Breathless…

I can’t breathe. All life in me is gone. My heart feels nothing. Not joy or sadness or hurt. My body is numb. It can’t even feel pain. I’m completely shut down. I can’t react. I can’t fight. I can’t cry. How can I feel my heart beat again? I can’t breathe…

I look in the mirror and gasp at the stranger staring back at me. Who is she? Confusion and fear fills my soul. I don’t know what’s happening. I want to smash the mirror into millions of pieces so she disappears. Forever. I’m broken. I’m shattered. I’m not ok. How can I be ok? I can’t breathe…

I can’t breathe. Please, give me a place to run to, to escape from this place I’m in. This prison. This cage. This asylum. Everything is dark. Everything feels cold. I don’t know where I am. I am so lost and afraid. How can I find a way out of this place? I can’t breathe…

My head is filled with evil. Paintings of trauma. Pictures of death. Images of the unthinkable. My eyes stare at each in shock. My voice is stolen. No words can describe the carnage that sits inside of me. I can’t move. It’s impossible to think logically anymore. How will I ever regain consciousness? I just can’t breathe…

I can’t breathe. The weight, the heaviness, it sits on me…the heaps and piles of terror. I’m suffocating. I can’t catch my breath. There is no air left in my lungs. They have won. I have no control. I’m too weak to get back up. I can no longer breathe…

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Zombie Apocalypse…

I don’t feel like myself. At all. But when I try to identify what’s off and what’s “me” I have no idea either so how can I even feel this way? It’s like I’m floating in an unknown world in my head. Super slow motion. Watching things slowly spin around me as I watch and wonder where I am. Nothing looks familiar but at the same time I know it’s not a place I want to go back to.

Today I was sitting with my therapist and my mind went down a path it has been avoiding for a very long time. I knew it as soon as the images entered my mind and I tried furiously to push it back away. I have been here briefly before. I was screaming and fighting three men who had me restrained. I was kicking and battling, trying to get away. I charged forward, they grabbed me. I dropped my body down and went limp like a toddler throwing a tantrum, they held on, their grip was so tight. I kicked my legs and flailed my body. They growled in my ears and held me tighter as I bucked like a wild bull trapped in a pen. I was trying with everything I could to not go through the doors they were leading me to. They commanded my obedience. I don’t remember what happened after that. It ends with the chaos of this incident.

My mind went from there to solemnly following a woman down a long hallway. I don’t remember what she looked like and there were no words exchanged until we reached our destination. She opened the door and pointed to a pile of neatly folded clothes laying on a bed with a metal frame. The sheet and the clothing were white. There was nothing else in the room except for a metal chair. I was instructed to put them on and sit in the chair next to the bed. I was left alone and went through this routine I feel I am very familiar with. I sat and waited, frozen, not daring to move a muscle. The woman returned and she sat in front of me. She asked me question after question and I had to answer them correctly or else I knew something horrible would happen. She left me alone again.

When she returned she opened the door and motioned me out to the hallway. I followed her to an elevator with a silver door and we went up several floors. I followed her out, turning right down another long hallway. It was brighter than the one below. She stood at a doorway and motioned me in to sit. In front of me were three men. Their faces were very stern and serious. I know these men but I can’t make out their faces in my head. They wore dark suits with white shirts and dark ties. They stared at me as I sat frozen in front of them. The door closed behind me and I was left alone with them. There were two large windows with black frames. One behind the men and one to my left side. The sky was white and there were trees in the distance. I felt very cold.

The man in the middle spoke firmly in what seems like a language I don’t understand but somehow I know exactly what is being said. I am given my instructions and asked more questions. I am to work with the babies. When the mothers give birth the babies are put into a nursery where they are tortured and deprived and trained. I don’t know how I know this or why I just wrote that. My instinct is to delete because I don’t understand it.

Tears are falling as I write but I feel nothing but confusion inside so I don’t understand their purpose. I don’t know what this is. I fear I have a mental illness. All feeling is gone inside of me. Something else has taken over. Something is horribly wrong.

