I’m back. I feel better than ever and I have a new perspective on myself and my history. In September I was diagnosed with PTSD. It actually felt amazing to have a name on all of this “stuff” that was happening inside of me. I’ve been working through my emotions and realizing that my family will never validate what has transpired in our lives because it threatens the reality they have created for themselves. I used to need that validation so badly and not having it made me feel like I was the one that was crazy. Now, I realize that they are craving homeostasis, as we all do, and it’s much easier to just minimize then to raise questions about their current actions. It’s okay. It sucks, but its okay.
Last month I decided to write a letter to my parents cutting off contact. It was one of the hardest decisions that I’ve ever had to make but it has turned out to be for the best. With them in my lives, I felt the need to defend them to everyone, including myself. Even as an adult, how to do you rectify the reality of this situation? That your parents, the ones who should protect you, are the ones that hurt you in the most violating of ways. That even when you gathered all the courage of your 3rd grade-self after yet another attack, got out of bed, quietly walked up the stairs, and told, you were not rescued. In fact, instead of being rescued, you became the protector of the family. If you told anyone else you and your siblings would be taken away and split up. That, in fact, these things did not happen and you must have been dreaming them. It is so hard. On top of it being hard to wrap your head around, your family, though all has been admitted and even new atrocities learned, have decided that all is okay and they will continue to live in the craziness. That they will even leave a niece and nephew in the care of a man and woman that abused, and allowed the abuse of 3 girls spanning an over a 20 year period. WHAT?!
It has been very hard not to have the validation of my family. As humans we crave it. But, that craving came with the constant walking on eggshells, being careful with my words and actions, and putting myself in situations that made me feel terrible and felt so incredibly against my intuition. If a stranger, or even an uncle or cousin, did to me what my father did NO ONE would believe I was making a poor (or dramatic) decision by cutting them out of my life. When it’s a stranger, no rape survivor is being asked to sit at Christmas dinner with her rapist, leave her children with him or allow her rapist into her home. How is it that because this was my father (you know, the person that is gifted with the responsibility to protect and shape me) I am being asked to do these things? Just to move on like it didn’t happen and to hug him goodbye, tell him I love him and give him access to my children? While intellectually I get how insane this situation is, emotionally it has been hard to feel that my decisions and feelings are valid.
Three weeks ago I started group therapy. All eight of us have a history of childhood trauma. It’s been pretty intense. Emotions are coming out that I thought I had a handle on. I’ve always been very good at accepting how screwed up my parents’ actions were post exposing the abuse. Since learning the abuse was real and that I was, indeed, able to trust my intuition because it has always been right, I’ve been able to see how their decisions to deny and hide have affected my life. I, however, have been very good at pretending the actual abuse has not had any repercussions in my life. I am, of course, trying to do exactly what some of my family is doing. It is really freakin’ hard to remember, admit, and understand what actually transpired in those reoccurring moments of abuse. This was my father and he hurt me in the worst ways. It was a violation of my body and a violation of trust in a relationship. I will never be able to understand what was going through his head in those moments before he hurt me. How did he look at me, his daughter, and still choose to hurt me? I can’t understand it because it’s incomprehensible. It’s also impossible for me to imagine my child coming to me and telling me something so horrendous and doing nothing. Nothing. I don’t understand it and I never will. They have apologized. My mother has admitted she failed me as a mother. My father has admitted all the abuse. That’s great, I’m glad they could do that for themselves, but those things mean nothing to me. I know they are hurting and feeling guilt and regret, and it does hurt me that they are hurting. I did feel guilty adding to that by cutting off contact from me and my children. The difference between now and a year ago, though, is that I am strong enough to recognize that my emotional safety is more important than not hurting their feelings. I intellectually know that I am worthy of doing what’s best for me (and my family). I’m still working on knowing that in every cell of my being, but for now at least I can recognize that I am making the right decisions.
I have a lot more to say but for now, this pretty much sums up the past few months. Hopefully I’ll be back on a more regular blogging schedule. Until next time!