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Posts Tagged ‘father’

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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Today,I wanted to jump out of a window, but I knew that it was an old voice of an old terror speaking. I cast about for now and today, for the reality of the life that I live and I want, but it seemed to be the insubstantial, not for real time. The terror time was too solid. I reached out for a voice who could help to guide me back, help me find my solidity in the now, help me find compassion for the part of me who remembers terror.

Yesterday’s session was intense. I found some of my intense rage at my father and my outrage that he raped me as a child and that the consequences wreck havoc on areas of my life to this day. All of it is painful to own, yet at the same time it also is a relief to be honest. The hurt me’s and the adult me’s worked together, both to express the pain, grief, and anger and then to find comfort and support, knowing that I had been heard and was not alone.

Today I woke up feeling fairly good, but then I was triggered and some terrible memories came up in regards to my grandfather. It felt as though everything fell apart. All of the communication, cooperation, and comforting skills that I have learned around my father just don’t seem to automatically apply to the parts that hold the abuse experiences with my grandfather.

Memories of some of the most intolerable experiences with my grandfather came up and I was completely overwhelmed. I began to have extremely strong urges to jump out the window, or begin to bash my head as hard as possible against the wall, or break a glass and begin to slash my arms with it. I have only very rarely done any self injury (and never serious self injury), but when I have, it has been related to my grandfather’s abuse. That awareness coupled with the strength of the urges made me wary of these impulses.

I kept on trying to ground and orient myself to the here and now. What was the texture of my pants, under my fingers? What did the light look like coming into the room? What did my chair feel like under me? It did little to no good. I could look out of my eyes and see the here and now, I could reach out my hand and touch it, but it still seem ephemeral in contrast to the intensity of the feelings of terror, abject helplessness, and vulnerability from knowing that I am at the mercy of a man who enjoys hurting me in disgusting ways. And at that moment, even though the abuse happened over 3 decades ago and he has been dead for more than 25 years, I could not shift that present tense perception into the proper past tense.

The panicked parts driven urges to do things that would harm myself did not ease at all and I was afraid to move from where I was sitting, because I wasn’t sure who would be in control when I got up. I realized that it was close to Mama Bear’s lunch hour and I considered trying to contact her. The “I need to do this on my own!” voices started up immediately, but I realized that I could either try to contact her or I could go curl up in a ball in bed, hope to fall asleep and reset before I needed to pick my daughter up in a couple of hours. “She deserves a peaceful lunch!” the voices went, but I knew which option Mama Bear would vote for.

I did manage to wait until about 10 minutes into her lunch, so she could have a bit of a break after her last client, but then I sent a text: Hi. Was doing ok until suddenly not. Can’t get myself present oriented. Panic stricken parts that want to self destruct. Grandfather. I couldn’t quite manage to get myself to explicitly ask her to call, but I knew that with that message she would at least ask if I needed to talk.

She called a few minutes later and started in on helping me to present orient myself. Where am I? My art studio/ sitting room. What do I see? My cat in the other rocking chair. We talked about how he doesn’t only have extra toes, but he has proto- paws, with all of the claws and mini toes. Once I was more now oriented, she reminded me that I had been experiencing memories of the frantic need to escape that I had experienced with my grandfather. The urges had nothing to do with the here and now. I was already clear on that fact, but it still was nice to hear her say it.

We talked a bit more and she asked if I was ok with ending the conversation there. I slowly said, “Yes…” “Are you telling me the truth?” “Well I’m ok with it, but parts inside are frightened.” “Ah… Can you ask what would help them to feel more safe?”

I felt inside and then knew what was needed. “All of the work done over the last few months around the parts wreathed to my father is missing with these parts. They don’t have the same safety and ability to be comforted. I don’t want to dive into dealing with lots of issues around what happened with him right now, but I do think that I need to work with them to set up some of that same safety connection.”

“You don’t have any of it with these parts? ”

“No. At least not in the same way that is so helpful to the other parts. These parts really need it, too. They need to know that they are not alone and can be heard, even if they need to wait to fully tell their story.”

“That really is essential to you, isn’t it? Not being alone and being heard”

“Yes!”

“Ok, this all makes sense to me. Shall we work on this when we meet on Friday? Is that ok?”

I felt an internal sigh of relief. “Yes, that would be good.”

These parts of me were terrorized by my grandfather. I’m at the point of increasingly taking in what that meant emotionally. I had somewhat grasped it intellectually, after all, I know what many, if not all of the acts were. But I simply didn’t grasp the emotional depth of what happened with him. I have struggled with suicidal feelings after dealing with intense material for a period of time around him, but I don’t remember ever going from being just fine to feeling such intense urges that clearly weren’t mine to do things to escape the memories that couple have seriously injured me or put my life at risk.

I wish that I could keep myself from falling into that pit in the first place, but it happens so automatically and quickly that I can’t stop it with my grandfather, yet. I have come to the point where I can at least keep one foot out of the pit with my father, so I know that it possible, it just takes time and effort to get there.

