A survivor looks back…

I want to explain my posts lately. Why are they so focused on sexual pleasure and intimacy? I feel you would have had to be with me from the beginning to know the hard road I’ve traveled to get to “Pleasure Lane”. I’ve driven down many rough roads, with potholes, bumps and sharp curves.

The following is a quote, verbatim, from my initial entry in my first organized journal. This is dated 2/2/95 so I was in my early 30’s.

I want to begin going to a support group for incest survivors. I believe a lot of who I have become is related to sexual abuse when I was young. How can a child grow & develop into a well-adjusted, trusting adult when that foundation of trust as a child was not there? I was alone and no one helped me.

I did go to a group a couple of times and there began my desire to face my fears of self-hate and childhood pain. I got some handouts while there.

On 3/19/95 I wrote in my journal:

Last Monday I left T. a Xerox letter from ISA [Incest Survivor’s Anonymous] called, “To My Pro-Survivor.” I wanted him to read it while I was at yoga. The letter tries to explain an incest survivors need for love and acceptance and the little child within the adult who remembers being alone and terrified.

When I returned from yoga T. met me at the door, hugged me and said he missed me. That made me feel good. His comment was not forced and those are the best kind. Then he told me he read the letter and asked if that’s how I really feel. My body just relaxed, I felt vulnerable, teary-eyed and like a helpless child. I said, “Yes.” I think he hugged me but I could not reach back. I just stood still, hoping this disclosure wouldn’t backfire.

That was the extent of the exchange. The conversation moved to the dog, dinner, work or whatever. I felt like I could have talked so much about it. Dig into each phrase, sentence, and word of the letter. But the communication ended. I still felt or reverted back to a feeling of emptiness and feeling alone with no one to talk to about my feelings.

The previous example leaves me wanting more compassion and intimacy from my husband every time. Back to the same old question, “Is it reasonable to have these expectations?”

I want to continue writing about the exchange because the problem is deeper and more complicated. If I tell T. that I need more closeness and intimacy and he does respond I close-up, freeze and wait. Sometimes I know he feels like I’m pushing him off but I’m really afraid of exposing myself for fear of getting hurt. However, he has opened up, made an attempt at intimacy and gets rejected. He tells me he has a fear of rejection. I don’t doubt it.

I bought the book, The Courage to Heal, and one chapter deals with “effects: recognizing the damage.” The areas that a survivor needs to heal are many. The main premise is I must acknowledge these areas in order to heal. I agree. Skipping over some for now I go right to “intimacy.” This seems exceptionally true for me.

In my childhood I did not trust my own family. One brother was abusing me and no one really helped. I grew up confused about love and trust. My mother loved me but I could not trust her to protect me. The effects on me as an adult, following the book, are:

I find it difficult to trust anyone. I do not have close friends.

It is sometimes difficult to receive nurturing, to give it and to be affectionate.

I am afraid of people. I feel alienated and alone.

I have trouble making a commitment and I panic when people get too close.

I repeatedly test my husband.

I expect people to leave me.

It seems I have a fear of intimacy and of being taken advantage of. Both rarely happen to me because I don’t want to be a victim ever again.

As I consider my problems with intimacy I feel I’m putting too much on T. that may not be his fault. I also don’t want to self-blame, but this may be an instance of self-acknowledgment.

Rather than feel bad, I may be the reason T. and I are not close or as intimate as I’d like – it would do me good to understand why I’m afraid of intimacy. To tell myself its okay, it’s justified considering my experience as a child but now I’m an adult and I can move on. I can understand my fear and still trust and be intimate as an adult.

I want to have a healthy relationship with my husband. It’s hard work because this is all very confusing.

The next dated entry is 3/21/95:

I realized T. needs to be educated about my mixed up psyche. I offered to read this journal to him. He was afraid, said he could not be objective that I should read it to an unbiased 3rd party. …T. said he thinks I write in it when I’m mad at him (I think he was afraid I’d only written about him). I got this book, sat next to him and leafed through the first 7 pages, noting & verbalizing he is not even mentioned until page 8 or so. He shrugged.

I see now he feels really bad and believes I look down on him in every way. My problems somehow express themselves to T. in dislike, which is not true.

Well, I read this T. and it was very hard. I sobbed and hid my face at some parts. He gently laid his hand on me and encouraged me to go on after page 7. I wasn’t going to read about him but he seemed ok. I felt his love and compassion.

When I finished I asked if he was angry. “No.” “Do you feel sad,” I asked. He doesn’t like me to feel sad, he said. I slowly and softly grasped his hand and then we shared a very tender moment. He offered that I sound confused, mixed-up and sad. I wanted to jump up and down and say, “Yes, yes, yes.” I felt that he understood that this whole recovery process wasn’t about him.

I was so wiped out from crying that I mentioned that I may not go to the support group, that I felt scared and nervous about it. He said I should go. I just wanted to kiss him; he understood how important it was.

I did kiss him and we ended up in bed, making love. It felt good to be close and there was a difference in T. I felt the pleasure was mutual and completely shared.

Twenty minutes later, I was out the door to the ISA meeting. My eyes burned from crying and I was nervous.

Since this all began I have felt scared. Probably because I’m reliving the victim role. These fears have manifested themselves in a dream about a prowler in the house when I was home. It was so scary I couldn’t go back to sleep for hours.

I also dreamed I was seeing a therapist. I sat in a chair with a microphone and bright lights shining on me. I just sat there, hating the whole situation and not wanting to disclose my feelings so publicly. The stupid/sad thing was I didn’t speak up and even began to make another appointment even though I was so uncomfortable. I woke up at that point.

I suspect I am fearful of an appointment I have on Wednesday with a social worker. More on this later….

Friends who read this far, I thank you. I’m guessing, only those with sexual abuse issues really understand the inner turmoil. But, those early  entries were pretty much the beginning of a long journey that fills eight journals. I had not been diagnosed with depression that early in my healing. The social worker I went to diagnosed me with PTSD but it would be another 8 years before I got treated with antidepressants. So, fast forward to today…when I write with ease about intimacy and my sexual pleasure, believe me, it is like the final frontier that I can be close to another person and write openly about my loving relationship.

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