I did tell some of this to my therapist this morning. His reaction was strong and it felt as if he was angry and irritated with me. I felt immense shame for saying anything and an incredible amount of fear for speaking any of it out loud, like something awful was going to happen to me. I haven’t processed this enough to know what it even is. I feel like I don’t have any context for it, yet at the same time, other things fit into it that have never made sense to me before. I don’t know how these things could have even happened. I don’t know how I get to these places with these people. I don’t know who they are. I have no answers other than I am wrong. Something like this just feels like it can’t be real…I would remember. Wouldn’t I? What has taken over my brain? What is happening to me?  Is it even real? Am I sick? Like, literally, have zombies taken over my body and made me into some creature of hate who loves making up stories that isolate and bring me down to my knees or curl me up in a ball in fear? I feel dead. I know no other way to describe it. I am scared. I am worried I’ve lost it and am unfit to parent my children. I am so confused and lonely. I am living in a place in my mind that feels foreign and fuzzy. I’m trying to figure it out. I need help.

 

Push And Pull…

I’m in a great place of struggle right now. Trauma memories are flooding and they overwhelm me. I don’t understand them and I need someone to talk to…on a daily…hourly…minute to minute basis…not just the three hours a week I have with my therapist. I can’t get it all out even in that amount of time. I shut down. My brain goes wild but my lips become paralyzed. I’m unable to speak what needs to be let out…so many secrets. So much shame. So much guilt. So much regret. So much humiliation. So much hurt. I backs up inside of me.  Some has come out but a lot of it is stuck. I’m afraid to say it out loud. I’m not safe.

My marriage is in trouble. That’s not really a secret. Well, actually it is. No one in my real world life knows of the things my husband has done to me, and with others, except my therapist and a few women in my bible study, who are only somewhat aware and likely now think we have “worked it out” since I’ve stopped talking it about it. I’ve hidden it back away. My husband probably thinks the same thing, since I don’t really fight him much anymore. I don’t really know what he thinks, though. We don’t ever talk about it either. How do you work out the fact that someone betrayed you and rejected you and humiliated you so deeply? How do you?? I don’t know how. So I guess it’s been put away to be ignored. Swept under the rug. The pull I feel to just let it go and go back to what used to be with him is so strong. But when I get close I push him back away, refusing at the last minute to allow him access to my heart…he will never hurt me again. But I need someone to talk to. But I can’t talk to him…there’s no safety with him.

I don’t trust him. I can’t. I try to sometimes. I want to tell him everything that is happening in my head. Everything I have remembered from my past, everything that haunts me, everything that I know for sure happened to me. I want to show him my writings. I want to show him the pictures I have drawn of the images of abuse in my head. I want to every single day. He’s supposed to be the one I can tell. I need his support. I need his love. Yet, I cannot even get myself to love him anymore…and honestly, I refuse to accept any attempt of love on his part…genuine, or not. It’s too dangerous. He’s completely unsafe. I am afraid of him and how he will react…or not react, which makes me feel crazy. He sees me crying sometimes and asks what’s wrong. When I can’t answer he just walks away or changes the subject or leaves me alone. He doesn’t sit it in it with me. He doesn’t wait for me to get the words out. He has no compassion or empathy for me. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t understand and he doesn’t try to. I am a burden to him. He doesn’t have time for me or this process I am in. It’s too uncomfortable for him because it forces him to look at himself and his role in it all.

Sometimes I don’t know if what I am feeling is triggered from childhood trauma or the trauma experienced in my marriage. I sometimes can’t separate it out from each other. That makes me feel crazy, overreactive, and out of control.  It’s all so messed up. I’m messed up. Used. Abused. Traumatized. Worthless. This has been my entire life. Chaotic. Terrifying. Overwhelming. I need to get out. I want to get out. But I don’t know how. I don’t even know what to move towards. I don’t trust my judgement to make good choices. I have no idea where to go or who to trust. The pull to go is strong. I dream about it. I’m doing things to prepare for it. But when I try to put a picture in my head of what it could all look like I shrink into a crumpled up child who’s curled up in a corner afraid to look and see, to hope for better than this. I turn my head and close my eyes and push the images away. I negotiate with myself that life is not so bad. I don’t want to hurt my children and wreck our family. At least I know what I’m in the middle of. At least I know this. I know how to survive this.

