Last week, my therapist had me work on a chart trying to sort out the impact of trauma in my life. It asks about a traumatic event during childhood, adolescence and adulthood. You then describe the event, life before the event, life after the event and the overall impact of the event.
Because nothing really terrible has happened to me as an adult, I decided to focus on childhood and adolescence. For each age range, I picked one specific class of event because it was too difficult to focus on specific events. That’s a project for the future.
It was quite difficult to do the chart. It was hard to find the words to describe the impact. I focused mainly on behaviors rather than emotions.
So the event class I picked for childhood was being molested in the shower. I wrote about it previously. But the basic sequence of events was my father would give me a shower because I had a hard time washing my hair. While in the shower, he would fondle me and would penetrate me with his fingers. On more than one occasion, he stripped and joined me in the shower.
I have so few memories of growing up and he started showering me like that when I was about 4 or 5. So describing life before the event is nearly impossible. I think my mother gave me a bath. But I don’t really remember.
I got my hair cut when I was 10 and then my father stopped showering me, but life really didn’t change all that much. The abuse continued in my bedroom as before. I hated my life. I had suicidal thoughts. I was still withdrawn.
The eventual impact was a general fear and avoidance of the shower. Even taking a bath is difficult as it’s still the same location. I really hate having my hair washed by anyone. I do it myself before getting a hair cut. In general, I really hate anyone touching my head.
The event class I chose for adolescence was my relationship with James. As I wrote before, he was my boyfriend in high school. He was physically and emotionally abusive and he raped me more times than I care to remember. Before that relationship, I wanted to have a long term relationship. Marriage and kids were still viable options for the future. My trust in men hadn’t been totally shattered.
After the relationship ended, I didn’t rebound emotionally. I was still depressed, and the depression deepened. I had done small things to hurt myself in the past, but I started hitting myself to the point of causing bruises.
The biggest impact of being in that relationship is the loss of hope for ever having any sort of meaningful intimate relationship. For me, men are people to be feared (as irrational as that may be). I hate being a woman. I hate my sexuality. I do my best to repress it.
Note: If anyone is interested, I scanned the original chart to .pdf. Email me or leave a comment if you’re interested in it. The image above was made using Nvu. However, WordPress.com didn’t want to play nice with a table so I just took a screen shot and cropped it.