and so he was the only one who who could fulfill it. It was engineered that way. For him. Not for me. There was no other option offered to me. My T said, had there been, I would have taken it.

Would I? Really?

I couldn’t explore that properly with my T, because more talk of control and choice caused a horrific flashback, therefore the rest of the time, was spent grounding.

 

I remember that overwhelming and all compelling need. Perhaps not as well as I did with my T on Friday, but it hasn’t gone. I cannot shake it completely. Back then it was my waking thought. My only thought. Him. And my need to be with him. No matter what that meant for me. Or anyone else.

It ruled me.

Or he ruled me??

It’s like he was surrounded by a powerful magnetic force. I was drawn to him. I sought him. I needed him. So badly. It was as important as air to me. Can you imagine that? Do you know what that was like? Do you have any concept of the depth of my need? I’m not sure many could. Terrifying. Until Friday, even I had forgotten- buried, what that was like.

 

As I got older and I was no longer exclusively his, or he mine, I found myself pining for him. My addiction remained. Although I saw him regularly, I missed him, so very much. Too much. And so I got hurt more. For him. For me.

My T suggested, that was at least in part, because I didn’t know how to function without my abuser. He told me what to do. He told me what I should feel. And no matter the consequence for asking, I needed to need his permission for even the most basic of things. It was what made sense. It was safe. He was safe. The world was a scary place without him. How messed up.

 

I needed him to save me. And he did. He saved me over and over again. Except the only thing I really needed saving from, was him. He engineered that. He created my need for his rescue and so I had to return. Don’t you see?

Does anyone see? Can anyone understand?  I owed him. At least, I thought I did.

My saviour. My addiction.

 

Groomed love.

I did not want to go near it, too afraid I would re open that wound. I have been careful not to touch it, for fear of bleeding out here alone. 

So, I’ve been ignoring and distracting and at a times it has worked. But where my mind will not remember, my body does instead…

Today, I am close to it, closer than I’ve allowed since therapy last week. This time no T to rescue me. Can I do it alone? I fear it is bigger than me and my capacity to deal, but when you can’t distract any longer, when ignoring has you stuck and frozen to the spot, sometimes it’s worth the risk, is it not?

 

He  got me that day and I don’t mean rape and I don’t mean an assault. It was and is so much worse than that. That Christmas morning he held my hands and looked into my eyes. It was an intense moment where he looked at me, like no one else ever had.  It felt to me, like he was peering into my soul.

He had already stolen my innocence and in that morning he took my heart too. And all that followed after, led back to that moment…what I would take, what I would accept.

After that morning, the violence was no longer needed. Why didn’t he know that? Why didn’t he realise that I would have submitted to him? He should have known, it was why he groomed me after all. He didn’t need to use all that force. Because he had me with infatuation and he had me with his lies. He didn’t have to hit, he didn’t have to push, he didn’t have to threaten and he didn’t have to hold me down.  Love was always his most effective tactic, I couldn’t have left, even if I wanted to. I was from that Christmas day, shackled by my heart. 

 

Lies (the result of grooming).

Do you ever lie to yourself, therefore to other people too? Do we all do it? I know it’s something I have done for many years. Partly because I was groomed to lie about what was going on and even to lie to myself about what I felt. It was also because I and everyone else couldn’t handle the truth. Lies were my friend. It became difficult to know the lie from the truth. I was tangled in lies for years.. until I began to unpick it all 2.5 years ago as I entered therapy.

Since then, I have not only learned the truth but also how to continually analyse my behaviour and things I have said, to ensure those lies that remain, are confronted or at the very least noticed, ready for processing later.

I hate that I have anything left in my behaviour that is a result of grooming, it makes me feel like he still has his hands on my life, moulding and shaping me when I dare to let my guard down and don’t continually fight.

Last night, it was pointed out to me that my automatic guilt response is part of grooming, it wasn’t news to me, in fact I have previously discussed it with this person, but it jolted something inside of me.

