By Paula Bianchi –
Sorry about starting out with a topic that makes many of you cringe, but if you’re willing to do the work, therapy can truly set you free. Since I was in my twenties, I knew there was something wrong inside me. I was married at 18, had my first child when I was 21, then, I had twins when I was 25. The things that fell into place in my life fit nicely with the bulk of my problems. Being a homemaker, allowed me to pick and choose the people I interacted with, which in turn, helped me with my trust issues, but it also meant I was secluding myself from the world, and the negative people in it. Unfortunately, my solution led me to being a borderline agoraphobic who became so overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of being around people. The root of my problems, which I didn’t want to face, stemmed from my childhood.
When we come into this world, we’re helpless, vulnerable, and totally at the mercy of the adults around us. What happens to us during our growing years, shapes and forms us as adults. Some people are born into loving, nurturing, positive environments, while others are born into abusive, neglected, negative environments. On a scale from 1 thru 10 with 1 being the most negative, and 10 being the most positive, most of us fall somewhere in-between. These environments produce trauma that children don’t know how to cope with because they have no say in what’s happening to them.
Children over the ages have had to endure: physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, sexual abuse, low self-esteem, and the list goes on and on. We, as children, do not have the mental tools we need to pull ourselves out of these situations. We suffer silently hoping someone sees our plight and rescues us, or we act out negatively hurting ourselves or others. Our internal voice can either lead us out of it, or it can bring us down making us lash out at all those who are closest to us. For me it was after my 43rd birthday when I realized I would have to deal with the sexual abuse I endured as a kid between the ages of 3-13.
I knew, deep down, that period of time had a lasting affect on me, but I did what most people do and that’s to stuff it down acting like I had some kind of control over “it”, but the truth of the matter was “it” controlled me and all of my decisions. I became a shy introvert. Going to school and hoping no one would notice me. Looking back on some of the comments my teachers made on my report cards, I could see they noticed something was off with me. A few commented I was on the verge of tears, and others said how shy I was, and how they wished I would speak up more in class.
My parents were never an option for me because my molester made sure I would never say anything with his twisted words of warning. Never the less, I did try to leave clues for them to figure out what was going on right under their noses, but they never did. Then one day I finally got up the courage to say something to my Mom. I told her that this person was treating me like I was his wife, and I wanted him to stop. I was so happy I finally said something. I really felt like it was over, but it wasn’t. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. He came for his usual visit, and it still happened again.
After living with it for 10 years, I finally found a way to make him stop. One day when I was walking home with my childhood friend, we found a lesbian magazine. At that time in my life, I had never thought about girls liking girls in that way, but I was instantly inspired to use this knowledge to my benefit. On his next visit, I told him I didn’t like guys anymore and that I was into girls now, so don’t ever touch me again. It worked until I was 16. He tried again after hearing I had a boyfriend, but my three-year break gave me the strength to say only my boyfriend can touch me now. It was over for good, but only physically. The mental part of it affected all aspects of my life, and the decisions I made. I never realized it, though, until I had to go into therapy.
Flash forward to age 43 when I ended up in the emergency room with what I thought was a heart attack only to be told I was having a panic attack. The doctor recommended I see a Psychologist or Psychiatrist to get the medication I needed to help me avoid having more. The next day I saw my regular doctor, and he gave me the name of a woman Psychologist.
From the moment I walked into her office and filled out the questionnaire, I knew why I was there. One of the questions that jumped off the page for me, asked if I had ever been molested. Talk about a light bulb moment. Everything shifted in my head. The pieces to my puzzle where all lit up now, and I just had to put them all together.
After my visit, I went straight to my Mom and told her about my visit pointing out the obvious as to why I needed mental help. She was quiet at first because her generation was taught to keep quiet about these things. Shut up and stuff it down. The suck it up kind of attitude, but in that moment, I saw something shift in her too, out of love for her daughter and wanting her to get better. She decided to support me in healing my past. It was a bonding moment bringing us closer together.
During my next visit, I felt comfortable there knowing she already knew why I was there, so when she asked a few probing questions to see how she was going to broach the subject, I surprised her with my declaration, “I know I’m here because I was molested as a kid.”
Her jaw dropped. I could tell this was the first time she had a patient say something like that. After a moment or two, she told me I just saved so much time off my therapy. Then she asked what issue would I want to start with. Without hesitation, I wanted to know if she could get my molester out of my head. She smiled and said she could. In that instant, she became my angel on earth. This woman was going to save me from the prison in my mind. Finally, I could take my life back, with her guidance. I vowed to myself that I would follow everything she wanted me to do. So, began my life changing treatment. Little did I realize how much wisdom I would obtain along the way.