Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pieces of the puzzle are fitting...

I saw John tonight. I feel better. (Not all better, not even remotely, but clearer.)

I walked into his office and the first thing he asked was, "How was your weekend up North with your brother?"

To put it clinically, I described to him my symptoms (restless sleep, compartmentalizing, etc.) I told him how I felt a hole when I saw my brother - because this was the brother that I liked the most (which isn't really saying a whole lot since both of my brothers treated me fairly rotten over the course of my life.) I told him how I am afraid to feel, that I don't want to feel these things, but I'm miserable holding them in. Everything I could think of.

Through our conversation, he fit the pieces together.

Since I had been doing really well (living a healthy life, for the most part*) for months before my visit up North, so he said that my anxiety has to do seeing him again. He said that I dealt with my abuse the best anyone possibly could - he said that I have no reason to relive it.

John figured out that I feel miserable because I'm keeping a secret. That I'm taking responsibility to protect people (my brother, my nieces, my sister-in-law, my parents, etc.) who it is not my responsibility to protect. I didn't do anything wrong; I don't need to protect anyone but myself (and consequently, my son and husband.)

He also said that I am trapped - Tom is family; there is no way around not seeing him, not having some kind of relationship with him (even if it means that I'm angry at him.) If it had been a friend, I could tell the whole family, everyone (in theory) would rally around me and we'd cut off relations with said friend. But since Tom is family, if the fact of the abuse leaks out (and John said that inevitably it will slip out someday,) people will take sides - possibly (probably) not mine. It's messy. And it sucks.

So we talked some more. I emphatically stated that I can't live life like this anymore. Stuffing my feelings in boxes and shelving them. I just can't. It's like I'm living a lie by keeping this secret. The stress and anxiety of keeping this secret is killing me.

He said I can either keep what happened to me a secret from my family and live with feelings bottled up (which means that I probably end up coping by using my ED once more) or I can tell my family.

"Either way sucks," he said. An understatement to be sure.

I remarked that it was funny that he said that. A few nights ago, Todd and I were talking and Todd mentioned that he would love to reenact the battle of New Caprica with my family. I said something along the lines of, "If there's fighting to be done, it'll be me doing the fighting." While I had always said that this is my fight, this was the first time that I said, point blank that I would actually fight (and not find a peaceful solution.)

I also mentioned that last week (before my parents came down for a visit,) I thought about saying to my mom, "So, Mom, suppose I tell you that I remember being molested when I was younger. What would you say?"

John asked me what I imagined her response would be. I said that I didn't. I stopped it right there because I couldn't imagine going through with it (which I didn't.)

We talked about who would be a good starting place. My parents? No way. I figure at best my mom will shake her head, tell me that I misinterpreted it all, roll her eyes, and remark, "Crazy Jeanne again."

So, I figure my oldest brother (Johnny) would be best.

John said again (and a few times throughout the night,) "I know, it sucks." Yup.

I asked John, "So let's assume that I am going to tell my oldest brother. Because, knowing me, that is what I'll do. What do I say? 'Hey Johnny, I know I never call, but I just wanted to tell you that Tom molested me when I was younger.'"

John and I chuckled. He advised me to start by saying that I have something serious to talk with him about and asking if he had time to talk. Once we agreed on a time, John said it will be easier to tell him. The other thing he said was to be sure that I told Johnny that Tom has confirmed that it really happened.

I said to John, "My reply to Tom (after I had confronted him, after he apologized and validated my memories) was that no one else needs to know. So I should tell him that I'm telling Johnny."

John said, "After you talked to Johnny."

I look puzzled. Shouldn't I give Tom the heads-up?

John replied that you don't want to worry that Tom called Johnny first and poisoned the waters. He said that it would be fine to send Tom an email right after talking to Johnny. "Write the email and as soon as you hang up Johnny, click Send."

Deep breaths.

John said that I had all the pieces when I walked in the door. I knew what I needed to do. I said, "You give me too much credit. I had the pieces, but I needed you to help me figure it out."

Towards the end of the hour, John said, "You are very brave."

I said, "I don't feel it right now."

He replied, "You're in a difficult situation." He said that a lot of people would just continue to shelve these feelings.

I nodded, "Yeah, but six months from now, I'll look back and realize how brave I am."

So, I left his office feeling better. I have a course of action that feels like it's the right thing to do. For me - because as John said, there is no right or wrong answer here.

I'm hoping to get a hold of Johnny tomorrow - maybe leave work early. Because like every other step in this process, once I figure out what I need to do, I want to do it and get it over with. With the hope that I'll feel better - some relief from the hell (depression, anxiety, stress) I'm in.

I don't want to hide anymore. I am not my abuse, but it did happen. It wasn't my fault. And I deserve support and love. I didn't do anything wrong.

