Sunday, August 8, 2010

the only way out is through

After I wrote my last post, I had a really good day. My mind was clear, I felt like my old self again. Today, however has been a different story. It started out good, I was tired, but fine. As I began to do things around the house and plan my day, it hit me. I felt it slowly creeping in, waves of anxiety and fear. Thoughts and memories of the past crowded my mind. I tried to push the feelings down, I took deep breaths and reasoned with myself. I knew the fear wasn't real or at least wasn't justified. I knew I was safe. I felt like I was losing my mind, my body reacted physically to my emotions. My pulse raced, my chest tightened up, I became nauseous. I wanted to hide or run away. Even the dogs reacted to me. I was still trying to go through the motions and do things around the house, but I must have been sending out the same energy I was feeling. They became anxious, they crowded around me, they tried to comfort me. Their actions made me worse, I was trying to hide the way I was feeling. I did not want to be touched, not even by them. I began to shake, I started sobbing, eventually I threw up. I absolutely recognized this feeling, it was how I felt for the greater part of a year, right before I managed to break away from him. The more I tried to fight it, the worse it got. I finally sat down and remembered, I remembered the feelings, I remembered the abuse, I remembered the isolation and being discounted by anyone I had the courage to try and tell. Since the abuse was mostly sexual, I never told anyone the details. (I did tell some people that I was afraid of him and I wanted to leave.) As I sat there and remembered, I trembled and cried and pulled myself into a tight ball. I made myself feel it, I made myself think about it, and then gradually the anxiety lessened, the fear dissipated and finally it all was over. I felt better, I felt stronger, I was me again. I am sure that it is not all over, but I understand now that I will have to go through it. I will have to go back and resolve it. I stuffed all of it deep inside for a long time. I have faced it and let some of it out over the past few years with J. He has helped me with that process. But now it is all surfacing, I will need to do this and do this alone. The only way out is through.

I debated about sharing all of it here. I wasn't sure I could put it out there and actually write it all down, but I think that I need to. If you do not want to know any details (though it is not graphic and I have not included many details) or if you disagree with my decision to write this, stop reading now. I do not want sympathy, nor do I want judgment, this all happened a long time ago. This is my story and I have held it inside me for too long. I may write more about it later, I have written some about it in the past, but as I write it here it is no longer living inside of me. I am not ashamed any more, it wasn't my fault. The shame is his, though he will never accept it. He has never acknowledged any wrong doing or showed remorse in any way. I haven't had contact with him in a while, but he still calls my son whenever he needs money. I am letting this go a little at a time. Each time it spills out from me, there is more room inside me. Each time I heal more. Maybe someday, I will be whole.

I had felt completely isolated and alone, I was terrified. I was isolated from my friends and family, he had convinced me that no one cared about me. I journaled at the time, then as now it helped me cope and work through things. It was my only confessional, it was how I held onto my reality, rather than his lies. He found my journal and read it, he twisted my words around and accused me of cheating on him, sabotaging him and lying to him. After this happened, I threw out all of my journals, I only started writing again a few years ago. Even during the years after the divorce, when I was single and alone, I was always afraid to keep a journal. I was afraid someone would find it and use it against me. He lied about everything, even things that didn't matter. If I confronted him about any of the lies he blew up and berated me and by the end he had me apologizing for doubting him. He was using a lot of drugs at the time, he was stealing from employers, friends, family and me. He was abusing me and threatening my son. We went to counseling twice during that time. He would only go to "Christian" counseling and he always did most of the talking. The first time, the woman was a licensed counselor, but she didn't talk to either of us separately. After listening to us (mostly him), she advised that the main problem was my unruly son and that I needed to be more supportive of R (my ex) and his attempts to parent my son and make the relationship work. (My son was about 7 at the time, and my ex was very jealous of my relationship with him). The second attempt at counseling was with a "pastor" of a very large evangelical church. He was also supposedly licensed as a counselor. My ex was much more honest that time, if you can call his act honest (think Jimmy Swaggart...I have sinned). By then he had been in trouble with the law and been fired from several jobs for stealing. He still did most of the talking, he confessed to all the things he had done (those things that he had been caught doing), he cried, he said he was sorry. That counselor did speak with us separately. When alone, I told him that I wanted out, I wanted to get away. I told him I didn't have any resources to do it and I felt I had no support system. The counselor told me that I needed to stay, that R was sorry for what he had done and needed me to stand by him and support him. He told me that R's salvation and redemption depended on me. Basically, I was told to be the "godly" wife and stand by my man. The church offered financial help to us, not me. No mention or acknowledgment was made my wish to leave and get away, no offer was made to help me do so.

