I hold a lot of secrets. Even anonymously, it’s extremely difficult to type the words. Secrets are a weapon to be used against you. I told my psychologist that if he wrote anything down I said, I would never tell him the truth or reveal my secrets to him.  He is the only person on the planet to know some of the deepest, darkest things that happened to me. It’s just as hard to speak secrets aloud as it is to write about them.  The words get typed and deleted, typed and deleted.  I guess the biggest fear about sharing secrets is the judgement. I do not want to be judged.  I don’t seek sympathy, pity, or apologies. My motivation is to share my story, and hopefully give insight to those that are trying to understand. I want people on both sides of the mental illness fence to gain a perspective they have never had.  I’m not trying to cling to  the title of victim,  or survivor for that matter. I don’t like labels.  You can give anything a label, but it doesn’t change what it is.  It’s just what happened to me, my story. It’s how I felt when things beyond my control happened to me.  My observations in hindsight. Many things determine who we are. We are the sum of our genetics, environment, and experiences. I am who I am now at fifty because of the path I travelled.  Some days I have a lot of anger, other days a lot of guilt, and yet other days I am just grateful in the moment that I finally said enough.

One of my secrets is about being sexually abused. Was this the beginning, part of the answer to the “Why did you stay?” I was five and he was the teenage son of a family friend.

It started with going for a walk in a wooded area near my house and him telling me he wouldn’t let me go home until I lifted my dress and showed him my underwear. It progressed from there to touching and putting his fingers inside me and worse. I remember he hurt me. It happened several times, sometimes in a bedroom at my house.  He gave the typical threats about harming my  little brother, burning my house down, and killing my parents. At five, you are just afraid. You know its wrong because something within you tells you so and it fills you with dread.  I started to hide whenever his family came over and then I would get spanked for being rude after they left and I reappeared. My parents had no idea. What a sick, fucking bastard.  I’m sure he’s molested many before and after me and that is part of the guilt I carry. As a teenager, I tried to tell my mom several times but never could quite get the actual words out.  I don’t think she would have believed me. It was a different time and that wasn’t something you talked about. It would have embarrassed my family.  Even though I did nothing wrong and couldn’t have stopped it, to this day,  I am so ashamed.

When he hurts you, it isn’t your fault.  You didn’t seek it out or encourage it. You were picked by him to be the receiver of his pain. He targeted you because you were convenient, you wouldn’t fight back or tell anyone because you are passive, and strangely because you are forgiving. If he apologizes, you must forgive him.  He didn’t mean to hurt you. If you don’t forgive him, then your roles change and he becomes the victim. You don’t realize the extent to which you are being manipulated and victimized while you are in the midst of it. You make every excuse for him to yourself, your family, others, and even to him. His whole life is a manipulation of others, a constant deceit. It’s a carefully plotted and planned escalation of abuse.  You are carefully groomed by him over a period of time. The biggest irony is that after an incident, you can be hurt physically and emotionally , yet you find yourself comforting him. You are holding him as he sobs about how sorry he is, he didn’t mean to hurt you, he doesn’t want to lose you, he doesn’t want to be alone, please forgive him. Soon, you are convinced it was your fault and you are apologizing. Again, you are robbed of having your own feelings. There is no time.  His must be dealt with first.  You are the caretaker and have to care for him and make him feel better regardless of what he did to you.   You don’t get to be angry or have your emotions or be comforted. It’s all about him. When you are done helping him, you have to clean up his mess while he falls instantly asleep on the bed because he is so exhausted. It might be picking up and throwing away broken items, sweeping up glass, or hiding a hole in the wall from your kids. There is never time for you to waste being angry, hurt, or upset.  It serves no purpose.  In fact it would incite another incident. You just numb yourself. You use that twisted logic. You justify his actions in your mind. You convince yourself that you made him mad because he saw a flicker of something he didn’t like in your eyes. It was your attitude or the look on your face that made him lash out. You caused him to be angry because he told you so. You take the blame upon yourself every single time. Afterwards, he tests you by asking if you are mad at him.  Then, of course, you spend the day reassuring him that you aren’t mad. If you answer wrong, you are punished with another more violent episode. You become a master of deception to everyone including yourself but most importantly to him.  You feed his ego constantly.  It’s the only way to cope and survive.  You just keep feeding the angry monster.  As time passes, his needs grow, his ego, his anger. It’s a double edged sword.  You become smaller and smaller as he becomes larger and larger. The  effects are long term. It’s psychological warfare.  It’s mentally so much worse than anything physical.  Physical pain heals, objects are replaced, but mental anguish remains forever. The metaphorical scars  inside your head are as real as a remaining limp after a broken leg.  They remain invisible to the eyes of others but you carry them everywhere.   You try to relearn reactions but your thought process has already been established.  You might not be capable of overcoming what has been an automatic survival response to avoid pain whether mental or physical.  You still have that mental flinch.

He used sex as a weapon..  He humiliated and embarrassed me with sex.  I felt so confused, undesireable, and unworthy. It was part of his programming.  I was so degraded. I wasted so much time feeling nothing and shutting down my emotions. He definitely has sexual issues. I thought it was me. He blamed me, I blamed myself. I tried everything from sexy lingerie, candlelit dinners, naked wrapped in a coat and heels. No response. There would literally be no acknowledgement whatsoever sexually.  I could have been in a ratty robe and curlers and gotten the same response.  He would tell me I bored him sexually. I was just ugly, unattractive. He would call me a bitch, a nag, fat, lazy, dumb. He said anything to hurt me. It did too. I really believed there was something wrong with me. He convinced me that I was everything he said, horribly unattractive, that no man would ever want me.  There was something wrong with me. Sometimes after not speaking to me for hours on end, he would spread a blanket on the floor next to the bed. Then, facing the wall, he would masturbate while I lay a few feet from him crying in our bed.  It just made me feel so small, so humiliated, so repulsive that he couldn’t even lay next to me. I was too unattractive to have sex with. He would rather have sex with himself. That’s a tough memory for me.  It hurt me terribly.  I know now that it wasn’t me, but him.  That doesn’t erase the lingering burden of how it made me feel about myself then and now.



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