Internal family systems therapy really works even though it sounds weird at first. It is a modality that can be quite hard to explain and describe. The longer and deeper I go into my own healing the more I see how valuable it is.
People also usually have a driving desire to find someone who understands(I know I do). Someone to connect with. Someone who's been through something similar so they don't feel so alone. Whether that is in a good or a bad way. I finally understand a bit more why, as much as I hate it, that I've been drawn to porn in the past and struggle with that desire even today.
Yesterday a friend, trying to help me find a job, told me of a place she thinks would be fun to work at and thought I might be interested. As I checked out the website I pondered about if I actually could work. I remembered my last job and how hard the last several months were there. Every week went slower and slower and the only way I can describe what was going on was that it felt like my body was slowly shutting down. It felt so weird but it was also devastating to not be able to work as fast as I usually did. With it came the fear of being fired but I had a very kind and understanding boss so it helped a little bit but there were times I would disappear to the bathroom and cry because I felt so exhausted and disappointed in myself. I wanted to work. I like to work. I felt bad because I didn't feel worth my pay anymore.
As I lay on the sofa, trying to rest, as well as analyze whether I actually could work I knew deep down that if I was to get a physical job I would put my all into it and end right back where I was or am. I knew deep down that there is no way I could handle it. That my body can't handle it physically. I don't think anyone would want to hire someone as slow as I would be for even just an hour. I don't think I'd even make it one hour before I'd have to force myself to keep going. I realized that there is just no way that I can get a job. A real, out-in-the-public job. And I cried. In sorrow. In hopelessness. In grief. In fear.
And it didn't help that I have also been trying to stretch my food as far as possible. I didn't think about it till during my therapy session that my body remembers my childhood of so many times when nourishing food was withheld as punishment. Along with it also came feelings of worthlessness because a lot of things in my current situation are stirring memories from the past that I had forgotten but my body hadn't. Such as not feeling safe. Having to move yet again. Not having any idea what to do next. Feeling so helpless and alone. Trying to stretch my food by not eating as much because I don't know what expenses lie ahead. Or if I'll have to sell the rest of the things I brought along on my last move and end up on the street.
It is an extremely hard place to be.
The last several days I've been struggling with the desire to go down the rabbit hole of porn. I dont want to. But there's a part of me that does. And it seems to come to the surface when I'm hurting and feeling vulnerable like I am currently.
As we touched on this subject I realized its around the same age as the part of me that feels worthless and hopeless, triggered by my current situation. As I was reminded how I as a 13-14 year old had to go clean people's homes and got access to porn material, I was asked how it made me feel.
I still remember that first time I picked up a book and started reading. I remember identifying with the woman who was being raped. How there was no one there to protect her. How when she cried out no one came to help her or comfort her. And there was another part of me that wanted to know how sex works since it was a taboo subject in my community and I was curious like all children are. I felt as though I was reading forbidden material and I was more scared of being discovered than I was of noticing whether my body felt aroused or not. I remember there was a draw almost like I could identify with the woman being held down, uncovered, and raped without having a voice in the matter. By this time in my life as a preteen-teen girl I felt like I was just an object for people to use however they wanted to. I would fantasize about being tied down, naked, and beaten by different people because I felt I deserved it. That I was so worthless. Because I didn't know what love was. Or to be cared for or listened to. I would also fantasize of people doing things to my body, usually by my abusers or men. In my fantasies I didn't feel the pain like I did in real life. I just felt the physical touch. The being "wanted" even if it was just for my body. Because despite all the painful touch I had to endure in my life, I longed with all my being to just be cared for, loved and held.
As I was trying to put these things in words and being reminded that there is no shame for me in these things but that the shame comes from the way I was treated and belongs to the ones who treated me so cruelly as a child, it just kinda dawned on me that being raped as a 4 year old my body remembered how it felt even if I I didn't remember it consciously. Therefore in reading those cheap romance paperbacks with all the explicit details it was a way for me to feel like I wasn't alone. Because my body knew how that woman was feeling. I could identify with her even though I didn't know why at the time.
