The Emotional Paralysis of my Dissociation

 

I have a large compass tattooed on my shoulder and I still feel lost and overwhelmed.  I have no sense of direction and no map to point out if I am heading the right way, or if I am wandering further into oblivion. I have looked inside and outside for the answers, or at the very least for some guidance but I still find myself waking up questioning not only who I am, but why I am here. What were the reasons I survived three suicide attempts, it couldn’t be luck for all of them could it? What am I supposed to be doing in this life that I have been given a third chance at?  It certainly has got to be more than spending my days fighting my illnesses and my nights wondering what could have been. It has got to contain more than just struggle and strife; more than just years of trying to heal. When is that elusive day when I will go from surviving to thriving, or will I ever even get there. Is there a place where my emotional and rational brains both work at the same time and my future path will finally show me my direction.

I have trouble staying present in the moment. As with so many survivors the past not only haunts me, but it has interwoven itself through my thoughts and emotions, distorting every view point I have and interfering with every relationship I have. I have a hard time discerning that the same traumas that have been a reoccurrence for so many years of my life are not going to repeat themselves. The terrifying feeling of being repeatedly abandoned as a child, resurface every time a trigger presents itself, and my automatic reaction is that of an angry child with the same feelings of being lost, helpless and unprotected yet again.  I can’t help but think that trauma is going to occur again and either lash out or go numb as my form of protection.

Lashing out as an adult with a screaming, angry toddler trapped inside you does nothing but cause harm to yourself and those around you. There is no functioning between my rational brain and my emotive brain and the emotions take over and become vocalized in an extremely negative way. My other habit is numbing, or dissociating, which I have been stuck in for a while now. Dissociation for me is like being a visitor in my own body, and an outsider in my own mind. It is like watching a video of me going through the motions and actions of each day, without actually feeling through the emotions, like being an observer. I manage to “function” through the day but feel little attachment to what is actually going on; paying little attention to my surroundings.  I generally spend my time between hyper and hypo vigilance but dissociating doesn’t allow me to bounce around like that. Instead, it literally mutes my feelings. It doesn’t allow me to sink to the bottom levels of being actively suicidal, but at the same time it does not grant me the ability to feel pleasure.

Dissociation numbs my creativity and my sense of self and fills me with self-doubt. It has taken me weeks to put words to paper and even as I type I question the validity of my writing itself. I question the relevance of what I am saying and how it is being worded. I worry about it not being good enough, not keeping up to the level I have set for myself. Being numb does not allow me to write from my deepest emotions. It does not enable me to be raw and vulnerable; it does not allow me to be.  It takes any sense of direction I had and fills it with questions and negativities from an un-emotional, yet not quite rational perspective. It protected me when I was overwhelmed as a child, and it is once again doing its job, even though the same danger is not there. I am not a weak child anymore; I am an adult who has resources and strengths I did not possess then. I am no longer a victim and even though I don’t know what path is mine to travel, as long as I am journeying forward I’m heading in the right direction, and perhaps with some guidance I will eventually find my way.

 

Is the New Method of Suicide Note Online?

 laptop writing

 

 

I have been passively suicidal for most of my life and actively suicidal three times. I know what it feels like to be carrying a burden so heavy your legs can no longer hold you up. I understand what it is like to see nothing but darkness and pain in your future and to have lost every last ounce of hope. I realize the amount of pain you have to be in to get here; to reach the point where death seems like your only option, the only way out. Without getting into the gritty details, let’s just say with my last attempt was meticulous and organized. To me, suicide is a very personal and private thing and I do not want to traumatize anyone more than they may already be. I wanted to make sure the authorities found me and not leave that scar upon my friends. I think most suicidal people would tell you they are not trying to hurt anyone, they just don’t know how else to end their pain. To them, this is the only way out.

That being said, I ponder the people who are determined to make their suicide public. What drives them to jump in front of a train packed with commuters at rush hour? Is there any maliciousness towards others? Why not wait for a cargo train or an empty one? Why affect the lives of others intentionally? Have you felt so invisible your entire life that you felt this method of suicide would draw some attention to you for the five minutes of “fame” you will get as they mention you once on the news or in the papers? Do you feel that because you are in so much pain, then others should be too? These are questions that remain unanswered because there is no one left to answer them.

