Therapy is not for the faint hearted.

EDIT: PTSD has screwed up my timelines. I was fifteen, not fourteen, when this all happened- still, I was a child.

I have held off writing about this because I have not wanted to. It’s too much. It validates some of the weird almost-phobias I have about certain things and the anxiety that comes with them.

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING. I’m going to talk about some really upsetting stuff. I was FOURTEEN when it happened and I’m still struggling to really process it without dissociating and feeling weird.

Ok, on with this.

I’ve been neglecting my WordPress account as of late. I have been overwhelmingly happy. That sounds good, but I’m actually realising that I’m hypomanic. It’s the first time I’ve caught the feeling so early, the first time I’ve realised that I’m starting on the rollercoaster of mania again. I am praying that I don’t get too far ahead with it and that it doesn’t make me ill again. The crashes are almost more than I can bear. J spotted my mania for what it was, and actually, Dr K picked up on it, asking me if I felt speeded-up when I was in therapy on Thursday. She was right- I felt like my head was buzzing and the thoughts were just zooming round, three thoughts a nanosecond. She encouraged me to take some deep breaths, massage my temples, try and breathe through the rattling, zinging thoughts bouncing in my skull.

I kept thinking that there was something I wanted to tell her. I was trying to pin a thought down to tell her about, but the overlying detritus in my skull kept distracting me. I’m horribly distractible at the minute- it’s awful, I feel fragmented. Happy, loud, joyful, but all over the place.

We kept talking. I felt irritated with myself, annoyed that Dr K must think I was wasting time. We started talking about the Church again, that I might be feeling manic because it’s just been Easter and I used to get so manic at Easter because of Spring Harvest, the Christian event I used to go to. I was talking about how the Church often made me feel dirty, guilty, wrong, for enjoying sex or thinking about it even, but then something stormed into my mind and I was swamped by it.

Here was that elusive thought I had been chasing. Here was that thing that had been evading my grasp in the darkest corners of my psyche- a shameful memory that I’d pushed away every time I’d thought of it. I suddenly remembered- and I told Dr K about something that happened when I was newly in that six-year relationship with my ex.

I’m having problems writing this now. I am actually shying away from it again, shying away from the awkwardness, the upset, the hurt and the pain of a fourteen-year-old girl. I’m trying to quell my anxiety and tell it that I was not to blame, that I was fourteen and I was innocent. Dr K and I talked about that, my innocence. She called me a lamb to the slaughter. She was right.

I was adventurous with my ex, at fourteen. I was in love and full of hormones and trying to control them, because the Church told me I was a sinner if I didn’t stay totally pure… problem was, my ex was good at flattering his way through my defences. I succumbed gladly, letting him in, and I would deal with the guilt later. I didn’t want the Church or my parents to find out that I was enjoying getting close to my new boyfriend. I wanted to enjoy our teenage make-out sessions, I didn’t want to let the guilt swallow me or be banned from seeing him.

That time, we were round at his grandparents’ house. He had been sent to live there at the age of eleven, ostensibly to attend the nearby secondary school, but I remember him telling me that he had hit his sister when he was younger. I suspect more than hitting happened to that poor girl, but I will never know. At any rate, he treated his grandparents as second parents, and they idolised him, particularly his grandfather. D was a tall, stout man, loud and cheerful, often ready with a glass of wine for me and my ex and a home-made dinner on the table. His wife was sweet and kind, quite quiet, and an excellent cook with a nice smile. I took to them pretty quickly.

I’d been to my ex’s grandparents’ house before, but this time when the two of us went off upstairs, my ex left the door open a bit. I was confused. When I went to shut the door, he explained that he needed to leave it like that so he could hear if his grandfather came upstairs. I was nervous and uncomfortable, but my ex soon stopped those feelings with well-placed seduction, and soon, I wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. He had most of his still on.

I didn’t hear anything to start with, I was too distracted, but there was a squeak of floorboards and I noticed that my ex’s grandad, D, was walking away from the door down the hall towards the room next door. I jerked upright and asked my ex if he had seen us. He told me that he was sure he hadn’t seen anything, and tried to get me to resume what we’d just been doing. I still felt uncomfortable and weird and asked him if I should put some clothes on. He still said it was fine and that I should get back to what we were doing. I slipped into the bedcovers, pulling them up above my breasts, and asked him if D could hear us. My ex said no, he couldn’t, he was on the computer in the other room and would be there for a long time. Eventually he persuaded me to get back to what we were doing before, but I now jumped at every squeaky floorboard and didn’t feel comfortable in the slightest.

