I haven’t written for quite some time. The summer has been a blur. In between flashbacks, much crying and many solitary walks, I’ve been pretty much out of it. It feels like I’m not in reality much of the time anymore, because reality is painful. I feel detached, like I’m floating somewhere outside of my body. Looking at myself from some point other than inside of my body, cheering myself on, encouraging myself, telling myself as often as I can remember things like, “I’m brave! I’m strong! I’m truth! I can do this! I’m amazing!”
I cheer myself on, but I’m outside of my body trying to comfort myself like a mother would a child. I practice having compassion and pride for myself. I practice what it would feel like to be my future self who is outside of the storm and is healthy and strong. She regularly comes to cheer me on and tell me how proud she is of me. I had a friend tell me recently to pretend to be in the eye of the storm. Everything is whirling all chaotic around me, but I am centered and balanced in the center, just calmly observing. I’m safe.
Yes, safe. Sometimes, well, often times, I go sit in my bed with my favorite blanket up over my head and hyperventilate, then after an hour or so, I feel grounded and safe, and then I come out again. Sometimes I spend the whole day on the couch with the same blanket around me in a kind of nest, and that feels safe.
I had a therapist who was coming to my house each week to do a trauma release therapy called EMDR with me. I was quite psyched at first when I got ahold of her because I didn’t know she did house calls. She mentioned to me over the phone before we ever met, “I get the sense that your world is very small and you feel trapped.” And I started crying all of a sudden because it was true at that point in time, and I didn’t know how she knew I didn’t drive and didn’t get out much. She didn’t even know about the agoraphobia, but she guessed.
And after that she told me she would gladly come to me as she understood agoraphobia and wanted to help. How serendipitous!
We had three sessions that went pretty well. But then she went on vacation for a week, and we had a new roof and siding put on our house, so I had to cancel a few times. Then I had to cancel an hour ahead of time due to a migraine and other physical issues.
I told her that I didn’t have therapy because I had to cancel last minute due to unpredictable health issues too many times to maintain steady therapy. So this lovely therapist came up with an agreement where she would call a few hours before a set time every Wednesday to check if my health was well enough to hold the session, and she would continue to do that weekly.
However, when I called to cancel, she told me, “Look, I can’t help you unless you let me. You keep pushing help away at the moment you need it most. I will discontinue our sessions until you are ready to let others help you.”
And I started crying… again. But, she wasn’t a good fit after all. She didn’t get that it was a physical issue, not fear of therapy, that had me cancel that day. She didn’t understand that when a person is sick, they don’t want to be around…. anyone. She believed it was all anxiety based, and that if I tried a little harder, I could miraculously make the illness go away. Well, let’s all be Tinkerbells and Peter Pans and let’s live in a magical world where we make illness go away instantly with the sheer power of our thoughts. Ready, little magicians? If you believe in magic, then clap your hands!
I do believe in manifestation, the Law of Attraction, that thoughts become things, that we create our own realities with our thoughts. But I’m not at a point where I can instantly make physical symptoms disappear with the snap of my fingers.
So I’m out of therapy. For now.
My therapist asked me a few times if I had any supports such as medications to help me through the processing and healing process. I told her no, I didn’t. I didn’t have the option to take psych meds for the last five years because my body hyper reacted to them. Now, however, I believe my system has calmed down and is able to tolerate more. I actually took a medication for migraines the other month, and not only did I not react, but the medication actually helped. I guessed this would be the case as I’ve been able to tolerate and get benefit from many supplements and foods slowly over the past two years that in the past had caused adverse reactions. I know my body is able to deal with stress far better than it ever could in the past, so the resting, hibernating and nourishing over the past several years is paying off.
Remember last spring when I wrote about facing the biggest fear in my life? I had just crossed paths with a beautiful spirit, Hillary Rain. She asked me to fill in the blanks to a few pieces of poetic phrases, such as “I am brave because I _______.” So I filled in the blank with the first thing that popped into my mind. I am brave because I sit with my emotions.
