I struggle on a regular basis with the idea that the abuse says something about me. Intellectually, I know that does not make sense. But try telling that to the ghosts that live in my head. So, the abusers told me that I was ugly and that I was bad and that I deserved what was happening to me. They told me I was no good and they left me off at the priest’s house to go to confession. And the priest yelled at me and told me I was bad and unclean and that God didn’t love me. And then the priest also abused me. I went to bed with a full bladder almost every night when I was in my early teen years, so if he came in to rape me, I could try to deter him by urinating on him. Sometimes it stopped him. Sometimes it made him beat me. Sometimes he yanked me out of bed and dragged me to the toilet where he would watch while I urinated. Sometimes he didn’t come and I would end up falling asleep and wetting my bed. I stunk in the mornings. We only had one shower in the house and only adults could shower in the mornings. I would wash up as best I could in the sink in the upstairs bathroom, but they would always tell me how badly I smelled. My mother told me I was gross…because I didn’t change my clothes often. I only had a few outfits. At this age, I gained weight on a regular basis. My mother refused to buy me new clothes when the old ones were too small. She told me I was ugly. My father grabbed my stomach and told me how gross I was and how no man would ever want me. So, this in my mind, was what I was….ugly, gross, fat, smelly, undeserving of love, sinful, bad, disgusting, unclean…..
So many people have found different ways to try to convince me that these things aren’t true. My priest tells me that I am beautiful and she wouldn’t care if I lost 100 pounds or gained 100 pounds…that she and God love me no matter what. MT tells me that I am brave and courageous and beautiful. She gets excited when I can rub my arms to comfort myself or punch a Wavemaster to get rid of some of my rage. PG told me that nothing I could tell her would make her think less of me. I haven’t really been able to buy into what they have been telling me until now (and I can see that I may waver on this and backslide and not be able to repeat and believe tomorrow what I am going to say and believe today). This clarity, this new little sprout of a different belief, hit me when I listened to Mary’s (my priest) Easter Homily for the third and fourth and fifth time today. It’s not about my body. It’s about my spirit and my soul. The abuse happened to my body. I think they tried to kill my body and my heart and my mind and my spirit and my soul…But, it was my spirit and my soul that left when I dissociated….they weren’t there. They could not be killed. I was born a beautiful baby girl with a beautiful spirit and soul….and no matter what, they couldn’t take that away. God and my friends don’t love me for my body; while they don’t want to see my body hurt, it can have scars and bruises and be smelly and fat and have had gross and disgusting things happen to it, and it’s okay. They care about my spirit….the spirit that has always been my spirit; maybe hidden away under layers of protection, but always my spirit…which really is innocent and pure and splendid. The abusers could not take that away from me. I need to remember this. I need this knowledge to get through the pain of everything that happened to me. I need to remember that I am still me. The abuse does not define me. This little bit of clarity is what I need to hold onto as the healing process continues. MT says that it is a long process…we could be doing this for years…but this clarity, I think, will be a hand hold or a stepping stone…something solid to hold onto when there is really nothing else.