Thursday, 30 August 2012

Recognising the damage: Sexuality

Write about the ways you are still affected by the abuse. 

Write about the strengths you've developed because of the abuse. Think of what it's taken for you to survive. 

I am going to use the sub-headings mentioned in the book. I hope they will cover everything. 


"Sexual arousal became linked to feelings of shame, disgust, pain and humiliation. Pleasure became tainted as well...
... When abuse was coupled with affection, your needs for nurturing were linked to sex. You didn't learn to meet these needs in other ways."

I get uncomfortable when my father tries to get affectionate. I don't like him putting an arm around me. Or my brother. Or my father-in-law. I can't see anything innocent about it and that makes me feel disgusted with myself. That I can't trust them. Or any other man. I don't even trust Darren when he puts a casual arm around me. I take it to mean that he is horny and wants me to go to bed. 

Answering specific questions:

Are you able to stay present while making love? Do you go through sex numb or in a panic?

I'm never a 100% there. There are times when I am not there at all. My body is acting independently of my mind. If I happen to come back mid-session, I panic. The desire to push my husband away and leave the room is quite strong. I often find myself suffocating and unable to breathe. 

Then there are those times when I don't want sex and my husband does. There have been times when I have pretended to be half-asleep. If I do wake up and respond it is because that situation - me asleep whilst someone's trying to have sex with me - is something that happened over and over again in the abuse.

I also respond so as not to disappoint him. So that at least his needs will be met. I'm practised at pretending to enjoy it and making the right kind of noises. 

Do you use sex to meet needs that are not sexual? Can you accept nurturing and closeness in other ways?

Till I was 17 or 18, I didn't realise that sex actually made people happy in real life. Until that time, it was something that happened in books and America. If it happened in reality, it was a shameful thing that no one was supposed to do. I'd had two boyfriends. One long distance, so there was no scope for sex there. If ever he hinted over the phone that he wanted to do stuff with me, I didn't get the hint.

The other one, he was too sweet. Only once did he try to put his hand under my shirt and I panicked. Pushed him away without explaining why. 

Around the time I turned 16, I started going to internet chat rooms. All my relationships have been with people I met through the internet. There was something reassuring about talking to people who couldn't see me and hence judged me based only on what I said. If they didn't like that, fair enough. But I felt like if they had seen me before speaking to me, I wouldn't get a chance. By the time I turned 18, it also became obvious that sex could be used as a tool. I could make men bend to my will if I used sex. And that sort of power gave me a thrill. The act in itself always proved to be a disappointment. I got no pleasure from it till I met Sherry. Then I never got pleasure from anyone else. 

I suppose I can accept nurturing and closeness in other ways because I have some very dear friends and am extremely close to my mother-in-law. I continue to feel surprised that these people should give me the time of day. I don't actively push them away but I'm not good at reciprocating either. It may be construed as selfish by some, but to me it's quite a challenge. I feel distant and don't have the knowledge of how to respond. I don't know how to do the little things to make someone feel special. Except through sex. That I can do. 

Do you find yourself avoiding sex or going after sex you don't really want? Can you say no?

I often find myself doing both. I often don't want to have sex. When I want it, I don't like it. When I've met someone in the past whom I've been emotionally interested in, I've known that sex was inevitable and have offered it; because I knew that that will make them stay if nothing else. When they got upset, I used sex. Even now, if I want my husband to believe everything's normal, I initiate sex. And put up with the feeling of bile at the back of my throat. 

I have started to say no. Not when I first feel like saying no, but when I have resisted the urge the previous 10 times. I always want to say no or stop mid-session. Very rarely do I actually stop. 

Do you feel that your worth is primarily sexual?

I feel that it is probably the only way I can express my gratitude, show affection or make someone feel better. At this point in my life, I don't feel that I have much else to give. I like offering kind words and genuinely mean them but often feel like they won't be enough. 

Besides, it seems to solve a lot of problems. You fight with your husband, you go to bed and make love and nothing else seems to matter. That is the only thing he needs you for. Everything else, he can manage. 

Are you sexual with partners who respect you? Have you ever had partners who sexually abused you? 

My husband respects me. I think that is why this is so difficult. That I can't wholeheartedly give myself in sex makes me feel even more guilty because he's good to me. He hasn't done anything to deserve this behaviour from me.

I haven't been with anyone who sexually abused me. There have been those who made me feel bad about not wanting sex all the time but that didn't last very long. I've never been too good at saying no and very good at trying to do anything to avoid conflict. If sex was going to make them be good to me again, I gave it to them irrespective of how I was feeling. 

Starting to sound pretty needy and pathetic now. 

Have you been a prostitute or used sex in a way that had elements of exploitation?

No. And no. I haven't used sex to get something non-sexual, if I've understood the question correctly. 

Do you experience sexual pleasure? Sexual desire? Do you think pleasure is bad?

