Preparing for this anniversary week, I scheduled extra counseling sessions. On the first day with my therapist, instead of feeling compassion for myself and what had been done to me, I kept getting stuck in anger. Since this was an ongoing trend for me, she finally asked me what purpose I thought the anger was serving.
In the past I could tell you all the reasons why I deserved to be and should be angry at myself, all of which were true in my distorted thinking, and none of which were accurate. I had never stopped to contemplate what the anger was doing. Since God had graciously determined this was to be a week of healing, the answer came to me surprisingly quick. With stunned tears I replied, “The anger silences me.”
Like the training I spoke of in my last post, I had learned at a very young age to shut down when someone was angry. When my father was screaming, everyone was silent. The physical violence he would sometimes back it up with would ensure our terror, and our submission. Not telling became an unwritten rule.
During that time I had learned to dissociate from my body when he was yelling and while the abuse was happening. This protected me from the pain in the moment, and it kept my story buried, protecting me from retributive pain. When I was assaulted last June, dissociating came easily. I had not really noticed until now that most of my flashbacks of the rape involved a small child’s body and not that of a grown woman. Mentally leaving the situation kept me from the worst of the trauma and it kept me from acknowledging and accepting the wounding I had received as an adult. It also made it difficult to report the details to the detectives. Without really realizing it, I had been mourning a tragic event that had happened to her and not to me. Now I must face the struggle to integrate the fact that it did happen to me.
The small child already experienced so much abuse in her life and has been trying desperately to receive compassion, love, and healing. In order for her to have a voice though, I would have to feel her anguish. In the aftermath of the rape, when memories would start to emerge, I would get angry at myself, or punish myself, which would keep her quiet and help me avoid the pain the story held. I tried not eating, over-eating, drugs, alcohol, and cutting. That innocent, precious child was again being frightened and abused into silence to protect an adult. I had become my own perpetrator.
With the tears of this stinging revelation slowly trickling down my cheeks, my heart broke; it was time for change. Now that I have more information and understanding I choose to sit with, listen to, and cry for, the part of me that was so wounded. Accepting that I was the one raped, I can now give myself the compassion that I would give to anyone else.