Believing My Own Truth

(Trigger warning for topics of child abuse. Not graphic, but still potentially triggering.)

I brought the van der Kolk book excerpt as well as my thoughts on Friday’s session to yesterday’s appointment. It went fine, but not great. Not because of her, but because of me. And mostly because it’s apparent that  I just can’t handle validation or empathy.

Her response to my reflections on session?

“Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I can see where the fear and the need to test comes from. And that’s okay.”

Her response to the book excerpt?

“This is great! And I definitely think this is what we have in here – or at least what we’re building towards. And if that doesn’t sound right to you, please share with me what feels missing so that we can figure out how to get that need met.”

Gah! She’s says all the perfect things! But I still felt super triggered and anxious. And something she said about “testing” triggered a switch to Anna that also triggered a new fucking memory about sexual abuse from my biological mother that I absolutely cannot accept as reality.

Which is what we talked about in session today.

She (of course) said that it’s totally okay if I am not ready to accept some of my history as reality, but that she believes everything each Part shares with her is true. And that it makes a lot of sense for me to feel torn between wanting to believe Anna and absolutely rejecting her truth. Especially because that is probably a reflection of various Insiders responding differently to the truth being spoken.

Then I said, “But what if I am making this all up? What if I am such a convincing liar that I believe my own lies? My parents used to tell me that I was such a great liar I believed my own lies. What if they were right about that? Or maybe there’s something wrong with my brain? Or maybe I am just insane?…”

She interrupted my spiraling before I could get any further to say, “Andi. Listen to what you just said. Your parents told you that you were such a great liar that you believe your own lies. Can you see how much effort they put into protecting their secrets and perpetuating their own lies?? You think you are lying because that is all you were ever told about yourself. But it doesn’t actually make you a liar.”

Fair point. But I really need to believe I am a liar right now. That is so much easier than believing both of my parents sexually abused me. And my mother? I mean…I just can’t believe someone a mother is capable of something like that!

So then I told her this memory of very sadistic sexual abuse from my aunt’s boyfriend. He engaged in literal torture of both my cousin and myself when I was in primary school. I never questioned those memories, really. Partly because my cousin corroborates them, but also because when I think of this man, he absolutely seems capable of child torture.

I explained that it’s bizarre to me that I can accept something so heinous from the aunt’s boyfriend, but I can’t wrap my brain around mothers abusing daughters.

“It’s just…it’s my mother. Is there anything that cuts deeper than that…?”

She kinda just had this look of horror on her face as she gently shook her head “no” in response. I also noted that she physically flinched as I merely described the nickname the Aunt’s boyfriend used for his torture game. That was hard to see because I forget sometimes that other people’s lives weren’t like this and it’s difficult for them to hear the details of mine.

Then she asked me if I ever questioned the abuse from my biological father.

“Yes and No. I always knew he hurt me. But some of the more violent memories…I didn’t want to believe those either at first. I still don’t, which is strange because I have actual firsthand memories from recent time of him being violent. I remember running out to my car to get away from him a few years back. He was chasing me and I couldn’t get the car door unlocked fast enough before he kicked me to the ground, full-force, with his steel-toed work boots. Not for any reason other than because I pissed him off.”

She expressed how horrifying that is and then reflected back to me that although she doesn’t know for sure (because she wasn’t there) if my mother did what Anna said, we both know my mother is a cruel, horrible person. I agreed with her on that point. Then she pointed out that I had alluded to both of my parents sexually abusing to me before,

“Just recently, in the dream…you said ‘they’re having sex with me’, meaning both of your parents.”

“Ugh. Yeah. I know. I was glad you didn’t point that out at the time I brought it in.”

Then we (again) diverted attention from the mother-abuse thread and I started talking about other things. Eventually she asked me if my mother or aunt had ever been sexually abused.

“Oh for sure. Everyone knows my aunt was molested, which is why the family always treats her like she’s so fragile. And my mother told me when I was 15 that she was raped by the man who she babysat for. It was on a day she decided she believed me about being raped by my neighbor; she was trying to connect with me, I think. But then, on another day when she didn’t believe me, she accused me of being jealous of my brother for being molested and trying to gain attention by claiming rape.”

“Wait – your brother? I don’t think I know what you’re talking about.”

I could have sworn I told her this story, but I guess I didn’t. So I explained how my little brother was molested by a family friend. We found out because my mom walked in on said abuse while I was having a sleepover (this person was my parents’ friend’s son, whose sister was my best friend at the time, so their whole family was at our house hanging out).

I told her that what I remember of that night was running upstairs to my room to change out of my swimsuit and before I even opened the door all the way, I saw my father on his knees, crying. My mother was standing over him with her hand on his shoulder. I slowly backed out of the hallway and ran down the stairs, pretending I saw nothing. An hour or so later, my older sister asked my brother what happened and he told her so she told me.

“What did your parents do?”

“They took him to the pediatrician who referred him to a child psychiatrist. He went once a week, alone, and we all went to family therapy once a week, together.”

At this point I could see her fighting back actual tears, even though I was talking as if I was pointing out the weather.

“That is chilling, really. The whole of it – that image of your parents in your bedroom, crying; them taking your brother to get help but ignoring you; all of you going to therapy together to process this abuse that happened from outside the family…all while this horrible stuff was happening to you.”

