It has taken me 27 years to remember. I buried it so deep to survive. i have been told that the brain is amazing in its ability to protect. I believe that. All of the signs were there over the years. Bladder infections, unexplained bladder pain, interstitial cystitis. Anxiety and Depression. Promiscuity. Early drug and alcohol use, especially around sex. Rage, triggers, dissociation, age regressions…all of it. But it wasn’t until i had my first daughter, and I saw him hold her and I felt rage and disgust and so many other emotions and I knew that I had to protect her from him. Then a miracle happened…he asked my aunt for a divorce. After 28 years of marriage, he was cheating on her with not one, but 2 women more than 30 years his junior, one of which he had begun the affair with while she was a teenager. When he left, it made room for me to heal.
In the beginning all I had was one memory from when I was 8 that we “laughed” about in my family. My aunt, uncle and I went to a horse show and all slept in the same bed but some time in the night, my aunt ended up on the floor. “I was a crazy sleeper” they said..but I remember it differently. That was the beginning. Other than that all I remember were bits and pieces but through therapy and supportive people in my life i have begun to piece it together. It is still a process but writing my story is part of that so here is the short version:
He came into my life when i was 8 years old. He and my aunt moved back to the farm to run the family’s horse business. He was a horse trainer so right off the bat I had him on a pedestal. I remember that I really wanted him to like me. Not like that, not yet anyway, because I didn’t know anything about that. I just wanted attention and I wanted to feel special and I wanted to ride horses. My second memory was at a horse show. I would go with my aunt and uncle but my aunt would get busy and my uncle would want to go back to the hotel room and drink in secret so I would go back with him. He had a flask hidden between the mattresses that he drank. He was supposed to be sober. He wasn’t. He only touched me when he had been drinking. And he mostly drank at horse shows because he could not stand the pressure. Once he got a buzz, his guard was down and he would ask me to come get into his bed. At first, I had no idea what was happening so I did it. I was wearing a t-shirt and panties and he was wearing briefs. He would rub on me and fondle me and I would tense up because I was so confused. but I never said stop because i didn’t want to upset him. it didn’t hurt really even though it was very strange and I wanted him to like me so much that I was willing to do just about anything. he was manipulative, he played mind games with all of the women in his life. he would tell them all the exact same thing (I found this out later during the divorce). I can remember him saying to me…no one loves you like I do. your parents don’t love you. I love you. so right then and there he taught me what love was and that to keep it, you had to give up what you wanted and needed for a man, so that is what I did.
There are various memories over the years from 8-12. some more clear than others. the last memory I have is so clear that i can tell you every single thing about what I was wearing as I walked into that hotel room. I was 12. I had on a t-shirt and jeans and brown paddock boots. I had really long hair and I had braces. I took off my pants and got into one of the two beds. he shot his liquor and then pulled back the bed covers and patted the mattress. ( to this day if my husband does this it sends me into a rage). I went over and got in beside him. he loved me, I knew he did. at this point, I am trying to say this without shame, I almost thought he was a boyfriend. that is how it seemed in a way. so sick and so sad. he was especially drunk this time and he was rubbing on me. his 5 o’clock shadow was scratching on my face and his alcohol breath was in my nose. I always tensed up because even though it hadn’t hurt before, it hadn’t felt natural either. it was always something I did for him. something I gave him. not like the natural love making between two adults. but this time was worse. this time he raped me or at least he started to. He didn’t do it for very long but it was long enough. I remember the feeling and I remember the fear…total terror. when it was over I ran to the bathroom which I often did (and still do when triggered) and sat on the floor and cried. I cried and cried and cried and he came to sit next to me and he said he was so sorry, it was the alcohol. he would never hurt me like that. and so began my life long distrust of men and alcohol, separately and together.
Then my aunt walked in. She saw me on the bathroom floor. This is also very fragmented but she helped me up and over to the bed. She rubbed me back and calmed me down. Then they got into a fight. I have no idea what they said but all I know is that we NEVER talked about any of this.
It seems to have stopped then. I have no idea if it was because he realized that he crossed a line? or because he got sober then? but he never touched me again. but our dysfunctional relationship continued until he left the farm when I was married and had children. I truly believe that is why I never remembered before. because he was so ingrained in our family that I believed that no one would believe me and I could not handle that.
I have separated myself from my aunt and her business. I had to. It was the only way I could heal. I feel great pain about this because it was always my dream to come back and run the family horse business, but I knew that I could not heal while being a part of this insanity and nothing has changed. I have begun riding a different type of horse, I have trained in Equine Therapy and I have rekindled my love and passion for horses. It’s a long road but totally worth it to heal.