Tuesday, August 04, 2009

eyes on fire

I'm in a dark, dark place right now. It's hard to write because, even while trying to be brutally honest, I want to edit myself too. Some things feel too raw to share. As painful as it is to write sometimes, I always feel better afterward. Not right afterwards. It takes some time. It feels like prying out a bullet, and the wound needs to heal. I want to write myself through this, though. I want to look this in the face, as its happening. I don't have a plan, and I'm just writing until I stop, wherever it is. Then I'll come back and write more later.

My friend sent me an email today that made me feel amazed that she understood me so well. Here are parts of it-

you will get thru this! i think you moved to la to move thru it all....to cleanse in this dirty place...if that makes sense...just breathe, trust yourself. you purged a lot in your blog-a-thon, of course you are going to be fucked up for a minute! this is not light shit you are dealing with!

And...always remember..."Healing hurts!" always! it hurts, that is how you know healing is taking place!

I need to keep saying that to myself- this is not light shit I am dealing with! I felt when I was writing about the coping mechanisms, I was purging them, and assimilating them. Understanding why I needed them at the time and what I don't need (most of them) now. Shame is so strong when you grow up feeling that you are causing yourself to be abused, and then you feel ashamed of all the ways you tried to deal with it. The shame can get so deep into you, make you so ashamed of everything about you. I've tried hard to control what I others saw of me, because I had so much darkness inside me that I thought was my fault. Even my brother, who I didn't want to know about the sexual abuse. The rest of it was bad enough. I thought he thought I deserved it too, so I was mortified of all the abuse he did see.

I'm keeping myself from going back and reading this. I would delete it all. I'm just writing.

I was in corporate housing when I first moved here, but that was just for a month, and I hadn't saved up enough money to get my own place. I temporarily moved in with the boyfriend. I thought it was a bad idea at the time since I didn't know him very well, having just moved down here. I didn't see that I had a lot of options. Almost immediately he started yelling at me. He would lose his temper over something that didn't make any sense at all, and just keep screaming and screaming at me. The more upset I got, the more belligerent he got. When I'd start crying he'd accuse me of trying to manipulate him. I was afraid to leave (during the yelling) because I thought he'd kill my rats if I left him alone with them. He seemed capable of anything- there was terrifying cruelty in his eyes.

That fear did strange things to me. Instead of leaving, I went into survival mode. I acted as if I couldn't leave. I felt like I was a kid, with my dad. I had unbelievable flashbacks; flashbacks that took me away from reality. I felt that I was in real danger, but I tried to manage the situation. I tried to get him to stop by being really nice to him, really accommodating and obedient. I was totally cowed. I felt like I didn't know myself anymore- I blocked out everything I was feeling. I was numb. I tried to talk him into letting me leave, but when I mentioned it he would start crying, saying things like he couldn't live without me. Then he'd accuse me of being abusive towards him. That accusation became more and more frequent, along with others- that I didn't respect him, I was just like his dad (who beat him), my attempts to defend myself were childish temper tantrums, I was telling people he was abusive, I wasn't contributing to the household. This was punctuated with telling me how perfect we were for each other, how he could never be with anyone but me, he would go crazy if I left him.

I already thought he was crazy. I thought he was totally mental. But I regarded him as a sick person, felt sorry for him, but didn't feel sorry for myself. Instead, I felt ashamed that I had gotten involved with someone like this. After all the books I read, after all I had been through already, and I had already had an abusive boyfriend. One that I stayed with for five years until I sure he was going to kill me. I kept thinking I could fix it. I kept thinking I was causing him to act that way. I was sure it was me, that I made guys act crazy. And I couldn't admit to myself that I was in the situation I was in. I wanted so bad for it to be something it wasn't. I couldn't tell anyone because I was sure they would blame me, and think I was the crazy one for getting involved with him, that our fights couldn't possibly be as one-sided as they seemed. That I must be egging him on, I'm an adult after all, how could I not defend myself? How could I be so intimidated by this guy when I was a grown woman? Even worse, if I'm an adult and I choose to be with someone like that, it almost seems like I'm at fault for the abuse that happened when I was a kid. I went back for more.

I look back and it seems that I was not thinking at all. My brain was so dominated by fear. It seems so illogical now, yet, I understand it. The scary thing now is that I see how it is situational- if I am reminded of the abuse and that fear, I can flash back to the survival mode I was in as a child, and act like a child instead of an adult. Not make adult decisions. I haven't talked about this because I feel so disgusted with myself over it.

I did decide to leave after six months, in part because I told a co-worker a little about what was happening and realized how bad it was, and because he was treating me with more and more contempt and becoming more physically intimidating. I was afraid he would start hitting me. At the same time I decided I had no choice but to leave, I was afraid of his reaction, of what he would do. I was pussyfooting around, acting as meek as I could so he wouldn't get angry and decide that since I was moving out he had nothing to lose. The night before I moved, he demanded I have sex with him. I refused, so he forced himself on me. I don't think I'll forget what it felt like when he pushed me away with disgust when he was done with me, and rolled over and went to sleep.

The next day as I was trying to pack my things, he yelled and lunged at me, more angry than I'd ever seen. He slammed the door so hard it bounced open as he was leaving, while he screamed for me to get out. I was shaking so hard I could hardly pick things up. The apartment manager came and said he had to get the key from me because I had been kicked out. I called my friend (who I quoted above) and she helped me move everything and unpack my apartment. I was in shock for days. I felt like I wasn't in my body, numb all over. Relieved, too, that me and the rats had escaped.

