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Tuesday January 22, 2008 7:10 pm

Exposing Myself: For Better or Worse?

Posted by Monica Edwards Categories: Family, Personal, Religious

Warning from Author: This post is extremely personal and contains some explicit details of my life that may be hard to read. I tried to edit the details as much as possible while still being true to myself by not holding back—I have been doing that for too many years.

October of 2007 was my last post. It has been about that long since I have laid eyes on my own blog. To do so would only compound the feelings of failure, guilt, and frustration I have been feeling for the last 6 months, no—let’s just lay it all out on the table—the feelings that I have battled with most of my life from prepubescence to present day. With the help of a therapist, my husband, and my trusty anti-depressants, I have chosen, made a conscious decision, to make another concerted effort to let you all in on my big bad secret. I have shared my story with a few that I trust. I make light of it as a way to distance myself so that I can actually put my thoughts into words without blubbering all over the keyboard.


I digress for a minute as I forgot to mention that without her knowing it, Heather Armstrong has been a great influence, a source of strength, because without her courage, and that of her husband Jon, to open their lives up and speak openly about clinical depression and what it is like living with someone who is depressed, I would not have been able to begin to type a single word. They inspire me and give me hope that there is a light at the end of that long tunnel—if I may indulge in that cliche. It will take a lot, (A WHOLE LOT) of energy, patience, and love (mostly on Andru part) to get through this darkness that I am perpetually in, but I know somewhere in my heart I believe that I am worth it, now I just have to wrap my brain around that belief.

I don’t really know where to begin? I guess with an explanation as to why I want to share this with everyone, especially after 26 years, give or take, of keeping it so locked up that the memories I have seem like a dream, or a movie…like I was the one watching it happen to someone else, but I know it was me it all happened to.

I feel the need to write this because I should not be ashamed of it anymore. I have been ashamed, embarrassed, and full of guilt for something I had no control over for so many years that it is now affecting my marriage, my ability to parent, my relationships with friends and family, and most of all, my relationship with God. It has taken over every part of me that I don’t feel like I exist, only this dread everyday that consumes me. I did not realize that one day, it would seep into every corner of my life like some black oil, and take control of it without my realizing what was happening.

With the help of our marriage counselor, whom we turned to in hopes of strengthening our relationship, Andru and I have discovered that I am clinically depressed, and trying to work on issues in our marriage was proving to be a fruitless beginning to our sessions as there was this big elephant in the room that had not been dealt with that was keeping me from being able to focus on bettering our relationship with one another. Everyday issues of marriage and parenting were becoming overwhelming for me to deal with because I had never dealt with the fact that I had been molested by three different individuals beginning at the age of 4 or 5 then again, at the age of 9.

I thought that I had done the “Christian” thing a few years ago when talking to a friend who had spoken in her testimony at church about her dealing with being molested at a young age. I had a long talk with her, and after that talk, feeling the weight lift just a bit off my shoulders because she advised me that I needed to tell my parents, I felt that I could forgive the men who had violated me and move on with my life. I had made a decision to talk to my parents after all this time, though I knew it would hurt them, just making that decision made me feel better for a while. I mistakenly thought that I had it under control, that If I just spoke the words of forgiveness to these faceless men that haunted me, that I could move on with my life. I believed that the feelings I had kept deep within me could never hurt, or have an affect on anyone else; it was all mine to claim.

I talked to my Dad. I was 31 years old. That was 5 years ago. I don’t know how I got through it. I think it hurt my Dad more than me at the time, having to relive everything. I know that he hated himself for not being able to protect me. But how could he know? He worked hard, was not home a lot because of that, and I never gave him any reason to believe that I was hurting. I have never blamed him for anything. He did the best he could do. And I never told. I kept it all buried because I was ashamed. I blamed myself for somehow provoking these men. It’s an insane thought I know but a thought only a child’s mind can go to.

I did not know, or rather, could not comprehend what was happening the first time. I was four I believe, the age of my youngest son now. My biological mother, whom I have but one faint memory of, had left my biological sister and I in a Catholic orphanage in South Korea to be adopted by a loving family. She had moved back to Korea, away from my father who was in the military in the States, to be close to family, close to the home she knew. She must have left us there at the orphanage because she had no other choice—this is what I choose to believe. I have never blamed her for any of this either. She had no knowledge of any of this, and my father did not know what was happening till it was too late.

