Posts Tagged ‘body memories’

	 Katie Pasquini Masopust

Katie Pasquini Masopust

“He raped me.” There have been days when I probably heard a little voice inside say that every 5 minutes. “He raped me.” It started before I could let myself know who the “he” was. I wanted to believe that I was only talking about my grandfather, but I knew in my gut that there was someone else and underneath that I was terrified that I knew who “he” was, even though I would rather have torn myself to shreds than accept who it might be. In fact, I pretty much was tearing myself to shreds.

I didn’t have any faces to my abusers in my memories for over 20 years, so I could save myself from facing just who had perpetrated the abuse that I was re-experiencing. But re-experience it I did, physically and emotionally. Over and over. I spent years in therapy dealing with the sadistic abuse with my grandfather and that helped a lot. It probably allowed the body memories to pretty much stop for a time; at least they became much less frequent and I was able to “put them away again” more easily for the years I was not in therapy. However, when I started therapy again, the flashbacks/body memories were frequent occurrences to me.

Almost as soon as I restarted my work with Mama Bear, I heard a voice saying, “He hurt me.”

Some of these flashbacks were the same body memories that I wrote about experiencing before I started therapy over 20 years ago. Some of them were new ones that I hadn’t dealt with before. Month after month I lived with them and suffered from them. For awhile I felt as though they threatened to take over my life and I was going to lose my mind- at that point Mama Bear got serious about reteaching me the containment and coping skills that I lost along the way. She hadn’t realized for months that I have no memory of the therapy work when I learned them the first time, so I had no idea of how to help myself through the flashbacks. It’s inside me somewhere, but I still haven’t come across wherever that period of time is stashed.

“He hurt me.”

Five or six times over a period of about 18 months, I would have a memory that involved my dad. The first time, I sent a panic stricken e-mail to Mama Bear, begging her to tell me that I was crazy, that it couldn’t be true. She phoned me, scraped me off the ceiling, and calmed me down by reassuring me that it might not mean what it seemed to on the surface. And in therapy I started to look at and admit that I don’t trust my dad; maybe he isn’t the ideal person that I have always felt obligated to believe he was.

“He hurt me.”

The next time, I was walking down a path and I was literally forced to my hands and knees by the force of the memory of having to do oral sex. I couldn’t get up for awhile and then I was consumed by rage at a world where “everyone else could live normally” while I was knocked over by such horrible, unbelievable things. I was furious with myself. I was furious with Mama Bear. I wanted to destroy everything and everyone around me, particularly myself.

“He hurt me.”

Another time I was on my 2 hour drive back from my session to where I lived at the time and I had to pull the car over, because a child part had pulled me into an understanding that I had a “day time Daddy” and a “night time Daddy”. One felt like someone I could trust and the other was a monster that I wanted to escape.

At some point “He raped me” joined “He hurt me.” He raped me?!? I couldn’t imagine how I could ever deal with that and I wanted for that voice to go away, but instead it became the predominant one.

Each time I would go to Mama Bear, tell her what I had experienced and then vacillate between going all the way to “my dad definitely abused me and did everything that I remember” and then ricocheting back to “there is no way that any of this happened, and there is something terribly, terribly wrong with me to even think about it.” Mama Bear just tried to steer a middle course, reflecting back to me that I didn’t yet know what happened and assuring me that either it would eventually become clear to me or it would not, but we did need to work with what was becoming increasingly clear to me: I wanted to have nothing to do with my father. I wanted him out of my life, I trusted him not at all, and I had a great deal of anger at him. Each time, I would deal with whatever crisis the flashback precipitated and then try to proceed as if it hadn’t happened, pretending as if all of the memories that I was dealing with related to my grandfather only and I didn’t know deep, deep down that my dad abused me.

“He hurt me. He raped me.”

Then my parts became increasingly involved. Last summer, they told me that I needed to listen to them and to believe them, because I wouldn’t be able to heal until I did so. I could understand why I needed to listen to them, but I was heartbroken, because I knew that I did not want to “hear” what they had to say. I proceeded to have flashback after flashback of being abused by “him.” I found myself admitting to Mama Bear that I was afraid that my dad had abused me but then I would step away and fall back into denial again. The numbers of different memories added up and eventually I had to admit to the obvious: my grandfather didn’t have enough access to me to do everything that I was remembering. There simply wasn’t enough time for that many different things to have happened. Admitting that there had to be someone else allowed something in me to relax, but also frightened me in other ways.