Technology has done so much for our society and we have come so far in such a short time. The internet has provided endless amounts of information and resources. It has connected people across the world, whether it is family or new found friends. The advancements are rapidly changing and many things become fads until the next new thing is available. We were once excited about the fact we could make a video and put it on the internet for the world to watch at any time but now that is “old”, as the latest and greatest allows you to post live and to show the world a piece of your life at the very present moment. Sadly, there seems to be no limit to what people share, or what people are willing to watch, hence the alarming raise in the number of online live suicides. Again, what motivates someone to share both the preparations for and the last moments of your life with the entire world, and what kind of twisted individual do you have to be to sit and passively watch?

The examples were certainly not difficult to find.

A 12 year old girl, who had previously broadcast a few times that a family member had tried to rape her, hangs herself from a tree, live streaming the whole 40 minute video. Not only did people watch her live, but many of those people online actually encouraged her to kill herself.

Another girl who had spent her life being bounced around foster care hung herself from the shower door of her bathroom, while 1000 people watched her make her preparations, many ridiculed her. A friend saw it and alerted police but they did not arrive in time.

A 20 year old university student went on a message board and offered to kill himself online if he could get help setting up the live video stream. 200 viewers watched as he chased down pills with vodka, barricaded his dorm room door and then set fire to it while he waited to die lying under a blanket. No one online called 911.

Those who turn on their webcams during the darkest, most desperate moments of their lives must feel a need for someone to bear witness to them, or perhaps wish that somebody out of the thousands watching the suicide would care enough to intervene and alert the authorities. They feel like finally their name will be heard and remembered, however within minutes of the video being taken down, most of the viewers will have already forgotten their name.

The internet provides an outlet to suffer in public, to share pain and gain the attention desperately needed, however in these cases, perhaps the internet is just the new form of suicide note. Even though social media sites “prohibit” the promotion of suicide or self- injury and ask viewers to report to authorities immediately, there is no enforcement or regulation for these things. It is impossible for the sites to monitor everything which shifts the burden to the community to help stop bad things from happening. There are now groups of volunteers who monitor many of these live sites hoping to intervene before it’s too late, or perhaps before it is even started.

What I find deplorable are the ones that watch. Are people so disconnected and desensitized that they can sit in the comfort of their homes and not only watch, but encourage a child to kill themselves. Unfortunately it isn’t surprising that online viewer’s tap into these streams, it is almost human nature. There’s no such thing as an accident without a crowd gathering and standing on tiptoes in order to see the person lying on the ground, or people slowing down to stare at the car accident.. Violence and destruction are everywhere in society, from the news to the entertainment industry. Perhaps there is a fascination with other peoples pain because it’s only one gesture removed from our own, or maybe it is just bystander apathy, which basically is a social phenomenon where people are less likely to help someone in need if there are other people present. We are all relying on someone else to make the first move, to differentiate themselves from the crowd, when in fact we should all feel a moral responsibility to help someone at risk, whether you take it seriously or not. How is it going to sit in your mind years from now that someone who was seriously sick killed themselves while you egged them on?

I have been on both ends of suicidal situations and I know the anguish you can feel inside and the desperation to get any bit of attention, but posting a suicide attempt live is the ultimate cry for help, and I will never understand how anyone would take the time to not only watch someone make preparations but taunt and encourage them to carry through with that attempt, most often with fatal results. Think about it, someone’s life was in your hands and you made the conscious decision to do nothing but watch them die. It frightens me, the number of people who feel no moral obligations. We are all human.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Emotional Vulnerability of Love for a Borderline

 

heart-writing

 

Relationships in the best of circumstances are tricky waters to navigate. They require not a captain and a first mate, but two co-captains, who are not only plotting out a similar course but are willing to stick together when the tides change your direction. Surviving childhood sexual abuse leaves emotional scars that twist your views and feelings on life and relationships, and the after effects tend to weave their way into various areas of your life, often on a subconscious level. One of the main attributes of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) aside from the intense fear of abandonment is a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships. For me, the combination of the two is like being a one eyed captain trying to navigate the seas on a raft, with no compass and a map in Latin. In dealing with both of these things I had to self-protect in order to survive and my coping mechanisms involved shutting down amongst many things, trust and love.

That being said, living behind that wall of safety also limits both our life experiences and the corresponding emotions. We miss out on a lot because we are lacking in confidence, and remaining behind our wall in our comfort zone is a lot easier than facing the unknown fears outside. In my mind, it is a matter of weighing out risk versus reward. Is the risk worth the (in my mind) inevitable pain that will come at some point? I also tend to compare if this impending pain could be worse than something I have already been through, again trying to measure out the risk, and when emotionally rational, I realize there is very little in life that could traumatize me any more than has already occurred. Now don’t get me wrong, that by no means implies that I have broken down my wall and jumped head first into my fears. It is more of a case of taking down a few bricks at a time, enough to sneak out, but leaving those bricks within arm’s reach in case we need to rebuild in a hurry.

