The A-word

(Trigger warning: speak of abuse)

I’ve been back in med school for a week and a half and my emotions have been all over the place already. It’s been a rough patch on the depression-front since last Friday. However, as I mentioned in my previous post, I suspect it has a lot to do with bad sleep habits and the intense sessions I had with both G and R last week. 

So, what happened last week with G and R? I spoke to them at length about the relationshiT (which I will continue to call “the relationshiT” here for the sake of not confusing you all further, but I want it to be known that the mere act of suggesting that it resembled a relationship of sorts is very triggering for me nowadays). 

Lately I’ve been having a lot of flashbacks related to the Ex. The vast majority of them are related to sex, and some others are just random memories that marked me for one reason or another. I never discussed these things with M because I was too ashamed back then, they weren’t as intense, and I had yet to see the relationshiT for what it really was…

It was abuse, plain and simple. 

It took me 8 years (3 in therapy) to finally accept that. I now understand why M, G, R, and any other mental health professional to whom I ever mentioned the relationshiT reacted the way they did. I too felt that deep revulsion in the back of my mind and knew something was just not right since way back when things started with the Ex. However, I never accepted it, it was more of a subconscious thought. The relationshiT was just “a fact”, “something that happened”. But not anymore. 

Things started off pretty intense last week on Tuesday when I saw G. I was exhausted from all that was happening and that obviously didn’t help things. I told her about the flashbacks. I was doing relatively ok until she asked: “What do the flashbacks consist of?” 

It was like a switch went off inside of me. I froze and from then on I started having flashbacks and instead of blocking them out I indulged in treating myself like shit by remembering those things (big mistake). I wasn’t even able to explain to G what I was “seeing” in my head because I was so ashamed and disgusted. Started having physical symptoms that just kept on escalating….heart racing, I started to feel very cold, hyperventilating, wanted to curl up into a ball and just spaced out. Eventually I was feeling like I was going to die at that very moment because I felt very impulsive and wanted to kill myself and I mentioned to G that I felt I couldn’t walk, like my body was frozen. 

What was I “seeing”? In case you didn’t read the trigger warning above, here’s another one..TRIGGER WARNING.

I was seeing and feeling: his sweat and skin rubbing up against mine, his greasy hair and the disgusting smell it had, his saliva, feeling uncomfortable and “just not right” ALL THE TIME…..I think that’s all I can manage to publish right now. 

Eventually, G told me to leave it at that because she noticed I wasn’t doing well. She told me that it was definitely something we had to talk about, but to not rush it. I didn’t listen. She knew I didn’t listen. So, she said: “LOOK AT ME.”

And it worked, somewhat. I told her to please change the subject and distract me. And she did. I don’t think she knows just how much I appreciated the meaningless small-talk she engaged me in after that. 

So, with that in mind, I saw R on Thursday and had another intense appointment with her. Only this time around I distanced myself a bit and tried to stay as focused as possible. She told me to tell her if at any point I felt uncomfortable, she was really considerate. When things got really intense I distracted myself by asking her what was inside a box that was under her desk. She awkwardly told me that it was some mechanical equipment that belonged to her husband. I later told her that I had avoided a more intense reaction to what we were discussing thanks to her husband’s mechanical equipment, strangely enough. We both chuckled. 

Something R spoke to me about, and which addressed my deep-rooted feelings of shame, was how there was pleasure involved in the sex. She made it a point that it didn’t matter whether I felt pleasure or not, if I felt “not right” at the moment and only consented because I feared abandonment and the Ex’s backlash, then it wasn’t real consent. Like she said, same thing happens to children and victims of rape. Again, something I understand fully when pertaining to other people, but crucify myself when pertaining to my experience.  

I also told R how I had an “aha” moment in her office’s waiting area. I was reading Irvin Yalom’s Love’s Executioner and had read a part where he discusses an affair a patient had with her psychologist. He mentions how it didn’t matter whether she seduced him, or he seduced her, it was still the same thing: someone taking advantage of his higher position over a patient in a relationship of unequal power or strength.

And that’s when I thought: “That’s kind of the same thing that happened to me, isn’t it?” Only this time around, I had the grace to recognize that it didn’t matter if at first the relationshiT began with me pursuing the Ex or the Ex pursuing me…I allowed myself to finally identify as the real victim, and I understood all too well why I was the victim.

Being in my twenties, I’m closer to the age he was when he met me than to the age I was back then. And it’s only now I’ve been able to fully understand why it was wrong, why it has a name (the a-word), and why I’ve had to deal with so many emotional and mental consequences as a result of the relationshiT. He groomed me at his will, and he used the opportunities I gave him to groom me further without my realizing it.

I mean, why does a 30 year-old man become interested in an immature 16 year-old girl? Why does a 30 year-old teacher caress a 16 year-old girl’s knee when casually passing by her? And why does he give her a book on advanced topics not discussed in class? To trap her. (Those were flashbacks, by the way.)

Being a shy, bullied 16 year-old, I craved his attention. I was flattered by his attention. He, a grown man, used that weakness to reel me in, groom me, and use me…to do his dirty work, to boost his ego, for his own entertainment, and worst of all, for sex.  

I was underage. He was the “adult”. I was the student. He was the teacher. I was the patient. He was the psychologist. And he knew that all too well, and he took advantage of it. Thus, he was the abuser, and I was the abused.

And thanks to that realization is why I’ve been having a rough patch, ladies and gentlemen. 

PS: I have no idea why this post‘s font is tiny. Sorry about that.

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