The priest at the orphanage, I barely remember. I don’t remember his face but I did have his signature on my passport, something I used to stare at and with my mind, try to will answers from. I have since lost the passport. He was the first one to touch me. I thought it was normal, a game. The kids took turns sleeping with him, he made it seem like it was a privilege. My four year old mind only believed that I was special to be chosen. From my experience as a mother of a 4 year old, all they crave is attention and he preyed on that. I only remember one incident, but wonder how many more there were. This night is still clear in my mind, and that was enough to turn me away from the church, and trusting in the sanctity of it till I was in my late 20’s.

The second time, or in conjunction with the first, was either a man who worked at the orphanage, or an older boy who lived there. Again, I have one distinct memory of all the kids getting a turn under a blanket, to ride the “horse”—atop this man’s stomach as he lay on the floor. Again, it was a game, how many times we played, I don’t recall. I did not question any of this, could not understand what had happened to me, until years later after I came to the States to live with my Dad. This is where I met the third man who would strip away any security I had left. I was 9 years old.

I came to live with my Dad in the States because through an attorney my mother had hired, he was sent a set of divorce papers out of the blue and was told that his two children, (only one that he knew of, me, since my mother had been pregnant with a second child when she left), were to be adopted. He tried everything he could to stop the proceedings. It was too late to send for my sister as she had already been adopted by a family in a closed case. I was not adopted at the time, so he sent for me and I came to the States when I was 5 years old to live with my half-sister, step-mother, and biological father.

I have hardly a memory of my childhood from age 4-14, but a few faint ones of family outings and school functions. My recollections from age 4-10, besides the incidents of abuse, are very few. It haunts me because I know that I had happy days, days that I felt like a child, and lived carefree as a child should, but I have very faint cherished memories.

I was 9 when I met him. He had to have been in his 20’s. The only things I remember about him besides what he took from me are; his first name, what color car he drove, the general vicinity of where he lived, that he was bold as all get-out, I hated him from the moment I met him, and the fact that I knew, even then, that I would not be the last that he stole innocence from. He was the boyfriend of my babysitters daughter. And what puzzles me now as I try to remember, is that I don’t ever recall in all the times that we, my sister, my babysitters son (“cousin”), and I were left alone with him, or when he came to visit at the house, I don’t remember his girlfriend ever being present. Maybe she was at the house and I don’t recall, but I know for a fact that she was never there when he had me alone or with the other kids. Why is that?

I struggle with questions everyday. I was alone with him 3 separate horrible nights that I remember. The rest of the times, my sister or my male “cousin” was also with us. We always had sleep-overs. How he convinced the babysitter or my mother, I will never know. But we children were left alone with him. Having spoken to my sister, I know she was never touched, but I do not know about my “cousin”. I believe that I was chosen, singled out, because I was the quiet one, the vulnerable one who he sensed would not say anything. I was the one always in his sleeping bag with him. Boldly, with my sister and “cousin” in the same room, he violated me time and again.

There were the times I was left with him, to stay the night alone. I don’t know why, I felt maybe I had done something wrong and I was being punished. Maybe I deserved it. My father never knew of these incidents, he was always working so hard. I never told him. I was told not to. I remember these times with such sorrow because I see that little girl—crying, screaming inside…please help me…pleading with my eyes when he had me in a hot tub in only a tee shirt—pleading with my eyes to the people who were in that tub with us. He made it seem like he was my care-taker, they all smiled and laughed, commenting how cute I was, when in reality, this man, who was their neighbor, their friend, was right then violating me by making me sit on his lap with no panties on. I was only 9. I felt that if they did not see anything wrong with it, maybe I was wrong in how I felt.

The two incidents I remember the most affect me and the people I love to this day. The first—I was to spend the whole night with him, alone, in his bed this time. I hated the Wiley Coyote and Road Runner stuffed animals in the corner of his room. Hated the cartoon till my late 20’s till I realized why I had an irrational hate for it. I stayed the whole night and cried for probably most of it. Cried because I did not know what I did wrong this time to have to sleep in his bed. He took me home in the morning. My mother let me in the door, they exchanged a few words, and it was never spoken about. (WHY?)

The second—he came to my house in the early morning—MY HOUSE—my sister let him in the door, half asleep thinking it was our Dad, because he came home early in the mornings from work and sometimes forgot his house key so we would let him in. She opened the door—thinking it was our Dad. I was asleep so I don’t know if he had forced his way in. Our bedroom was at the opposite end of our parents so they could not hear anything. I remember waking up with him standing at the side of my bunk-bed. He was telling me to get up, let’s go. He was going to take me somewhere. He kept pleading with me. I was scared, so scared. Scared for myself, and for my sister. Would he take us? This is the moment I stood up to him. I knew in my gut that if I went with him, that I might never come back.

