It’s time, simply, perfectly right now. Time to share the struggles, fears, aches, misgivings and guidance that led me here, past where I’ve ever been, and heading into more than I dreamed.
I’m Lalena. I’m forty-six years old and more than just a survivor of incest. Incest is a word that makes people nervous. I am not ashamed, but I am ready to tell the whole shebang, from the devastating damage to the joys of growing in love and hope.
From the time I was a little girl of just four years old until I was eleven. Those are the years my father molested me. I disappeared into a nebulous mass of coping mechanisms. I stuffed everything down. The fancy word for what I was experiencing is disassociation. I was fleeing from residing in my body. I was a great student for my entire school life. They saw me as quiet and studious and they considered me to be gifted. That wasn’t who I was at all. I was cut off from myself. I was a shell because it was the only way I knew how to cope. I stuffed books and food into that shell. I dreamed of rescue by a caring man like Father Walton or John Boy. The attention I got from my father in my room or out in the car was the only time he was close in any way.
Then he would leave me, damp and strangely guiltily comforted. Not a good imprint. It led me to promiscuity throughout my early teens. I’d race around seeking the familiar, hollow attention, hoping someone, anyone would see me, love me, put me back in myself. Of course, it never happened. The low view I held of myself drove my terrible choices in men. My hearts cry was always “This isn’t it….”
My father also happened to be a cheater with adults too. When I got into relationships I was needy, mistrustful and basically an open, reactive wound. I’d sink into depression and suffer bouts of mania on occasion. I managed to obtain a degree. I returned for a fourth year even though I was in a relationship where an alcoholic broke his hand on my face. He told me not to sit in the light at the hospital. We were there to get his hand fixed.
Boom, he skipped town leaving me binging on loads of food to cope. I had a fully fledged nervous breakdown. The best description of that was like was a sand bank collapsing away from under me. I was in a lecture when it happened. I remember clearly thinking “This all means nothing. It doesn’t help anyone”. My lack of foundations from childhood saw me plunge into the darkest. most anxiety filled place possible. Thank god for the angels. A university lecturer saw me crumbling and advised me to go to Student Health. I did, got antidepressants, and overdosed on them. I was twenty-three years old. The hospital staff were indifferent and unimpressed. I lost three days, went home shitting greenish gunk and not knowing why. I later found it it was the charcoal cleanse they used to keep me from dying.
From there I, as always, survived. I ended up getting a job with a Christian radio station far away from my family which suited me just fine. The demons were ever present. I met another guy. I didn’t really fancy him but anxiety made me run to him instead of running away. I became pregnant with my eldest. I married him and later tried to run but convinced myself her having a dad was better than not having one. I could not have been more wrong. He psychologically abused me. I would lash back to stop him and he would call the police on me. He was addicted to porn, drugs and stealing from his family. One day I went to check on the preschool bill. He paid none of the money he said he would. I was gently told I had a huge bill to pay. I remember being so ashamed, again. It was my fault and I blamed myself. The constant blame was a filthy side effect from the innocence my father stole from me.
As with many broken people I found Jesus. I went to church was baptized and got hurt by loads of ‘Christians’ who knew not what they did. There was too much judgement and not enough empathy. I still love Jesus but I don’t adhere to “shoulds” of dogma. Unconditional love is the only Healer, and it takes effort to let go after the huge thick walls of protective mechanisms become prison.
I was married for ten years fighting every day to stay sane. He committed one offense after another against my heart and soul. I was full of pain, angst and self-loathing. The feelings I knew so well. I cried out to God to let me out and had a vision. I saw a cage and I was clutching the bars but behind me was open space. I turned, walked out and within six months I demanded my husband leave. On December 31 I finally stood firm. I gave up smoking shortly afterwards. I thought I had rid myself of all the toxins in my life. I now had two young children and a severe lack of faith in my ability to nurture or be sane. Depression left me incapacitated a lot so I got antidepressants. I figured constant struggle was my lot in life and that was all there was to it.
I worked as a cleaner and eventually a tutor. I struggled to not be promiscuous, even though I had children. I could never seem to fill the monstrous void. On occasion I would charge men, but it just confirmed to me I was worth nothing. Again I cried out from the depths of my being. “If I don’t find my love, I’m going to let myself be destroyed by men, this can’t be it!!” Within three weeks I met my now husband. He’s sixteen years my junior but a wise soul. He has stubbornly loved me through my many tests and mean words and actions. His perseverance and love have melted me. He is the one who finally saw me.
It’s been years now, and it’s been a struggle. I love him fiercely, a rock that has withstood my tides!
Am I totally fixed up? Nah. I still overeat and am twenty plus kilograms overweight. Food is my oldest love/hate relationship. I have always done work that didn’t pay or challenge me enough while inwardly screaming, “Let me out!!” Until now I didn’t believe in myself enough to step up. Now I’m close to doubling my pay in a tutoring role based at the beach!
I had deep healing through EMDR counselling last year, at 46. It took a while. It allowed me to face and reveal the lies I had bought into. I’ve released my rage over time. I did not proceed to court, my mother told me they would get their own lawyers if I did. I divorced my extended family from that point forward. It really hurts to be exiled. I now see there are people who love me to bits. My husband’s family sure does!
So yes, incest does huge damage! Does that have to be the end of the story? No! Hell, no! Letting go can only be done after facing and feeling the grief, loss and rage.
I’m happy to talk to anyone as I know the stigma of sexual abuse, particularly within the family. It’s a journey worth taking, to retrieve yourself. Your beautiful soul is still there, waiting for you to find yourself.