I don’t know what it is, but I know something is wrong. Deep inside, with other parts I’m barely aware of, probably.
I thought I’d managed to calm myself down after the panic attack. I thought I’d be able to sleep–god knows I’m exhausted. I barely slept last night, was on my feet all day, and then had a long panic attack. I was almost asleep, in that in-between, twilight stage where you know you’re still awake, but you’re only slightly aware of it. And then, out of nowhere:
What if my sister invites our father to her wedding?
And suddenly I was wide awake. I tried not to be. Tried to put myself back in that twilight state because if I can do that, I can usually get to sleep after a while. But my mind was already racing. Physically, I couldn’t get comfortable. Most of the joints on the left side of my body are hurting, and I keep flip-flopping between too hot and too cold. I can’t regulate my body or my mind.
I’m not afraid of him. I know he wouldn’t dare to try to hurt me. I’m not even convinced he’d be physically able to. And if he tried, I know I could do way more damage to him than he could ever do to me–my years of martial arts training greatly increased my confidence in my ability to use my body as a defensive weapon if I need to.
I don’t even think I’m afraid of flashbacks and memories. Maybe a bit, but not a lot.
Strangely, what I am afraid of, so afraid of that I can’t sleep now, is what everyone else will see. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m rude if I don’t speak to him or acknowledge him. I’m afraid everyone will see straight through the tension and know what he did to me. I’m afraid they will judge me. I’m afraid that however I choose to handle it will be wrong.
I’m probably stressing myself out over nothing. My sister hasn’t said anything about inviting him. We haven’t spoken about him in years. Then again, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been speaking to him or that she hasn’t or won’t invite him. I mean, if I were getting married, I’d want my daddy to be there, and I think we both had to get really good at separating our daddy from the man who raped us and sold us and threatened to kill us.
My sister was the one who first disclosed the abuse. I was 19 and in a state psychiatric hospital. My mother and grandparents had gotten tired of my problems and sent me off to live with my father, and after a few months, he had me committed. I remember my mother calling me at the hospital and telling me, “He’ll never hurt you again.” I was so dissociated and so deep in denial that I honestly had no idea what she meant. I had to ask who “he” was. I think she must’ve gotten me released from the hospital, and then I was back living with her, 500 miles away from him. I don’t have any memory of how that happened–there was a lot of trauma and dissociation happening during that hospitalization.
My mother pushed and pushed for a police investigation. Nobody wanted it because my father was a cop, and they kept saying it was someone else’s jurisdiction because the abuse happened across at least 3 different states. She never asked if I wanted the investigation. I never considered whether I wanted it, honestly. I was too dissociated after the trauma of the state hospital, and I let my mother do what she wanted because it was one of her rare Good Mother periods. (Probably because she got to play the martyr, her favorite role: that poor woman who had no idea what terrible things her husband was doing to her daughters for 16 years. But that’s a different post.) The investigation was pretty much a joke; nothing ever came of it.
Several months later, my sister recanted her story. That was hard for me because it was her disclosure that had let me begin to remember and acknowledge what he’d done to me, the reason I’d suffered so long, the reason I was never quite right. I felt hurt, but I never got angry at her. One day, she asked if I could drive her to the bank to make a deposit. I caught a glimpse of the check: several hundred dollars from our father. I don’t know if it was a one-time thing, although I suspect it was not. I don’t know if she extorted him or if he offered to pay her off. Really, I don’t even know that the money was at all connected to her recanting the abuse allegations. I never even told her I’d seen the check.
It sounds unbelievable, but I don’t remember feeling anything about it then. All I remember was curiosity about the arrangement–intellectual, but not emotional. In the two years after the state hospital, I don’t remember feeling anything, so I blame dissociation. Several years later, when I was discussing this with my therapist, she used the word “betrayal,” and I remember feeling surprised for a moment. Until she said it, it had never occurred to me that someone in that situation might feel betrayed, although it made sense after she said it. But I don’t think I ever felt that. I remember telling my therapist that I hoped my sister had extorted him and that I hoped she still was. I said she deserved as much money as she could get out of him–he could never pay off what he’d done to us, but she might as well get something useful out of the whole thing. I even remember feeling a little envious that she’d thought of it and had the guts to go through with it. Even if I’d thought if it, I would never have had the guts to actually do it. Even now, I struggle to trust my memories, and extorting my father for what he did would require complete trust that my memories are real. I’d also have to be unashamed enough to be willing to out him publicly if he didn’t pay, which I couldn’t do. I know the shame belongs to him, but it’s so deep in me I don’t think I can ever root it out. And I envy my sister a little because she could do what I wouldn’t have the balls to do. She got her own piece of sideways justice, and I never will because I’m not brave enough.
I don’t even know how I got from the beginning of this post to here. I think I’m half-dissociated. I’m fighting urges to cut, to OD, even to go out and get drunk. (And I’ve never been a drinker.) I just feel like I can’t stand to be me right now, any of me, all of me. I want out, and all the distractions in the world aren’t helping. Seriously, I’ve read two entire novels tonight and watched 5 episodes of “Supernatural.” Still can’t get away from this…this…I don’t even know. This SELF. I need an altered state of consciousness. I can’t even name what it is I’m feeling right now, but I know it feels intolerable. The physical pain is really not helping either. Every time I move, my body screams at me. Only the left side, though, for some weird reason. My neck and shoulder, my lower back, my wrist, my hip, my ankle. I don’t know what the hell that’s about. Tylenol isn’t helping, and I’m out of opiates since the assholes at respite stole my last two oxycodone. I keep considering buying pot, except I don’t know who to buy it from or have any money to pay for it. I guess if I take enough Benadryl and gabapentin, I’ll get some sleep eventually. I don’t know, though. I’m feeling kind of out of control, and I’m worried that if I start, things could spiral. I’m not suicidal, but sometimes that’s actually more dangerous for me because I do more and more damage to try to numb out and end up doing way more harm than I intended. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I feel. I want somebody to save me but nobody can.