I had flashbacks about that night for a year. I felt disgusted with myself. I didn't want to write about it on my blog because I was so ashamed of myself, and he knew about my blog and I thought he would attack me. I couldn't even talk to my therapist because it seemed to freak her out when I told her how disgusting I felt. I haven't had sex with a guy since then. I couldn't even masturbate without thinking about it. When I tried to just do other stuff with someone else, I felt afraid and kept disassociating, felt disconnected, had flashbacks. Felt sickened by myself. I felt really alone.

Last week I got an email from him. No apology- just wanted me to know he didn't hate me and wondered how I was.


Unknown said...

To quote Aset, "Are you Wise enough to know that alone, it is more difficult to Do? You need your family. You need My Son, your Mother. You need all of your brothers and sisters."

I have been keeping up with your blog and it makes my heart ache. You've been through some terrible stuff. But please don't isolate yourself. There are people around you who don't mind lending a shoulder to cry on.

I had a close friend years ago who was with an abusive boyfriend. She stayed with him for years. She was too scared to leave him. We had not been in contact for awhile and when she finally confided in me her situation I wanted to cry. So with the new knowledge I tried to spend more and more time with her. I wanted to give her confidence again. I encouraged her every chance I got and reminded her what an awesome person she was and how she deserved so much more. It wasn't long before she finally felt she had enough courage to take control of the situation and finally ditched him. I was happy I was able to help her. And never once did I ever think less of her because of it.

qta said...

How brave! You have written things that most people could not dream of writing. You have freeded yourself. You did it! No one else. Nothing is impossible now, you can do anything now. Maybe it is time to set your rats free.

Unknown said...

How strange. Last night, I wrote what happened to me in extreme, vivid detail and posted it. Then I took it down because...well, fear. I read your blog and it's all about that; honesty, I mean.

Legally, of course, my advise is to turn him in. Because...well, he sounds like he hasn't learned anything, so he is still the same person. If he's still the same person, and in a relationship with another girl...you probably know where I am getting at. that is me being completely honest.

It is a good feeling to know I am not alone, even though I am on the RAINN Speaker's Bureau, I still have issues with being able to talk to someone, anyone about it.

And the therapist thing; it's a challenge to find a good one. It took me going to many many different ones before I found this one. I used to be quiet and reserved, and here was this woman from New York, loud and in charge. A good balance. Some of her rubbed onto me.

I would like to tell you that you can email me anytime you'd like. No matter what it is about. I am willing to listen if you are willing to write. st.alexia@gmail.com

Unknown said...

I knew that you were in a bad situation then, but I didn't realize how horrible it was. I mentioned to you once that I didn't think he was good enough for you, that it wasn't so much that I disliked him, but it seemed like you were WAY out of his league on so many levels. And you were. And you are. And he will always know that. I was concerned when you moved in with him so quickly, but I felt it wasn't my place to judge or say anything. Also, I didn't know he was dangerous until much later.

I'm sorry he "reached out" to you. I was in a much different situation from you, but I know how it feels to get an e-mail from an abuser and even just seeing their name makes your stomach feel like there's a cannonball in it. He's not sorry, he just wants to know if you'd take him back. Could you adjust your e-mail filters? Some are best sent straight to the trash.

I love you, and you can always, always, ALWAYS call me.

Tealrat said...

Geek Wife- I found the Oracle email, and how appropriate. I am trying to get reconnected. qta- thank you :) unfortunately, both my rat boys have died since then. AixelA- are you going to re-post? It's scary but freeing. Still hard, though. Believe me, I have wanted to turn him in and protect other women. I have had a lot of thoughts since then of how to stop him from doing that to someone else. I have no faith in the justice system though. The police had pictures of me with a black eye, my face swollen, lumps on the back of my head, a hand-print bruise on my arm, and they still dropped the charges against my dad. It is a bullshit system that doesn't hold abusers accountable. julimi- love you too. I wouldn't have moved in with him if I had 1st and last months rent, but as you know, LA is expensive. Of course, if I had known, I would have taken any other option. Hindsight is 20/20.

opal said...

I think you are being way, way too hard on yourself and judging yourself too harshly.

I've made choices even when I thought I "knew better by now" that ended up being repeat nightmares of abuse. And once the PTSD gets triggered it's VERY, VERY hard to get myself out of the situation.

But over time I've gotten somewhat better at seeing the red flags early on and running like hell in the other direction.

But some people are experts at being all sweetness and light and hiding what they really are.

Even John Walsh of America's Most Wanted didn't see that the Congressman he'd been working with for years on child abuse legislation was a pedophile who was texting and hitting on young underage boys working as pages in Congress!!!

And you'd think if anyone could recognize an abuser it would be John Walsh - since he deals with them every day and his son was murdered by one.

But again these animals are very, very good at hiding what they really are until they've got you trapped (usually financially).

As another comment said..you're dealing with EXTREMELY heavy and difficult trauma and it's aftermath so please don't be so hard on yourself.

Those of us who read this blog care about you, believe in you and support you NO MATTER WHAT!

Tealrat said...

Opal, thank you for your comment because it helped me very much. Sorry I didn't say anything until now, but you are right. I am too hard on myself. It is not my fault that he was so manipulative and psycho. and it is so hard to avoid that stuff when you were brainwashed with it when you were a kid. Even people who didn't go through that as a kid can be taken in by these people! They are scary. They are so good at getting control over you, and making you scared, feeling bad about yourself, and forgetting your own power. and then you feel shame afterward which is hard to let go. I am in a much better place with it now, though.