Sex has been the only constant in my life. First, I didn't know what was happening. Then I didn't like what was happening. Then I didn't care that it was happening. By this time, my body was growing up and wanted it so I started seeking it out. I felt desire, but the act made me feel disgusted and ashamed. I experienced a limited sort of pleasure only with myself until I met Sherry. Then the lack of emotional involvement on his part made me feel like sex was the only thing he wanted from me. So I distanced myself when I couldn't go on like that any more and moved half-way across the world. 

I had no intention of ever having a sexual relationship in this country. All I wanted was a two-year break and was going to go back and marry a man my parents chose. Have sex to keep him happy and make a couple of babies. 

Then I met a guy whom I slept with once. Technically, he walked through the door and the next thing I knew he was on top of me and I couldn't/didn't stop it. Never felt as empty as that. 

And then I met Darren. Instantly fell in love with him. Something fell in place inside me and made me a little bit sad because I knew it was going to have to come to sex eventually. I remember when he touched my hand for the first time, I felt an electric charge course through my body. The first time we kissed felt like a fucking soppy Hollywood film; at the bus stop, in the rain with one of legs crooked up behind me. I was terrified of inviting him into my bedroom because I knew he would want to do stuff and despite all the desire I felt, I just didn't want to do anything. 

The first few months were magical, once we had actually done it. I was swept away by just how much we enjoyed being together and the sex was good too, so long as I kept pushing the flashbacks away. I don't think I had acknowledged them as fully then so it was a lot easier to ignore them than it is now. Besides, I was convinced it was temporary. 

Throughout it all, I felt guilty. Like I was using Darren to fulfil some need inside me. I've always felt disgusted that I have sexual needs. Masturbation is an indulgence that makes me quite unhappy with myself. That sex occupies my mind so much is a constant source of disgust. I do experience pleasure, but it's never pure. I always feel guilty and selfish afterwards. 

Do you ever feel that sex is disgusting or that you're disgusting for enjoying it?

See above answer. I like the idea of sex but as an act I find it disgusting that I enjoy it. To anyone else, it should be nothing but pleasure. 

Are you turned on by violent, sadistic or incestuous fantasies?

They make me want to vomit. Anything that causes either of the people involved pain or unnecessary force irritates me and makes me sick. Fifty Shades of Grey was pathetic apart from the vanilla sex and mild bondage. Consensual sex is the only way forward and even there nothing that causes pain. 

Do you find you need to control everything about sex to feel safe?

I am more comfortable being the one in control. But I also know how to safeguard myself when I'm not. I switch off. 

Do you ever experience flashbacks to the abuse?

Go back to the beginning and start again you doofus! X( 


Do you have sex because you want to or only because your partner wants it?

Both. And 90% of the time it ends with me wishing we hadn't started. 

Have you ever been sexually abusive?

I remember when my brother was five. I was 13 and still being abused every week, if not more. By then I knew what was happening was wrong. I also knew that I has switched off and was nothing more than a warm body under amit bhaiya, for him to do with as he pleased. But that one time when my brother was five, I wondered what it was about a child that young that had put me in this hole. I remember looking at my brother with angry tears in my eyes, just wanting to inflict something on someone. I felt a rage that made me want to make someone else feel like I was feeling. 

That feeling lasted for two minutes and then I couldn't get myself to look at him again. I think my relationship with him changed then. I could never get myself to hug him again. I started treating him like a grown-up. Never treated him like a child after that. Expected him to know better when he behaved like one. Took out a lot of anger and frustration by beating the shit out of him a few times. There's nothing I regret more and I apologised to him for it a few months ago. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Random thoughts 1

Tuesday, 7/aug/2010, shrewsbury, 4.30pm

Throughout my adult life I've gone back to Sherry looking for approval. He told me once that he has me on a pedestal, somewhere no one could reach. 

He clearly never felt strongly enough to take things seriously or he wasn't ready, himself, for something serious. I repeatedly felt let down by him because he wanted things from me that I would've gladly given if we'd been in a relationship. I wasn't prepared to do it as a casual thing. The problem there was that I left, resolved never to go back to him. Every time. That's from being 19 to, well, now. That's 10 years. For ten years this man has had the ability to give me a massive boost when I need it. Through the only language of love and acceptance that I seem to understand: sex.

That's pretty hard to acknowledge. Sex is the only situation, in a relationship or when another person is involved, that makes me feel like myself. Writing does it for me alone. No one can interfere with that. 

The only acceptance and appreciation I can accept without much objection is in sex. Anything else I do - cooking, organising, dressing, talking, anything - I can't take a compliment. I don't believe anything anyone says. I always feel like I could've done better. 

I feel disgusted at the sight of my own body. Not because I'm fat but because I've always felt like that. 

