On The Mend...
First, I want to thank you for what you have done, inspiring countless amount of young girls through therapy, this website and your book. I also want to express great thanks to every girl who shares her story. It is unbelievable the amount of courage you all have.
My story is complex and painful, as each of these stories is. I wish I could be open about my past for the mere purpose of helping other girls, even if I can only reach one person. However, I don't have the courage...yet.
I am almost 23 years old. I have graduated college, with honors, and am a pediatric nurse in a major city. I live at home with my "happy, close-knit family" and a new puppy. Many people would say I lead a perfect life, but the truth is that I hide in my work and overindulgence in activities. On the outside, I am a happy-go-lucky girl, living out her youth-hood. However, on the inside, I am depressed, I feel pathetic and I am disgusted with myself much of the time. I am too ashamed to get counselling but I will be the first to admit that I need help.
I'm stalling...sorry. Few, ouch, this hurts. I was sexually abused from about 4th grade until the end of senior year in high school....a very long 9 years. I have amnesia as to exactly when it started, but I can recall what house I lived in, narrowing it down to about the age of 9. I have no idea how many times it happened, but at one point it was happening every day, for years...incest that is...by my brother.
I can specifically recall the most minute details of the first time it happened. My family had a "no door locking" policy. I have three siblings, all boys, and all four kids within 5 years of age. I remember getting out of the blue porcelain tub, with a rubber ducky curtain. The smell of Melalucca soap running down my innocent naked body. And there he lay, my brother, on the bathroom floor, asking me if he could take a look. I said "no" and finally 9 years later he listened. At first, it was looking but rapidly became touching. By high school, there was oral sex and penetration.
I know that it is NEVER the survivor's fault...but I still blame myself. It became worthless to put up a fight...it was easier to give in. He manipulated my thoughts and I believed that if I didn't "do it" he would kill himself. He was my brother, I was supposed to love him (and I still want to love him). So not only did I "do it" but I pretended to enjoy it and sometimes even initiated it (when he looked sad, or to get him to stop yelling at my mom)...and this is what makes me feel guilty. It makes me sick to my stomach now, but I used to self-injure in my "private area."
The details of the past are endless and growing, so I must move forward. But moving forward I face many challenges. I am obstructed by my emotions and memories every time I try to start an intimate relationship. I have moved home since graduating from college, making it nearly impossible to "deal" with the past...as it is still ever so present in daily life. I had intermittent counselling at college which was the best thing I ever did for myself. However, I am petrified to go now because I don't want my naive parents (whom I am very close to) to see the insurance bill...LAME excuse, I know.
I have recently concluded that I do not manifest my pain in an emotional way. Everyone always comments on my constant smile. Rather, I manifest my emotional pain in a physical manner. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease two years ago and although it is a real disease, I know my emotional health plays a large role in my physical health, or lack thereof.
I greatly appreciate you reading this, sorry it was lengthy. To conclude, I can't emphasize enough how amazing, strong and courageous every girl is who has shared her story, inspired other girls, taken the step in acknowledging that abuse is not right and knows that it's not their fault! You have all inspired me.
Dr. Patti responds:
Well, it is the rare email that makes me cry.... I get you through this email. I get who you are... beautiful, frail, strong, effervescent, internally tortured, externally inspirational... You, my dear, are an ironic mix of strength, brilliance, and internal guilt. And at the end of the day, you are going to win out. Your strength and courage and love will win out. You already are winning by putting your brain into your work, graduating with honors, finding work where you can help children and touch them with your heart love and empathy. You are winning, every time you play with your puppy, every time a child looks at you because you put a smile on their face. You are winning by helping other children and not pitying them. You are winning by knowing that you are getting ready to begin to "deal." You read "Invisible Girls", you went to "Girlthrive," you wrote to me! You are "dealing," my dear. I also trust that you are going to go to therapy when the time is right and you will pick the right therapist. I also totally support and understand you for not wanting your parents to see the insurance receipt. You know what you are ready to open up. You know who and how you can tell... You have so much courage. I am not worried about you. I have such a good feeling about your healing. I would love to post your story, I know it will help so many girls who are on the fence with so much of their past- and I want you to know that by sharing and posting your story, you are "dealing" - You are articulate and strong. Please stay in touch with me.
................................Love and Respect, xo dr. p.