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 . . . .


  1. I don't know if I have ever had a full-blown flashback, certainly none of the scale that you describe here. I wonder if it is because I have 6 years of memories from age 11-17 that I never forgot. I have clues that I was abused before the age of 3 but I don't have those memories. I sometimes wonder if they will ever return. I also know that something major happened when I was 7 years old but again, I don't remember what it was. You are so brave to share your story.

  2. Thank you, Patricia. I see you as my mentor :) It is amazing how unique we survivors are. I still have feelings that haunt me with no memory attached. Most of my memories either came as flashbacks, in dream scenes or in counseling. I was so afraid to see the horrible scenes alone. When I journaled lots of stuff came out with the little ones; they finally felt safe with me. But still after all these years I know there are memories that just haven't been revealed. Right now I am having an enlightening moment about my feelings everytime I sit at the dinner table with any family members other than Jacques. I feel ignored, rejected, ridiculed, disrespected and shamed by their reactions to me. I am remembering that this occurred when I was very young at our family table, so I need to work on this soon. I believe that because I am finally openly sharing the truth about my life I am being given these new insights by God. Love is surrounding me and I am feeling hopeful that I will gradually experience more healing in core areas. You are so precious to me; you have influenced me to reach out again about child abuse. Thank you :)

  3. Thank u .... I thought I was the only one who realized it at a later age and so close to the age you did ..I was 36/37 my family didn't believe me only my parents and they are gone now .... They kept asking why it took so long to remember ...thank you I feel so alone because I am older 48 and still cannot deal ...just started counseling ...hugs love I didn't post my name right don't know how to fix it ... W

    1. You have my support, dear one ! I actually remembered for a moment after I was raped at age 30; then forgot, then remembered at about age 36. I get dates confused sometimes, also words and thoughts out of order. Thankfully I WRITE so I can edit :)

      I am praying for your healing and that hope permeates your being.

      You are NOT alone. You are STRONG, courageous and beautiful!