“He raped me.”

The flashbacks began to more clearly have my father in them some of the time and I started to do a terribly self destructive dance. I would have a flashback that lead me to the horror filled realization that my dad abused me and then I would find some way to bludgeon myself into explaining it all away. A day or two later, it would start again. I doubted my sanity and my integrity. What sort of a horrible, sick, perverted person was I to keep on thinking these things about my father? It was like I was shredding my soul 2 or 3 times a week and I began to feel as though I was killing some essential part of me by doing this over and over.

“He raped me.”

And then, at last, something changed inside and I just wasn’t willing to treat myself that way any longer. I finally found some self compassion and the strength to believe that the essential me needed to be treated gently and respectfully, which I had not been doing. Refusing to believe what my parts had been screaming at me for months wasn’t working, maybe I needed to give believing myself a try.

I still find it hard to believe myself much of the time. Who would want to believe such a thing? But I have found that even when I cannot tolerate believing the specifics, I can still believe the general fact that my dad hurt me badly and that hurt was sexual in nature. The rest of in I go in and out of depending on which part I am in contact with, how much stress I am under, how tired I am, etc.. The part of me that experienced the normal childhood and was completely walled off from the abuse still can’t accept it at all, which makes sense, because her job was to have no awareness of the abuse.

As I have started to tell Mama Bear about what happened with my father, that voice has quieted, not completely, but most of the way. I have come to understand that while, yes, I do seem to have memories of the sort of sexual contact that most people think of when they hear the word ‘rape’, what this voice was trying to tell me was much more than that. It was trying to express the sense of outrage and violation that I feel about all of the abuse. ‘Hurt’ is too mild of a term to describe what even less physically invasive sexual abuse is like for a child. It is an act of violence, pure and simple. Even when the perpetrator tries to disguise it as something “loving”, it is an act of violence. Even if it feels pleasant because of the way that the child is being stimulated, it is an act of violence. Even when there is no physical force or overt threat used, it still is an act of violence. Even if the child has to believe that she wants to be there, because knowing how much she hates it would destroy her, it still is an act of violence.

So, yes, that voice was telling me the truth, he raped me.

** Edited **
I feel a need to add an addendum… There is the way that the general public tends to define the word “rape,” which is quite limited and actually far more constricted than the legal definition. Too many of my experiences and I am sure the experiences of other sexually abused children satisfy the legal definition. In fact, for some people who experienced multiple forms of rape, the other forms of rape were even more traumatic than penile/vaginal rape. I say this because I really want for everyone who has experienced this type of violence to give themselves the full amount of self compassion that they deserve. The violence that you experienced was what you experienced, even if you think that it “should” be less serious than another type. And for those who have someone share such an experience with them, please don’t think, much less say, “At least it wasn’t rape.” Please listen to and have compassion for the pain that you hear, not what you believe you should hear.

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Title: Rachel Un-named artist

Title: Rachel
Un-named artist

“My body belongs to me.”

I’ve had that thought echoing around in my head for the last couple of days. Not all of me completely believes it, but more of me believes it than used to.

Unfortunately, I have a recurring body memory of a type of abuse that is difficult for me to accept happened to me. At this point, I have become resigned to the fact that not only must it have happened, but it likely happened at a variety of ages and I had different experiences with it. I seem to remember it from the different mind sets that I associate with being older or younger and sometimes the body memories just indicate pain, sometimes they simply are intrusive feeling, but not painful, and, worst of all, sometimes they seem to be memories of mixed pain and pleasure.

It took me much of a year to come to this point of acceptance and I thought that once I accepted that there was a basis in reality for the body memories, they would go away, but they didn’t. Thankfully, they did become easier to tolerate- yes, I am still dealing with horrible physical sensations, but at least I am no longer raking myself over the coals about whether I can believe myself or not. But why am I still experiencing those sensations on a frequent basis? Previously, I would have thought that there was something out of control inside or there was some harmful impulse involved, but I have recently learned that even when something seems to be completely out of character and to have no good purpose, if I sit with it for long enough, I may discover that there actually is a purpose.

