Day 200: Volitile Eruption (TRIGGER WARNING)
Some days one foot cannot find its place beside the other, yet I continue to propel forward.
Some days it feels like dub fails to follow lub, yet oxygen flows to my limbs.
Some days I fear the sun just will not rise, yet it wakens me through my curtains, much to my surprise.
Some days the pain is too much to bear, but in my grief, in the deepest dark, there do friends abide.
Yesterday AF helped me extract a particularly painful splinter. As was evident this week, it was festering for days. It started to break the surface on Tuesday when I experienced a trigger from going into a wood shop. The timing was terrible that night and I backed away from going after it fully. It was getting late and I had an early appointment the next morning. Also, it was a tough day with my friend, Liza, leaving her husband.
As it turned out, it was better that I held back on Tuesday from going after it to its full depth. I wouldn't have gotten to its root. Last night I did, and it was debilitating.
AF invited me to her place yesterday afternoon. I admitted that we were likely to encounter a deeply painful memory. She knew. And she invited me anyway.
When I got there I was petrified. She gave me a hug, asking if I was OK. I stood shaking and trembling in her arms. "Oh, hun, you're not OK," she said. She asked if I wanted to sit and talk, but I didn't. I couldn't. The words were buried beneath the physical pain I was feeling from my ribs. I asked her, instead, to lay hands on the painful areas. I knew that would serve the function of pulling the splinter. In a matter of minutes her hands found the spot. She could feel the heat coming from it. After a few seconds I started to cry.
And then I just fell apart, coming completely undone with grief. I thrashed and my muscles convulsed as I wept. I leaned into her looking to be held and she wrapped her arms around me. I grabbed onto her for dear life. The pain was staggering, and I still wasn't sure exactly what it was expressing. I knew from Tuesday night the splinter was associated with my step-father photographing me. But, I saw in my mind the deep memory that caused this wound to feel so hot and infected.
I was able to pull into focus and tell her, "She was right above us, so many times, most of the time."
AF didn't quite understand what I said.
"My mom. She was upstairs, right above us, maybe 20 feet away while we were in the wood shop." I was barely able to choke out the words through the sobs in my throat. "He built the wood shop so he could then build the dark room." I grabbed tightly onto her, burying my face in her shoulder, wailing at the words that next formed in my mind. It took a while to be able to speak them, "He must have been planning for a long time what he was going to do to me."
"I'm so sorry honey," she said as she held me tight and rubbed my back. I curled more tightly into her. The thoughts in my head were coming unbidden and I felt I couldn't bear any more. I wished to shut it off, but there was no way. I had no choice but to hold on and witness my past.
I kept thinking, "My mom had to know, or suspect the entire time. Why else would she so carefully stay away. They all carefully stayed away when he was with me. No one ever came in. There was an unspoken agreement. They all gave me to him because I was the strong one; I could take it."
"I could have gotten away."
"No, sweetie, you couldn't. You tried and you weren't believed. Your mom convinced you what was happening was OK. And, you chose to protect your siblings. You were so brave."
These words were excruciating to hear from her at that moment. At that moment I felt like I was being held by the mother I never had and she was protecting me, listening to me, believing me." I thought, "God, I wish you had been my mother."
"You did everything you could," she added.
I nodded. I knew what she was saying was true. "I put myself between him and them many times."
"Yes. Think what more would have happened to them if you hadn't."
I cried anguished sobs from deep, deep inside. My abdominal muscles burned with the pain of it. I just wanted to stop what was I was seeing in my mind but I couldn't. And I couldn't say it. I had a flashback of being held by him. That smell of him. His hands on me, making me . . . asking, "doesn't that feel good right there?" I was nearly gagging at the memory and the scent filling my nose.
"God, the smell! I hated it! I hated it so much!"
"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry." She said.
I was smelling the sex and the saw dust and his sweat as he held me. I thought, "I never thought of it as sex. It wasn't intercourse. There was no penetration. My mom when I was little said it wasn't rape when the baby sitter digitally raped me. I couldn't put together what was happening. I never fucking stood a chance. Not from day one!!"
"She was always nearby. She was passed out from drinking and sometimes just in the next room, as close as 10 feet away! Why!? Why!? Why!? Why didn't I matter?" I cried into her shoulder.
She said I did matter, that there is something wrong with my mom. She's sick. She's not able to love. "It wasn't you, honey."
I so desperately needed to hear those words. I knew rationally the truth of them. I have fought relentlessly in therapy to absorb them. But, they couldn't break through the scabs inside me. I needed the nurturing of touch and acceptance of my tears. I needed to hear the words from someone who loves me and knows what happened.
I was panting at this point from the effort and the horrible images I was seeing. "I can't stand the smells."
"What smells, honey? What do you smell?" she asked.
