Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Chapter in Which Kate Gets Free at Last

A while back I wrote a post about someone who was significant to me when I was in high school. In that post I talked a bit about how much G was able to hurt me with her cold words and her treatment of me. In the months since I wrote that, I have come to understand that what she did was much more than that. What she did was spiritual abuse, it was soul stealing and it was profoundly damaging to me. For over forty years I have carried not only the pain of the words she said to me, but a part of me has remained absolutely stuck and rooted on the stairway where I collapsed when she said them, stopped in my tracks in part of my growth in a sense. Because what she told me was that I was "not lovable", that I was "not worthy" of any one's love and care. She of course, being the wonderful person that she was, could go above and beyond that and would care for me anyway....she would fly in the face of all the "others" who told her she was "wasting her time" on me, on my "phony, fakey" self whom "everyone knew" would "never amount to anything."

Those words became a part of me, she became a part of me. In psychological terms, she was an introject in my personality. Whenever I was stressed, or something happened that reminded me in any way of her, or my back was against the wall (like any time I felt guilty about anything...which for me is pretty much any time I am less than perfect!), it would trigger stuff about this. She of course was the lead the critical voice in my head, always ready to shame me, to remind me that I am indeed not really ok, not really loveable, despite much evidence to the contrary. I have been working away at this whole thing for years in various ways, in therapy, in body work, and most recently in spritual direction, knowing that many of my issues were connected with G and my relationship with her, that she stood in the way of true authenticity and freedom for me, and getting more and clear of late that what she did was abusive.

Last night I think I got free. I have known all along I was not the only girl she befriended. I knew there were a group of us, and I knew we were all kind of fringey girls. Loners, kids whose family lives were not the best, or who did not fit in socially, or who had "issues" of one kind or another. I also knew she did not want us to know one another, and actively discouraged friendships between us. As we talked in spiritual direction last night, the light bulb finally went on! C had mentioned the possibility of trying to look up the other girls and see how she had treated them, if she had done something similar to them. My first reaction had been fear that if I found them they would say I was the only one she said those things to, behaved that way with, but then suddenly, I knew! I knew as if it were written clearly on the wall before me. It was her perp rap! She said it to all of us in some form or was not about me....We we all her victims. I did nothing to deserve this any more than any client of mine does anything to deserve any of the abuse they incur. None of it was the truth about me. Though it was directed at me personally it was not about me personally. All of the things she said to me were designed to give and keep her in power over me. And it worked. Oh did it work. She has been gone from my life physically for over fifteen years now...and only now does she NO LONGER have power over me. Because today it is done. For the first time since I was sixteen she is not in my head. I am free of her. I expect that there will be backsliding moments. I know this is not a miracle cure. But just for today, I am enjoying life without her and thanking God for endurance, patience and really good SDs!

In the moment when I knew, that fifteen year old part of me that has been stuck on the stairway rose and began walking. She walked away from G down the stairs and out of that school. She started dropping books and shedding things until she was as light as air. She walked and then she ran and she picked up speed until she was flying. She flew into God and she flew into my heart where at least at this moment she safely remains.


Mary Beth said...

This lovely, lovely post about your freedom! has me in tears. Thanks be to God for your courage and tenacity in continuing the work all those years.

You were a treasure. You ARE a treasure.

Much love to you and 15 year old Kate!!!

mompriest said...

Kate...once internalized its likely this freedom will become stronger and more authentic, more you, right? yes, I suppose you (me, any of us) will "backslide" but never as far and never as deep...YAY!!!!

What a powerful reflection. Thank you.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is absolutely breathtaking. And I believe that such moments of clarity do stick. Yes, you might slide back into it, but never as deep nor will you stay stuck as long.

My first year out of college, I taught school in a horrible situation. I don't need to go into details but it was very damaging. Years later, I had a series of dreams for seven nights in a row. In each of them I was being murdered in some new way. Finally, the last night, there was imagery that told me it was about the teaching. And at the end, I said, "I don't deserve this," and I woke up. From that point on, I have never had the same guilt and shame about that situation. Still some regrets and disappointments yes. But much more freedom. I believe that will be true for you too.

My former therapist says that you never forget these hurts from the past, but they become less intrusive. Thank God that from now on, G will be less intrusive in your life.

God_Guurrlll said...

Thank you for your post. You've been set free and my heart leaps in joy for you! Thanks be to God for you and your ministry!

Peace and love,

Anonymous said...

What a powerful moment. There is someone who sounds strikingly like G in my own grade school memories, and it is heartening to hear your story, and your breaking free of those chains.

I'm so happy for you right now, what a wonderful, wonderful freedom!! Thanks be to God!

Crimson Rambler said...

thank you for sharing this, Kate -- lots of "resonance" for me too!

Jan said...

Kate, you wrote so movingly that I was deeply touched. God's grace brought you to this place of ultimate healing. You are brave to write of this and to continue this path of honesty. As Mompriest wrote, you have stepped forward, and this memory can nudge you to keep going when and if you slip into that young thought that has plagued you. Praise the Lord.

Katherine E. said...

'Deep speaks to deep,' Kate. What you've written about your experience 'resonates' in my soul, too. Thank you.

mid-life rookie said...

None of it was the truth about me. Though it was directed at me personally it was not about me personally. All of the things she said to me were designed to give and keep her in power over me.

This my dear is truth. Hold onto it in your mind and use it to remind your heart in those slipping back times. I too have been freed from evil (yes evil) messages about being unloveable and unworthy. I do slip back, but it's been a while since they were named as abuse and the slipping back comes less and less often now. Keep on keeping on and God will keep working on the masterpiece that is you. Holding you in my prayers.

P.S. A book that was hugely eyeopening for me about how my youth colors my now is "The Power to Bless" by Myron C. Madden. I was able to find it on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

that is hard work you have done well -

imngrace said...

Thanks be to God that you have finally been freed and now can believe all of us who know what a courageous, smart, funny, creative, tenacious person you are.

It all resonates with me, too, as others have said. I'm still working on being free, but knowing it can happen is water for this thirsty soul.

Kate said...

*happydances for you and your freedom*

I've had a seies of moments like this in my recovery from the Terrible Ex, and every one is hard but freeing...every one helps. Yes, I backslide, but less and less every time.


the other Kate

Ruby said...

Hooray for you! Your freedom is present in every step you take, my dear.

zorra said...

Yay!! I'm so glad!!
This is wonderful, and you've worked so hard! Hang onto the truth you've found, when the hateful lies pop up again...
hold 15-year-old-you close and tell her the truth!!