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Posts Tagged ‘DDNOS/ OSDD’

I have really been struggleing with an inner battle over believing myself about the abuse with my father- especially the more severe abuse. This has been going on for months, more or less constantly. It’s always in the background, even if it isn’t the center of the work that I am doing. Sometimes I find some peace with the disagreement between my inner and outer selves as to what happened, but often it leaves me feeling at such odds with myself. 

Mama Bear and I have tried to look at the question of, “Well, what would it mean if he really did the things that I seem to remember?” without saying that he actually did. Sometimes I can get somewhere, but often my mind just completely freezes. We try grounding in the safe now and that does seem to help me to feel better in other ways, but I just can’t get past this refusal to belief myself. 

I have tried treating my young parts with compassion and meeting them where they are as best I can. Yet again, very important and helpful, but it doesn’t get past this sense that I Cannot Believe It Happened.  Period. It feels like the world will fall apart/ I will run crazy and destroy everyone and everything around me with my rage/ I can’t live with it/ everyone will be able to see what happened/ I will lose everything/ it will destroy me. 

This morning, I realized That I feel so much anger at my mother. So much of me either believes at some level she knew something was wrong or doesn’t care that she didn’t know that he was abusing me because she should have.

I know that she wasn’t responsible for the abuse, he was, but she helped to create a situation that let it keep on happening. I don’t want to believe it, but she had a part in my being hurt so badly. She has some blame.

I hate this so much. I don’t want for her to have had a part in my being hurt. 

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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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“The most purely painful thing about the abuse is how it has affected my relationship with my mother.”

“Yes. You know, it is your dilemma with your mother that has made everything else be so very hard to deal with over the years.” Mama Bear looked at me carefully as she chanced this sympathetic, but blunt statement.

I just nodded my head and said, “Yes, I do know.” I have known for years that I was trying to protect my mother, but I always thought of it as protecting her from the pain of not having protected me from being abused by my grandfather. I have been trying to protect far more than that, though; it’s our basic ability to have any relationship at all that feels at risk. In fact, that’s what I have been trying to protect since my dad started to abuse me, so it is the habit of most of a lifetime. And that’s why I couldn’t allow myself to believe that my dad abused me, no matter what other costs there might be. Over all, I could not “destroy” my relationship with her; never mind that if it is destroyed, it will be destroyed by the pressures of the abuse, not me.

Over the last 6 months, I have said to her as loudly as possible without actually coming out and saying the words, “I don’t want to have anything to do with my father.” I have refused to speak to him on the phone, insisted that he pass the phone to my mother, and gone to some lengths to arrange for my calls to go directly to her, rather than through him. I say nothing about him in any of my communication with her. While I did send cards and gifts for Mother’s Day and her birthday, I did not acknowledge his birthday or Father’s Day at all.
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Despite all of this, she still manages to pretend that all is well and she recently asked if she and my father could take my daughter on a trip. I her lack of reaction demonstrates to me that the only way I might get some acknowledgement from her would be if I am very blunt with her about how I feel, at least to the point of saying that I do not feel at all comfortable with my father and I do not plan on either myself or my daughter being in the same room with him again. On the other hand, she just might act like I said nothing- at this point I can’t predict the extent that she will go to in order to not acknowledge what is going on.

This is a painful situation for me now. I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. Either I can accept the status quo and have no acknowledgement at all as to all of my pain and suffering, or I confront her and stand the very real chance of it all blowing up in my face. I can’t imagine a good outcome that I think has any real chance of happening. On the other hand, not saying anything is eating me up inside and complicating my healing.

Unlike what any semi healthy mother would do, she isn’t ever going to come to me and say, “obviously something is going on, talk with me.” If she was capable of it, she would have done so years ago. It’s all going to be on me to initiate and lead any discussion that we might have. And it’s going to be on me to absorb the pain when she can’t react with concern for me about my feeling that it is so impossible to have a relationship with my father. I don’t know whether she will be defensive, hurt, protective of my father, in shock, angry with me, or if she will simply act like I didn’t say anything. I am 99% certain that I will have to either take care of her, protect myself, or both. I can’t escape this dilemma without experiencing a great deal of pain where she is concerned. Pain that I have been avoiding for so very long.

At the end of me session today, it hit me that I need to know that it is ok for me to talk about the abuse with my dad. Not just the abuse that I am pretty certain happened the way that I remember it, but especially the abuse that I am terribly confused about. I need for it to be ok to talk about it from the place that believes that it happened exactly that way, but also have it understood that I have some reasons to believe that some things didn’t actually happen the way that I think that they did. I need to know that it will all be accepted and safe for me to talk about, both the believing and the not believing.

Mama Bear listened to me say this and she agreed that I need to be able to talk about these things in regards to my dad, but she also reminded me that it is very important that I be working on helping the traumatized parts feel safe and connected to the here and now. “When you talk about what happened and those parts of you don’t feel safe enough, the part of you that beats up on the rest of you gets activated. When you were a child, you absolutely could not afford to remember what was going on. That part of you kept the rest of you quiet and separate, so you could go about your business and actually manage to have a life and grow up. Now, when you talk about what happened, we need to make sure that you feel safe enough, so that part won’t come out and harm you. Keeping you terrorized will only make all of this take longer. This part is too frightened to understand that she is making things worse for you, rather than helping you now. How do you feel about what I have said?”

“It feels right. I understand better now why you keep on pushing me to defocus from the memories and place more focus on calming and soothing the traumatized parts. When things gets to be too overwhelming, it does bring out my self destructive part.”

