Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while, with working starting up again life has become extremely hectic. To add to this schedule I fell in love with a friends dog and began looking up the breed (Cavoodle) and two weeks ago bought a puppy for me and Muriel. He is very gorgeous and the three of us (and the three cats) all get along well.
Rage has been building up in me as a result of regular nightmares that see me achieve a lack of sleep, and a line manager who has very little emotional intelligence and as a result has no compassion and understanding of trauma, and how his behaviour can support or disable a survivor.
I’m my current role I have to interact with family members of the man who tortured and sexually abused me as a child. Whilst I live many hundreds of kilometres away from him and the capital city I grew up in, coincidently I moved for work to a regional city where he was born and breed and his remaining siblings and nieces and nephews reside.
Over the last few weeks I have had the need to self harm but due to the extreme heat waves in my State over the last month or so I have been acutely aware of how exposed any injuries and scars could be to others. I am a leader in my work place and I want to be confident enough to challenge the myths re self harm, and often do in Professional Development programs I present and in the way I support clients and staff. But when I am unwell and my little ones are raging my confidence to do this for myself weakens. As a consequence I have recently chosen to self harm in places that are often covered, even by very summery clothes.
As a child victim of extreme aggressive and perverted sex abuse I have a range of little ones who have survived frozen in experiences. At times these experiences are remembered through flash backs, dreams and nightmares and the way my teenage rager boy deals with this is by taking on the role of the perpetrator and self harming me. This week he has cut the following words into my breasts. Slut, whore, bad, liar, weak, ugly, dumb, retard, cunt, fat, bad girl and filthy slut. These are all the labels my abusers would make me wear when inflicting their abuse on me. I wear these labels to remind myself who I am, to protect myself from any promiscuous behaviour (as I am too ashamed to show my body to anyone) and to feel some physical pain. My breasts look appalling which has actually distressed me quiet a bit as I use to take pride in my breasts being one part of my body that my abusers never really paid any attention too! Now my rager has damaged them, making them look and feel so angry and painful.
Yesterday came so close to the end. My multiple Lee-Roy’s were all so hurting, let down, disappointed and this triggered the angry teenage boy in me to rage. He raged against all of the others, he raged against the one who showed and then withdrew some of their love for me and he raged against my therapist. We are all scared and felt abandoned. Four year old Lee-Roy remembered the first time the man who she thought loved her hurt her. She felt alone and scared and confused. Why was she so unlovable then? This love withdrawal made her feel so unlovable again?
I’m am unsure about how much information to include within my posts about my trauma experiences. I know my experiences for me are hard to acknowledge and discuss as 40 year old Lee-Roy. Younger Lee-Roy’s, particularly seven year old Lee-Roy is finding it extremely hard to trust others to share her experiences. Her abuser use to threaten her with further violence and threaten to be violent to my family and animals if I ever talked about what occurred. These threats still scare me to my core, mainly because about 16 months ago my abuser found me on Facebook after they had reconnected through a chance meeting with one of my family members. I live hindered of kilometres away from where I grew up and have felt relatively safe physically from my abuser due to the physical distance and my understanding that they didn’t know where I lived. My family and the abuser organised to catch up the following weekend with their families for a BBQ. To cut a long story short during this weekend my a user found out that I had disclosed a small amount if trauma he had inflicted on me and and discovered where I live and work. (All this was occurring with no knowledge from me.) My abuser found me on Facebook and sent an inbox message threatening to harm me. Freakily it turns out that my abuser was born and grew up in the town I now work in and has extensive family here. Freakily even more I have worked with several of his family members very closely in a social, emotional welfare kind of way. In his threatening inbox message he said he could get his family to “fix” me up if he decides to. It come up and do it myself. This threat was enough to empower 40 year old Lee-Roy to look after all of the younger Lee-Roy’s and herself and ring the police for support and to make a report about the past abuse. This was the first step I have really made to take control of the situation, empower myself and do what I can to keep safe. Unfortunately in my work I still come into contact with some of my abusers family and this Knocks me around emotionally a bit. I worry about what they know (probably nothing), I worry about how effective I can be at working with them when I’m also feeling a little vulnerable and threatened by them. But I also know I am extremely good at my job, which includes working with families that are extremely dysfunctional and living in poverty, and the effects of other disadvantage including incarceration and abuse. I am extremely loving and accepting of many people and never discriminate against these clients, in fact I feel we have walked similar paths so I can empathise extremely well about them and implement strategies and support to assist them to have access to opportunities that enabled me to become a productive member of society.