While I have made huge leaps and bounds in letting go of guilt, I know that guilt is still a go to response whenever I cannot easily explain my feelings, or make sense of something that was done to me. I know it and I will continue to work on changing that. However, it isn’t the only way I still have his grooming as part of me. As above, those lies I needed for so long, well, they remain. Not to the same extent, but they are still there. Like the guilt and even shame, they are a go to response when things are too hard or simply, because I am afraid.

Sometimes, it is when I just cannot handle what is going on. For example, I automatically lie about anniversary dates. This goes deep, I am not simply lying to those around me, I am fooling myself to such an extent, that I fully believe it. I hate lying, but when I don’t know I am doing it, until my mind allows me to, or until I have the chance to fully analyse and process what is going on, how am I supposed to know?

I am trying hard to spot the signs and my T is getting better at calling me out on it. Recently I haven’t been able to lie to myself about up and coming anniversary dates for more than a short time, before either I notice or my T pulls it out of me. Progress, I hope?

Last night, I didn’t sleep too well, tossing and turning as I realised that I had lied to myself and those around me for the last few days. Except it wasn’t about things being too much to handle, because actually the one truth in all this, is things are a little better than they have been. I have finally put away that awful flashback a few weeks ago.. but yet, I lied. I didn’t know it as I was doing it, I didn’t realise until I began to analyse that jolt mentioned above.

The reason for this lie is because of other people. It is about my worry and fear of upsetting/ angering or pushing them away. Again, a groomed response, not only from my abuser but from all the times I was left feeling alone, rejected and abandoned. For years, and I know I am not alone here, I have pretended to be OK, for the sake of other people, as well as myself.

We all do it to some extent, where we automatically say we are OK or fine, for fear of upsetting others. I don’t want that. I feel what I feel, I am who I am and I do not want to change that in order to protect other people. If they cannot handle it, that is their issue not mine. I guess, I am not quite there in putting it in to practice. I am still reacting as I used to, I am lying about how hard things are to myself and to other people.

I know I’ve suffered a lot since October and I know it cannot be easy for those around me. So when PTSD symptoms began to improve a little, somewhere inside, I began to lie to myself again. I told myself that actually, those symptoms have gone and that other than these new feelings (which are progress, therefore allowed and good- if that makes sense), I am fine. I suppose subconsciously I have been so fearful of further abandonment, that it was just automatic to lie to myself again, so I could then lie to those around me.

 

The symptoms haven’t gone, I have had nightmares every night this week. Awful dreams of being trapped back there and last night every time I fell asleep, rape was waiting for me. And now I am being honest with myself, I am struggling to shake that dream right now. Yesterday I had the most sickening flashback, that I had to ignore, because I am so ashamed of what that memory is to even allow it more than a moment in my thoughts…But because I’d been sleeping better in general and the flashbacks haven’t been as debilitating as a month ago, it was easier to fool myself into believing that I was doing OK. And I wanted to fool myself, because I wanted to be OK – at least aside from these new feelings (which is a whole other post) and I wanted others to believe it. Because, well it’s Christmas and because I don’t want to annoy people or cause them to be frustrated enough with me that they walk away.

It isn’t my fault, it is because of the grooming and it is because I have always had to gauge the reactions and feelings of others and what is going on for them, before responding.And that is partly because I put others before myself but also because I had to become used to reading others feelings and predicting their behaviour in order to protect myself. An abuser who was like a bomb waiting to go off, other people who switched between anger and being nice to me. I had to protect myself from them…

And this lying right now is just that, it is about protecting myself, but not because the symptoms are too much for me to handle, but instead protecting myself from the reaction and possible rejection of others. It is something I no longer need, but I have done it for so long, I guess it’s understandable that it is so automatic for me.

This isn’t something I want, because somewhere inside, I am past this. Past the fear, past the needing to react and respond in a way that will ensure others like me and want to be around me. Part of me has already changed and is strong enough and therefore ready to be real with myself. I guess, I am just not all the way there yet.