If I’m going to fall into the pit, then I wish that I could get myself out again, but I have come to see that when the terror is above a certain level, I freeze and can’t effectively help myself. The best that I can do is to reach out for help, create support and connections! and slowly start to learn that I am safe no matter how terrified I am in the memories. But I can’t do it on my own. I need help. I need someone else there, providing a new voice, with new messages, to help me teach the old voices that they can be safe now. They don’t have to do anything drastic to escape. They don’t have to struggle all on their own. Life is different today.

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Trigger warning- references to teen sexual abuse and a part’s way of dealing with such

So, I have been having a very hard time over the last several weeks. I have been dealing with difficult material in regards to my father in addition to some anniversary effects related to my grandfather. What I haven’t mentioned so far is that my dog has developed untreatable cancer. She has a 6 inch tumor in her right lung that has metastasized to multiple organs. It is a very aggressive form of cancer and she doesn’t have long to live. There is an immense amount of grief over this impending loss in our household.

Therapy has been difficult. I have been encountering resistance from some parts to going to therapy. I hear wails of, “I don’t wanna go!” when I need to get up and get dressed so I can go to my sessions. As a result, I have started to be one or two minutes late regularly, sometimes even three or four minutes late, when in the past I have always been there when the previous client leaves her office. In addition, parts have been throwing up barriers more often, making it harder for Mama Bear and me to connect.

Last weekend, I wrote something which I sent by email to Mama Bear. It got to the core of what I am most ashamed of about my experiences with my father. I won’t go into all of the details, but if I can trust my mind, my dad continued to have sex with me until I was 15. At that point I was completely aware of how horribly wrong it was, but I also felt that I had no choice in the matter. I also was at a point developmentally when I was at an age where my body was more ready to feel sexual feelings and I normally would have been dealing with sexual thoughts and urges. A part of me seems to have developed to deal with the impossible stresses of everything that I was dealing with in regards to my dad in combination with the biochemical developmental stresses. For her, my father wasn’t my father, my father was ‘Him’. She didn’t think about what was going on, she just felt the sensations, because none of the rest of me could tolerate the terrible tension between the mental agony and the physical pleasure when my dad had sex with me at that age. It wasn’t always pleasurable, but he could make it very much so.

It has taken me years and years to get to the point where I can begin to look at this part and what her role was. From ‘my’ broader, more experienced, more compassionate point of view, I can start to see how such a part would have developed and how her presence would have helped to hold the rest of me together. Even with her there, bleeding off some of the strain, things could be almost unbearable. At the same time, though, my mind wants to reject the very possibility of her existence and say that it just seems like something out of a sick fantasy.

Once I told Mama Bear about this part by email, I fell apart even more. I remember that I called her over the weekend because “there is a part that you haven’t met in person yet who needs to know that you will listen to her.” My sleep deteriorated to an even worse state than it had been before. I felt like I was wandering around in a dissociative fog with a constant underlying layer of terror.

I got to my session 5 minutes late that Tuesday, which is later than I have ever been, unless I am in another appointment that is running late or something. The reason that I was so late was because I had been dealing with a swirl of parts that desperately did not want to go to the session. I walked into the session still partially in that dissociative swirl. A corner of me noticed that something seemed to be kind of off with Mama Bear, but the rest of me was caught in that swirl and ready to talk with her about the sleep issues which where making me feel pretty desperate.

The session was kind of odd. We made some progress, but I never felt fully there the entire session and that corner of me felt that something was off with Mama Bear the entire time, even though that part was far enough back that I couldn’t have articulated the concern at that time.

That evening, though, I became more and more certain that something was terribly wrong between me and Mama Bear. I was sure that she was angry with me about something. Then I realized that I was certain that I had either completely disgusted her with what I had emailed to her or that she had decided that what I had said was so unbelievable that she was going to turn her back on me. I was sorry that I had trusted her with what I had written and certain that I had messed up our relationship. I felt terribly alone and started to think that I wouldn’t even be able to ever see her again. Writing this out now, I can see how far fetched these fears were. For one thing, after I sent her that email, when I spoke to her on the phone, she reassured my parts that she would talk to absolutely any parts that wanted to talk to her, no matter what they had to say. She knew what she was freely committing to. Even if she did not believe that things happen exactly that way, she has said before that confusion in parts isn’t a reason to reject them, it’s another reason to help them.

However, on Tuesday evening, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was too caught up in my fear of abandonment. I was thinking clearly enough to recognize that my thinking was distorted, though. I realized that I could either check out with her whether there really was a problem or I could let myself become more and more miserable and certain that things were over with Mama Bear.

I did the right thing, I sent her an email, although it was late enough that it didn’t reach her until the next morning, right before she left for work.

“I wrote a whole long email that was mostly about other things which I’m not sure whether to send or not.

I also asked a question in a much more sophisticated way than I’m going to now. Am I on trouble? I feel in trouble. Something feels wrong with you and did in the session. Some part, I guess a protector just wants to hide myself away from you because I’m afraid that I’m being rejected.

