I got an emptiness deep inside,
and I tried -- but it won't let me go.
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
but I never cared for the sound of bein' alone.
My only shred of hope lay in these words to Neil Diamond's song. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't escape that feeling. "But others felt it too!" whispered in the back of my mind, "others felt it too!" Somewhere there must be an answer.
My search to fill that emptiness led me to therapy. I struggled for ten long years trying to tear down the walls that protected me from my secrets. I learned many valuable skills. I was responsible for my feelings. It was not fair for me to expect others to know how I was feeling or what I needed. It was my responsibility to tell them. I could say “No.” The list went on and on. But the more I learned, the more I realized how depressed I really was. That emptiness inside me was beginning to look more like an abyss whose blackness was swallowing me up. My secrets were still well protected but the walls holding my feelings in were beginning to topple. I wasn’t prepared for the intensity or the self-hatred of those feelings. What was this about? After all, I had come from a typical, average American home, hadn’t I?
In 1984 Something about Amelia aired on ABC-TV. At 2:00 AM in the morning I hysterically disclosed to my husband what my older brother had done to me so many years ago. Two weeks later, again in the middle of the night and again hysterical, I disclosed that I had “killed” my father when I was twelve. (He died from cancer of the liver.) Little did I know that these were only the first tiny pieces to my puzzle.
Within a year and a half of these disclosures, I began looking for an agency that specialized in treating sexual abuse. I started group therapy and soon after bean individual appointments with the therapist from group. Together we embarked on the next stage of my journey.
I bought my first journal. It was covered in a Victorian looking print with pink hearts. On the front was a picture of a cat studying a butterfly. My first journal entry, dated October 17, 1985 reads:
“The cover of this book reflects not where I have been but where I hope to go. The contents will most likely be recollections of those persons and incidents that have influenced who I am. If the cover were to reflect the contents, it would be black but somehow complicated and intertwined……..maybe a seething mass of snakes, a picture of the soul I thought was mine. I’m slowly learning it is not my soul at all but indeed the tangled combined souls of persons in my past. Them, I will learn to forgive, myself – I never could.
Now I must discover a view of myself I can live with. A perception not distorted by the bleakness I have lived. A perception based on reality and free of the judgements of the wounded child that has ruled me. That child was a victim. What does that make me?“