It’s a bit of a blow to me this morning, to realise that these things are still there, but equally, I feel relief to admit the truth to myself. The PTSD has improved some, as I feel more, the symptoms always improve, however, I am not symptom free and I am not OK.

 

Abuser- fears.

 

There are times when I see how different I am to my abuser. Polar opposites, extremes of each other. Then there are other times,  on days like these, when I am so badly triggered by the weather, the season and the dark light. When I feel so unsafe, even in my own home and when I have the sole responsibility of my children, that I fear I am more like him than I want to admit. I start to feel out of control and I yell and I shake with rage, just like he did. I look in the mirror and it is his angry eyes I see looking back at me.

Even though I feel terrible right now, I do not cry. He did not cry either, even as he told me heartbreaking stories of his life, there was nothing from him. He told it like a story, as I know I have many times since. I would cry for him back then, real tears, real anguish, real pain. He would remain numb, distanced, disengaged. I fear I have been the same way, numb and shut off from my own feelings, for far too long.

 

I try to remind myself of the ways in which he and I are so different. I carry shame and blame, for things I did not do. I worry endlessly about others. I scrutinise my own behaviour and reflect on things I have said and make changes where necessary, to ensure I am not hurting or upsetting anyone else. He would never do any of those things.

He wouldn’t care that I still suffer, in fact I think he would be incredibly smug that I still think and talk about him. The incident I have been struggling with recently.. if he knew that I still blamed myself, he would be thrilled. He told me it was my fault, he spoke of it so differently to all the other times. The constant reminders of that day, what he said I did, what he said we did together. The shame, the blame, all forced on to me. I was so ashamed, I am still ashamed.

I hate this, feeling so vulnerable and unsafe, fearing I am like him, blaming myself and feeling ashamed. This isn’t right, or OK. The impact of grooming and abuse is catastrophic, isn’t it?

Will I ever break free from this?

 

 

 

Choice

 

This has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks. It came up in my therapy session a few weeks ago and frankly, it left me feeling confused.

 

I think choice is the wrong word, but I am lacking in an alternative right now. It cannot have been choice, not true choice, not when the only options were rape or rape, but my abuser was so clever and cunning, he made it seem as if it really were my choice.

Yet I knew if there had been a third option, one without any catches or danger, if that had been a choice that gave me  a true and safe way out of that truly awful situation, I would have taken it, no question.

 

You see I knew I wanted neither, but because I still chose, in my young and naive mind, I assumed I must have some control. And that is exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to believe I had an option. It was those difficult choices that I had to make every day that left me feeling so deeply ashamed, I couldn’t possibly tell anyone what I felt I had done.

 

For so very long, I believed I had been complicit in my own abuse.

That is a horrible place to be. Such a deep self loathing that I carried all these years because I believed it had been my choice and therefore, my fault. 

 

Things have changed, I am working damn hard at undoing all that grooming, changing all those poisonous thoughts he planted in me. Now I am at the stage where I mostly know that anything I agreed to was not by choice. There was no choice, he forced me, it was not (at the start at least) as is depicted in movies or in general by society, but sill force.

Grooming, training, pressure, indirect threats and eventually direct threats.

I did as I was told, when I was told. I was brainwashed. I was afraid. I was naive. I was ashamed, and I was utterly alone. Where on earth was the freedom to choose in all of that? I was not free in any way at all.

 

 

I have really been struggling with  how much I thought I preferred it when I didn’t have choice. I thought the guilt was less, the shame too and there was no added fear of making the wrong decision leading to a painful and violent consequence.

 

It was a very difficult and even shameful thing for me to admit to my T. I told my T, it was better to be held down and have all choice taken from me, than to be presented with impossible choices I often could not and did not want to make.

 

Sitting with my T in that awful, uncomfortable moment-which seemed to last forever-I faced the reality of what I had said. It struck me, more like blind sided me in fact, how deeply sad and even twisted I felt. It was better to be held down, really?

Really? How can that be? How could I have ever felt that?