Being a survivor, I carry with me a sense of shame, a lack of trust and self-worth, and the constant feeling of being a burden. I have major attachment issues already, which are severely increased in intensity with BPD, and the combination of those plus the depression and anxiety leaves me feeling almost unworthy of a relationship. How could I burden someone with my baggage and complexities without feeling guilty, or expect someone to put up with the frequent and extreme mood swings that come with BPD. If I feel all these negative things about myself, how could they not be clear and apparent to someone else, or is it me projecting my thoughts onto somebody else? Do I even know how to love properly, or can I trust enough to let someone pass through the door in my wall? Am I just too messed up to be loved? All those things have run through my mind so often, and for so long they have become true to my emotive mind, and so I deem myself unworthy of a relationship, and by convincing myself of this it becomes my reality, and it is shoved to the back of my mind as a truth that no longer needs dealt with, after all, there are more pressing issues to deal with at the moment.

Life tends to throw things our way at the most unexpected times. It happens often in therapy, where you think you have done the work to get past an issue, and boom, there it is in your face again, and all you can hope is to put some of the new coping mechanisms into action before the innate instincts of self-protectiveness so quickly take over. So after having spent the last few years convincing myself I would be alone for life, suddenly someone walks right on in. At first, I don’t take anyone’s interest in me seriously because I can be a convincing outside package but when they find out the truth about my emotional instability and the traumatic past, they don’t stick around anyway. In the past, I have tried to hide it, but one can only mask their true identity for so long, so this time I decided I would just get it over with up front…part of the basics “I love soccer, animals, ice cream, and I am diagnosed with more mental health issues that you can count on one hand”. After my spew, I put my phone down, fully expecting that like everyone else, that would raise enough red flags to have her running in the opposite direction, instead, the conversation continues. She starts asking questions about the BPD, and every answer I give her comes with no reply of shock or judgment. The longer we talk, the more she asks and although she may not understand everything, she seems to be accepting it, which is amazing, but also sets off my BPD abandonment issue; the closer they get, the more it will hurt when they leave. It also raises red flags with the survivor part of me that has yet to develop a proper sense of self-worth. So as the days pass, some of my past comes out and again it is met with understanding and empathy rather than intolerance and apathy, which brings both a sense of ease and fear to the table. Ease because the comfort level has almost a sense of familiarity to it…like you have known each other for years and the fear because the closeness is completely overwhelming. Taking a few bricks out of my wall was the plan, but now there’s a full door, someone standing at it, and not leaving.

I would like to say after all the therapies, workbooks and readings that I employed all my acquired and practiced coping mechanisms and I am dealing with the situation in a rational manner and a level sense of emotion, but that would be untrue. Instinct and BPD took over in full force and although I tried to fight it, it carries the same comfort and familiarity as that favorite old sweatshirt you just can’t yet let go of. So BPD has this fabulous quality that in essence makes you test people as a child would test their parents, almost a form of “go away you are too close” to “please don’t leave me”, and with everything else BPD related, these emotions can bounce around five times a day or 100 times a day, with almost incalculable speeds. So I push her away, thinking every time will be the last and she stays, so I pull her closer, and the cycle repeats. I discount the positive things she says about me and she patiently reinforces them, without hesitation. BPD also includes this fantastic trait of impulsivity, which for me, is primarily verbal, and when my words precede my thoughts, she doesn’t get angry, but quietly listens and asks to learn more about BPD and depression. I figure if I tell her about the suicide attempts and constant thoughts as well as the history of cutting, that will be her breaking point, and she will definitely leave, but instead, says she is sorry I had to go through all that, and allows me to express the ideations at my darkest moments, without fear of judgment. My mind is spinning…this is not how life works for me.

Fast forward to today and even with countless number of tests, the rounds of verbal impulsivity and the rest of the issues that come with my mental illnesses, she remains, and despite the inconvenient circumstances which I will not get into, she makes sure I wake up to a morning text, and go to sleep with a sweet goodnight. Despite the physical distance and her hectic schedule, she makes an effort to spend time with me and is always willing to provide an ear to listen or kind words of support. I have only ever had this depth of relationship once before, many years ago, and she remains my best friend to this day, and always. I am trying again to learn to accept love, to believe I am worthy of it and to grasp the idea that someone sees not what I think of myself, but the things I can no longer see, and as much as the BPD is screaming at me to push and pull, I am trying to recognize when my emotive mind has taken over so perhaps I can control the impulses a bit better.

