It has been wicked hard. Denying that would only make me a fool. Time does (as time will) soften the hard edges as I gingerly walk out the other side more whole, more healed, changed. The word we like to use is "transformed". Indeed.
From the sanding of layers off of the foyer floor to the peeling of layers off of myself it was a ride worth taking. There were days where I shook. Literally, arms and hands doing their own thing in spite of my resistance while tears streaked to freedom, leaping bravely from chin to lap. There was ritual and meditation, trance and candles, speaking and being heard. Truly and deeply heard with the heart and soul of others instead of mere pinging off of ears. I am so very grateful to have been heard..
I found some old papers done on the first dozen or so years ago foray into deeply healing from the issues of my childhood. Papers written stream-of-consciousness style as an exercise of catharsis. I was gobsmacked by the fact that the clear precedent set by the first experience of sexual abuse was completely missing from this emotional wreck and dreck spread across several pages. Absent! Yet never forgotten. Merely misclassified allowing this piece to reemerge as my Work for the dark year.
How …. fascinating I found it to be when I removed myself from the scenario and looked on as the objective observer. How very ironic. Irony always amuses me though admittedly this time it was bitter amusement. I swallowed the bitterness and moved on. Details, details, as always the answer lies in the details. *laughs*
The first incident. I was in 8th grade. He was a neighbor. A married neighbor. The one who repeatedly molested and eventually raped me. The phrase "stealing her virginity" echoed in my head for years.The one who then stalked me before stalking was ever heard of or a crime, who followed me in his truck to and from the school bus. Who showed up months later once I was in 9th grade at my new school, months after it had ended begging and offering gifts. Who phoned my house and taught me to keep my bedroom drapes tightly drawn because the curve in the street allowed him to see straight into my room. Who still harassed years later until they finally, blissfully, moved and I never heard from him again.
It was what planted the shame and set my pattern for believing my lack of worth was real. For the subsequent abuses by the family member and his friends. (We're taught to share, yes? He learned that lesson well.) It forbade true intimacy and deep tenderness and connection with others. It created another Self that lived inside of me hidden and small and certain of my complicity in the horrid things that became an everyday part of my teen years.
Oddly enough, the "it" that I now speak is not the actual abuse by itself that did this to me. "It" was the not being believed nor helped when I told. I actually told. Adults. Trusted ones. Or rather, ones who I was supposed to be able to trust. Three people I told, including a clergyman and teacher. I was not believed by the first. Which led to rumours and tittering behind hands by the neighbors because we live in the suburbs! In a nice neighborhood! It cannot be! Therefore, she is lying. Or if true, it is her fault. Jezebel!
Stubborn I was, but even more so I was bone deep miserable. So I told again. The clergyman. Safe, yes? Helpful, yes? His best idea (and final one as I never returned to his office nor to regular church attendance again) was inquiring as to whether I thought I could bed him, too. Strike two.
Strike three came with the teacher. This was now many months after it had ended, but I was still being pursued by the perpetrator. I ran into the teacher at a high school football game. He had been a favourite teacher when I was in middle school. He innocently asked how I was doing, and I spilled it. All of it. Shocked to silence then grasping for words he was left with nothing to say except that he was sorry and he had no advice other than telling the people I had already told. Third strike, I'm out. At least he neither called me a liar nor propositioned me. He wins!
So you see that is how things go missing from subsequent healing. I did what I thought I should. I stopped the abuse. I told. I expected help. I expected to be saved from the horror by the adults in my life. I hoped to feel clean and good and worthy again. Expectations and hope unfulfilled I was left to internalize what as a child I felt had to be the truth: I was dirty and unworthy and a horrible person. I did not deserve assistance because it was indeed my worst fear - it was all my fault. As such, it could not be part of the abuse puzzle. It would not be written on those pages years later. It was of course still written on my soul.
I was asked (along with a coreligionist) this past October to speak to a group of 8th graders about my spiritual path. It was part of their curriculum to cover many and varied religions. I was nervous (!) but prepared. As I sat while they filed into the room I was struck by their youth. I told myself as the buzzing began in the back of my brain that they appeared so much younger because it was October 31st and they were dressed in costume. That had to be it because I know what an 8th grader looks like. I know what one is. They are much older and more adult and responsible for their actions. These must be impostors!
As the buzzing grew louder my hands shook and my voice wavered. I felt my world tilt and shift. I knew nothing would ever be the same. I knew I would never be the same. To stop the infernal buzzing I did what I had taught myself to do those decades before. I dissociated. I numbed. I swooped down deep inside myself, but instead of staying there I merely left a piece of me there. I pulled back the Self I knew that I now was and as my hands and voice steadied I did my presentation.
I could not leave that room fast enough. I was stopped multiple times in the hallway with praise from the kids. I could not breathe. I mumbled some must-have-been satisfactory answer to my husband's inquiry as to how the class went when I arrived home. And the shaking began anew. As did the Work. It hit on every aspect of the original and subsequent abuses sans the knife-at-the-throat incident …. hhhhmmmm except in a roundabout way it hit there, too.
It has been 3 months now. The puzzle has more pieces properly placed with responsibility where it actually lies. I have deepened connections. I can breathe. What has arisen from all this work as I move toward the light part of year? Tenderness. Deep transforming tenderness. A future blog post may address how this came to be.
Usual explanation here: This is a public post with comments on. If you wish for your responses to remain private feel free to email, message or text me. This will filter to my Facebook account which is open to everyone. As deeply terrifying as it is to make these things public it pales in comparison to the feeling of isolation by those who feel they must remain silent. I have never yet spoken or blogged about these issues without at least one person finding their voice because of it. I believe along with the ones who make themselves known to me there are others who find their voice even if I am not the one who hears them. It is for them that I stand open and vulnerable, peeling back layers. I was them and they need to know they are not alone.
(You all have no idea how much I wish to turn comments off and catch and delete this when it hits FB. I will be brave, damnit!)
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