Not Him Too

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written. To be honest, I haven’t really felt the need to write this last year.

But now I do. I need to process this.

Robby has been really struggling. He’s always kind of struggled with physical intimacy, but recently it’s gotten pretty severe. He started getting help for sexual compulsions (masturbating) and had been seeing his regular therapist, but he’s just continued to struggle. And now he’s putting things together.

I always knew that his first time having sex was sort of an accident. From what he had told me before, he and his girlfriend (whom we title “It”) were naked and humping and he just kind  of ‘fell into’ her. I had always assumed it was one of those “mistake but not a mistake” on both of their parts, but last weekend I found out otherwise. He had never wanted to have sex with her. He’d planned on remaining a virgin until he got married, but she took that choice away from him. After they’d had sex, he felt that since he went to that level of intimacy with her, he had to stay with her. So he did for a while, but he never felt comfotable having sex with her. She would pressure him, and demand sex of him. Yesterday, he told me that his first time she was on top and he doesn’t completely believe it was an accident that they had sex. He thinks she did it on purpose. She raped him.

It’s just so awful to write that. He said that alcohol was involved and that every time he had sex with her, alcohol was involved again. I don’t know if he was getting drunk and she was taking advantage of him, or if he was getting drunk to try and numb himself from what he knew was happening. I don’t know that he even knows.

And his one night stand with her, I always thought it was lust- and passion-fueled, but it wasn’t. He was drunk and she threw herself at him. He wanted to get out of the car, but she held him down. Oh God, she held him down.

It’s not right. It took him until this last week to realize what they had done to him. It took until he read this article to understand. He always thought he was ‘weird’ for not liking sex. He thought he was supposed to ‘be a guy’ and enjoy any sex, no matter what. But it wasn’t sex, it was rape. Oh God, why did it have to happen to him. He doesn’t deserve this, no one deserves this.

And I’m so scared for him. He’s starting therapy with Lori to address this stuff, and I know how hard that is going to be. I’ve been there. And I wish he didn’t have to go through it. I know that it will help him in the end, but I know the pain he is about to start feeling, and as broken as he feels right now, it’s nowhere near as broken as he will feel soon.

And part of me is worried about really inconsequential things in the grand scheme of things. How is he going to get through therapy and work at the same time? If he can’t handle both and he has to quit his job, how will we pay our bills? If he has to quit his job, like I did, will it destroy him? Make him feel as damaged as I felt? How will he re-enter the job market if all that happens? I had a built in excuse of TTC, but I don’t know how it will work for him.

And one of the worst things, is that he doesn’t feel like he has anyone to talk to. He doesn’t think his dad will understand, and I agree. And he already has such deep issues with his mom, that talking to her would just make things worse. He can talk to my parents, I know they’ll understand. But it’s just not the same and having your own mom and dad to lean on. And he deserves to have that. To have parents who love him and appreciate him and will be there for him, even if they don’t understand. I want that for him so badly.

I want him to not hurt. I want him to know he is taken care of. But I don’t know how to be there for him. Because I’ve been where he is, where nothing feels safe, even the people who are supposed to. And he couldn’t fix things for me, couldn’t really do anything for me, because in a way I was scared of him too. And now he’s scared of me. I know logically that it’s bleed over from his trauma, but I feel so helpless. I want more than anything to take this pain from him, but I can’t.

And it wrenches my heart to know that there were plenty of times when I pressured him for sex. I didn’t understand why he was rejecting me, all I felt was the rejection. All I felt was that I wasn’t good enough. And I really hate the fact that I was pressuring him. I pray that he never felt that I was abusing him, because I never meant to. He said the only times he ever felt ‘forced’ were after we lost Jamie and were TTC, and I completely understand. To be honest, I felt forced too.

I know things will get better. I know we will make it through this. It was bad enough that I was sexually abused. I got used to a part of my identity being an abuse survivor. I learned how to live with it. And now he’s having to learn to deal with it, when no one should ever have to learn this. It was okay that I was broken in this way, but it’s not okay that he is too.

