I was born in the midst of World War II and grew up, the first born of an ambitious military man, moving every few years. I threw myself into school and went to an academically rigorous college where a great depression crept over me. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar described it well. I began to travel and found I could shake off the darkness with the adrenalin rush of change. When that ceased to work, I turned to alcohol, and then to marriage.
He was a very high functioning alcoholic drug abuser who caused chaos which in turn stopped the depression for a while. Then I started leaving things. First, coffee. Next, cigarettes, an inadvertent move after just ten sessions of biofeedback. Addicted to cigarettes, I never again wanted a smoke. Then, when I was pregnant, I left alcohol with the help of 90 AA meetings in 90 days, as prescribed by the National Council on Alcoholism. That left me with my major addiction. I was hooked on my husband like heroin, despite or because of his cruel treatment. And finally, after years of Al-Anon, I left him too. I clung to 12-step programs.
Some years passed. I had a good job, and a nice house, and began paying attention. That was when I noticed I could remember very little of my childhood. Pieces, moments, but for some years I could not remember even a single teacher. Puzzled, I went to a hypnotherapist. That kicked up a nightmare phase of violent scenes of dismemberment, decapitations, and killing fields. I seriously thought I had gone ’round the bend. I staunchly refuse medication to numb the pain and clung tighter to 12-step programs. I added Incest Survivors Anonymous. I took mega-vitamins to combat cancer cells.
Healing childhood memories from the inside out
One day, two women came to the Incest Survivors Anonymous meeting. I was bone-weary from the non-stop nightmares. They said they knew someone who could help. I said I’d been to plenty of therapists and they offered only bandaids, palliative therapy. Finally, I took the name and met with a gentle man, a trauma therapist. He was once a police detective and had a treatment plan. In the third session, he had me relax and go to a well, find the child I used to be, and nurture her. She was a wreck. He said to ask her what happened, then he fell silent. The feelings were excruciating. Remembering the nearly unspeakable, I finally started to heal from the inside out. It was surgery without anesthesia. I could feel the health creeping back into my being, restoring my soul. It turned out the reason I didn’t remember my childhood was that it was filled with sexual and ritual abuse by my physician grandfather whose expertise was in the religious arena and my military father whose interest was in torture-based mind control.
It took years, of pulling mental shrapnel out of my psyche, but today, I am happy, joyous, and free, with a deep love of God. Recovery was worth it.
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