This is a big risk for me, letting someone get this close, allowing vulnerability and trust all while trying to put a muffle on the BPD which is screaming about fear of being left, yet again. That being said, being a minimizer I convince myself that the possible impending hurt of being left can’t be worse than the other traumas I have endured to this point in my life. My instincts (my gut feeling) have kept me alive this long and if they are saying take a chance, then I follow that path. After all, the heart truly is a remarkably resilient organ.

I hope she knows how appreciated and cared for she is, and how thankful I am for her support, patience and understanding, and for choosing me and following me down this often dark and unpaved road with me, when she easily could have exited and taken the highway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Safe Place That Saved My Life

 

soccer-writing

 

The physical aspect of child molestation eventually ends but the emotional destruction does not leave the tiny shoulders carrying the burden. Instead, it grows with you and casts a shadow of overwhelming darkness for years, decades and sometimes for life. I was molested for 8 years of my childhood and its residual effects ripple through all aspects of my life, flowing like a river from guilt and shame to self-hatred and unworthiness. It takes only a few minutes of trauma that severe to change everything you had known to be true; to shatter your ability to trust words or actions; to instill a fear that chills your tiny soul and fill you with the confusion of what is right, what is wrong and what is normal.

The first time I was molested I was five. I remember it as clear as the movie I watched last night. I remember something related to every sense. I remember the color of the couch and the blinds that draped the sliding glass doors. I recall the taste of the banana Popsicle I was given when he took me back outside to play like nothing had happened. The details are not necessary, but as you can well imagine after that day I became a different little girl, all in just 10 minutes. My ability to trust teenagers and adults was shattered, as was a piece of my soul.

In many cases of molestation the perpetrator is a direct family member, relative or someone you know and trust well. My abuse took place outside the home and involved multiple offenders, both teenagers and adults. When I was younger, there was a piece of me that believed that this was all normal; that this is what happened to everyone, not just me. There were not a lot of kids my age on my street so for me the norm became if I wanted to play with the older kids I had to spend time in the garage first. I was about 8 or 9 years old before I realized there was something wrong, but starving for attention, lonely and running from domestic abuse, I went back, over and over. I would rather go through that 5 or 10 minutes of hell than be alone and without friends. This routine continued with a few different people until I was 12, and convinced myself that promiscuity was the only way to get attention. This way, I felt I had some control over both the perpetrator and myself.

I am often asked how I survived through the actual physical incidents and the accompanying pain. The answer is not difficult to explain, however unless you have been through childhood sexual abuse, it is something you will never understand. The brain has its own built in defense mechanisms, flight or fight being the most common example, but when the trauma is too much to cope with, a part of the brain shuts down as its method of self-protection. I believe the correct term in today’s world is dissociation, but there were much fewer labels in my days, so simply put I went to my safe place. Everyone’s version of a safe place will differ, but the reasons for its creation are generally the same. For me, I closed my eyes and went to the one place I felt safe and confident…the soccer field. I had played since I was five years old, and immediately took to it. My confidence, my safety, the game, all things I had some control of on the field. I was needed and wanted without the dreaded precursor that was my life off the field.  I was a part of a team and felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time in my life.  So, when my mind needed to shut down to the extent of full protection, my body followed suit, which somehow lessened any physical pain involved. For whatever period of time it was, I learned to quickly get to my safe spot and not leave until it was long over, and that became habitual. You do what you know.

I would like to say that I have dealt with every incident and am completely healed from the abuse. I would also like to say I have a million dollars, but neither statement holds truth. I have done my best to skim through the pages and end each chapter, but the ripple effect is continual in my life. It still casts a shadow over my ability to trust, form healthy relationships and develop a full bond of intimacy. There will always be triggers and for me, certain scents, textures or sounds will send me back to those times of horror, but this time as an outsider looking in, feeling helpless to save the child below. The visits are short and emotionless now, and although I no longer have to retreat to my safe place, I do believe it will always be with me.

