Category: In Your Words – Stories

I am a 73 year old male
I am a 73 year old male. I discovered my abuse in my late 60’s after 3 years of therapy I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. It was quite an ordeal to recover these memories. I was abused by my mother and male friends of my family, my male grade school principal. The abuse happened from when I was approximately 4 or 5 until I was 12. Both my mother and father denied this was happening during those years. This denial and punishment did as much damage as the actual abuse.

 

The Impact 
Although I have a very successful business life. CEO of a large company for over 25 years. Underneath I was never happy and felt I belonged. This hidden trauma caused family and marriage issues. Although my marriage has survived 42 years.

 

What I want others to know/understand 
It is never to late to face and find the truth no matter how frightening and terfying it is
My Toolbox

By Anthony Carrone

In my last article, I mentioned the tools I try to use every day to continue coping with my memories of sexual abuse. For me, coping is a never-ending process. Unfortunately, my tools don’t make the memories go away, but I can’t think of a healthy alternative that does. Like many tool boxes, the tools in my box were acquired over time. I don’t use all of my tools every day, and sometimes I need WD-40 to get them working correctly, but knowing I have a set to use is helpful in its own way.

My toolbox:

  • Staying active
  • To-do list
  • Charity
  • Mindfulness meditations
  • Journaling/Storytelling
  •  

Staying active

Finding ways to stay active has played a major role in coping with my troubling memories. In addition to all of the known benefits of staying active, for me, it brings back favorable memories and feelings from my childhood. Some of my favorite memories were made playing baseball and camping with my friends. Staying physically active has allowed me to reminisce about those times while creating new memories with my new friends. Completing a game or a difficult hike also provides me with a sense of accomplishment that feels really good!  

To-do lists

Some mornings, I wake up feeling anxious or depressed and feel like there is nothing that will get me out of bed. It would be so easy to turn over and go back to sleep. What I have found is that making a to-do list helps me get past that initial morning depression and jumpstart my day in a much more positive way. I actually use a cheat code for this – Let me explain. On those difficult mornings, after I realize I am dangerously close to falling into a non-productive day, I get up and make my bed (I know this is not always easy – but it got easier with repetition) After I make my bed, I create a checklist of things I need to get done. My trick is adding “MAKE YOUR BED” as the first task on my list and immediately checking it off. Oh, it is so satisfying! It may seem silly, but sometimes that small sense of accomplishment is what I need to change the trajectory of my day.

Charity

Practicing random acts of kindness and charity every day is, I think, one of the most effective ways to cope and also make a real difference in someone else’s day. Charity does not have to be monetary or even publicized to make a difference or be an effective tool in your kit. Unselfishly giving your time, love and attention creates a positive energy that you and people around you will benefit from.

Mindfulness meditation

Meditation has been the most useful tool in my toolbox. Actually, it may be the material many of my tools are crafted from.  Or maybe it’s what my toolbox is made of?  Anyway, before I lose you… Practicing mindfulness meditation has changed my life. Most of us are mindful at some point during the day, but it’s really difficult to stay in that zone.  Sometimes we are distracted by a thought from our past that brings up uncomfortable memories. For me, if I let it, those thoughts have the potential to bring me to a dark place, usually filled with anger and a case of the f*ck its. A place where my mind is racing all over the place, but my body is paralyzed – a feeling of defeat. Practicing mindfulness through meditation has helped me recognizing when these intrusive thoughts arise, accept them, and get my mind back to the current moment – Like when I am having trouble getting up in the morning, recognize my negative emotions and decide to make a to-do list to help get me started.  There are many different styles of meditation, so if mindfulness is not the way for you, check out some other forms of meditation that seem like a better fit!

Journaling and storytelling

Getting my thoughts out, one way or another, has always helped me cope with what I am feeling inside. What I like about journaling is the ability to go back and actually read my own words about what I was thinking or feeling during that moment – it’s right there in front of me. It also helps me see my own potential behavioral patterns. If I notice I am feeling a certain way, I’ll often go back to my journal to see when I’ve felt that way before. If I have, I’ll recall how I reacted and review how that worked out for me. Finding a group of friends or an outlet like Gravity Network to share your thoughts with can be super helpful.

