Donning the mask

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I struggle for authenticity.   There is a yearning for wholeness, for acceptance of self, for cohesion within myself.  Despite this, shame has always driven me to compartmentalize areas of my life; to stay fractured, splintered.

Only 3 friends know about this blog.  Still fewer know my dad signed his parental rights away when I was one and a half.  Few people who know me are aware that I swear like a sailor despite me having a good command of lexicon at my disposal.   My eating disorder is only known by my immediate family and 2 close friends.   I can count on one hand who knows this abbreviated story I recount here,  the abuse I suffered at the hands of my ex.  No one knows I am a survivor of incest as a child, but my shrink, my dying mother, and my fiancé.

It is still hard to say that out loud,” Isurvivedincest,” even in a therapy session behind closed doors where no one can hear.

But how to synthesize these areas of my life?  Would people be accepting of the “real me” after years of putting on a veneer and hiding the ugly things that I am ashamed which happened to me?

Me trading authenticity for acceptance began in early childhood.  Often doing what other kids wanted to do even if I didn’t want to, afraid I might lose them and/or their friendship.  I became a people pleaser at a very young age. In a desperate attempt for love and affection which were denied all around me.  Instead of getting love, I received the abuse, exploitation, and humiliation.

As a victim of incest, the first lessons I learned was that my home was not a safe place, and that my body was not my own, and that I didn’t get to have a  “no”.

As early as kindergarten I recall feeling shame, it manifested in feeling ‘less then’ the other kids.   Anxious and unsettled and wanting to sit near the teacher hoping she might like me or show me some approval.

As I grew older and the sexual abuse intensified and more violence in my home occurred, an irrational belief sprouted that the ugliness inside me may be transparent. I began creating a false persona to hide my shame.  Hide my tears.  Hide my emotions. Hide my authentic self.   I had observed first-hand that the girls who were quiet and sullen or melancholy got made fun of, got devoured like shark meat ny the mean kids.  So I immediately suppressed my feelings under a fake happy,  sunny,  disposition.   I realized that with my persona operating, that  I could “pass” for normal.   I could have friends, connection, some sort of meaning in an otherwise desolate life.

Because my older siblings were all poly-substance users, I too began smoking marijuana at age 12.  Took my first drink of vodka by 13 years old and never looked back.   By high school I could drink most guys under the table and had alcohol poisoning once.  I was not deterred by this.  At this point I believed that I couldn’t let the “real me” come through, the fake me had been operating for so long.  I’d lose everything, I feared. Friends were the only positive thing I had in my life at that time and I was petrified to lose them.  Even if their friendship was built upon knowing me, a girl who was hiding the pathetic, sad, depressed, nothing-to-offer loser who hated herself underneath this joke-telling, witty, charismatic confident false girl they came to love.

Using booze and pot helped me turn down the volume of the authentic me deep inside me, screaming for relief and accelerate the fake persona that I was creating externally, that was happy and confident.  As I was fast approaching my high school years substance use was just I needed to survive all the sharks who would eat me up.

I don’t remember much of high school due to all the alcohol and marijuana use.  My parents divorced and our house was sold.  I found myself looking for a place to stay as neither parent was financially capable of absorbing me after I graduated.

I had never told either of my parents  about the incest.   As I entered my freshman year of college, my eating disorder was so severe that I had starved myself down to an emaciated state.  I couldn’t think or read very well as my mental functioning had declined from being malnourished.  For many months I was harming myself, also called self-mulilation.   I used self-injury to push back any feelings of intense emotion with which I couldn’t cope.   Then things changed and my feelings simply left.  My depression intensified and I just felt numb all the time.  Empty, cold, void of any emotion had become the new norm.  I had persistent and intrusive thoughts of suicide.   This dragged on for 6 months or more.  I figured I may as well be physically dead too.  Seemed logical to me.  Finally one night I decided to end my life.

First, I asked God to forgive me, and then I went ahead with it.   I guess God had other plans.  After getting discharged from the regular hospital,  I was sectioned involuntarily into a psychiatric hospital.   This was the first time in a long time any of what happened to me as a child would surface again in my consciousness.

I find it interesting that had I not attempted suicide at 19, I may have well have kept that mask on.   My authentic self may never have had the chance to be re-born.  My then therapist told me, “sometimes we have to have a complete and total breakdown, so we can put ourselves back together in a more healthy way.”

It has taken many years in therapy and I am still only able to let down my guard and become vulnerable to a few.  Happiness? Real long-standing  happiness? Still elusive I’m afraid.  I do find moments of real joy though.  I’m told I can learn to expand those and they can grow.  Self-love is the one thing I have yet to be able to achieve.  I have been working on learning to set boundaries and learning what it looks like to truly care about myself.  Imagine, having to be taught that.  Most of my life has been spent caring for others and I do that really well.   Historically, I give and give until I am emotionally drained or financially bankrupt.   The goal for me  is to learn to put myself first and not feel guilty for doing so.