I could have said any number of brave things I’ve done, or wanted to do. I’ve been a free wheeler, a dare devil, despite my seemingly calm and passive outward appearance. Going out on a limb, challenging myself with the seemingly impossible, going after and doing what others wouldn’t have dared. Don’t believe appearances, guys. The wild ones are quite often the ones with the innocent face and almost child like demeanor. Watch out!
But last spring, the bravest thing for me to do…. I knew in my gut, but had never voiced it… was to simply sit with myself.
Oh how difficult! I remember the post I wrote in April, I remember the chair I sat on, I remember the endlessly long spring and summer days that stretched one into the other, overlapping endlessly, wave after wave, day after day. A blurry haze now. I remember the slant of sun stretching across the patio day after day, zoning out in that lawn chair. I remember the cacophony of thoughts scrambling for attention, and my intention every day to just simply clear my mind and just… BE.
Being in tune with myself. Naming my emotions, and being OK sitting with them. Often it was, “I’m angry! I’m angry because….” or “I’m enraged! I’m enraged because….” or “I’m so frustrated and antsy! I’m frustrated because…” and then, all over again, “I’m mad! I’m mad because…..”
It was healthy to release all of that. I’ve bottled up way too much for far too long, and even if no one was there to hear me, I heard, and I was OK with acknowledging these emotions. For once in my life. Just getting them out there and being OK with it.
Sometimes I would tell myself, “I’m peaceful.”
Sometimes I really was able to just sit with no thoughts. Hearing the crickets squeaking their quirky, raspy chant, feeling the sun on my skin calming me, breathing, feeling the rise and fall of my breathing. Feeling the ground under my feet, feeling the chair underneath supporting me, feeling the hair brushing across my face, smelling the husky burning of some one’s pile of wood burning. Hearing the crunch of gravel as a neighbor pulls out of his driveway, hearing the rise and fall of bird song in the air, heavy and slow as the heat grew, feeling a bead of sweat dribbling down my left arm. Smelling the sweet hay like smell of cut grass toasting in the sun, hearing the scrape of my chair as I push it back into the slanting rectangle of shade behind me. Maybe it was heat delirium, or maybe it was mindfulness. Maybe it was even meditation!
That whole summer was about just being in tune with myself. And doing nothing. But that. No visitors, no other human interaction except with K, and the occasional hello chat with a neighbor while getting the mail. No trips out except to the doc and once to a horse farm to visit and possibly sponsor a horse. And once my family came on Mother’s Day. I wrote about that.
It was the day after that when I had that phone conversation with my little sister, and she said those trigger words, and “it” all came back. For the first time in my life, I was ready to hear, and if I hadn’t been ready, I wouldn’t have had the courage and openness to comprehend or be triggered by those trigger words. God knows what else she has said to me over the years that I may have completely overlooked or not understood. Looking back, it must have been all the practice I’ve been doing over the last year, and especially this spring and summer, sticking my toes tentatively into the waters of ‘being in tune with myself and facing things.”
I was ready. And I heard. And I was strong enough to handle it. I was finally ready to put the puzzle pieces together. Thinking back now, I realize that many of my suppressed memories weren’t even repressed. Much of it I do clearly remember and always did, it’s just that I remembered it from an innocent child’s perspective of “Dad did ____ and as a kid, I always trust Dad, and because it was no big deal, on the same level as him driving us somewhere in a car, or eating dinner with us, there was no need to particularly go back and examine or be traumatized about it, because it just simply was.”
I also had the memory of fear from my mother and father scaring me into forgetting/not bringing into the light of day what happened, so I never went back in time to put my innocent, childhood impression of what happened into the context of an adult’s understanding of what happened. The memory stayed encapsulated as an innocent child’s view. I never gave myself permission to go back and look at it with the understanding and horror as an adult would look at it. It was incredible fear that caused me to never go back there and revisit what happened. It was fear that froze that memory into a place too terrible to ever go back and acknowledge from an adult’s perspective.
I literally was unable to even go there. For all I knew, it was locked away forever. Fear will do that. Religious fear, fear of your father, fear of your father who is the voice of God, fear of hell, fear of the devil, fear of your father going to jail, fear of your father isolating himself from you forever. Fear.
And that’s what I vowed I would face this spring and summer. And that’s what I did.
