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.

Advertisements

Too Broken

In my EMDR session last week we were talking about how I have such a low opinion of myself. I’m always expecting that I’m going to fail, that I’m not going to be strong enough. That no matter what, I’m not going to be good enough. Lori and I were talking, and somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that I am weak. That I am “broken beyond repair”.

And that is a horrible thing to think about yourself.

I used to always have this mentality that I could get through anything, because I never let anything penetrate my emotions. Because, to be honest, I didn’t really have emotions. My range was from happy to annoyed, and I didn’t feel anything outside that range. I didn’t live in the world, but I could handle anything. I always knew that I could handle anything. I wasn’t truly happy either, so I decided on things I wanted for myself and measured my ‘happiness’ by if I achieved those goals. I might be terrified and have panic attacks, but no matter what, I got through it. I did what I set out to do.

When I met Rob and started therapy, I accepted the fact that I was opening myself up to a wider range of emotions, and (I felt) by doing so that I was exposing myself. Making myself vulnerable. All of a sudden I was having to learn how to deal with emotions that I had never dealt with. Emotions that most people learn when they are 7, that I had ‘stuffed’ for almost 14 years. It was overwhelming, terrifying, and exhausting. I started to actually have relationships and experience true happiness, but I felt so fragile. I felt as though I couldn’t handle anything. I had (willingly) gone from blocking my emotions and being able to take on the world, to opening this Pandora’s Box of feelings and feeling steamrolled by life.

I started to (sort of) get life under control (until, that is, the PTSD got out of control, so I guess my life never really was in control) and then started EMDR and–again–willingly pried my emotional range even wider. I willingly entered into a therapy where I strip myself to my core on a weekly basis. I know it’s necessary, but oh, Lord, it is so hard. And I haven’t felt strong the entire time I’ve been in therapy. There have been times (like when I took a break for the summer) when I have seen how far I have come, but I have felt like a bundle of emotions tied together with tears during this whole process.

And to realize now that that I expect myself to always be broken. To feel like I’m never going to feel ‘healed’, is just horrible. Before I started any treatment, I didn’t care. That was how life was, and wasn’t going to change, so why think about it. Now, I have fought for so long and all I want is to be healed. But I really don’t believe that I ever will be. I’m too broken.

And now I’m dealing with some health issues that I don’t want to be facing, and the house is a mess, and with this realization it just all feels like too much. I just want to hide and cry. I just want things to get better. I just want to not be broken.

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.

It’s Not Tattling

First, I would like to update you on the domestic violence situation. I want to thank you all for your advice. Unfortunately, the laws about domestic violence are incredibly stupid (in my opinion) and only the woman being abused can actually press charges against the abuser. So basically, I can’t do anything for her except call the police every time I hear him abusing her.

Ugh.

But I was talking to Robby last night, and he pointed out that the sounds we have heard that we have attributed to the neighbor boy throwing a tantrum and the dad yelling at him, might, in fact, be abuse.

I never even thought of that.

I can’t believe I never thought of that.

I think I was just so stuck in my head about the neighbor lady that I didn’t make that connection. And I had wondered before if the dad was abusing the son, not too seriously, but in passing. I didn’t have anything other than a paranoid feeling, and I didn’t feel right calling social services about a hunch. But now we have solid evidence that he abuses his wife, so there is a strong chance that he abuses his son, too.

I thought and thought about it, and decided that what made the most sense was talking to my director at T***. I could explain the situation to her and see if (and who) I should call. So that’s what I did. And, like I thought, she said that I should report my suspicions. So she gave me the number, and told me to tell whoever I spoke to exactly what I told her. About how I know he abuses his wife, and I have heard sounds that could have been child abuse. She said that it’s possible they already have a file on him, and even if they don’t, at least they will start one.

And then she said something weird.

She said that every time she called to report she always felt guilty, as if she was tattling.

And I was so confused. How in the world could you feel guilty for reporting suspected child abuse? I can remember a few times in Junior High when I was being brutally picked on and I decided to tell a teacher, and I did feel guilty. But I was 14 and trying to stand up to a bully. At that age, you don’t have the conviction to stand and say ‘what I’m doing is right’. You feel guilty because the popular kids picking on the ‘fat kid’ is ‘normal’ and who are you to try and change that? To say it’s wrong? But when you are an adult, and you are trying to protect a child, how on earth could you think of that as tattling? It’s not as though you are lying to get the parent in trouble; you are trying to protect the child. And reporting based on a feeling verses actual evidence are two very different things, but still, how could you feel it is tattling? It is never tattling.

