Thursday, June 3, 2010

working on my trauma time line

i've started putting my time line together. i printed pictures of myself from every year, plus one of my mom when she was pregnant with me. so far i've gotten through age six--right in the middle of the abuse.

this exercise started out easy. it was fun to write down all the things i did. until i got to age five...then it got really, really hard. suddenly i was recording memories and events that surrounded the abuse i went through...and i didn't want to.

i have discovered several things while preparing for and beginning this activity. the first being that the abuse started earlier than i originally thought. i always thought it started when i was about six or so, then ended just after my eighth birthday. in actuality it started when i was five, probably right around the time i began kindergarten....possibly earlier, in fact. my parents said they pinpointed it about four or five. while this doesn't change anything, at least as far as the effects of it, it is nice to have a more accurate time line.

the second thing i've discovered (that i already talked about) is that i really had a lot of good things in my life. it just seems that the bad overshadows the good, and that the effects of the abuse affected all of the good. i would like to learn to be able to separate the two.

one of the things the workbook suggests is using personal items on the time line. i went digging through my cedar chest a few days ago, looking for things. i found several cards and letters from my mother....mostly telling me that she loved me, with an undercurrent of frustration, maybe even desperation, because she was unable to connect with me. even a sense of guilt because of this...and pleading for my behavior to change. i also found a card from my aunt. of everyone in my extended family, she is the only one who has really supported me and my family through this. it seems everyone else just wants it to "go away" and have me forget about it, be all la-de-da and friends with my uncle, sweep it under the rug and go on living life as if nothing happened. well that's just not possible. i also think that my grandma has been very supportive. i feel no support at all from anyone else, and most of them (from what i understand) think that what my uncle did to me was just a hormonal teenage boy "experimenting." bull. a hormonal teenage boy experiments with porn or a girlfriend, NOT with a five year old.

the other thing i journals. i kept a journal almost every day from the first day of seventh grade through the end of my senior year of high school. i even have journals that were inconsistently written in from fourth grade through sixth, and a few since i've been out of high school. until recently, i never once wrote anything about being abused in these journals. not ONCE. nothing about therapy, about court proceedings, about how i felt about it. pages and pages about my depression and struggles getting along with my family, pages and pages about feeling suicidal, NOTHING about WHY i felt that way. i deliberately avoided mentioning any of this. why? because writing it down made it real. writing it down forced me to think about it, to acknowledge it, to deal with it....and i didn't want to. it made it permanent.

well, it is permanent. my past will not change, no matter how much i avoid it. so i'm no longer avoiding it. here i am, 24 years old, and i am writing about and dealing with my childhood.

last night i was "dealing" with my childhood, working on my time line, and i called my dad to talk to him about dates and such that corresponded with the court proceedings. (i had found the case law from our state supreme court online, so i had a date for that, but not for anything else.) while dad didn't remember, i did end up talking to him for two hours. and he opened up to me, and i to him, more than ever before, i think. i've always felt closest to my dad out of anyone in my family overall. part of that, i think, is his personality. my mom is like me---emotional, mood swings, passionate. my dad is pretty even keel. if he's happy, sad, excited, mad....there isn't much variation, which has always felt more stable to me. i've always wanted to make my parents proud, make them happy, but haven't felt i was able to...and feel quite often that they aren't proud of me. last night, though, my dad told me that he was glad that i was his daughter and that he is proud of me.

i really needed to hear that.

then hubby came home and i talked to him about the things my dad and i had talked about, and was able to open up to him, and cuddle, and i felt happy. in spite of the underlying pain and anxiety and fear....i was happy, laying in his arms.

moments like those don't happen often for me. i want to remember those moments forever.


Michelle said...

oops, I think perhaps I used your name last. sorry :( I really like reading your blog, its enlightening and gives me some perspective into my own troubles. I really liked how you connected with your dad over it all, that was so nice to read about.

Paula said...

That is time line is fabulous. You got already so much insight. Regaining lost memories is always so rewarding. Like finding another missing puzzle piece! I can relate in feeling not appreciated. I am so glad that you finally heard the words and felt your dad's pride. Good for you.
I wish I could this time line too. For so many years I didnt want to see my past and threw away all pictures.

Holly Renee said...

That makes me angry that some of your family wants you to sweep it under the rug. Um... NO!! And you are so right, what he did is not normal teenage behavior. Ugh. I am sorry you had to go through this. I am grateful I get to read about your process. I think the conversation with your dad sounds so sweet. I am glad some of your family is supportive. I can't even imagine the trauma of this all. I think it is amazing that you are working so hard on this process. Good for you!!