Day 205: Wednesday's Horrifying Splinter (extreme trigger warning)
I started and wrote most of this yesterday (July 3rd), but didn't get it posted until today, July 4th. This is VERY long. I needed to get it out. It has made me sick having it inside me; and it made me sick writing it.
Yesterday we drove for just under 10 hours to arrive at our friend's house. It has already been a lively visit. We have a lot of people to catch up with and an ambitious schedule of events. We had a lot of fun last night. My H couldn't make the trip because of his new job. And, honestly, the trip is more pleasant without him. He is always cranky when he travels and he doesn't enjoy socializing.
I want to write about Wednesday night while I still have some memory of it.
I worked on a project with AF until 9:30 pm. We had planned for me to go to her house for us to have some time with one another before my leaving on this trip. I knew the trip would be hard with the issues I had percolating. Plus, I knew my T session would revisit the issue of my anxiety about clothes shopping and I would want time with AF because of it. We had originally planned to get together early in the afternoon, but that didn't work out. As such, we didn't start our project work until after 7 pm.
When we stopped working at 9:30 pm she asked how I was doing (she read my posting the previous night and knew I had been in a bad mood and anxious about my T session). I simply said, "Splinter." And went on to say, "If we get into that I'll end up staying the night." She debated for a bit. She was pretty tired and said didn't have the energy to go through a splinter removal. I was certainly ok with that. But she offered to help me reduce the muscle tension I was feeling to help me with my long drive.
I agreed and she started to touch the muscles at the base of my neck. She stopped after perhaps 20 seconds and said, "You really need that splinter removed." I responded, "It's OK. Just let me dissociate and we can focus just on relaxing my muscles. It should keep me from having a flashback." She responded with the mother of all glares, saying with her eyes, "Not on your life, sister!" I laughed at how scary her expression was, but saw she was perfectly serious. It wasn't a laughing matter to her.
She had me sit up (I had been laying down for her to reach my neck and shoulders) and she checked her schedule for the next day. Finding her time was flexible she came back and wrapped her arms around me. I went immediately from superficial humor to trembling fear, and then launched into a flashback. She stood hugging me for some time telling me I was safe as I quaked in her arms. After a while she walked me over to the couch and again held me as I curled into her, wrapping my arms around her.
I shook fiercely; and my muscles were in spasm for a long time, as image after image went through my mind. It was the worst series of memories I have yet confronted. Hopefully the worst I ever will confront. I think we might have sat like that for 30 to 45 minutes with me shaking but silent. I was not able to form words. She kept telling me I was safe, he wasn't there. I had already won. Something she said, I can't remember what, caused me to break out of the flashback and start crying into her shoulder.
I cried for quite a while and finally was able to start talking. "He would take me shopping for clothes to wear for the pictures he would take."
"What kind of clothes?" She asked.
I saw in my mind the slinky outfits. And the things he did. I sobbed. It horrified me, seeing the clothes, but I couldn't say the exact words. I replied, "All kinds." I added, "He would drive me to the mountains or to a river. He would make me wear the clothes . . . I was used to being told I was ugly."
"Who told you?"
"Kids at school and other people. It happened so many times. I bet I heard that a thousand times." I explained.
"I'm sorry, sweetie. Children can be so cruel."
I nodded as the tears continued to flow steadily. I said, "I was ugly. I didn't know how to dress. I bought my own clothes. My mother never helped, never showed me, never spent any time with me. And the other side of the coin was him saying I was pretty, but only if I did what he wanted."
"Hon, you were completely starved for affection. He took advantage of that to manipulate you."
I told her when I was old enough to drive he made me drive us. "I could have driven us off a cliff. I wanted to. I thought about it so many times. I wasn't strong enough. That's why I have that nightmare; I still think about it when I am feeling bad."
She held me tightly and responded, "I am so glad you didn't. You wouldn't have your boys and they wouldn't have you. I would never have gotten to meet you either. And there are lots of other people who would have missed out on knowing you. Plus, you have helped so many people."
I kept crying and then started to see the things he did to me after he bought the clothes. It was all playing behind my eyes like a movie. I remembered him making me change my clothes in front of him while he took pictures. "You are beautiful," he would say, adding, "You are just in the ugly duckling phase. I will show you how beautiful you really are."
I don't know if I can say this next part. I did manage to say it to AF in broken phrases between sobs. I feel so ashamed! I wish I could close my eyes and type it. As the images played in my mind I cried painfully and my muscles convulsed. She just kept holding me and telling me how sorry she was for the sick things he did to me.
