Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book Questions, Chapter 1

The book I mentioned in my Security post has a section at the conclusion of each chapter called "Have you thought about this?" I figured I'd blog my answers to help me in the process. What is almost comical to me at this point is that I STILL struggle with the term "abuse". I am STILL uncomfortable deeming what happened to me as abuse. I still want to take responsibility for it and, when I read the stories of what others have endured, I feel I have NO right to still struggle with any of this.

How did you survive your abuse? During the abuse, could you ever imagine what it would feel like to be free? I don't think I realized I wasn't free until much later. I don't feel like I "survived" the abuse....I just felt like I was living day to day in what was my "normal" at the time.

How did the abuse hold you back from having a full life? At the time, were you aware of the impact the abuse was having on you? I definitely didn't know how I was being impacted by the abuse. It held me back from developing in a natural sequence. Having sex introduced into my life at such a young age absolutely screwed with my mind and my perception of myself, of men, of love and the proper context of sexual relations. It also made me feel secretive and isolated, like I had this whole other facet of life that no one else could know about. (Hmmm....I wonder if this ties into my isolation issues now?) The abuse from my father made me feel unloved, unlovable, bad, bothersome. The messages from my mother (*smile*happy family*smile*) taught me to stuff it away and pretend all was fine.

Did you use your eating disorder as a survival mechanism? If so, how? What were some other things you did to help you survive the abuse? I guess I did use it as a survival. My family was big on soothing with food. God forbid we actually speak about something. By all means, let's fill our mouths constantly so no verbal unpleasantries have a chance to sneak out. My mother expresses love by doing for others which includes cooking & gift giving. (Oh my god - cooking & buying....the 2 addictions I struggle with the most...eating & shopping!) So food was a comfort to me and it was something I could trust since there were no words needed. And I believe that overeating was the beginning of subconsciously building my physical barrier of protection. Not that it helped. Other things I did to survive...well, I completely shut down. I dissociated. And I made sure I abused myself before anyone else had the chance to.

Was there anyone or anything (real or imagined) you held onto during the abuse? For example, did you have people in your life during the abuse that you trusted or could talk to? If not, did you have images or fantasies of a caring and nurturing relationship? No, I didn't try talking about it until much later. I had a stuffed panda bear who absorbed all my sadness when I let it out. And I had a fantasy boyfriend who loved me, cherished me, wanted to marry me and take me away from my family. This is when I was like 11/12 years old. How interesting that my fantasy was a romantic relationship instead of a family.
What strengths do you think you have that helped you survive your abuse? How can you use those strengths to heal from the abuse? I'm having a hard time with this one. I don't feel like anything I did at the time counts as a strength. I just did what I had to do. I didn't know anything else so I just found my way on a daily basis. I guess that, in itself, can be called a quiet strength, a will to survive. But it's a strength with limited usefulness. It doesn't serve me now to be so passive about my healing. It's hardly a full life when you're just trying to survive day to day.

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