Eventually reading those books and being so starved for love and connection I thought that maybe that's the only way to get love and be loved. The hunger for love made me so desperate that one evening I was going to use my little brother to try to fill that void. Not knowing how sex works, I didn't understand what I was feeling in my body and I was so afraid of getting pregnant that I didn't follow through.
The next several months were very dark with fear and loneliness. I had no one to talk to. No one to ask questions. No one to confide my fears in. The fear of how horrible my parents would treat me and the shame I would bring on them was huge. Add to that the fear of how the community might treat me. It was a huge load that no teen should have to carry alone.
As we talked about these things my therapist friend suggested that perhaps the porn is what saved me. It was a new idea to me and I really believe there is something to that. Graduating from school at 8th grade, the future looked extremely dark. All I could see was that there would now be no escape from my parent's cruelty. Until it was time when I was expected to get married or become of age. I saw no way to escape before then and I couldn't imagine or hope for anything better after that. I was already just existing, like a piece of trash that was worthless and only good for what work could be squeezed out of it. I may have had a name but I felt like an "it". A nobody. Just a thing. A "thing" with no autonomy or agency of its own. A slave that could be kicked and slapped around however the owners desired. Thus being exposed to porn, it distracted me and kept me searching for love even if it was a twisted version of it. And I could identify with the rape victims on a deeper level, not realizing that my body knew what it felt like, because I felt like I understood what they were going through.
Now fast forward 20 years, the hate I feel towards anything that has any sexual tone or could lead to sex is slowly lessening. I don't feel as much livid hate towards my body when I wake up in the night feeling aroused because I'm beginning to understand that there is a part of me that wants to be loved and cared for and that's the only way she knows to get the attention she craves. The shame surrounding my knowledge and viewing of porn and body parts is slowly lessening as I begin to understand that it is a part of the trauma and abuse that I had to endure as a child. I'm beginning to understand that the shame belongs to those who abused me and used me, making it easier for me to talk about these things that before were top secret. Very rarely did I talk about these things but am becoming more comfortable with writing and talking about them. These parts of me, as shameful and hated as they have been in the past and still are at times, need to be acknowledged and accepted. And treated with love and compassion and care.
It is not easy for me to try to care for them or give them what my parents never did and should have, even just the basic needs, especially right now when I have nothing to give physically. But I'm going to try to accept them when they raise their "ugly"(see, there's still hate there) heads, and to just be with them so they aren't alone. That is something I can do while laying flat on my back like I have been most of the time lately. I don't know how well it will go but using my doll and teddy bears it will help, because those "objects " make it easier in my imagination to separate the hurting parts from my body which I feel hatred towards and helps me see it as another person that deserves love and compassion. Most of you know that it's easier to give love and compassion to another individual that is hurting than to our own selves, and that it is what my doll helps override so that I can indirectly have care and compassion towards myself.
Like usual, I didn't know what to expect going into a session but I am very please with the results:
The 4 yr old part of me felt connected to the rape victims that I saw through the porn. And didn't feel so alone.
The porn probably saved me from suicide by distracting me from the hopelessness and helplessness I felt in my situation. I don't know that I would have made it otherwise.
Definitely not the prettiest stuff to be talking about but it is part of my healing journey and I'm grateful to notice that the hate and shame are gradually lessening.
I am glad for everyone that didn't have to experience such things. I'm also glad for everyone who had to endure such things and is now doing their best to heal. Things that remain hidden and uncovered will remain unhealed.
Just as the sun's rays can have a sanitizing effect on the natural environment even so do the rays of love and compassion help bring healing to the horrible and heretofore hidden wounds of abuse.
I hope that somehow down through the years my story will help someone else. Even if it is just one person. If you read this and have done your own healing work, if you are comfortable doing so please leave encouraging comments for those who may come later that are struggling to heal. The hurting deserve to be heard and to know that they are not alone in their darkness. (Anyone else is welcome to comment too.)
Thanks for reading!