Opps, went off the topic a bit there – So, re telling trauma … sometimes I think it may be useful to tell the experience as a whole, nightmare and all. I think it would be useful for Lee-Roy to be heard. I think it may also be useful for any other survivors to hear about others experiences around surviving BUT of importance to me is 1) to remain confidential (about my identity and that of my abusers and therapists and 2) not traumatise others by reading about my experiences.
Can people give me feedback on this please.
Body memories … I am unsure what to make of these except I know that I have experienced intense pain during and after extremely traumatic nightmares. I have just read a section of ‘We are Annora’ where Annora gets welts over her body after remembering an abuse situation that saw her have similar injuries. When I watch tv I have a heavy bias for ABC, SBS and Discover Channel documentaries and as a result have seen several documentaries on stigmata … although those believing in these feel it has a spiritual basis the atheist and scientist in me says the cases are hoaxes. Yet last week when I experienced the same horrific nightmare four nights in a row each time I woken in REAL physical pain. The physical pain lasted for hours into the next day to the extent that I took several pain killers and had a very close friend try and help me relax and untense my body muscles to relieve my pain through gentle massage. The pain was close to paralleling what I imagine the pain would have been for my seven year old self experiencing that pain (yet my recollection of some of that pain is hazy as I believe I dissociated throughout the initial trauma). In places where my body was damaged during the original trauma I was cramping and kept holding myself in a near foetal position to try and limit the pain.
I am currently reading “We are Annora” and have found the information about how Annora switches interesting because it is different than my experiences. I am new at understanding my possible DID traits/characteristics. I have always know the younger ones are a part of me. I feel I have always know about their experiences and stories and they have known about the current Lee-Roy, but I have never had the ability/confidence/comfort to fully transition and be fully one of them other than current Lee-Roy. There are many times throughout even a normal day younger Lee-Roys take charge over different aspects of my day (depending on what I have planned and do for the day) and they interact/react accordingly – sometimes appropriately and sometimes inappropriately.
At times when I have been communicating with my therapist in writing (text, email, poem, nightmare recall) and verbally in person aspects of four year old and seven year old Lee-Roy emerge. But because 40 year old Lee-Roy is hyper-vigilant she notices this and listens in and helps them communicate. At times their language overrides and this can be heard in the words they use eg weewee as opposed to vagina, the younger uncontrolled sobbing and crying and their need for the child like physical contact of hugs, of hair being brushed of laying in a safe adult lap and being rocked or patted.
The techniques and compassion Annora’s therapist uses are very similar to the ones my therapists uses and I believe we both have had similar successes thanks to these. The importance of our therapists in reassuring our younger ones that they are now safe and were remembering horrific experiences that they didn’t deserve has been paramount for my Lee-Roy’s. The way both our therapist remain calm and caring and reassure us that were are brave for sharing, and that what happened to us was undeserving and not our fault is so helpful in undoing the shame we were forced to wear because our abusers wouldn’t.
I remember the quote that goes along the lines of something like this …’Fool on me once, shame on you. Fool on me twice, shame on me!’ Well Optus certainly shamed me again. My therapist and I were again having some text message conversations while she was in another rural town while one of her children was in hospital. I had experienced some more trauma as a result of a recent date rape and needed to communicate with her about this. Our texting was going sort of smoothly … as smooth as it can go when trying to convey messages of how this abuse had increased my self loathing, suicide ideation and confusion re my want to acknowledge my sexuality.
After several texts we again began to receive mumbled texts thanks to Optus. I actually received some texts that were originally sent about a week ago when our other messages got jumbled. Some texts were so jumbled that they contained half a new message and half an old message. Some of the responses made me feel extremely worthless and heightened my anxiety about the future of our therapeutic relationship and in truth, the future of my life. I felt if my therapist couldn’t accept why I was so damaged and feeling the way I was then nobody could. I began to doubt my worth to the extent that I decided to enact my plans. Some of my younger ones (7 year old Lee-Roy in particular) became extremely agitated as current Lee-Roy had only recently drew upon a lot of strength to let go of the option of suicide as one plan which some what settled the young ones. In doing this I threw out a lot of the resources I had in my Suicide Tool Kit and also completely deleted documents from my computer that outlined what my wishes were regarding my assets and liabilities and farewelled important people in my life. The week before I had actually gone to the shop when very distressed and purchased some razor blades as I needed to cut myself (a common self harm strategy I use for a variety of reasons) so I retrieved these from their hiding spot and psyched myself up to cut myself up. Thankfully I was too agitated to go through with my plans as I tried to persevere with texting my therapist.
