She Spread Her Wings and Flew (for now)

I realize it wasn’t too many entries ago that I wrote about being in therapy forever. Before I started this blog, it was actually going to be a book – but I didn’t realize the costs involved in publishing. Also, I started writing those chapters (which I have been posting as blog entries) up to 7 years ago. And yes, back then it did seem that I would be in therapy for ever. At first my therapy was essential to my initial healing, then during next phase I learned to love me and accept who I am and where I wanted my life to go, and finally during the last year or so, it was actually cathartic to spend time with Julie, sharing with her how happy, strong and independent I had become. Then one night in January (2017), I realized that it was time spread my wings and fly. I have not closed the door with Julie, she will always be there should I ever need her – but at this time I am good. I will still continue to post the chapters of my book as I have a lot to share about my journey – and hope it will encourage you to continue on your path towards healing as well. But perhaps for now, it will give hope that yes, “there is a light at the end of the tunnel”.

I would like to share parts of the letter that I wrote to Julie on that day. I wrote a letter because I had so much to say and I didn’t want my tears to get in the way of my words – yes I’m a crier!!! LOL

 

Dear Julie,
I wanted to write a letter as I know if I tried to say all this, I would be bawling.
Well – you did it!! OK – yes, WE did it. I am a changed person and I have you to thank for that. Your guidance and encouragement has made me the happy, healthy, strong, confident person I am today. I wouldn’t say I’m totally cured (are we ever??) but with the tools you have given me, I think I am confident enough to tackle most any hurdle that comes my way. Do you remember when I was taking courses at work a few years ago (ethics, conflict management etc.)? Well, the two instructors came in to wish me a Happy New Year and both commented how “Happy” I look. And I feel it deep down inside – I smile all the time, I am more adventurous – for one – going to events by myself like my work Christmas party– and actually having fun!!! Yes, I got up and danced with the girls – I have NEVER done that before!!!!

And now the reason for this letter – one of the hardest things I may ever have to do. I think, no, we both know I have been ready for quite some time to spread my wings and fly from your nest. I have been putting off this decision because I feel like I am losing a friend. Without our sessions, I won’t see you again and I’m heartbroken. It’s like being in mourning. Do you remember that day I came into your office in February 2010 – broken and desperate? Look at me now – I exude such strength and confidence that people notice. And I have you to thank for that. You have been my Hero Julie, you helped me become the woman I am today and you will always be one of the most important women in my life.
Forever Grateful,
Donna
XOME

Third Time’s a Charm!

I have had 3 very different experiences with therapy.

My first therapist was so very wrong for me. As a female sexually abused by her stepfather – seeking help from a male did not work. The minute I walked into the room, he looked just like my stepfather. I should have turned and walked out. Instead, I sat the whole hour in almost complete silence. I do believe I had 2 or 3 sessions….see how much that worked!!!

I had only been dating my ex-husband (then boyfriend) for about 3 years. I wasn’t long having sex with him when we started dating. I thought it was what I was supposed to do – I was like a robot. Then we started fighting more and more about my lack of interest in sex. I did not put two and two together and blame my abuse. In fact, I was adamant that I was not going to let what Dick did to me affect me. So, when I went to this first therapist, I did not talk about my abuse. I do remember just telling him I didn’t like sex and afterwards he basically told me it was all in my head. Well, how could he know what the root of all my problems were if I did not share the honest truth. I was young and vulnerable, so I believed him and left with that! It was not for another 22 years before I sought help again.

The second time I went to therapy actually started when our marriage was so bad we sought emergency counselling as a last ditch effort to save the marriage. We had 3 sessions with a counselor who spent time listening to us argue – it was a man once again so I did not open up about the sexual abuse. Luckily, my ex-husband was willing to spend more finances to pursue another counselor – a lady this time – Treena. She was very nice. I opened up in our first session saying I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse but “was not going to let it affect my life!!!” SMACK!!!! She told me it had already affected my life! So, we decided to put the marriage counselling on hold and concentrate on my healing. At first, my ex-husband was on board. He knew sex was off the table during this process. He was kind and attentive – we sat many evenings devoting time to talk about my healing and progress. But looking back now, I was not totally honest about the actual details of the abuse with my therapist – it was hard to say the words in detail about such an intimate violation – so really, how could she help? Finally after a while, I just gave into my ex-husband’s obvious impatience over the lack of sex and quit the therapy.

