Fragments

Fragments… just bits and pieces flying around inside my head.

That’s what the last week has been like.  Nothing tangible to hold onto.

The only constant are feelings of disgust.  I feel dirty, disgusting, sub-human… unclean.  I don’t think the layers of filth can be, or will ever be, removed.  It is part of me as surely as the colour of my eyes.  It is a part of me, and I am a part of it.

I think I could handle it, if all of the fragments flying around my head were of horror.  Horror has the ability to sweep you away in a dissociative haze of lost time.  But when there are everyday scenes intermingled with the horror, it makes you pause.  You pause and look.  You turn the fragment around, inspecting it from all angles.  You look into the heart of it, and only then do you see the horror.  The unmitigated horror of seeing how brazen and normal the abuse was.  In those everyday scenes, you see the range of emotions on the faces around you – discomfort, curiosity, embarrassment, and the knowing smiles.  What they don’t know, is that they are being manipulated.  This is part of their entrance exam into the Old Boys Club.  They all pass.  Even the ones who question the young girls presence in a place she shouldn’t be, with their joking protests quickly turning into silent observation.

It was the perfect scenario.  There was no obvious abuse, but it was implied.  Every person in the room probably knew that something was wrong, but there was nothing tangible that they could take to the authorities.  It opened the door to silent consent, and they walked through.  They became accessories; and in order to ease their own conscious, they will stay forever silent.  They didn’t see anything, after all.  Just a young girl with her father walking by the shower room.  He might not have known that the team were in there.  They’re both hearing impaired, after all.

It changed the way those men looked at me.  Some of them turned away more quickly.  Some saw through me more readily.  Some smiled, and beckoned me over more often.

Then the memories of horror draw you into their grip.  Grounding techniques are lost in the wave that overwhelms and batters your mind.

But still, you force the smile and talk inanities to the person asking about patron upload problems.

You pack up the box of horrors for another time.  Stamp down the lid and push it backwards.  You hope that you never have to look at the box again.  But, you know you will.  Not because of the memories in the box, but because of the emotions it evokes.  There is anger at looking at the horror, and anger at looking away.  In a world of no-wins, I walk the minefield of navigating the present, while trying to understand and heal from the past.

It’s all done in the hope of having a future.  My father took me past the shower room in order to have a future that he wanted.  I walked past that shower room because I had no concept of choice.  Despite often losing my way, I do have choices now.  I have choices based on experience, education and understanding.  The only thing more soul-destroying than the abuse, is seeing how I seem to make choices which encourage, or perpetrate self-abuse.

I know that there should be a positive note to the end of this, but there isn’t.  I sit here at work, looking at the huge pile of work that is expected of me.  I feel the effects of the medical problems which I was told yesterday will require minor surgery.  I feel the dissociation starting – the slight fuzziness at the back of my head which is creeping forward steadily.  It’s difficult to find that positivity, when the layers of stress in the present, add to the layers of horror from the past.  Your head becomes a maelstrom of emotions, and the only relief is dysfunctional coping.

—————-
Now playing: Tracy Chapman – All that you have is your soul
via FoxyTunes

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18 thoughts on “Fragments

  1. “The only thing more soul-destroying than the abuse, is seeing how I seem to make choices which encourage, or perpetrate self-abuse.”

    That’s the lingering abuse of bad parenting. 😦 So insidious we don’t even realise it can be different.

    I hope you find some stability soon. The flashbacks and fragments can easily overwhelm. Use your defenses if you need to, until you can get to the next safe place. My thoughts are with you as you sit with these feelings.

    • Hi Eliza,

      How people define bad versus abusive parenting can differ; which is a topic for another post, if not thesis. Both can, and do, leave a legacy for their children and future generations. It’s so sad to see, and feel. The old dysfunctional coping mechanisms are all too easy to fall back on.

      Thank you for the support.

      Please take care,
      CG

  2. CG,

    Just sitting with you. I’m sorry you’re feeling so badly. While the content of your post was obviously very sad, it was beautifully written. It’s an amazingly artful expression of what you are experiencing.

    Take care of yourself.

    ~rl

    • Hi rl,

      Thank you. I was going to close comments on this post, as I wasn’t sure if I could cope with the comments if the meaning of the post wasn’t understood. It’s not my usual writing style.

      Sending positive thoughts your way,
      CG

  3. “The only thing more soul-destroying than the abuse, is seeing how I seem to make choices which encourage, or perpetrate self-abuse.”

