Monday, March 31, 2014

How Do I Connect Safely With Myself and Others After Being Taught That Connection Means Hurt?

Part 3 of "10 Things I Needed To Learn In Order To Heal."

This is a very hard piece of work, and is something I am still working on in my relationship with my therapist.  

Connection with important people in my life, who in the end hurt me terribly, people I depended on for survival and support, was extremely painful.  I still have trouble trusting my therapist after eight years of working together.  

She is a frum (religious) woman.  This is a problem, but it is also

  a relationship, which for me, has the greatest potential for healing.  It challenges past negative experiences and the beliefs I constructed from them.

My therapist represents my mother, and the first two therapists I saw from ages eighteen to twenty-two.  They were both frum women in Baltimore.  

I didn't choose either of them, and they were both a disaster.  

The first therapist, Aviva Weisbord, was seeing me as a favor to my father.  

The second therapist abandoned me after I accidentally found out personal information about her, that she couldn't deal with.  I worked for a kosher diet program where she was a member.  I was handed her application to file and read that like me, she had issues with food.  When I told her, she left me without a therapist, living on my own, with no support. 
 I attempted suicide.

My current therapist also represents an older family friend from that same time period.  

Faigy (not her real name) was my only supportive friend for a time, and my one connection to sanity.  She and her husband and children lived in our neighborhood.

Faigy told me that my brother molested her daughter. My brother was fourteen at the time, and forced Faigy's six year old daughter to expose herself to him.  He threatened to hurt her if she wouldn't listen. 

I told my therapist at the time, (the second one), who told me that my brother had sexually abused and she was obligated to report the incident to the police.

  I begged her not to.  

My family already saw me as a betrayal and danger to them, because I shared that my father molested me. 
They said it wasn't true.  They said It was impossible.  
I knew things would only get worse between us if they thought I reported my brother, as well.  

My therapist and I agreed that she would consult with her rabbi about what to do. 
She asked Rabbi Menachem Goldberger, who told her that she had to make the report about my brother.  Faigy and her husband refused to press charges, so there was no investigation. Nothing came of it, except further blame and rejection by my family. 

 "How could you report your own brother?!"

Rabbi Goldberger knew me and trusted me.  I babysat for his children regularly at the time.

Rabbi Goldberger had no trouble believing that my uncle, who was living in our house at the time, (also accused of child molestation) was a child molester.  
He told me that he would never let my uncle into his house.  
I told him about my father, but he allowed my parents to come to his home to speak with him privately about me.  

When I asked him not to let my parents into his house, because if he did I couldn't continue to feel safe there; Rabbi G. became angry and defensive. 

He told me I couldn't tell him who he was, and was not, allowed to let into his home.  

I stopped going there to babysit.  
It just wasn't a safe place anymore.

One horrible day, Faigy called me over to her house because she had to tell me something very important. 

 Faigy said that she couldn't believe me anymore. She couldn't face seeing my father every day and know that he was a child molester.  She had been facing some personal challenges at the time, and she told me that she thought Hashem was punishing her for believing and supporting me.

I had been living in Faigy's home.  It was my only safe place left, and she and her husband told me that I would have to leave.  

I was twenty years old and knew nothing.  I tried to find a shelter to go to.
I couldn't continue to live at home and face my father, who had molested me and told me I was not allowed to see my therapist anymore because she was convincing me of things that never happened.  
No one, including Rabbi Goldberger,  would help me or believe me. 

Twenty one years later I still shake when I remember how badly the abandonment and rejections hurt.  
The trauma and pain of those relationships are still fresh. 

Faigy still has no ability to deal with what happened between us.  She, like my family,
says she doesn't remember my trauma.  
My reality does not exist for her.

 In order for there to be a relationship, we have to be able to hold the other person's reality, even, and especially, if it is different than our own.

Faigy can't do this.  
My mother certainly can't do this.
My first therapists couldn't do this. 
Rabbi Goldberger couldn't do this.

As long as this is true, there is no way for me to heal my relationship with these people. 

 And yet, I can heal the damage that these relationships caused me.

 So many in positions of authority failed to help and support me when I needed them to. 

 I'm thinking about all of my teachers in Bais Yaakov who knew I was troubled but didn't do anything because of the family I come from.

Other people's limitations have hurt me terribly. I was re-traumatized over and over again, when speaking my truth and trying to get help.  
Denial is very strong.
Trusting people today is never simple.

By developing long term relationships with safe healthy people, I am slowly  learning that connection does not always have to mean abandonment, rejection, and hurt.

 I am learning what healthy relationships are.  

In all relationships, there are conflicts and disagreements. 

 In healthy relationships, we find ways of staying connected and communicating, in spite of our differences.  And we find ways to repair and reconnect, when there is a break.  

And there is always a break.  It's part of being human and being in a relationship.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. This was exactly what I needed to hear today. That there are no relationships that don't have a break and that a good relationship can be repaired. Are you comfortable sharing who your therapist is?