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God’s Timing- Nov 2013

The same week we began ‘Unglued’ I started a new type of intensive therapy called EMDR. EMDR is specifically designed to help alleviate and even reverse the effects of PTSD. For me, I planned on Unglued being more of a time for fellowship than growth. After all, I’m not an ‘unglued’ person, so how much was I really going to get out of this study?

But every week God surprised me. It seemed as though He was personally tailoring my EMDR and Unglued sessions to fit perfectly together.

When I was struggling with the fear to start EMDR I read this passage “…I don’t know how to get a handle on this. But God help me if I don’t get a handle on this. I will destroy the relationships I value most and weave into my life permanent threads of short-temperedness, shame, fear and frustration. Is that what I really want?” And I found the strength to walk into the office.

At the time I started to become frustrated with myself, telling myself that I should be able to handle therapy ‘better’ we started a session on self-defeating labels and grace, and I started learning to give myself a little grace.

As the memories of the trauma started to consume me, and made me feel like I was losing control, I completed my procedure manual for Unglued Moments. Those 5 steps helped me to feel as though I had a bit of control, a little bit of power, and so I kept going.

And when I had to start identifying the beliefs about myself that the PTSD had trapped me in, I found comfort and guidance in the study. The line “…Where you come to believe you belong is where you will stay” awakened me to the fact that I don’t want to stay in the PTSD reality.

Negative Inside Chatter and the related discussions helped me to realize that I am not alone in seeing the worst in myself, and that these wonderful women don’t see those terrible things in me at all. But even more importantly, it helped me to see how important the EMDR is, because after all, how a woman thinks is often how she lives.

And the ‘Good Words’ exercise revealed to me that my lingering words don’t have to be the ones that have haunted me my whole life. I no longer have to carry the thoughts “I did something wrong”, “my feelings don’t matter” and “I don’t deserve love”. Instead, God showed me that I can be—that I am—compassionate, friendly, generous, patient, playful, and—most of all—thankful.

Little ‘T’ Trauma

Lori and I have been talking about my need to protect myself for the last few weeks, and my view on why I feel the need to protect myself, and she thinks that I am suffering from something called “Little ‘T’ (t) Trauma”.

Big T trauma (Trauma) is a horrific event. A person who is gang raped, someone who survived the 9/11 attacks, being in war. Something that would be horrifying to anyone. Something that you would expect anyone to get counseling for.

Little T trauma (trauma) is an ongoing scarring event. Being bullied your entire childhood, an overly critical parent, living in a household with an alcoholic or addict. Something that causes your reactions to become ingrained overtime into the very nature of you, so much so that you don’t even realize that you’re different.

Lori thinks–and it makes sense now that I look at it–that the extreme bullying and ostracization I experienced from 2nd grade on developed into a case of Little T trauma and I have never really recovered from it. It’s why sharing things about myself makes me feel vulnerable and unsafe. Why I don’t like to talk about myself, especially my struggles. Why I always feel as though I have to keep everyone at arms length and even have a hard time opening up to my husband and my family. Why I can’t for the life of me ask for help even when I know someone is treating me in a damaging way. Why I have this overwhelming fear of telling people what I need. Why I am terrified of showing any kind of weakness or flaw, because a part of me is just waiting for someone to turn that against me.

And I always thought that the kids who turned on me just liked him better. I thought they looked at my story (the truth: he abused me) and his story (the lie: I made up the story that he abused me to get him into trouble because I was ‘mad at him’ for him ‘breaking up’ with me in 1st grade) and just decided to take his side.

I thought it was a normal kid argument. You see it all the time: Kid A and Kid B argue, A says one thing, B says the opposite. The class takes sides. A few days (or hours) later, it’s all over and everyone is friends again.

But they never got over it.

They never decided to be my friends again.

I kept thinking ‘maybe this is the day they’ll be my friends’. Maybe this time they’ll include me. Maybe this time they won’t tease me. Maybe this time I won’t be the brunt of the joke. Maybe this time when I trust them, they won’t torture me. Maybe this time, maybe this time.

