Telling my story

This week, I’ve been working with my therapist on telling my story. To actually speak the words out loud is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. When I write, I can block out the emotions, dissociate I guess. But when I say it, everything comes flooding back. It’s all there, right in front of me. I don’t know why, but somehow hearing the words makes it more real for me.

Yesterday in my session, I talked about the first time that James raped me. Today, I talked about my father and the shower and a little bit about my father and the bedroom.

I know I’ve written it out before in here, but bear with me. I need to write it again.

When I was a kid, I had long hair. It was so long I could sit on it. It was extremely heavy and extremely thick. It was hard to wash on my own. The first memories I have of my father in the shower are from about age 4 or 5. The memories are a series of disconnected images, sounds, smells and physical sensations.

I can see the bathroom as clear as day. The white wallpaper with the blue sea shells. The frosted globe light fixtures. The blue towels. The big plate glass mirror. The blue and white shower curtains.

I can hear everything. The vent fan. The water. My father’s voice.

I smell it. The dial soap. The cleanser used to scrub the room.

I can feel it all. The water on my skin. The pulling of my hair. His hands on my body. His fingers inside of me.

But, I’ve managed to put everything together into a typical evening in the shower.

About 7:00 or so, my father would call me downstairs to his bathroom. He would help me undress. He would start the shower to make sure the water didn’t burn me. I got in the shower and he would get me wet. He would take the bar of dial soap and lather up his hands. He would wash my body. He never used a washcloth, just his bare hands. He spent a lot of time on my breasts and genital area. He would put his fingers inside of me. I can feel them twisting and turning. Then came my hair. He made sure it was good and wet. He would pour the shampoo right on my head. He lathered up my head. He pulled and pulled. He scrubbed. He used his fingernails on my scalp. And then he rinsed. I would cry when the shampoo got in my eyes. But that made him angry.

There were times when he would get undressed and get in the shower with me. He made me wash him. He made me do it just like he did it to me.

When the shower was finished, he took me in the family room and combed my hair. It was always full of knots because he never used any sort of detangler on it. It felt like the hair was being ripped right out of my head at times. He would yank on it and my neck would snap back and forth. I would cry because it hurt so bad. But that only made him angry. Those were some of the times when I was told “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about“.

After what felt like an eternity, I was put to bed. But that’s for another time. I’m feeling quite scared right now. I need to get some fresh air. I’m going to sneak outside.

19 thoughts on “Telling my story

  1. Kathryn,

    I am so very sorry to learn about the traumas in your life and of the struggles you’ve endured. I do hope that in the telling, you find additional power. I do know that in the communication of it, we on this side, read your words and gain power from you. I pray that your utterances purge from your body the toxins that might fester there.

    I will dream sweet things for you tonight.


  2. Just wanted to comment because… well, I guess I’m projecting a little. When I make a post like that, I want to hear from people that they are listening. And I’m listening. Not much more to say, except I’m glad he made sure the water wasn’t too hot (my much older sister used to do much the same thing in the tub until I was about six or seven, and she usually didn’t check the water first).

    It’s awful to have gone through this. Awful for you, awful for me. I’m sorry I’m not the only one (or my family isn’t the only one).

  3. nadcesca says:

    I know it is hard to let the emotions come and visit you again. I know I write alot also. I have discover that writing everything down emotions and all, helps me so much. It is for me like once it’s out on paper, I can breathe and let it go. But we all have our way of coping and getting better. I hope you will find your soon. When I read your story, I get so angry at your dad. But most of all I cry and hurt for you. You are not alone. I’m here and other also to support you. Just too bad we have to be virtual friends. Hug xx

  4. Hello.

    So sorry you’ve been through all this and I wanted to say you have such great amazing strength to right all this down and face it – I know I never could put it into words what happened to me…

    You’re a light at the end of a tunnel for me – you give me hope sometimes, that personal strength can be found again…

    Thank you

  5. Ys says:

    Hi, I found your blog yesterday and ended up sitting there for a good half an hour reading all of the posts you’ve made. No other blog has ever made me do that before and I felt compelled to write at least one comment, no matter how unhelpful I feel I am to making you feel any better, to let you know that I’m reading. And I’ll continue to read what you write. I hope everything works out for you… xxx

  6. I understand completely, and recognise that vulnerable place. My hope is that in the telling and re-telling, it will diminish by degrees for you. That you’ve created this haven for yourself is proof of your power.


  7. You are doing such good work. Getting it out… making it real… those are good things. Not easy things, but good.

  8. Thanks for the comments.

    Ben… I guess I rationally know that what I’m doing empowers me in the end. But right now I feel raw and exposed and vulnerable. And that scares me.

    Jigsaw… A lot of that posting was trying to get it outside of myself. But I think part of it too is wanting to know that someone is listening. Nobody heard me while I was growing up.

    Marcy… Thank you for all of your support. Reading your blog everyday. Seeing how much you love your daughter. Just knowing that there are still good parents out there. It’s healing for me.