OK, here goes.
Extra protection for the details because it's graphic.
I hated him. I wanted to kill him. I wanted him to die a thousand different ways. I used to lay awake at night imagining him dying, fantasizing about it. I fantasized about me dying, wishing, praying to die before the next time he took me shopping. I couldn't do it myself. I just thought, "I shouldn't have to live like this. Please let me die; take me from here."
I did try to get away from him a couple times. One time I jumped out of the raft as we approached a small falls. (He loved taking me on scary rivers.) He would take pictures of me as we floated. Sometimes he would have me undress in the raft. I was always terrified someone would see. Sometimes he took me to a nudist beach. "You don't have to be nervous here," he would say. I wanted to throw up so many times. My stomach hurt almost all of the time. I never looked at the other people. I don't know if they looked at me. I didn't want to know if they looked at me. I didn't want to see on their faces what I saw on my step-father's face when he looked at me. His expression was craven desire . . . I know now. Back then I just knew it meant he wanted to touch me, to see me.
When I jumped from the raft he caught up with me and jumped into the water. He held my head under and then told me he would decide if I could live. Another time I ran away when we were in the forest taking pictures. It was getting dark. I thought I would more easily hide if it was dark. I was dressed in light-weight clothing (a tank top and skirt). We were at fairly high elevation. It got cold quickly. And, he found me anyway. I wasn't able to go far because he wouldn't let me wear shoes. I didn't understand why until I tried to run. My feet were too tender. The sticks and rocks cut into them.
He was furious. He had a terrifying temper. He would turn beet red. His fists were huge. They seemed to get bigger when he was angry. But, he didn't usually hit me. He would squeeze me. But he didn't usually leaves marks on me. After that for the next few trips he tied me up when we got to our site. He said he was keeping me safe. "The mountains are no place to monkey around. You could freeze to death in a matter of an hour." He would ask me if I was going to behave. If I said yes, he would untie me. Then he would make me take care of him before we took pictures. There were other reasons we went to the forest. Sometimes it was for wood cutting, other times it was to collect pine cones. From the late Spring, through summer and early Fall, there always seemed to be reasons to take me to the wilderness. Just me. None of my siblings. Not my mom.
For five or six years he and I would go on these 'father-daughter' trips. My mom used to comment about how well we got along. She was proud of me for accepting my step-father as my dad. When I was nine he asked me to call him dad, and I did. All those years he didn't try to have vaginal intercourse with me until I was sixteen, until that night when I fought him off. For some reason, after all those years, he decided to cross that line; and I reached my own limit of being willing to die in order to stop him. By that age I understood more about what he was doing, what it meant. I wasn't willing to let him take that from me.
After talking through these memories I grabbed tightly onto AF and said, through gut-wrenching sobs, "That's the only time I can remember anyone holding me throughout my childhood." (Referring to him making me climax.) That phrase was accompanied by the hardest crying I have ever done.
I thought about those experiences with him explaining my fear of touch all these years. I also realized how incredible it is to be able to be held by AF. How did this miracle happen?? I don't know; but I am eternally thankful. It is incredible to experience nurturing that has no price tag, that doesn't hurt me! I said later to AF, after settling down from nearly two hours of expressing this grief, "You're so gentle." I was marveling at the idea someone would touch me tenderly, never hurting me, and not taking sexual pleasure from me.
I managed to say to AF most of what I have written here, not all of it. It was so very difficult to form the words. It is difficult to form them now. I wish I didn't have this history. I feel such intense need to get it out of me. But, I feel guilty, embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed.
I was afraid of what AF thought of me after telling her about my response to him touching me. She reminded me of what I say about this topic. It wasn't my fault. I couldn't keep my body from doing what it is designed to do. She said, "No judgment, except for him. I am judging him! He's a sick bastard! He used your need for attention to hurt you. You didn't do ANYTHING wrong. Nothing! Your mom and step-father don't deserve you. They don't deserve you!!"
I asked her several questions related to her opinion of me. She reassured me repeatedly that she loves me and sees me as amazing. Through tears I begged her to never hurt me. She agreed, vehemently! I know she can't promise not to hurt my feelings or disappoint me, but I know she will never hurt me like my mom, my step-father or other abusers.
She said to me again, as she did last time, I have that light inside me. It protects me now.
That light is hope. That light is love. It has always been there and it will always be.