He did not beat me, I never had any visible bruises or injuries. His abuse was threats, intimidation and sexual. He hurt me many times during sex, that was the only way he could get off. He often could not maintain an erection unless he was hurting me and when he still couldn't he blamed me. That was when he told me I was a whore, that I was disgusting. That was when he would hold me down, or hold a knife at my throat, and urinate on me. Sometimes he would choke me, though he often did that when he was raping me anyway. He would spit on me and tell me I was a worthless slut, that I would give it up to anyone. Then he would tell me how I had ruined sex for him by wanting all kinds of perversions (nothing I had ever wanted, but all the things he did to me).

My last attempt to rid myself of him (before I actually was successful) was after he had been charged with forging prescriptions and extortion (he was blackmailing a pharmacist to obtain drugs). After his preliminary court hearing, he was released. I would not let him back in the house. I reasoned that he would not force his way in or retaliate against me, because he was already in trouble and it was all pending. He was staying at a seedy hotel near my home. He called me constantly, begging and threatening, trying to get me to take him back. One day he called and told me that he was going to kill himself if I didn't come talk to him. He told me that our son would never forgive me and it would all be my fault. I did not go, I called the police and reported the suicide threat. Officers went and talked to him and then came to see me. They told me that he just wanted to speak with me and why wouldn't I go? I told them I was afraid of him. They asked if he had ever hit me or if I had ever filed charges on him. I told them no, I did not want to tell them what the abuse consisted of, it was shameful for me. They talked me into going to see him, he ended up coming home with me. I am really not sure why I let him come back, other than I just wasn't strong enough at the time to stand up to him face to face.

Obviously, I did get away, I did get divorced. I was able to do that when he was sentenced to a year in prison. I still only could do it with my father's help. My family still does not know of the abuse, they only know about his criminal activity and that he went to jail.


elle said...

You are an incredibly strong woman Alice, that's so evident. In the tough moments to come, as you work your way through this, hang onto that knowledge.

You say you don't want sympathy so, while I am deeply sorry this happened to you, I hope you'll accept understanding and friendship in its place.

love and hugs xxx

swan said...

To tell the story, all of the story, is an act of great courage. You are the owner of the story -- it is yours to tell, exactly when and how you will. There may be some who will not appreciate what you have chosen to begin here, but those who have hearts to see and hear will stand with you in the telling of your truth.

Congratulations on coming to this part of your healing.

hugs, swan

Alice said...

Both of you, thank you so much for your friendship and your support. A few months ago, I would have said that I was over all of this, I was past the hurt and all healed. I didn't realize that I was just coming to another phase of healing. I do not expect everyone to understand. Hell, I do not really understand myself. I do know that my abuse contributed to who I am today. It defined so much of me, living through it and surviving after it have given me insight, strength and empathy. I can honestly say that I like who I have come to be. I also believe I will like myself even more after I am able to look back and acknowledge the things that I could not face before. In a way, I am taking control over a part of my life that was completely out of control. As I give a voice to that part of my life that had no voice, it is a great comfort to know it is being heard.

Louise said...

You are most brave and strong.


Alice said...

Thank you Louise. Sometimes, I actually believe that. I think that sometimes is happening more.

Greenwoman said...

How bold and brave of you. I am so glad you shared this. ((hugs))

Finding your voice is a huge step in reclaiming the juicy, happy power that his actions took and held captive.

I'm proud of you and so very proud to know you!!

Alice said...

Thank you Shannee. I know that so many things have contributed to my being able to move to this point of facing my past. J has given me support and love and acceptance. The passing of time has muted the pain and diminished the scars. But I also have gained so much insight and wisdom from reading other women's blogs, blogs such as yours and Swan's and Elle's. I found found in all of you kindred spirits and strong women to be admired. Your words have given me affirmation, revelations and always food for thought. I am grateful for the connections I have made and the strength you all have given me.