On April 6th of 2009 I injured myself at work. I basically destroyed my ankle and gained a rare nerve disease/condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The short of what that means is that from my knee down on my left leg all I can really feel is bone deep, intensely burning, constant pain. It is an L&I case because I was hurt at work, and I am unable to return to work as a massage therapist. So L&I is paying me to go back to college and earn a computing certificate that enables me to get a job as a receptionist or something close to that. A desk job. Something that has never appealed to me ever in my life. In preparing myself mentally to go back to school I thought the worst I would have to deal with is intense, debilitating pain. I was wrong.
Today I went to get the books I would need for the four classes I am taking this quarter and something completely unexpected happened. There were a handful of young guys there. Males in their teens and early twenties smell very different than men 30 years old and up. One of the boys had wire rimmed glasses like Jay used to wear. And suddenly I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My mind went back to all the times he grabbed my ankle or he feel of his breath on my neck. I have never felt such an immediate and brutal panic/anxiety attack. My body felt like a spring ready to snap and yet almost ten times heavier so my feet couldn’t move. I snapped at my poor husband who was there helping me find my books. I really just wanted to cry.
I was under the apparently false belief that my PTSD was under control. So this reaction caught me completely off guard and knocked me off center. Once we got home I felt the waves of shame slam into me as though I were a rock on the beach. Shame over what happened to me. Shame for waiting too long to tell anyone so I was unable to press charges. Shame that this wasn’t over and dealt with. Shame at my irrational fear and anxiety. Shame at remembering so clearly the smell of him. Shame at the clarity of what the grip on my ankle felt like. Shame that somehow this means I am not as good or strong a Christian as I thought I was. Shame at feeling like I somehow failed as a child of God that this affected me so profoundly. And pure, unadulterated frustration that this was not under my precise control.
So what happened to me to cause all of this? Some people who read this already know, but some of you don’t. I will explain for those who don’t know, and because I need to talk about it. I am so good at talking about it in a completely clinic and detached way. It is safer for me to talk about it like that. But I don’t I will be able to do that over these next few quarters of schooling. So as a heads up to everyone when I talk about my abuse I will use italics. If you don’t want to read some of the harder, raw aspects of what happened to me you can just skip over the parts in italics.
His name is Jay. I had been with him for a little over a year when it began. I wasn’t a Christian and neither was he. We were engaged. We were having sex in very healthy doses. I believed everything was going perfectly, and then my appendix decided to rupture. I was in the hospital for two days. When I was let out of the hospital the doctor told us not to have sex because of the surgery, and that things would be very tender due to the fact they had to move all my innards around since my appendix actually ruptured. I was fine with this because the doctor was right; I was uncomfortable and in a good amount of pain. Jay was fine with this for three days. That third night changed everything.
He told me that if I truly loved him I would at least try to have sex with him. He promised he would stop if it hurt. He told me that if I truly put him first in love and submission that I would try to have sex, because it might not even hurt. I don’t know how long this went on. I kept telling him no, and begging him to understand. But he kept pushing and pushing. I felt like a horrible lover, and a completely selfish submissive. So I finally caved in and gave it a try. It hurt. Before things really got started, when he was first entering me, it hurt. I cried out in pain and begged him to stop. He didn’t. He told me it would get better if I just gave it a try. I kept begging him to stop, and he just said he would make it quick. That it would be over soon, so just try to relax and enjoy it.
When he was done he rolled off of me and went to sleep. I cried quiet the rest of that night. The next morning he woke up and apologized for what he did. He gave me all the right words and actual tears. I forgave him because I never thought I would be in this situation again. This sort of circumstance would never occur again.
The Friday before I was supposed to return to work my mom was in town. We were driving home from brunch and my mom made the left turn to head toward the street my apartment was on. A college student was hurrying to get to a final and so she ran the red light. We were T-boned and I was in the front seat as a passenger. Three nerves in my lower back were pinched and my knee cap was crushed into the dashboard. Needless to say I was in a lot of pain. I was taken to the ER. They put my leg in a brace, gave me crutches, and put me on a good dose of pain killers. I couldn’t return back to work because I could barely move with the pain my back. The drugs I was on made it impossible for me to do much beyond sleep and be groggy. My mom had to go back home, so it was just Jay and me.
