There was something different about the morning, though all the elements were the same. I went through the motions of feeding the animals, waking the children, and getting everyone dressed to go out the door to school. What I didn’t know was that as soon as I had dropped off the last child there would be a thought waiting for me. Most of my subjects for writing come to me without prompting. I will be going through my daily tasks and then, as if someone comes along with a rope and pulls me another direction, I feel the urge to write. I do not always follow, but this day I chose to follow the rope. I decided that when I got home I would pour myself a second cup of coffee, sit down in my dark and quiet room, and write about something of which I have not written: the rape.
In 2011 I sat in the small office of my first therapist. It was warm and the couch was so soft and cozy I felt like I’d never be able to stand back up. Out her window I could see the Puget Sound. It was a nice place to look when I would lose the words. She sat on a rocking chair at an angle towards me. We had already established a timeline of my life, and it was time to talk about sexual abuses. T: “Did you ever say ‘no’?” Me: “Always” T: “Were you ever shamed into doing things you didn’t want to do?” Me: “Always” T: “Did he ever take your hand and make you touch him?” Me: “yes” T: “Did you ever black out while it was happening to you?” Me: “Sometimes” T: “Did you try to get him to stop, or ask for help?” Me: “Yes” T: “Was he ever violent with you?” Me, quietly, “yes”
I don’t want to write about the details of the rape and abuses. You will read what I have learned, and how I’ve come to terms with the past abuses. The memories are painful, and I don’t have to remember them on demand, because I remember them without invitation. The memories used to come to me in dreams; night terrors. I would dream in blood red, as if looking through a screen. I would wake up choking on nothing. I would shake and scream. I couldn’t eat on the days following a terror, which was almost every day. I didn’t want anyone to notice that I felt like I was choking, so I would focus on work. But then I stopped being able to work, I started losing weight, my fear grew out of control. My family would get mad at me “Just EAT!” My Dad would scream, “can’t you see how you are affecting the rest of the family?!” As he stormed out of my house. I fell to the floor that day. “Why aren’t you over this yet?” Others would ask. “You aren’t in the cult anymore. It doesn’t make sense for these memories to be affecting you now.” I knew it didn’t make sense. I could not explain it. The memories became worse after losing the twins to a miscarriage. I think it was the extreme amounts of blood I lost, and feeling out of control. I thought that when I left the cult I would be able to control my life. I was wrong. I was shattered. All my thoughts were wrong, and I felt like the burden was too heavy, that I couldn’t get back up.
I have written about my therapy journey in previous posts. With therapy, I have come a long way, and no longer have the burden nor the dreams. I can eat and function in society. I am doing my best right now to keep the focus on the subject, as I can feel myself wanting to stray and show my readers how much better I am now.
I’ll write about the first time. Ted convinced me that if I just did it once with him, I wouldn’t have to do it again. I wanted everything (molestation, shaming, stalking, phone calls) to stop, so I “agreed”. He waited until I was 18. I had never been so scared of a birthday. I would will time to stop. Ted came to my window one night, and I crept out of my parent’s house and into his car. We drove around, but I chickened out. He told me that I could only do that once; chicken out. Next time he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. The next time was after I had moved out of my parents house, and lived in the basement of the church. We drove in his car, and I don’t remember many details. I remember him putting a trash bag under me before he climbed on top. I remember him removing the bag from the car when it was over. It had blood on it.
It was late at night and later he took me to a donut shop. I had a donut and orange juice. He bought it for me. I lost my virginity that night and all I can remember is the trash bag he put under me and the donut and orange juice.
I remember snapshots of the two years in which this continued: aggressive phone calls, not wanting to draw suspicion to myself from all of his attention, feeling scared, giving in, telling myself that I wanted to do it. Comments from him of which I’d rather not share. Sometimes I am triggered when I have to leave my house at night by myself. It reminds me of all the nights I would leave and go meet him somewhere. He told me that his wife knew. He told me she was ok with it. I didn’t understand why. I talked to her about it once, and she told me to “stay strong”. I tried. I didn’t know who to go to for help. And when I finally told an associate pastor, everyone in the cult found out. Ted’s wife yelled at me as if I hadn’t already told her. I stood in the bedroom of Pastor W and his wife with Ted, Rene (Ted’s wife), Charlie, and various W siblings. I stood in the door way as they each took turns calling me “whore”, “slut”, and “ugly”. I felt like I was in a vacuum. I was staring down a tunnel with voices echoing their shouts. I don’t remember leaving that room, or how that night ended.
It had been a slow process, starting with the molestation, the donut and orange juice. The process led to the end result: I wasn’t a person. I didn’t feel like a person. I started off as a girl, an innocent child. I ended up as a nothing. The abuse was so taxing that at 16, my hormones and physical processes slowed. I didn’t have a regular period cycle until I was 34. 30-fricking-4. I didn’t cry for years after leaving the cult. At the first twinge of emotion I would drop a wall internally to stop it.
I was systematically abused for 17 years, and raped for two of those years. It messed me up physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Today, because of therapy and a lot of work, I have felt stronger than I have felt in years, though I am aware that I can fall quickly. Being able to fall apart and write has been instrumental to my healing.