I feel incredibly lighter now. But still entangled and smothered, somewhat.
So I made a list on a post it card, entitled it “Going from Victim to Overcomer” and put it on the refrigerator. I listed about 10-12 actual things I’m going to do to speak up about this, face my abuser, and tell the truth about what happened. I recently checked off everything on the list and then added two more additional things I can do.
I made sure no one in my family has contact with me on social media. I know the f.f (father figure… he doesn’t deserve a title warmer than that) snoops through my mom’s Face book profile and looks at the pictures that family members post. I’ve felt his eyes staring at me in a dirty way far too many times, and I’m not talking about just when I was a child. He stared creepily at me, my sisters, and my shapely cousins when we were teens and adults. I still don’t see how my family members don’t catch on, but he “is” God, so. You don’t question God. He will punish you severely for any questioning. My family is primarily comprised of sheeple who don’t question.
One of the biggest things on my list was actually speaking to my father, confronting him, and confirming that he read the 35 page letter I wrote him listing in detail everything he did to me. My memories are detailed down to even phrases that he and my mom used, down to the exact nuance and expression, down to exactly how their voice raised or fell. It’s like it’s burned in my memory. For example, the way my mom said, “But did he touch you?” She emphasized “touch” and kept saying it again and again to me after she walked in on him and then had a private confrontation with him and me in their bedroom when I was five.
I remember the tape marks with X’s marked on them that he placed on his bedroom floor to line up his desk chair with. It was marked exactly, so that when his chair lined up with the X’s, it was in a safe position and someone who came in his bedroom door couldn’t see his lap. The filing cabinet would have hid his lap. If his chair wasn’t on those X’s, someone at his bedroom door looking in could see too much. He was a perfectionist, and spent much time sending me to the door to see what I could and couldn’t see of his lap based on where his chair was. It was very tiring to me as a young child. This is just an example of a small fraction of what I remember.
I know that if he read my letter and knew that I remember all of this, he would confess. I know he would. He already tried once to confess when I was in fourth grade, but back then, I didn’t know what sex was, and I wasn’t able to put in context what he did. And he was too subtle to go into detail. He told me he did horrible things to me when I was young, and that he felt guilty and thought about it every day. He wanted to confess and get it off his chest.
That was the year he wanted to put us into ATI and home school us. He had been following Bill Gothard for years before this, but he really got into it that year and was all about asking forgiveness from those he offended.
So I know that he will break when he reads my letter and knows that I remember it all in fine detail.
Which is why my mother has made it more difficult to get to him than getting through to the Pope. I wrote about my persistent attempts to call the homestead over the summer. How my mom blocked my emails for over a month, then blocked my calls. When the f.f. finally did answer the phone, he basically cursed me in the name of God for “sowing seed of discord among the brethren,” (ummmm… what?) then my mom grabbed the phone, screamed at me, cursed me further in the name of God, warned me not to call ever again, then hung up.
I called again. And again. I needed to know if the f.f. read the letter. Finally, he actually answered. But this time he played all sweet and calm, and I was thrown for a loop. He said that he hadn’t read the letter. That my mother thought it was full of pornography and that my memories were from demons. That he trusted my mother’s judgement about not reading it. I told him in a wavering voice that I wanted him to read it. I also told him that I didn’t like it that he frightened me and made me terrified of him ever since I was five. I told him that I was still terrified of him even now. Which is true. He seemed like he wanted to cry. He kept saying he was sorry for that. But he told me he couldn’t apologize for whatever was in that letter because mom wouldn’t let him read it. As if. He’s a grown man. Excuse after excuse.
I let it go for another month or two. Then I decided I had to try again. I was sick to my stomach and shaking like a leaf. I was pumping myself up, saying, “I’m brave. I’m strong. I can do this! I’m honest. I’m courageous. I can do this!”
I called. The phone rang, then “click.” They had lifted the receiver and put it right back down so it wouldn’t ring. I called again. Same thing happened. I called again. He picked up.
We went round and round about how he couldn’t read the letter. Then he said he was going to send me a letter, and that it wouldn’t be “all bad,” only partly.
So then the gate of sarcasm broke loose and all the waters rushed out. The anger and disgust at him suddenly came out. No more fear.
