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Archive for November, 2014

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. I spent the whole day only about 50-60% here and the other 40-50% was a frightened, upset child state that I kept on trying to block. It seemed that whenever I stopped resisting, I would start to slide into another way of thinking and being.

Mama Bear had to go out of town for a few days, however she was clear that I should call her if I needed to talk. Knowing when to call before I hit a major crisis has always been problematic, however she keeps on telling me to contact her when I have tried to ground and present center repeatedly and I just can’t get it to work on my own. So, for once I contacted her at a point when I wasn’t completely wigged out and all we could do was to try to scrape me off the ceiling.

I told her most of what was going on, and she started to talk me through present centering for the 5,000th time (I can do it on my own now until I hit a certain point when I need the presence of another to help make it work). As I became more present centered, I also became more aware of what the part that I was struggling with was feeling and I told her, “Now I just need to convince this part that there is nothing now to be so frightened of.”

Her response was interesting: “Do you really need to try to convince that part? I’m not sure that it’s possible to convince it right now. Do you think that you could just allow the fear to be there, while you focus on being as present centered and aware that there is nothing in the moment to be afraid of? Maybe you could at least not be afraid of the fear.”

I thought about it and said, “That’s a lot easier to say than to do!”

She laughed, “You put that a lot more nicely than some of my clients do!”

However, it got me thinking. I know from experience that fighting against what I don’t want to experience doesn’t go well. It may eventually fade away but, in the mean time, I spend a considerable amount of time distressed. More likely, I resist until it breaks through and comes through as a flashback. Was there a different way of handling it?

Later that evening, I had some time and space to myself. My daughter was out of the house for a couple of hours, so I didn’t have to hold things together for her. I decided to stop fighting the feelings and instead just focus on being aware of exactly where I was, sitting on my bed, with my cozy quilts surrounding me and my favorite fleece blanket wrapped around me, as an adult, in 2014, with a family of my own.

What came out first was a lot of grief and pain and confusion. I could feel how very much I needed to believe as a child that my dad loved me. How much I needed to believe that he didn’t want to hurt me. It just happened. I desperately wanted to not even need to ask, “Does he love me? Does he want to hurt me?” And don’t know what the answers were then and I’m still confused about it in the here and now. And now I am confused about things like, “What would being loved by him even feel like or look like? I want to be loved by a father, but do I even want to be loved by my father now? I don’t mean, “Do I want to try to create a loving relationship with him?”, I mean, “Would I even want to know from a distance that he has some love for me?”

I’ve realized that while some of me needed to believe that he loved me, some of me also needed to believe that he didn’t love me. How could anyone do those things to a child that they actually loved? If he did somehow love me and still did them, that’s even worse than him not loving me. It’s far more frightening for someone who loves you to hurt you than to be hurt by someone who is supposed to, but doesn’t love you. It makes the whole world a much more frightening place, if you can’t actually be safe with the people who do love you.

I know that my dad would say that he loves me and he believes that he does, but I keep on going back to the question, “How could you hurt someone that badly, over and over, if you really love them?” Raping your daughter isn’t like just striking out in anger, something being done on a flash impulse and done in an instant. You don’t just find yourself in her bedroom in the middle of the night, unless you decide to go there. You don’t end up in her bed by accident.

What does love mean, if you can rape someone when you love her? Even if it isn’t violent? But still, it makes her cry.

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Something keeps on going around in my mind…

I experienced my grandfather as enjoying hurting me. I believe that he derived pleasure from my terror and pain. I don’t think that it’s possible to fully describe what it’s like to know that your terror and pain is giving someone else pleasure. Yes, it’s frightening to know that you are under their control and what makes them feel good is very, very bad for you, but, for me, even worse than that was feeling as though for that time my purpose was to be hurt. In that focused time and space, there was nothing more to me. I was worth nothing. The phrase that comes to mind is “soul murder”, not because he actually killed off my soul, but because there was something about it all that felt as though it was an act of that level of violence against my soul.

