The Life You Save May Be Your Own

DID, knitting, sci-fi, and strong opinions

Am I Hurting You? June 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 7:49 am
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It’s a question my therapist at Riggs asked me.


I was curled up on her couch crying–this happened several times a week, at least at the sessions where I wasn’t pissed off and ranting.  I told her everything hurt, that I couldn’t be around people or even leave my room most of the time because it was too painful.  It hurt so much I thought I would die.


No one had asked me that question before, not really.  I expected people to hurt me, even when they told me they wouldn’t.  (I have an unfortunately clear memory of an ENT telling me what he was doing would be “a little uncomfortable.”  He didn’t tell me he was putting acid on my eardrum; I passed out from the pain.  And there have been so many other cases like it.)  No one had asked me that and really wanted an honest answer.


I don’t remember what I told her.  I knew at that moment she wasn’t hurting me, but I knew she had at other times.  But I also knew she cared deeply and fiercely about me, beyond what she had to.  She was the first person who’d ever cared enough to ask the question.


Hurting people is such a hard thing, and I have huge issues around it.


When I was around 5 and my sister was around 3, my father told me I had to choose whether he’d rape her or me.  I couldn’t choose; I froze; I dissociated.  I was Sparrow, able to fly but still trapped in that room.  My parents’ bedroom.  I remember the blue-green glass and nautilus shell piece hanging in the window.  And then he put his gun to my head, and I wasn’t Sparrow anymore, fluttering desperately at closed windows.  I was back in my body.


Any time I’ve read something about having a gun pressed up against you, they talk about the metal being cold.  What they don’t tell you is it doesn’t stay cold very long.  Your skin warms it up, reminding that you’re still alive, for the moment.


I remember pain.  I was still raw and sore from the last time[s] he’d raped me.  I knew it would just get worse, and I couldn’t stand more pain.  But there was my sister, and I loved her.  All the times she’d ruined my Lego metropolises didn’t matter anymore.  I was the big sister, and it was my job to protect her.  But the pain was so bad.  I couldn’t bear the thought of lying in my bed with its cheap pastel-striped comforter while Daddy hurt me again.  I just didn’t want him to hurt me again.  Just a little break, just for a little while, just so it won’t hurt quite so bad.


Daddy was getting angry.  There was a metal click.  I couldn’t know if the gun had bullets, but at the time, it never entered my mind that it might not be loaded.  I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to hurt.


I chose my sister.


He made me watch.  He took us down to the bedroom we shared, and I had to watch.  So I was Sparrow again, throwing my body at walls and windows in the futile hope of escape.  There was never an escape.


It’s the one thing I’ve never been able to forgive myself for.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.  I don’t feel I deserve forgiveness, especially from myself.


I swore to myself after that time that I would never hurt another person ever.  Nice idea, but impractical in execution.  We all hurt each other.  Usually we don’t mean to, but we do.  It doesn’t make us bad people, but I couldn’t see that.  I punished myself for hurting other people, and I even punished myself for having hurtful thoughts about people.  I tore myself to shreds.


Even now, it’s hard.  I’m past the extremes, but I still struggle with putting my own needs first–I feel like telling someone know will hurt them and keep them from getting their needs met, so I don’t do it.  I apologize too much.  I assume that my very existence hurts other people.


But pain is not always a bad thing.  When my therapist asked me if she was hurting me, the answer was “Yes, but…”  I needed that pain.  Hell, knowing she cared enough to ask was incredibly painful because no one had ever asked me that before, when I really needed them to.  But it was necessary pain.  It let me grow.


13 Responses to “Am I Hurting You?”

  1. Bourbon Says:

    To have a gun to your head. To hear the click of it and know that your answer is demanded of you now. You did what you had to do to survive. You couldnt take all the venom from the abuser – not when you were in survival mode. Desperate to be a sparrow and get out alive. B

    • What a horrific experience you had to go through. It must be immensely difficult, but you must know that you did nothing to deserve that and that your life now should not be spent feeling inferior. Your existence in no way hurts people; in fact, your existence has surely enriched the lives of your friends and loved ones. Abuse is an awful thing and so many women are affected by it. If you have a chance, check out our blog called Creating Sanctuary. You will find information on intimate-partner violence, survivor stories and much more. The goal is to empower women to leave abusive situations and live happy and healthy lives.