I use a sickeningly sweet, dramatic voice, “Oh, I’m so sorry! Karl is not going to let me read your letter. If you send it by email, he’s going to block your account. I’ll never see it. And if you send it by mail, Karl is going to rip it up, then burn it. If you send it by certified mail where I have to sign for it, Karl will sign my name, then rip it up and burn it. I’m so sorry. I will never get it.”
He stays silent. He doesn’t get it.
I tell him, “Karl is going to do exactly what mom did to the letter meant for you. He will OBSTRUCT it’s delivery. Period.”
“You promise to read my letter, I’ll read yours.”
So later when he’s talking to Karl, he tells Karl that he promises to read the letter, if we send it one more time to him. He tells us that he promises he will unblock our email addresses. And that he promises to tell us he has read it after he does so.
Turns out, he lied. Later that night he sent us an email saying he unblocked us. I sent the email. I sent another saying “did you read it?”
It’s been a month now. He hasn’t tried to send any letter to me, either.
Their true colors came out during that call.
My mother told me that I am now officially cut off from the family. She started laughing and told me to not expect a birthday card or call on my birthday, which was about a week away at that time. She told me she didn’t want me there for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any holiday after that. She didn’t want me calling or writing or trying to get in contact with her any more.
Then she stirs up this sorrowful, syrupy, melodramatic and judgmental tone, “AJ.” Long pause for effect. “Don’t you wonder why T moved out?”
I said, “What? She moved out because she has a job and just got herself an apartment.”
Then my mother said, “AJ.” Long pause. “Don’t you wonder why L doesn’t want to visit you anymore?”
This is a side of my mother I’ve never seen before. She went from laughing during the part where she told me I wasn’t wanted at the family home anymore, to judgemental and sorrowful, to angry, to deadly calm. She is going unhinged. All I felt afterwards was sorrow for her. I wasn’t even able to engage back and call her out on her rudeness. It would have felt like pinching a yapping dog that is being fierce because it is hurt and has a broken leg. I know she’s hurting. It doesn’t excuse her, but I don’t have any desire to fight her back or bring her down.
I did worry that my sisters actually had abandoned me as well for a few weeks. I haven’t recently talked to Louisa but she called me a few months ago to see if I was doing OK. She told me she knew I was going through a stressful time, and wanted to make sure I was all right. We had a lovely conversation. L told me that she wasn’t taking sides.
Then yesterday, Thalia came over with her daughter Gloria and some friends, and we celebrated G’s birthday. I made Gloria cupcakes and a homemade card and we went for a walk on a local trail around here. After spending so much extended time by myself for long stretches of time, it’s so nice to converse with…. people! T was full of laughter and didn’t seem like she hated me like my mom was trying to insinuate.
Then I called my younger sister Christy on her birthday a few days ago. Yes, we have a lot of November birthdays in my family. We’re a bunch of Scorpios. Christy and I were chatting away. I know she’s always been on my side. C mentioned out of the blue that mom had sent her a birthday card in the mail. And called her. C told me she was shocked because my mom apparently has never called her on the phone in her adult life, and also has never sent her a birthday card. Apparently, I must have been a bit of a favorite and C wasn’t. But. C apparently is my mom’s favorite now. We both joked about this. About the craziness of the whole situation.
Even if my sisters turned against me for telling the truth, I would have told the truth anyway. Thankfully, they don’t seem phased by my speaking up, and don’t seem to have anything against me. Why would they? My mom was just using a scare tactic trying to create division between us where there is none. It is a sore point with her that her own sisters have kept a distance from her. Her sisters resent that the ff won’t let her socialize with them, and I know she’s been hurt by that. Apparently, her sisters are a “bad influence” and “give her ideas.” My mom understands deeply the pain of being kept from her own family for righteousness’ sake. So a sibling split is just what she wants for me.
I see right through her. I see her ache, her pain, her life of entrapment. She is lashing out and doesn’t even know why. She thinks I’m the enemy, but she is living with the enemy and acting like he is God, her Savior. I can’t work up any anger towards her. Only a wish that I could set her free.
But only she can do that.