But this time never came.

Ever.

And I could never figure out why. I didn’t make sense. And I kept trying. For years. I know it sounds pathetic, but I just kept thinking that somehow, someday, I would discover the right thing to do, to say, something, anything to make it all go away. But it just never happened. They were always against me. It never got better, I just moved away.

And as I talked to Lori and told her that I could tie the bullying to the very day that I came to school and the kids had all turned against me because they believed him, she pointed out something I had never realized before. They only ever heard the lie.

After I told my parents what he had done to me, they held me out of school for a day. From what I know, they contacted the school and he was sent to a counseling session. I can clearly remember being terrified to go back to school. I didn’t want to face him. I didn’t want to face anyone. They were all going to judge me. I was convinced everyone would hate me. I know he had told me that everyone would hate me if I told, but my parents didn’t hate me, so I don’t know why I was so scared to go back to school, but man was I scared. I don’t remember if they kept me out a second day, or just part of a day, or what, but I remember them telling me that I didn’t have to tell anyone why I wasn’t there or what had happened. That it was nobody’s business but mine, and they didn’t need to know. That the teacher’s weren’t going to tell the students, and that he shouldn’t tell anyone either, so there was no reason to be scared to go back to school. So I went. But the moment I walked into the classroom, everything was different. I could feel the difference in the room, and I remember seeing the kids across the room whispering together and I immediately felt afraid. The girl–who until that day was my best friend–came up to me and said (in an extremely superior and condescending voice) “He told us what you did” and swear I could feel the world drop from under my feet. What I did?

What I did?! I had never been more confused in my life.

I asked her what she meant and that was when she told me. That he has told everyone that I made up the story that he had abused me just to get even with him because he had broken up with me the year before. I tried to tell her that I didn’t make up anything, but she didn’t believe me. She walked away and I remember standing there at my little yellow locker, just fighting down the panic and the sorrow.

I always figured that somehow the truth had gotten out and he had panicked and tried to counter it with the lie he told, and they chose him and the lie. But, as Lori pointed out, they probably never heard the truth. Other than that one little girl, I never talked to anyone. They never heard the truth. So, to them, his lie was fact. In the minds of all those kids, I was a vicious liar just trying to hurt their friend. I hate that anyone could think that I was capable of purposely hurting someone. Because the exact opposite is true. He hurt me. I was just trying to get help. It feels like he was punishing me for trying to get help.

And he didn’t even need to tell that lie. No one would have known why he was pulled out of school. There was no reason to do that other than to be malicious. He went to everyone before I was even back at school and told this giant lie just to purposefully hurt me. How can someone be that evil? I can accept that the abuse was a reaction to him being abused, but telling that lie was more damaging to me than anything else, and that was just done out of spite.

He cost me my childhood. I didn’t have a childhood, I barely survived it. And I can never get that back. And I just have to keep trying to heal, trying to recover from what he did to me. And it’s just so unfair because there is no justice. I never did anything wrong and I am left to pay the consequences. I am suffering. I have to work to heal, fight to heal, pay to heal. My life has been damaged, broken, and all I can do is live with it. More than anything, I just want justice and I feel like I will never get it.

Because I’m still living in this trauma. Still expecting everyone to be against me. Still feeling like it’s not safe to trust anyone, because the second I do, they’re going to turn on me. And legally there is no way to get justice. It’s past the statute of limitations. It doesn’t matter that he sexually abused me, it’s been too long. And in any case, there is no documentation because no case was ever opened (which makes me wonder if the school believed him). And I highly doubt there would be a way to get justice for the bullying that was caused because of his lie, even if I had reported it at the time. I hate knowing that he did these horrible things to me and got away with them.

I hate that the more I understand what happened to me the more broken I feel.

 

Worth The Fight

If you couldn’t tell by my recent writing, Rob and I are really struggling. And we’ve both been coping (or rather not coping) in our own ways.