*John said that I'll always have residuals - all survivors of abuse do (for me it's my negative body image, the reactions I have when I'm touched in certain ways, etc.); the residuals don't have to disrupt my everyday life though. When they do (like these dreams,) it means that there is something else happening (and most likely, it'll be something in the present. Since for me, I really did deal with the past and that the past isn't what seems to be bothering me.)


Faith said...

wow Jeanne.

I am so glad you could work on this with John. What an incredibly brave thing it is to even consider telling your brother. I am honored that you shared this.

Keeping secrets sucks. I can't imagine trying to protect my whole family and feeling responsible for everyone being happy or miserable based on something I know. Of course it's not about you and it's not at all your responsibility, it's your brother's, but I'm imagining that this is probably how you feel.

Either way does suck but protecting and healing yourself is your first priority.

Do you have another appt. scheduled with John? It might be helpful just to process this stuff with him after.

I'm here Jeanne. If you need anything.


Jeanne said...

Hi faith,

Thank you - I slept even worse last night, so at 4 am I decided to get up. I saw your comment in my email. I can't tell you how good it made me feel - to know that someone else understands.

I do feel like I need to protect my whole family and that I'm responsible for everyone being happy (or miserable.) That I have a hard time thinking that my happiness is more important than the happiness of so many people, people that I do love.

I do have another appointment scheduled with John in two weeks (he's on vacation next week. As if this situation couldn't suck any more...)

I plan on calling my brother, Johnny, this afternoon since I have a few things to do at work before I can leave (since I am on vacation Friday through Monday - going to visit the in-laws.)

I've also already written a first draft of the letter to Tom - telling him that I can't live with this secret; that I didn't do anything wrong and yet, I'm the one not able to sleep, battling an eating disorder, in misery...; so I've talked to Johnny.

I have absolutely no appetite (although I am eating anyway. I need all the strength I can muster today...)

I'm glad you're here, faith.

Sarah said...

Hi, Jeanne. You ARE brave. I'm really proud of you.

It's an amazing thing, and an honor, to watch someone save her own life. Write her own story.

Thank you for sharing this process with us.

I'm here for you. Today, tonight -- whenever you need me.


disordered girl said...

You are seriously brave. I hope you can see it, and I'm glad you have someone so good to work with.

Jeanne said...

Thanks, sarah.
I am saving myself, aren't I? Sometimes I get so close that I can't see it, you know?

Thanks, dg.

Right now, I can't see how brave I am... Maybe when I screw up the nerve to place the call, maybe afterwards when I click send on the letter I'm sending to my other brother, maybe when this is all played out...

I'm really glad I have John as well - I just wish he was more available sometimes, you know?

æ said...

hey you.

I could've SWORN I left a comment here last night...I'm so sorry I didn't.

You're amazing. Not sitting on the silence. Break it open, Jeanne, break it open.

You have more support out here than you know, and I hope you can lean on us.

If you need anything specific, or even just have a sense of something I could do to help, please tell me. This is a big deal, and even if you feel a bit like "well of course I'm doing it/it doesn't FEEL brave" right now, please promise us you'll respect the period after, as the period after you did something really. big.

It's like re-entry, you know? Just knowing that this weekend you take it extra easy, you throw out a few lifelines, you ask some people to check in on you.

You are taking huge big steps to take care of you--and when you do something big and new, it's important to let people take care of you, important for you to be easy on you.

I am so touched to be one of your witnesses.


Faith said...

Morning Jeanne -

Just letting you know I'm here if you need anything. I'm here and I'll be checking in all day.


hayley said...

hi jeanne,

you are doing the right thing. You have done nothing wrong, so anything that needs to be done to help you get through this is okay.

I'm thinking of you, hoping for you. really, you are doing the right thing.

love h.x

Jeanne said...


I’m glad I have you to lean on.

I’ll be heading up to my in-laws this weekend with my husband and son – getting my hair cut, and being well taken care of. My in-laws (extremely supportive people) know – so no secrets there. I hadn’t realized that this is why I’m so gung-ho to call today and get it over with – my mind knew that I’ll need lots of extra TLC this weekend.

I can’t thank you enough, ae. Truly.


Thank you so much for checking in! I’m getting ready to call – just waiting for my husband to leave so I can have the apartment to myself while I do it. (I took an extra half day off of work.)

I’ll be sure to post an entry when I finish the call.

Thank you for being here with me. Thank you for the encouragement.

Lots of hugs to everyone…

Here I go…

Faith said...

I'm right here next to my computer Jeanne.

Right here with you.


Sarah said...

I'm here too.

Sending so much love and strength to you.



Jeanne said...

faith, sarah - you both are awesome!

Thank you so much!

And interestingly enough - I left my laptop on and open so it was like you all were holding my hands...

(okay, I'm getting sappy now. lol)

Seriously, all of you here on the cul-de-sac are truly amazing. I am honored to have you by my side through this.

Thank you just doesn't seem like enough.