I didn't have breasts, even when the abuse was well under way and amit bhaiya was groping at them. I remember him pinching at the little peaks on my chest. And feeling disappointed in myself. That he didn't have anything to pinch. I was trying to please him. Warped as it sounds, on some level it made me feel special that he wanted me. I still hated every minute of it. I didn't want it. I still blocked most of it out. Closed my eyes many times and kept them open when I couldn't ignore what was going on. Sometimes closing my eyes focussed my mind on exactly what was happening. Now, in sex, I can't keep my eyes open because I hate my body and when someone wants it, it makes me feel depressed. Because I feel they are being nice to me and that I'm putting them through a painful process. So I close my eyes. And I go back to the abuse. Then I open my eyes and I want to vomit. 

Just thinking about it all makes me want to vomit. 

Quite often, I feel like I want someone to pummel me with their fists. Kick me really hard. punch me in the back, stomach, slap me hard. because I feel I deserve the pain. that maybe I'll come to me senses if I'm beaten up. There was always a startling clarity that came in the aftermath of one of my mother's beatings. a kind of resolve to do things right. I feel like I will suddenly realise and remember that I'm stupid and should do what people want me to do without using my own brain and having an opinion. That's what I deserve. Nothing more. I've been created to obey and nod my head to everything. I don't deserve choices because all I'll do is fuck them up. 

Sometimes I feel like I don't have any thoughts of my own. I need to stop writing because I feel incapable of moving my pen.

Tuesday, 21/aug/2012, Cleethorpes
Msgs to tanisha

Graphic realisation coming up.
The only thing the bastard didn't do with me is go down on me.
It is the singlemost sexual act that keeps me anchored during sex.
No I know why.
I should be thankful to him for leaving me something.
And the only man who has always told me that that was the best thing about sex with me in Sherry. It is the one thing he said made it different for him with me than with anyone else. I know I can't trust him because he slept around a lot and probably said all sorts of things to all sorts of women. But it is the only compliment I have felt good about. 
He was the best sex of my life and I don't feel so bad about it now. He gave me pleasure without making me feel horrible afterwards. 
I wish I could transfer that to Darren but I can't. It's the memory of Sherry that brings me back when I know Darren is expecting me to respond in sex. It is the memory I scramble for when I get flashbacks of the abuse. 
And I don't feel guilty. The fact that when I come back I am with Darren makes me feel comfortable. 
I feel relieved that I didn't wait around for Sherry because he would never have made me as happy as Darren does. 

I've just accepted that sex has never had any emotional importance to me. I've known it all along but I feel like I can accept it now. That I don't need to worry about 'why' that is so. I love Darren. I feel sexual desire for him. Those are two separate things. I think trying to combine the two would make things difficult again.

Recognising the damage: Intimacy

Write about the ways you are still affected by the abuse. 
Write about the strengths you've developed because of the abuse. Think of what it's taken for you to survive. 

I am going to use the sub-headings mentioned in the book. I hope they will cover everything. 


Answering specific questions:

Do you find it difficult to trust anyone? Do you have close friends?

I can't answer the question of trust. The best I can do is say that I start a relationship with trust. Somewhere, a sort of objectivity has taken root in me. That when I start a relationship, the person I am with hasn't given me a reason to mistrust them yet. So it wouldn't be right to judge them. There is always that feeling that I will invariably hurt them eventually or do something to push them away. 

Over the years, I have tried to trust in my mother over and and over again; and I have been let down. Every time I feel like that is the final straw and that I cannot trust her again. But I find myself craving her approval and for a while say and do things to please her, even if I genuinely don't believe in them. And then the same thing happens. So that now, I know no matter how hard I try or what I do, things are never going to be right between us. 

I do have close friends. I am constantly aware that I don't want to become dependent on their company and love because when the day does come where I let them down, my sense of loss however selfish, will be something I can handle. I can turn my feelings off like a switch, if I choose to. Indifference is a comfortable feeling for me. I don't think I can ever surrender myself to someone 100%. Not even to Veer. I will be there for the people who matter to me whenever they need me, but don't necessarily expect them to be there for me. They have their own lives to lead without me adding to their demands. 

Can you imagine a healthy relationship?

I couldn't till I met Darren. For a while, all my insecurities of ever finding someone who loved me for me seemed to be taken care of. I knew I had met a good man. A really good man who doesn't expect much in return. He hasn't changed in the last 6 years. Unfortunately, neither have I. I still possess qualities that infuriate people and I still can't find a way to give myself to him completely. I don't feel comfortable when he tries to be affectionate. I force myself to accept his advances because I don't want to be unfair to him. It has nothing to do with him. I know the problem lies with me. I am unable to love with 100% abandon, no matter how good he is to me. Physical proximity makes me uncomfortable and it is an essential in a 'healthy' relationship. 

Is it difficult for you to give and receive nurturing? To be affectionate?

