I am struggling so much right now that I find it amazing that people can not tell just by looking at me. I forgot to RSVP to a bridal shower until this past weekend. Then I got in the car Saturday and realized that I had missed it entirely. That is absolutely unlike me - me with my palm pilot, color-coordinated calendar and reminder notes everywhere. When I RSVP-ed late (by email) the host was so understanding and reassuring that it was fine and she'd see me there. Then I forgot to go. I ran into her today at the store and she blew it off like it was no big deal. I'm not so good at reading people and I couldn't tell if she was really irritated or if it really was not a big deal.
Not too long ago, a colleague wanted to pass a matter on to me. His client was needing a divorce from his promiscuous wife. Turns out the Wife had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her own father. Father died and Wife finally disclosed the abuse to her Husband. Then went on a drunken spree and became very promiscuous, engaging in several affairs. I didn't so much blame Husband for needing his space, and for his desire to keep their children safe until Wife could heal and get back on her feet. But Husband wanted to use Wife's past, as well as her current behaviour, in court. I refused. The fact that she is too drunk to care for her own children - sure that's an argument I can make. The fact that she is somehow unfit because of her childhood ---- sorry, buddy you are on your own there.
I had a phone message last night from a church member. At my church I drafted the Children's Protection Policies which require that any person working with our children and youth be background checked and be a member for at least six months. I'm pretty outspoken about making sure our kids are safe. In my line of work, I deal with, and advocate for, abused children all the time. The church member who called knows this. A very good friend of his was in a bind. Apparently, this person (I'll call him X), had inherited some money a few months ago upon the death of X's mother. X was estranged from his first wife (now deceased) and two daughters, one of which (I'll call her D) lives here in town with her boyfriend and is into the "goth" scene. Church friend tells me all of this and then says "I've know X since we were toddlers and I don't believe this or that he would ever harm anyone at all." I should have hung up there, but I continued listening. I was in the car on the way to lunch with my husband and daughter. Out to have a good family time.
Church friend went on to say that D and her boyfriend didn't have any money and he suspects they want some of X's inheritance. D called X the other night and "made some accusations." I skirted the issue some and finally put on my "work mask" and asked Church Friend exactly what the accusations were. I was hoping for nice, generic descriptions like "sexual assault," "fondle," or "inappropriate touch." Nope. I got the whole story. I actually cut him off midway through. Referred him to another attorney who handles criminal matters. Told him I didnt' handle criminal, which isn't exactly true, because I have before. Told him that I wouldn't handle that type of civil case either - which isn't really true. I would, but only on the other side of it.
Now I don't know if this guy did anything or not. Maybe it is a ploy by D and her boyfriend to get some money. I don't really know X at all except to have seen him visit the church sometimes. I know that everyone that knows X seems to like him. Frankly the first time I met him, I got the "creepy man" vibe but then was kicking myself for feeling that way about someone I didn't know.
I hung up the phone having referred Church Friend to someone who could be of more benefit to X. Truth is, I could have handled the situation from a purely work-related perspective. I have before. But not today. Not now. Not in my current state of mind. And frankly I didn't want to help.
When I hung up the phone, my husband had heard enough of my side of the conversation (despite my attempts to maintain some sort of privilege even though there wasn't technically any requirement to do so). Husband was upset that I was so upset, and that he had been the one to remind me to call Church Friend back.
I guess it just surprises me when things like the above happen. I'm amazed that people can't tell, just by looking at me, what I've experienced. I feel so messed up inside that I find it hard to fathom that people can't tell just by looking at me. I feel like I am wearing this huge scarlet letter across my forehead that tells everyone I'm a victim. I post on abuse survivor sites and I don't ever in any shape or form judge any of them. So why do I judge myself - why do I find it hard to see myself as a victim? See myself as anything other than dirty, ashamed, guilty? Why do I find myself amazed when people come to me for help, when they want to associate with me or spend time with me? When my husband tells me I'm attractive?
I really don't want anyone to know about my past - about the abuse, or my present - about the SI, panic, flashbacks. I'm afraid of what they'll think. Scared of losing my job, my family and everything that I hold close and dear. Afraid others will see me as I see myself. The other part wants people to know. So they will exercise a little more caution around me. So I won't be the one they call when their "friends" need a little help. So they won't make certain jokes around me. So they will turn off certain shows when I am over. Guess it's a huge catch-22.