But I’m dying. But I can’t go. I don’t know how.

The Burning Rod…

I feel nothing, I hear nothing. My arms are tied. My legs are tied. The room is dark. My body unclothed. My fingers linger and pause…afraid to say more.

“This isn’t real. Your imagination is wild and evil. Move on. Forgot about this. Move on. Don’t move your mind back into this space. You will fall apart. You are fake. Nothing ever happened to you…”

My body is overloaded with something. Feelings? Fear? Disgust? Shame? What is this? I’ve been fine for months. I’ve settled myself down. I’ve reclaimed control. Did I? I’m spiraling. I’m falling fast. I’m spinning. I’m sick. I can’t slow things down. Stay numb. Keep it together. There’s nothing going on. Nothing happened. This isn’t real. Do not enter this space in your brain.

My senses are awakening. My body feels cold. It’s trapped. Restrained. Held back. I see the shape of his unclothed body standing over me. I see the dim light. I see the glow of red held high above his head. I cannot scream. I cannot move. I follow the glow in his hand as he moves it towards my body and in between my legs. My mind goes crazy. I writhe in pain. Everything goes dark. I’ve died inside.

My imagination is wild and evil. This could not have happened. The feelings won’t go away. I’m sick and evil. Worthless. Disgusting. Just like they always say…

Enough…

I am not good enough.

I am not beautiful enough.

I am not smart enough.

I am not healthy enough.

I am not calm enough.

I am not sexy enough.

I am not skinny enough.

I am not brave enough.

I am not intentional enough.

I am not educated enough.

I am not engaging enough.

I am not happy enough.

I am not conforming enough.

I am not liberal enough.

I am not social enough.

I am not fun enough.

I am not wise enough.

I am not old enough.

I am not respectful enough.

I am not playful enough.

I am not helpful enough.

I am not experienced enough.

I am not kind enough.

I am not generous enough.

I am not compliant enough.

I am not steady enough.

I am not obedient enough.

I am not relaxed enough.

I am not quiet enough.

I am not bold enough.

I am not skilled enough.

I am not loving enough.

I am not important enough.

My voice isn’t enough.

I am never enough…

My “not enoughs.” I have lived with these shadows over me all of my life. One person, after another, placed these umbrellas of darkness over me, one by one, and I’ve believed them all. I’ve made decisions about my future and the paths I would and wouldn’t take in my life based on these “not enoughs.” This is the place where I have sat…and still sometimes sit.

I received an email from my sister this past week. It was horrible. It was mean. It was frustrating. I was told I’m the reason for all our family conflict. I opened up a Pandora’s Box and called out the abuse of my past for what it was. My parents have rallied the whole family together to rise up against me and shut me out. I’m an outcast. Standing isolated and alone. I’ve tainted the picture of perfection they try to maintain. I’ve crushed and ruined their lives.

I’ve received several emails like hers from my parents over the last year. I’ve been called a liar, a fake Christian, controlling, crazy, a terrorist, insane, ugly, troubled, that I’m not liked and don’t like them, I should be ashamed of myself, a seeker of a drama, horrific, a perfectionist living in a bubble of perfectionism, that I have no compassion or empathy, I’m hurtful, I don’t care….and on and on…

What do I do with this? How do I even respond? Should I even attempt to defend myself again?? Would they even listen to anything I have and want to say? Does it even matter? Why do I care???

I care because of my “enoughs.” I care because I don’t want to be those things anymore. I’m tired of others dictating who I am and am not. When do I get a say? When do I get to define myself? Who even gave them permission to speak over my life and dictate its direction?

