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Disassociation

maise posted 11/13/2019 13:20 PM

Hey all,

I’m still swaying along this wild ride of healing myself. I wanted to ask you all if you’ve experienced healing through parts of yourself where you’ve disassociated?

This is open to WS’s too of course since I know they have experience with disassociation on some levels.

I’m working on connecting to a very broken part of myself. I’ll go ahead and be very vulnerable here and lay it all out.

Infidelity stabbed a lot of old wounds for me. I’ve been working through identifying and healing them each one by one - so I can recover and no longer be so fragile in them being stabbed again. This has of course been a process. Something I identified a while back at the very beginning of this process was that I abandoned myself. I felt it. I knew I had. But truly finding all of the pieces of myself that I had abandoned has been winding. I figured out that I had created a ‘safe space’ for myself as a child. I would picture myself surrounded by things I loved. I loved wearing dresses, still do, so I would picture myself in a beautiful flower dress on a green hill, standing on my own underneath white puffy clouds, and the sun rays. This was my safe space. This was where I stayed, where I would go to soothe. When I’d have a hard time falling asleep - sometimes I’d picture this place and then start adding other things I loved to it until I fell asleep.

My therapist had me identify this place of mine early in our sessions. She has also lately been working with me in opening up my connection to my very abusive past.

When I was a child, I was molested often by various other older children. Every experience I wanted to choose for myself was taken: my first kiss, sex, everything. When I was little, I’ll say about 4, an older boy who had his ears pierced already and lived in the apartment complex told me to play house with him. He then said “this” would be a part of the game and kissed me. Tongue and all. I was disgusted. He told me that was how it had to be.

Then I went with my mother to her friends home and an older boy there told me to play a game with him and that ended up being oral. I was disgusted and confused yet again. I was around 4 or 5 here also.

Around 5 or so I knew I was not straight. I knew. I told myself it was unfortunate because I was a girl and this wasn’t right. I told myself I’d probably outgrow it and denied this part of my identity.

Later on when girls and friends liked boys, I thought I had to do the same. So I gave it a shot and when boys pursued me - I would give it my best to like them and reciprocate affection.

As a teenager older boys would come after me. When I was 12, a 16 year old took my virginity. When I was 14 a 19 year old gang raped me and physically abused me. He himself had sex with me repeatedly. I thought it was my “duty” to endure this bc he was my “boyfriend”.

Ever since then I’ve been sad. I’d draw pictures of myself split in two. One part of me looks happy, the other part of me is drowning in fire and tears. I couldn’t figure out why. I would write poetry about it, I would listen to depressing music, I would pick arguments bc I was angry. I wanted to be left alone but I was dying inside. I didn’t understand my anger, and I didn’t understand the pain.

When I was 15 I was pursued by a 22 year old. He was insanely controlling, physically abusive - there was once an instant where I fought him for a loaded gun bc he said he’d kill me, and then himself bc if I wasn’t going to be with him then i wouldn’t be with anyone. He also had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I dealt with a lot in that “relationship.” He ended up getting me pregnant on purpose when I was 17 years old, I was angry at this too. I didn’t want to have a baby. I felt robbed of my dreams to finally be an adult and pursue what I’ve always wanted. Two weeks before I had my son he was taken to prison in the middle of the night. Cops showed up with their guns and vests when he and I were getting ready for bed, and he got 25 years. I was a single parent overnight.

Since then it’s been a spiral.

I met my wife when I was 22. I told her about my past. I was so excited to finally connect with my sexual orientation - to finally be with someone that I chose that was true to myself.

I told her I felt like I had one thing left, one thing that I wouldn’t mess up. One thing that I hadn’t had stripped away from me. One thing I wanted to do right. Marriage.

So I made it clear that this was something I wanted to take my time in.

Well,

Eventually my broken self would get the best of me and I gave into what she had wanted for so long, marriage. I felt like I was letting myself down when I did it. I felt like it wasn’t right...but I convinced myself she deserved this. We had been together for over 5 years. Why was I holding back? So, I did it. I married her.

