Sunday, February 26, 2012

Turning the Page (15)

I picked up the phone. "Hello?" It was Sue from the Wings Foundation. She told me there was a new support group opening up and that it was starting next week at the Noeticus counseling center in downtown Denver. I was happy to know that I was going to get the help and support that I desperately needed, but at the same time I was frightened that the people there would think that I was crazy and not believe me.   Or worse, my pain would not be validated because there may be more horrible cases of abuse out there and I' m being a big baby and overreacting.

All that week the jury in my head boisterously argued whether or not I should go.

"They won't believe you because you are making this up. It's not real," part of me said.

"It is real, You need help to heal and become the person you want to be,"  another part argued back.

Softly and constantly the argument continued until the only thing I heard was a constant mantra repeating over and over and over.

"Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real."

Day after day, all I heard in my mind was the same thing; I wanted to deny what I was learning about my past and go back to those blissful days of ignorance where the only real crime perpetrated against me was when someone stole a bonsai tree off of my desk at a call center I worked at a few years ago. I loved that little tree, carefully pruning and watering it every week until one day it disappeared never to be seen again. But more had been stolen than just that tree.

"Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real, Not Real."

It was Wednesday, February 2, 2011. Orientation was first. I walked into an old brick building that on the outside appeared to be a church, but on the inside it was converted into offices. I  was about as nervous as I would be going to a job interview.  A tall young man invited me into his office where another man of middle-eastern descent was waiting. They both quickly put me at ease with their kind and welcoming eyes.

We talked about some of the ground rules and guidelines governing each meeting. I filled out paperwork. We briefly spoke about abuse and what I had remembered so far. I found it strange that they appeared to listen to what I had to say without any indication of judgement or shock. It almost appeared like . . .  these two kind looking men believed me. "Well, that can't be right.  I don't even believe me," I thought to myself.

We then began to talk about some of the after-effects of the abuse. One of the things that I really thought applied to my own history of behavior was how every potential relationship or friendship that came my way  was viewed as a potential threat. "Off-putting" as it was called, really hit home with me and I could instantly recall several people in recent years that had come into my life and I had either consciously or subconsciously  pushed them away even though some part of me knew that all they wanted was my friendship, still I viewed them as harmful or as someone with an ulterior motive to get something from me that I did not want to give. I also recognized this behavior with my family, especially with my wife of 15 years. I remembered one conversation where she told me "I'm not going anywhere, no matter how hard you push me away. I am not leaving because I love you, Joel."

(I really think a lesser woman would have left me long ago. I truly am beyond blessed to have her next to me for life.)

I went home that afternoon thinking about all that I had learned.The orientation was so rich in help and hope that perhaps I could find healing. At the same time seething anger bubbled inside me that I had been broken so badly by AFB that I needed all of this counseling and support. I wanted to run away and find a place where I could be alone forever. A place where I couldn't do anymore damage to myself or others. As I got home and saw my mother and children waiting for me, I decided that I will go to the first support group that started later that same day. I wasn't ready to quit just yet.

 -                       -                    -

It was 6:20 pm I sat in the waiting area listening to NPR on the radio. The announcer was giving a report on the turmoil in Egypt and the latest snowstorm on the East coast. I was so very nervous, I felt like the new kid in school about to start his first class. My mistress called to me.

"Joel," she sweetly cooed, "let's go find a strip club."

"No," was my reply.

"Wouldn't a brunette be nice? Perhaps you could get a private dance," she tried again.

"I . . . I can't. I must get better for my family." I was tightly gripping my chair as if some unknown force was pulling me out of it.


"They have beer,"  she said in a matter of fact way.

I was listening that time. My nerves were getting the better part of me. "O.K. If no one else shows up  I'll go to PT'S." I bargained back. Perhaps that would get her to shut up. I thought.


"No one is coming. Let's go now." I could feel her soft skin rub against my face, the smell of cheap perfume tickled my nose.  As I got up to leave and find the naked brunette that had so convincingly called to me; the door to the waiting room opened. "DAMN IT!" The other group member arrived.


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