These “enoughs” can not be my truths. They cannot be who I am. They’re someone else’s opinions I’ve held onto as my truths. I didn’t know any different. Not anymore. I want to be enough.

The Battle…

I have a tug of war happening inside of my head…inside my entire being, actually. One part of me sees and feels myself in horrible, horrific, tortuous, exploitative situations. Another part of me screams, “This DID NOT happen…you are making this up…this did NOT happen!” I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go from here.

I was sitting with my therapist last week and for the second session in a row he presented the “facts” that I have laid in front of him about some of my past in an attempt to help me verbalize that I have been abused. I can’t do it. I can’t say the words. I can’t accept it as real. It doesn’t feel right. I can’t connect with the things I see in my head. They don’t feel real. It just feels wrong. Nothing feels good about it or accepting it as my truth. All this time I have been trying to prove it’s wrong…but it never. goes. away. ever.

He asked me directly again if I had been sexually abused as a child. I sat quietly for a while and then answered that I had been thinking about what the definition was for sexual abuse. If I could connect that to memories that I KNOW are true, then I could give him the answer “yes” that I knew he was hoping to hear me say. I said that “yes” out loud. I was, technically.

My parents openly had sex in our home when my siblings and I were children. We heard them and saw them all the time…sometimes they did it in the same room as us when they assumed we were asleep and would not wake up, but we did. There were Playboy magazines throughout the house for our little eyes to find. My Dad watched pornography on HBO and Cinemax while we sat behind the couch or played quietly in the next room, pretending we had no idea what he was watching.

When I was around 9 yrs. old, my older sister convinced me to engage in sexual activity with her. She would have been 13 or 14 yrs. old at the time. She made me sit on top of her. She unbuttoned her shirt and exposed her breasts to me where she then instructed me to touch her and kiss her in ways I did not want to do, but I did anyways, because, I don’t know…I just did.

These things all fall into the definition of sexual abuse. I know they happened. I connected immediately to these memories when they resurfaced two years ago. Some of the memories I have always remembered periodically throughout my life. So yes, I was sexually abused. My therapist just looked at me though, clearly not satisfied with my rationale. So he changed his question to something like this…

“Have you been sexually exploited and used by your Father and other men?”

 I don’t know. I can’t say yes. It doesn’t feel right…I don’t know if it actually happened…and I froze and went silent, filled with excruciating anxiety and fear and guilt and torment. I cannot say yes. I cannot talk.

He reminded me of the stories that I have told him, the physical reactions I expressed when I told them, and all the evidence we have that this in fact is not something I could just “make up.” I argued. The voices in my head were loud and clear. You are lying. You are just looking for attention. Do not speak. You are wrong. This did not happen. They will find you. They WILL find you. They will kill you. Leave right now. No don’t…they’re probably waiting for you right outside that door. You are not safe. You are wrong. You are being overdramatic. STOP.

 And then he triggered me. He repeatedly said the nickname my Dad used to call me when I was little during his rebuttals against the voices in my head, and for some reason in that moment it sent me to a place I had not been to yet in excruciatingly vivid detail. I was a little girl sound asleep in my bed, maybe 5 years old. I was awakened by my father whispering that nickname into my ear as he put his hand on my leg, and moved it up my thigh under my nightgown. I remember the nightgown very clearly. It was a Christmas gift from my grandparents. It was white flannel with puffy gathered sleeves, with a ruffle around the neck and the bottom hem. There were stripes of pink flowers and lace around the neckline. My hair was short. I remember looking at the wallpaper where it met the white ceiling…it was floral on the wall behind my head and a pink gingham check pattern on the other wall along the side of my bed. I stared at the angle in the ceiling as my Dad’s head went down between my legs…

My therapist is getting pretty good at reading me, or I’m losing my ability to mask what’s going on inside of me. It’s hard to hide from him lately. He must have seen something shift in me because he stopped talking and asked what I was thinking about. I couldn’t talk. I kept asking myself, “If this isn’t true, then why are you thinking about this? Why do you remember so much about what you were wearing and the patterns on the wall? Everything is so clear. Where did this come from? It all just appeared…” I wanted with every fiber of my being to tell him what was going on in my head but my tongue was tied. I could not speak. So I stuffed it away and tried to pull myself together.

