NT used this word yesterday. She’s not the first therapist who’s used it; my Riggs therapist did, and I panicked and hid in my room for a solid week.
“You were tortured,” NT said about my childhood. She dropped it so easily into the conversation, didn’t dwell on it. How can you say that word and not dwell on it? And how can you live that word and not dwell in it for the rest of your life?
I think a part of me is angry that she slid over it do easily, went on with what she was saying. Torture. Clearly she’s never lived it. If you’ve lived it, you can’t say or hear that word without your breath catching in your throat and your body going tense and your heart pumping so irregularly you’re not sure it wants to keep beating. Where’s the respect for the gravity of it? You shouldn’t be able to go on to the next sentence without pausing to remember you’re still alive. Part of me hates white-hot because she doesn’t have to feel the history behind that word.
“He tortured you,” my Riggs therapist said about my father.
She, at least, understood not to keep talking after the end of that sentence.
But parts of me keep insisting that it wasn’t that bad. Okay, a dysfunctional childhood with screwed-up parents, sure. But not torture. Torture is when you’re stuck in a sensory deprivation tank or have your fingernails ripped out. My life sucked, but to call it torture belittles the experience of people who were actually tortured.
But on the other hand…I was raped repeatedly for 16 years. I was given to other men for sex. I was photographed. I was forced to witness and be complicit in the abuse of others. I was threatened with death, a gun held against my temple or shoved into my mouth.
Maybe it was torture. Or maybe that’s being melodramatic. I can’t tell anymore.