I cope either by eating everything in sight, or by not eating at all. There have been times when things were so bad that I only ate about 1 meal a day. I once lost about 15lbs in 2 weeks. It’s not a good way to cope. But it keeps me sane(-ish). My other brilliant coping mechanism is to either wallow or shove my feelings aside. For the past few months, I’ve been shoving and now I’ve gotten to the wallowing part. Basically, I cry, watch TV, and do nothing other than write, cry, and watch TV with occasional spurts of manic cleaning. Again, not the healthiest, but I’m still here, I’ve made it through every rough patch and I don’t see why I won’t make it through any future rough patches. It might not be the healthiest way to handle things, but it seems to work for me.

Rob used to cope with things by doing very destructive things. Drinking, smoking, etc. Basically any vice you could think of is what he would tun to. But over the years he’s moved away from destructive habits. There would be times when he was struggling and he would buy a can of dip, or backslide in some other way, but he has done so well the last several years, and I am so proud of him. But he is struggling more right now than he has in a long time.

Today, he was talking to me about how he’s been backsliding into one of his less-destructive habits: overspending. We have a pretty strict budget, and part of that is our weekly ‘mad money’–cash that we can spend on fast food or any other splurge items that we want. We withdraw a certain amount, and once your share is gone, it’s gone. But for the past few nights, Rob has been buying food that he didn’t have the cash for and just been putting it on the card instead of only buying what he could afford. I was a bit freaked out at first. This used to lead to bigger and bigger spending, and more and more destructive habits, until he swung manic.

But then he talked to me about how since he doesn’t want to fall back to even worse habits (he had considered buying dip and cigarettes) he is just sort of accepting the fact that he will overspend a little as a coping mechanism. He said he didn’t want to freak me out by talking about the things he was thinking about, that he didn’t have a plan to ‘misbehave’, he just knew what he was prone to and wanted to think through every possibility. So we talked about our different ways of coping, and we both agreed that neither of us have that great of coping skills. We also agreed that being aware that we are struggling is more than half the battle. He’s going to get in touch with his therapist on Monday and we have a couple’s appointment on Friday, and until then we are just going to cope as best as we can and be there for each other.

I was so glad that Rob was willing to talk to me, and I told him that. How only a year ago he would have just shut me out. And what he said back to me really made me stop. He said he was glad that he felt he could talk to me, because before with the PTSD he felt as though he had to watch what he said because he was never sure how I would react. And when I stopped to think about it, I realized he was right. I really did get confused sometimes, and sometimes I did really overreact. Granted, sometimes my responses were completely warranted, but looking back I can see where it would be disorienting to try and figure out who would be responding, me or the PTSD. In a way, it must have been like me trying to figure out if I was dealing with Robby, manic Robby, or depressed Robby. And I had never realized that before.

So I thanked him for being willing to work with me even when I had the PTSD, because he was willing. He was always willing. And I am so glad (and so is he) that I started EMDR. It’s been a long, hard fight, but so worth it.

Is That Why?

My whole life I’ve struggled with forgiving him for what he did to me. After all, how do you forgive someone for ruining your life? I’ve had therapists tell me that he didn’t know what he was doing, that at that age it’s called sexual reaction, that he was only doing what he knew.  That he must have been abused too.

But it never helped.

He still hurt me. I could never separate the fact that he hurt me from the fact that it wasn’t intentional. That he might have been a good person underneath it, and he was just as confused back then as I was during my PTSD years. That he was struggling with something bigger than he could handle, and that those actions weren’t his.

I never understood that. All I could see was what he had done to me.

Until today.

Because I know that boy from work. I know that he is not cruel, that he is not malicious. That he does not want to hurt people. I saw his eyes fill with tears when he told me that his future was to hurt people because his dad told him so.

I know him.

And he is not a predator.

That does not make what he did okay. Not at all. But it does help me understand my abuser from all those years ago. Maybe he wasn’t a bad person either. Maybe he didn’t want to hurt me either. Maybe someone knew the true him, was trying to save him, and was heartbroken when they realized how lost he was, just like I am with this little boy.

