When you live with a secret like mine, it’s bound to manifest itself in a variety of ways. I didn’t even recognize all the ways my life was tainted with the memory of my past. In counseling they say, “the body never forgets.” True. So very, very true. Your body doesn’t forget and your mind certainly doesn’t forget, even when your conscience can’t doesn’t remember. I thought ghosts were in my room. True story. From the time I was very little, I believed I was haunted. I believed that these beings came in to my room at night to harass me. Now, I didn’t believe they were doing to me what my dad was doing to me, but they were in my room and they were scary. Very, very scary. I never saw them. I never felt them physically but in my mind they were there. The tiniest of noises could spark the anxiety. For years I thought I must be passing out from fear when I would “sense” one of these ghosts. My body would go numb, I’d hide under my blankets even though I was burning up with fear. Then I’d wake up in the morning. There were several times (in high school actually) that I screamed out for my parents. It felt like forever until they got there and then of course my fears where dismissed. One of the times I screamed out I was convinced something was rustling around in my make-up. It was a helium balloon that had started to lose its float. The air from a vent was bouncing it against my ceiling. It wasn’t until the lights were on that I could even think rationally enough to believe it was anything except something supernatural. I felt silly after realizing there was a rational explanation but still did not dismiss that there was something else in my room. I went home the summer after my freshman year of college. I was sleeping basically in the utility room since my brother had moved in to my room. I heard, what I thought, was someone sit down on the couch out in the living room. When I yelled to who I assumed was my brother, I got no response. My body was filled with anxiety. As always, I could literally feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins; from my face down to my toes. I started sweating and slowly, so not to draw attention to myself, slipped my face under the blankets. I was in a sweatshirt as my mom always kept the house freezing. I was so hot I couldn’t bare it any longer and as the fear and anxiety took grasp, tried to slowly and quietly take off my sweatshirt. I took it off my right sleeve and slipped the shirt off my head. Then, it was morning and I awoke to my sweatshirt still on my left arm. I never had proof that I was passing out from fear until that incident.
I told in 3rd grade. I knew before that time that what was happening to me at night was wrong but I didn’t really get validation until my dad was standing at the side of my bed, hysterical, telling me he would never do anything to hurt me. He loved me. I must be dreaming. My 9 year old mind decided yes, I must be dreaming. In that moment dreams and reality combined. I lost all sense of being able to trust in my intuition. I started to believe that there must be something so incredibly wrong with me and it terrified me that I could have imagined all of these horrible acts. I felt so bad and dirty that my brain made all these things up. In that moment when I told about the worst of the abuse, the abuse that happened while I slept, and when I was most vulnerable and the abuse that scared me the most…I was invalidated. I was the crazy one. I was the one that had something wrong with her and I felt horrible I accused my dad of committing such terrible acts when really, I was the one that had something wrong with me. I mean, if I was wrong about the worst of the worst then I most definitely must be wrong about all of that other stuff that made me feel yucky – cuddling with my dad on weekend mornings to feel his erection being pushed against me, the french kissing that happened when I was in kindergarten, rubbing my legs that went on too long and too high, things that were very insidious. Acts that made me feel so yucky, dirty, and shameful. If I was wrong… If I was wrong about all those things that happened at night when I tried to be still and keep my breathing like “sleep breathing” and tried not to gasp when he finally untangled the burrito of blankets I kept around me as shield and tried not to tense up when he finally had moved my jammies and panties out of the way… If I was wrong about all of those things, I must really have been wrong about all of those other little things that made my heart scream out to me to do or say something to stop it.
And so, it’s no wonder there were ghosts in my room and that I still have a hard time sleeping alone. I never formally worked through all the ghost/demon issues. They actually just resolved themselves and after a few months of therapy I realized I hadn’t even thought of them. I still have a hard time believing I’m safe at night. I check all the locks and then sometimes ask my husband if has locked them even after we’re in bed. He knows he has but for my sake he goes out and checks again. I still have nights, though far and few between, that I’m too terrified to sleep. I believe someone will break in and hurt or take my children. After all, I lived through the break-ins to my room and someone did hurt me. Someone did take my childhood.
I have worked through a lot of current issues in therapy; dealing with my family, trying to be kind to myself, recognizing why I react the way I do in certain situations. I’ve worked through a lot of the repercussions. I have not worked through what actually happened. I call it that a lot: “what actually happened.” It’s easier that way. I know I have to work through what actually happened. I know it still has a major effect on how I feel about my safety and my worth as a person. You see, I was not important enough to save then. I wasn’t even important enough to my own parents to save. As a child, that teaches you something that you don’t easily get rid of.
And so I march on; correcting the faulty wiring of my brain that “nurture” screwed up. I march on and help other little ones save themselves. I march on and refuse to be silent even when it is painful. I’m not healed but the ghosts in my room don’t exist anymore and for that I’m thankful. I’m excited to move forward, heal, and help others. I’m excited you all read this and I’m excited to share my journey. I love getting your comments, they mean so much. Stay tuned, my friends. I am quite confident this journey will only get happier and happier. With this awesome crew with me, how could it not?