That incident has stuck with me for almost a week now. Even when I saw him again yesterday, I could not get it out. I wanted to tell him everything about it. I planned on telling him about it, but I froze as soon as I tried. I don’t know what I’m fighting against. I’m terrified though. I’m terrified I’m being watched and followed. I’ve had a few very uncomfortable run in’s with strange people over the last several months that have left me reeling. I have had symbols and triggers of my past show up in places I had considered safe that have left me feeling like everyone in my life is part of the tribe, the cult, the whatever it was I was used in, in my childhood. Are they trying to access me to keep me silent? Is their control so powerful that all they have to do is leave a random vase of flowers for me to see somewhere to shut me back down and keep me quiet?

This all sounds so ridiculous and outrageous to me, every last bit of it. But I can’t shut it down. The fear is so real and the images won’t go away. It’s burned into my brain. And there’s so much more that I haven’t even verbalized because I don’t even know how to put words to it all. I don’t know what it is. It’s like a horror movie. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t make sense of it or reconcile myself to any of it. It follows me everywhere.

What if I’m wrong? What if I’m crazy? What if I claim this as my truth, my reality, and I go through the rest of my life living a lie, exploiting God for His “healing power” on the other side of this for my own gain? Then I am a liar, slamming the character of my Father and Mother who have always told me how much they have sacrificed for me. How is that honoring them? The guilt I feel for this is so heavy and crushing. Would I be feeling this guilt if it were true? What if the guilt and the fear and the unsettled state of my being is God telling me, “NO, this is not your reality!” And honestly, I don’t think anyone would ever believe me if I spoke the things I see out loud. I have no credibility. They have all the power. They will hurt me even more if this becomes exposed. Why won’t God rescue me from this? Why won’t He give me the answers and the certainty I need?

I don’t know what to do. I’m trapped. I’m backed into a corner. I’m afraid to keep going. My head is spinning and I’m tired of the push and pull and I don’t feel safe. I feel empty and drained. I feel unsure and afraid. I feel numb and confused. And the tug of war, the battle inside…it continues.

Used Again…

I’m in a daze today. I can’t focus. I can’t eat. I was raped by my husband again last night. This is becoming a regular occurrence. It’s sneaky on his part. He preys upon me when he knows I’m emotionally weak. At least I think he does. Maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know. Maybe I’m over exaggerating the circumstances. I can’t think clearly.

I came home from a therapy appointment last night completely overwhelmed and exhausted. It was my second 3 hour session this week. We are talking through abuse memories that I have had. It’s hard and it’s scary. I don’t know what to do with them all. I’m afraid they will find out I have talked to him about my past. I’m afraid they will come after me. Or my children. Or even him. I know they are watching me. I’ve never been able to escape. They find ways to warn me not to screw up, not to talk. They will hurt me again. This makes me want to quit therapy every time I go. I leave in a complete state of panic every time. What if they are waiting for me in the parking lot? My heart pounds as I scan my surroundings before walking out the door. I wonder sometimes if my therapist is one of them. I want to think no, that he’s not, that I’m safe with him, but I don’t know. I always wonder.

I wanted to go to sleep. I wanted to completely shut down and let the night go away. I was hoping for rest and no dreams. I was falling asleep. But my husband was not. He kept touching me and kissing me and I froze. Everything I talked about earlier in the evening…being tied down, held back from running away, raped, tortured. Every image flooded back in. I went into compliance mode. I acquiesced. I couldn’t talk the words that were screaming in my head…for him to leave me alone. For him to understand that this isn’t a good time. He knew where I was. He knew I had a hard appointment. He asked me when I got home. I told him so he knew. Why? Why was he doing this? Doesn’t he know?? HE KNOWS. I’ve told him before about how this happens to me. I asked him to be more aware. To back off. Please. He said he would. He didn’t. Again.