As I said earlier, these tools have not deleted my memories of sexual abuse, but they have taught me skills to live a happy life without blaming myself for other’s actions. I plan to stay physically active and remain healthy to help find the joy in things I used to love. I will do my best to make to-do lists to help me stay on top of my daily tasks when my emotions want to distract me. I will give my time and attention to other who need it, because others have been there for me when I needed to be lifted up. I will practice mindfulness to remain aware of my true self and chart the path to my brightest future. And I will continue to tell my story through personal journaling and this blog, not only for myself, but for others who read and are going through their own struggles.

I am not healed…and that’s ok

By April M.D. Resnik 12/9/18

 

How many times have I said these words to people, “You are never fully healed from sexual trauma. It never goes away. Your brain has been changed, and the biological change is not something that can be undone. But, you work with it and integrate it, mitigate the symptoms, and learn to live, hopefully well, with it.” I thought I believed this, I really and truly did. I thought I was living that. How arrogant and wrong I was. Because somewhere deep in my internal recesses, my unconscious had bought the curative hype. Some unspoken part of me thought I’d healed, thought I’d been cured, or pretty damn close to it. I wrote and spoke with confidence about the hardest parts of my childhood because some part of me not only felt healed, but believed I had found the key, had set my demons free, and was once and for all better. I hadn’t, I didn’t, I wasn’t. But I didn’t realize I had bought into these false confidences until my world cracked open and swallowed me whole.

He was my boyfriend at 16, we married at 22, we had a child at 30.

I’ve been facing the reverberations from being abused and raped at 8 years old, since I was in college. I’ve been consciously working on myself since I was 20, I am now 43. That work has shape-shifted and evolved over the years from cognitive behavioral therapy, to self-help books, to Jungian therapy. From meditation, to getting my master’s degree in meditation, to teaching meditation. From writing and art therapy, to creating my own blog, to writing poetry and publishing articles about my abuse. But through it all was one constant…my significant other. He was my boyfriend at 16, we married at 22, we had a child at 30. He has always known about my abuse, I told him when we were teenagers. He took it in stride and was unashamed. He was patient, my friend, my rock. He let me explore, explored with me, faced the intimacy challenges and worked to overcome them with me…until he stopped. I remember the day, years ago, I had a flashback during a particularly rough GYN exam. I called him afterwards shaking and crying. He coldly told me he was busy at work and would call me back. He never did. He texted to say he was headed home from work. He had totally forgotten that I had even called. I spent that afternoon sobbing on the floor with my dog. That day I knew, some part of me knew. My partner was gone. And still, the other part of me held on to what I thought was “unconditional love” as a cure-all, a backstop, a bedrock of my own healing. I see that now, all of it. The truth and the illusion. I did not see it fully then.

And everything I thought I knew about my healing…evaporated and was swallowed whole by grief

It took years for him to finally say the whole truth; that he was leaving me. That he’d found a new partner and was done being mine. On New Years Eve 2018, the truth came out of his mouth. No more us. (It took another few months for him to reveal he’d found a new partner, one who was a trusted family friend and coworker.) And in the many tear-soaked conversations we had about the dissolution of us, he laid his own issues, and his leaving, square at my feet. I believe his exact words were, “I became codependent and dysfunctional at 16, the day you told me about your abuse.” And everything I thought I knew about my healing, my ability to connect with another, my trust in myself and in love, in my own body, even in my voice…equally evaporated and was swallowed whole by grief. And that’s when I realized that I had bought into the curative fantasy. To spite my intelligence and my self-awareness. I had allowed myself to hold onto the love of another, as a huge part of my own healing and integration process. Only when my abandonment issues recently re-ravaged my body and brain did I realize I had truly, but foolhardily, believed that those demons had been exorcised. And I had believed they had been exorcised by someone else’s love. They hadn’t been banished, but only tamed and caged, by the false reliance on another. Not only had I believed that another person’s strength was my own, but that strength I had relied on, even if unconsciously, had itself been an illusion. I had relied on his love to redeem humanity, my past, and myself. It is time to see things clearly.

I am not going anywhere.