Dr K asked whether I wondered whether the two had talked together about this, and I explained that yes, they had. My ex had casually told me over the phone the very next night that his grandad had seen us together and next time I went there to visit, we were to keep the door shut and he would knock if he wanted us.

I had never felt quite as ashamed of myself as that moment. His grandfather had seen me naked, in the throes of passion. He’d seen me giving myself to someone I thought I could trust. In that moment, I was completely humiliated.

That’s not the worst of it by far.

After that incident, the door was kept shut sometimes, but other times it ‘somehow’ crept open again. I often bumped into D when returning from the bathroom. The hugs D would give me got longer, and he had added a kiss on the cheek to his greeting to me. I was often the subject of discussion at the dinner table- or maybe, should I say, my anatomy was the subject of discussion- my ‘nice legs’, the top that showed too much cleavage and resulted in D fanning himself with a large hand. I felt permanently uncomfortable at that house, always watched, always observed and commented on. My ex and D would banter back and forth over the table, D sometimes slipping me into conversation in a really inappropriate way, usually under the guise of congratulating my ex that he was going out with me. D’s wife and I would sit and laugh, or at least, we’d pretend to. That woman was as much under the thumb as I was, and I feel awful that she’s still there.

Dr K then voiced the awful link that I’d been trying to deny.

She wondered aloud whether my ex and his grandfather had set me up between them.

All of a sudden, the feelings I was flooded with in Dr K’s office were the feelings of a hurt, scared fourteen-year-old. I sniffed, child-like all of a sudden, and I said, “But that’s not fair…”

I cried like a child then. My bottom lip wobbled as it hasn’t done since I was about that age. Dr K gently explained that if this was true, I was being groomed, at that age, to take whatever my ex wanted to dish out on me next. I was certain of it, I explained back to her- why the hell would you leave a door open if you wanted to mess about?! Why was D in the room next door for so long when there was no computer up there?! Why was I always the butt of the jokes, the object for admiration, the target of the most awful shame I’d ever had then? My hurt, fourteen-year-old self convinced it was her who was the dirty one, that it was her who should have been better, purer, that she should have said no to sex. She stopped wearing skirts and dresses because of the boy she was dating sliding his hands under them at every opportunity, in the wrong places, in front of his fucking grandfather at the dinner table…

Dr K let me sob for at least fifteen minutes, talking to me as I grieved for a piece of my past that should not have been that way. I was fourteen. Fourteen-year-olds should not be displayed like a piece of meat as a favour to some perverted old man. I feel disgusted even now, thinking about D, and I still look out for him in the supermarket, in the street, driving in his car…

Dr K was amazing whilst I sat and let it sink in that truly, it was NOT my fault that I ended up so badly abused whilst with my ex- he was only copying what he’d seen his father and grandfather do. Dr K thinks the whole family is riddled with abuse and pain, and he was passing on what was normal- although, he saw the whole episode mentioned above as a joke, so Dr K agrees with me that he KNEW it was bad and awful, what he did, but my ex did it anyway because that’s who he is.

I thought about the messed up, mixed up kid I was then and let her know (that part of me that is her, who’s hidden this memory’s awful consequences deep inside her) that I didn’t blame her or think she was bad. I thought the Church was bad, that D and my ex were awful, that Dr K thought I was ‘an innocent flower’. Someone described like that could never be wicked or bad, or deserve what they got. I managed to calm down slowly, realise where I was again, let Dr K ground me and help me to remember where I was and what was happening today and now.

I am shocked that this happened to me. I know that this memory is completely true, because I kept shoving it down into the darkness in my head whenever it came bouncing out again. I need only see a certain front door or see a certain car and I’m back there again, on that sunny day where he and his pervert of a grandfather robbed me of my dignity.

I was aware that therapy would not be easy, but I never knew that it would be this tough.

I hope that I can, one day, tell this to my parents, but I doubt it. I will have to put some other spin on it to make it more palatable for them, because they’re still Christians and I broke every fucking purity law in the book when that happened to me. I know that part of them would be horrified for me, but I wonder whether part of them will be horrified with me for doing what I did. I hope not.

I’ve hinted to J that I remembered a bad thing, but we haven’t had time to chat tonight- he’s had a bad day and needs to rest. That’s ok. When he can be strong enough again, when he feels ok, I’ll tell him. That will probably be tomorrow. If I can’t tell him directly, I will send him this post to let him know that although this happened to me, it can’t affect us. I refuse to let two scumbags even impact in any way the amazing thing I have with J.

I cling to the fact that he has seen me at my worst, that he was one of the first people I confessed the first rape to, the person I rang at three in the morning in fear for my life and the person who quelled a panic attack in fifteen minutes flat, fought my voices and won, and loves me for the person I am under all my issues.