It was so painful to form the words, to say them out loud. "The smell of . . . wine . . . the smell of . . . coffee . . . on his breath." I wanted to also say the smell of wine and coffee on my mom's breath too. It was worse on her breath because it represented her betrayal of me. She smelled like him and she gave me to him. I couldn't say those words. It was like bile. I couldn't let it up through my throat. I thought I might actually throw up at that moment. I managed to swallow it back down.
She started talking to me then. I'm sure she knew I was having a flashback and seeing it all happening. She said, "I've got you. I won't let him hurt you ever again. He's not here. You're safe. You're with me and you're safe."
Incredibly, I can't believe it was even possible because I had already been crying with such intensity, but I cried harder. Those words of comfort were so desperately needed when I was a small child. And then in that moment I finally, fully accepted his abuse started when I was nine years old. And I said so out loud. AF asked when my mom married him. "When I was eight years old."
She then encouraged me to kick him. She said, "You won. You already won. You beat him."
I knew she was right. I fought him off with the knife; and the times he beat me up I ended up still standing. I did win!! I won!!
"He didn't get what he wanted in the end," I said through gritted teeth, meaning I didn't let him have intercourse with me when he attempted to rape me. "I was willing to die at that point. I reached the point I didn't care what happened to me any more. I had been through so much I just didn't care if I lived." I know the reason he stopped was because I would have screamed and woken my mom. Also, there was a good chance I would have cut him at least once. I saw the fear in his eyes.
She talked about how I am as a mom myself. How I worked so hard to learn how to be loving and safe. How I have made a good life for my children. She said, "You're amazing, honey. You are so strong and full of joy. You never let him put out that light inside you. You protected it. You are a miracle."
Then she said again, "Kick him!"
I was able to draw my legs up, but I couldn't do it. I could see him with his arms around me. I could smell the coffee and the wine. I could see the wood panel walls and the ceiling with my mom passed out in her room above. Then AF did it. She kicked him away. Gut wrenching sobs ripped through me. The flashback stopped.
I stayed in her arms for a long time. The tears came like waves as I clung to her. Then slowly the tide went out, the tears stopped. I sighed several times, breathing deeply for the first time in days. She then helped me visualize that light inside me. She told me to see it shining from within, reaching to my toes, to my fingers, to my nose. Then she said to envision it surrounding me. "Your light is your shield now. It will protect you. He'll never hurt you again." At this point I was laying down and she was sitting next to me. She kept talking and soothing me. I became very sleepy and relaxed. Every muscle felt like it released and sunk into the surface beneath me. I could see the light surrounding the both of us. I felt warm and safe.
I realized the rib pain was gone. The abdominal pain was gone. I was exhausted, like I could sleep for a year. I could hardly keep my eyes open.
She brought me a blanket and pillow so I could sleep. She let me sleep for I think an hour or so and then woke me to offer me something to eat. She checked with me before giving me the blanket and pillow to see if I wanted to just sleep or if I would want food. I knew I would need food as I hadn't eaten a full lunch. I would wake in the night feeling sick if I didn't eat dinner.
She gave me a taco and set up a movie for us to watch. She offered to let me just go back to sleep. But, I was hoping to clear my head and be able to head home. I felt like a home invader. Neither one of us had banked on my staying the night. I was a terrible inconvenience. I was incredibly weak and dizzy. So, I thought I might feel better after eating and watching a movie.
The movie was light and funny. It was The Delivery Man, with Vince Vaughn. We laughed a lot as we watched it. This felt like returning to reality and starting to normalize after what felt like an epic grieving experience. After the movie I felt more tired than I had before eating. I just couldn't keep my eyes open. As guilty as I felt for taking up so much of her time and space in her home, I was utterly spent. I admitted to her I couldn't drive. I felt bad. I wanted to give her back her privacy.
She was gracious about it and let me stay and sleep on her couch. And wow did I sleep! I woke up 10 hours later having not moved as far as I could remember. I wouldn't have woken even then except for my phone ringing. I pulled it out of my purse and was stunned by what I saw. It was my mom. For some reason she was calling to just catch up, to ask how things were, did my sister enjoy her visit. I found myself answering her questions and wondering how I could have the reality of what she did to me along side the reality of our relationship today. I don't have an answer for that. But both realities exist.
I took AF out to breakfast and we did some grocery shopping. After that she needed a nap herself. I finally went home and let her rest. I'm sure she was exhausted.
AF, I said this to you already, but it bears repeating. I just don't know how to thank you for what you have done for me.
To my Pandy's friends I say the same thing. I felt your support and encouragement last night. I am sorry I didn't post to let you know I was OK. With how I have been this week I can understand why my silence was worrisome.
I understand I do matter. I always mattered. Eventually it won't matter to me anymore that I didn't matter to my mom.