“Yes. I often look back at that moment in the hallway as the single most invalidating moment in my life. Here are these people, crying over the sexual violation of their son, in the very same bedroom they had raped their own daughter many times and would continue to do so for 10 more years…”

“You just said ‘they’ again…”

“I did? Wow. I didn’t even realize that.”

“Yeah. And “invalidating” is only the beginning of how much damage this must have done to you. It’s heartbreaking.”

“You know, now that I’m sitting here saying all of this out loud, I feel like it makes sense that I split into all of these Parts. This is all pretty terrible. So, like, there it is, right? There’s the reason. And maybe this is all true?”

“Yes. There it is. It makes so much sense. It really, really does. And I absolutely believe it’s true.”


25 thoughts on “Believing My Own Truth

  1. La Quemada says:

    “But what if I am making this all up? What if I am such a convincing liar that I believe my own lies? … Or maybe there’s something wrong with my brain? Or maybe I am just insane?…” I have asked this about myself **so many times** for literally years. I was completely stuck on it. The only thing that has helped me was my agreement with my therapist in late June to start “believing the girl.” I basically try not to give all the doubt any real space in my mind and just focus on what the girl needs to heal. It helps a lot, lets me make progress in healing. But I don’t know if I will ever fully believe it. Partly it seems so unbelievable. Who in the world would do such a thing?!?

    I am so, so sorry this happened to you. And I absolutely believe you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      I love your “believing the girl” posts and I often think of attempting something similar. But it doesn’t feel like it would be genuine yet. Working towards that. It is definitely a challenge to believe the unbelievable. Thanks for your kindness and support.


  2. luverley says:

    I’m so glad you are able to talk to her about these things and work through them as much as you have. You are so brave and we are very proud of you and are very sorry for all the shit you went through. Hugs. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Zoe says:

    My mind cannot even process the level of abuse and just — that moment you described seeing them cry about your brother. How they DARED to take him to get help, to go themselves, when they are LIKE THAT and ultimately UNWILLING to change. This was the only way you could survive it all. Please don’t you ever feel weak. Ever. Ever. No. I don’t care if others don’t split into different parts. That doesn’t make them stronger. This is all just… you have no idea how strong you are. You were a child. They were supposed to protect you. How dare they.

    I’m with you. We are all with you. Remember your wife, your chosen family, your friends. We see you, value you. You are loved. You can get through this. You will.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel says:

    It was hard for me to read this post, and hear what happened to you. It makes me feel very sad and I did cry. None of this should have happened, and that you survived at all is a miracle. It really is. I also feel so sad that you hold such negative feelings and thoughts about yourself and the mechanisms you used to survive. That you would ever blame yourself or shame yourself because of what other people did to you, makes me feel sad and upset. I know this is your truth even if I don’t like it, and I am so glad you are writing and talking and not holding it in anymore. Thank you for sharing your story, Andi. You are very much cared for and everyone around you will love you through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thank you, sweet friend. I felt panicked after I published this because I questioned if perhaps it was a bit too much for a blog. Too far. Too intense. But it’s my reality and I need to share it somewhere. I appreciate that you read this. I can imagine how difficult that might be for you. It means a lot to have your support.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cat's Meow says:

    This is so close to where I am at right now. It makes it hard to say anything. It is so mind blowing when people who are supposed to protect and love us instead harm us. It’s like it takes away all stability in the world. The only safety is the safety that a person creates inside.

    This past session, we were dealing with a resurgence of denial that I am experiencing. As I talked to my therapist, I realized that the internal message wasn’t just “don’t believe”, it was “Don’t Go There”. I was supposed to huddle down and not see anything, know anything. My therapist helped me see that it was a memory state of how I survived something that I did not have the ability to understand or tolerate. That part has no words for what happened, it just seems like “blinding, white hot, too muchness”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes! I definitely relate to that. The therapist said that as I revealed the memory (as Anna), I was crouched down like a child, huddled completely in on myself, face buried. So I feel like there’s probably similar messaging going on with us, too. And sometimes there are no words…just using our bodies to express how “too much” it all is. Thank you for this comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cat says:

    How I look on it, Andi… if a little girl was telling you this, even if you did need further clarification, you would nurture and help her work through it and in many ways, this is maybe what you need to do with Anna. I believe it. It all seems to fit with other things and the fact that you keep subconsciously saying “they.” I have to say, I was gobsmacked when I read of their caring response to their son while they did the same to their own daughter.

    Reading about narcissism lately has been quite bemusing to hear narcissistic parents all over the world saying exactly the same things to their children, like, “You’re a great liar… you’d believe your own lies.” Of course, it is all about gaslighting. Great work, Andi.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes, Cat, you’re right. That is absolutely what I would do. Yet somehow I struggle so much to find compassion for THIS little girl. The underlying self-loathing is just that powerful. But I remain hopeful that I can find a way to nurture her. And, yes, it’s incredible how common it seems to be for narcissistic parents to ultimately project their OWN awful characteristics onto their children. Of course WE were the liars, right? Such insanity. Thank you for your support xo

      Liked by 2 people

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