    I understand what you’re feeling. I’m sorting through the aftermath of my own self abusive choices. So I just want to say… please go easy on yourself. You’re so correct when you say that the old dysfunctional coping mechanisms are all too easy to fall back on. Just try to remember the moments you have practiced good self care, and know that you can get to that place again.

    Please go easy on yourself ~ Mareeya

    • Hi Mareeya,

      I’m sorry that you visit this place as well. I’m told it takes time to change those old habits, and sometimes I have been able to avoid falling back on them. At times it almost seem inevitable, and those are the times I hate. The times where it seems as if no other alternative can be seen, and that the old dysfunctional way is the ONLY way.

      One moment at a time…

      Take care,
      CG

  4. CG,

    I can’t say anything better than Eliza, RL and Mareeya regarding your feelings. Old messages lodged within us and so difficult to extricate … allowing yourself to use tried and true methods of reestablishing equilibrium and finding what is safety to you … recognizing you, sitting with you, and appreciating your intelligence and artfulness … and just plain old understanding from someone who can relate.

    I’m so sorry about the feelings you’ve been having lately. I imagine you will always have memories and feelings. One tragedy is how the memories and feelings may have become about you, about who and what you are. About shame. About an “I am disgusting”, “I am dirty” feeling. You never did anything wrong. You didn’t truly have choices. And you are not deficient, stupid, or proved deserving of punishment for having gone there. This is part and parcel of abuse situations where relationships are subverted and groups are complicit in terrible things. Situations where children are roped into horror, where adults and others have utterly, utterly failed to protect them. Situations which are more common than many care to admit. Situations we are trying to bravely bring to the attention of a society in denial. You are left with horrible memories, horrible feelings, and structures inside of you always meant to protect you … but which in their current form can actively create pain. I surmise, anyway.

    My hope is that you, your T, and your trusted friends and loved ones can help you navigate the pain of what you described: anger and so many other difficult feelings and experiences no matter which way you look. Maybe these people, things you learn, and other resources will help soften any recurring moves towards self-abuse. Maybe you will find ways to make this sometimes horrible work seem worthwhile.

    Humbly … it feels ridiculous sometimes to write about what you face. Please take care. Thanks again for your friendship, CG.
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      Does it sound odd to say that these everyday events, which weren’t abusive, unless looked at within the context of the rest of my life; are more destabilising than some of the abusive events? I described this situation to Allison on Monday, and she mentioned how brazen the situation was. There is more to the memory than what I have described here, but in essence it wasn’t overtly abusive. It was joked about at the time. See, how can it be bad if they were all laughing? Ok, not all of them were laughing. So confusing.

      I wonder what would happen if I could ask those men what they thought of that situation? Would they say that it was nothing out of the ordinary? Would they even remember?

      Sorry, going off on odd tangents.

      Thank you for the support, friendship and helping me to smile.

      Take care,
      CG

      • CG,

        Naturally, there are things I don’t know, and I don’t have the full context (nor need to have), so it is really hard to say why certain elements of an experience are particularly evocative or disturbing, etc. But I will say this … We may not know why, but I am CERTAIN that there are very good reasons why these thoughts are haunting and destabilizing for you. We have to trust you. Again, I don’t know the context & process, but …
        Maybe because there was such a smooth entry into the more abusive events?
        Maybe because it is difficult to see a defining line between these “everyday events” and the abusive experiences, especially since the contexts (men, boys, locker room) hold similar/the same elements?
        Maybe your own understanding of events and how they happened, from the standpoint of a young girl, has not really allowed a discernment of *where* things morphed into abuse, what is the difference between men laughing and men abusing, IS there any difference?

        Perhaps being unable to distinguish these “everyday events” from abuse events fully enough in your own causal chain, being unable to discern how “everyday events” can morph into abuse events (and they can) … and so having to maybe perceive everyday events as fundamentally lacking in safety, and holding potential for great danger? If so, what a horrible experience, CG, going around on red alert at all times. We’d need to find a way out of this. It’s not fair, and so very stressful and taxing on you.

        I don’t know that your last questions are really very odd tangents, either. Maybe if you are confused, you feel it might help to know what some people were thinking, what they would say? Nothing wrong with that, even if you may not have a real opportunity to ask. I’m sure you are looking for clarity, looking to have some questions of your own answered.

        I know I’ve made some stretches and leaps, here … and easily can have missed what is actually important. But I’m so convicted in the idea that there are very good reasons for what you feel.

