…And 2 months later…

I reestablished contact with my father 2 months ago for the first time in 3 years.  It was sudden and unexpected, but uneventful.  Or, as uneventful as something like this can be.

I visited my father, per his request, only a couple of weeks after we reestablished contact.  It went fine.  He was simply “showing me off” to his employees and colleagues and wanted to impress me.  I’m not fooled by his attempts, but it’s typical for him.

Life just continued.

Christmas Eve.  My father decided that he wanted to “hash out” some of what happened on the day that I told him I no longer wanted to have contact with him.  I asked him why we needed to go over it, since all is said and done.  He told me that he has a major problem with how I treated him.  He said he couldn’t understand what he did that was so bad.

I didn’t, and don’t, have the courage to tell him.. or ask him… if he did what I think he did…or know he did?  Do I know?  Do I really?

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.” – Oscar Wilde

I just tried to appease him enough by telling him I was sensitive and the things he would say were too much for me to handle growing up.  It was enough to end the conversation.  Apparently it wasn’t enough to satisfy him for good.

“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” -Criss Jami

Today, I received a text message from him saying that he wanted to “talk.”  I had a very bad feeling about it, but I called him anyway.

He said we had a lot more to “hash out.”  I asked him, why do we still need to go over the past 3 years?  He said it was because he has such a big problem with the way I treated him.  I explained that I had to do what was right for me at the time, and while I understand it may have been hurtful for him, it also wasn’t easy for me, but it was still the best way for me to figure out who I was, take care of myself, etc.

“We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.” -Malcom X

He didn’t like that answer.  He just kept pestering me, asking me how I couldn’t feel the need to apologize.  I told him that it was the right thing for me to do.  He accused me of never telling him “why” I didn’t want to be in contact with him anymore.  I did, partially, but he doesn’t remember.  However I told him that I was terrified, because any time I say anything that he doesn’t agree with, it turns into an argument that ends in a screaming match.

He switched tactics.  He said that it has become obvious to him that there is a major problem with how I was raised.  A dig at my mother, but also telling me that he sees fault in who I am today.  I told him, immediately, that if he is telling me that he sees a problem with who I am as a person today, I will end the conversation.  He mentioned our old neighbor, who used to spank his children (quite often, quite hard), and how his children turned out so wonderful and that they must have been doing something right.

I told him that I will not continue to have someone in my life who keeps telling me that he finds something wrong with who I am today, because I feel more secure in who I am as a person than ever before, and that it was those 3 years apart that helped me define that.  He told me how selfish that was and how selfish I was being.  I said that I am not being selfish by taking care of myself when necessary, and he insisted I was.  I “threatened” him that if the conversation continues the way it was going, I was going to go right back to not talking to him, because I don’t need a person like him in my life.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

He wanted to know why I didn’t “worship” him like my cousins worship their father, who is quite a mess.  He wanted to know what he did that was so bad that he didn’t get the same treatment that they give their father.  I asked him if he has any compassion for me, for the journey that I’ve gone through.  He didn’t answer.  He just said I’m unbelievable.  He said I’m selfish.  Several times.

I told him I can’t talk to him anymore.

“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.”  ― Shannon L. Alder

No matter how strong I may have gotten, this still rips me to pieces.  It still makes me question everything.  It still makes me question my self worth, my value as a person, my character… all of it.  And even worse, everything that he said, all of his questions, make me question the very basis upon which I’ve built the stronger me.

I feel like my whole self is a game of Jenga, and almost all of the pieces had been put into place.  But now, I’ve suddenly had several key pieces removed, causing the whole structure to wobble and sway and threaten to collapse.  I’ll get over it, of course.  I always do.

And that’s the end of that.  Forever this time.

“As you become your own advocate and your own steward, your life will beautifully transform.” – Miranda Barrett 

 

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A revelation

I found out today that my father had a sexual harassment suit against him a couple years ago.

I keep thinking that if I’d taken action against him, that would never have happened. And I’m being hit, more and more, with the realization that maybe what I seem to remember did really happen. Because, apparently, I still don’t trust my memories.

And I also keep thinking that now, if I do take legal action, maybe I wouldn’t be blown off. He has quite a history with the law – embezzling, tax evasion, now sexual harassment – although, somehow, he’s managed to avoid major jail time. The most time he’s spent in jail is a week for embezzling many years ago.

