Most times, in fact all most all the time, I can forget some of the things that have happened to me. I’ve been used to burying it for so long that I’ve forgotten how it felt to feel certain things, but unexpectedly it bubbled up in an unexpected way and it really threw me for a loop.
And though I’m loathe to talk about it, I think it’s probably best I do.
When I was four years old, I was sexually molested by a stranger. It happened in the broad daylight, and I was coaxed from my front yard as my mom was right inside putting up groceries. When I was returned to my mother after I was violated, she asked me if he had touched me inappropriately and I lied – even though I’m not sure why I thought to do so.
There was just something so shameful in the question I immediately incorporated the shame and have run from it ever since.
Run from the fear… the sense of feeling so vulnerable.
It’s probably one of the biggest reasons I have always had such a time battling my weight. I was a thin child until I reached school age, which coincided almost exactly with this experience.
I’ve buried all of those ugly feelings for a long, long time.
I didn’t even admit what had happened to me until many years later – when I was on the brink of suicide and by the grace of God (and why I will forever believe there is one) my best friend Jeff called me out of the blue. I confessed my deepest darkest secret to him and he loved me anyway, and didn’t blame me or find me as contaminated as I always felt.
Those ugly horrible feelings I kept shoved under piles of pounds that ensured no one else would ever want me in the same way – would ever force themselves on me and make me lesser for it. I became big – as big as many men – so that I could fight to the death (theirs, not mine) if it ever happened again.
I began to throw my love and affection to those people who weren’t likely to return these feelings – in total control over my own protection from being wanted. If anyone ever treated me like they wanted me, it sent me running for the hills. Instead I chased after those who didn’t see me that way, and wore them down until they finally did…
But it was my choice… always my choice.
I still struggle with this.
I don’t think I truly loved Daniel as wholly and completely while he was alive as I was able to once he was gone.
That’s why it’s easier to throw so much affection at someone who remains essentially behind a red velvet rope than even my own husband.
It’s safe… I control my own pain.
Or thought I did, until last night.
I had the first dream ever that brought all these feelings to the surface, reminding me that I’ll never truly get away from these memories. I can forget to look at it and pretend it’s not there, but there it remains – an unintentional tattoo permanently under my skin whether I want it to be or not.
The dream itself wasn’t about what had happened to me exactly, and I think that might have made it worse.
I dreamed I was in Amarillo and somehow I ended up in a school that I used to go to – in my dreams but not in real life. Jeff was there, sort of, but not there when I ended up being confronted with the memories of being attacked by a fellow schoolmate in the showers of the school.
What’s worse, I opened the door and there the attacker stood – us both adults – but me still feeling as scared and vulnerable and dirty as if it had just happened. I felt absolutely terrified to be in his presence and felt that same way I felt when I thought my real attacker was going to get a gun and shoot me as a four year old child.
So even though the circumstances were different – the feelings were the same. Those very same feelings I had been running from my entire life.
And it hurt.
It hurt like hell.
I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep – but I couldn’t go face my family. So I lay there in bed and tried my best to go back to sleep and try to forget.
When I went back to sleep the ugly feelings overcame me again, and I actually had disjointed dreams about the house we lost, my old job, my cat who recently died, and the same horrible memories of how vulnerable and scared I felt so long ago. I then dreamed that I woke up crying – and I have never woken up crying.
Turns out I never woke up at all…. it was just the same ongoing damnable dream.
I’ve never dealt with these feelings – and there they remain. Ready to bubble up when I’m least likely to know how to defeat the monsters in my closet.
And worse… I don’t know how to ask for help. I could barely talk to Steven about it earlier. He knew something was wrong and tried to stay close, but all I wanted to was to lick my wounds in private. I’ve harbored these feelings for so long it’s hard to know how to release them to someone else.
To ask anyone to listen without judgment.
To love, without fear that I’ll contaminate them too.
So I can get through the day. I can smile and act like nothing’s wrong. That’s where I’m comfortable. The strong one everyone else can rely on.
But inside there brews an endless storm that will swirl up when I’m least expecting and try to drown me in my own memories I’ve tried so hard to suppress.
Now, without the food, I have to not just face them but release them. I can’t hold onto this shame. I certainly don’t want to hold onto this fear.
It’s amazing to me how what happened to me ceased being about my attacker almost from the time it happened. For a long time I hated mustaches because he had one, and I don’t know if I ever fully got over my distrust of them. It was almost like a mask he wore.
And it’s really the only thing I can remember about him – that and the short curly brown hair.
But that’s it.
From the moment I lied to my mom it’s all been about me… about how shamed I felt and how it was my fault to leave the yard with a stranger.
Even through my teenage years I didn’t blame the grown men who had sex with me for any predatory behavior. It was my fault. I sought after it because that’s all I felt I was worth.
I never blamed any of them. I just blamed myself. Worse, I tried to kill myself with slow suicide of eating myself to death.
Now I’ve decided to be my own hero those feelings have no where to hide anymore. Obviously.
I don’t know how to fix this. People say therapy but every single time I find a therapist we’ll get to this part of things and I’ll bail – male or female. I just can’t face anyone with this, as evidenced by the fact my video blogs died an abrupt death the minute I decided I’d delve into this.
I feel dirty even bringing it up. And I can’t stand it.
So this is the first step. This is me being vulnerable… which I can’t stand. This is me being honest about how scared I am… which I can’t stand more.
This is me, digging my heels in and telling the endless storm, “You won’t break me.”