I was reading recently on Shades of Ivory’s blog a post Why Now? Thanks Ivory for your honesty and courage.
Basically she was asking why is your life tanking now? That got me to thinking about what led me to therapy and how that led me to slowly understanding that I was abused and to flashbacks and to healing. I don’t see my life as tanking now. It tanked 25 years ago.
I was in my mid-20s when it all started. My main abuser had died a year before, but I was living a life of repression and amnesia about that part of my life. I worked two jobs and had some injuries that I did not recover from. With two jobs I was just barely able to pay my bills and eat. Sometimes the two of them did not add up to full time hours, where I got paid around minimum wage, and my hours could be cut at any time. I didn’t have medical insurance. I had excruciating pain. Everywhere.
My body couldn’t take it anymore. I had pinched nerves in my neck and my lower back. I wasn’t getting better. I was getting worse. If I had insurance, I think that I might have been able to stop the problems from turning chronic. I didn’t. I had a back injury from my childhood that I was unaware of, caused by physical abuse by my mother.
I had started a sexual relationship with an abusive person. I had moved into an apartment with my mother, who had sexually and physically abused me when I was a young child. My PTSD symptoms became very bad, they continued to get worse and worse.
I got to the point that I could not work and a few months later in applying for help with the county I qualified for medical assistance and they recommended that I go to therapy. That was the start of it all. Without help with my health issues and therapy, I never would have been able to work on healing.
It took more than twenty years for someone to point out that my broken bone in my spine, which showed up at the time of the start of my pain on x-rays, was the cause of the back and hip pain. At the time the doctors and chiropractors acted like it was no big deal… even with all the pain and symptoms I was having. This issue used to be attributed by the medical profession as being due to an accident or a genetic defect. Now it is considered to be caused by physical abuse before the age of 17.
It took three therapists and several years before I got to the fact that I was an abuse survivor in therapy in a way that was healing. It took that long to get to the truth that I was ritually abused and had dissociative identity disorder. Both discoveries I made by myself, outside of therapy. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never had a great therapist or a therapist who was a good fit. I’m glad that I had myself, because if I hadn’t had someone as smart, compassionate, caring, and willing to learn as me to get me through this process of healing, I wouldn’t have made it.
It took my mother being dead four years, in my mid 40s, before I could start to remember her beating me and the fear that was my constant companion while I was tiny. It took another year for me to start remembering the mother daughter sexual abuse. The therapist counseled me to forgive. If someone shows more compassion or more times to a sexual predator and a baby raper than me, I leave. She did. I started looking for a different therapist.
So for me it was a combination of lack of safety in most aspect of my life, triggers in most aspects of my life, lack of health and mental health insurance, lack of body health due to abuse catching up with me, and PTSD symptoms and trying to cope while being multiple, amnesiac, and repressing decades of sexual abuse. It makes perfect sense to me that I couldn’t cope anymore at age 25. I’ve spent the last 25 years trying to heal from the first 25. It has been worth it.