Saturday, March 24, 2012

Horrifying Flashbacks ! Part X

"You’re a victim of sexual abuse.”

Dr. Osama told me that he could feel the spirit of victimization from the waiting room. This was my first visit; he didn’t know me or my history. At this time I only remembered being raped. When he said this, I started feeling uncomfortable about my father.
A few nights later, Jonathan started being intimate with me. As soon as he did I screamed, “Get off me!”
I felt my father on top of me; I could smell his alcoholic breath on my face. I was horrified when this sordid memory overwhelmed my body and mind. Jonathan immediately left our bedroom. I was completely devastated; my whole world caved in on me at the age of 38.
I couldn’t sleep; I was shaking.
I pulled the covers over myself in the morning and cried. My heart was completely crushed; my life felt like splintered glass on a tile floor. One flashback and my world completely changed. I understood now why I was always so uncomfortable around my dad.
Shortly after this memory I was eating dinner with my children and husband. Suddenly I felt my dad’s hand on my inner thigh and I started to panic. Nauseated, I quickly left the table.
In counseling I didn’t want to talk about my flashbacks so I focused on my unfaithfulness. Dr. O tried to talk with me about my marriage. I didn’t want to talk about Jonathan. I felt defensive because I had already stopped having affairs and thought that our destructive behavior was behind us.
Dr. O was able to see things I didn’t yet remember. One day he asked me who had made a blood sacrifice for my soul. My grandmother was standing beside me in a black cloak; I was two years old. I didn’t understand at the time what I was seeing.
Another session Dr. O asked me who else was molested in my family. I saw several family members standing in a circle. This picture horrified me even more. I may not have been the only victim in my family !
Not long after these pictures invaded my life my anxiety and insomnia escalated and I stopped caring about anything. Everything became a blur to me. I don’t remember much during this season in my life except the harsh reality of being a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I seldom worked at our architectural firm and was barely able to keep up with household routines. Faith was suffering with her eating disorder; Hope was involved with a troubled boyfriend; and John, our 12 year old son was enjoying his newly found freedom.
When I tried to share with Jonathan what I was remembering he was silent and within minutes would head back to the office.
I felt so alone, worthless, ashamed and disgusted.
Because I was too uncomfortable to talk about sexual abuse with any male I changed counselors. I was referred to Martha Bates a family therapist. I thought I could put the abuse behind me now and talk about my family issues. 
Was I ever wrong !
When Martha gently began asking about my childhood I had my first flashback in her office. I was six years old. My hair was in two braids. I told Martha that it couldn’t have been me because I never had long hair. She asked me to find a picture of myself at that age. I had to contact my mother and casually ask if she had any pictures of my childhood because I never saw any. My mom dropped off a file with less than a dozen pictures of my childhood.
There I was with braids at age 6 sitting on a bicycle !
I took the picture to Martha’s office. Again she gently asked me what happened. The entire scene unfolded before me. I was in my bedroom with my dad. I was sitting on his lap and he was forcing himself in me. Mom was in the kitchen. When he left my room, I banged my head on the wall and threw a huge tantrum; mom ignored me.
Each counseling session I would see a picture and try to dismiss it as my imagination. Martha assured me that I was telling the truth about what I saw happening to me.  My memories often came like an old slide show, usually one or two individual scenes at a time in no chronological order. When I saw the scene I regressed to the age I was at that time and felt the terrifying, disgusting and often painful feelings. Sometimes I would curl up in a ball on her office floor. Martha, an angel always managed to comfort and support me before I went home.
Because my life was becoming more and more unmanageable Martha referred me to an inpatient facility.
I had intense individual and group therapy daily. We women were sheltered from the outside world. Because we were all victims of childhood sexual abuse we created a strong bond and were able to share what memories we had at this time. The counselors worked with us to talk about our memories and express our anger. I was told by the psychiatrist that I may have bipolar tendencies; this really scared me because I thought that I must be crazy. I refused the medication that he suggested. He also told me to stop smiling like I was at a perpetual tea party. I had to carry around a mirror for a few days to see the emotional pain in my own eyes.
One evening in group therapy, one of the women started to share what happened to her at the hands of several perpetrators. I suddenly started screaming and screaming, and couldn’t stop. I felt like I was experiencing a level of terror inside me that would kill me; I frightened myself by my hysteria. Afterward for days I felt completely disconnected from my body; my mind was racing out of control with unending fragmented thoughts !
Just when I thought I couldn’t live through this nightmare my thoughts gradually slowed down and some of my anxiety was eased. After a few more weeks I became calmer. Finally it was time to leave. Driving home with Jonathan I wondered what my life would be like now.
It didn’t take very long for me to make a decision.
I wanted to face my dad . . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Self-Destructive Path Part IX

