As I sit down here and start writing, I have literally just walked in the door from a therapy session. I knew from the second I left J's office that I had to get home and try to process what went down and for me the best way to do that is to write about it. Trigger Warning, mainly for later in the post in Part II, where I will be covering some of my abuse, events that led up to it and some specifics of places that it happened then. Some of this part may be triggering too, talking about Flashbacks and Abuse.
On my way to the session I had this uneasy feeling, like something was just waiting to go completely sideways tonight. I couldn't shake it no matter what I tried. Just like that movie, "The Perfect Storm", when Captain Billy and the Crew of the Andrea Gail were sitting out in the middle of the Flemish Cap, and they see a huge storm ahead. Knowing full well they could turn back or just wait it out, they decided to chance it. This is what my feeling was like, I could just turn around and drive home, but that wouldn't solve anything. I had to try!
Tonight as usual it started out going over my weekly Mood and Emotion Tracker. Much of what I recorded centered around the emotions of my mother and how I can't seem to get her out of my head. That feeling of betrayal is growing by the day it seems. It causes me anxiety and so much frustration and anger. I'm suffering and she doesn't even know it. She has no clue that what she did to me so long ago, affects me today. She's not going to change, she's 81 years old now, telling her will do no good and only cause strife in the family because I know full well she would go tell everyone else what went down. Even if she didn't tell anyone, I'd feel so guilty. Why do I have that guilty feeling?
Anyway, throughout the course of the conversation it shifted into more of me questioning as to why she would let a 5 year old go hang out with a 16 year old boy for hours on end and not check on him? Why would she let me go in the first place? I mean, who does that? Can you sense the resentment? This is a serious issue for me also because I always thought the abuse happened when I was around 10 years old, and even then I have problems rationalizing why I was allowed to hang out with him. Now, that I find out I was 5, it adds to the anger, confusion, and overall frustration.
There's no answer to those questions without asking her, and I don't know that I would be able to hear her reasoning regardless of how valid she thinks it was, without literally losing my mind!
As we are sitting there, about 1/2 way through the session I had an event happen to that has never happened to me before during therapy. I had a Flashback, sitting right there on her couch (my flashbacks normally happen at home and usually when I'm in the shower).
She could tell something was going on because I was literally staring at this wrought iron votive holder on the wall behind her. I was completely still except for tapping my fingers together, tracing the outlines. Apparently I was sitting there for a couple minutes doing this until she said, "Matt what do you think"? I immediately snapped back and said, "whoa, I think I just had a flashback". She nodded and agreed.
It was the weirdest feeling, never having had one in her office before I didn't quite know how to react. She said, "what was your trigger? I'm like, hell I don't know, you tell me! She responds (paraphrased), that based on what we were talking about, you were trying to connect with your inner child and rationalize why your mom would let you go out with that kid, and your mind immediately went back to that time of your life and caused you to have a flashback and dissociate. That's a trigger for you, and she sat back in her chair.
Now that I've had time to process it a bit, I can see where that is applicable. Anytime there is talk about connecting with my inner child it causes my anxiety level to jump sky high and makes me feel very uneasy, guilty, and angry at him. I ask J, "when will I ever be able to understand my triggers and Flashbacks, why do they randomly happen even when I least expect it?" She says that there's a missing puzzle piece somewhere what we haven't discovered yet; a memory that hasn't surfaced that will hopefully pull this all together.
"You don't remember when the abuse stopped, do you?" she says. I reply with, "No", but I sure remember when it started.
It was a breezy late afternoon and I was outside when I heard a mini bike up the street. I looked up in the field and there was this kid that the family knew for quite a while (his parents were friends with mine). This bright, electric blue Honda mini bike with black handle grips, silver rims, black wheels, black seat, and a single speedometer sitting on the top of the headlight was like a magnet; I was drawn to it. I had to go see this bike and see this kid who was larger than life and just looked cool.
I started walking down the street wearing in my brown corduroy pants, brown b.a.s.s. shoes, white t-shirt and green/white flannel shirt. I almost couldn't stop myself, at least that's how I remember it. He waved to me as soon as he saw me coming and kept riding around the field. Each time I would get closer and he would come around the bend, he would wave or smile more. By the time I got up to the field, he stopped and said, "Hey", and said, "Hi, that's such a cool bike you have". "Thanks", he said, "you want to go for a ride?" I was beside myself with excitement! "Really?" I said? He said "Yeah man, hop on and hold on to me tight!" So I hopped on the back without even giving it a second thought, and he took me around the field several times before finally stopping at the same place that we first met several minutes earlier.
I got off the back, with a huge smile on my face and said, "that was so awesome"! "I'll see you later man", he said, and then rode off back to his house. By now he already knew he had me hook, line, and sinker. His plan was already working.
That's how the abuse started the first time, with that first ride and my desire to fit in, to be with a cool kid, to show the bullies at school that I had a teenage friend and I got to ride the coolest bike I'd ever seen. He groomed me and played on my emotions over time to get me to a place where I couldn't say no to what he was planning to do to me.
For some amount of time, months, a year, I don't know, he took advantage of me in a way nobody should have to experience. The very thought of what went down still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, gives me chills, anxiety, and I tense up like you wouldn't believe. I can see the dimly lit room, the wood paneled walls, the umbrella basket in the corner beside the couch; and that couch! White with brown colored leaf patterns on it, wooden arms rests with a wooden circle on top, and the old style throw pillows with the one big button in the middle, 2 of them. I can see the lamp on the end table, opposite the couch, that barely lit the room. Shag carpet, dark rust in color; it gives me the creeps even as I write this now.
I can also see the shed where the bikes were stored, and the lawn mowers and gardening equipment was kept. It smelled of gasoline and the floors were old wood that had some small holes in them. The boards on the walls of the shed had some knot holes in them too, and there was a work bench and a sink (at least I remember a sink for some reason but don't know why). There was a garden beside the shed too, where they grew lettuce and cucumbers. I still hate cucumbers today.
That's where the abuse happened, just over 100 yards from my house and nobody ever knew what was happening.
To sum this up for now, perhaps one of the keys to all of these flashbacks and memories is that I can't put a definitive end to anything. I don't know when the abuse stopped. I have no idea what transpired that caused me to stop going down for rides and to his house; back to that abuse repeatedly. Did I threaten to tell, or maybe he just got bored with me? Did I just decide one day I'd had enough and never went back again?
Either way, it's a huge missing puzzle piece that I can't fit into the framework of my life right now. I don't honestly know if I will ever remember why or when or how the abuse stopped. That in itself is unbelievably frustrating. If I can ever find a way to jog that memory loose, it might offer me enough answers to curb the anxiety & flashbacks, in time. Then again, it might raise more questions and my mind knows I'm not ready to go there yet.