 

 

A Few Things to Remind “Little Me

 

 

  • writing girl

 

I started out wanting to write a letter to my inner child; a letter to the frightened and traumatized little girl I was. I planned to write it in a tone that I would speak to a young child, when it suddenly donned on me that my inner child is more like an inner mini-adult. My trauma started as an infant, and I truly feel I have never fully felt that sense of innocence that is the marvel of childhood. I have watched my best friend’s son grow from an infant to now, being seven, and the wonder, innocence and excitement in his very being as he discovered the world was not only a delight to see but an awakening of sorts for me. Through his eyes the sights, scents and sounds were all so innocent and full of awe and adventure. How refreshing it was to see the discovery of life with a fresh, unbiased view. For me, the sights were a bit darker, the scents not so fresh and the sounds a bit more frightening. Imagine it as if you were always wearing sunglasses; you can see the light but it can’t quite reach you.

I haven’t ever given great thought to speaking to this inner child of mine and I really don’t know what I would say. Would I take the practical view and point out the obvious things like tell someone this time or don’t even try to trust adults; would I point out that spending that much time with older kids could be dangerous? That spending that amount of time hanging out in the park or on the street could lead to violations?

Would I be angry? Would I yell at my inner child for not doing something to make things stop; from my dad hitting my Mom to the boys and young men who violated me? Would I be mad that I never told my Mom as not to burden her because of what she was dealing with, or that no one noticed the behavioral changes? Would I tell myself to not let that anger internalize and to try and get it out in any way possible, because keeping it in will lead to a destruction of sense of self which may never be recovered?

Perhaps I would blame my little self; believing somehow that my silence just attracted more predators; that it must have been something I wore or the way I acted that allowed the abuse. Blame myself for not being brave or bold, or for seeking attention in the wrong manner from the wrong people. Blame myself for not having a sense of confidence or a voice to speak up with. Would I tell l tell myself to direct the blame where it is deserved; not only the perpetrators but all the people who failed to see the signs, or would I blame myself for not giving the right signs, or  perhaps not enough signs.

I wonder if I would tell her it’s ok to have fun or that it’s ok not to be on guard every moment of every day; That it is ok to be a kid and laugh and play and not take on adult responsibilities or that it is safe to trust some people and that not everyone would hurt me; That it was ok to believe that Santa was real without a sense of skepticism, or that what was happening to me was not happening to all the other children and that it was not normal. Would I say how important it is to remember the details of the good times because the darkness will eventually take over, losing not only memories but chunks of time.

After all these maybes and “would-bes”, I think I finally know what I would say:

Dear Little Me

Your life is going to have more curves than straight lines. It is going to be a rollercoaster ride that you will want to, and will repeatedly attempt to jump off. Know that the failures when jumping were meant to work out as they did. You are going to see and experience things no living being should have to and you are going to be scared, but I need you to stay strong. I need you to do exactly what you did, because those actions were what got me… from you to me. I need you to be brave and valiant and not let them completely destroy your mind and remember your body is just a vessel for your soul. That no matter what happens or what anyone says, none of it, absolutely none of it is your fault, and it never will be. What you will go through will make you stronger than you thought possible and that will eventually lead to you having a voice…a voice for all the children like you that can’t speak. It is said that you are only given the life tests you can handle, so hang in there little one, because despite what may seem like insurmountable odds, above all, you are a survivor.

 

 

 

Did I Know It Was Still Abuse Then?

 

 

 stop-child-abuse-1

 

Since I have suffered depression since my first memories, the accompanying frame of mind and sense of self, over the years, becomes the norm. So if I have technically never been “well”, how will I know what it feels like if I ever achieve it? Will it be like a light bulb going on in my head finally lighting up the path to happiness? Will it feel like a wave coming in to shore and gathering my pains before retreating back to the sea? Will my life just make sense one day and suddenly I will find my meaning and purpose in this life? Will the shame, guilt and blame finally be gone? Truthfully, I have no idea what it would feel like, as I have never attained it. I could create a hundred scenarios about what it would feel like, but the one I would wish for the most would be to simply feel lighter, both emotionally and spiritually. I imagine the sun shining a little brighter, the world not being so frightening and the glass actually being half full.

I have been to multiple therapists over the years to cover various aspects of the traumas I have been through. Every therapist has a different approach so some want you to relive the memories of the past; some wanting to focus on how the past affects the present and some still stuck in the archaic world of Freud’s.  There is every type of behavioral therapy you can think of, hypnotherapy, psychiatrists and psychologists all specializing in one area or another. Therapy is often like the medication roller coaster, you have to try a bunch until you find the one that works for you. My sexual abuse seemed to always be the prime area of concern so that is what we would discuss, over and over. We went over how it’s not my fault, and not to self-blame and to place the responsibility where it lies. We went over of some of the events in detail, others we just skimmed over. I’ve lay on a couch, sat in a fancy chair, and watched them scribble on notepads, question me and analyze my answers. I read the self- help books they recommended and did the corresponding workbooks. I must be better after all that…right?