Not even a full year later I caught her cheating on me. I found out that the day that I married her - she was already knee deep into her last affair and they had already done it all. In my home, on my bed, it was a mutual friend, etc etc etc. they had been ‘together’ for 4 months already when my wife and I married. And this wasn’t her first affair. She had more before this. Physically the worst of it was knowing she had sex with us the same day. Afterward in hysterical bonding - I remember breaking down and going completely frantic on one occasion bc she reminded me of the 19 year old man I experienced when I was 14. (That man is in prison for life now by the way, for murdering his 4 month old baby)

So, marriage...the last thing I was holding on to “doing right” was stripped.

Anyway,

All of that to give a back story to my latest journal entry. And thank you for reading if you’ve gotten this far. Like I mentioned earlier in this, im working on connecting to my physical self...my body. Healing my sexually abusive past and body image. Wife mentioned shortly after the affair that her AP had better assets than me bc she had a huge ass which did NOT help this process by a long shot. I’ve also worked on healing my anger and hurt at rejecting my sexual orientation - a part of me. A part of who I am. I was angry at what doing that caused me. At what conforming to societal norms did to my relationship with myself.

I wrote this today and this is where I need help if any of you have connected with parts of yourself where you’ve disassociated. This is hard to share, it’s a vulnerable place within me. I will discuss it with my counselor also but wanted to try to post it here for further insight in case anyone else has been here...

disassociation

For the first time ever I saw her. Truly saw her. She was walking alone under storm clouds. Her clothes were ripped, she was in a dress. Her hair soaked. She drifted alone under clouds and lighting along a deserted field of grass.

She looked eerie. Fragile, scary. I was afraid to see her face. I couldn’t see her face...afraid of what it may reveal. Afraid of her looking dead. Bloodied, beaten, bruised.

Why am I afraid of her? She is not a villain. She is me. I am her. I’m afraid of her pain. I’m afraid to see her abuse. I’ve lived on my happy hill under my sun and white puffy clouds in my beautiful dress for decades. I hadn’t even truly noticed her. What will she do to my white puffy clouds and sunshine? What if she consumes me?

She is the bearer of all of my pain.

I abuse her in ignoring her presence, in ignoring her pain. In being there. In sharing in her pain, comforting her, loving her. She doesn’t deserve to be ignored. She’s been through enough!”

And yet...even in this writing, and even with all I know...I can’t connect with this part of myself fully.

Anyone done this?

[This message edited by maise at 1:45 PM, November 13th (Wednesday)]

PSTI posted 11/13/2019 13:31 PM

I just wanted to express that I'm sorry you've had to endure all this trauma and pain. I hope you recognize how strong you are that you are still here.

I hope that therapy is able to help you process and move on with your life. Remember, you are more than the things that have happened to you. You are more than the sum of the actions other people have taken, or things you've wanted. You are YOU, regardless of anything else. Every day is a new day and you can make it what you want it to be. It's okay to wipe the slate clean if you're ready to.

maise posted 11/13/2019 13:48 PM

Remember, you are more than the things that have happened to you. You are more than the sum of the actions other people have taken, or things you've wanted. You are YOU, regardless of anything else.

Thank you for your warm response, PSTI. And thank you for reading and saying this. I needed to hear it.

EllieKMAS posted 11/13/2019 13:54 PM

(((maise)))

I can't offer much insight into the disassociation stuff, but just wanted to say something.

Just because this is how things turned out does NOT mean that you didn't do marriage 'right'. Whatever your reasons/motivations for getting married were, you tried your best to make your marriage a success. If you signed up to run a marathon and it took you 3 hours longer to complete than the first-place person, no one would say you didn't do it right - they would say you kicked ass for finishing the marathon! You are amazing and you inspire me with your growth and insight.

Sending hugs your way!

maise posted 11/13/2019 14:02 PM

❤️
Return hugs, your response made me cry! I’m so grateful for all of our shared interactions and for having someone like you along this journey. Thank you for your words. They brought me much insight into my self- reflection process.

PeaceLily210 posted 11/13/2019 14:39 PM

Maise... wow... you have been very brave and courageous to share these raw emotions and experiences. I applaud you for seeing how this betrayal has brought the abuse to the surface for you. I have had a similar experience. It's difficult for me to explain to people how extensive the abuse in my childhood was... a brother, an uncle, a family friend, a trusted priest, my mother's boyfriend, my own boyfriend, a man I was casually dating... It started when I was approximately 3 or 4. That part is somewhat foggy, though bits and pieces of those memories are crystal clear. Strange how our brains work to try to protect us, yet can't completely.