Yes. I like to nurture others and find different ways of doing it. I like to feed people, make things for them, look after their needs. It makes me feel useful. I can't be affectionate. I don't go 'aww' and everything my son does or when my husband does something special for me. I'm better with my son because I can't get over the wonder of having created something so special. I don't think he is perfect. He has his moments. But I do think he is, by some fluke of nature, the best thing I ever created. He evokes an affectionate side of me that exists only for him. I don't think it can flow into my other relationships. 

I've felt the need recently to let people I love know that I love them. More so to reassure them that I am here for them whatever they need and have had to use language that they understand and would believe. It hasn't been a natural instinct; just a need to reach out and let them know I'm there. 

Are you afraid of people? Do you feel alienated or lonely?

In the midst of people I don't know very well, I feel awkward. I don't feel like I could contribute anything to a conversation without sounding stupid of ignorant. 

In the company of my parents, I feel secluded in myself because there is such a culture of keeping up appearances. The constant expectation of saying and doing the right thing makes the whole exchange contrived and measured. I don't think I'm afraid of anyone other than my parents. I used to feel lonely but have taught myself not to depend on anyone but myself to keep me company and so I don't feel lonely any more. 

Do you tend to get involved with people who are inappropriate or unavailable?

Always have. Every single relationship has been with someone I knew there was no chance of a future with. My most serious relationship - based on levels of desire and obsession - was with a man 8 years my senior and was only held together by sex. I feel that I invested the most in that one. He was emotionally unavailable. 

My relationship with Darren started on the premise of unatainability. I was comfortable because I was certain it wasn't going to last, him being White and me Indian. And then, blow me, he crosses the seven seas to come and marry me. I've never felt more out of my depth. I have no memory of the day we got married, except from photographs. Even those look new every time I look at them. I escaped. My memory flushes things out regularly and I haven't been able to recover much. I remember having to break my bangles to take them off. They wouldn't come off. I vaguely remember having sex with Darren on that night because we had to 'consummate' the marriage. We'd had sex before so I don't know why we felt we had to do it that night. I don't remember much else. 

Have you ever been with anyone who reminds you of your abuser?

Every person I have ever been with has, at some point, reminded me of him. Except maybe Sherry. The sexual tension and sporadic nature of that relationship was too overwhelming to leave room for much else. 

Otherwise there was always a smell, a way of touching, sounds; things they said; I can't escape it even now. It is always there. every smell. the feel of his lips on mine.. the feel of a dick against my hand, my vagina, the sight of one covered in semen. everything that should be part of a regular married sexual experience. reminds me of him. 

i can't look at a bald man without having the urge to vomit. i can't think of bald men without it.

Do you often feel taken advantage of?

I rarely feel taken advantage of. Never would be more accurate really. Anything anyone wants from me, I feel like I owe it to them. No matter what it is. They deserve it and I should do it without question. It is their right and my duty. I don't feel like they're taking advantage of me. 

Do you find that your relationships just don't work out?

They haven't worked in the past and the only reason my marriage is working is because of Darren. He's much more than I am worthy of and definitely gives more to it. I don't want it to end. I don't know that it will last. I'm bound to take a step too far at some point. It's inevitable. 

Do you have trouble making a commitment? Do you panic when people get too close?

I've always craved security. I've gone into a relationship committed and expecting it to end because of me. Which has made me overly anxious to ensure I did everything to hold it together. I don't worry about people getting too close because I know they'll never get past a certain wall. No one goes past it. 

Do you find you are able to get close to friends but can't seem to make things work with lovers?

I've only recently acknowledged that when there is sex involved, I'm not a 100% there. So any lovers I've had in the past, I've quite unconsciously done what was expected. I've already said I attract the wrong sort anyway. They've cheated on me. Sometimes I've been someone who wasn't quite a boyfriend; so boundaries of the relationship were always fuzzy. When we broke up, it wasn't really a break-up because it hadn't really been anything special in the first place. I don't think I've fully acknowledged my problems with lovers before now. 

I always assumed things ended because of how I was with them - possessive, needy, clingy, naggy and generally unpleasant. Not exactly 'show off to your friends' material to look at either. Been told on a few occassions that I wasn't girlfriend material but more of a wife. Strange that none of them seemed to want me for their wife. 

Do you find yourself clinging to people you care about?

I was always a possessive and jealous girlfriend. When Darren and I first got married, I was a jealous wife. But, so many times, I've been hurt by it that I started training myself not to be. That if they were happy with me, they'd stay otherwise they'd leave. It became simple after that. Same goes for my other relationships. I'm no more important that anything else in the lives of family and friends. They'll get around to calling me when they're ready. So not clingy any more. 

Do you repeatedly test people?

