Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Healing Sexual Intimacy (part two)

After four or five therapy sessions like the one described below, something inside me had shifted.  My husband and I both noticed the difference.  I realized that by doing this work I had acquired a new list of words associated with sexual intimacy.  A very different list from the first: 
 ...Connected...safe...present...close...caring...intimate...beautiful...and yes, even holy.  
 I had arrived at a new place inside.  A place that I had never been , and couldn't have imagined entering, before I did this work.  
It was a miracle. 
I want to share this part of my story with fellow survivors, whose ability to trust and be intimate was damaged as a result of the abuse.    I want to offer hope to you, and your spouses, those hidden heroes like my husband, who live with, and love those of us who have been sexually abused as children, despite our limitations.   Everyone's path to healing will be their own, individual, path.  Each one of us can get to a new, healthier, place in our own time, and in our own way.  The important thing to remember is that HEALING IS POSSIBLE!  

It felt like I was at my own birth.
I was both the mother in labor, and the unborn child.

 The mother just wanted it to be over, and for everyone to come out of the experience safely.
 The child was suddenly finding herself in an environment that was much too small for her.  She wanted out.  It was time to leave.  It was time to grow.
 Time to be born.

I was more present and grounded than I thought I would be.
 I was ready to let the hurt younger part of me  know that I was an adult now, I was in charge, and it was finally safe.

 My therapist asked me what I wanted to remind myself as an adult.
 I told her that I am very determined.  I told my inner child that I am a safe adult and that I love her.  I reminded myself that I was doing this to help myself heal, and that I would be safe.

Hinda's presence helped a lot.  I have known Hinda for many years.  I think Hinda was the very first safe person in my life.  I love her.

I gave Hinda and my therapist permission to sit on either side of me. I asked them to help me, and hold the part of me who thinks she has to hurt me, in order to survive.

I knew I needed physical help to hold these feelings. When I tried to do this work on my own, I felt intense pressure from inside to numb out mentally, or to hurt myself.

Hinda and my therapist sat on either side of me on the couch.  With my permission they took my arms and held them firmly.
At first it was OK.  Three mature adult women sitting together on the couch.  Supporting me.

Then my stomach lurched and intense, overwhelming feelings surged forward into my body.  I pulled to get away. When I realized that I really couldn't get away, I panicked.
 What was I doing?
My body and mind froze.
I was trapped.  This was not safe.
Maybe if I played dead they would go away.

My therapist asked me to tell her what was going on inside.
I told her and Hinda what I was experiencing.
 Getting away was very important.
I had to get away.
As we struggled I reminded myself and my younger part,

"I LET my therapist and Hinda do this.  I WANT them to do this.  I give them permission to hold me."

I didn't know if I believed myself.

A hurt younger part of me, was struggling to break free of me,and other adults, who she still believed were only there to hurt her.
I wouldn't let go, until she re-learned that she was going to be touched, and there would be no hurting.  I wouldn't let go, until she understood, and experienced, that safe adults were now in charge.

Safe adults.  Did such a thing really exist?  At the time, I wasn't sure.
 I struggled with my therapist, and Hinda, for an hour, maybe two.  I don't know for sure.

I was struggling to break free of the terror and trauma, that had been in control of my life for so long.
Hinda and my therapist were right there with me. Struggling with me.
Fighting for me.
I couldn't believe what I was actually doing.  Yet, I knew I needed to do it in order to free myself.

It was one of the scariest things I ever tried to do.  I was hot.  I was trapped.  I was flat on my back on the couch with Hinda and my therapist on top of me. Their bodies were so close. Too close, touching me, triggering me. The fear made me nauseous. My body was touching theirs.
Yuck! Shame. Rage. Terror.

I wondered why I ever thought this was a good idea.

I was terrified.
I was sure Tatty was there...Or that he would show up at any moment.
This is the kind of thing he liked to do.
Tie me up.  Hold me down...Hurt me.
 I was sure in the end I would be hurt.  Just like always.
My mouth hurts!  My bottom hurts!  Something is cutting me down there.
I heard a very young voice crying in pain and fear.  The voice was coming from somewhere inside me.

I was re-experiencing the moment of pain and panic that physical touch triggered in me. The moment when, as a young child, I felt like I had to die inside.  The moment when he violated my body.  The moment of intolerable, unendurable pain, when my mind split.
 I had to leave my mind, because I couldn't leave the body that was being violated.
In the end, a part of me always had to die.

But always, doesn't always happen.

This time the ending was different.  My therapist and Hinda talked me through it.  My therapist talked more than Hinda.
She asked me what it feels like to trust.
She told me we would stay there all night if we had to.
I begged her to let me go.
I accused her of breaking therapeutic boundaries by touching me.  (I ignored the fact that it was my idea, and that we had discussed it at length.)
She told me that sometimes we have to step out of the normal boundaries of therapy, in order to grow.
She told me many good things while she held me tight.
She promised to hold me until she was sure I was safe.

 I didn't understand everything she was saying.
I just knew that she was not going anywhere.  She wouldn't leave me alone with this.
 I knew I was not alone.
For me, that was a very new feeling.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I just finished reading your latest posts and I am blown away. It seems like your healing process towards recovery has reached a whole other level. I am in awe of your ability to keep on doing the work and persevering despite the tremendous pain and almost intolerable discomfort it is bringing up. You seem so aware of what is going on for you in terms of the dissociating and splitting and yet you are willing to face it head on in order to heal from the all the abuse that was committed against you. I think you are incredible, always have thought so since my son was in your gan and now my theory is even more confirmed.

    By the way, every time my son is able to express his feelings in such a clear way, my thoughts always go to the incredible skills that he learnt in your gan.