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August 19, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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Question:

Let me start out by saying that I do love my parents a lot. Especially my father. My mother and I have problems but I know she did the best she could (or at least I hope). My mother was kind of oblivious when I was younger and my father was a long distance truck driver who wasn't home very often.

Well when I was about 8 years old I moved into a brand new house. After about a year a family moved in across the street and I fell in love (puppy love obviously). His name is Brian, and he is four years older than me. When I was about 11 I started developing a lot faster than other girls. I had bigger breasts and such. Well Brian started paying attention to me and I loved it! All I ever wanted was to be his girlfriend but, because I was so young I didn't understand that he couldn't be with me. Instead he took advantage of me by convincing me to participate in oral sex with him and such for two years before he raped me.

As you can imagine, at the ages of 11, 12, and 13 years old I didn't quite understand why Brian wanted to "touch" me down there. I didn't see what was great about it and it hurt. He even told his friends I was a pre-teen slut who would do anything and he tried to get me to do things with them, which I didn't. I was in love with HIM!!!

Well on the particular rape night our street had a block party with a band and everything. His family owned a pool and I had been swimming with everyone until they went inside to eat. I stayed in the pool. During the night Brian had been "absent". He had a girlfriend and spent the whole night in his room with her. As the years have gone by I've come to the conclusion that he tried to have sex with her and she didn't want to. So he found me, in the pool, alone. He came onto me gentle at first. I thought he wanted to make out or something. He took me to the steps and held me down. I yelled and screamed but because of the loud speakers of the party no one could hear me and our parents were on the other side of the fence. Still to this day, I can hear him telling me to stop crying, that I knew it would hurt. (Sorry if this is too much detail).

At that point in time I knew I didn't want him to have sex with me. I knew it was wrong. I didn't cry after I went home. But I did become depressed because he never talked to me ever again. He raped me when I was 13 and he was 17. For a year and half before he went to college we had one conversation that was irrelevant to anything that had happened.

After he left I spiraled out of control. I started smoking weed with his friend who didn't go to college. I met another guy who dealt cocaine and started doing cocaine and that guy later raped me as well because though he was my boyfriend, I didn't want sex from him. Eventually, by the time I was a freshman in high school I had gotten in trouble with the law and cleaned myself up. My parents never knew of Brian. But somehow I cleaned myself from drugs and such.

After all this in my life, I feel I have let go, that I am over these problems - but the nightmares still come and go. I was diagnosed bi-polar when I was in 7th grade after a counselor sent me to a mental hospital for carving up my arms (which is also a habit I broke as well). I still have sleeping problems (can't sleep more than 5 hours on a good night). Sometimes I just don't sleep. I feel that I am better emotionally but something tells me I am not. I have since moved out of the house I was in which helped a lot but I'm still in the neighborhood - though Brian's family is no longer in that house. I have a pain in my heart whenever I see that house.

My boyfriend of 2 years knows everything about my situation and believes that I should talk to someone. I kind of agree with him, but in a way I feel I shouldn't. I feel I have finally realized that the rape wasn't my fault. Am I wrong for not seeking help? Also, I have not taken bi-polar medicine in 2 years and I seem to be doing fine. Could I have been wrongly diagnosed? Also, why do I sometimes feel a strange urge for cocaine? I have been sober for 4 years but I still crave it when I am upset or angry. Will that feeling ever go away?

Natalya - 18-year-old woman

Answer:

Natalya my dear,

I think you are wonderful. You have gone through hell, and walked out the other side and are now building a good life for yourself. You have already made some terribly difficult choices, and shown a great deal of strength and courage.

Many people have a bipolar-like pattern in response to trauma. This is your situation. Many people abuse substances, or do self-mutilation, or act out and are aggressive, all in response to the traumatic memories. You have done all of those things, and when they didn't work, you were wise enough to stop them. So PLEASE, do not go back to cocaine. I suggest that from now until the end of your life, you stay away from anything that gets in the way of you being in control of your thoughts and emotions. Things like marijuana, alcohol, opiates and stimulants are dangerous for you.

Painful memories hurt. Therefore, people do anything to avoid thinking about them, especially if they are the kinds of memories that are re-livings. So, the frenetic activity of being hyper, the aggression, being busy-busy-busy, blanking the mind with drugs... all that stuff is avoidance. And, strangely, avoidance keeps the trauma going. Do what I did with the trauma in my past: allow it to be there when it wants to. Don't argue with it, don't run from it, just accept it. It happened, and now it's over. It was terrible then, but life is much better now. You were powerless then, but now you have power over your destiny. And there is a potential for a silver lining on the cloud: because you have suffered, now you are incredibly wise and compassionate for an 18-year-old person.

If you follow this philosophy, you will find that gradually, the terrors will become just memories, not re-livings. I made sense of the nasty things in my past by becoming a helper, a healer who leads others to a good life. Perhaps you could consider doing the same.

And your boyfriend is right. Some sessions with a psychologist will speed up this process.

Have a good life, my dear. You can.

Bob

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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