“I’m in love and want a divorce !”
I had met a younger man at work; he flirted with me and suggested we meet. I acted impulsively and met him at his apartment. I became intoxicated with Matt and our affair. After three months, I blurted out to Jonathan that I was in love with another man. I wanted to arouse his attention. His reaction shocked me !
Sarcastically, Jonathan retorted, “You don’t know what love is.  I’ll be sure you won’t get your kids. Everybody knows you’re crazy !”
I was angry and hurt and became even more reckless, involving myself in several affairs over a period of 6 years. Each time I swore to myself that I wouldn’t do it again. I felt ashamed of myself, but couldn’t seem to stop. I wanted to be desired, the one thing my husband wouldn’t demonstrate. I continued my self-destructive behavior clandestinely while behaving like a perfect wife and a mother. My lifestyle also affected my job since two of the men worked in the company. My self-esteem and body image sank to a new low. I became dangerously thin and continued to have chronic nightmares, anxiety and insomnia.
During this time, Jonathan completely ignored me and focused on his successful architectural career. He often had business meetings out-of-town with clients, many of whom were women that he said were his friends. Later I found out differently. I still loved Jonathan and felt like a failure as a wife. I exercised daily and kept myself lean, hoping he would show desire for me. Nothing worked.
We continued to participate in activities with our kids and other families. Our children were becoming successful in all of their music lessons, dance, sports and education. When they were in high school we moved to a larger home with a beautiful pool in our backyard. I made a decision to stop involving myself with other men. Our family life improved. We were kinder to each other and had dates together.
Then everything suddenly changed.
While on a family vacation with another family we heard frightening news about our daughter from her closest friend.
Faith was bulimic.
I had never before even heard this term so I researched to find out about this dangerous eating disorder. I couldn’t imagine why Faith would want to harm herself when she was so beautiful and talented in every way. She was my perfect child, an excellent student, pianist, artist, and dancer. It just didn’t make any sense to me. 
My perception of having the perfect family dissolved overnight.
When we forced Faith into an inpatient program for eating disorders she stopped talking to either of us. After a week in family therapy, I began experiencing a higher level of anxiety and insomnia. We learned that 86 percent of people with eating disorders had been molested at some point in their lives. I started worrying, but couldn’t figure out what was bothering me.
Within that week a close friend handed me a book on INCEST, stating that I might find it interesting.  I immediately read the book and started shaking with panic. Because I couldn’t sleep, I sought counseling and found Dr. Osama, a psychologist.
Meeting him that first day forever changed my life . . . 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Raped ! Part VIII

