If you are reading this I must state now that the following things are written in order for me to continue taking inventory and to arrange facts and events in such a way that they make sense to me--but they aren't appropriate for everyone to read. And most of this has been said before, but I'm now putting everything together, so I'm repeating myself. Feel free to move on to a blog with something funny or inspirational. This is completely written for my own benefit.
If I chronologize major events in my life pertaining to my abuse it looks something like this:
1. Age 4--taken into a bathroom at church by unknown person. Because of my age, details are muddled. I remember being partially unclothed and fondled. I have no information beyond this. I don't remember feelings or responses. I told no one, not having a large enough frame of reference to make a value judgment on what happened. I remember being afraid, but mostly because the restroom was kept in darkness.
2. Age 8--once again entrapped in a church bathroom by a man, undressed and fondled. In this case I recognized that this should not be happening, I fought back and was released. I reported the incident to my father who left me alone to find the man. I experienced feelings of abandonment and deep shame.
3. Age 9--Cousin David invaded my sleeping bag as we "slept" under the stars. Actually, I was sleeping when I was awakened by him touching me in my genital area. When I recovered from the shock I went into the house and reported what happened to my parent. I remember crying a little bit. They responded by telling me I could sleep in the house for the rest of the night. I made a bed on the floor in their room, but I didn't sleep. I felt guilty for telling on my cousin, angry that he had touched me where he had no right or permission to touch me, and I wanted very badly to be held and kept safe by someone.
4. Age 11--Cousin David came to live with us. I confronted him about the previouis incident when he had fondled me. He apologized and began to befriend me. He held me and cuddled me, which felt wonderful. He often put his arm around me or stroked my back. I thought we were really wonderful friends. When I was completely emotionally connected to him, he began to visit my room at night. For the next three months he sexually molested me with all the imagination and variety that his 15-year-old mind could produce. I felt that I had somehow made him believe that this was okay, that I was responsible for the abuse. I believed that if I told my parents I would be punished. I was confused at what was happening. I did not think there was anything I could do to stop it. In the end I was left with the belief that I was filthy and worthless. I had thoughts of suicide, which I usurped with cutting and anorexia--something inside me still wished to live. The following fall I turned twelve and had my first opportunity to go to the temple to do baptisms. In my interview with my bishop he asked me if I understood what it meant to be morally clean. I told him I wasn't sure. He explained it to me. I replied that I guessed I wasn't morally clean. He asked for details. I explained what my cousin had done. I watched as his eyes got large, and I interpreted the expression on his face as one of disgust--aimed at me. I completely understood that feeling. He asked if I had talked to my parents about this. I told him I had not and didn't really want to. There was a long pause, and then my bishop said he thought it was probably fine for me to have a recommend for baptisms. I thanked him and left the room feeling that he had confirmed my knowledge that I was dirty and disgusting and not quite certain why I would be allowed to go to the temple in that state. More confusion.
There were a number of things that contributed to my feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness, other than the abuse incidents. My relationship with my parents was volatile and on my part, hateful, by the time I was twelve. I have no memory of ever being held closely by either of my parents. My mother would make comments about how awful it was to hold me as a toddler because I wiggled so much (I still do). My father's way of expressing affection was to chase us down and tickle us--not a good form of physical love to show to one who has experienced sexual abuse. And as much as I wanted hugs and touches, part of me just wanted someone safe to hold me for a very long time.
I've come to realize that something I have wanted for most of my life was non-sexual physical love. As infants and children, most people receive this from their parents and other adults in the forms of being held, caressed and cuddled, and the need for it decreases as they grow to adulthood. I'm certain that some need this nurturing more than others--apparently my need for it is fairly great. For many reasons, I did not experience this to the degree that I needed or desired it. Result--as an adult, this lack coupled with the abuse in my life have created an even greater almost consuming need that can't be filled. Darrin will hold me indefinitely--but in his embrace there is a sexual component that is vital to our marriage, but which separates his affection into a different category (sexual affection, which I also need). He cannot fill my need for the type of love that I did not receive as a child.
Linked to this physical need is my feeling that I am never safe. There have been a few times when I've felt false security and misinterpreted that as a safe environment. That has led to even more situations (almost always sexual) in which I've become more insecure and frightened and the need for the proper type of love has simply increased.