  2. colourtheday Says:

    Hopeless to put a “Like” on this post, but its just to let you know I was here, and read it. So sorry you had to experience this, so happy you are here and can heal from it! Lots of hugs!


    i havent been doing this blog thing very long,…but from what i have seen there are a lot of other here for you and are happy that you are here too, and i have to day that does include me. I have dealt with similar things with my husband….life isnt easy,….i thought I would share with you what i have said to him….without it sounding to stupid or who the hell does she think she is,. i always tell him “ONE DAY AT A TIME, ON THING AT A TIME”….lets take it one at a time and see where we go. I dont know if it would even mean anything to you or not but it seems to help my husband…most of the time unless he has reached the rant stage and then i just step back and wait for the emotion to change…..We all learn and cope in different ways,,,i hope you can find yours.,..and i can also say I am glad you are still here! Keep posting~!!!!!!

    • SPECIAL KAYE Says:

      such a terrible thing to go thru. I commend you on how far you have come…Mine I always kept quiet about and never told anyone, now he has passed and I couldnt cry at his funeral but i did tell him as i viewed him one last time….that i forgave him….why or how i could do that i have no clue…didnt even realize i said it…so i just took it that that was my way of releasing the pain and anger and resentment…its not something i would expect you to do,….helll i cant even say what made me do it. I guess I felt I had carried it long enough and i let him take with him in his grave….You are not alone….and never will be. Stay strong….even when you think it is impossible, you can do it,…you ARE stronger than you think you are,,….this i can tell you.

  4. “It’s the one thing I’ve never been able to forgive myself for. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to. I don’t feel I deserve forgiveness, especially from myself.”

    You couldn’t have saved your sister. A man that can rape a 3 year old doesn’t need the permission of her 5 year old sister. He was going to do it anyway. There was nothing that you could do. You only had the illusion of choice.

    He needed you to feel ashamed so that you wouldn’t tell on him.

    He needed to behave unbelievably so that you wouldn’t be believed.

    His behaviour was sadistic, yours was normal. You are not like him.

  5. Well I get not integrating emotionally. Me too!

    When I was a young adult I made a deal with myself. I promised that I would never behave as “shamefully” as I had when I was a child. I promised myself that I would somehow find the strength to be the adult that I wanted to be, to be better than my childhood self.

    Every day I renewed this promise to myself. I thought about my guilt and shame and used it to remind myself how not to behave. It helped me broker a peace of sorts with my conscience.


    just remember he was a very sick and demented man and at 5 years old how could you know what you would know now and know how to help your sister…just saying. i fully understand what you are saying and how you are feeling but a child that small isnt truly going to understand everything. i guess im trying to say i fully understand how and why you feel like you do…but I guess I was 4 and i know i had no clue about any of it….or how to stop it. i do not remember much because i blocked out a lot but i do remember enough that i choose not to remember the rest…just feels better that way for me…but seems like you didn’t have that luxury. i will pray for you and i hope you are able to figure out a way to forgive yourself hun, we are all only human and you were a very small child…..still nieve to the world….the emotional world is still a mystery, and that one is what plays havoc on all of us with anxiety, depression etc. I admire you and wish i could help you in some way…for now i will listen whenever you need it. You have a good heart and soul and you will find a way…..gods speed my friend….thinking of you,

  7. You were five. You dealt with it the only way a five-year-old could. 😦

    Your father’s the unforgivable one.

    • weordmyndum Says:

      The ex-boyfriend and I and a couple mutual friends are seriously considering a cross-country road trip that would take us through Iowa. I asked if we could stop in Cedar Rapids and murder him, but for some reason my travel companions thought that was inadvisable. Hey, Thelma and Louise was pretty great, right?


  8. ligeandcrew Says:

    God. Speechless.
    – Jack

  9. brandic32 Says:

    “I assume that my very existence hurts people.”

    First of all, what you have gone through no one should have to go through. He forced you into an impossible situation. Either decision would have been excruciating. Perhaps you made the only decision you *could*. Perhaps somewhere in your little child psyche you knew that choosing that pain upon yourself (which it really wasnt you being the one to inflict the pain, but you know what I mean) would be worse than death. You were choosing to survive in whatever way you knew how. I’m also sure that the mind of a five year cannot comprehend the complexities of cause and effect that we do now as adults. All you knew is that you needed to escape the pain.

    I also wanted to say that I can very much relate to the quote above. I would go as far to say that anyone who has had to endure childhood abuse probably feels that way on some level. We had awful things done to us, and then we internalized the blame.

    I am so sorry you had to endure such awful things at the hands of your father. I wish I could take away all the guilt, shame, and self-blame you feel. Just know I hear you and I empathize.

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