Maybe it’s because I was abused, maybe I just have a different point of view, but the main thing I feel now that I am preparing to call and report him to child services is determination., I am determined to stop him. I am determined to protect that little boy. I am determined not to let him get away with this. And I am determined to do everything I can to make those things happen.

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.

Laying Out My Hierarchy

One of the fears that I have been trying to face is the fear of the places and faces from my past. Lori recommended that I set up a hierarchy to start facing those fears.

Basically, I need to ease myself into the things that I am afraid of, for several reasons. It will help to slowly reassure myself that I am safe. It will help disperse the high levels of fear that I still carry. It will help me be able to return to places that I have been avoiding. It will let me eventually get to the point where I am not afraid.

But I have to actually start facing those people and places, and that scares the crap out of me.

Although, I don’t have to face them literally. And that’s what this post is about. I’m trying to figure out how to face them mentally and emotionally, not necessarily physically. So I’m going to try and make a list of ways I can slowly immerse myself, and then determine how I am going to do them.

  • look at old year books
  • drive past buildings- Elementary, Jr. High, High School
  • drive through Butlerville
  • park in the school parking lots and walk around
  • play on Butlerville school playground
  • go inside Butlerville and walk the halls
  • go in the classrooms where I was bullied, where they turned on me, and where he molested me

I am happy with the order, but I think with each thing I’m going to have to to each step in phases. Maybe start each step by doing them with Robby, and then slowly be able to do them on my own. And with the year books I could start with better years and then work my way to the tougher years.

I think I have a plan. Now I just have to do it.

 

Ella Enchanted: Why I’ve loved it since I was 10

Have you ever had a book that you just love? I mean love.

A book you love so much that you read it over and over. But you don’t just read it. You breathe it. You memorize it. You know the characters so well that they become old friends. For you, it’s not a story, it’s a memory that you read. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine was that book for me.

Well, one of those books, but that’s for another post for another day.

When I was a kid, I got a book allowance. Yes, I was that kid. And one day with my book allowance, I bought Ella Enchanted. I don’t remember if it was Barnes & Noble, a school book fair, or one of those Scholastic Book catalogs that were the highlight of my youth, but somehow that book ended up in my hands, and I fell in love.

If you haven’t read it, please go and read it. It’s wonderful. But I didn’t realize why I loved it so much until just a few days ago. Let me explain the story-line so you can see why.

Ella Enchanted is a retelling of Cinderella, but in this version the focus is on how Ella becomes a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. Ella has been cursed with obedience and she must obey every order given to her. Some of them are harmless (put on a sweater), some of them are annoying (run along and bump into somebody else) and some are dangerous or even deadly.

And she has to obey.

For her own safety, her mother forbids her to tell anyone about her curse, so it becomes her own secret burden. Throughout the novel we see how it affects every aspect of her life. She constantly struggles to break the curse, and when she can’t, she plays games so that she feels at least the illusion of control. She learns to obey without following the order in the way it was meant, and she manages–not to take back her life–but to not be a complete pawn.

As in all Cinderella stories, she meets her Prince, but in this version, she has known the prince for years. They write letters while Ella attends finishing school (and struggles to keep her identity while her teachers try to make her just like everyone else) and they continue to write while Ella slowly becomes a slave in her own home (Side note: her step-family doesn’t know about the curse, they just know she must obey). And through the letters she falls in love. When she realizes the prince is going to ask her to marry him, she is–at first–elated. She thinks this will answer all her prayers. She will be taken from her pseudo-slavery and get to live with the love of her life!

But.

But she will still be cursed. She could be ordered to kill the prince, or pass royal secrets to enemies. She would not only still be in danger, but she would be putting her entire country in danger. So she does the only thing she can think of: she lies. She sends the prince a letter–supposedly written by her stepsister–informing him that Ella has eloped and moved to another country. There is no danger of anyone recognizing her because of her station as a near slave in her own home.