My therapist agaIn worked out before me that Optus was stuffing up our messages so she began to email me responses to help reinstate effective communication. Unfortunately for me, some of my younger ones were too distressed to hear her messages and we had a rough night. The next night my therapist was back in town and we were able to have a face to face discussion which involved a lot of reassurance and hugs for the younger ones to begin to feel safe again.
I am going to try and limit my texting conversations with her and spend more time blogging my experiences (which she can access as she chooses to) and we can have face to face discussions about my blog posts if necessary during our appointments.
I awoke again sobbing with my neck and wrists sore. I have vowed never to wear necklaces and bracelets again. As a little girl I loved wearing necklaces and bracelets and would often wear some of mums costume beads. One day these were used against me to keep still during an abuse incident. One lot of beads were wrapped around my four year old wrists which were restrained behind my back. Another lot were wrapped around my neck with him holding onto the remaining length tight making me feel totally trapped and paralysed. I remember wishing I would die. After eventually soothing myself through rocking I was able to identify that my current self also wants to die too. I am finding talking about it difficult. I am finding re-living the experiences difficult. I don’t want to dream about it anymore. I don’t want to burden anyone anymore. I feel more alone than ever. I have tried so hard to rid myself of my plans and not go back to choosing no life over life, but it’s difficult.
I began reading James Pennebakers book ‘Writing to heal’ and read about the studies of how keeping secrets in some cases can be more damaging than the events. He suggests There is evidence showing that writing expressively for as little as 15 minutes a day can improve both physical and mental health, including sleeping. I guess my behaviours have always supported this, I was just unaware that there was any study/research that supports this. As a teenager I use to write poetry, I just did it to express myself to voice stuff that I couldn’t verbalise. I have decided to undertake my own personal research on this and am committing to writing regularly on my blog – whether it be Ab log post, the recording of a another recipe of a favourite dish or the publishing of some of my poetry. I hope I am not wishful thinking re me ability … I am still on holidays due to Christmas and the New Year and I am about to return to work next week … So I will have less time to process my issues, document my journey and heal.
Last night was a tough one. I had a nightmare where I relived one horrific sex abuse incident I experienced as a four year old. The nightmare was extremely vivid and I awoke in tears, hot, sweaty, and in pain. Several weeks before I had unearthed my childhood doll from it’s packed away storage in the shed to accompany me to a therapy session. Since then my younger selves have hugged, and cuddled this doll, loving being reunited with their trustworthy confidant. Every morning after making my bed I placed this precious doll in the middle of my bedspread, gently resting on a pillow. She holds such secrets that she needs to rest her weary body,
Back to the nightmare, upon deciding to finally stop reading and try to get some sleep, I turn out the light and I took my doll in my arms and hugged and kissed her and told her quietly how much I loved her. Waking up very distressed from the nightmare left me feeling disoriented and vulnerable. I was sobbing. Parts of my damaged body throbbed with pain and I was failing miserably at soothing myself. I remembered about my doll, so I reached for her and instantly my four year old self felt more grounded. For the next thirty minutes or so I found my younger four year old self having the confidence to speak her truth as she began talking to the doll like she had many many years ago. This was an amazing experience to be a part of. With the innocence and love of a four year old I told my doll about the painful abuse I had just experienced and as a good mum to her, I reassured her that I would protect her and not let anyone ever hurt her like that.
Internally I listen to my other selves, and knew they were listening to the current me, but never had I allowed any of them the freedom to come out and be what they needed to be, verbally share what they needed to share. I have resisted this for so long as I am scared of what they would say, how they would react, how others around me would perceive my behaviour ,,,
I feel the current me is most accepting and empathetic towards the four year old me, so I’m suspecting that’s why I was able to have her appear and just be. My seven and ten year old me’s are very damaged physically and emotionally, and from what little I have been able to understand they dissociated so much during their abuse experiences and hold so much pain that they are protecting all of the other selves by still keeping quiet. Some of my nightmares (and some flashbacks during the day) are of these experiences and I now as a strong independent woman still have trouble repeating these experiences to my therapist as they are so vivid and painful and I fear my current selves ability to manage to cope with it.