Walking home from the session, it became increasingly clear to me just how desperately I needed to not “know” about the abuse when I was young. I had to dissociate my knowledge of what was happening, not just because the abuse acts themselves were too much to deal with, but because I was so convinced that my mom would pick my dad over me. My mom was my only sense of stability and safety in the world, so the prospect of losing her was as threatening as an obviously life and death situation.

I have remained stuck in that feeling for all of these years since: I cannot do anything that would create a situation where she might chose my father over me. Never mind that I haven’t lived with her or relied on her for financial support for over 25 years. Or that I went for a period of almost 10 years without speaking to either of my parents. Or that I am hardly speaking to her now and I am getting all of my emotional support and nurturing from other sources.

I’m unable to forget that I love her so very much and I know that she loves me. It’s hard enough feeling my love for her in the now, but I also feel that over riding child’s love, where it feels as though the sun rises and falls in my mother. She is the person I loved first in the world and she is the person whose love kept me whole enough to keep on going, even in the face of the abuse by my father and grandfather.

But something else has to give now. It can’t be my sacrificing my ability to own my own story any longer. I don’t know yet what it will be, but I do know that something has to give.

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A lot of my memories are very physical in nature. I remember a lot more of what happened in the abuse via sensations/ emotions/ just knowing than I do via visual memories.

One of the memories that I have been struggling with lately is the sensation of wishing for my father to do good feeling things to me. Needless to say, this has brought up intense feelings of shame, horror, disgust, and self loathing. It took me a few weeks, but I finally managed to talk about it in session with Mama Bear last week and she brought up several good points that I will talk about in a bit, but she missed the most obvious one: I knew that the abuse could feel just bad or a mixture of good and bad, so when I knew that something was going to happen, I would hope that it would be something that mixed the good and bad sensations.

There were things that my father would do that were pleasurable for my body, sometimes very much so. Bodies, including children’s bodies, are set up to have defined physical responses when they are stimulated in particular ways at certain locations. Even some young children can be stimulated to orgasm some of the time. It isn’t a case of anything being wrong with the child, it is a case of the child’s body being used against her.

It is extremely confusing to experience physical and/or emotional pain in combination with sexual pleasure. In some ways it adds another layer of pain to what is happening. At the same time, for me, having some pleasure was easier for me than not only just feeling negative physical sensations, but also experiencing the loneliness of feeling like an object that was being used and thrown aside. If he cared enough to make me feel good, then in my mind that meant that he cared about me and he remembered that I was there and I was a person who felt things.

Being sexually abused is extremely objectifying and dehumanizing. It was more so with my grandfather who set out to make me feel like a ‘thing’, but even with my father, who had different goals, it was the case. After all, my father could not have really been looking at me and fully seen me, his daughter, in all of my individuality and personhood. If he had, he could never have done what he did. He had to have seen me as an object for him to use to deal with his demons. I could never have articulated this at the time, but I certainly sensed it.

However, there was no way that I could have understand the complexities of the situation that I was in as a child or even early teen. All I knew was that I was in an impossibly painful situation. My mind had to deal with what I had been dealt the best that it could; it seems that part of the way that I dealt- some of the time, at least- was by feeling like I wanted to be with him and feel pleasure. As Mama Bear pointed out, I had very little physical contact or even concentrated attention from my father other than through the abuse. I yearned for his love. Given that set up, it shouldn’t be a surprise that some parts of me value that interaction with him. When he intensely paid attention to me and did things that made me feel good, I felt closer to him than at any other time. But other parts of me loathed what was happening and are furious at me for trusting him and want to tear my skin off for physically feeling anything.

So I am left with these strongly conflicting feelings that I need to accept were all valid. It would be so much easier if I could only remember hating and rejecting the abuse by my father, but that wasn’t my reality. It was with my grandfather- there wasn’t the slightest bit of connection with him, because he was purely a monster with me. My father was much more confusing for me to deal with. He hurt me, physically and emotionally, but he could also make me feel loved and physical pleasure. I didn’t want what was going on and wanted for it to stop, but if it was going to happen, I wanted for it to happen in the “good” way. Worst of all, though, he threatened my relationship with my mother. This was something that I couldn’t tell her, because I was so convinced that she would pick him over me. Actually, I am convinced that I tried to tell her that something was wrong. I wouldn’t have said just what was wrong, but even crying after school every day for months at a time I only got sympathy, not her trying to find out what was so terribly wrong.

I couldn’t get her understanding and support for the terrible bind that I was in back then. I had no one to help me deal with the adaptations that I had to make in order to survive the situation as intact as possible. As Mama Bear keeps on reminding me, things in the now are very different. I have external support, but, even more importantly, I now have the internal resources to start to give myself what I so desperately needed then. Today, I need to set aside my repulsion for what I did and look at it with compassion as ‘what I had to do’. I did what I had to do. I would never have chosen to have sexual interactions with my father, if I hadn’t been forced into the situation. I simply found the ways to deal with it that made it all as tolerable for me as possible. Sometimes these options weren’t open to me and what I experienced was purely awful. Comparing the two, I am glad that I had something available that was able to soften the edge of the abuse, some of the time.

It swirls through my mind: it doesn’t matter what I did to get through what happened. I didn’t hurt anyone, after all, I just tried to find the molds to put myself into that would make me someone who could survive an untenable situation as well as possible.

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I felt stronger while I was writing this, but now I am feeling more vulnerable. This more compassionate understanding of myself is all too tenuous. We will see whether I can tolerate leaving this post up or whether the shame and fear of being judged wins out.

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