The odd thing about it all is that even though what my grandfather did felt extremely violent and I was terrified about what he might do and in fear of my life at times, I get the sense that he was careful to always send me back to my mother with no physical evidence that would have shouted, “abuse!” to her. I think that he created more psychological pain and trauma, than physical. There are a few memories of very, very intense pain, but most of it seems to have been pretty numb physically, but with the emotions at over the top, mind shattering levels. He abused me with items that could have caused a great deal of physical damage and I was terrified as to what could happen, but he used them in ways that caused psychological scars, not physical scars.

I experienced it all as my grandfather trying to destroy me. It was like he was trying to crush the me out of me. Exactly what his motivations and mindset actually actually were, I will never know, but my sense of what he got out of abusing me isn’t ambiguous. It certainly could be wrong in areas, but I strongly doubt that it would have been completely wrong. He abused me because my suffering pleased him. The man was sadistic.

On the other hand, things with my dad were very different. Putting the different impressions that I have from memories together with my everyday knowledge of my father, I don’t think that he abused me because he was cruel. The abuse was cruel because it was abuse and sometimes he may have done things intending to hurt me, but I don’t think that was his over riding motivation. My father is self centered and does not take others’ needs into account, but he isn’t so motivated by wanting for others to suffer. He may act cruelly because he needs to feel more powerful or his needs/desires conflict with those of another person, but the suffering of others is a by product of his actions, rather than a goal. My father hurt me badly, but he is not a sadist.

My sense is that he abused me because he felt that he needed something. I think that it’s likely that he didn’t know why he was doing what he was doing. Whatever it was, though it wasn’t the need to destroy me.

I would be surprised if my grandfather didn’t sexually abuse my father. Because of the different types of motivation, the types of abuse that I remember with the two men tend to be different. However, there are a couple of odd things that I am sure that my grandfather did, but for months I have been getting hints in my mind that my father did them as well. Recently, it’s been stronger than hints. My instinct is that these “crueler” things that he did may have been re enactments of abuse that my grandfather might have done to him. Just a hypothesis, yes, and not something to rely on being correct, but it fits and it “feels” right.

My dad has always had such a strong need to be a “good guy” that I have no idea of how he could have justified even the more “normal” abuse that he was doing. That was one of my arguments for years as to why he couldn’t have abused me. Molesting your daughter just can’t be turned into a “good guy” type of activity.

I do have an idea of how he might have managed it, however. I don’t know if this simply was how I perceived things, or if it was influenced by how he perceived himself while he was abusing me as well… When I was young, I have more of a sense of it being my dad in the memories, but as I got older, more and more often I have a sense of the man being “Him/ He.” When I remember “Him,” “He” has no face or other defining characteristics, but I also know that “He” could only have been my father. God only knows how much my father would have needed some survival tool like dissociation in order to survive growing up in my grandfather’s house. I really wonder if he might have dealt with his conflicts over abusing me by dissociating and “He” really had seemed different to me from my daytime daddy. Did he wall off what he was doing, to protect himself from the guilt and conflict that would have come from abusing me?

There have been times of extreme stress when I have harmed myself, but the experience was as if I had no control over my actions. “I” was far back and only an observer; another part was controlling my actions and being driven by memories that “I” couldn’t even access at the time. I knew that the actions were wrong and that I should stop myself, but I felt trapped at the back and without any ability to change what was happening. I didn’t even understand why I was doing what I was doing and what it signified. Did my father experience something similar, but instead of harming himself, he harmed me. And instead of it happening a few times, it happened regularly over a period of more than a decade with him. Doing something wrong in a dissociative state is no excuse for what you are doing, it just means that you have to fight hard to find a way to alter your behaviors/ stop what you are doing.

I know. I don’t really know anything about why my dad abused me and I am not wedded to any of this, but “listening to” and putting together my impressions/ understandings from different places inside of me helps things feel less wildly confusing. It at least helps me to see that there are possible reasons that make a weird sort of sense, rather than it just being the case that my daddy must have hated me, or that I was bad and brought it out in him, or that my main purpose while I was growing up was to be sexually used, or that people will just randomly do such horrible things to the people that they are supposed to love. I may find the reasons unacceptable and the behaviors inexcusable, but it helps to know that there is some sort of reason to what happened, even though I won’t ever actually know exactly what those reasons were.

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