Abused and emotionally empty
I was molested at two different times in my life by different family members. The first time started when I was three and lasted, I was told, for about a year. I don't remember anything about this but I do remember being little and playing out very sexual stories in my head while masturbating, which I remember doing a lot. I also remember feeling that it had to be a secret (the masturbating and the fantasies), and that it was very bad.
These fantasies were about snakes (and the like) going inside of me, which I now see as crazy. I also remember being very afraid of my father. Like I said, I have no memories of this, but later in my life, while in counseling my Mother told me of this, which did help to explain to me some of my thoughts and feelings while growing up. Including the second time that this happened to me, which was when I was seven. I remember everything about this incident. When it happened this time I really didn't think that it was wrong. It was an older cousin (13) and I remember thinking it was just something that was suppose to happen. There was no fear, no feeling that it was wrong, or anything like that. Only a feeling that it was something that I shouldn't tell anybody about. I should also say that my older brother (two years older) was also molested that first time. I was told that we were made to do things to each other and have things done to us.
But as I got older, sex was just a part of life I thought. I thought it was normal. When I was 11 and my brother was 13, he was having me stand watch while he would mess with my girl friends that would spend the night. At 12, I became sexually active and had that feeling that this was how you made someone love you. It wasn't until a girlfriend told me of her story of being molested that I even knew that what had happened to me when I was younger was wrong. I will remember that night forever because up until that point I thought that sex was a part of everyone's life, even children.
Also my mother has had depression problems, as far back as I can remember, and I always knew that you didn't bring anything up that would cause problems. So I never really had anyone to turn to. Then that same year my father found me having sex with an 18 year-old while two other young men sat outside the car. My father beat me black and blue, then proceeded to take the three men to court. This was a very bad time for me. My mother called me crazy, asking me what was wrong with me.
After that they sent me to private school and a therapist, and life went on until I got pregnant at 14. At which point my boyfriend of one year left the state and I had my baby at 15. After that I got married at 18, divorced at 19. Then meet my second baby's father and spent the next four years in a physically abusive relationship with a drug addict, (I didn't find this out until I was doing the drugs with him) who I still feel very deeply in love with. I was only able to get out of the relationship after spending six months as a homeless drug addict myself.
Now I am married again to normal person (have been with him since one month of leaving the drugs and the other relationship) and we have a good life I guess. As crazy as my life has been I have always felt like a strong person, always wanting to get past the past and be ok. I have done some good things in my life. I have always taken care of my children except for the six months I took off to be a drug addict. I have supported me and my kids well at one point in my life and this is the only time I can remember being truly happy and content.
Now my life is full of anxiety and really no other feelings. I feel emotionally empty. I really want more out of life and I know I can be a better mother if I could get past all of this garbage. Also I have been considering leaving my husband because we can't get close. But I really think I should look more to my self before I made this kind of decision. I may need to leave but am really not ready to.
My question is HOW can I get past my past? I have been in counseling four or five different times in my life, and I think this might be my answer. But my problem with counseling is how do I find a good counselor, one who I can feel really cares (It is hard for me to talk with someone who I felt couldn't care less), also one who can really help me with solving my problems.
Also I have been told that to get better you don't have to go through everything that has happened to a person in the past, you only have to recognize your bad thinking and change it. Is this true? It doesn't feel true to me because I have this bad habit of fooling myself (and counselors, not intentionally) about what I am thinking and feeling (which is very discouraging). The last two that I have seen in the last three years ended up telling me that they didn't think I had a very big problem. After this I stopped going and felt strong and ok for a little while. Then I was right back into the horrible anxiety and emotional emptiness. Also with counseling being so expensive I need to know how to get the help I need or I just won't go.
I truly feel that I can have a better life and in turn give my children something better. I don't want to waste my life!
After I started to heal a little, we found our friendship growing, until at last we started to date. The emotions involved, I believe, were safely separate from the bizarre circumstances of our meeting. We connected on levels beyond simply trauma. Naturally, though, he could not date me without feelings of guilt and, as he told me when he broke up with me last month, fear that he'd hurt me. I know "something" very bad has happened in his life, and I believe it is why he broke up with me. Perhaps it was a death in his family, or rejection after seeking for his father who left his family when he was very young. He won't talk to me about it, though, so I feel I have to respect that.
What sort of things can I do to find out what I feel about my brother, and how should I deal with those feelings? What can I do for my friend, and, if no more than just being there if he needs me, what can I do to get over my worry and hurt that revolve around that situation?
Sadly, the emptiness you feel in your life is very much a result of what happened to you as a child. While the healthy part of you wants love, acceptance, and understanding, the unhealthy part wants to recreate that past of molestation and secrets.
Therapy is certainly essential, and I think you should go to a therapist who is interested in hearing about the past not just changing behavior. Also, I think you need to go more than once a week. At some point your husband may also be part of the sessions. Also, join (if you can find a group in your area) Incest Survivors Anonymous and attend regularly.
"The courage to heal" and its accompanying workbook are one self-help resource; there are of course many other books. All of these can help, but are not sufficient. There are also self-help books for the spouses of survivors like yourself.
Beware of therapists who offer to hypnotize you so that you can recall early memories more easily. They are often destructive. The work of healing takes a long time. During it, you may want to use an antidepressant. If you have a therapist, ask him/her for a psychiatric consult to get the appropriate medication.
Finally, let me suggest that you get involved in the religion of your choice. The support of God is very important in finding a new and fuller lifestyle.
Hoping for your happiness,
This question was answered by Kenneth A. Weene. Ken Weene is a graduate of The Institute For Advance Psychological Studies at Adelphi University is a licensed psychologist practicing on Long Island, New York. His orientation is holistic and eclectic. In addition to a variety of contributions to the professional literature, Dr. Weene has published a number of poems. Before entering private practice, he directed Children, Adolescent, and Family Services for The Counseling Service of The Long Island Council of Churches. Ken's central belief is that life is a gift to be experienced, enjoyed, and celebrated. He knows that this is sometimes difficult in the face of physical, emotional, and other forms of distress and sees his goal as helping people to find their inner peace and joy in the face of stress and anguish.