The fighting over sex soon began once again. Really – of course it would, without therapy and guidance; I was just back to where I started. The wall of resentment between my ex-husband and I became higher and higher and thicker and thicker.

Then came that fateful day! Feb 8, 2010. I work at a Canadian Forces Air Base. This was the day the news came out that our Base Commander was a rapist and a murderer!!! He killed 2 women – one of whom was part of my unit 2 years prior.

The news was such an awful shock to me and I actually had to leave work. I could not bring myself to come to work for the next two days. I didn’t understand why, because I did not work with the man. In fact, I never actually met him, yet for some reason, I was traumatized by this event. I contacted my workplace Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Therapists all over the nation were inundated with members working with the military affected by these terrible events. As fate would have it, Julie had an opening and I was referred to her. It did not take long for Julie to see what was happening to me. As she explained:

The base commander was a man whom we trusted and looked up to – he broke that trust. Dick was my “father” whom I trusted and looked up to – he broke/violated that trust”…. and this was my trigger. Unfortunate that it took such a horrible event to for me to finally open up about my past, but we are all different.

The Events of February 8 and meeting Julie forever changed my life!!! Julie was the one. She was kind, attentive, professional and most of all we were a match!!! The rest they say is history!!!

So, I guess what I’m say is – Please Don’t Give up!!

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.

XOME

Are you Afraid of Therapy?

I can certainly understand that. It took 3 tries for me to get any success. I do wish I were strong enough to have sought help much sooner though. I would hold your hand a go with you if it meant seeing people go. Friends and family can sympathize and offer advice, but without the proper training and knowledge – honestly, they are not doing you any justice.

Some may not want to even admit to family and friends about the abuse. A therapist will certainly keep the details private. But eventually you will find that …

“The truth shall set you free”

And that my friend is so very true.

XOME

How Abuse Affects Us

Whether or not you remember your abuse, or just bits and pieces, it will have ultimately moulded who you are. All those demons in our heads are a result of what happened to us. It may never all come back and you may not want or need it to, but therapy will help sort out the fuzzy images. Therapy is so important to help bring out those demons and find out how they are affecting our everyday lives. For me, during my sessions with Julie, I learned a lot about who I am because of my abuse; my fear of confrontation, fear of the dark, feeling of worthlessness – oh you all know what I’m talking about.

I was afraid of confrontation – even the smallest amount. I suppose the years of not speaking up to my abuser and then more years of not speaking up to my spouse made me so closed in and afraid. Once I started therapy with Julie, I started to get stronger when confronting strangers or co-workers. But speaking up to family and friends was especially difficult for me. I was afraid of hurting their feelings or getting mine hurt. When I started the “draft” of the book I was writing (before converting to this blog), I had written how I was working on speaking up to those closest to me. WOW, that was only a couple of years ago and now I have a voice. I’m not afraid to tell anyone how I feel. I have a right to speak up and be heard and I damn well will!!! I’m not saying I’ve become a bitch or know it all – but I don’t cower from confrontation.

Another demon haunting me was the fear of the dark. Seriously, even at 49 years old I would be terrified to step outside the house at night. Oh, I could go as far as the car in the driveway, but walk around the block alone, or to the back yard – Never!!! I used to joke that I was afraid of the “Boogey Man” – that was a front – I was afraid of being violated again. Dick used to lock me in a room in the basement with no windows or light – his way of “breaking me” of my fear of the dark. What a fucking joke. But once again, therapy has turned my fear around. I didn’t work through my fear of the dark with my therapist, but overcoming it certainly was a result of the strength and confidence I gained over those first couple of years of therapy. The day I moved out of the marital home and into my own home – I was alone. I was so excited about my new life and new beginnings that you know what? POOF – just like that the fear was gone. I was on my own this time by choice and there wasn’t any need to be afraid of the dark in my new life. I was safe and happy. Yup, it really was a simple as that.

