Thursday, July 19, 2012

Confessions of a Survivor Who Keeps Trying

This is a submission for the July confession series on the topic of sexual abuse. This topic might be very triggering for some people. Please continue with extreme caution.

2012 L

"I have to be in a certain frame of mind to be able to speak about this. I have to be raw and open, perhaps almost broken. I am willing to bring myself there again because each time that I do, each time that I share a little of me, I become stronger.

Sometimes I need the reminder of where I have been to see that even though I am not completely healed and even though my brokenness shows through in places I wish it would never touch, I am strong. It shows me that I can choose to be happy. I can smile. And I do. I can say that right now, I am in a place where I can smile about overcoming this. I can be happy, I know I can be happy, despite my past. I have a future worth embracing.

Nonetheless, I wish that what happened to me didn't affect me the way it did. I wish that my marriage and my parenting were not affected by this. I attribute the misery I felt my whole pregnancy to the one thing my dad, the abuser, said to me when he found out I was carrying my husband's child. "ARE YOU PREGNANT?!?!" As though he owned me. It makes me angry. ANGRY. How dare he say that?! It's unbelievable. 

After that phone call, I couldn't orgasm during sex with my husband  for a very long time. I felt bad and dirty. Sometimes I still do. I am angry about that. He intruded on my life in a place he should never have been. Imagine what that does to a marriage. We conceived our son, our only child, right after getting married. I took the pregnancy test one day shy of our one month anniversary. Our marriage was rocky from the time I had that phone call with my dad until less than a year ago. 

Our six year anniversary is this November. So, 5 years of misery because I had trouble coping and he didn't know how to and couldn't help me. It took a blessing in disguise to snap us both out of it. My husband and I have decided that we should only have one child due to the pregnancy and postpartum period being so horrible. I cannot say that my abuse has nothing to do with that. 

I remember when I started to notice that my dad was drawn to my breasts. I was about 12 or 14. He is an alcoholic. I don't ever remember him acting that way while sober. My parents divorced when I was 12. I can remember my dad bent over in a chair, with his head on my hip (I was standing in front of him), his arms around my waist, just sobbing. That was abuse. He should not have had his head so near my female anatomy. It's a memory that haunts me. 

I remember seeing a picture of my uncle, me and my dad, standing in that order, on the day he got married to his second wife. His arm was around me and in the picture it was VISIBLE that he was grabbing my breast. I am pretty sure I shredded that picture. That was the point when I started to realize that I might not be imagining things. I continued to lie to myself for about another 10 years, though. Does anyone want to believe they've been abused by their father? 

When I was a young teen, purses where the strap draped across a girl's chest were popular. He saw me with one of those on and told me, and I quote, "Sis, your boobies are sticking out." Incredible. I still cannot believe the things he has said to me. I used to have my husband "block for me" when we had to go to a function that included my dad. I would have to plan what I wore so as not to draw any attention at all to my chest. Hoodies were my clothing of choice. It took team work and quick thinking to avoid the drunken hugs where he would always find a way to graze my breasts. I once saw him pull down my half brother's pants and put a dog in them. It was a pomeranian puppy. My brother was about 2 years old. He has a fascination with the inside of children's pants. I am pretty sure I should probably say something. 

Seeing that, I am probably not the only one but I was and am afraid to tell anyone. I tell myself I can never say anything to him or my mom because they are weak. They couldn't handle it. Others might not believe me, or worse they might say something to him or someone else. Really, all of this is so unbelievable to me. How could anyone else believe it? 

I was determined to breastfeed my child. My husband, knowing my past, knowing how protective I am about my breasts and my body honestly didn't think I could do it and he told me that he didn't think I could do it. I am proud to say that I nursed my son until he was three and I appreciated it until he was about 2.5 years old. 

Child led weaning was what I really wanted, but I knew I was doing us both more harm than good trying to reach that goal. I struggle daily with my inability to properly handle being touched by someone who doesn't know boundaries. Children don't know boundaries. I fear that I am scarring my child. Children need to feel safe and loved and sometimes I just don't have it. Telling your child "Don't touch me!" and "Get off me" or "Get away from me!" "GO! GO away!" This is not good and I know it. I try to make up for it in other ways. 

I tell myself that nursing him for as long as I did helped him because even when I didn't have it in me to give him love, he got it anyway through the contact of nursing. I pray that I haven't ruined him. Honestly, I don't think that I have. I know that I have boundaries that cannot be crossed without me completely losing it in an unhealthy way so I try to work around that. I make sure that I am not often in situations where I could get to that point. I fail my child everyday but I tell myself to keep it balanced, keep it in perspective, keep trying. 

He will never have to go through as bad of a situation as I have. I will protect him to the best of my ability. I will give him all that I have. It has to be enough. I often think about how things might be different if I had waited to bring a child into this world, if I had waited until I had healed a little more. Then I realize that I don't know of anything else that could have been a catalyst for healing the way my son has been for me. 

I have been diagnosed with PTSD from his birth, which I am certain was really triggered by my abuse. I have only recently been able to accept that I was abused. I am still trying to convince myself that I don't have to protect him, (the abuser). I am not there quite yet. I am working on it. Anger is the stage where I am at in my healing. 

I go through most of my days joyfully but I am quick to anger. I am quick to protect myself and I do not trust most people. I am learning about myself all the time. One day I might get there. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take another step. There were things that I needed to say and I don't often have the opportunity. Please know that I am trying. Know that I honestly want what's best for my son.

To keep going, I have to believe that what I can give him is good enough. I have to believe that where I fail, others can pick up the slack. It kills me to dwell on how someone could reach into my life and affect my son. I wish I could draw the line.

 L, 24 years old"

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1 comment:

  1. Realizing you have been abused is hard especially when it is a family member who you trusted and needed in your life. I plan to share my experience that is somewhat similar and I hope it will give you encouragement as your experience did to me!