I don't believe in playing games in relationships. Never have done. I am as honest as I can be in a relationship and assume that the opposite person is doing the same. I don't feel the necessity to test anyone. They'll express how they feel when they feel it and if they don't, they don't. 

Do you expect people to leave you?


Can you say no?

Is this a trick question? No. I can't. 

(note to tanisha: the temptation to say 'yeh kaisa behuda sawaal hai' was too much on that last one.)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Recognising the damage: Your Body

Write about the ways you are still affected by the abuse. 
Write about the strengths you've developed because of the abuse. Think of what it's taken for you to survive. 

I am going to use the sub-headings mentioned in the book. I hope they will cover everything. 

Your Body

"Children often learn to leave their bodies to avoid (these) feelings - or they numb themselves as best they can."

Answering specific questions:

Do you feel present in your body most of the time? Or are there times when you feel as though you've left your body?

I am now at the stage where I don't necessarily know I've left my body till I come back. But, I can also consciously leave my body. 

I think I've used this to deal with a lot of things. Not just sex or the abuse. I've used it to block out my mother shouting at me for not studying or for not doing things around the house. I've used it to avoid feeling the ruler - wooden, plastic or steel - when she hit me with it. I've used it generally to escape the physical pain of her beatings. Until recently, I had forgotten about the time she banged my head against the bathroom wall. I think I may have used it then. She did it because I had been reading on the toilet. I hid the book - a special Christmas story about the young Nancy Drew - before unlocking the door. She threw the door open, slapped me a few times, I think, and then held my head between her hands and rammed it back against the tiles. I now remember a sort of ringing and throbbing; general stars in front of my eyes. I remember falling to the floor. I saw her reach up and find the book; and she tore it to pieces and flushed it down the toilet. I remember shouting and saying "sorry" because I didn't want to lose the book. It was a favourite and I was only reading it for the second time. Even then, I was more upset about losing the book than about her hitting me. I had prepared myself for a beating before I unlocked the door. It was inevitable. But I had not been ready for her to tear and destroy my book. That was harsh. 

I've gotten used to getting through social situations by escaping my body. I am skilled at escaping my body during sex. I need to escape it when I am exercising. Swimming generally agrees with my mind and body. But most other forms of exercise or daily activities need me to separate my mind from my body if they need to be completed. 

Very few sexual experiences act as an anchor for my mind. 95% of the time, I'm not there. It doesn't make a difference whether I am with someone I love or just someone I'm fucking. If I am with Darren and make myself come back to him, because that's the way it should ideally be, I feel instantly nauseated and have to think up a reliable fantasy in order to avoid shutting down entirely. That is becoming more and more difficult now. 

Do you ever use alcohol, food or drugs in a way that concerns you?

Do I use them as compensation? No. I don't/have never used drugs bar once to try weed. I have never felt the need to 'use' them because I don't like the indulgence of it. I don't like the idea of being dependent on them. Anything over a certain limit is an indulgence and hence I don't do it. I smoke and feel guilty with every cigarette I smoke. But there is also a defiance - that if I want to smoke, I will Goddammit and no one can stop me. 

Do you have a full range of feelings in your body or do you sometimes go numb?

I think I can take pain. I did well with labour and delivery. I was in a lot of pain but I handled it well. Whenever I felt pain as a child, I told myself that I had childbirth to come and if I couldn't deal with teeny weeny pain, how would I deal with that? Now, I tell myself that I dealt with childbirth with paracetamol and codine. Any other pain is stupid. Deal with it. I seldom, if ever, take pain medication. 

During sex, I can go numb. Physiologically, it is possible for me to not feel anything - for example, a hand on my breast or in my vagina - although how much of that is me escaping, I don't know. 

More recently, I have noticed my mind affecting my body. Last week, while writing about the abuse, I felt physically unable to continue writing. My handwriting became very small and I felt incoherent. I had a dull pain in my arm and shoulder that throbbed after I had put the pen down. I felt unable to move for a few moments and wanted to close my eyes and go to sleep exactly where I was. 

Are you aware of messages your body gives you (hunger, fear, tiredness, pain)? Do you respond to them?

Yes. I think because I've had to function alongside the abuse, my body is used to a normal sort of functioning. I don't often fall ill. I eat well and can handle pain and tiredness. When I feel fearful, I also feel an optimism that it will pass. I don't know if that's another way to cope but my body's daily functions seem to work fine. 

There are times when I can be engrossed in something that I don't feel hungry, thirsty or tired. When I am writing or when I am baking for someone else. Any activity that succeeds in capturing my mind and body results in me realising at midnight that I haven't felt the need for a glass of water all day. It rarely happens.

Do you have a hard time loving and accepting your body? Do you feel at home in it?

I don't think I belong in this body. When I happen to catch a reflection of myself in passing, I don't recognise the person I see. I see someone ugly and fat and feel trapped inside that body. 