“Please don’t do this, I could get pregnant !” I begged and begged . . . .
How could I have ever known that my friend and neighbor would do this to me ??? We two couples had gone out for dinner the night before. When I woke up in the morning I was sick with the flu and stayed home from work.
I heard someone knocking on my front door. I opened it to find Andrew pushing through it. His eyes were glazed over; he looked like he was on drugs. He started mumbling about how much he wanted me and began pushing me into my bedroom. I was horrified ! I tried to resist him but was afraid to hit or kick him; I was conflicted because he was a doctor and our friend whom I respected until this moment. His wife, Lana and I spent lots of time together because our children were friends. I was begging and crying and pleading that he leave, stating that this would hurt everyone.
He yanked off my nightgown, pushed me down on the bed, and was forcing himself into me when I cried that I could get pregnant ! Instead, he forced me to have oral sex with him. It was disgusting, vile, humiliating and nauseating. I gagged and gagged; it didn’t stop him.
Finally when he was done he kept saying how much he loved me. I was repulsed and just wanted him to leave. When he finally left, I showered and showered for a long time and couldn’t get clean. I was in a state of shock !
The next day I received a bouquet of long-stem red roses from Lana with a THANK YOU note in it ! I realized that Andrew and she had discussed this and was a part of this insidious violation against me. I didn’t want to tell anyone because of our family ties and I felt overwhelming shame from the assault. I kept reliving it, thinking why hadn't I hit or kicked him ? Why didn't I scream ? Why was I so passive ? I was also afraid of Jonathan’s reaction so I kept it to myself.
Apparently the following morning I called Madeline, a close friend and said, “My father raped me !” I still don’t remember this conversation. Madeline told me that I was yelling at her as if she were my mother and involved in the assault.
I couldn’t sleep and started having nightmares. I looked up the phone number of a counselor at the church in which I grew up because I had gone back to it after Jonathan and I left our home church. I told Jerry, the counselor what had happened to me and that I was afraid to tell Jonathan. Jerry asked if he could tell Jonathan in my presence in the counseling office; I hesitatingly agreed.
While in Jerry’s office Jonathan was told that Andrew had raped me. The look Jonathan gave me made me feel guilty and more ashamed of myself; he was actually blaming me for being raped ! I couldn’t believe that he could be so insensitive and mean. I was betrayed by Jonathan, too. Something inside of me said that I wanted this to happen, that I had asked for it. I was NEVER interested in or attracted to Andrew and I would NEVER sleep with a married man. I loved Jonathan and wanted to be his alone.
I felt guilty and worthless because the one person I trusted, my own spouse, didn’t believe me. I had been faithful to Jonathan since our marriage of over ten years.
At age 30 I felt abandoned and alone.
Thus began a season of self-sabotage . . .

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Control Control Part VII

Our church group became more prominent in our lives and demanding of our time and resources. We were spending more time in meetings than any time as a family. I began complaining and begging for more family time together to no avail. I thought if we moved we would break free from this control over us.
I hoped that if we were to move to my hometown things would be better. When our daughter was nearly a one year old I desperately begged to move home. Jonathan finally agreed and found a job there. I was thrilled to think that I would be near friends and family again. The elders of our home church influenced us to start a church in our home. We met neighbors and connected with others who were doing the same. Shortly after we arrived I found out that I was pregnant again.
I still didn’t have any desire to spend time with my family of origin; I still didn’t know why they caused me so much emotional turmoil. So we created a new family within our church group. We began to grow as a group and bring in many members. We were still in contact with the elders from our previous group; they came and spoke and continued to influence our decisions. Though our faith was growing in God’s love for us we were in conflict because we felt constrained and somewhat controlled by the group. At this time our second daughter, Hope was born. Now we had two beautiful daughters which brought great joy into my life.
During this time a subtle shift was taking place within our group from practicing love to incorporating legalism in the form of lifestyle. We were told that we were too worldly because we had recently bought a new car. I was told that my dresses needed to be floor-length so as not to cause any men to sin. The judgment evolved into blatant accusations; rather than being encouraged we were being reprimanded.
We became increasingly disillusioned with our church. Jonathan was blamed for conflicts within our group. Other elders came and started preaching condemning beliefs. We began talking about the possibility of leaving the church we helped create. Before we did, an elder prophesied that I would have a son and that he would be a healer; I was only 23 and didn’t have knowledge available for distinguishing the gender of my unborn child.
After the birth of our son I began to have panic attacks and nightmares about demons; I couldn’t sleep. I was told by elders that I was sinful and needed to be delivered. I began to feel worthless and nearly stopped eating altogether because I was disgusted with my body. I felt that I needed to be perfect in every way so that my husband would pay attention to me. He was too busy creating a career in architecture to notice that I was dwindling away. Between caring for three children, cooking, shopping and attending meetings, I couldn’t rest without constantly cleaning our home and everything in it.
As my life was falling apart, Jonathan was building a successful career for himself. We moved to a larger home and were able to live a more affluent lifestyle. He finally told the church group that we were leaving; they condemned us. Jonathan began spending less and less time at home, going on business trips with clients; one in particular was a woman. I felt intimidated by her power as a business woman and suggested that he was having an affair with her. He told me that I was crazy; I believed him. A high school friend said that I was too trusting and that I should look out for myself by getting a job in case I needed to support myself one day. I applied at a large company and was immediately hired in the personnel department. I began to feel a little better about myself when I realized that I was proficient at many things.
Then one morning something terrible happened to me to change the course of my life . . . .