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Archive for July 18th, 2008

This post is part of a series in which I am providing an overview of my healing process from child abuse. The story begins here.

In the summer of 2003, my mother-abuser had major surgery. She could not be left alone after coming home from the hospital, so my sister and I agreed to split up the time to stay with her. I was dreading staying at her house but believed that it was my duty to go. My son was only two years old at the time. I was a stay-at-home mom, so I took him along with me.

From the moment I walked in the door, I was edgy. I felt rage brewing beneath the surface, but I could not tell you why. I remember my mother falling asleep while we watched TV, and the thought raced through my head that I hoped she was dead. I was mortified by this thought, which I now know was the thoughts of Irate, who was one of my alter egos.

After I had been there for three days and still had one or two left to go, my anxiety was peaking. I was a complete wreck, even though my mother was doing nothing outwardly to warrant my reaction. I cried myself to sleep each night and prayed that I could leave soon.

During the night, my mother-abuser knocked on my door at midnight and told me that I had to go to the 24-hour Wal-Mart to pick up something for her. She lives in the middle of nowhere, so it was not safe for me to drive 15 miles on country roads to run this errand for her, but I did it because I believed that I had no other choice. I left my two-year-old son behind because he was fast asleep.

When I returned from the errand, my mother told me that my son had awakened while I was gone, and she had gone into his room. I completely flipped out. An alter ego took over (Irate), and I was just along for the ride.

I pulled my son out of his crib, slammed the door to my room, and held him close. I bawled my eyes out, asking if that crazy woman had hurt him and apologizing for leaving him alone with her. Frantic thoughts were racing through my head, filled with fear that she had sexually abused him.

The weird thing was that these were not “my thoughts.” I felt as if I had been shoved to the corner of my head and that “somebody else” was controlling my body. I stayed co-present (did not black out) for the entire thing: I just was not in charge.

The next morning, my mother told me to leave right away, and I probably left skid marks as I drove away very quickly. I stayed in a rage for weeks, which I now recognize as Irate staying co-present. This experience is what kicked off my healing process from child abuse.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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