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Archive for July 17th, 2008

On my post Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse, a reader named Tami said:

I would be very interested in knowing how you went about your healing process and integration.

Writing out every step of my healing process could crash the WordPress server, but I can provide a basic overview of the steps involved in my healing process. Hopefully, this will be helpful to those of you who are new to the healing process from child abuse.

For most of my life, I knew that I was fundamentally f#$%ed in the head. I did not know what was wrong with me or why, only that I was really messed up. I got great grades in school and graduated from a prestigious university with a law degree when I was only 23 years old. To say that I was driven was an understatement. By outside appearances, I was successful in life. However, I had so much going on inside that did not match the outside.

For example, I struggled with binge eating for most of my life. I had issues with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). When I dreamed at night, my dreams were either nightmares or night terrors. Also, I was (and still am) unbelievably quirky. At a base level, I loathed myself.

Because I did not know what broke me, I did not know how to fix myself. I read lots of self-help books, but none really fixed my issues. I had no idea that my life was a textbook profile of a child abuse survivor. I had no memories of being abused as a child. However, I was drawn toward stories about sexual abuse and dissociative identity disorder. Also, I tended to befriend people with a history of sexual abuse.

In 2002, I developed a suspicion that I might have alter parts. When I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep at night, I would sometimes feel “someone step into my face.” My cheekbones would feel angular, and I had a strong suspicion that perhaps I had an alter ego. I would even run to the mirror to see if my face looked different, but it didn’t.

Then, one night as I was overwhelmed with anxiety (which was pretty much my baseline), I told myself that I wanted to remember. If something had happened to me to mess me up this badly, I wanted to know what it was.

I started having a body memory, although at the time I did not know what it was. I could feel myself being orally raped. I forced myself to look into my abuser’s face. I expected to see my father’s face because that is how all of the made-for-TV movies work out, but instead, it was my mother’s face. I was not ready to deal with it, so I shut it all back inside and went to sleep. The next morning, I had no memory of this.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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