I let him have his way. I couldn’t fight it. I checked out and did what I needed to for him to be satisfied. He entered my body while I cringed and tears began to fall down my face. Maybe he didn’t notice, it was dark. I turned my head away from him so I couldn’t see his face anymore. He breathed heavily in my ear and I drifted away into the darkness of my mind. I didn’t kiss him back. I didn’t talk back. I didn’t move. I was gone. He knew I was. He kept asking if I was ok. I couldn’t answer. He didn’t stop. It was finally over. I just laid there, exhausted and confused. I’ve felt this before. I barely heard him talking to me…

“Did you leave me? Come back…” 

Now he notices I am not ok. But it’s too late. I wish he would see me. I wish he cared enough to do what was right. I wish he would leave me alone. I can’t do this one more time. I’m all used up. I’m damaged and broken. I’m empty. Disgusting. I feel so alone.

Maybe I’m just tired and overreacting. Maybe I led him to believe I wanted this somehow. Maybe I shouldn’t complain and be grateful he provides for me. It’s the least I can do. I am his wife after all. Maybe this is all I’m good for.

Running Away…

I’ve remembered something from when I was a little girl. In my memory I’m standing very still in the woods. My father is standing next to me with his strong, thick hand wrapped around the back of my neck. The canopy of the trees cover us and in the distance I see a girl. She is lifeless, hanging from a tree. Her arms and legs dangle and her neck has fallen to the side causing her long, wavy dark hair to fall over her face. This image is burned into my brain. It never changes, it visits me frequently. There are also men standing around in the woods in the distance. She was all alone. No one was looking at her. No one was helping her. I don’t understand why no one was helping her. The grip of my father’s hand tightens around my neck and I feel an incredible amount of confusion inside of me. I also remember running. Running like crazy through the woods. I don’t know if the two memories are connected or not. I ran so furiously my heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my ears. Sheer panic. Footsteps thunder behind me as I try to get away from something. Someone. Yelling and commotion, like a stampede, closing in behind me as my little body tries to escape. I was out of control and I crashed down to the ground. Everything goes black.

I ran away two weeks ago. I am overwhelmed, scared, panicked, desperate…to get away from the stampede of emotions that engulf me. My heart pounds through my ears. Sleep evades me. I feel sick. I am sick. My body is distressed. My heart is stressed. I’m exhausted and devoid of any life. My emotions and feelings terrify me. I don’t understand how to feel and not be afraid. Afraid of being hurt, assaulted, beaten, thrown, dragged, tortured…ignored.

So here I sit, stunned, two thousand miles away from my reality, trying to understand what’s happened to me. Why? Why me? WHY?? What now? Who am I? Where do I even belong? Does anyone even care?

There are people here who have rallied around me. They’ve scooped me up and said “Let us help you. You matter. We’re proud of you.” They’ve asked me to talk and they’ve listened to the tiniest fraction of my story and they have cried, cried, and said “This is too much. You have dealt with too much.” They don’t even know. But I don’t cry with them. I sit there and wonder why they do.

It feels so awkward and foreign to experience what I am. I feel guilt when anything I say upsets someone. I shut down. I can’t accept their emotion or sadness for me. I don’t understand it. This is my normal. I live in fear every single day. I’m constantly scouring my horizon for danger and disruption. It seems as though my job is to only please others. My body to be used. My emotions to be criticized and discarded and silenced, buried deep where they can no longer be accessed. They mean nothing. I mean nothing. Tossed aside until I’m useful again. This is my normal. This is the way it’s always been. No arguments. No protesting. No resistance by me. To be loved was to accept the way it is and to live is to not deviate from the routine. So I push away the kindness and try not to make a mistake and trust…it seems very, very dangerous…and I continue to run away, looking for peace and solitude. And I wonder. I wonder how far I will have to go to be able to stop running.

