I need only close my eyes to relive the years when I had abandonment issues as the result of incest. If I let it, it would all come rushing back, covering me with fear and anxiety, spiraling me into a world of suicide attempts, poor choices, an inability to set boundaries, severe depression, low self-esteem, manic-depressive behavior and all of the other behavior patterns that are waiting for one who is sexually abused as a child.
It didn’t take much to set it off. The feeling that I was isolated, almost quarantined, and desperately needed someone to rescue me from the consequences of my own actions rolled over me with crushing finality year after year. There was no way out. I’d grab a cigarette and begin chain smoking, used alcohol till I was too drunk to feel the abandonment, or worse, use sex as a way to numb myself from the feeling of helplessness and the apprehensive uneasiness that seemed to smother me. Eventually it would go away and I seemed to stabilize. I say, “seemed” because stability was never really mine. All I had done was managed to “act” as if everything in my world was going well. Only that deep inner part of me, where, in the depths of the night, I could not deny the truth, knew the real story.
I am a very fortunate woman. I say fortunate because had I not married my third abuser, a man so evil, so sadistic that my therapist said I would not survive living with him, I would not today be healed, a woman who makes only healthy choices. I like to think that God sent me an alcoholic in my early years in hopes that I would get it. When that didn’t work, he sent a second alcoholic who cheated on me, beat me up and tormented me with constant intimidation. Surely, she’ll get it this time. I still didn’t. The next 15 years I roamed from man to man always in hopes of finding someone who would rescue me.
I found him. He was the most wonderful man I’d ever known; one who treated me like a queen. We became engaged and since he was my daughter’s father-in-law, we already had a grandchild together. He was a very handsome man with a high powered job where he made good money. He adored my kids. We bought a beautiful showplace of a home. All was rosy and filled with joy. Finally, I had my Prince Charming. There was a down side. One day, while we were talking, he said something bad must have happened to me when I was a child. That was the only way I would have wound up with so many abusers. I became terrified. My father had told me when I was in my mid-thirties about our incestuous relationship, something that caused such horror in me that I refused to believe him. I remembered the first time but my mother had told me it was just a nightmare. Now, here was this man of my dreams trying to dredge up something so ugly that I wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to give him his ring back, saying I couldn’t marry him. He refused to take it. He said the only way he would leave me was through death.
A few months later, he was dead of lung cancer. I thought the grief would tear my mind in two. It didn’t. Within a month I was, not only in bed with a man I barely knew, but had let him move in with me. God had finally decided that he would send the worst of the worst into my life and then I would get it. Two years later, almost beside myself with despair and suicide attempts, I could no longer deal with the torment of my third abuser. His continual rapes, his mental abuse, his constant control over everything I did, what I wore, who I was allowed to speak with on the phone, his continual jealousy over the most minor infractions, the realization that he was cheating on me, and especially his continual hounding about my former sexual sins began wearing me down. He had found the journal I had been keeping for years along with love letters and cards I had received from many different men. He had a powerful weapon. If I protested, he threatened to leave me. Abandonment issues swirled around me bringing acute anxiety so bad that I began displaying what I later found out was what happens to people coming down off heroin. Constant tremors, dry heaves and vomiting, and an inability to talk straight caused me to do whatever he wanted.
I went to my family doctor for sleeping pills and anti-depressants. He had known me for years and he asked me once again if my father had ever sexually abused me. Again, as I had responded many times before, the answer was no. This time my doctor said he wasn’t going to buy it. He gave me the name of a therapist who was a specialist in child sexual abuse and told me to get started. That was the beginning of my recovery. I’d finally gotten it. Two more years of horror awaited me, along with time spent in a woman’s shelter, more failed suicide attempts, severe anxiety and abandonment issues whenever I tried to say no to my abuser.
I initiated a program of my own, creating what was later compiled in a book called Repair Your Life. Diligently, I began to fight back. The anxiety and feeling of abandonment began to diminish. Before I was able to rid myself of my abuser I had to find the real me. I had to go back in time, rid myself of all the ugliness that had happened when I was a young girl and replace it with only good stuff. It wasn’t easy. There were times when I thought I didn’t have the courage to keep going on this bridge of recovery. But the thought that maybe, just maybe, one day there would be no more abandonment issues, no more severe anxiety, kept me going.
Today, I’m happily married to another really good guy. I have had no feelings of abandonment since I completed recovery. Today I make only healthy choices.
You can too. Get a copy of Repair Your Life and begin working the program. Eventually, once you complete Repairing yourself, you too, will never feel the agony of abandonment again.