“But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me, but I had been prepared for that through the years knowing that one day I would receive that diagnosis. Some call it a sixth sense, I call it a blessing from my Heavenly Father whispering that when that diagnosis came not to be afraid because He had prepared me.
On Thursday, May 2, 2013, as I passed the Patterson sign, I had my first flashback of my abuse. I immediately started screaming. “Please do not let this be a real memory. Please do not let this be a real memory.” Over and over again. I was completely unprepared.
I did not know how I was going to tell my husband. I did not know how I was going to tell my parents. I was shaking. I was nauseated. I was mad. I was sad. I was hurt. I was confused. I was ashamed. Why did I have to remember this? I was not mad at Heavenly Father in any way, as a matter of fact, I wanted nothing more than to have a priesthood blessing to make it through the moments. I find it funny that I say was, I write in past tense, but not all of these emotions are hidden in the past. I still cry on a daily basis. I am so confused teetering between a nervous breakdown and surviorship. So many emotions and questions eating and biting like those stupid no see ums that everyone keeps talking about.
Immediately after my flasback on Thursday, every fiber in my being wanted to run. It was like my fight or flight kicked in and into overdrive. When I finally made it home, I was afraid. I was afraid to tell my husband. I had called my Mother from the car to help me calm down, but my husband and my Daddy I was not sure how they would react. I was terrified that one or both would try to seek revenge against “him”. Yes, “he” is still around. When my husband came home from work I gathered the courage to tell him, pleading with him not to do anything to my perpetrator. He handled it much better than I thought. I still did not have the courage to tell my Daddy.
As the hours and flashbacks increased, so did my anxiety. I woke up in the middle of the night pushing my blanket up towards the ceiling because I felt the pressure of invisible arms holding me down, my legs drawn and kicked trying to get away. Each night I have snuggled closer to my husband, but intimacy is out of the question right now. I just need to know he is there beside me.
Extreme fear–I would walk out my front door and freeze in fear thinking “he” would be there. When I would return home, I would look around the house and make sure no one was there. The shadow behind the shower curtain has paralyzed me more than once. I often thought about picking up the gun from where my husband keeps it to do my sweeps, but we have four dogs. I was afraid that in my hypersensitivity, I would shoot one of them.
As I walked down to my parents house, seeing My Narnia raising from behind, brought such fear and anxiety that I forced myself to do it several times a day, just so that my “safe place” would not be taken by “him”. I did not tell my Mother of that battle for a day or so.
Such an inner battle not understanding why I did not tell. Why did he do this to me? At the same time if he was going to do it to someone, the only other options were my sisters, and I would not be able to stand the thought of them dealing with this. I know it happened many years ago, but to me it happened last week, that is a confusing struggle inside too. It does not make sense. Logically, why does knowing now make me upset, when before…unless this was part of my depression bubbling beneath. I do not know. I still wish that it was still hidden it my mind. With all the other major stressors in my life right now, this camel has too many straws breaking her back.
I have dealt with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, and taken every medication I think for it. I really had absolutely no clue how to get out of this abyss. My heart raced constantly and I thought my already enlarged heart was going to get more damaged. Part of me hoped and begged that Heavenly Father would be merciful and just let it stop at night while I slept. My husband is on so many medications to help him sleep that he would not realize until morning, so nothing could be done to revive me. It would be over–finished. I had not caused it. My family would heal knowing that I had not caused it.
Eventhough I have the most amazing family as my support group, I felt so alone. Like know no one could understand or really believed me. The depressed mind plays horrible tricks on you. I wanted the pain to end, but promises to my family stopped me from doing anything. That’s why my heart just stopping was the “perfect solution”. Poor Jethro would be traumatized, he cannot stand being around dead people. I envy them.
Faith also plays a huge role in healing. My faith lets me know yes, the physical pains may stop, but when I die I am still me and carry my memories with me. So, I would still have to work through healing and forgiving, with the added bonus of knowing what I had done to those had left behind if I took my own life. I do not condemn anyone who ended their pain this way, or thought they were. It is not my place or anyone else’s place to judge. I promise that if I ever did something like that, you will know that I have lost the battle with my reality because as long as I have my right mind about me and I am breathing, I will fight it. It is that deep love for my family, sense of duty, and responsibilty for others…blessing or a curse that is why I am here writing this blog today, and why I will be here tomorrow.
Sunday I went to Church and talked with the Bishop about the memories. It was testimony meeting. I bore testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and of the Book of Mormon. I know that He suffered all things for me. One of my favorite scriptures is Alma 7:11 “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”
Some of my only moments of peace and getaway have been as I have read the Book of Mormon. I find a peace in that verse in Alma, one of my biggest struggles, it is something I gave always had, turning it all over to Him. I am grateful that He is willing to work with me since I cannot turn it over yet.
After Church I decided to look up blogs on how others dealt with depression and how they healed from the abuse. The one that stood out to me was a young lady who dealt with awful abuse for most of her childhood. As part of her therapy she embraced the feelings of that inner child, she let her feel hat she needed to feel, as she did the feeling started to lessen. Through my recent therapy expriences I had learned to tell my abuser how I felt and then tell them goodbye.
To say I was anxious and nervous was an understatement, but I called my Mother and asked Jethro to walk with me behind my parents home. Before my eyes as we walked, My Narnia changed into something terrifying. I felt as if Narnia had become very gates of hell and the woods beckoned me and that my abuser would exit any moment take me with him. I held tightly to the hands of Jethro and Mother so hell could not claim me, again.
Then I saw “him”. I started screaming. I do not recall all of my words, but I told him that I was not his. I was not a his victim, I was a survivor. I was just a child. I had trusted him, but I am a survivor! I told him that I forgive him. Eventually the yelling subsided.
And it was time, with Mother’s coaching, to say goodbye. This was so hard. Harder than I ever imagined. He was my friend. I wanted him to be happy, I know he had a hard life. I see him now, a truly lost soul, and the things he does, saying goodbye was so hard. It felt like I was saying goodbye to the last time he was himself, I did not want to let him go to grow up and experience the things that made him into the shell of a person he is today. That conflicted me because why would it be so hard? I was mad at myself for not just letting him go. Why was I trying to protect him when he cared so little for protecting me? This is the first time I have voiced these feelings because they make no sense.
After that I decided it was time to tell Daddy. It was not fair to keep it from him any longer, not to mention he probably heard me screaming. We talked a while. He believed me. He will never know how much that means to me. I needed to hear that. He let me know that in his eyes I was still his strong baby girl. For a man that does not think he has the right words, he said exactly what his daughter needed Sunday night.