Day 239 and 240: Heretofore Unspeakable <Severe Trigger Warning>
Please don't read this posting if you might be vulnerable to being triggered. For that reason, the whole thing is behind a spoiler.
This might just be the most important posting I have made.
Yesterday (August 6th) the dam finally broke. For the last two weeks, or possibly three weeks, I have been fighting a specific set of memories. My ribs have been in varying degrees of pain and spasm throughout this time. I kept reinjuring them, though only from minor activities. It took until a few days ago for me to put together what was happening. My ribs weren't so much being injured as they were holding a particularly painful set of memories that were ready to be addressed.
Although my ribs were ready, my heart and mind were not. I lacked the courage to speak or even write about these particular memoires. These memories, at least the initial ones, might seem somewhat tame in comparison to other things that happened to me. However, they were the most agonizing to identify and speak out loud. I know I have said that about other memories. I guess this represents a truth about this process: as one proceeds through the healing journey the memories are increasingly painful and difficult. Maybe that's not true for others. I don't know.
The initial memories late last night led to additional memories I was, thankfully, able to deal with right away and not start a new process. It helped immensely that AF was with me through this whole experience and Jiva helped me also by letting me share the memories with her as well. Jiva and AF managed to take the heat down to below scalding so I can now write these deepest, most exquisitely painful memories.
First, I want to explain how I came to express the emotions associated with the memories. As always, I feel it's important to explain the process, not just the content. It helps greatly when I talk to my T. And, as usual, the story will emerge through the explanation of the process.
I was with AF yesterday, having had dinner before undertaking a project that would keep us occupied until 9 pm last night. We had a pleasant dinner, but the pain inside me was coiled like a snake. AF's ability to detect discord in others is highly developed and, where I'm concerned, laser accurate. No amount of effort on my part at humor, distraction, focusing on her or anything else conceals from her the truth of what is going on inside me. So, after we left the restaurant she asked if I needed to talk. She said she could tell I was struggling.
I dropped my head, disappointed with myself at my failure. But, I decided to admit the truth rather than try to deny it, which I knew she would see was a lie. It's pointless to lie to her. Not that she won't let me. She'd recognize it as a boundary and let it go. However, I didn't see any reason to lie to her. I said, "Yes. You're right. I do need to talk. But we have our work to get done. I think it has to wait."
We batted back and forth several options for when I could talk about it. Then, she observed I've been fighting this pain for weeks. Of course she was right. And, it had reached nearly intolerable levels several times over this period. I told her I had wanted to get through the grieving process by myself this time. I wanted to show her I could do it. I could resolve my own pain.
She wanted to know why I wanted to do that. I said I felt that's how it's supposed to be. Our exchange on the subject caused me to ask her what her process would be if she was in my shoes. She explained she would find someone she trusted, with whom she could be vulnerable, and she would share it, and seek comfort. It was really important to me to hear this. It challenged my perception that my need for sharing with someone and being comforted is immature. She reminded me, yet again, it is healthy to have people in your life whom you trust in this manner and she considers it an honor to be such a person in my life. To drive her point home she also reminded me I would say the same thing about her if the roles were reversed. She was right about that too.
We found our way to a place to talk. And she asked me again what was bothering me. I scowled and stared the trees and the sky for a long time. I experienced intense resistance to feeling any emotions. I started to talk and finally said out loud what my ribs were holding. It went something like this:
My rib pain is associated with my step father's fascination with my breasts.
He would always talk to me about them. He would have me show them to him, making me lift up my shirt and pull up my bra. He would hold one of them when he was holding me from behind while he was doing what he did to me. He would tell me they were soft. He would tell me not to be embarrassed because they were small.
I would look away, look at the sky, look at the trees or the river. I absolutely hated it. I can't stand for anyone to look at or touch my breasts. They are off limits. I would just feel sick to my stomach. My step father did this more times than I can count from when I was probably 11 years old. As soon as I started to develop.
Actually, I am pretty sure it started sooner. He always wanted to check if they started to develop. He even took my shopping for my first bra.
This last particular detail was quite distressing to her, as it was to me.
I think I became pretty dissociated after getting the initial details out. I remember fighting not to let myself cry. I so wanted to cry. I wanted to be held. But something was making me feel terrified to cry this time.
This happened in the raft or just sitting on a log after wood cutting. Or . . .
Well so many places and times. So many! But the raft I remember most of all because I was sure others saw.