My mother was the one who shared with me that he had a sexual harassment suit against him, and she said that what the woman said about him was “outrageous” but that she believes every word of it. But I still adamantly know that she would not believe me if I told her about him, because she always insists that he used to truly love me. No wonder my idea of love is totally convoluted.

He is truly a psychopath. He’s copied me on emails recently that he has exchanged with my mother regarding their divorce. He sent me a copy of the divorce papers he was served with last week and copied me on another a couple days ago. After not having any contact with him since last year, I’m finding it hard to get these emails from him.

So, I’m feeling very triggered right now. I wish I had someone to talk to about this, but I don’t, not really. I see new T next week, but I’m not sure if this is something I’ll be ready to talk to her about. Last week was our first session, and I like her so far, but this is such very personal stuff to share with someone I hardly know. I feel painfully alone with this at the moment.

Two diagnoses

It’s probably a big ball of fun to read while I talk about my pelvic exam.  🙂 Be warned that there may be triggers about the exam and/or CSA.

**

I think the most positive thing that could be said about the exam is that I survived, which I suppose was a given.  I reacted horribly, though.  I somehow managed to sleep a few hours the night before.  I even managed to stay calm while they took my blood pressure so perhaps they wouldn’t have a clue how terrified I was, however that plan was foiled as soon as I had to undress.

While I sat there, waiting on the exam table, I kept tearing up and my whole body was shaking with fear.  I would’ve doubted the severity of my shaking if the paper on the table didn’t crinkle as I shook.  I knew I was scared, but I honestly did not expect to end up a quivering mess.  When the doctor and her nurse walked in, she asked how I was doing, and I just dove in and told her that she should know about my abuse, so I was terrified for the exam.  My voice was raspy and I spit the words out quickly so I wouldn’t have a chance to hold back.  I knew I needed to explain my reaction to all of this.  She thanked me for telling her and said she’d go slow and tell me everything she was doing.  As I laid there, I was still shaking and crying.  She checked in with me several times throughout the exam to ask if I was OK.  Of course, I wasn’t, not in the least, but I said I was just so we could get through it.

After she was done and they left the room, I lost it for a couple of minutes.  When she walked back in to talk to me alone, she asked if I was dealing with the past abuse with my T (who is actually a friend of hers).  I told her I was, so she asked if I felt like it was helping me.  I just said it’s a process that’s taking a long time.  So she attempted to engage in some chit-chat with me which was only mildly successful, but it’s not her fault whatsoever.  I cried for half an hour after the appointment and ended up in tears several times throughout the rest of the day.  I was so grateful that there wasn’t a need for anyone to have direct contact with me at physical therapy later that day, because I’m not sure I could have tolerated it.

I was slightly amused, though, after I looked online at my electronic medical record and saw that “anxiety disorder” had been added to my diagnoses, of which there are already several.  Wonderful.  I at least feel fortunate that I didn’t end up in a flashback.  I didn’t even dissociate during the exam, although I honestly wish I had.  I did end up dissociated for the rest of the day, though.  After the fact, I feel completely embarrassed about my reaction, and although I try to put it into perspective, I’m having trouble.  I just keep thinking that her and her nurse must think I’m a complete baby.

I’ve tried to think about where all of the tears came from.  I didn’t have any memories, at least visual memories, crop up during the exam, and there was nothing distinct that was an obvious cause for my reaction.  I finally realized today that it was my sense of disgust that was the trigger.  It’s a gigantic trigger. I can feel that there were other triggers, but seeing as the exam itself is fuzzy in my mind (I wonder if I did dissociate), it’s hard to pinpoint those.  But after the exam, looking at my own body became a trigger (granted, in some ways it already was, but this is a different one).  The color of my socks became a trigger.  Is it possible that I was truly that traumatized by the exam that I have new triggers now?  My doctor was as kind and as gentle as she could be..there is nothing about it that seems to warrant my reaction.

When I asked my T if she thought I was overreacting, she said that there is no such thing as overreacting in this situation, there is just reacting.  She said that I’ve only ever had that kind of experience in one other way, which was abusive, so my reaction is completely understandable.  I asked her if it was crazy that I honestly feel traumatized from it, and she said that was understandable, too.  I told her that part of me felt like I was going back home, going back to my father, and maybe it was that part that was shaking so badly. She said yes, and then also pointed out that the body remembers, too.  She explained that it takes many experiences to allow the body to learn something different from what it’s always known.  She asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing who my doctor is, and when I told her, she did acknowledge that she knows her.  It was sweet, I thought, because she asked again if my doctor handled things OK and she had this look on her face that said she wouldn’t have hesitated to bring it up to her if she didn’t.  I was touched.

