One of the things about a history of abuse, and some subsequent mental illness, is that the strangest things will trigger you. For example, one of the triggers for me about my rape, and irrationally believing that it is my fault is blackjack.
I am currently enrolled in an online course about programming, and it so happens that this week’s assignment involves writing a program for blackjack which has driven me absolutely crazy. Every few minutes I keep believing that my being raped was retribution for us playing blackjack.
Welcome to the bizaare world of guilt. Thank you Catholic upbringing for that. However, I have decided to tackle some coding, so wish me well on this journey…while I say to my rapist: You are not in control any more, I am in charge of this one.
This week has been a bit strange for me and I have been feeling a bit down. Not depressed, just having moments of down-ness. Today, I looked at the date and had an aha moment. I don’t know if I mentioned being raped previously or not, in some ways, the rape was relatively trivial in my life. It was a short spanned form of abuse against a backdrop of years of abuse.
I am not trivializing other people’s experiences, I am just saying how my particular experience is currently fitting into my life puzzle. Don’t get me wrong, it was traumatic, and I have a collection of feelings around it: doubt, blame, shame, secrecy, anger. But while it was a big thing it was not the biggest thing and in many ways it is just one of those things that happened to me. (Watch this music video of Oasis by Amanda Palmer, and perhaps it might make sense with what I am trying to say, maybe not). Perhaps, its something you have to live through standing on the cusp of adulthood when you have just turned seventeen.
But either way, it was at the end of May that it became real to me that I had been raped by my boyfriend, and that the relationship was over. This was the guy who a few weeks previously had spoken of me moving to the United Kingdom with him. Dear god, I was naieve, and desparate to believe that somebody could love me, that I was loveable. Either way, today is a mental health day. Tomorrow I have some things that have to be done, but today, I am taking the day off. Going to spend the day reading, and hiding away…being gentle with myself. Reminding myself that what happened, happened and it was not my fault.
I have been having flashbacks from hell for the last week. I have been reliving the sensation of hands around my neck. A slightly stronger pressure on the right side of my larynx. I am feeling fingers tighten. Making it more difficult to breathe.
I have been battling to believe myself. I know it happened. I know it is real, and yet I don;t quite believe it. Today I made a connection though. When I told my parents about the physical bullying that I had endured in primary school, my mom turned around and said to me:
You are wrong. It never happened.
Those incidents I knew about. Those incidents I have no doubt believing occurred.
Yet my mother was adamant that they did not happen. She used the exact words that she used to deny her own abuse. I am not wrong. I know my mother abused me, and yet sometimes I battle to believe it. Its tearing me apart somewhat.
I do not want to forget the abuse that I l have lived through because it is one of the things that shaped who I am.
It is one of the reasons that I able to empathize with the outcasts, the beaten and the down.
It is one of the reasons that I feel deeply. It is one of the reasons that I believe in kindness.
I do not want to forget because having experienced abuse is one of the things that made me who I am today.
I don’t believe that we would have been given the ability to feel emotions if they are sinful and contrary to our nature.
I don’t believe that we are given things to experience unless they aid in our growth.
I don’t believe that the Gods want us to suppress who we are, or what we feel.
I believe that life is for living, and that we should choose to live and feel.
I have been dreaming about water lately and I took that to signify from my subconscious that perhaps I was ready to deal with the time that I nearly drowned as a kid. And today in therapy, we did just that, and it was one of the most intense experiences of my life. Literally coughing, feeling the water getting pushed out of my lungs, my heart pumping faster and faster to keep up. I was only three and a tiny little mite and did not deserve that experience, and yet when my therapist asked the three year old me whether she decided that she should die, I said no, and when asked why not, I replied that I was stubborn.
One of the most powerful things in hypnosis is the fact that you can talk to parts of yourself, reminding them that they are special and loved.
It’s funny how memories creep up on you sometimes. For instance, the memory about how clearly I wanted to call bullshit on my mom when she told us, after her mother’s murder, that because we never know when a loved one is going to die that she always says that we must just love one another. But at twelve, all I had was a feeling, the disconnect about what was said and what was acted upon. That love was not unconditional, it was a treat to be doled out, and ripped away as punishment.
I’m currently working through my issues with a wonderful therapist and she gave me this story adapted from the Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity by Edwene Gaines, and it is worth sharing:
I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, so I know full well the devastation that kind of betrayal can cause in a person’s life. From the time I was four months old until I was four years old, I was sexually abused so badly that it almost killed me.
I had a particularly difficult time dealing with the effect it had on my self-esteem, and for many years I played the victim.
I will be eternally grateful for a teacher who one day abruptly called me on my act.
In order to heal this childhood trauma, what you’ve got to do is create a new story about it, he told me.
Okay, here’s your new story. Try this one on and see if it works for you. You came onto this planet to be a woman of power. Your soul chose this pathway, and because you chose it, you also chose to take an initiation in the misuse of power at a young age. During this initiation you leaned what it feels like when power is misused, and it is horrible. Therefore, it is now safe for you to be a woman of power in the world because you know now that you would never misuse nor abuse this power. And in this process, you have gained the most valuable of all spiritual gifts — the understanding heart.
My world reeled from this and cracked open a bit. It didn’t happen overnight, but little by little, one day at a time, I began to embrace this wonderful new story, a saga that completely reordered my personal history. It made me feel powerful rather than helpless, and it allowed me to give up the role of victim.
It also brought to mind the coaching of another teacher who told me
Never ask a ‘why’ question. There are no absolute answers to why questions. But if you absolutely have to ask why, at least have the good sense to make an answer that pleases you.
Reframing the abuse has helped me to achieve peace of mind, and that is a joy.