Disorienting but powerful realization today regarding abuse

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Enya

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Hi all,

I had a breakthrough today. It had to do with the first episode of physical abuse I experienced. I'm not going to go into major detail here, but if you'd rather not read about anything having to do with this subject, it's totally cool to pass on this post.

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I have a photo of myself taken about five minutes before the abuse happened. I was four years old. The abuser was my father. It happened a long, long time ago, in the early 1960s.

In my last session, my therapist invited me to bring pictures of my family, so I brought some today. When I showed her the photo of myself just before it happened, I told her about what had transpired, including one rather startling detail: Someone tried to stop it. An old man tried to stop my father from abusing me. I remember this very clearly. My therapist stopped me there and pointed out that, in that era in the US, it would have been highly unusual for anyone to step in and stop a child from being hit. It was considered a private family matter, and it was generally more socially acceptable to hit a child. So the fact that someone stepped in -- particularly an elderly person -- was an indicator that what he was witnessing was more violent than anything that could remain private or acceptable in any way.

I had never considered this perspective before, and it's really helping me to overcome the minimization of what happened.  The process of de-minimization had already started, and it's been very hard. I realized about six months ago that I had completely dissociated for part of this event. After a certain point, I have no memory of what happened, how it ended, how I got out of that place. I remember just being somewhere else and feeling that I had no body at all. So I know that this was bad. But the fact that someone stood up for me and tried to put a stop to it is a) making me realize that it was really awful and b) reassuring me that someone could see it and knew it was wrong.

I feel a little disoriented about all this, but somehow, it helps me to understand why my life radically changed that day, and that I am not to blame for the difficulties that have come my way. This happened decades ago, and it's taken me all this time to be able to see it for what it was. It's so strange when you're a kid. Everything that happens just seems normal. Even the awful things. So it can take a long time to see things for what they really were.

Anyway, I just wanted to share where I am today.

blessings,
enya

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Hope67

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Re: Disorienting but powerful realization today regarding abuse
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2018, 11:31:31 AM »
Hi Enya,
I have really found what you wrote here to be helpful to me on a personal level - and thank you so much for sharing your experience here - although I am sorry that you've experienced it - but the realisation that someone tried to intervene and stop your abuser - and that your therapist commented on that - in the context of the 1960's - it's helped me with a past memory of my own, where some people tried to intervene about something my FOO tried to do (potential trigger - they were taking a photo of me when I had no top on - and that felt uncomfortable to me at the time).

It's so helpful to hear that a therapist has commented that someone trying to intervene means it's 'not right' - that really helps.

You mentioned about the "minimization of what happened' - and I agree there's such a tendency to do that, at least I have found that myself. 

I am so glad that someone tried to put a stop to your experience, and that you feel reassured by that - and it's good that you're realising that you are NOT to blame for any of this - and that you're seeing things for what they really were.

Thank you for writing your experience - and sending you a hug, if that's ok  :hug:
Hope  :)

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Kizzie

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Re: Disorienting but powerful realization today regarding abuse
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2018, 05:39:37 PM »
 What a profound realization then and now Enya. It underscores for me once again that what was 'normal' for us really wasn't at all as the man who intervened saw way back then and tried to help.  It's wonderful your T and you were able to bring that memory to the surface, I suspect it will go a long way not only to validating your trauma, but in building some trust in others. 

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woodsgnome

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Re: Disorienting but powerful realization today regarding abuse
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2018, 09:52:54 PM »
Thank you, Enya, for sharing how you came to that new realization.

For me, it reinforced something I've slowly been trying to improve on--to be open, even if it's scary, to surprising perspectives we hadn't considered or even thought of before. While this wasn't a pleasant memory for you, what did come out about it was important in unraveling what was so troubling about that incident. It's very freeing to know that other part of the story, and to have it affirmed.

Good for you...and for your t...for coming to grips in a way you could never have foreseen.

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LittleBoat

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Re: Disorienting but powerful realization today regarding abuse
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 11:50:53 AM »
Dear Enya,
Thank you so much for sharing this.  I greatly admire the level of deep work you are capable of doing.  These are rich insights.  Your being able to "stay" in that scenario in order to recollect and rewrite it is very admirable.  You model, for us, what deep inner mindfulness looks like.
Blessings to you and thank you,
LittleBoat

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SE7

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Re: Disorienting but powerful realization today regarding abuse
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 02:39:24 PM »
Hi Enya, that is indeed a very validating realization! And so true that from a child's standpoint everything can seem "normal" until we have adult perspective & realize it wasn't at all.

Photos are very telling. *TW* ... I remember a friend noticing a very old photo of me with my mom (who I have diagnosed as a borderline queen type PD) - when I was a toddler, my mom was embracing me in this photo while kissing the side of my face. I looked either confused or terrified. She was in her underwear. My friend thought the photo looked very disturbing .. and it made me realize that the emotional sexualization in my family that I thought was only from my narcissist father is actually also from my borderline mother. Without seeing that photo & getting a third-party to validate how weird it was, I may have never noticed this. So there's a lot there when narcissistic/PD abuse survivors have to deal with photos. They can be very triggering. I'm glad in your case you were able to discern such an insight about your situation.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 02:45:18 PM by SE7 »