I told him to leave…leave me alone, go away or I will tell my Dad! I don’t know how long he was there. He left and I fell back asleep. To this day, I have nightmares of someone trying to break in the front and back doors of my old house, and any bad dreams I have they usually take place in that house. Recently my sister shared with me that she had the same dreams, and she did not know why. I did not have the courage to tell her and did not want to remind her that maybe what happened is the reason for these nightmares. If she had been able to block that out of her memory, I wanted to keep it that way.

One of the last times I saw him, I was riding my bike with a friend when he asked if that was my boyfriend following us around. He had been following us in his car, for how long, I did not know. I do know that God must have had me in His hands because if my friend had not noticed and alarmed me, would he have waited for the moment that I was alone to take me? I told my friend, no stupid, that’s not my boyfriend then looked at him in that car, gave him a look with all the courage I could muster…in that one look I told him again to leave me alone, go away or I will tell. That is the last time he touched me. He moved on to my babysitters other daughter, who was a little older than me. I have never forgiven myself for not trying to help her, she thought that she was cool, this man was showing an interest in her. I knew she wouldn’t listen to me and that probably no one would believe me, what would I say anyway? I did not even know how to explain what had happened to me. But the fact remains that I never tried. That was the day I shut those memories deep inside me not knowing that they would affect me in ways I did not know.

At first, I denied that anything happened to me. I buried it so far beneath the recesses of my mind that I don’t think I thought about it for a couple of years. True I was shy to a fault, and very self-conscious of my growing body, and afraid that the boys may be looking at me. But I forgot about that man I hated and the men from my early childhood. I didn’t think about them again until I was in high school—until I questioned why it was that whenever any boy showed the slightest interest in me I would shut him down as quick as possible. Sure I had crushes, mad crushes, but crushes on boys that I knew would never notice me. It was safer that way.

I never had a real boyfriend, or a true relationship till I met my first husband at age 21. I married the first man that told me he loved me. It didn’t matter that we might not be right for each other or that he did not make me happy. He was a man that told me he loved me. Manifestation of my previous abuses was beginning to affect my adult life. I felt like I didn’t deserve any better, I felt that I was not worthy of anyone’s love, so for this man to say he loved me was enough to dedicate my life to him. I blamed myself for our unhappiness during our relationship, thought that if I was prettier, more successful, more confident, that he would love me more. When it ended, for the most part I blamed him because he had stepped out, then realized that my desperation in needing his love, his approval was probably also a factor in our failed marriage. I had lost myself and my world revolved around him. That marriage lasted 5 years.

I met Andru while in the process of finalizing my divorce. We talked about everything under the sun at first. This was what I was attracted to. I could talk to him like no other man I had encountered before. Talking was different than what I was used to. I think I was more attracted by the fact that he wanted to talk to me, enjoyed talking to me without any physical interaction. I felt for a long time that this, a physical relationship, was the only thing I had to offer. He made me feel like I was worth more than that. I was ashamed and embarrassed by our relationship at first because I was almost a full 10 years older than him. It took me a long while to feel comfortable with that fact. Especially since I already had a child that was 4 years old and I had an idea as to what Andru parents would think when they found this out.

I had to come to the realization that somehow, despite our age difference, we met in the middle Andru and I. He had to grow up fast with being shuffled from one foster family to another while growing up, so he had become very mature for his age, and I felt like I had never experienced a childhood so instead of being mature for my age, I felt like after my divorce, I was starting over again. I was very naive about a lot of things. So by God’s grace, we fit. It’s been almost 6 years that we have been married now, we have been together for 9 years. It has been overall, a good 9 years, full of ups and downs like any marriage, but just below the surface, always, has been this secret. It was not a secret to Andru, as I entrusted him with my deepest fears long ago, but a secret nonetheless because I had never told anyone outside of a few people.

I have never truly forgiven myself for the fact that after my last case of abuse, I felt almost rejected by this man. I was almost jealous that he had moved on. I can’t seem to forgive myself for that feeling though I know, logically that in my child’s mind, that was the only kind of distorted love that I knew. The only attention that I received so it pained me to see that I had lost that. How do I begin to forgive myself for feeling like that? Is it normal?

I cannot get over the fact that a man, my husband, can love me for my mind, that there is a different kind of love that is pure, that transcends the physical, that when he touches me it is out of an honest love, not out of a need to meet a carnal desire. I cannot get over the shame that I feel that I have let this affect my relationships, especially with my husband and now with my children. I cannot forgive myself for being the kind of person that I never wanted to be. Angry, frustrated, sad, guilty, afraid, anxious, not motivated. All of this comes with depression.