Maybe he was hurting just as much as this boy is hurting now.

And I still haven’t forgiven him, but for the first time in my life, I think I understand him.

My Post Secrets

Few people know I was abused.

Fewer know that almost everyone believed his story that I was lying, causing me to lose all my friends.

Hardly anyone knows that I’m writing a book about the abuse, the lies, the bullying, and my recovery.

No one knows that I’m scared to try and find a publisher for my book because I’m afraid people will still believe his story.

And I’m a little afraid of what that says about my recovery.

Losing Myself

I hate feeling like I’m losing myself.

I used to be able to process things and work through them, now I have to shove them aside so that I don’t burst into tears. Then I come home and burst into tears. I’m not able to remain in control like I used to. I don’t have the confidence or the surety that I once had, and I hate that I’ve lost that. I know that it’s temporary, but in a way, it’s worse to know that I had it and now it’s (temporarily) gone. I feel as though I’ve become helpless. I know I used to be worse, but I never had a ‘better’ to compare it to. I never knew what I was missing.

And now I do, so while I’m trying to hold it together and make myself work through the situation, I also feel as if the former, stronger, part of me is trying to hold on but is slipping and can’t figure out why. It’s like losing the ability to do something you could always do. I’m losing that part of me that made me feel free. And that scares me more than I can put words to. And I hate that after all the work I have put in, it’s already slipping away. That I’m already slipping away. I’m so heartbroken.

I know this can be fixed, and that in time it will be fixed, but it’s just so hard. And I’m so tired of it being hard. I knew there would be some regression, but I didn’t think it would be this drastic, that it would hurt this much.

Asking for Advice (Please)

I know what it is like to be terrified of your abuser.

In all honesty, I am still terrified of mine. And I’m a little scared of my neighbor because of that residual fear of my abuser, so I completely understand the fear she is living with every moment. I just keep praying she finds a way to leave and/or get help.

If I knew her, I would talk to her about making a safety plan and tell her my story and encourage her to get help, but I don’t even know her name. And I worry that her husband would be suspicious if all of a sudden I start talking to her. Plus, neither of them work, and if she isn’t with her husband then she is with their son, so I don’t even know if I could get her alone.

I just don’t want to do anything to make the abuse worse for her. Should I try and talk to her? Which would be better, risk bringing his wrath on her by talking to her, or wait and hope I can catch him abusing her on tape? I know she has to be the one to press charges, but if I can get it on tape, then I have proof to show the cops and maybe that will help (?).

Please, advice. I can’t just keep waiting, wondering if each sound I hear from next door is his next strike, her next cry.

What Kind Of Person Does That?

I had to call the police this morning because I could hear my neighbor beating his wife.

It was just horrible. I’ve heard him yell before, but she has always yelled back. At least, I thought she had. But this morning. This morning was like nothing I’d ever heard before.

I had my headphones in and was listening to Harry Potter while I worked on our budget, and I had just taken my headphones out to call AAA to have them jump my car when I heard it. He was yelling. Like I said, I’ve heard him yell before. Unfortunately, him yelling isn’t uncommon. And, to be honest, Rob and I have wondered before if he is abusive, but we’ve never had anything other than a feeling.

Until today.

Because among his yelling I could hear banging–thumping even–and a guttural wail. It was that soul deep cry that happens when you’re heartbroken. I made that exact noise when Rob and I were falling apart last year and when we lost Jamie. I have made that sound so many times when the trauma of the abuse consumes me. I know that noise. And I felt myself grow cold when I heard it come from next door.

I think they were in the front of the house because that’s where the sound was loudest, so I cracked our front door open so I could hear more clearly. And what I heard just confirmed that he was hurting her. There was lots of swearing. She was moaning and crying. She said ‘please stop’.

He said ‘I can do it harder’.

And that is when I called the police.

