I used to be really smart. So sharp, quick with arithmetic and witty. I always felt as though I could conquer any sort of intellectual problem. I was confident in helping others to understand complex concepts; my classmates always came to me for help and I would gladly and competently assist. I was confident in my ability to perform academically.

I feel that since this whole sexual abuse thing has reared its terrifying head, that is an aspect of myself that has been relegated to the past. I feel foggy, slow, muddy in my thinking. I can’t do math in my head anymore. At times, finding the right word is a struggle. I have to think a great deal before I speak. I don’t remember a lot of things.

I used to have the greatest memory (or so I thought). I could remember exactly what a person said, what they were wearing, etc. Now I question all of that. I can’t even remember things that happened one day ago. My wife tells me about something I said and I have no recollection of the conversation. Or she shows me something and I appear to respond, only to show her the same exact thing five minutes later, as if she hadn’t already seen it. I can see that this is alarming to her. The other night, I made the comment that sometimes I enjoy dissociation, the feeling of numbness and blank space in my head. She got freaked out and said she doesn’t like it when I dissociate, it’s like I’m a different person. “You’re not there.”

I don’t know what’s happening or what has happened to me.

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**TW: Sexual abuse, self-harm**

A few weeks ago I decided to try writing a more targeted journal related to healing from sexual abuse at the suggestion of my therapist and my wife. It’s been really hard. I’ve only written two entries and it takes a lot out of me to write, but I have noticed that I feel better once I have written. The first entry was really robotic and basically, “They told me maybe I should write, so here I am, writing.” The second entry was significantly more emotional and I basically just let it all out with no thought for grammar, punctuation, or avoiding explicit language.

What I got out of it: I am extremely angry.

Basically, this journal entry went around all the usual suspects: I’m disgusting, I’m sad, I feel like cutting my arms to shreds and burning the insides of my thighs, I want to take all the medicine, I’m not okay and nobody can see it, and then it got to the main point. I AM ANGRY. My father RAPED me, repeatedly, and did who knows what else because I still have very limited memory and my wife believes I was probably drugged for a lot of it based on the culture of my father’s side of the family and the huge parties I grew up entertaining adults at. THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. And sometimes, yes, I believe I am disgusting and I know that’s normal for someone who has been through this to believe, but I feel very fortunate that I am able to easily turn it around and say to myself, “You know what? HE is the one who is absolutely fucking disgusting and vile and deserves to die.” Now…what to do with this anger? It has me seething. I’ve never felt so angry before (allowed myself to feel so angry?) and I’ve never wanted revenge so badly. I know, “the best revenge is a life well lived” but that doesn’t feel very satisfying right now. Any ideas?

I am having so many memories and nightmares and body memories and I feel like I could just crawl into my bed and never come out. I feel worse by the day and I’ve had to quit therapy because I can no longer afford it. I guess it has to get worse before it gets better? Always darkest before the dawn? Some other cliche?

My biological father. Were you the one who raped me and raped me and raped me? (Yes) Why?

Who else did you do this to?

Are you pleased with yourself?

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I got some memories back.

Things have been pretty good around here. I don’t know why, but since my partner accompanied to a therapy session a lot of my hypervigilance stuff has gotten dramatically better. I hardly ever flinch when she touches me anymore, which used to happen almost every time. Of course, nobody ELSE can touch me, but really she is the person who really matters. So this is a sweet triumph. 

I continue to struggle with the fact that I have so little memory for what happened to me. I know that if I accept that it happened and try to heal accordingly, it shouldn’t matter. But it just angers me that I don’t even know what happened to my own body. I feel like I should have the right to my body’s history. I’ve decided to start looking for some clues because I want to know. I found some old photographs when I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom a few months ago (my mother very graciously allowed me to wait until I was finished with grad school to do the big cleaning, even though I moved out a long time ago!). There is one in particular that I looked at and didn’t initially recognize myself. There are huge dark circles under my eyes, I look shell-shocked. Blank expression, thousand yard stare. Awkwardly posed between my brothers on a couch; the youngest is a baby and the other also looks tense. How I wish I could have been the only one to be abused so he didn’t have to take it. Seeing that photograph was jarring because it was taken in the house in which it happened (my father moved around a lot, needed a lot of houses to show everyone he was perfect, but I remember that it happened, at least some of it, in that house). I did not look like myself. I wonder what happened to that girl the night before.

