Last week I experienced what seemed like the beginning of a flashback; I was flooded with images, feelings, sensations, but they weren’t about being sexually abused. This has happened before in my process; something in angle of the wind or pattern of sunlight would suddenly take me back to a beautiful, happy time. At first I didn’t know what to do; there really wasn’t anything to write down and examine like when I’m uncovering a repressed memory. But I realized over several hours that in fact I was being visited by my past self, an “inner child.” In this case it was me at 17, and I felt the joy and wonder of that time, mixed with an underlying sadness for what was my wider truth.
So I closed my eyes, stepped into the vision and took him into my arms, reassuring him. I cried as I spoke to him for a long time; telling him that he didn’t have to pretend anymore, that I’m here, I believe him and will listen to anything he has to say and will take him away from those people forever… At the end I was flooded with these intense feelings of love for myself. And it was in that context which I decided to go through with plans I’ve been cautiously making for months now.
I resurrected the inactive facebook account that I discovered last month and I started to accept their friend requests and post an open letter to my former family on my timeline. But after adding my mother, I was so disgusted to see her facebook wall, covered with pictures of her grandchildren that she has or will very likely abuse any chance she got. Some friend of hers who wasn’t even there during my childhood posted on her timeline about what a “great father and grandfather” my father was. How would she know? It was all so fake and shallow, I couldn’t stand to see it, so I broke the ‘friendship’ and I sent personalized versions of my ‘open letter’ to my former mother, father, brother, sister, and aunt instead. I confronted each of them about how I had been sexually abused in our family as a child (with detailed scenes from two of my flashbacks), and told them individually how their blindness and/or abuse had failed me.
After I finished sending the last and most intimidating one to my brother, I found myself in the midst of a powerful flashback. I was five or six years old, dazed under an eerie bright light. We were in the house of one of my mother’s friends, at night; it was a sex party, focused on me. I could smell a mixture of alcohol and cheap hair spray. I was drugged, and I heard my mother say, “you’ll never try to tell again, you’ll never get away because you’re ours…” I don’t know who or what I told, but this was the punishment, this was her way of “showing me.” There were all these hands groping at me, I was naked, standing up. My mother held me against her thighs while someone forced me to blow him, then she pushed me over to this woman that she worked with, who was naked, and fondled me, picked me up and did disgusting things with me. I tried to walk out of the room, but was always stopped, hit. Eventually I passed out, and woke up in our car; we were home, and I was put into bed. I vomited on my pillow, turned it over, and went to sleep.
After the flashback, I found it impossible to calm myself down from the uncontrollable shaking and nausea that the entire process had left me with. I hardly slept at all; I felt so afraid, and my thoughts began to turn around in a cycle of doubting myself from every direction; wondering if I did the right thing and imagining all sorts of possibilities. One of the most difficult decisions to make was whether to allow them to respond to me or not. I went back and forth for a long time before I realized that in fact I don’t want to talk to any of them. I’m curious about the effect that my letters could have, but that is all. Sending them in effect with no return address makes me feel secure; because unlike in much of my past dealings with these people, I can’t be shouted down, and it remains about my process. I can’t control and I can’t predict what their response will be, but I can safeguard myself.
I remember one day as a child when my brother had beaten and chased me into my room again; he was trying to break down the door when I decided to call my father at work and tell him what he was doing. But he heard me, and ran to pick up the other line just as I was asking the receptionist to connect me to my father’s department. He pressed all the buttons on the phone, and despite my attempts, I couldn’t scream over the noise. The receptionist hung up the phone, and I was alone again with him. But today he can jam his fingers into the keys all he likes, but he can’t drown out my voice; I’ve told the truth about what he did to me to everyone, including him.
I’ve had dreams in the nights since that they’ve been able to find me, but I know that isn’t possible. They probably thought I was dead before I wrote them; a dark family secret that they could pretend doesn’t exist. I gave them no hints about where I am or what I am doing. That fear has melted away now; the era of fear is finished, now it’s time for me to realize my power, my voice. The flashback I received after confronting them shows me what deep fear and horror was tied up in my body. It also tells me how right I am to speak up; their sick behavior really knew no bounds.
I felt tinges of regret at first for providing such graphic detail in my letters. But if my ex-family didn’t want to be confronted about sexually abusing me and/or allowing me to be sexually abused by others, then they shouldn’t have done it in the first place. Meanwhile I have a right to talk about my life, and to give them back that graphic reality they’re so fond of hiding from. Today I feel so much better about myself and my life, and I’m sure it’s only the beginning.