Discomfort…

I am a mess of stuck emotions right now. I have so many things to say I can’t say anything. I have tears bulging, pining to flow like rapids in the spring. I have screams twisted up in a lump in my throat. I have anxiety pumping fiercely through my heart. My hands are shaking and my body is tingling with nervous energy. My breath is hot with anger as I inhale deeply trying to keep it from exploding into a fire-y ball of hysterical chaos.

Little by little these feelings stuck inside of me are leaking out, like a slow drip or the barely audible whistling of air escaping it’s containment. I become painfully aware of their tactics to escape. I do a little patchwork here, apply a little duct tape there, to try to maintain composure and hold it all in. But the pressure is building. The faint whistles want to become like the blaring screeches from water boiling in a tea kettle, and the drips, a raging waterfall crashing down on boulders below. They are pushing and pulling, looking for their way out. But it’s too much. I’ve never felt this way before, or really ever felt anything at all, and now, now it’s everything at once and more than I feel I can handle. The fear of the unknown has infiltrated into the act of feeling itself.

Fear leads to numbing. That place of safety and solace…for me at least. Numb is where I like to live. Numb is where I go when I don’t know how to cope. Numb is my friend. Never failing, never hurting, always available at a moment’s notice. I slip numb on like an oversized fuzzy bathrobe and pull it up close to my chin. It envelopes me in comfort and coziness and I become oblivious to the reality around me as I snuggle in and fade away. But now that I know numb exists, I don’t like it. I wasn’t aware of numb before, so it worked out just fine. “What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you…” Right? Wrong. Now I know all about numb. And it’s not a good relationship anymore. I see all the red flags. The warnings. The patterns. I need to let go of numb and move on. But I don’t know how.

It’s interesting how this picture of emotion perfectly explains my conundrum in my life right now. My feelings mirror the reality I’m living. It’s a perfect storm. I’m faced with so many important, life changing decisions. Do I stay with numb (pretend happy marriage, pretend kind and loving father/mother/family) or do I go with emotional chaos (end pretend happy marriage, return to abusive father/mother/family) and live forever afraid I’ve given up too much and created a new conflict and chaos that’s just different (traumatized children now in a broken family, financial ruin, no more family connection anywhere)? How do you even choose? I know what I’m involved in now.  I’ve survived it and could probably continue to. But I’ve lost my comfort in it. The bathrobe is matted and old and full of holes. It’s cold and drafty now. It rubs my skin raw and offers no protection or warmth. I’m becoming…exposed. And exposed is not at all comfortable or desired when you’ve been hiding out in numb your entire life.

Finding Themes…

I’ve been thinking about the memories that I have been having. They are dark, ugly, and intensely horrifying. Sometimes, I don’t actually think on purpose, they just come in to my mind. Others times, I try to make some sense of them, which I have also learned not to try too hard to do. They perplex me. They make me feel…I don’t know…bad. That’s all that comes to me right now. I feel bad. I feel bad for thinking them. I feel like a bad person. All the time.

Last night I was out with my husband and my mind wandered as he drove towards home. I thought about the themes that my memories have displayed. There are buildings. I have several memories of being driven to, taken to, and carried to buildings. I also have memories of being in buildings, not knowing how I got there. They are sterile in nature. Concrete walls. Dark, gray, eerie, gloomy. One is brighter on the inside, with light yellow walls and smooth white floors, like a scientific lab, with gray beds that look like hospital stretchers lined up along the walls. The windows are long and narrow and line the top of the walls…too high for me to see out or others to see in from the outside. The frames are black and splits each one into two rectangle shaped panes. In this building I am sitting with my wrists bound to a chair. The feeling in my body is totally gone. I feel nothing. I only see myself in this chair and a woman standing in front of me, slightly off to my right side, with long dark hair. She is wearing a white lab coat and is holding a large, thick, long needle that moves towards my arm. She says to me, “This is going to hurt.” I remember nothing after that.