My WH's betrayal has spun me around so badly that I'm suffering from PTSD, but not only from the A. It's triggered childhood memories and brought so much abuse and pain to the surface.
He's always known about my traumatic history. The day I explained to him how his betrayal mirrored the betrayal of my family... he looked like he'd been gut-punched. It was so true though. Our family is supposed to protect us. We are supposed to be safe with them as a child. I was never safe with them. I am now aware that prior to discovery I'd never been safe with him either.

My journey to healing those old wounds has been difficult and painful, but it's been authentic healing as well. Like you I am learning not to leave my reality to find a safe spot. My safe spots are a little different from yours. I've always loved to read. I would get lost in books as a child and that was my safe zone. When a lot of the abuse was happening I'd check out of reality. I'd get lost in a story in my head. As a teen and adult, whenever I'd be scared or anxious, I'd start to create a story in my head. It got to the point that every night trying to fall asleep, I'd pick up my "story" and start weaving it, again all in my head. (sidenote: I have a friend with a traumatic past, similar to ours. She has become an author and has processed her abuse through her writing. Part of her story is in every book she writes, and now she controls the outcome)

After DDay 1 I had a great therapist who helped me go way back to my earliest memories and re-tell my life story from my own adult perspective. She helped me see how I'd adopted other's messages about me into how I identified myself. She helped me discover the real me that was waiting all this time to fully surface. She helped me to dig deeper than I ever had into the healing process. It's still a work in progress though.
After my most recent discovery of the PA with exgf, I found myself retreating into the safety of my safe space again. I'd be driving and be triggered by something, and next thing I know my mind has wandered off, and I'm weaving a story that has NOTHING to do with what is really going on. Luckily I caught it quickly and got myself back into IC. I am still working on healing that little girl. Some days I think I will spend the rest of my life healing from the many traumas. Honestly, it IS hard to connect to that part of ourselves. It's SO painful and SO complex.

We moved recently and I found a few pictures of myself as a child. It was so hard to look at some of them. The pain and fear is so evident in the eyes of that little girl. She is so sad in so many of the pictures. Some days I feel it, and it's raw and gut wrenching. Other days I look at that face and it's like I'm looking at a stranger. Who is she? Why is she so sad in this picture?

All this to say... YES, I understand exactly what you are saying. YES, I believe we can heal, even where we've disassociated in the past. I just believe that the healing journey is going to be part of our entire life story.

Thanks for being so brave and posting this Maise. It helps all of us who are out here in similar struggles. HUGS

hikingout posted 11/13/2019 15:16 PM

Maise,

Your post made me cry, and gave me that feeling of my stomach dropping out like you do on a quick hill on a car ride as a child. I identify with so much of what you wrote here.

Something I identified a while back at the very beginning of this process was that I abandoned myself. I felt it. I knew I had. But truly finding all of the pieces of myself that I had abandoned has been winding. I figured out that I had created a ‘safe space’ for myself as a child.


I have abandoned myself many times in my life. Times when I should have shown up for myself. The most recent, I abandoned myself by having an affair. While I can see traits I had that I needed to work on, the affair was a huge departure from who I identified with as being.

As a child, I would escape in my own little world often. My childhood was fraught with everything from emotional abuse, some physical abuse, and a whole lot of sexual abuse by multiple people, most were also just older kids. And, I replicated that behavior some as well with experimenting with other females and some males at wildly inappropriate ages. Occasionally, my mother would find out about something and would humiliate me about it rather than try to get to the root of what was really happening. I used my sexuality to get attention for a long period of time. The affair, was in many ways a reversion to that time of acting out.

When I got with my husband, before we were married we did some swinging. I saw this as a way of showing my husband that I was cool. After a while, I wanted our relationship to progress to marriage and I didn't want to continue with that behavior, it was killing my soul in many ways. Admitting that to him was scary because I didn't know if I would have the same worth. But, I did have the same worth and that was something that solidified our relationship in many ways. I was able to walk away from proving myself sexually to proving myself in other ways. But, that's just it - Through all the shame and dirtiness I carried, I still hustled to prove my worth. Again, this is a form of self abandonment.