She then said that I may not think of it this way, but this is yet another piece of evidence that something really did happen.  I said that the thought had occurred to me but that, of course, I thought of how I could still be making it up.  We both smiled, and I said, “Classic me!  Any theories as to what my explanation is this time?”  We both knew she wouldn’t venture down that road, so I told her that I’ve convinced myself, or a part of myself, that I forced myself into have those reactions.  T said it would be a pretty amazing feat if I could do that.  She said that there’s a reason why I put this off for years and why I even postponed my last appointment by a month just out of fear.  That I wouldn’t have avoided it so hard for so long if there wasn’t a reason.

We sort of switched gears for a short while and talked about my father and how he’s been verbally abusive toward everyone, including his employees, since I cut off contact with him last October.  I told T that I feel guilty because I am the reason he’s being so horrible to them.  She said that he’s an adult and although me cutting off contact and his actions towards his employees coincide, it doesn’t mean I am responsible for his actions.  But I told her that I am responsible – someone has to be, because he sure doesn’t take responsibility for his actions.

I got to a point where I was just sitting there, hating myself.  T asked if I could turn the hate outward, and I said maybe just a sliver.  I said that my father ruined my life and ruined me, and things that should be normal aren’t normal, like the exam.  It should be normal, and it’s not. T sat with me for a minute and then quietly brought up the diagnosis of the anxiety disorder, since I’d told her about it earlier.  We’ve never discussed a diagnosis for me, ever, although I’ve pretty much known what it would be.  But my suspicions were confirmed when she said that my doctor was wrong in her diagnosis – that she should have put PTSD.  I just cried a bit more and told her how messed up I am.  But oddly, the timing was right for her to explicitly say what it is I’ve been dealing with.  I can suspect all I want, but hearing it from her validates it all the more and allows me to try to accept all of my reactions, or lack thereof.

I wish I’d been able to feel more in her office; I wish I could have allowed myself to do that.  Because sitting here with this grief is scary and lonely.

Overwhelming grief

This weekend has been filled with grief. Like many Americans, and even those around the world, I cannot get over the senseless loss of those precious children in Connecticut. Thinking of their parents brings me to tears instantly. And so close to Christmas.

My tears have been mixed with grief over discussing those abuse memories with my T as well, although my feelings about that feel so petty in comparison to what those parents and that community is going through.

I asked for a second session with my T last week, but it felt like I mainly used it to just cry and ask her over and over again if she is disgusted with me. She was a bit sick, like everyone in town has been, so she told me she wasn’t 100%, but she was present as she could be, which I appreciated. Like the session before, she admitted to being disgusted with my father, but not with me. I was in tears but told her that the things he did to me were disgusting, and she (frighteningly enough) agreed, which, to me, makes me disgusting simply by default. She said she understood that it was hard to separate the two, but that the act itself does not make me a disgusting person.

She said the things I told her were “drastic” which of course makes me doubt their truth. How can anything so bad actually be true? What makes me doubt myself even more, and this doesn’t quite make sense to me, is what she told me about her feeling for my father. She said that she feels such extreme rage for him and, somewhat jokingly, said that she hopes she never meets him because of the almost homicidal rage she has for him. What makes me doubt is that it seems like I should never have said anything that makes her feel that way about him, although, objectively, I suppose I can understand.

Towards the end of the session, I asked her again if she was disgusted with me, and she said no. She also told me to keep asking so that I can keep checking in with her about it and maybe eventually see that she really isn’t disgusted with me and won’t ever become disgusted. She also told me that she’s glad I’m alive, because I’d told her that I was surprised when I’d spoken to her on the phone, because she said she was thankful I wasn’t suicidal, and I’d told her that I expected her to want me dead after the things I’d told her.

