March 1, 2010
Mad World, Part 1 – My Experience with Childhood Sexual Abuse
Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post are very personal and the purpose of writing is it cathartic. While I do not intend to divulge any sordid details of my childhood experience with molestation, some things here may still be disturbing, and possibly triggering to someone who may have gone through something similar. However, I find it necessary to share that I may finally give a voice to what has been silent so many years.
A few weeks ago in a session with my therapist, I talked about what had happened to me at 4 years old for the first time in 19 years. No one but my parents knew about it. In fact, I hadn’t talked about it with my parents at all since the incident occurred. Now, finally, I felt that I could finally let out the thoughts, feelings, and fears that I had kept in so long. As I did so, the “whys” started to come to light and things began to click. With the help of my therapist, I started to understand the root cause of my self-hatred, skewed body image, and victimization behavior. It all went back to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child, which was not limited to the experience at 4 years old, but continued in various forms and by various individuals until I was about 8 years old. I began to understand my lingering disgust with my body and with sex. I began to understand why I was continually being taken advantage of by similarly abusive men during my college years and my lack of empowerment and sense of control.
After my meeting, all I could do was cry. I had unearthed so many emotions that had been buried beneath the surface for years but that had exerted a tremendously powerful force on my thought patterns and behavior for so long. I carried so much guilt, self-loathing, shame, and self-blame because of these things that happened when I was just a little girl. I began to understand why I suffer from excessive guilt, even for things that are not my fault, and why I constantly feel the urge to punish myself. As a child, I felt that there was something wrong with me, that I was “bad”. And I was constantly trying to “atone” for it in some way. I was also terrified of anything that had to do with my body. During my early teenage years, I obsessively avoided any thought of sexuality and would punish myself if such a thought crossed my mind. The guilt I felt was like a tight hand constantly squeezing at my heart. It was painful. I would have night terrors, and become hysterical to the point where my mom would try to talk me out of it for hours at a time before I could finally fall asleep. It was a living hell. I also stopped eating and, as a result, my body stopped developing. I wouldn’t have a period again for the next two years.
The bizarre thoughts, behavior, and guilt subsided during my first two years of college. I had my first real boyfriend who genuinely loved me, which helped ease my sense of self-loathing. Plus, I was more focused on him than on myself. I can honestly things were a lot easier during those couple of years, due to keeping myself very busy with school and with my relationship.
However, after that relationship ended, things started to go downhill. I had undergone a surgery which kick-started my development again, and at the age of 19, I went through puberty again. As my body grew rapidly, my psychological and emotional health took a turn for the worse. I became caught in a series of unhealthy relationships and encounters with guys who victimized me. That is when my bulimia, depression, and anxiety really started to take their toll, and my borderline traits became more and more pronounced. It would take a book to describe everything that happened over the next few years… But, to put it shortly, it was the darkest time of my life. Granted, there were moments of positivity and growth, but they were few and far between. I felt like I was in a blur of rollercoaster emotions and confusion until everything came to a head and I wound up hospitalized (as I further explain in “My Story”).
Continued in Mad World, Part 2
(This song communicates perfectly the thoughts and emotions associated with my painful memories. I listen to it a lot… Not because I’m trying to relive the memories or depress myself, but because it’s a way I allow myself to accept my feelings and cope with them..)