Disassociation - YES. In becoming the wife and mother I envisioned myself to be - and in the successes I have enjoyed in my career, it was a way of disassociating myself with that shameful girl who grew up in a trailer park and was wildly precocious and sexual. By living "the right way" I was able to leave her behind, for some time. I still have a hard time connecting it altogether. I catch myself disassociating with the woman I was when I had the affair. Compartmentalizing so I can have more positive feelings.

So, while I am a wayward, I can certainly read your post with a knowing and understanding of what it means to just rugsweep past traumas. They just come back to you in the end until you process them and deal with them.

I have said this before - I was in IC for a few months before she said to me "I suspect you were sexually abused, do you recall anything that would fall in line with that". When I spilled out the main source of abuse - which occurred from the time I was 4 or 5 with the last instance ending at 15, she couldn't believe I didn't think it was relevant. And, I didn't. I had FORGOTTEN about it. WHAT?

There has been a lot of getting this all back out and looking at it in a different way. She says I need to protect that child in me - be the adult that I didn't have in my life then. That's something I try and picture, it's a struggle. I am a deep thinker, but not one that is so abstract. She wanted me to talk to that child several times in our sessions and it was so difficult for me to get vulnerable enough to do it with her. I still practice it sometimes when I am spending some time thinking about those aspects.

It's hard - we disassociate, forget, rugsweep, compartmentalize because in all reality all people want is to be happy. We take the short cuts for that and so many of those ways of coping become ingrained. I can understand some of what you are trying to heal. Even the part where you were reconciling your sexuality, because as you know there are so many areas on that spectrum many of us have to do that at some point or another. It's just you likely had to do it with more disapproval than most, and that likely just added to your feelings of shame for some period of time. This is a deep dive type of post, I admire your courageousness in posting it, and that's why I couldn't let it go without making some painful admissions of my own. You are a badass, Maise.


maise posted 11/13/2019 18:22 PM

PeaceLily & Hikingout,

I wanted to start off by thanking you both for being so open, for taking the time to identify with my story and share your own. I truly appreciate your responses. I relate to each of you in various ways. I am so sorry for your pain, and feel so optimistic in the path you are both on toward your healing. This path is quite the rocky journey, but the outlook on what we get to cherish on the other side is worth the ride.

It's difficult for me to explain to people how extensive the abuse in my childhood was... a brother, an uncle, a family friend, a trusted priest, my mother's boyfriend, my own boyfriend, a man I was casually dating... It started when I was approximately 3 or 4.
This breaks my heart for you, I am so sorry this happened. I know now it's our jobs to be the adults in our lives that we never had, and to have compassion and care and truly nurture that broken little girl within us that needed their parent. With that comes true healing.
Our family is supposed to protect us. We are supposed to be safe with them as a child. I was never safe with them. I am now aware that prior to discovery I'd never been safe with him either.
I said this to my wife also shortly after D-day, it was part of what penetrated so many large triggers for me. I had to sit in both parts of the pain, the pain from her infidelity and let down and lack of protection, and then the pain it brought in me from my parents not protecting me, and letting me down as a child. Unfortunately I am also still struggling with remnants of PTSD.
I have a friend with a traumatic past, similar to ours. She has become an author and has processed her abuse through her writing. Part of her story is in every book she writes, and now she controls the outcome

This is so amazing to me. How great of her to have taken on this journey and yielded such an outcome for herself. I love to write as well. I considered doing something similar down the line.
YES, I understand exactly what you are saying. YES, I believe we can heal, even where we've disassociated in the past. I just believe that the healing journey is going to be part of our entire life story.

YES. I opened up an article earlier today regarding connecting to that part of ourselves where we have disassociated, and properly healing our sexually abusive past, it mentioned that many never heal because the journey is so challenging. When I read that I thought to myself, absolutely not, I will heal. This is not going to 'run me' forever. Thank you so much for your share, PeaceLily. And thank you for all of your kind words. I am so so sorry for all of the pain you have endured, you truly are doing an amazing job. Sending you so much positive energy and continued healing. ((hugs))
Occasionally, my mother would find out about something and would humiliate me about it rather than try to get to the root of what was really happening.