 

Oh, I can’t tell you how conflicted I have felt, how sick it has made me feel. What kind of person must I be to think that way, to prefer that? And at the same time, what on earth did he do to an innocent child, that she could ever feel that way?

 

I have been battling with that for some weeks now. It is has been particularly bothersome the last few days. I think because of a memory that isn’t far from my mind right now. A memory that still seemed to be eating away at me despite two separate disclosures. Not trauma anymore at least, but a whole heap of pain and shame intertwined.

 

With this specific memory (and there are more examples if I allow myself to delve deeper) there was no choice, not of any kind. It was an incident where I was physically incapacitated. There was nothing even remotely close to choice. It was a particularly nasty incident, one that was extremely traumatic.

I guess what has been getting to me, is that it sort of contradicts what I have thought and felt for so long and what left me feeling so sad and twisted after my session with my T a few weeks ago.

What my abuser did that night was not preferable to the times he gave me options. It was not better in any way at all. It was not less shameful- in fact it was one of the worst incidents in every way. There was no choice at all, but that did not make it easier and it did not make me feel any better about myself either.

After that night was over, I felt just as complicit in what he had done, as I did when I thought I had choice. I went home that day feeling shocked from the horror of what he done, but with the knowledge and acceptance that it has been my fault. I knew he had been wrong that day, but I was sure I had participated just by being there. After all, as he often reminded me, I was in his flat and in his bed, what the hell did I expect?

 

You see, the lack of choice that day (and so many others) did not stop any of those thoughts and feelings I experienced when I was offered choices. So, did I really prefer it? Or did I just tell myself that? And why would I tell myself that?

I have been going around in circles with this, wondering how the heck I could have preferred to be held down or threatened or whatever than to have a choice. I was mistaken, I am not entirely sure why, perhaps due to dissociation..I am sure my T will have suggestions, but I do not think I could have ever really preferred either.

 

I no longer have to choose from two impossible options. Instead I can choose the option I should have always had: neither.

Neither situations were preferable. It was not better to choose how I was raped and nor was it better to have the decision made for me.

I am free now, free to say neither, free to loathe both situations. I am free to acknowledge that both hurt me..all of it hurt me and none of it was OK.

Why don’t I feel relief?

Instead, I feel burdened this morning, or maybe just sort of heavy from the reality and truth I now face.

 

 

 

My fault? (That damn question again)

Is it my fault?

That is a question I’ve been asking myself often, for a very long time.

As therapy has progressed and I have moved forward, that question has continued to bother me from time time.

Each time there’s a new memory revealed, I find myself asking that question again. “Is it my fault?”.

Sometimes the weight behind it, is not what it was. I know the truth, intellectually at least. I know what my T would say, the argument against, the rationale.. however, the question continues to bother me, time and time again.

 

A new disclosure on Friday and it was horrible. It seems to get harder as I move forward. I feel more than ever before. I’m not simply telling a story- emotionally detached from the reality- I feel it now, every word I say. It was  incredibly painful.

I couldn’t tell my T everything, it was too much to deal with in one session. I was in danger of reliving what I went through, so I purposefully left some of it for another time.

One of those things I left out is really bothering me (and I’m angry that it is already bothering me, can’t I get a break??). Among other things, it is leading me to that question again- Is it my fault?”.

I cannot really explain here because that would lead me to feeling exposed and vulnerable again and I’ve felt that enough the last few days. I do not wish to share the details of my abuse here, certainly not right now.

But I cannot shake it- is it my fault at least in some way? My own actions, participation- it’s not as simple as that I know.  When is choice, not really choice? Willingness, not really willing?

I know I was groomed, trapped, coerced and forced. I often did what I had to just to survive. I don’t mean I believed I’d be killed if I didn’t, but it was  for my own emotional survival. I did what I had to for my own sanity.

I guess I find the need to justify myself, I find myself trying to remember what my T has said when I have previously shared my feelings of guilt and fault. I need that reassurance right now. Because I cannot get out of my head that at least some of that particular day, was down to me-my fault.

I so don’t need this right now, I’m still trying to recover from my therapy session on Friday.