I have been trying for the past couple of days to try to develop a more positive attitude in the mornings. I still think this is worth the effort and may be helpful to some degree. But, after reading this quote today (from Grace to Survive), I realize that at the same time I must not condemn myself for feeling badly. This is what I was doing. Seeing it as another shortcoming in myself. Seeing it as a sign of weakness. I am not hard on other people; I need to stop being so hard on myself. Compassion is not pity. It is empathy with understanding I think. So, tomorrow morning I will not berate myself. Instead, I will remember that the pain is not my fault and accept it, yet gently invite myself to think upon the good and even wonderful things that life has to offer.
It is hard to find people in this world who will try to understand just what PTSD is, let alone how it impacts your life. Even people who love you are apt to know more about the president’s dog than PTSD. Even if they read up on it, they may not understand it in an empathetic way since it is not something they experience. There are days that I feel more understood by the cat than a dear friend. (Of course, this is anthropomorphism — but heh, whatever gets me through the day… 😉 ) But, here at WordPress, I can find others who walk my path — who “get it” — because they are walking it too. It may not be PTSD, but instead depression, anxiety, OCD, DID, bi-polar disorder, or any number of mental and emotional health challenges. But, we can understand each other because we have shared experiences. Some days, we write a post and feel heard when we see a “like” on it. We press “like” when we find a post we can relate to. Sometimes we even comment on each others blogs and share a thought or two. We see others on the path sharing our journey. The loneliness abates. Other people’s ignorance is easier to bear. There are others who understand and whom we understand and this is a very good thing.
My heart was broken by my father. My memories about my father had always been wonderful. He was loving, kind, funny, and gentle. I would remember how gentle he was when removing splinters from my hands. Although not one for physical affection, the look in his eyes when he looked at me was as good as any hug. We laughed together often and usually it was at each other and ourselves. Much time was spent together bicycle riding through the neighborhood and playing badminton in the back yard. Other special times together including art lessons using the John Gnagy Learn to Draw Kit. Dad would also make his delicious ice cream shakes and sodas for me on hot summer days. Oh, how I loved and adored my father.
But then, in my thirties, the flashbacks began. First, they were about the newspaper boy and his friend who had sexually assaulted me repeatedly on my way home alone from school. Then, they were about my father. How I had finally told him despite their insistence that no one would believe me or else would blame me. The attacks by the boys stopped after I told my father. But, the flashbacks were not done. They continued. Now, I would climb the stairs into the attic when I would feel myself having that strange trance feeling that would precede the flashbacks. And then I saw the unthinkable. My father had sexually abused me. And threatened me into silence. My sweet, wonderful father was a part-time monster. I fought so hard to not believe these flashbacks. How could the man who so gently removed my splinters defile me? My father loved me, how could this be? After several months of these returning memories I finally confronted my father over the phone. He not only denied everything, but called me a lying slut. His voice in that phone call was not that of the good father, but that of the bad, threatening father. If I had had any doubts they were extinguished now.
We have never spoke or seen each other since. I have never fully mourned my loss of him. I have been struggling just to survive and function each day and raise my son. But I have cried this morning as I have written this. The prompt for today was “who would you give truth serum to?” My answer would be to my father. And its not to get him to admit to the abuse. I don’t need that. What I want to ask him is “Are you sorry you abused me?” and “Do you miss me?” I want to know that he has remorse. That all my love was not completely misplaced. Or, maybe that the love I perceived was not all a lie, but was real. I know the abuse was real, but what about the love?