I think this also relates to things I don't do or can't handle where sex is concerned. It started when I was so little. I can't even look at them myself.
Then I remembered why.
"Don't cry," he would tell me. If I did he would grab me around the throat and ask me if I wanted to breathe. I could breathe if I stopped crying. He would look at me for a long time, just staring. I would have to sit perfectly still and act like it was OK. Sometimes I would resist or try to get away. But, he always reacted with such terrifying anger. He was so huge and scary.
AF reminded me I was very small, and especially small for my age. I had no ability to resist him. It wasn't my fault. I did what I had to in order to survive. She knew I was struggling with shame. She said as much and I nodded.
I can't remember what else was said, but something finally caused me to be overcome, unable to contain the grief. I started to cry and I cried for a very long time. I sobbed even more deeply than I had any time before. At least, I think so. (I always wonder what AF would say about such statements.) After a good while I laid my head down on her arm. She rubbed my back and I kept crying. Finally I reached for her to hold me. I tried to resist this need. But, I couldn't hold back any longer.
She held and comforted me and then asked me to give her the pain. She wanted me to release it, and she would in turn do the same. I didn't want to do that to her. I knew she would be able to release it, but it was so scary to consider doing this to her. She is precious to me and I didn't want her to take it into herself even for a moment. We have talked about this before and how important it is that she is able to protect herself from the dark energy.
She needed me to trust her. She repeated her request quite a few times. Finally I decided to comply. I took her hand and placed it at the base of my throat, where I always feel the choking sensation (the ghost pain from being choked). When I did this I was wracked with guttural sobs, like mourning the loss of a child. I released a great deal of pain to her, black and purple like the night sky before a tornado. She sent her healing energy into me and reminded me to call forth my own healing energy. I did so and felt a powerful, almost physical push out from my upper chest/throat. I cried and cried, but eventually the pain was gone.
And I was completely spent. I was covered in sweat, which seemed strange because AF had gotten cold and turned off the AC. I felt like I had developed a fever. I was a rag doll, barely able to keep my eyes open. She decided to take me home, leaving my car at work because I wasn't safe to drive. I agreed.
On the way home she observed that something was still bothering me.
But, it was very difficult to confess. Something else emerged as I was calming down. I felt the choking sensation again as we were driving to my house. But, I was so very tired. I didn't think I could go after another splinter. I admitted there was one more thing. I wasn't sure I could talk about it. She said to think about it and let her know when we reached my house.
When we got to my house I was weak as a kitten. Dizzy. Frightened. Exhausted. She offered to help me in and to my room. I was barely able to stand. It seems so dramatic to say that, but I have vertigo and I was having major symptoms. I told her I felt like I was burning up. She got a wet washcloth and helped cool me down. I kept feeling worse. I thought I would throw up. I kept feeling a gagging sensation a need to wipe my face and mouth.
It took quite some time for me to get ready for bed, but finally we got me there. She sat down next to me and invited me into her arms, telling me I could tell her what the other thing was. I was so very tired and knew I still wouldn't sleep if I didn't. Also, I thought it might go easier than if I buried it and waited for a later time. It took a bit to form the words. She reminded me, "No judgment, ok?"
I nodded and took a few deep breaths.
"He would make me go down on him. Or get him off with my hands," I said quietly, adding even more quietly, "I didn't want you to know."
"Oh honey. It's not your fault. You are not to blame."
I said, "I can't do that to this day. I can't tolerate it."
"That's completely understandable," she said in reply.
I cried for a while longer, but had very little energy for it. I had released a great deal of pain already.
I asked her, "You're not ashamed of me?" For some reason I have repeatedly needed this reassurance from her.
"No, honey, no. Of course not. You didn't do anything wrong."
I cried just a little bit more. By this point, three hours had gone by since we left the restaurant. It was late and she needed to get home. She asked me if I was going to be OK. If I was going to be able to sleep. I nodded my affirmation and I think I might have fallen asleep before she even closed my bedroom door.
Today I felt different. Just different from how I can ever remember feeling. I think the rage might be gone. The rage I have carried all of these years. The rage that formed my internal suit of armor. The rage that caused me to lose control of my temper and act out in either subtle or not-so-subtle ways.
I'm not sure if that's what it is.
I can't quite explain what's different. Perhaps it's not just releasing the rage, it's that I am more aware of the future now than the past. For the first time since I started this healing process I felt like there is forward momentum, rather than a need to stand still and hold on for dear life.