In another very dark building, I remember laying on a very hard surface that I want to describe as concrete. My first memory on this was violently and repeatedly getting my head banged on that “concrete table.” When I remember this, I feel the jolts in my body and the sickness from what was happening. I was a child. Maybe 9-10 years old. I don’t know for sure, but that’s what it feels like. I want to cry but I’m too scared. I don’t know why it’s happening or who is doing it but I sense maybe it could be my father. I am not sure about this, though. There is unbelievable rage happening all around me as my body is pounding up and down and my head ricochets upwards with each rhythmic growl and grunt I hear coming from the one who is hurting me. In my second memory involving this table there are men surrounding me. I see their shadows and I can hear sounds but can’t make out specific words. It feels like a dream. A man stands between my legs and repeatedly thrusts his body into mine while gripping my thighs with what must be very large hands as I feel them tightly wrapped around my entire leg, or maybe I am just small compared to him. I am gone emotionally. I don’t know what I am feeling…nothing actually, I just see this happening. I also see a doorway to my left, with a white glow coming from beyond, as I lay there and stare at the darkness above me.

In other memories I see hallways and tunnels. In one I feel my legs dangling as someone carries me away and in another I am walking down one and enter a concrete room with a dingy, yellowed window, with 8 small panes. There are boxes all around me and a man and a woman under a blanket in the corner. In another memory, I see myself in a vehicle that stops in some sort of dark tunnel at a “toll booth” type building. There is a girl with dark hair inside. The man driving the car brings her into the car. There is a gap in memory here, but he later lifts her out of the car and back into the booth type building. The next thing I remember is looking out the car window and seeing her stare at me and look down at her leg. I look too and her foot is missing and her leg is bloody and hanging in shreds. She isn’t crying. She just stares at me. The next thing I remember is a man driving me away through a tunnel to another building.

I had another memory of standing in the woods. Everything is brown. There are leaves on the ground and tall trees surround me. In front of me, to my right, is a girl hanging lifeless from a tree. Her long, dark, wavy hair hangs down over her face and dangling head. Her shoulders are slumped and her feet are bare. There are men standing all around. One standing right next to me (my father?) and others further off at varying distances into the woods. There are three men talking near a gray pick-up truck that is parked in front of a concrete block building with long dark windows at the top and a black steel door. I don’t move. No one is helping her. No one is even looking at her, except me.

I had a dream about 10 days ago that involved my husband and children. In my dream, he was driving us all somewhere and he passed out in the car. I jumped into the drivers seat and managed to get the car pulled over and stopped in a church parking lot. Then he gets out of the car and started wandering and he disappeared around a pond and passed out again. I send my children away and told them I would call an ambulance. The children drive away and my husband is wandering again and fell into the pond. There are many people around and it was raining. My phone wouldn’t work. I started asking people to call 911 for me but no one would acknowledge me or help me. I went into the church and asked someone else and they wouldn’t answer. I was crying and walking all over the church, into the dark hallways and into the basement trying to find anyone. I was panicking and wet and my husband was missing and in the pond. I asked some children to help me. They just looked at me. Everyone I asked just looked at me. I asked a woman to call 911 and I think she did so I went back through the dark hallways and basement to get back outside to look for him. I had no shoes on and found some outside the door and went looking for my husband and the police. No one would talk to me. There were people and pick-up trucks in the pond but they were not looking for him. I didn’t know what to do. No one would help me or talk to me and I was frantic and scared and just looking for help and no one would help. I woke up at this point of the dream and I just cried.

Buildings, dark hallways, basements, needles, lab coats, groups of men, pick-up trucks. Driving in tunnels. Other young girls in distress with no emotion on their faces. Never knowing what’s going on or where I am or how I got there. It’s all in my thoughts and memories and dreams. I was piecing it all together last night and finally broke the silence in the car and asked my husband if he thought my father could have been part of a cult. He simply and quickly said “yes.”

His answer surprised me. I asked him how and he listed all the activities my father is involved in and how “cult like” they are. I felt stupid for asking and dropped the subject. My feelings now are still “I’m bad.” How could I even think something like this? I don’t even know if any of this is true. I have no concrete proof outside my thoughts and I am constantly second guessing everything I say, think and do. This…me…is crazy.