So, I asked myself, “What do I need to understand from these body sensations? Is there a message or a lesson here for me?” And I sat quietly and listened.

The answer astonished me. In a weird sort of way, my claiming that those experiences happened to me also was a statement that my body belongs to me. There seems to be layer upon layer of meaning and implication for me here and I’ve been in a tiny bit of shock at the intensity of feelings involved. But, clearly, this is about my doing something very important to help myself and it’s actually a sign of healing.

Rather than simply rejecting the experience out of hand, I can now see that I need to accept what happened, in order to claim the me in the experience. Yes, I hated what happened, but it happened to me, it happened to my body. In order to be whole, I need to have ownership of my body, but if I make it in my mind that the abuse happened to “that body that I had as a child”, then I have rejected my body. It’s like I have made it my body’s fault that I felt the abuse, when my body was just doing its job: experiencing what was happening to it. The fault doesn’t lie with me for experiencing what happened, it lies with my abusers for putting me through the experiences. So somehow, the repeated body memories reflected the need to and I think even facilitated my shifting away from rejecting my body for feeling. I’m no longer furious with my body and I don’t feel like it betrayed me. I do feel very sad that I have been left in a state of feeling so much hatred for my body for so long.

Another layer is that I also felt as though this abuser wanted to possess me- that I was supposed to belong to him. But somehow, even as a child, I knew that his belief was wrong. I wasn’t supposed to belong to him. I wasn’t supposed to belong to anyone. I wasn’t sure what the relationship was supposed to be like, but I did know that people didn’t own other people. Unfortunately, I did a good job of “divorcing” myself from my body, so I didn’t understand that my body is irrevocably a part of the whole me. Because of the dissociation, I viewed it as something separate, so I had a lot of confusion as to whether he could own my body. He acted like he could do whatever he wanted to with it and he had control over my body during the abuse, not me. Anyways, I didn’t really want to be involved in what was going on. Much of the time I hated that I was trapped in a body that was being abused. If I could have gotten rid of my body, I would have; after all, I was rejecting my body and blaming it for feeling.

So I was left with confusion over whether he “owned” my body or not. What happened in these particular memories was experienced as being strongly dehumanizing and underlining how completely and utterly powerless I was in the situation. Can a “thing” own a body? Did his control over what was happening to me mean that he owned my body? If I couldn’t decide what happened to my body, how could it still belong to me? But if I can choose to “own” what happened to me then, somehow things change. I am no longer that child who was devastated by what was happening to her. While I don’t want to deal with what happened and I hate experiencing it in memories, the reality is that I can deal with it and tolerate it- at least in small doses. I most definitely am a person and not a thing and I do have power in my life. I now have power over what happens to this body that I am in. He controlled my body when I was alone with him as a child, but he didn’t really own it, not even then. Most certainly no one but me owns my body now.

It’s time for me to take off the blinders and see how much I have blamed my body and how resistant I have been to living in and experiencing things in my body. Most of what is there for me to exist is neutral to wonderful! I am missing so much by hating my body and pushing it away as hard as I can. It is time for me to accept that yes, that child’s body was my body. The abuse really did physically happen to me. I physically felt things that no child should ever feel. But none of it was my body’s fault. It’s time to accept and own that my body does belong to me. It’s time to start living in my body.

Note: Most likely I didn’t actually think any of this out nearly this clearly as a child, but it’s the best that I can “translate” what I am being told by my insides now. One of the problems about writing is that it makes everything seem so much more clear than it really is. I do not claim that I have clear memories of these experiences as a child, this simply is the best that I can piece together from remembered feeling states/ flashes of memories/ and bit of internal communication. It doesn’t really matter whether I am completely accurate about how I understood things/ felt then; I just need to get close enough to allow me to move forward with the healing that I need to do.