My stepmother keeps all of her day planners, has them going back as far as the early nineties. Scrabble scorecards from 1988. She has offered to let me go through them to see if I can pin down a date or range of dates when I think things happened, see if maybe there was some sort of party or there was company in the house. I appreciate this, but I don’t know how helpful it will be. What I really want are old photographs. That girl in the picture had clearly been traumatized. I wonder if there are others like it, where I will see a sad girl and realize with a tug in my gut that that girl is me. I think when I see my stepmom in a few weeks for my wedding, I will ask her to send me some pictures. I hope that seeing something visually will help jog my memory.

Does anyone else have experience with trying to remember hidden traumas? I would be interested to hear any tips or strategies that have been helpful.

in your life can be traced back to him.

-my partner

I haven’t emailed my father. I don’t know if I should. I am having nightmares as usual but these are different because in them, people I love and who love me are taking his side. 

I set up my email to have all emails from him be marked as read and go directly into a specific folder so I don’t get a nasty surprise in my inbox. Unfortunately, I found that this is not fool-proof. I checked my email yesterday morning to see the subject line “(Father) has added you to their circles on Google+” and I immediately felt like I was going to be sick. I was supposed to visit my stepmom and brother this weekend but had to cancel because I was so panicky about being in the same state as him. I feel awful for doing that.

I want answers and I want closure. I know that closure isn’t actually a real thing. I want him to own up to what he has done. I know it will never happen. I think he believes he never did anything. I can’t kiss my partner because I gag and feel something awful in my throat. I have headaches and muscle pain every day. People cannot touch me. My body doesn’t work correctly. It does’t feel real. I cannot actually believe that these things happened for real. Maybe I’m making it up. What if I am an awful person making up awful things? 

I fucking hate this.

“25-year-old single Caucasian female with a long history of depression and PTSD”

is what my medical record says. I take pills and more pills and exercise and go to therapy and workworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkworkwork so I don’t have to think about it and then I go to sleep and relive things I don’t even know happened. And nobody knows except me my therapist my partner my brother my father? I want to tell my mother and I want to cry and I want her to hold me and I want her to believe me and I want her to protect me and I don’t want to hurt her and I want to sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep and not dream. I want my cat to become human-sized and be soft and warm and pat my back and say “there, there” while I am here and my partner is at work and I can sleep.

I cannot believe I actually got back in contact with my father last year. Now I am kicking myself because I do not want him in my life. I do not get anything out of these ridiculous interactions via email. And, I recently remembered some things he did that have literally made me sick to my stomach, running to the bathroom whenever they pop into my head. I don’t want him in my life.

But he’s been appropriate and civil in his emails. I have this ridiculous notion that I need to have a “good reason” to cut off contact with him again. My partner has helped me to recognize that all the things he did to me in the past are good enough reasons, but it’s difficult. It’s like, why now? He hasn’t done anything. But he did, a long time ago and also not so long ago in the totality of life. 

So I’ve decided to cut it off. But I am worried about how: do I simply stop responding to his emails, or do I send him an email telling him I no longer want contact? I feel like a “better person” sending an email, but the book “The Gift of Fear” (which I HIGHLY recommend for anyone who has been abused/traumatized) teaches us that any sort of response to an abuser guarantees us six more weeks of abuse. So I don’t know what to do. Advice would be welcomed.

Also, I can’t sleep and when I do, I have terrible nightmares. But it almost feels good, like I am finally remembering things and feeling them and I am so full of rage and fury. I can feel something.

I haven’t really had time to write with my new job and wedding planning and all that jazz. I have felt as though I wanted to write, but when I think about what to say I draw a blank. 

I got a new therapist and she is much better than my old therapist. She remembers things I say, is validating but not too cheerleader-ish, and actually gives me things to do between sessions. It is helping.

I am still having major trouble with being touched in any way, which is a problem. I was co-facilitating a group and the other facilitator accidentally brushed against me, and I almost flew out of my chair. I don’t think any of the clients noticed, but I certainly don’t want to seem unhinged. Not to mention, it causes a good deal of strife with my partner. 

Basically, my therapist has said that our work is going to be about accepting that the trauma happened and coping in the present. I can get behind that, but it’s been a little difficult due to the fact that I still have very vague memories of the trauma that I wish I could piece together into a smooth narrative…but that’s not how trauma works. Trauma fragments our mind and senses, leaving us to do our best to pick up the pieces with no guarantees of closure. I am hopeful that I will at least remember who did it so I can cut that person out of my life if they are still in it (a chilling thought).

I guess I just wanted to do an update. I hope everyone who reads this is doing well.

I remember waking up in my bed at my father’s house, lying next to me is a large man. I remember a party from earlier and I don’t know how I ended up in my bed. It is the middle of the night. I am scared and I do not know who this man is. I begin hitting him with my fists and he wakes up and runs out of the room. I drift back into sleep. I am eight years old.