        Likewise, CG … thank you for your presence here, and for the nice connection.
        Michael

        • Hi Michael,

          Thank you for your thoughts, and questions… they’ve jogged my thinking a little bit, which is always good 🙂 I obviously don’t want to say too much on a public space, but the big issues with the memory are that –

          1. It was, what I will call “normalising” the abuse. It made my familiarity with that type of situation to be funny, normal, and nothing for anyone to be upset about.

          2. It brought all of those men into the role of passive accessories. Because no one said “Hey, this isn’t right, get her out of here now”. Everyone in that room became a little desensitised to what was happening, and became part of the “club” with a little secret.

          3. Each of those men became people that I couldn’t trust, and couldn’t tell.

          4. The setting and laughter are triggers to other events.

          5. The Sandusky scandal means that events around the shower/changing rooms are triggering for panic and numbness.

          So, there are layers of triggers, emotions and events to sort through with this. Because there was a tendency for the everyday events to morph into negative experiences, I find it difficult to discern danger from normalcy… hence the typical survivor need to have to my back to the wall, know where all the exits are in the room, and have at least one clear means of escape 🙂

          Thank you for reading my rhetorical questions, and coming back with some of your own. That is one of the advantages of blogging, it can allow you to look at a comment/post, go away and think about it, before coming back with a reaction.

          I always appreciate the kindness and insight that I get here…

          Take care,
          CG

  5. Oh castor, I’m sorry you have had to go through all this. One of the worst things about abuse in my opinion is that we can feel trapped in that pain even after years and years go by. I hope by going through this current wave of intensity that there will be peace more and more. In my experience, that quote, the only way out is through was true. Dealing with the worst feelings gave way to greater healing. Sending peaceful wishes your way…

    • Hi Katie,

      I hope you’re right, and this will ease things. However, I’m worried that this is a “gateway” memory to other events. It feels like it’s that piece of the puzzle which will help me explain so many other events in my life. If so, this may all suddenly become much more personal, and painful.

      Sending positive thoughts your way,
      CG

  6. When I read the part of your post about the shower room I immediately thought of the Sandusky case, for obvious reasons. I can see how that case has parallels for you.

    I think I also understand why the actions or should I say non-actions of the others there is more upsetting or perhaps disconcerting. Being abused is one thing, but having other adults around who either ignored what they knew was wrong or perhaps even approved of it makes the acts more heinous.

    If it were me, I could see myself questioning why no one helped me and therefore questioning my value as a person. Heck, what am I saying? I do think other people knew about what happened to me.

    Anyway,I think the Sandusky case shows that people don’t always do what they know they should, but it has nothing to do with the value of the child. It’s about them protecting themselves from the truth or maybe having their own inclinations supported. I read recently that abusers tend to know about other abusers and seek out that contact. It’s possible that some of those men were abusers to other kids.

    You wrote this post beautifully CG despite the pain that’s woven through it. I’m so sorry you were hurt like that and that there are so many facets to the pain. I understand coping in the only way you know and I’m sorry that you’re in that space.

    *safe hugs if you like* take care of you.

    • Hi tb,

      I worried about writing this, because people might think that the Sandusky case to influencing my memory. I do have fears that I will never be able to trust my feelings about what happened around those changing rooms because of the Sandusky case, but I know that those memories have been there for years – a couple of years ago I had a very intense conversation with Paul, where I was obsessed with finding photos of the changing room area so that I could see whether it was as I was remembering it. I never did find those photos, just Google Earth images which show the outside of the club…

      The thing is, there was no obvious abuse occurring. It was all very light and full of laughter. Some of the men were uncomfortable, but they were encouraged not the say anything by the peer pressure of the others who were laughing and joking about it.

      I think what is hitting me, is how that added to the feeling that what was occurring was normal.

      Allison mentioned that he was being incredibly brazen, and checking the reactions of others. I know there was an element of that in it too. He always needed to be “the best” and be looked up to. He would have seen that as some means to an end.

      Thank you.

      Please take care,
      CG

      • Oh CG, it never occured to me that the case was influening your memory. Not at all. You already had the memories and this was bound to bring those things up. Even if you hadn’t had them already, it wouldn’t be the first time that seeing somthing or hearing about something jogged a memory lose or triggered something for a person.

        Boy do I understand that obsession with pictures of proof to see if your memory is correct! That is so hard. We want that proof so that we can believe the rest of what we see in our heads.

        I’m sure that being around that group and having that feeling that what was happening was normal would have been confusing and traumatic. He was being brazen and inhuman.

        I’m glad that you’re writing about this even though it hurts and I will always be here for you if you need me my friend.

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