Part II:  I Connect the Dots

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As I said In Part I of this account, I’ve dealt with my abuse.  I’ve remembered the experiences, and I’ve desensitized myself to a great extent, thanks to EMDR.  When I remember, the memories don’t carry the emotional load they once did.  The memories no longer have the power to overwhelm me, but that doesn’t mean they are not still present.  Now that I have desensitized myself somewhat to the memories, I find myself able to connect some dots that I had not previously connected.  For one thing, I believe now that I understand more fully the long-term effect of my childhood abuse experiences.   

After I reported my husband for sexually abusing our daughter in 1981, I did a lot of reading on the topic of child sexual abuse.  I read, for example, that many victims of father-daughter incest—or of sexual abuse, in general– become promiscuous.  I did not become promiscuous, perhaps because I was so young when I was abused.  To the contrary:  I know now that my sexual self remained four years old while the rest of me moved on in life.   

As a result of being abused at such a young age, I failed to understand why my peers in junior high went crazy over boys, and I failed to understand why my peers in high school were more interested in dating than in doing their schoolwork.  I didn’t date and didn’t want to date.  I had no interest in having a boyfriend and in what my peers called “necking.”  The whole “teen scene” seemed silly to me, in fact.  While the other girls were “cruising the gut,”** going to the drive-in movies, and “necking,” I was babysitting and earning money.   (** When kids “cruised the gut,” they crowded into cars on Friday or Saturday night, drove slowly down Main Street, and did whatever they needed to do to call attention to themselves.  At least, that’s what the teens in my hometown did!) 

Despite my lack of interest in boys and my failure to understand why my girlfriends were so boycrazy, however, I went through puberty sensing that even though I was physically normal, whole, I was missing a part of my self.  I have, in fact, gone through most of my life feeling like a jigsaw puzzle that is almost complete but still lacks a couple of pieces.  The problem has been, though, that until recently, I have not been sure which pieces I have lacked.  Now, at age 74, I know:  I lack the pieces which, when gathered together, might be called “mature female sexuality.”   

How am I now suddenly able to answer a question that I had not been able to answer earlier in my life?  How is it that I now know which pieces of my puzzle have been missing all these years?  All I can say is that the answer came in the form of a sudden insight, one of those “connect the dot” answers that a person just “gets.”  And I believe my mind was free to connect the dots, finally, because the EMDR treatments have released much of the trauma energy that has interfered with my thought processes.   

So now I know; now at my age of 74, I finally understand why I have gone through life sensing that I have been incomplete, that I am not a complete woman.  Well, let me revise that concept:  I am a complete woman, but the part of me that would make me aware of that fact is still stuck in the year 1943.  That part has never caught up with the rest of me.  It’s there, completely there, but that part of me is like a butterfly stuck in the chrysalis stage—it has never matured into the beautiful creature that it was meant to be.  That’s what child sexual abuse does if the victim has not received effective help after the event/s—child sexual abuse prevents normal development–it stunts the child-victim’s inner growth.  So now I know, and now I can identify the missing pieces of my puzzle.   

Now the big question:  How do I FEEL about this revelation?  How do I FEEL about having spent all my life wondering why I have felt incomplete, not like other women?  How do I FEEL about the result of connecting my dots?? 

It’s going to take me some time to figure out how I feel, but off the top of my head, I will say this:  For about six years, I was a practicing Roman Catholic.  When the matter of priest sexual abuse and bishop collusion cracked open over ten years ago, I began distancing myself from Catholicism.  At first, I hoped Pope Benedict would take a firm stand and make corrections—defrock the offending priests and bishops and clean house.  As time passed and I realized that was not going to happen, I grew progressively more disillusioned until finally I decided there was no point in waiting for the Pope to take action because he was not going to do so.  Now we have Pope Francis—what will he do?   

Thousands of victims are no doubt awaiting an answer to that question.  Some of those victims may have spent their lives as I did, looking for the missing puzzle pieces, wondering why they felt like incomplete human beings but not really sure why they felt that way.  Some may have gone in another direction and wondered why they never felt sexually satisfied.  And others may have gone in other directions.  To answer the question, then, as to how I feel, I feel sad—very, very sad.  And I’m FURIOUS!  Absolutely FURIOUS!  In my heart, I can only believe that Jesus Christ shares my feelings—my sadness AND my fury!   

It will take me some time to process this matter further.  For instance, how do I feel about having my sexuality stuck where it was in 1943?  How do I feel about having lived my life feeling incomplete, a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing?  How do I feel about having missed out on dating and the other normal activities of teenagers?  And what I am also wondering is this:  Will my butterfly ever emerge from its chrysalis and soar, free and beautiful?  I don’t know the answers to these questions yet.  Given time, I will.  Even at my age, I will.   

For inspiration, here is a quote by Bono— 

When the story of these times gets written, we want it to say that we did all we could, and it was more than anyone could have imagined.