I am not healed, I am not cured, and I don’t need to be. I am simply integrating and moving with the trauma from being raped at 8 years old. I know this as a lived experience now. And I am finally learning to do it for myself, with myself, as myself…I hope. I am still in the midst of the divorce, and while the process is not over, his leaving is over. He can’t leave anymore than he already has, and yet I am still here. I am sometimes a mess of issues, of both mind and body. I know now down to my bones that will always be the case, perhaps to greater and lesser degrees given the day, and that is ok. There is no cure. I have PTSD and abandonment issues, and they will always need to be managed. I have no idea what any of that looks like moving forward. But I am also learning now that I won’t leave me. His strength was not my own, my strength is my own. His love did not save me, my own love for myself and that 8-year-old little girl, will save me. As much as anyone can be saved. Perhaps even that is inviting the curative fantasy back in. Rephrase: my own strength and love for myself and that 8-year-old little girl will hold me. That is the most I can do, and the MOST I can do. On those days ahead when my demons come to the surface screaming and sobbing, I will hold myself, I will learn to like myself, I will let go of my own shame instead looking to another to do so, and I will tell myself that I am here. And, I am not going anywhere.

Stories: I was counting on her

This is my story. Today I am 31. Up until the abuse started I had a great relationship with my parents. I was attached to my mom. I was called a daddy’s girl, I have 1 brother which is 3 years older than me. We lived in small country towns. Which was how my whole family lived. I feel that my brother was never really there for me which I could of used, specialy since he had too been sexualy assaulted, but doesn’t talk about it. Very sad story there. Now theis days we are distant to each other. Continue reading “Stories: I was counting on her”

Stories: Killing the Pain

My grandmother told me once, “I just don’t understand why you are so hell bent on destroying yourself.” I wasn’t either. I didn’t know why I would drink myself to oblivion, keep company with every abusive asshole that ever entered my path, ran around on empty, punishing myself. I thought I hated myself. I thought I hated myself but I didn’t know why I did. There was something in me that I was trying so hard to destroy and from the outside looking in, it did look like I was trying to destroy myself. Continue reading “Stories: Killing the Pain”

Getting better is my main focus

First abuse – I was barely 3 years old….a foster home with I don’t even remember how many boys. I was barely 20 and a mom of twins. One child was epileptic and both had learning issues. My family wasn’t as supportive as they could be, and I was pregnant again. Only there’s a slight change this time – I might not be sure of the father, only because I was no longer compliant for sexual exploitation anymore. So he would take the instant gratification and go.

I literally dreamed of her and knew all about her. Even before they could tell what sex! But what if she was his? Would I reject her? Would I love her? What if she’s not his? What if she’s my boyfriends? I picked a family who made all kinds of promises, but they cut me out . She was my boyfriend’s baby but I couldn’t tell everyone. I couldn’t find my voice. I couldn’t fight for myself as usual.

The Impact

I gave away my daughter over sexual abuse. I spent years messing up everything not knowing the damage I was hiding! I struggle in parenting but I’m learning to not only cope but help others see this cycle. I don’t think I will ever be with a man again. I’m 39 and still can not hold a relationship. I may well be poisoned against them permanently. But getting better is my main focus – For my kids and for others who survived the same.

What I want others to know

Getting help and understanding the truth.

This stuff causes victims to feel they deserved it or don’t deserve better – That’s not true!

Guilt and shame are not for you to hold on to. Tell your story until you feel better. And help someone else do the same. This stuff can last a lifetime, and it’s ok to reach out.

A Buried Memory

I had buried the memory of the incident. It only came rushing back into my mind when someone sent a Facebook suggestion that I be his friend. My immediate visceral response was an unequivocal NO.

I reached out to a trusted friend – someone who I had gone through life coach training with and who I knew it was safe to be vulnerable with. I told her my story of when I was about 7 and said, “He molested me, or, well, he touched me inappropriately.” She kindly and firmly told me, “That is molestation.”

I’m glad she brought my attention to the word choice. I guess I was trying to make light of it, to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, to lessen what happened to me. He is a relative – not close – but I was taught in many ways not to rock the boat,not to air the family’s secrets, and that “blood is thicker than water.”

A Compassionate Witness

By calling my experience what it was, that it was indeed molestation, I was able to recognize it was abuse. It also helped me understand why my initial reaction was fear and avoidance.

For me, it was healing to have a compassionate witness who recognized and validated my experience. Later, when I shared with another family member, the reaction was not so positive, and it made me even more grateful for my friend who was able to hold space for me to grieve and who believed me.

Books were my escape

Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

It’s a fog, but I believe it started at 3yrs. I remember 3 distinct occasions where I was raped by the man who my mother had a relationship with. However, I believe that it happened regularly.