You deserve to be free of any ill feelings or demons brought on by your abuse. They have been ingrained into you and not something that can easily just be brushed aside. And leaving them to fester, hoping one day you will change isn’t really a solution. With the guidance and support from your therapist, you will work through your own personal hurdles and when you come out from the other side – WOW!!! What an accomplishment.

XOME

Honesty is the best policy!!!

Relapses or feelings of “I’m never gonna heal” are perfectly normal. We are only human and all the emotions and memories from your abuse are only bound to cause uncertainty. That is where your therapist’s expertise will get you through this. BUT YOU MUST BE HONEST!!! She cannot help if you are not totally honest. Don’t worry about being judged or criticized – another amazing advantage of seeking help from a professional therapist. She does not and will not judge. She truly knows and understands that we are the victim and is aware of what being a victim does to a person. For me, I became closed in about  sharing my emotions. First the years of abuse at the hands of my stepfather – with the constant threats of keeping the secret made me fear sharing my story. Then my ex-husband’s debilitating treatment made me feel even more worthless, I rarely talked back – never allowing my true feelings to come out. I did not want to rock the boat. My first two attempts at therapy were disastrous, I was not forthcoming about the events of my life, I was mortified that I somehow had allowed Dick to abuse me, I mean come on – it lasted into my teen years – I should have known better -right??? NOT!!! The years of not speaking up for myself during my marriage made me very timid. Well, like I said in a previous post – 3 times a charm!!! Perhaps it was maturity, or that I had finally reached my breaking point – but more likely it was the amazing therapist I had finally discovered, because I  was finally able to be open up and be honest about every intimate detail of my abuse which was crucial to my healing. No, it’s not easy, but please try. It’s like going for tests for an unknown illness, it may take time and be a slow process -but you can get there!!! I have faith in you!!!

XOME

Believe

I have wanted to write a book for years. I have kept journals my whole life but never felt I had anything important enough or interesting enough to actually put in a book. Then one time, while my therapist was on a book tour for her own  book, I had some events in my life that I wanted to share with her. Realizing she was out of touch for a week made me realize just how important she is to me – how she saved me. I call her my HERO – and that’s when I realized I do have something to share. I didn’t realize however the cost of publishing a book, hence the blog. As long as I get my thoughts across, the medium doesn’t matter.

To all who have been abused, you are not alone. You do not have to take this journey alone. We were VICTIMS; remember that. We do not have to hide in shame – let it out and let your strength grow and allow yourself to get to know the REAL you – not the trampled on soul who has been crushed. Do not allow yourself to be crushed – with guidance and caring from a therapist – you will overcome your abuse and BELIEVE in how wonderful you truly are.

Give it time though and listen and believe what she tells you. It is ok to go to a session, feel pumped when you leave then relapse by time you go to bed that night – it is not an easy fix. Just remember that tomorrow is a new day – go back to your therapist again and again – do not give up. Believe me, once you overcome the first hurdle, all others will feel “do-able”.

XOME

This Journey You Have Begun

This is and has been a very long journey for me. Some of us will take longer to heal – but PLEASE do not give up. Having a support system including a lifelong therapist is not a sign of failure. I am at a point in my journey where I am so much stronger and confident, but I still continue to see my therapist every 2-3 months. She grounds me, she is my voice of reason when I have doubts, and yes, there are still days I question myself. And when I leave my appointment, I am thankful I have her to lean on.

I am a huge advocate for therapy since I have experienced first hand the way it has saved me.

I work with a lot of young people and when they talk about the troubles in their marriages or relationships, I strongly recommend they seek professional advice NOW!!!

As for those broken by the hands of an abuser, I do wish you would seek help. Some may feel they are ok, others may feel they are beyond hope – IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.

No one should ever go on in life allowing the actions of another sick individual ruin their own path to happiness. We all deserve Peace and Happiness.

XOME