Feeling pretty rough. It’s better to go out, so I do. Out and about I feel bad in a different way. It’s as if my skin is hurting me, and things are boiling inside. That’s the best I can describe it, not being good with feelings. Also I am tending to cry today. I am also getting some things done though, so I’m not immobilized, which is at least good. Not sure if I can work though if I keep feeling like this.

Yesterday I actually felt better. I felt quite calm, but as if my system had had a shock and I was getting used to it. Like hearing bad news, and not being able to take it in entirely, but knowing it’s going to hit. A friend asked me to go with her to a Lebanese film, part of a festival she attends every year, so I went. I had to cancel my pre-arranged call to Ron, but I figured it would be nicer to have a companion for a few hours than fifteen minutes with Ron on the phone. I wasn’t feeling that bad.

The film turned out to be about war-induced PTSD! My friend doesn’t know about my issues except in vague terms (difficult childhood). The movie was very good actually. It showed a young woman in Lebanon during a civil war they had there in the 80s…at the start she is about to be married, then she is traumatized by seeing various shocking events, and she ends up mute in a hospital as a mental patient. The film kind of ends there, though right at the end, she seems to be remembering something and starts crying, and a sympathetic nurse moves to sit with her. You get the feeling that maybe she is coming back to life, with the crying. It’s not clear though, because right there, the nurse closes the door and we are left outside, wondering. And the movie ends there.

It was interesting to go to see a movie completely by accident that is somewhat mirroring my experience. I’m obviously not mute and not in an institution….But that film really illustrated the way this woman was taking everything in, and was not allowed to express those things she saw to anyone, and how she ends up ‘going away’ by becoming mute and no longer recognizing anyone.

Today I went out to do some shopping and various small errands. It’s good to be part of normal life. Even if I feel I look odd at the moment – I feel as if my face is swollen and stiff, and that people can tell there is something wrong with me.

I don’t precisely know what it was that I was remembering in my session on Friday. I can’t say for sure – oh this and that happened, this person attacked me and hurt me, because it doesn’t come back as pictures. I’m pretty sure what it was though to be honest, just from the sensations. A kind of rape.

I don’t understand how this could have happened to me with no one helping me when I was so tiny. I do not understand it. My family is a normal middle class family, not chaotic. How could this have been covered up so completely? As such a small child, I would have told my parents what happened…it’s like a reflex when you’re four. Unless I forgot it immediately. I don’t get it.

  1. Harriet said:

    Oh dear, you were 4 years old? Abuse can happen in any type of family, any race, religion, socio-economic status. As for the cover up, I think that is common. I hope that as you work through this you will figure out the details so that you can heal from this.

  2. Paula said:

    Normally the one abusing you is grooming you. Gaining your trust and making it like a big game or secret. or he is frighten you. Both ways work well. They know how to groom and cover. Who, what or where your family is does not matter at all. On top some kids forget, have black holes. I used to act like that. I forgot it. Meant I had years in my life without any memory! I managed to work through most of these black holes. Unfortunately there is nothing to be understood about abuse of any kind. It is insane. Sick. big warm hug

  3. Ellen said:

    @ Harriet – that seems to be the age, though it's hard to be sure. Yes, I know abuse can. Theoretically. It just seems like it wouldn't happen in my family. But it did. Thanks for the kind words.@ Paula – Thanks, you know a lot about this. I'm glad you worked through the black holes. Hugs to you

  4. Ellen, I concur with what the others say as well. Safe hugs to you.

  5. gniz said:

    Sad to say, from my family experience, the justification, rationalization and covering up is the norm and probably quite typical. As an adult, although I can process it much better than a child, I'm way more shocked by the way various members of my family have justified continuing a relationship with my brother despite his behaviors and the way he and his wife treat/treated my niece.Although the abuse was mostly neglect and emotional abuse it was significant and horrible and we all knew it. It was openly discussed. But then rationalized away, forgotten about, excuses were made, plans were dropped.I think that dysfunctional people have a very strange ability to compartmentalize things to an extreme. I've seen my mother in particular compartmentalize things like this. She has some place in her mind where she locks away unpleasantness and just doesn't deal with it or think about it. Instead it comes out still in her stress, her impatience, anger, perfectionism, and stomach ailments but very rarely does she think about or talk about what is bothering her. People let awful things go on because they're afraid of losing what they have. My mother didn't want to lose the relationship with her son and grandchildren. That fear of loss overrode whatever protective instincts she had toward the grandkids. She simply refused to see that she had a responsibility to those kids. And then she rationalized that it was getting better, that it was never so bad in the first place, "forgot" certain events or lies my brother told, etc.So now things have calmed down and people are falling back in line. My sister is reconciling with my brother because she wants to be able to see her nieces, my mother and stepfather have healed most of the rift they had with him as well, although his wife is still very angry because my sister and I called Department of Social Services.My mother is inviting everyone to Thanksgiving this year and I let her know I would not attend if they go. Despite the sadness and pain of losing my brother and not seeing my nieces, I refuse to be a part of the denial and enabling. I will not return to that situation unless things have genuinely improved and my brother and I make efforts toward reconciliation through therapy, etc.Most people unfortunately would never do what me and my wife have done because it's painful, confusing, and shatters the family unit. And whether or not it truly helps is not even clear, which makes matters even more challenging.Anyway, that's just my 2 cents having seen these things play out, as to why families tend to hide and conveniently forget such horrible circumstances.

  6. Ellen said:

    Wow, thanks for sharing your story Aaron. I believe you truly have helped your niece. Whatever happens, she will always know that someone cared enough to stand up for her and that she was worth it. The compartmentalization and denial is something my family does also. It's interesting to learn about the dynamics when something is openly discussed, at least for a while. In my situation, the abuse I went through is a secret. As far as I know, they don't know about it. I'm just wondering how they could not know when it happened to me as such a young child. It seems in your family the abuse was openly discussed, and then sank back down into being denied once more. You're explaining really well why families hide things. And the problem of Thanksgiving, coming up for me also. Sigh. Thanks for your story and support. Take care

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