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13 comments on “Therapy is not for the faint hearted.

  1. manyofus1980 says:

    hugs and more hugs. you are so brave. its not easy to write this stuff out. high five for you! ❤

  2. bdlheart says:

    This is such a brave post. Keep seeking your Truth. Hugs

    • Thank you so so much. I feel like I’m getting there. I seem to be finding links in my mind that I wanted to get rid of through wishful thinking, but instead I’m finally telling myself the truth. x

      • bdlheart says:

        I think we are most likely to rid ourselves of the pain once we work through it. I have to admit it does suck sometimes. Once our brain deals with one piece of the trauma my therapist said it opens space to work through more.

      • That makes sense to me. I do feel like there is more space to work it all through now that I have processed some of the other stuff. x

  3. Alaina says:

    Horrible, sick, evil, degrading, violating. Just… ICK.

    Something similar happened to me when I was 13 or 14. My boyfriend lived in the house next door. When my divorced mother was gone on her all-night dates, my boyfriend often came over and watched TV with me while I was babysitting my four preschool sisters and brothers. After my siblings were in bed, my boyfriend and I would lie down on the living room floor and make out.

    One night I noticed that he kept looking over his shoulder at the window that faced the back yard. There was no curtain on that window, but the back yard was fenced and with all the trees along the fence line, no one should have been able to see in. Even if someone were to open the gate and walk into the yard, they would still not have been able to see in, unless they stood on a chair or something, because the window was high up off the ground.

    I wondered why my boyfriend kept looking at the window, so after about the fifth time he did that, I looked that way too and I could not believe my eyes. There in the window was my boyfriend’s father’s face and the face of his younger brother! They were apparently standing side by side on something, and they were looking in the window, watching me make out with my boyfriend!

    I sat up and screamed, and immediately their two faces disappeared from the window. I told my boyfriend that I had seen his dad and brother looking in at us, but my boyfriend told me I must have just imagined it. It was so surreal, I almost believed him. But early the next morning I went outside and there, underneath that window, were two of our lawn chairs jammed together side by side and pulled up flat against the siding of the house. The lawn chairs were normally kept in the middle of the yard, under a shady tree. It made no sense for those chairs to be there – no two people would want to sit right up against the house, jammed against each other with not even an inch of space between the chairs!

    Later that day my boyfriend came over and I showed him the two chairs. Then he admitted that his father and brother had been watching us! He had lied about it because he “wanted to spare my feelings,” he said! Which, of course, was yet another lie.

    Last May my husband and I drove several hundred miles to the town where I had lived as a young teenager. We were there to attend the high school graduation of one of my husband’s granddaughters. He did not realize, when he made our room reservation, that the motel was located less than half a mile from that house. The house happened to be for sale and vacant, so my husband and I walked around the yard one day and I looked in the windows and remembered the many traumas that happened there. As I stood in the back yard, I remembered so many things. I also remembered seeing those two metal lawn chairs pushed up tight against the house, jammed together side by side under the dining room window, so my boyfriend’s father and younger brother could watch him make out with me.

    Even though it happened more than forty years ago in my case, it still made me feel sick at my stomach when I remembered it. I am so sorry this happened to you. How very brave of you to talk about it with your therapist, and to write about it here.

    Because of what you are doing, hopefully it won’t still be making you sick at your stomach forty-six years from now!

    • Oh god how horrible! I’m so sorry that you had to go through that! I’m not surprised you still feel sick to your stomach, it’s scary that these people were that horrible as to watch something so private. Thank you so much for saying I was brave- I really had to say it to her, it has always been something that never felt right and making the connection is helping me to lay it to rest. x

      • Alaina says:

        I agree. Facing it, and calling it what it really was — a violation — is hard, but healing.

        The bizarre incestuous element makes it even creepier, in my opinion. In your case, your boyfriend colluded with his grandfather to violate you in that sick way. In my case, it was my boyfriend’s father and brother. I think it may not have been quite as horrifying if it had been a couple of his school chums looking through the window — although that still would have been violating and morally wrong. But — his DAD? Your boyfriend’s GRANDFATHER? Double ick. Nasty Creepers, every one of them.

      • That’s so true! It does make it worse, thinking about the nasty incestuous part of it. It’s pretty horrible that there are some people out there who are this grim and seem to enjoy inflicting this amount of horror onto us. The good news is, in both our cases, that we have got away and they can’t physically hurt us any more. x

      • Alaina says:

        So right. And you know what else is good news? We aren’t them. 🙂

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