This weekend, between everything, I’ve felt such overwhelming grief that I can hardly stand it. I haven’t been actively suicidal, but at a couple times, the grief was so overwhelming that death felt like it would have been the only release. Today has been a little bit better, although I’ve been using some not so great ways to help accomplish that. I’m moving, by the end of the month, into a great new place, so perhaps once the moving bit is accomplished and I’m settled, I can start to get past all of this. I’m excited about where I’ll be living, but not excited about moving. This will be the 5th move within 4 years, but this last one is hopefully going to stick.

I’m hoping I can at least get to the point where I can manage things okay on my own, since there will be a 3 week break from my T over the holidays and then another couple weeks toward the end if January. I better get good at that self-soothing thing, and quick.

Another update and a tell-all

Hello, everyone. I’m sorry about my absence lately – it has been a busy and emotional time. Right now, I just need to type out some stuff, because it’s interfering with my ability to think and do my job. It may not help, but it’s worth a try, right?

Last night I had what ended up being a 2 hour session with T. We had scheduled a session at 5 so I didn’t have to miss work, but she normally doesn’t work after 5, so the timing of it was an exception. She wanted to do it after work, because we were going to allow for more time for me to share more details with her about the abuse, which I’ve basically never done, and she didn’t want me to have to go back to work. That ended up being a good decision.

It was dark and rainy by the time I got there, and the first thing I talked about was my work situation. I’m technically considered a temporary full-time employee at my job, but my job is actually stable – it’s just the stipulations around being temporary that are killing me. No leave time, no benefits, and, at some time during any 12 months of employment, mandatory 31 consecutive days off with no pay. I had been told when I was hired in May that they were looking for someone who would stay on as permanent. I thought my position may be up in August, so I talked to my boss at that point, who told me that my status as a temp was through next May, however there may be a chance I could become permanent in November.

I talked to my boss at the beginning of this month, who told me that I likely wouldn’t even have a chance at becoming permanent until next June, because they can’t officially make a position available until then. Right now, I’m doing double the work I was originally hired to do at the same pay. I will be losing my health insurance in the next few months. And now the 31 days off is inevitable. All of that hit me at once when she said that about June, so at that point, I started to get emotional. I ended up in tears for the rest of our 20-30 minute conversation. She was very empathetic and asked questions about what was going on for me lately. She seemed shocked at what was going on (I only told her about breaking off contact with my father – not any specifics as to why), because I am known around the office as always being that person with a smile on their face. She said I’d been doing great work, especially with what was going on for me, but that her hands are tied right now. I told her I understood, but I’m just not sure what to do right now. Temporary unemployment benefits are a possibility during those 31 days off, however I won’t even be able to file a claim until I’m off of work, which won’t be until sometime next year.

So I relayed all of this to my T, who, like me, seemed maybe a little surprised that I ended up crying in front of my boss, but then again wasn’t surprised at all. We talked for a few more minutes, and then made a kind of rocky transition into what we were there for. She wanted to lay down some ground rules before we got started. She wanted me to keep my eyes open as much as possible, to look around me and remember where I am, and to look at her and remember who she is. She asked if there was anything she could do to make the office safer first. I could feel my cheeks get hot, because part of me felt like I was being scolded for not always doing those things before, but I pushed it away and started to talk about some of the nightmares I’d been having.

***Potential CSA triggers***

They’ve all involved my father in some way. Sometimes as a good person, sometimes as a bad person. My thoughts were scattered, though, so I didn’t stay with that long before I went on to talk about some of the physical sensations I get. I normally gloss over those or don’t even mention them, but seeing as T kept reassuring me that she can take care of herself and that I can tell her anything, I pushed myself to go into more detail. Which then led into the memories themselves.

I’ve never shared specific details with her about those memories. I’ve never been able to. I shared a bit, and then got to a point where I started to be vague again, which T noticed and reassured me once more that she can handle it and that she has ways to take care of herself no matter what I tell her. So I went into slightly more graphic details, but couldn’t continue for much longer. At one point, I could tell I’d said something that slightly shocked T, which unsettled me. T gave me a moment and asked me if I wanted her to ask questions. I asked her if she had questions, and she said she did, but that it only mattered if I thought it would help me. So I said okay. I gave answers to things that I would never have been able to tell her in any other form of communication other than a nod.