I don’t know if they heard me call, or if I was too loud when I shut the door, because the sounds stopped abruptly while I was on the phone. I gave the dispatcher all the info I could, and they said they would send someone. Then she asked if I wanted to leave my name, and that’s when I hesitated. I knew that leaving my name would help her if it came to court, but I was also terrified that he would find out I had turned him in and then come after me. I asked the dispatcher if giving my name would help keep her safe, and she said that they prefer witnesses leave names and contact info for those types of calls, so I did. And I’m still scared.

I kept glancing out the peep hole every few minutes, praying that the police would get there soon and help her. I imagine it didn’t take long for them to get there, but it felt like forever before they showed up. I finally saw the cop at the door, but he didn’t knock. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to hear her cries (although she’d been quiet for a while) or what, and he walked away for a bit and then came back. After a while, he walked away and another cop left the house, so I think one was in the house while the other was outside.

But then they still didn’t leave. They were hanging around in the side parking lot next to the neighbors house. And then a few minutes later the neighbor rode up to the sidewalk on his bicycle. He got off the bike, looked at the cops, and said “do you guys know what’s going on?”.

And that’s when I realized.

They keep their bikes on the back porch. He must have gone out the back door, gotten his bike, and rode off so that he could claim he hadn’t been there. And I just couldn’t stop thinking “what kind of person does that?”. Not only does he beat his wife, but he has the malice and forethought to think how to make himself seem innocent. That’s just horrible. And way too familiar.

I want to help her. I want him to have to pay for what he’s done. I don’t want anyone to have to be trapped, but I don’t know how to help her, and that makes me feel helpless. The only think I can think of is to keep my eyes open and if I hear anything again, I need to get my camera and record it so I have evidence. I don’t think talking to her will help, because most physical abuse victims won’t leave their abuser, and if she didn’t take the police’s help then she probably won’t take help from anyone.

And I’m scared that he will find out it was me and try and take revenge. But I hope he is a coward, like most abusers. And the situation brings up bad memories and feelings, but all I can do about that is process it, talk to Robby and Sheila about it, and try to help her so it doesn’t haunt me. I could never know abuse was happening and not try and help. I just keep praying that he will get arrested.

Adjusting

Well, Robby made the switch to 3rd. He goes in for his first shift in just a few hours. Other than being tired from staying up all night Friday in order to switch his sleep schedule and being nervous for his first 3rd shift, he seems to be doing really well, which is great.

I, on the other hand, am very anxious.

I actually have been since Friday night when I went to bed by myself. I was lying there, trying to be calm while telling myself that I didn’t need Robby to sleep, and that I could take care of myself, when it hit me: The last time I told myself those things while trying to sleep alone was when I had left.

I know that this isn’t then. We aren’t sleeping apart because we are broken. We are sleeping apart because our schedules require it.

But it’s still hard.

It’s only been a few days and we are still adjusting, but it is hard. I know our relationship is in a good place. I know that I’m not running from him because the PTSD is twisting my reality. But when I was filling the bed with stuffed animals, trying to forget that he should be lying next to me, some of the old wires started to cross and I started to feel alone. I have never felt more alone than those 3 days in that hotel.

And I never want to feel that way again.

I want our relationship to stay good. I don’t want us to become roommates who never see each other. I know we are going to have to work harder than we have the last few months, but I also know that we have been through much harder things.

But I’m still scared. I know how easy it is to still into bad patterns. I know how easy it is to drift apart. To become lonely. But I have to keep telling myself that we are prepared for this. We know what to watch out for and we know how to invest in and build up our relationship. We just have to do those things, and I have to have faith that we can do this. And as long as we both stay alert and proactive, I know we can.

But maybe that’s the other thing that worries me. Robby has a very hard time with follow through. He’s much better about follow through when it comes to our relationship than when it comes to taking care of himself, but it’s still something he struggles with. So I guess that I worry that we will say that we will be diligent, but when things start to strain, his struggles with follow through will make things harder. So I guess that’s where we start. Talking about my worries.