I still have some triggers, but they are mostly scent related and I don’t have much of a reaction other than the cold chill that runs up my spine. I have stopped blaming myself or feeling ashamed and come to realize that predators will always find prey, and since I was just a child, it was and never will be my fault. However, at what age are you not considered a child? I know what it is in the eyes of the law, but in your own eyes does it differ? With a lot of work I was able to let go of some of the trauma from when I was young and helpless, but what about when I was 12 or 13? Was I not a pre-teen/teenager then? No longer a small helpless child yet I allowed these events to continue. I did not speak up even though I was not threatened. I did not have to fight back as there was no aggression. Did I just submit willingly? Was it consensual on my half even though he was over 40? Was it me going through a promiscuous stage, seeking attention the only way I had received it from men?

At that age, was it my fault?

I had to have known better. I must have known it was wrong, so why did I not stop it. Repeated sexual abuse can sometimes become like a routine in your life. It has happened so often, it just becomes what you know. Or does it? This is where my struggle lies; where I cannot yet forgive myself, or not blame myself because I am not sure I will ever be clear on whether I somehow encouraged it by not speaking. I can’t remember what I was thinking or what I was feeling at the time, I just know what my actions were and I know I struggle to accept them as abuse. Somehow in my mind I have put an age on my “child” abuse, and not included that period of time, perhaps because I my mind is screaming at me that I was no longer  a child, and should have had some responsibility over my actions. I mean I had already been through so much by 13 that I considered myself an old soul and had plenty of responsibility caring for others…just none for myself.

So, I guess I’m not yet “better, despite all the work and the thought that one chapter of my life was finally closed, however I am now starting to wonder if it ever completely will be. I wonder if the load I carry can only lighten, never leave. Seems like healing one thing often opens a new wound and the cycle of healing perpetuates itself with no end in sight, so on with the fight I go.

 

Loss of Innocence..Chapter 2: The Garage

To this day, I still can’t walk into a mechanics shop or a garage where a car has been parked or worked on without the memory of scent triggering these events. The smell of a old rag with oil on it sends a chill up my spine, so much so I just got one merely writing about this. It’s funny that we can remember these events so clearly but can not clearly remember the exact age they happened. The mind, when blocking out a trauma, for me anyway, does so in chunks, and you literally lose all the memories, good and bad. Locked away for self-preservation to be dealt with when the time is right. I would have been around 8 or 9 I think. I was always a tomboy and gifted at sports so spent much of my time playing soccer, hockey, baseball or football with the boys. They were all older but since I could keep up, it was ok for me to play. This to me was awesome. Older kids knocking at my door to get me to play sports with them? I felt special and wanted and good at something. They were all good kids, nice boys from nice, middle class homes. None of them would hurt me, I would finally be accepted. Then it started again. One kid, who again, I will leave nameless, lived across the street a few houses down. His parents knew my parents, so it would not be uncommon for us to be at one another’s house. I don’t remember the day it started but I do remember it was multiple times. I recall him saying that I wouldn’t be allowed to play with them anymore if I didn’t go into the garage. It had a door attached to the house, and a stinky old car with a workbench covered in tools, and old oily rags. I remember the garage floor always feeling so cold on my butt and legs, and remember he always threw me a dirty rag to clean up with after he was done. I would then clean up, pull up my pants, and he would open the garage and we would get the rest of our friend and go play soccer. This must have gone on for about 2 years. Life went on as usual, just a piece of me died every time.
I remember it stopping only because his mom came in from the house through the garage door and saw me pulling up my pants. I didn’t have to go back into the garage after that, but nothing was ever said. Life went on as usual, just a piece of me died every time. My confidence sank to an all time low and I now not only believed this was normal, but that I had done something to deserve it. I’m not sure now if it is even possible to know how wrong it really is when you are that young. How it robs you of the one thing that is childhood…innocence.
 A good friend told me that often the things we don’t speak about are the things causing us the most trauma. So I didn’t and couldn’t have a voice then, but I can and will now. I will share anything that may help anyone from being hurt like I was, to protect and speak for the children today who have yet to find their voice. Sometimes all you need is a glimpse of light to know that the tunnel does have an end.