I was oddly unemotional while I was telling her things, and then I would become emotional afterward. Anytime she said any kind words to me, it’d cause another burst of tears. At one point, I wrapped a blanket around me, because she suggested it might help that feeling like I was going to explode with emotion. Oddly, or maybe not so much, when I I had the blanket around me, it beckoned even more tears, and I probably cried harder than I ever have in her office. I still did so while making the least amount of noise as possible, which we also discovered the reason for last night.

T was wonderfully supportive and told me, regarding my worries that she would find me disgusting, that there wasn’t “room in her heart” to be disgusted with me. She admitted to being disgusted with my father, but never with me.

The reason she had suggested having this “tell-all” per say was because I’d never shared, in detail, any of that with anyone. And she said it would help take some of the power away from those memories if I share them. It may have done that, and maybe I’ll be able to feel that eventually, but right now, I’m still reeling. I can’t concentrate, and I must be dissociating because there’s a slight sense of things being unreal. My emotions are up at the surface and dangerously easy to feel.

Maybe it’s because I’m slightly out of it, but I think maybe it did help to write all of this down. All the while listening over and over to the beautiful instrumental song “Heroes” by Michael W. Smith. Maybe I can make it through this day.

Try, try, try again

I’m going to try group therapy again, and I think this time might be better. The last time I went to group therapy was at my university, and I had no idea why I am the way I am. I had no idea why I felt like a worthless person, why I have no self-esteem, why I seemed to have moments where I wasn’t really there, why I would randomly get nauseous or why I’d have these overwhelming, inexplicable feelings come out of seemingly nowhere when I was otherwise utterly and completely numb.  I couldn’t explain the weird dreams or the insomnia or the cause for an ED and self-harm behavior.  And so I often remained silent, not sure who (or what) I was.  I didn’t relate to the other people in the group, and I didn’t want to.  I didn’t feel worthy of being there.  I felt like a waste of space, which perpetuated my silence.  The group therapists would have to prompt me every single session to say something, and when I would, it never felt good. It never felt like a relief.  I didn’t get those “aha” moments where I no longer felt alone or where I could finally see that my experiences were not unique.

So I was hesitant at first when my T first suggested a local therapy group for CSA and assault survivors. She’s been wanting me to find a group for a long, long time.  We have discussed my fear that her eagerness to get me into a group is just because she wants to kick me out and not have to be burdened with me, and she’s attempted to reassure me that she doesn’t want me out, but I am not completely convinced.  Part of me thinks that it was a rouse and that, when I tell her on Wednesday that I have a meeting with the group T next Monday, the whole truth will be revealed.

I kept forgetting to call the group T, but I finally called her late last week and spoke to her yesterday when she called me back. She was very nice and reassuring and was quick to offer a do-able solution to my limited schedule. When I told her about my previous experience with groups and how I tend to be quieter, she was very understanding and told me that it was fine if I was comfortable with not speaking and that it’s not the type of group where everyone is forced to speak every week.  She told me some about how the group will work and told me to think about any questions I might have and bring them in on Monday when I meet her for a screening for the group.

In the meantime, I’m counting down the days and hours until I see my T.  I am devastated after a conversation with my mother regarding my decision with my father.  She kept insisting that I give her details about what he did that warrants such a drastic decision, and when I froze up and couldn’t get any words out, she just kept confronting me over and over.  I completely broke down and told her just about the verbal stuff that he’s done, but I hate myself for saying anything at all and for breaking down in front of her.  I hate that I did that.  I just couldn’t hold it together, though.  She told me that I took the easy way out and said that, as a Christian, I should attempt to forgive him.  She said she resents that I left her hanging out to dry.  We ended the conversation cordially, but I can’t forget everything she said.  It really hurt, and I keep wondering if she’s right.  It’s so hard to feel like I’m doing the “right” thing when it hurts other people.  But it’s even harder when I stand by my decision, part of me knowing it’s the right one, because then I’m left wondering if it only feels like the right decision because I’m a horrible, apathetic person.

I set off the bomb

I’m terrified.  I sent my father an email telling him that I’m severing ties with him, and I am beyond terrified.  It’s short but to the point.  It’s very firm and brimming with confidence that is a complete sham.  I feel like a horrible, horrible person right now.  I knew I’d question my decision, but not this much.  This is supposed to be a healthy decision.  Why does it feel so bad?  I thought some part of me would feel like this was the right choice, but either that part doesn’t exist or it’s being smothered by fear.

Kind of freaking out and trying not to get thrown into the past.  I feel sick.