Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Perspective

I've been listening to a book on Cd during my commute that has made me think a lot. I probably have absolutely no business listening to this one and Dr. Mind would yell for about oh, 3 or 4 hours if he knew. Especially when I've been depressed and am still fighting it (although I do believe it's improving).

The book is The Pact by Jodi Piccoult. I really like her books usually. This one is too close to home. I'm going to explain the plot, so if you want to read this book, you might want to stop right now.

******************************SPOILER BEYOND THIS LINE***************************

The book, very summarized since it is 15 CDs long (probably lots of pages), is about a 17 year old girl who is in love with the boy next door. Their parents were best friends and the kids were sort of raised with the expectation they'd fall in love. When they were fairly young (11?) they were playing truth or dare and the girl was dared to go into the men's room. Which she did and she was molested. This then led her to have a great deal of trouble with the physical aspects of her later relationship. Ultimately she has sex with her boyfriend because she thinks she's supposed to. She spend a lot of time struggling. Then she finds out she is pregnant. She tries to have an abortion, but panics when the male doctor attempts an exam. So she decides to kill herself. The boyfriend knows, is even with her when she does it, even brought the gun, thinking apparently until the end he could stop her. He's stupid, he's 17, he doesn't tell an adult. He was tried for murder. I had to find out the ending to stand the book; I read online spoilers so I know he gets off. I don't know how yet exactly; I still have 4 CDs to go.

I can't tell you how hard this book has been for me to hear. It hits too close to home: sexual abuse, so many of the same feelings I've had, and way too much thinking/talking about suicide. I have almost stopped quite a few times. I really haven't had such a hard time with a book in a very long time. This though is different because something rather good came from it.

Please do not take this personally. I am not saying I am better than anyone. This disclaimer is thanks to anonymous and that person's taking the last time I wrote something about my experiences versus someone else's. I totally understand that one incident of sexual trauma is devastating. I honestly don't even know if there is much difference, other than the exposure I had to scary things was greater.


The sexual abuse I lived through was intense, had 2 different people doing bad things, and lasted pretty much my whole childhood. This was something I dealt with nearly daily for many years. I do not have one memory of my grandfather until he was dying that isn't linked to trauma. I just now realized that, in fact.

I have many, many issues because of what happened to me. I know they are somewhat normal and that they were made worse by the years I was too sick to deal with them. At this point I've decided that at least for now I just don't care enough to work on them. Unless I change my mind I'm probably choosing to be alone in my life as far as relationships, but I'm really ok with that. I just feel like I have struggled to do ok in life as it is, and I continue to struggle. I know that I could work on that stuff and be ok. But I do not want to. It's exhausting to think about so much work, and truthfully I'm happy now. Trying to sort through that stuff would make me not happy, for a long time. And I don't know that the outcome would be worth it. Trust is so incredibly hard for me. Which I have every right to feel. It takes everything I've got to trust a friend. It takes even more for me to trust people who touch me; there are so few people allowed to do that. My choices are not normal. I know that. But I also know how deeply damaged that part of me is.

What I find so amazing from this book though is that what the girl experiences is much like what I've experienced in my minimal relationships. The only time someone tried to kiss me I only sort of knew it was coming, it was very, very dark (we were in the woods at 11:00 at night with only one flashlight which was turned off), and I panicked and punched him. Hard. Again, I know this is a normal enough although extreme reaction, but since what I experienced was more extreme reactions make sense.

But what I finally get is something I've fought about with Dr. Mind for years now. He frequently tells me I'm strong and that I've survived a lot that I didn't have to make it through. My reaction has always been that I survive because I have no other real choice. I could kill myself, but otherwise I have to do this. But this book? This girl had one time that she was molested. It was no worse than any routine day of my childhood (my grandfather babysat me. I was with him a lot). And her reactions were so much like mine.

It's a novel. It's not real. But it was written by someone who very clearly researched what this person would likely go through. And the character has the same issues I do, despite not having had the years of abuse I lived through. I finally realized that even if I know that I'm making decisions that mean that no, I probably won't live a totally normal life in the relationship area, I did well. I've handled something awful as well as can be expected, and as well as others who haven't had so much happen. I'm ok. I'm doing well given my circumstances, better than expected even.

And that is a very peaceful feeling, despite the stress that this story has caused. (Not to mention I've listened without a panic attack and that's huge!)

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