He lasted three days again before it happened. I blamed myself because I was normally the instigator of sex in our relationship. I had set up his expectations of how often we would have sex. On top of that I felt so much shame that I could no longer perform as I once had. I felt like a baby, that I shouldn’t be in that much pain. Night after night it happened. The guilt trips became more elaborate, and they worked. After about a week of this I began to learn that my pain would get over with faster if I just let him have his way. I honestly don’t know when my begging pleas for this to stop actually stopped. My no’s and tears just went away until he fell to sleep once more and I could just curl up on my side and cry.
My doctors and physical therapists couldn’t understand why my back wasn’t improving. I couldn’t tell them what was going on. I was too ashamed. At the time I told myself I was allowing it, so really it was my fault. Jay was always with me at all my appointments too. I couldn’t drive so he drove me to all my doctor appointments. He would take me to get my medicine. He would be the one to help me bathe; often incorporating some form of sex into the act in the hopes it would get me in the mood for that night.
He would have me sign online and pick out men to cyber with in the hopes it would arouse me. He would have me drive either topless or naked in the car to and from appointments so he could have access to help me get in the mood for when we got home. I don’t know how many times I got dressed in the car in parking lots. He wouldn’t even let me use the bathroom alone just in case I made a phone call. I also had to be in the bathroom when he went to use it to make sure I wasn’t on the phone while he was going to the bathroom. Each time he would crawl into bed he would grab my right ankle to pull me toward him and to pull my legs apart. To this day I still can’t stand people touching my ankle. When he was raping me I could always feel his breath on my neck.
It was so much worse and so much more involved then what I just wrote. This went on for six months. I can’t tell you how many times I was raped in those six months because I lost track of the number. I do know at about the 6 to 7 month mark one night I just cried out in pain. I don’t know what made this cry of pain different from others, but it startled him. He apologized as he always did in the morning. He looked scared. He began to cry as he realized what he was doing, and for the countless number of times I had to console him for raping me. But after that night he no longer had intercourse with me. My back started to improve, but this wasn’t the end.
Jay still sexually assaulted me. I had to use my hands or my mouth. I was afraid of every time he touched me. I knew that it meant I would have to do something sexual. I knew each time he set me down at the computer I would have to cyber with men and women to sate him as he touched me. I began to put on weight. I hoped that if I got heavy enough he would no longer desire me; that he would leave me alone. About a year later he did finally leave me. I couldn’t bring myself to leave him. I was so gone by that point. I was checked out of my life. And after two years of daily abuse I wouldn’t be checked back into my life for another 5 years.
So that is the cause of my PTSD. That is the root of it. And after a year of intense therapy, an intensely freeing experience with a Redemption Group, and a wonderfully growing faith and love in Jesus Christ I thought I was done dealing with this. I didn’t think my PTSD could rear up like this to paralyze me as it has. Throw in the fact that my ankle is hurting insanely ….like my back and knee had been hurting …and I feel the intense shattering of being raped again with each breath.
I don’t know how I am going to do this. I don’t want to do this. I want to run as far away from this as possible. But God is here with me. This is coming up for a reason. I know H.G. (aka Holy Ghost) is right here with me. I know I need to walk through this shadowy, terrifying valley with the LORD. I know He has a purpose for this. I know all of these things in my heart and in my head, but I can’t control how I feel. I can’t just magically rewire the synapses in my brain or recalculate the enzymes and hormones that are automatically released. And I am so frustrated because I want to be able to do those things now. Right now. Maybe even yesterday.
So here I am trying to cope with the pain in my ankle, and now I need to go back to therapy. I need to see a Christian counselor. I hate feeling so broken. I hate seeing how brutally and totally shattered Jay made my heart and soul. I hate looking at myself in the mirror. I feel the disgust and dirt so thoroughly. But I know Jesus has washed me clean. H.G. has begun to knit and seal all those fissures inside me. I know that I can cry and be terrified because I can’t do this. I can’t. I am too weak. I am too fragile. But the LORD can do this. He never grows weary. He can carry any load–that includes me and this burden. And see I know all of this, but inside I still feel so raw, so beaten, and so sick with the vivid memories.
So I will pray. I will pray and sink into His Word and His Glory and His arms. Abba Father, please keep at the forefront of my mind that I am not alone. Please. Please help