This is so sad, I am so sorry this happened to you. It brought to mind a few experiences of my own with revealing my sexual abuse. I had an aunt that once got upset with me for saying something I very clearly shouldn't have known at that age - and instead of wondering where it came from she just scolded me and told me it was inappropriate. I remember on a few occasions opening up to my mother about a 40 something year old uncle trying to sexually abuse me at the age of 14 multiple times while I babysat his daughter (crazy how I 'forgot' about this until right this moment) Anyway, each time I told my mother she didn’t have a big reaction. When my best friend and I wanted to leave his house, she acted inconvenienced. I remember every time I that I have expressed my sexually abusive past to her she just gave me the deer caught in the headlights look...something my wife does now when I express to her the pain she's caused me. It's maddening, and triggering all the same. I have often thought to myself, "How big does my pain have to be for you to see me? For you to care? Why don't you care?" They both let me down, both caused me pain, and are both still deer staring blankly at me when it's expressed. I know their reaction has "nothing to do with me" but it doesn't make it hurt any less.

and this:

When I spilled out the main source of abuse - which occurred from the time I was 4 or 5 with the last instance ending at 15, she couldn't believe I didn't think it was relevant. And, I didn't. I had FORGOTTEN about it. WHAT?
It truly is so crazy how we just 'forget' or like i did with my counselor, I mentioned it but told her it wasn't a big deal bc I felt nothing about it and I "ALLOWED" it to happen. SMH. That's just how disassociated we can get. It's insane. I remember some of my friends and even my wife mentioning how eerie it was to listen to such vile things come out of my mouth about what happened to me, but I would say it as if it happened to someone else. Like I was telling a story with no emotion attached. I had one friend say, "I remember when you'd tell me all the horrible things that happened to you and I just thought to myself, how is she so happy all of the time? How has she just kept going after all of this and not broken down?" My friend was almost relieved when I finally began to have feelings about it.
Thank you hikingout, for taking the time to feel with my experience, thank you for all of your kind words. You are doing so amazing on your own journey. Sending you lots of positive energy and continued healing as well. ((hugs))

*Edited for typos and clarity*

[This message edited by maise at 6:37 AM, November 14th (Thursday)]

hikingout posted 11/14/2019 08:34 AM

This is so sad, I am so sorry this happened to you. It brought to mind a few experiences of my own with revealing my sexual abuse. I had an aunt that once got upset with me for saying something I very clearly shouldn't have known at that age - and instead of wondering where it came from she just scolded me and told me it was inappropriate. I remember on a few occasions opening up to my mother about a 40 something year old uncle trying to sexually abuse me at the age of 14 multiple times while I babysat his daughter (crazy how I 'forgot' about this until right this moment) Anyway, each time I told my mother she didn’t have a big reaction. When my best friend and I wanted to leave his house, she acted inconvenienced. I remember every time I that I have expressed my sexually abusive past to her she just gave me the deer caught in the headlights look...something my wife does now when I express to her the pain she's caused me. It's maddening, and triggering all the same. I have often thought to myself, "How big does my pain have to be for you to see me? For you to care? Why don't you care?" They both let me down, both caused me pain, and are both still deer staring blankly at me when it's expressed. I know their reaction has "nothing to do with me" but it doesn't make it hurt any less.

I will add in my mother's defense what she would find out about would be with a slightly older kid. I think she thought I wanted to carry on that behavior with them because it seemed peer to peer to her. She had this impression I was sexually precocious for no reason. There was a lot of slut shaming type of stuff happening, her parenting skills were limited so I think that was how she tried to control the situation. To control me. I have forgiven her, we have had a lot of conversations in the last year or so about that, because some of my issues stemmed from feelings of abandonment from both of my parents. My dad was a functional alcoholic who worked the nightshift and slept a lot in between because he would be passed out from his morning bender. He saw his role as to provide. It's only been in recent years he could tell me that he loved me. Anyway, these are really deep waters to walk through, and I think it's very healthy you are doing this at this time. I think it will help recalibrate many decisions moving forward. I know I can see that changing for me.

maise posted 11/14/2019 11:19 AM

Anyway, these are really deep waters to walk through, and I think it's very healthy you are doing this at this time. I think it will help recalibrate many decisions moving forward. I know I can see that changing for me.

Thank you Hikingout,
You’re right, they are deep - but worth it. I’m glad you’ve gotten to a place of forgiveness and seeing our parents do the best they can according to the tools they themselves were given by their own parents. I also see how it can help with future decisions and just quality of life overall. I’m looking forward to it!

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