At the same time, when I look into a mirror, dressed up to go out, and if I look good, I feel like it isn't me. That I am looking at someone else. How can I look good?

Do you have any physical illnesses that you think may be connected to your abuse?

No, not that I know of. 

Do you enjoy using your body in activities like dance, sport, hiking, etc?

I enjoy dancing, some sports and also hiking. I am conscious that my body looks awkward when I am doing all of those and use my super escaping skills to counteract that if I really do just want to go ahead and do them. But I am always aware that I look awful and like I belong in a zoo. Actually, not even a zoo. 

Have you ever intentionally hurt yourself or abused your body?

Yes, once. I used my mother's best knife, because I thought it would do the job quickly. I was terrified of how painful it would be but I was determined to do it. The problem was that it was a serrated knife and not suited to break skin as easily as a smooth knife. Especially in the hands of a coward. I took a deep breath before every slash and all it did was scratched and stung. It bled, but only as a bruise. Stayed scabby for a few days and has left me with white scars to remind me of my stupidity. Even as I was doing it, I felt like laughing at myself. Because dying would be the easy way out. And living was the real punishment. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Recognising the damage: Feelings

Write about the ways you are still affected by the abuse. 
Write about the strengths you've developed because of the abuse. Think of what it's taken for you to survive. 

I am going to use the sub-headings mentioned in the book. I hope they will cover everything. 


"the feelings you expressed may have been disregarded or mocked. You were ignored, told you had nothing to worry about, molested again."

Word for word, this is exactly how it was. I can't express how I feel even now for fear of being rejected, laughed at or called stupid. 

Answering specific questions:

Can you recognise your feelings? Tell the difference between them?

I recognise negative feelings. I recognise anger and how it is difficult for me to control it. I have outbursts because I try to smother how I feel quite a lot. Try to 'move on' and 'be patient'. Then, when there is seemingly no reason for it, I have a huge outburst and tend to totally lose control. I haven't been violent for a long time. Over 7 years I'd say. I don't feel violent. Just very angry sometimes. 

I recognise non-feeling. This profound state of not being able to feel. I don't know sadness or refuse to admit to it because it makes me feel indulgent. Like I'm being selfish by being sad. 

I've felt happy. When I first met Darren I was very happy. There are times now when I just feel happy being with him. But it is never pure happiness. I don't let myself be purely happy because I know it won't last. There is always an accompanied feeling of doom. 

I feel an overwhelming sense of love and affection for Veer. All the time. That is pure. I do get angry and frustrated when he's struggling with food and insisting on misbehaviour. He knows when he's doing something he shouldn't but is at the stage where he's constantly testing boundaries. I have had the urge to shake him or slap him. These urges are always quickly followed by shame, dejection and disgust at myself. That I should be capable of feeling like slapping my son after everything I've been through with my parents. I get angry with myself for not being able to control how I feel. 

Do you have trouble expressing your feelings?

Yes, although I seem to be doing a pretty good job here. 

I feel scared I will be rejected. Not with Darren, because I tell myself there's nothing he can do. He can't leave. He might if I keep pushing him too much and that thought stops me sometimes. If I disagree with something he's said or done, it makes me sulky but if he asks me whether I'm all right, I usually say yes.

When I had veer, I decided I would express my love for him, to him, every day. That although hugs make me uncomfortable, I would hug him often and tell him I love him every single day, many times a day. 

Do you value your feelings or see them as an indulgence?

Outright indulgence. The very fact that I'm sitting here writing about them is making me feel like I want this exercise to end. 

Are you comfortable with anger, sadness, happiness, calm?

I am comfortable with calm. I like calm. I aspire to be calm in everything I do. Anger makes me uncomfortable because it is the opposite of calm. Happiness and sadness both make me feel indulgent. 

Do you feel confused much of the time?

I don't feel anything much of the time. I don't feel confused. I feel torn but not confused. Often I feel like I'm struggling or juggling two or three different feelings but I don't feel the necessity to settle on any one. They are all equally unwelcome and uncomfortable. 

Do you experience a wide range of emotions or just a few?

I'd say a fair few. Mainly dejection and repulsion towards myself. And there are fleeting experiences of all sorts. Anger, sadness, happiness, envy, disgust, hate, longing, calm, love, affection, desire. Can't think of any more. 

Are you prone to depression? Nightmares? Panic attacks?

I don't like the sound of 'prone to'. I have spent a lifetime trying to avoid falling into a pattern so I don't like 'prone to'. Do I get depressed? Yes, of course. A lot. There isn't a specific pattern to it but it can be triggered by various things. 

I have nightmares about the abuse. It's usually set in public; a lot of the family are there; Amit bhaiya is there. There is usually a sort of chase, one that only him and I are aware of. It always ends in me waking up crying or sweaty because he has been smirking. He doesn't say anything but his grin has a voice which is saying, "I told you they wouldn't believe you. They're never going to believe you."