I didn’t understand at the time what was going on, but as I grew older I read and I understood what it was. Books were always my escape. At around 8, was when I knew what he was doing to me. I lived in constant fear, of men being alone with them. I was always anticipating the moment. That he would force himself on me, have his pleasure and then leave. One of the occasion, he was playing a game with my friends and I, where they were getting rides from him. I was reluctant to have close contact with him but being a child it look fun. I eventually joined and after two goes, he forced himself inside of me and whispered in my ear, “Where you feel you going, I was waiting for you.” I immediately froze, went numb and my mind went blank, I strared into space,diassocating myself from what was happening as I always did until he was finished, he let me go and I just drifted off, everyone around oblivious to what just happened. I remember cramps in stomach and blood on my underwear. I never told anyone about this day.

A Lasting Scar

I’m 30 now. It is my belief that my mom knew, but she was powerless as he would physically abuse her as well. To this day, it affects our relationship. I try to understand given her situation she was powerless, but at the same time how could she have allowed it, for so many years. How could she have known and done nothing.

To this day, it affects me. I’m yet to be in a healthy relationship as my marriage ended due to physical and emotional abuse. I am fearful to leave my son in anyone’s company. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to him. I’m in a constant state of stress and fear. However I try my best every day.
The mental, physical, sexual and emotional abuse is a scar for life, that no one can deny.

What I Want Others To Know

Please, seek help and be strong enough to leave any form of abusive relationship. Not only intimate relationships, but any that threatens your self esteem and your worth. If you have children it is best to leave these situations as these cycle tend to repeat themselves. No one wants that for thier children.

There is beauty in healing

There is beauty in healing, broken inner parts (dissociation) from surviving. I resonate with the art of ‘kintsugi. This concept is an old Japanese philosophy’repairing pottery by golden joinery’

The Impact

We can mind our broken parts and our sadness, making them emblems of resilience, the passage of time, and the inevitability of change and transformation!! Like the Phoenix from the ashes, butterfly from a cocoon. Repairing our history we become more beautiful than before, it’s our karma.

What I Want Others to Know

Bringing ‘Kintsugi’ to mind,our cracks and scars can be made into patterns of golden rivers.you become more than you were,more than you are and more of that you will be.. I promise you this,as l can see the world reflecting light from my kingship…..

It Never Crossed My Mind the ‘Aunt’ Would Lie…And Be Believed

Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse Originally published June 2, 2018

I was seven or so the first time I was left alone with my ‘aunt’. We lived across the street and the family was a big part of our lives. The parting nasty reminder to ‘mind your aunt !’ …. I took that seriously, because of the physical and verbal violence that ensued whenever we were ‘bad’. We were bad a lot!

I was told to undress and get in the bathtub…posed and told what to say…naked and afraid if I didn’t do what she daid, I’d get (another) standing on tippie-toes beating. I knew this wasn’t right, and as soon as my aunt went home, I told ‘mommy’.

I vividly remember her screaming at me, questioning me…and my thinking, as a seven year old, “she’s mad…but she’ll do the right thing”
It never crossed my mind the ‘aunt’ would lie, and be believed.

More screaming as I was told to repeat the words she told me to. Marched across the street, We met in the hallway, I was crying as I repeated,”I’m sorry, aunt ___. I’m sorry I lied”. She said nothing, just hugged me. That night my dad yelled at me, and shamed me by asking if I’d pull down my pants for a stranger on the street.

Convenient Denial

All these years later, I realize it was convenient denial. Not only did the undressing and posing continue, now my ‘uncle’, at the aunt’s sugestion, started playing – and now my younger brother was being undressed and posed. We were left in their care a lot, and they passed us around to their friends, and their cousins.

I touched my first penis at 8 or 9 years old…peed into jars…was a stripper told to open my legs wider…wider, hold ‘it’ (my vagina) open, thats what ‘they’ were paying to see. About this time ‘grandpa’ starting showing us ‘the little man’… He’d draw a face on his penis and show it to us. We’d see his hard penis hanging out of his shorts, wondering why he didn’t know it was hanging out.

never tried to tell again…and the molestation went on for years…

The Impact

I have PTSD and depression from those years, and trust issues. No one that hasn’t experienced this can understand how deeply it affects the survivor, and every aspect of their lives.

What I want others to know/understand

It’s not your fault. You can come to a peaceful place with the trauma with a competent therapist. I am working on it.