I am finding my legs again. And here I've had only three sessions with my trauma counselor!
After you guys responded so lovingly when I told you about my 'almost rape' when I was 16, I felt emboldened to tell my two girlfriends about it. ( It's weird to call a 68 and a 78 year old 'girl' friends. ) We meet monthly over lunch.
M: "How was everybody's holiday? [Goitheflo]! You have a secret! I can tell! Do tell! Did you find romance over New Year's eve?!"
> "Hardly. You don't want to know. It's not 'happy' news. So let's not... (Besides, Mary gets first dibs. Her husband died two months ago)
"Do tell!!!" they both chimed in.
So I began my tale, everything I've told you these last two or three posts.
"You poor dear! So when did this guy stop what he was doing and roll off you?"
>" When he learned I was 16 years old."
"Well, then! THAT'S why he stopped. You were underage and he could have been arrested!"
(The idea honestly hadn't occurred to me)
>"Well, he was a gentleman after that point, thank God."
"He wasn't being a gentleman. He was saving his own ass!!!"
(Good Lord, why did I wait so long to tell anyone about this?)
Lunch lasted three hours, and Mary did share. Because honestly, what she's going through is HARD...
So this morning, at my third appointment with "Z", my trauma counselor, I decided to tell this same tale. You know, as part of explaining myself to her.
>"My sister clearly didn't act to protect me that weekend, but this Vietnam Vet did."
>"By stopping when he learned how young I was. Thank goodness! Men have largely been the ones to protect me. Women...well, my Mom.... Well, anyway, this episode had a beginning, middle and end, so it really wasn't as unbearable as the abandonment I experienced when I was too young to understand that life had beginnings, middles, and endings."
"You set a pretty low bar for 'protection'."
"Let me explain. I have clients who tell me about all sorts of abuse from their husbands. You'd be surprised how many of them end by saying "But he never hit me." That's what I mean when I say you set the bar for protection pretty low."
>"Well.... first do no harm..."
"See? That's setting the bar pretty low."
Then somehow I got talking about the family cat when I was a kid. This sweet mama cat was my sole comforter when I needed it.
>"She'd tuck herself close to me, after I was sent to my room for crying, and lick me."
"Pets are amazing, how they can sense our need."
I told "Z" about the two cats I adopted immediately following my husband's death. ( Each sadiversary thereafter, I'd call my oldest sister and ask her to talk me out of adopting another one. She would succeed.)
>"One was a tabby, super friendly, all over me, purring. The other, a tuxedo cat, was terrified, clearly traumatized. He wouldn't let me near him. I wanted the tabby, and the folks at the shelter said the two needed to be adopted together. They believed that the traumatized kitty couldn't survive without his 'older brother', the only comforter he'd known."
I explained to "Z" how I took them both in. Tux, the tuxedo cat, was terrified. My heart went out to him, and I gave him special attention. I would sit on the floor 5 or 6 feet away - the closest I could get without him bolting. I'd gently sing "I love you". Always the same three notes. The three notes that NBC used on air. It took a year, gently singing this to him, patiently sitting for sometimes half an hour, only as close as he could tolerate, before he let me touch him. And before I would touch him, I would gently say "May I?"
Ten years on, I still sing "I love you" to him when I feel he needs it. Which is several times a day. I still ask "May I?" before I stroke him. But now he actually seeks to be near me. Not on my lap, but tucked into one corner of the couch as I watch TV, or on the bed a couple feet from me. Two years ago, after my tabby cat died, Tux came out from his big brother's shadow. Tux this year, began to purr.
"So nice..." Z said. "You are caring and protective toward him. Respectful, too, asking his permission. This is how a good mother is with her kids. You have it in you to re-parent yourself like you did Tux." she smiled. "So next Wednesday, we actually begin the work of SE and after that, EMDR."
Ahh. Already I feel different. Already, I am finding my legs. And we haven't even begun the trauma protocol!