I never have panic attacks. Panic signifies weakness to me. I am not comfortable with panic. 

Have you ever worried about going crazy?

I worry about ceasing to see sense. I worry about reaching a point of no return from irrationality. Logically, I know somewhere that my insecurities are irrational and something that can be dealt with. I worry about losing the ability to see that. I worry about losing faith in the people who want to help and are trying to help. I worry about reaching a point where getting better doesn't matter any more. 

Are you afraid of your feelings? Do they ever seem out of control?

I am afraid of my feelings. I'm afraid of my anger because I have seen what it can do. I'm afraid of feeling happy because I'm afraid of losing it. I'm afraid of sadness because it makes me feel like I'm going back to the beginning and not getting better at all. 

More recently, my despair and sadness seem to be getting more and more intense. I do cry, which I suppose is expected when I am often unhappy. But things seem to be affecting me a lot more. I've ended up crying so hard on a couple of occassions recently that my brain, my logical brain, is telling me to quiet down. Not unkindly, just genuinely to calm down, but I am physically unable to stop. They are loud sobs. And I am not loud. Never have been. But these have been loud, controlled sobs. Not hysterical. Mournful, if I can say that. Yeah. Mournful. Like someone's died and there is no going back. Melodramatic. 

Have you ever been violent or abusively angry?

Yes, with my brother and sister. It was par for the course in our family to use violence for instilling discipline or expressing displeasure. I did what I saw. Obviously, it was an outlet for my anger at everything that had been going on with my life at the time. It has left me with a lot of shame and guilt. If I could go back and change it, I would. Then again it keeps me mindful of my anger with Veer. My need to smack him is counteracted with memories of being beaten senseless by my mother and visions of me beating my brother. I don't recognise the person in those visions. 

Writing Ex 1: Recognising the damage: Self-esteem and personal power

Write about the ways you are still affected by the abuse. 
Write about the strengths you've developed because of the abuse. Think of what it's taken for you to survive. 

I am going to use the sub-headings mentioned in the book. I hope they will cover everything. 

Self-esteem and personal power
There is none. I feel selfish when I feel confident. That to assume I would be good at or capable of doing something is wrong. I don't believe that if I succeed at something it is because I am good at it but it's because I was lucky on that day. Or that the competition wasn't strong enough. 

I don't believe when people pay me compliments. I believe that they're saying things to make me feel good. To not hurt my feelings. And immediately I feel conceited that I am thinking like that. Why would anyone go to the trouble of not hurting me? Why would anyone be considerate towards me? What have I done to deserve their sympathy, consideration or pity?

Answering specific questions:

Do you feel you are bad, dirty or ashamed?

There have been times, before I got married, that I felt bad and dirty and as a result ashamed. I felt bad for indulging in sex with boyfriends or masturbating. I felt dirty because I wanted sex and felt sexy. I felt ashamed every time - after sex, after talking about it, after wanting to do it on my own. I felt ashamed of just how light-hearted and happy I felt after sex or masturbation. I felt ashamed of enjoying it. I felt like a slut. 

Now, since I have been married, it is mostly revulsion. Revulsion towards myself. That this is what my husband has to live with. Unable to perform well for him. Feel like he deserves better and that I am keeping him from it. Sometimes feel like I should encourage him to go out and find someone better looking and better able to fulfil his needs. 

Do you feel powerless, like a victim?

In the depths of my depression, I often feel like a victim. Whenever I let myself dwell on my feelings, I feel powerless. Unable to move. Unable to dig myself out of a hole. 

Majority of the time however, there is just a dominant feeling of being the one responsible for the abuse. I made it happen, hence how can I be the victim?

Do you feel different from other people?

I do. I never, have never, felt part of a group. I don't have a group of friends. I have individual friends and generally am with them 90% of who I really am. 

Seldom can I openly express how I feel. I often feel that I want to be like them but would not be able to or don't deserve to be like them. I am amiable enough and can adjust to the general mood of a group. I feel comfortable not being myself. 

Do you feel there is something wrong with you deep down inside? That if people really knew you, they'd leave?

Yes. I seem to have a knack of pushing people away. I hurt people all the time by not living up to their expectations. I'm afraid to show who I really am because I know that people will leave. 

On the one hand, that could be a good thing. They would be better off without me. But, selfishly, I don't want them to leave. I would be really alone if they did. 

Do you feel self-destructive or suicidal? Or that you simply want to die?

I do but I also am a coward. I am too scared to do anything to myself. I don't like physical pain. I can take pain from someone else, but inflicting on my own body fills me with dread. 

I have logical discussions with myself about the advantages of my death. I can quite justifiably see there will be a lot of benefits. This constant feeling of emptiness that I feel will be gone and I won't be able to hurt anyone any more. People can wipe out this black hole that exists in their lives because of me and properly start to live again.

