There has been so much on my mind lately and so much I have wanted to share with the world. Yet, I have been busy and unable to get it all down on paper (or computer). It is in there though, churning. I want to say, that if you ever have any questions at all about my experience as the wife of an addict, about my journey through my husband's recovery, about my personal history, about my own addictions...anything, please ask. As I have read through recently discovered recovery blogs I have seen so much echoed of both my past and present. I have wished that I wrote so much more during our experience and there is so much that I would love to share but don't even know where to begin. So if you want to know, please ask.
That being said... Let me tell you a little something that happened this week.
But first I have to give you a little, very personal, history. Some of this I have only shared with my husband and my sponsor from when I did the PASG program.
When you work the 12-step program you reach a point where you write out your history. Start with your earliest memory and just get it all out. It is terrifying and liberating all at the same time. (full disclosure: I did mine but stopped at when I got married. ::big sigh:: that's next) When I was doing my history I suddenly saw a pattern. That is why it is so good. I also saw, or remembered, holes in my memory. These little experiences that seemed significant enough to remember, and yet the important piece of it seemed to be missing. For example, one memory from my preschool years involving a friend who shall remain nameless that I suddenly couldn't play at their house anymore. I was upset and didn't understand why my friend didn't like me anymore. I always associated this memory also with my hair being in braids- like perhaps it was significant because my friend always had her hair in braids and so that was when I wanted to, or it was where I first got my hair braided. Seems silly and insignificant right? So why do I remember it 25+ years later?? There must be more. Was it my first broken friendship and the hurt of that that left it embellished on my brain? Seriously, this has bothered me for a long time. It's not like it's something I think of regularly...but one of those things that when my mind wanders to my history or to that time in my life I just can't help but be bugged by that 'hole' in my memory.
I apologize if I go all over with this post in trying to explain things.
So what happened a few days ago was that there was someone in the news. Someone who I recognized. That someone was the father of that friend. He was being sentenced for a sexual assault and the news stories explained what sure seems to me to be a long history of sexual misconduct.
So here I am with this memory hole.
What do I have?
A man who I was barred from going to his house suddenly when I was very young.
Stirrings of a memory that I'm not sure what it is or if I want to know.
A mother who is dead who I can't ask about these things.
A previous history of a hole in my memory that suddenly came to light... when I recalled being a 6 year old and sitting in a friend's living room with her father (or uncle?) sitting behind us, in a dark room, watching explicit porn videos that he insisted we watch with him.... remembering that suddenly (upon asking my mom a probing question that elicited a 'don't you remember' response that opened the floodgates) allowed me to suddenly see a lot of my personal struggles and behavior patterns for what they were and where they came from.
Additional history of having been molested by a peer on two other occasions in my youth and of another 'friend' trying to rape me when I was a teenager.
Suddenly I feel dirty. I have worked through that trauma of my youth and am no longer that victim, I am a survivor. This is new though. What is this anyway? I desperately want to ask my mom the rest of what happened, if she even remembers. Of course I can't do that though. My dad knows nothing. I confirm with the reporter that it is in fact the same man. I've always remembered the names of the parents of that house I couldn't go to anymore, though I've never been able to remember the friend's name. Weird. So I'm sad my mom isn't around to ask these things. I'm angry because I'm wondering if something happened to me even younger than that first memory I have and that she may have kept it from me and others- leading to me being 'damaged' and he being allowed to continue as a perpetrator. I'm confused because I don't even know what I'm dealing with. Of course, I'm also clawing at anything in a desperate attempt to maintain some control and not start hiding my feelings with stuff in my mouth (happy to report I was successful there- on the one hand I didn't feel like eating anything and on the other I felt like eating it all). The Lord saw me and put an angel in my path. I went for a walk with a friend in the ward in whom I had already confided some of this dark past of mine. I told her everything I was experiencing and just word vomited on her. She had no answers for me, obviously, but encouraged me through her own experience just to visit with my bishop and let him take it all from me. I felt better walking around and just getting it all out of me. I felt better but still confused. We talked about my health stuff and everything else going on and with my recovery. She pointed out how it seems that much is sort of swirling around, waiting to come crashing down on me. Yes, that is about how it works when you start a recovery or a major positive life change, or when you just plain feel things are going really well. So she is probably right. Just knowing that gives us power though right. The thought of that overwhelms me and yet leaves me feeling 'bring it on' because I'm committed to this and ready to fight the fight I'm going to win. So we were both left wondering if this was an opportunity being presented to me to deal with something in my past in order to move further along in my recovery.
I went home without answers but with a little more insight and a lot more relief. I had not been home 2 hours when it just all suddenly came to me. The rest of the memory. It came with such a clarity that I knew this friend had prayed for me. She prayed on my behalf because I had not yet been able to do it as I did not yet even know what it was I wanted. I know this too because she confirmed it the next day when she said that she had in fact prayed that I would see what I needed to see before she went to bed that night.
The rest of the memory?
He braided my hair. That's why the braid was significant. I think it happened multiple times and my mom assumed it was the mom or another child doing it until I made some comment one time that he was the one who'd been braiding my hair. I felt like I'd done something wrong because she wouldn't let me go over there after that even though other kids could. I wonder now if she never said anything to anyone else for fear they would think she was overreacting. I'm sure that as a preschooler I didn't understand and probably kept bugging her about it. So she told me that my friend didn't want to be my friend anymore. I thought I did something wrong. I didn't understand. I've always hated friendships ending without my understanding of why, or feeling like I've done something wrong when I did something right. Now I understand. My mother protected me. She followed her gut instinct, at the risk of my feelings toward her (I'm sure I was mad at her), and she kept me safe.
She was the one who I went to later when the friends' dad had me watching porn with him. She did the same thing then. Even my brother remembers not being able to trick or treat at the end of the street suddenly. I don't know if anything more happened in either of those instances, but it doesn't really matter.
I never told her about the guys when I was older. I was too busy letting myself believe that it was my fault somehow, because that was what those guys told me. I was too busy feeling ashamed for those feelings I had and for those memories that would replay in my dreams. I was too busy being a teenager. It wasn't until I met the guy who would later become my husband that I even realized someone could really be interested in me just for 'me'. That a 'good guy' could like me. That I could be okay with that. It was after that and my senior year psychology class that I said to her "Mom, did something happen to me?" and she said "don't you remember your friend ____?". That was when I remembered what I did. That was when I could put that piece together and stop feeling so much confusion about feeling like a dirty person even when I knew that deep down I wasn't.
I'm not entirely certain the purpose of this latest discovery (or of this post for that matter). I am certain that the Lord works in mysterious ways and gives us knowledge, brings things to light, opens our eyes, as we are ready to receive. I feel confident in that. I'm still debating about what to do with this newfound knowledge but I know I'll figure it out and He will use it to my benefit. I wish I could tell my mom 'thanks' for being the mean mom who wouldn't let me play with my friend because something just didn't sit right with her. I wish I could tell her it's okay that she didn't take me to counseling or anything when I was younger even though I probably needed it...because I've got it covered now, and I've learned some pretty darn valuable lessons by having to experience them and pound them out myself. I learn better by doing anyway. I'm pretty sure my mom knows these things though, but it's a bit of a relief to get them out there. I think she'd be proud of me today.