Though I have always had the ability to love others and deeply empathize, I find it strange that both myself and my pathological narcissist both employed “masks” to hide our authentic selves.  Perhaps we have something in common after all.

 

Of Mice and Monsters VII

Not long after he shared his fantasy of his torture chamber with me. I was in my home and received a call from him. He told me, “you should really check the unsolved homicides from 1995-1997 in Boston. 

So indeed I logged onto the Massachusetts State police website and told him, “I see X amt. of victims here. They are both male and female. They have a wide range in age and ethnicity. The manner of death varies as does both the manner and means in which their bodies were disposed.”

I continued, “I’m not seeing any identifiable pattern of behavior that would tie any of these victims together.

He replied, ” No, that’s right you don’t.”

So I questioned, “why did you have me go check on these specific unsolved homicides from these 2 years?

Nothing

Did you have anything to do with these?”

Silence

Then…..quiet laughter.

Then, “goodnight Lexi.”

Then the phone hung up.


The following day I phoned the Massachusetts State Police and asked to speak to a detective.   I ended up talking to one and told my entire story. Highlighting his sexual sadism and impulsive violence, the photographs I saw of the pummeled, black and blue woman, on through to the animal killing story, to the sexual fantasy of wanting to abduct a teen.

Sadly, the detective thought that my claim was outrageous, my credibility nill , and he consequently dismissed me as a crackpot.  He told me he would “ keep a report on file.”  This I knew to be a lie.  I felt like this sexual sadist was above the law.  I was pretty sure he believed he was above the law too.

I felt hopeless that day, but things were about to change and a Higher law would set things right.

Confiteor

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti,

et vobis fratres,

quia peccavi nimis

cogitatione, verboo

pere et omissione:

mea culpa, mea culpa,

mea maxima culpa.

Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem,

omnes angelos et Sanctos,

et vobis fratres,

orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

Amen.

~*~  ~*~  ~*~

I confess to almighty God,

 and to you, my brothers and sisters,

that I have sinned, through my own fault,

in my thoughts and in my words,

in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,

and I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,

all the Angels and Saints,

and you, my brothers and sisters,

to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Amen.

I don’t like change.

I’ve said this for the last 30 years.  So long now I can say this in my sleep.  Next week the Church is going to fuck with this prayer and change the words to make it “new” version of the Roman Missal.  Where was the voting process? Pfffft.  Yeah right.  There wasn’t one.  I think this is bullshit.  I’m not sure what I”m going to do.  I think I’m going to still utter the old prayers and responses while everyone else babbles on with the other shit.

This particular prayer has special meaning for me right now.

I am feeling particularly large amounts of shame and failure in my life.

So this prayer just can’t be fucked with.  It needs to remain intact.

I’ve been sleeping with my Rosary Beads at night.  They were my grandmother’s.  She prayed on them every morning.   They are almost 80 years old.  She even has a relic on there of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina .  He is a canonized Saint who had suffered stigmata.  They bring me comfort.  Knowing that her hands touched them, she was the most holy person I ever knew.  Never said a swear her whole life.  Went to Mass every day.  She was a good, good person.  Always had a smile for everyone.

My soul is in great turmoil.

At a friend’s suggestion, I am going to try take a trip for a 90 days.  I need a hiatus.  A sabbatical.

I’m nervous about this trip.   I’m going to travel light.  I will bring my Bible, I need to start reading that again.  It has been years since I have read it.  My heart has become hardened.   Stubbornly refusing to go God’s way and instead going my own willful way.  Repentance is on the forefront of my mind.  To turn away from sin, change my mind, change my direction, turn towards God…..

Stockholm Syndrome

In 1979, I was eight years old and this song was climbing the Billboard charts by a band called Poco.  Strange how I felt an uncanny attachment to the song, long before I was to ever grasp or comprehend the notion of “romantic love”.

Years later, today in fact, the words still reverberate in my head.  I wonder it the song wasn’t some sort of ominous  foreshadowing of things to come.  Just change the gender and it all fits.

Tonight I’m gonna break away
Just you wait and see
I’ll never be imprisoned by
A faded memory

Just when I think I’m over her
This broken heart will mend
I hear her name and I have to cry
The tears come down again

It happens all the time
This crazy love of mine
Wraps around my heart
refusing’ to unwind
Ooh-hoo, crazy love…Ah ha

Count the stars in a summer sky
That fall without a sound
And then pretend that you can’t hear
These teardrops coming’ down

It happens all the time
This crazy love of mine
Wraps around my heart
refusing’ to unwind
Ooh-hoo, crazy love

Tonight I’m gonna break away
Just you wait and see
I’ll never be imprisoned by
A faded memory

It happens all the time
This crazy love of mine
Wraps around my heart
refusing’ to unwind
Ooh-hoo, crazy love…Ah ha

Tonight I’m gonna break away

Oh if breaking away were only so easy.  It’s not that simple.  For folks who are ignorant and lack the knowledge of the processes;  the very underpinnings for the love-addicted and/or the dynamics of traumatic bonding that happens in an abusive relationship, I suppose it seems as simple as “just leave.”  Pfffft.   Well someone just slap me silly if I could have just left.