Do you hate yourself?

Often, yes. That I cannot or am not capable of making those around me happy is the biggest reason for it. That I end up hurting them is another. That I am incapable of doing anything of significance in my life is another. I fail at everything I do. I have no conviction, dedication or strength of character to see anything to its end. I depend on my husband for everything and never give anything back. I have never made my parents happy and although it's too early to tell, I'm certain I'm going to fail my son. 

Do you have a hard time nurturing and taking care of yourself? Are you able to enjoy feeling good?

I don't think it is right to 'nurture' and 'take care' of myself. To my mind, it's selfish. It's self-centred. I need to nurture others and look after others. My body isn't worthy of anything other than basic food and shelter. Love and nurturing is more than it deserves. 

Do I enjoy feeling good? No. I feel selfish when I feel good. 

Do you feel unable to look after yourself in dangerous situations? Have you experienced repeated victimisation (rape, assault, battery) as an adult?

I believe I will be able to protect myself in a dangerous situation. If someone tried to rape me now, I think I would have the strength to do something. Although how far that is a 'hope' and not a 'belief' I don't know. 

I have been beaten by my parents till I was 18. Violently beaten. But not since then. I have been 'coerced' into sex by partners when I didn't want it, by them claiming "you know you'll enjoy it" and I have given in without a fight to avoid disappointing them. 

But I haven't been victimised as an adult. I've been lucky to meet and marry the man I did. 

Do you have a sense of your own interests, talents or goals?

Some, yes. I know what my interests are. I believe I have some talents - whether I am as good with them as some other people I don't know. I think I am reasonably good at them but I know that there are a lot of other people who are better. I have no goals. I can't have goals because I have nothing to work towards them with. I don't have anything worthy of giving a job, a business. Waste of space, that's the term that comes to mind. Nothing good enough to offer,. It's a fact. 

Do you have trouble feeling motivated? Are you often immobilised?

Yes. All the time. I find that I could push myself to go to Zumba, for example, and feel very enthused about it; come out bouncing and determined to keep going and the next day is a completely different story. I feel unable to move. Physically and mentally immobile. 

Are you afraid to succeed?

I don't think I'm capable of it. 

Can you accomplish things you set out to do?

In the short term, yes. Small projects, I can finish. Anything that cannot be done in one sitting will be left unfinished. Books are different. I can read. I like to read. But finite goals are about the only things I can successfully accomplish. 

Do you feel you have to be perfect?

I feel that expectations must be fulfilled. Small or large, they must be fulfilled at any cost. I don't think I can do that. So I feel disappointed in myself and feel like I am not trustworthy. I have never been able to deliver and don't think I ever will. When I think of applying for a job, I go into it hoping I don't get it so then I won't end up letting them down. I feel certain that if I do get the job, the employers will realise all too soon that they made the wrong decision. 

Do you use work or achievements to compensate for inadequate feelings in other parts of your life?

Laughing out loud. I have never really worked for long enough or achieved anything important enough for it to replace anything in my life. The fact of the matter is that it is an empty life that has no reason to exist. It's a shell with no purpose. 

Re-reading Courage to Heal

Then one afternoon when I was just waking up from a nap, he sat down next to me on the side of the bed. He put his big heavy fingers in my pants and began rubbing my clitoris. I had no idea what he was doing. He asked, yet sort of told me, "It feels good, doesn't it?" All I knew was that I couldn't say no. I felt powerless to move. I said "yes."

That is the experience I can relate to most. Except it wasn't when I was waking from a nap. It was a game of hide and seek. Hiding under a bed-sheet. He started stroking my thigh and went further up every time. He rubbed me through my panties and I pushed his hand away. He laughed and let it go. 

He made me and my sister touch tongues. I felt disgusted and so did she. She started crying and I tried to be older and mature. I wasn't a baby. I was cool. I didn't mind. I did it. I encouraged her. 

All our games were physical. Wrestling WWF style. Bull fights. Pushing our foreheads against one another till one of us was defeated and collapsed under the other. Guess who won.


Fingers inside me. Fingers pinching my flat chest. Then a wet dick pressing on my vagina. Can't remember if he went inside me. I remember him ejaculating on my vagina. 


I remember being unable to talk to my mother. Never really told her what he had done. Couldn't. Told her he touched my waist. My thighs. Unreasonable to blame her then? Unreasonable to expect her to take it seriously? Yeah. Unreasonable. 

(Current thoughts after re-reading: I did write her a letter. I told her we had had sex and I didn't want to get pregnant or get AIDS.)


If I don't actively make myself think, I'm empty. 

Feeling like I have sexual problems with Darren because it comes with added intimacy. It isn't just sex. There is the potential for one or the other of us to get to be hurt. That's what makes it difficult. Detached sex feels more comfortable to think about.