  9. Nadcesca… I am trying to be more aware of my feelings. I’m trying not to stuff them. And I’m trying to put labels on them. Maybe I just need to practice writing about the emotions and feeling them too. Writing was always a way to disconnect from what I was feeling.

    Natasha… Thing about this, is I don’t feel very strong. It feels like I’ll collapse under the weight of this all. I know getting it out is supposed to lessen the weight… but…

    I do have to say part of the reason I created this blog was not only to help myself. If I can help just one person with my words, then maybe all the pain isn’t for nothing.

    Ys… Thanks for stopping by. The comments that people leave do help me. Part of it (like Jigsaw observed above) is just knowing that someone, anyone, is listening. I had so few people in my life who listened to me while growing up (aside from one or two teachers). So now knowing that someone hears my words and tears and pain is healing.

  10. kprsjohn says:

    we are sorry for what you went through. it is not easy to talk about or write about, the memories hurt, literally. if we can help in any way, you know where we are and how to reach us.

    peace and blessings


  11. Thank you keepers. The support I’ve gotten from y’all the last few days has made all the difference in the world.

    My distress level is still quite high, but I don’t feel so alone.

  12. I was thinking about writing and emotions. I’ve found that, even if I can’t actually feel the emotions, somehow writing things down, and sharing them, helps me to recognize that I’m not just exaggerating how bad things were. I’ve written a few stories (more polished than on my general blog), and the responses I’ve gotten from people reading them help me to say, “Huh. I guess it really *was* bad.”

    My adult parts tend to use intellectual strategies to cope; it makes sense, and it does help a lot, if I can understand what’s happening and how I’m responding. It’s progress, even if it won’t get me all the way.

    Don’t quite know what my point was, but I think that both writing and telling will help. Thanks for being brave and sharing on here.

  13. Jigsaw… I think many of us tend to discount or minimize how bad our formative years were. I know I do.

    For the vast majority of my life, I’ve tended to live inside my intellectual side. It seemed much safer that way. Now I try to deal with the emotions, but the intellectual part helps too. Understand why I feel the way I do (even if I have a hard time naming the feelings) makes things a little less scary.

    Both writing and saying things out loud help in their own ways. For me, the saying is harder than the writing.

  14. Feelings aren’t always right, necessarily; Even if you don’t feel strong, I can tell you that to be where you are now, after all you had to go through, you most definately, without a doubt, are one of the strongest people I have ever known of.

  15. Thanks natasha. I know my feelings can be quite misleading.

    I had a nice lesson in that earlier today. Basically I sent a PM to someone saying I should back out of having access to a hidden tech forum (I feel under-qualified to be part of it) and got a response back listing the reasons why I am qualified.

  16. Exactly. My most common mislead emotion / thought is “It’s my fault”, which is how come I end up going round in circles and getting myself into the same situations again and again… because I don’t blame those at fault so they never get kicked out of the equasion… :: sigh:: I’m working with my therapist at the moment on a lot of inner child stuff, and within that we’re trying to re-teach me my misled beliefs and values / ideas that I picked up as a child because they’re wrong and i’m basing all my current thoughts on them or something? – The way I see the world and respond to new situations is not quite right because i fit my perseptions to my already-concieved idea of the way the world is / i am and i learnt those wrong when i was a kid or something… I’m not sure, but I’m sure it’s relevent lol

  17. It is almost eerie how close our therapy resembles each other. Today I told my therapist that writing about the abuse lets me leave. I can separate myself from it, intellectualize and not feel the brunt of emotions. But saying out loud, drawing it … that doesn’t give me the same road to dissociation. I can’t leave as easily.

    A step I took with writing out the assignments is that I now read them out loud to him in the session. It’s humiliating but I doubt that I show it, after all, reading it myself was my idea. On my face he’d never know that inside I want to hide behind his love seat. Even reading out loud gives me an avenue to leave but speeching, painting what happened, that just doesn’t accommodate my need to run from this so much.

    We wish you well,

  18. Natasha… what you wrote is very relevant. I can intellectually see just how severely my world is colored by my past experiences. Retraining my brain is turning out to be a bigger challenge than I ever imagined.

    Austin… It really helps to know that there are others that think in similar ways as I do. When those words leave my mouth… they almost hang in the air. When they’re on paper, it’s almost like it’s finished and done. But that doesn’t really make sense because I think about how these pages are spidered by Google and Yahoo and MSN and they’re out there.

    Meh… I’m just confusing myself.

  19. Yes, it is “out there” with Yahoo and Google and all them but it’s not in the same room, in the same space as you and that is safer. Out there and not right here allows distance and that distance feels safe. I can be so brutally and detailed honest on my blog in a way that I can’t be in therapy. Because saying it means hearing the voice in the back of my head that tells me I’m making something out of nothing OR so-and-so’s response to my statement was because he or she thinks I’m making too much of this. Or so and so said this because in their heart they know it was all my fault. But on paper, man I can walk away from that. I can leave it and actually forget what’s on there but if I say it out loud I can hear my own voice AND the voices of the past. Oh there is a huge difference between black and white and voice.


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