I feel raped of what I had, the part of who I was before I met him.  He did not kill me with his violence:  repeated infidelity, lies, verbal abuse, manipulation, physical brutality or emotional neglect. But I now have come to realise he did kill a part of me and I don’t know what to do about it.  There is also the culpability of my part in the dance; what I played in the relationship’s course, which is even more painful and difficult to look at.

There is a lot to grieve.  When someone suffers violence or another extremely traumatic event, they are no longer that person they were before.  Often, they must grieve the person they used to be.  The wounds left over capable of healing; sometimes are so deep and painful that only God can reach.   I believe that’s where I am now.   I am no longer the person I was before I met him.   I have to grieve that version of Lexi, she is gone and I will never be her again.   I became broken.  The good news is that when you become shattered, you can pick up the pieces and put yourself back together in a more whole way than you were before.   I have to rebuild my life.

Grief is not just limited to death, nor divorce.  We grieve for lost love, for what could or should have been.  We grieve for the loss of a family dynamic, a familiar family unit.  The parting that takes place  can often times be as final as death.  What compounds things is knowing that our loved one is out there living and breathing, somewhere.  No sense of closure.

Sometimes, we must press forward, despite that much desired need for closure.  With empty pockets, but a bit of hope as our compass rose.

Possession is 9/10th of the law

“Crazy” is a label that people who haven’t experienced an ounce of trauma in their stable lives, ascribe to people who have lived through several circles of Dante’s Inferno.  Labels are diagnostic codes that insurance companies use to process claims.  There is no such thing as crazy.  There is however, such thing as evil; and I know this because I dated him.

Back when I read M Scott Peck’s People of the Lie in college, Peck distinguished mental illness from evil, it piqued my curiosity.  Being the Catholic girl terrified from watching The Exorcist (Warner Bros. 1973) I headed down to the local library to find Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans.  It made me wonder if there was any truth or substantiation to a supernatural realm.

I spoke to my parish priest, Fr. John Walsh, who often incorporated one of my favorite authors, James Joyce into his homily. I asked him outright, his thoughts about evil incarnate.  Hocus Pocus…. myth….the old Rite of Exorcism, some Pre-Vatican II  antiquated bullshit……or did he believe that it could happen.  Demonic possession and the like.

His answer was not what I had anticipated.

He told me a story of how he was going to a man’s home who was elderly to deliver the Eucharist, as he was a shut in, and when he got to the doorstep he felt a heaviness in the air.  A coldness.  And as he approached the steps an unseen force…..something threw him back.  Literally pushed him off the doorstep to the ground.  To this day he states that it was not wind or anything visible that he could account for it.

When I asked a dear friend a Monsignor, the same question, I got a completely different response.   Told that the Rite of Exorcism isn’t used anymore.  And that today people see psychologists.

Two very different priests, two very different answers.  A schism within the same community.

********

When I began dating my now ex-Daddy Dominant, one of first times we had sex, we began talking as we started fucking and I said to him,

” I feel like I’ve known you for a long time and yet that’s impossible.  But I feel so comfortable around you…..your eyes seem so familiar like I have seen you somewhere before, isn’t that strange.”

He said as he thrusted deeper into me, “I have known you your whole life….”

I replied as I laughed, ” but I”ve only just met you recently”

He cackled, “Oh no, I’ve been watching you since you were a child.”

I stopped moving and grabbed him.  I sat up and said “who the fuck are you”

he laughed, “Oh, I have many names”

my blood ran cold right then.

He then flipped me over began fucking me again and sunk his teeth hard ad he could into my shoulder and as I screamed he sneered,

“God can’t help you now……………………..no one can help you.”

Driving home later that night, I was thinking to myself, that maybe I would bring my laptop with me next time.  All of a sudden my cell phone rang at the exact moment and it was him and he said, “you should bring your laptop with you next time you come.”  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.   Could he read my thoughts or was it a mere coincidence.  What were the statistical odds.

My heart still serves him; long after he’s dumped me.  Makes me wonder who the fuck he really was….is.

One thing is crystal clear though, he was a nefarious liar.  A Narcissistic Sociopath.  And put simply, he is evil personified.

God CAN help me, if I help myself out of this mess.