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Katie Pasquini Masopust Painted Canyon

Katie Pasquini Masopust
Painted Canyon

I hate my father right now. Please don’t tell me that I should forgive him or that hating him hurts me more than it hurts him. I think that sometimes there is a time and place for hating someone. For me that time is this period when I am finally accepting not only that my father abused me, but allowing myself to see and feel how that has affected me for most of my life. It is my way of laying claim to the certainty that what he did was completely and inexcusably wrong. He harmed me so badly. Yes, I am determined to recover from it, but I have spent 4 decades paying for his misuse of my body and my trust. I am so far beyond angry about that and I hate him right now. How else does a person express the level of rage and revulsion that she feels when she finally allows herself to experience what it was like to have her father do things to her that only lovers should do to each other?

I hate him for the fact that I have been experiencing body memories for 20 years, but my mind couldn’t let me know who was creating those sensations. I have spent decades remembering/feeling him doing things to me that no father should do to his daughter. This week has been especially intense in terms of body memories. There is one in particular that has come up repeatedly and brings up such feelings of rage. He taught me that he could take things that feel bad and combine them with pleasure to make them feel good. I feel so much outrage at both what he did and how he manipulated my body.

I hate him for daring to touch me, for acting like he had a right to my body. No one has a right to my body other than me. No one. Definitely not my father. I hate him for not caring about what his using me would do to me. I hate him for how my husband is paying for my father’s actions.

I so wish that he was not a part of the world. So much of me hates him so much right now that I wish that he was dead. I wish that I could wipe him off the face of the earth. I am so angry that he has a comfortable life when he has caused me so much pain. I hate him.

I hate him for the fact that I cooperated. I hate knowing that I did what he wanted for me to do. I hate remembering doing things to make him feel good. I hate that he gets between me and my husband when I try to touch my husband.

I hate him for not loving me. If you love someone, you don’t use her in a way that is going to scar her for life. Love and forcing your child to have sex with you just don’t go together. Don’t tell me that you loved me. I haven’t bought that lie in years. You were proud of me and glad that I could make you feel like you had done a good job by raising an accomplished daughter. I hate you for using the fact that I wanted your attention and wanted for you to love me when I was a child, though. I was so confused, because at last I felt like I was useful for something, but it felt wrong somehow. What you did left parts of me feeling like I’m only good for sex- I should just be used and then thrown in the trash. Or maybe that’s both you and grandpa.

I hate him for the fact that I think that things didn’t stop when I was six. I seem to remember things happening when I was 8 or 9 and then again somewhere in the 10-12 age range. I just hope that they happened for a little while and then stopped until they started up again. I thank God that he was in the military and would be gone for 6 to 9 months at a time, so I know that I definitely had periods of safety that way.

I hate him for the fact that I may lose my mother over his abusing me. Yes, she is the one who will have to choose how to respond if/when I tell her whatever I tell her. As much as I wish that I could avoid it, listening to myself, I suspect that I am going to need to confront her with some very unpleasant truths. I also fear that she won’t be able to deal with them. If he hadn’t abused me, we would have had a fighting chance if we only had to deal with the abuse by my grandfather.

At the moment, though, I think that I most hate him for my having to live with the physical memories. In most of them, I’m not even entirely sure what he did; I just know that he produced certain sensations in me and I know what sorts of actions on his part would do that. I get to go through the day, experiencing body memories at unexpected times. I might be sitting in the grocery store cafe, making a shopping list, when I feel myself being penetrated so painfully that I just want to curl up in a ball. Fortunately that happens rarely, more often it will be a case of my driving the car down the road and I will experience intrusive feelings of penetration. Or I will be standing on the playground, waiting for my daughter after school when I have phantom feelings of being stimulated. I was at the ballet tonight and I briefly experienced the memory that my mind is most struggling with with week. I know how to deal with it so that no one around me knows that anything is going on and I don’t let it stop me from getting done what I need to get done, but it is so wrong that I’m still feeling things that my father did 4 decades ago.

So, I hate him right now and I feel no guilt over hating him. I spent so much of my life trying to look at him positively, to my own detriment. Now I need to look at him honestly, even though that means that I hate my father. I’m guessing that the anger will ease eventually; it has for my grandfather. I’m not sure that I will ever be able to forgive him, unless he is able to apologize to me (which won’t happen), but I do hope that I will come to the point where he doesn’t matter enough for me to waste my emotional energy on. For right now, though, hating him is a part of my laying claim to being able name my reality. He hurt me badly enough for me to hate him. I’m not just angry at him, but I hate him.

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