And I’m sorry that I’m so much trouble, that I can’t just be quietly cooperative and easy to deal with.”

Her response was:

I just got this and can not respond further right now other than to say no; you are not in trouble with me. I think that is what you were asking. You may be upset with me for redirecting the discussion when you were unable to speak. You are not sleeping well and there are other ways to help you, other than to go deep into all the parts.

Her response helped. At least I had her assurance that nothing was terribly wrong, but I still had the feeling that something was off.

A bit later, she texted me:

C, this may be an opportunity to ask adult/present self whether I was being hurtful.. If not, bring some reassurance to the child.

To which I replied:

Hi. No you weren’t unkind. But something felt off the whole session. Can believe it was from….. My disorientation from dealing with so much inner turmoil from the get go.

And her final reply:

OK, we will discuss more. For now, use your adult/present self to help yourself calm. And, yes, much going on for you. Come as much…..on time as possible so that we have as much time as possible.

Aha. There had been something. She had been bothered to some extent by my being late. Mystery solved. Normally I would feel ashamed for “getting in trouble” about something like this, but this time I was able to look at it and see it as a normal, everyday problem. It was a relief to have it be something that I could relatively easily do something about. After all, I agree with her that we need every minute of each session. Ideally, the sessions would be 15-30 minutes longer.

I had indeed correctly sensed that something was off, but I was so primed by the huge shame topic that I was ready to attribute any relational issues with Mama Bear to what I had shared with her. The reality was that what I had shared had not created any problems between us from her side, but it certainly had created problems from my side. While the rupture between us had been a perception that pretty much was all in my head, it still had been painful and left me feeling less secure in my relationship with her.

I could either stay where I was and wait until the next session to try to get things on sounder footing again, or I could take a chance and share some of the thoughts that I had previously written out and see where that took me. I have the luxury of having met Mama Bear over 20 years ago and while the work that we have done over the last 3 years is far deeper than anything we ever did the previous times we worked together, I have seen time and again that she has my best interests at heart, despite whatever my parts might fear. I decided to take the risk.

For some reason, Mama Bear decided to write back more than she normally does. We used to get into trouble with my misinterpreting her email responses, so she decided that it would be best to keep any meaty responses to our sessions. This time she responded to each point that I made though and her genuine affection for me and wish more my well being came through clearly. Somehow, that response just eased all of the worries that my parts had left. What I had told her really hadn’t changed the way that she felt about me. My fear was that I was going to be left all alone with my shame, but the reality is that I am not at all alone.

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I have been struggling over how to name what happened with my father, now that I have started to talk about it with Mama Bear. I try to make myself go ahead and use the “proper” terms for body parts and acts for a couple of reasons. First, it increases clarity with Mama Bear. If I say, “He hurt me down there”, it gives her a general idea of what I am talking about, but she is left guessing as to what I mean exactly. Sometimes it isn’t important, but sometimes it is. The second reason is that it helps me to stay in my adult self, when I am trying to. The child parts are starting to us some of the specific words, but not all of them can and they can’t when they are very upset.

Any of this language is difficult for me. Unsurprisingly, I am not someone who is at all comfortable using sexual language. Even after working with Mama Bear for all of these years and working through a severe phobia of sex, I still find it incredibly difficult to talk about sexual specifics. This has become a problem, because my parts are increasingly insistent upon telling Mama Bear just what happened to them. Some of this I have been telling her by email, but much of it I need to talk about in person.

Right now, the single hardest thing is naming the rapes as rapes. Oddly, I was able to call them rapes when I first starting talking about accepting that they had happened. As they have become more real to me and more memories have come back, I can’t bring myself to name them for what they were. It isn’t because I believe less that they were rapes, really, what else can you call it when a man in his mid 30s has sex with a 10/11 year old? That isn’t anything that a girl that age would ever choose for herself. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t overtly violent. It doesn’t matter if she felt responsible. He chose it for her and all she could do was to make the best of what was going to happen. That’s rape.

It’s such a harsh word, though. It is incredibly difficult to use in relation to my young self, because in my mind it implies such violence. The parts of me that dealt with what happened remember what happened before and what happened after, but only have an impression of sheer sexual and emotional overwhelm during the period when the intercourse happened. It still is too much to fully remember what happened, and I find myself feeling protective of those parts and the level of trauma that they still are dealing with.

The word rape just makes my skin crawl when I am connected with them, so I find myself talking about how I “had sex” with my dad, even though I know that it is totally the wrong term. It’s just that right now it is the kinder term for me to use and it’s more important for me to be as kind and gentle as possible to these hurt parts. I know what am talking about. There is no denial of the seriousness of my father’s actions.

As I am slowly able to fully take the awfulness of what happened to me, I am sure that I will come to a point when I am ready to name it for what it was. I may even come to the point where I am so angry that I want to use the coarsest, most rude words that I know just to express how I feel about the acts. For now, though, helping the hurt parts to feel as safe and cared for as possible maters far more to me than how I use the language, as long as I don’t lose track of what I know happened.

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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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