I don’t feel proud of myself very often these days. But I do today. I took a huge step in my therapy session; in trusting and in letting myself be vulnerable.
A month or so ago I wrote down a first person narrative account of the sexual abuse I experienced at the hands of my brother. I felt as though it was important I shared this with J. After working with her for almost a year, I still hadn’t said much about what actually happened. In fact I hadn’t said those words aloud to anyone before.
I managed to read the first half of this to J a while ago. I hated it. I felt awful, anxious and ashamed. When I got to the worst part I just couldn’t go on. It was too hard.
Since then I’ve taken my journal to every session we’ve had, but not found the courage to read the second half of the story. I don’t know why today felt like the day, but I made my mind up that I would push myself to do it. I hate having a difficult task hanging over me, and maybe I felt like it would be good to get it done before I go away for Christmas. That way I could start next year afresh.
So today I was brave. I summoned the strength to open my journal and give voice to that bruised little girl. I spoke those words that have felt unspeakable to me for the past 18 years. I shared things with J that I have never said to anyone before. The only other person who knows those awful things is my brother, and I didn’t want him to have that power over me any longer.
It felt so important to tell J what actually happened to me. It also felt terrifying. I was ashamed, mortified to say those things. It was like a terrible confession. Part of me knew she wouldn’t think less of me, while another part simultaneously anticipated her revulsion.
When I finished reading, I looked up from the pages and she was watching me with as much kindness and empathy as ever. She shared in my sadness, and even shed some tears for that miserable, lost girl. It meant a lot that my story helped her understand why I am so frightened she will leave me. Because in the moment I was at my most scared and vulnerable as a child, I was made to feel like I had done something wrong. I was left alone to deal with things no child could make sense of.
As usual when I do something particularly hard, I dissociated. But not as badly as last week. Often, when I go to that very young, fragile place, J asks me what I need. And often I need physical comfort, but don’t feel as though I can ask for it. Today I changed that. For the first time, I asked her for a hug.
I needed to feel secure. I needed to feel as though she would be there for me. I felt exposed and anxious and tearful. I wanted reassurance she wasn’t horrified by me. When she held me, I finally felt as though I could let something go. Being contained by her meant that it finally felt safe for me to cry.
Now I’m home and I’m feeling drained. Not the usual type of wanting to give up on life exhausted, but something a bit more satisfying. Although it is mixed with embarrassment at being so needy, I am trying to keep a reality check on that negativity and acknowledge what I’ve achieved. Because I do feel as though I have moved forward, maybe just by a millimetre, but even that is huge after so much time feeling stuck.