Something Is Wrong

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.



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8 responses to “Something Is Wrong

  1. Hello

    I read through your post and there is actually someone who can help you. He’s 100% reliable and his name is Jesus Christ. He is still alive today and if you can open up your inner person to him then he will come into you and give you joy and everlasting life. Talk to God and ask him sincerely for help. He is real and will help you if that’s what you really want..


    • Keep your evangelism to yourself, please. If God wants to save me, he knows where to find me. But that’s not the kind of God I believe in.

  2. Hi, I just noticed that you are already following my Wagblog, and I thank you! But much more important than that I wanted to address in some detail some of your many posts that I have finally had ann opportunity to read. First, forgive me if I quote a poem I wrote for my second book of poems and also forgive me for the attitude I take in it towards “multiples” — the attitude is more towards the psychologists in the facility I spent time in that I believe created them by the dozens, just to make names for themselves. Dissociation is a real psychological phenomenon, but it was definitely not as rampant as they claimed in the 90s in that place, trust me. Anyhow, let me start with that poem, and go on from there.


    “Multiples: former shorthand for people diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, believed to arise from early sexual trauma and abuse; now considered a dissociative disorder

    Two suicides and such a multitude of multiples
    wrung from imagination the year I was there
    by psychologists
    eager to make names for themselves,
    the halfway facility would be shut down for good the next.

    But not before seeds of uncertain certainties were sown:
    repressed memories miraculously recovered
    from the abyss, of incests, sodomies, satanic abuses,

    so even my stalwart insistence
    on a happy-go-not-so-unlucky childhood
    became stained by the sepia of doubt:
    had I really escaped such clutches?

    Knowing memory’s foibles,
    it’s hard to trust
    what my sister tells me was true:
    that there really were neighborhood “Bad Boys”
    and a shack in the woods
    where they kept a stash of comic books and pin-up calendars,

    the price to read there all afternoon
    if you were a girl : a feel,
    that I’m not wrong to believe I read my fill
    of “Archie” and “Prince Valiant” and “Peanuts”

    Though I had to find my own way out
    afterwards after they’d gone,
    taking their comics with them,
    leaving just June, now unpinned from the wall

    in her tiny shorts, the shine of her raspberry lips
    pouting next to a tractor,
    I recall only
    dry motes falling through the last rays
    of sun, the smoky smell of sawdust and dust,
    and grit under my bare feet,
    my trembling relief,
    as I studied a stroll through the back door at home,
    perhaps worse for the wear
    but on time for supper
    so nobody questioned the dirt in my hair.


    So you see how hard it is for anyone to trust their memories, no matter how minor the trauma. Childhood memories are notoriously shaky by virtue of their having happened long ago in childhood, and are subject to re-editing and re-telling in myriad changed ways over the course of a life. This is not to say that the retellings are lies, not at all, each retelling has its truth, emotionally and often factually. But I felt that those psychologist took troubled patients and LOOKED for things like MPD and dissociative disorders just to jump on a bandwagon that was growing out of control at the time..

    I tend to think that we mostly remember what we remember, and don’t entirely forget what happens, unless we remember having developed amnesia for it! (For instance, I KNOW I lost three weeks at a minimum due to extreme hospital abuse in 2009, and likely lost many other weeks before then, though I have vague recollections of abuse and trauma that anchor the fact that I was there at a minimum.

    I do not believe a therapist can extrapolate from a symptom like cutting or self-harm to an event that “must have happened to someone in the past.” People tried to tell me that my father sexually abused me, simply because my arms were a mass of third degree burn scars etc. But they refused to understand that the etiology of the burns was not dissociation but command hallucinations, and that burning and cutting myself (and the clear self-loathing) did not necessarily evolve ONLY and directly and solely from paternal sexual abuse, or from it at all. My father was in his younger years a nasty abusive person, but sexual abuse was definitely NOT a part of the picture and I would be horrified to have anyone attribute that to either one of us.

    That they believed Dr Spiro was kind and compassionate hurts me yes, as he was a monster to his family and his older daughter, but it is grossly unfair to go from there to say he raped or molested me…’

    That is NOT to say that YOUR father was not a rapist monster. I believe YOUr story entirely, because you say it happened and fathers DO DO such things to their daughters, god knows. I ache for you, I truly do. IN such a case, I would advise you NOT to be around him at any time. and not to give a sh-t what ANYONE thinks about your behavior or how you behave if you are in his presence. WHAT DO YOU CARE WHAT OTHERS THINK?

    It is time to cast that aside. People are ALWAYS in their own little bubbles thinking about themselves and judging other people, But it is meaningless. The only opinion that matters should be your own, and you should not be harming yourself by being near your father…I mean this. I avoided my Dad for 35 years because he treated me with silence and abuse. Until he “forgave” me my schizophrenia and came back to me, a changed and wonderful man…That was a miracle. And I forgave him and enjoyed his love and care the last seven years of his life.

    Oh, I could go on and on, but I must stop. Will continue to comment elsewhere. I hope this helps and is not just obnoxious. Thank you so much for following my blog. I hope you enjoy it. and that it helps you sometimes…Keep up the writing and political involvement. Anything that gets you out of yourself is good for you. Many Regards, from an “old lady,”

    Pam Wagner

    • I know there are cases where DID is iatrogenic, and I know there was a time when clinicians actively looked for DID that may not have been there. But I think that time has passed. There’s much more pushback against the diagnosis now.

      In any case, I “knew” in some sense that I had DID before I was diagnosed. I was terrified of it, both the internal experience and what the doctors would do to me if they found out, so I unknew it–those of us who dissociate are very good at that. But I wasn’t perfect at unknowing it–sometimes I had to consciously lie to doctors and therapists to cover up the voices, the lost time, the things I couldn’t explain any other way.

      When a therapist first suggested the diagnosis, I was terrified of what that would mean. I denied it, told her she was crazy and had no idea what she was talking about. But I knew on a gut level that it was true. Too many things just don’t make sense otherwise.

      As for my father, I haven’t seen or spoken to him in eight years. On my own, I wouldn’t change that. But I love my sisters more than anything in the world, and I will not miss my sister’s wedding if she chooses to invite him. I love her too much to do that to her. I know now that my father is essentially a coward. As a child, I believed that he’d kill me, but as a child I didn’t know he’d never really fire that gun. Now I know. If my sister invites him, that’s her decision, and I’ll deal with the social and emotional consequences of being near him. I won’t punish my sister for my father’s crimes.

      • So happy that you will attend the wedding, that you love your sister that much. You are amazing to allow her to have her day without mentioning or asking about your dad.

        (My family situation is still an unspoken with one of my siblings.)

      • congratulations for knowing yourself and also for being a better sister than i was…i did miss my own twin sisters wedding…at least her first one…you are very brave and should give yourself credit for a lot more strength than perhaps you know you have. did is a lot to deal with, esp when not iatrogenic, and from the sounds of your history i can see why you could have developed it for real. kudos for simply surviving and keeping on moving on. regards, pam
        ps i am typing with one finger due to a rotator cuff injury. sorry for lack of capitals…

  3. You are a survivor. Your feelings and worries are justified. I am keeping you in my thoughts.

  4. Oh Hope, this was such a sad post. You wrote so much and said so much. I feel for your pain and I hear you. Im hoping you are ok? XXX Carol anne

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