But, as in every version of Cinderella, she goes to the ball. And inevitably the prince recognizes her, so she runs. When he reaches her home, he begs her to marry him, not realizing that he is giving her an order. The curse is telling her to say yes, her heart is telling her to say yes, her step family is telling her to say yes (and give them riches), but she knows it is the wrong thing to do.

She is standing there, surrounded by voices and feeling completely overwhelmed, and that is when she breaks her curse. Saving her own life wasn’t enough for her to break the curse. Keeping herself from being abused and exploited wasn’t enough.

But her love for him was enough. They were enough. Her country was enough.

And in that moment she wasn’t Ella the Slave or Ella the Cursed. She was Ella. Just Ella. For the first time in her life, she was free.

Do you see why I love this book?

I picked it up the other day, just to read for fun because–as I said–I love it. I hadn’t read it in years, and as I read the first few pages I started to remember how the story progressed, and all of a sudden everything clicked. I was only on page four, but I put the book down because of how strongly the realization hit me.

This book was the story of everything I had ever wanted.

I already had the ‘curse’. I had something I had to constantly work around, something that impacted every aspect of my life. And I was constantly trying to ‘break it’, to get over it. To get my life back.  But nothing was enough. I wasn’t enough. I spent nearly 15 years suffering, just playing games to try and convince myself that I was in control of my life.

And when I met Rob I thought that all my prayers were answered. But the PTSD was still there.

I had the first 220 pages of the book, but I was missing the last chapter. I had danced with prince and fallen in love, but the clock was about to strike midnight. The curse was about to attack. And it did. It started to affect us. And the moment that I realized the PTSD was trying to come between us, I knew it was time to try and break my curse.

Our relationship was enough. We were enough. Something in me rose up and said “You can’t have this too”.

When I was 10 years old, I found a book that spoke to the part of me that yearned for something that made me stand up and say ‘this is worth fighting for’. I have read this book dozens of times in my life, but I am just finally moving through the final chapter of it. I am finally finding things that are enough. And now with the EMDR I am starting for the first time I am starting to be free. To be Laura.

Just Laura.

 

How Much Do I Share?

For so long I never shared anything with anybody, and to be honest I didn’t want to. But now I’m starting to want to share. To bond. When I first started wanting to share with my friends, I was terrified. I had no idea how to share. That was actually part of why I started this blog. I wanted to share myself but from a distance. Sharing myself through a blog with people I didn’t know just felt safer. It was a medium I could control.

Since starting EMDR I have been wanting more and more to share myself with the people in my life, but I haven’t known how. I’ve bonded with a few new people and told them the truth about my past. I’ve even shared pieces of my past at GIRL Time, but I’ve remained guarded. I’ve had the constant fear that sharing myself will cause someone to reject me, judge me or even use it as a reason to be against me. I’ve been afraid of meeting the same reactions I got when I was a child and not having the strength to withstand it, just like I couldn’t back then.

You see, I’m still developing my sense of self. When those kids rejected me, I couldn’t see that their reaction wasn’t because of who I was, and so I absorbed it. I took all the hate, judgement, and blame and turned it inside myself. I truly believed that I caused their reactions. That their reactions were an indicator of who I was, and they were simply reacting to that. Since they treated me like a dirty unworthy person, I believed that that was who I was. And I carried that with me. For years, I truly believed that I was an unworthy person. Unworthy of love. Unworthy of praise. Unworthy of any positive reaction from anybody. I still struggle with the idea that I deserve praise for my achievements, even when I know–on some level–that I truly have done a good job.

But through the EMDR I have started to get to know myself. I have started to strip away the words those children thrust onto me and I’m starting to see the person that has been trapped all these years. But I’m still growing in myself. Instead of being a young woman, confident in who she is, I am still learning who I am. I am still protecting myself, learning to be proud of who I am, be sure of who I am. Because I want to share. I want to open up. I know that not everyone I open up to is going to love me, or even like me, and that is okay. I don’t need that. I don’t need their approval. All I need is to have the confidence to stand firm in who I am, and if a day comes when someone reacts poorly to what I share, I won’t backslide and lose myself. Instead, I will have the strength, the knowledge, and the self-confidence to know that their reaction belongs to them alone.

It does not define me.