I have a husband who loves me, who has committed to stay by my side through the days that I cannot get out of bed, the days that I cannot get dressed or even brush my hair let alone shower. Who loves me despite the fact that I cannot function at a “normal” level. Who tries to understand why it is that I cannot clean the house, do the dishes, laundry, or even make dinner anymore because I am so consumed in this darkness. Who tries to make me laugh when I want to cry because I cannot finish a sentence sometimes because I get so distracted and jumbled inside my head that the words come out all wrong. He tries to help when I cannot feel anything but like I am losing my mind. Who in all his frustrations has been working to get in touch with his emotions so that he can empathize with my craziness. He loves me even though he has to bear the burden of taking care of our family financially all the while trying to walk on eggshells lest he says “the wrong thing” to make me break out in a tirade, become silent, or just dig deeper down into the pit I have found myself in.

Now I am at the point in my life that I need to take responsibility of my actions though they may be erratic due to an illness. To realize that my illness affects my friends, my kids, and my husband. This is why I have written this, for them. So that they will know that without their love and support, I would not be able to get through this. I have also written this for the many people out there that have suffered abuse, suffered for so long in silence because of their shame. Who wallow in depression in their daily lives but may not know why because they have kept this secret to themselves for so long that is doesn’t seem real anymore. It is for those who think they are all alone, who physically feel alone and so cold…I know, I know the place you are in.

Most days I feel that I have no hope, that my family will suffer for my lack of motivation, for my lack of being able to pull myself out of this. Most days I want to just disappear into a nothingness until there is just silence. But today, I have taken a step forward. I have learned today that a lot of my thoughts and feelings are distorted. I think I knew that, but not on an intellectual level. I have to learn to know this everyday. With practice and help, I will discover that my being here on this Earth was purposeful. That God had a plan for me, from the beginning, and it was not to be violated my whole life. I am trying to find my way back to Him, because I know that He is the only one who can show me that I am truly worth the trials. My husband and my family can love me with all their might, but I know that if I can find my way back to my Savior, that He will show me that I am worth the fight.

I have my faith to lean on, and I thank God and the believers around me who can pray for me, that I will come out of this, with my husband by my side and with a renewed strength and belief in myself. I ask my friends and family to have faith in me. To know that I realize how hard it is to be around someone who seems to always be angry, sad, or moody. I ask forgiveness for the times I have wronged anyone in my lowest of times. These things that are being brought up finally, that I am finally talking about, working through, it will not be a quick fix. It will be a haul and for those that I know that care enough about me to stand by me through it. I know that you are truly the people that God has deliberately placed in my life so that I can heal from this.

This is me, exposed. I don’t know what kind of reaction I will receive if I decide to post this, especially from those that are close to me and I am a little, no, a lot afraid that it will only alienate the people that I love but I hope that in some way it will bring an understanding for most and that you will not be hurt if this is the first time that you are aware of this happening in our lives. It is so difficult to talk about, I don’t have an aversion to talking about it, but please understand, I held back because of this awful shame and depression that I have been harboring. I am taking the steps to get well, and I ask that you not feel sorry for me, as I do enough of that for myself, but can only ask for your prayers that God will show his awesome power of healing, even if in contradiction to His forgiving and loving heart, I cannot or do not ask for it.


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Comments:

Monica, trhat was brave and sad. I did have encephalitis when I was 12 though and possibly lost all memory of anything before that. I am recovering from depression, although not of the smae type as yours. I wish you the best. You seem to have a wonderful support system and a lovely family. All the best, dear. You have my prayers….
Kathy

Dear Monica,

I read your article during the HP contest. Needless to say I didn’t want to post this till after it was over. I understand the pain you have and are suffering. Being the victim of physical or sexual abuse is something that never really leaves you. You can learn to deal with your emotions, and come to terms with the situation that the abuse occurred in, and know it was beyond your control. To understand this as an adult is different from understanding it as that little girl still inside of you.

For me there still are situations that cause me pause and bring me back to being that little girl who was a victim. That is when, like you I crawl into my self. Those incidents are far less as I grow older, I refuse to allow them to control the adult in me. Because it would give the men that sexually abused me as a child control of me. I would be giving them my power. And I don’t want to do that.

You have to learn to accept what you cannot change and change what you cannot accept, and be able to move on with your life. Leaving the past behind you, is part of that.  Remember that your past the good and the bad makes you the person that you are today.

You and your family are in my prayers.  I think that you are a strong woman with a loving family and that is a key to healing.

Ectoplasm Ectoplasm 3/3/17 3:59 am

suffering from depression can certainly be a rough ordeal

Ectoplasm Ectoplasm 3/22/17 9:44 pm

I can relate to you a lot, and I feel so sorry for what you went through…. I often asked myself does depression ever go away, and it does.. you just have to keep fighting


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