The Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse… or What I Have to Work on in Therapy

Be kind to yourself — That should be my mantra so I can make mistakes and move forward, not dwelling on them. I feel like depression can be an inside job, triggered from me turning against myself. I must not allow such thoughts to intrude.

I screwed up this weekend and drank more wine than I wanted to and I enjoyed it because it blocked out my feelings and reduced my worry. Even the positive stuff I have going on takes an effort to appreciate because it’s different. When I drank that first glass of wine, a familiar calm overcame me. Although I’ve been feeling great I sought out the same old negative patterns and behaviors.

My therapy appointment 2 days ago was all about how I need to relearn coping skills because the ones from childhood are not doing it for me. Lynn made a point that the time between when I was sexually abused and the time I started drinking was only 2 years. Her comment was “you must have had a lot of anxiety.” I agreed that when I started drinking at age 13 the alcohol lessened my fears and inhibitions. I loved the sensation of becoming emotionally numb and being able to say “Who gives a shit, let’s party.”

Most likely, getting drunk with my friends at such a young age was my own form of self-medication. I tried to block out my family situation and alcohol did the trick better than sports, friends or hobbies. What was I blocking out, you ask?

I’ve mentioned an incestual childhood experience a number of times and now the time has come to tell the story. It plays a huge part in my depression and my learned coping skills. There’s a reason I started drinking and an explanation for my depressive thoughts.

I have edited this because the first draft was way too explicit and I’m not looking to shock people.  I want to tell my story to educate and help myself along the way…

I have 3 brothers and the oldest is 4 years my senior. When he entered puberty, I was 8 or 9 and he used me to act out his boyhood sexual urges.  (Draft 1 said he used me “like a pin cushion for his dick.” but that seems too crude).   I was young, cute, athletic, strong and happy up until the abuse began. I excelled in gymnastics and cheerleading. I was popular with many friends. Then my brother intruded into my dreams – literally, he would enter my room at night, naked and climb on my prepubescent body. There was never penetration but his heavy breathing and private parts touching me were enough to freak me out and I would lie as dead as a grave. Here are some random memories from that time: Why is my underwear off when I did not take them off? Who is that naked person walking into my room? Don’t fall asleep or he will be there when you wake up. I hate the sound of his breathing. How did he jimmy open my bedroom door lock? I can’t believe he would climb out on the roof to get in my room when he couldn’t work my new lock. When will he leave me alone? Get off of me. Thank god my panties are still on and he didn’t come in my room last night. I can’t have a sleepover or a girlfriend will find out.   When I awoke in the morning, if my door was unlocked I knew he had molested me.  The door didn’t lie –it couldn’t be relocked from the hallway as easily as it could be unlocked from the hallway.    With a heaviness like I never felt before I knew it wasn’t just an imagined bad dream.

The intrusions into my sleep and bedroom stopped when one night I finally used my voice because I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I was probably around 11 when I spoke up. It took only 8 words on a few occasions and he never returned to my room again… What are you doing? … Get off of me … The nights in which I said something, he did not respond; he simply got off of me and left my bedroom. I guess he realized I was alive and not going to act like the dead anymore.  Perhaps he was scared I would start talking to others if I was now speaking out to him.

But, could I tell my other brothers or my recently divorced mother about my brother the perpetrator? My mother had her own issues trying to get on her feet after her split from my dad.  And I couldn’t tell my other brothers for fear they would tease the hell out of me because in a house full of boys it was all about sexual innuendo. Unfortunately, most swears and jokes are derogatory toward women and their body parts (I’m not going to get vulgar here but you probably know what I mean).    Instead I turned inward and developed a sense of shame and guilt.  Depression reared its ugly head and I dropped out of anything that was good clean fun, including gymnastics and cheerleading; I grew apart from my childhood friends.  I made new friends with peers from troubled families.  We shared a rebellious streak and I began smoking, drinking and skipping school.

And so, here we are back at the beginning. I drink because it worked when I was a teenager. That’s how I rid myself of anxiety, stress and self-hate.  It’s going to be a long freaking haul (up hill) to relearn new coping mechanisms.

My therapist says “You may be ready.”  She hasn’t told me what she means but I suspect it means I’m ready to stop hurting myself with alcohol and self-condemnation.  I did what I had to in order to grow up but now I’m ready to drop the thoughts and behaviors that are hurting me.  She may be right —  I think I am.

3 responses to “The Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse… or What I Have to Work on in Therapy

  1. You’re very brave for sharing this. I know so many people who have gone through sexual abuse, many of whom have never gotten help for it. It’s an awful thing, and it’s unfortunate that so many people are put through it.

    Take care.

  2. I was abused when I was a kid and the way you describe drinking to deal with the anxiety shame and depression is exactly what I have been through, I have only started to allow myself to read others stories and wow I thought I was the only one on earth, I know what you are going through, its so hard, I am male, I was abused by my mams boyfriend from age 7 to 10, it didnt affect me until puberty, and like you I was very good at sports, extremely outgoing and then when this all started to hit me it hit me like a truck, I became withdrawn, shy , racked with anxiety and it has destroyed my life…so far. I hope to turn it around and I really wish you the best of luck

    • Thanks for reading my blog. Yea, I definitely have trouble feeling emotions and I drink to numb out all that. I’m so sorry that you had to suffer at the hands of a guy that was your mom’s boyfriend. The pain and shame is hard to live with whether you are a male or female. Hey maybe you want to start a blog and share your struggles. Writing about it is a good way to release the secrecy. No pressure though. Everything in it’s own time. You can’t rush the healing process or you will hit too many triggers and be overwhelemed. I wish you the best as you begin to heal your life. Good luck to you, too.

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