The last week of March was messy. It was the week that I recalled I was raped many times by my father when I was a child.
I’ve always felt like the right side of my body is safest. For most of my life I would automatically sit myself to the left of a room so that people were on my right. If I was walking with a friend, I would subconsciously position myself on their left. Over time, as I became aware of abuse in my past, I started to pay more attention to this preference. For most of 2019 right up to March 2021 I would always ask Psychologist J to position himself in the room off to my right. When he sat on my left I would experience derealisation; the room would seem sinister and J would appear stiff and lifeless, devoid of all humanity like he had turned into a robotic replica. The objects in the room would, in contrast, seem alive as though they were leaning in ready to attack.
I would see something flickering in front of my eyes as though images from the past were overlaid onto of today but moving too fast for me to make out but someone was there, moving fast and with fury.
At some point in the beginning of 2021 I would complain to J that I felt like I couldn’t see him clearly anymore if he was sitting on my right.
“I can’t explain it but I feel like my eyes are straining to see you or like you’re partially obscured.” This was the emergence of the critic (later called Faith).
By the end of March I was aware that my father had often been on my left as he abused me and so certain parts were tied to each side of my body. For example, Faith see J clearly when he sits on the side of the body she was created to protect where as Jane and little Jane (who have the least trauma memories) can’t see J clearly unless he sits on their right.
Strangely though, when Cassie came to therapy (previous blog entry), she found herself wanting J to sit directly in front of her – a position most hated by both Faith and Jane and little Jane. When a man sits directly opposite me Jane, its like the distance between us collapses and I instantly feel like the man is on top of me. But Cassie, who loved and trusted her father, who was too young to know what a penis was and who unfortunately enjoyed the ways he stimulated her body with it, is not bothered by men.
It was around late March that parts of me suddenly had the urge to get my ears pierced. Faith, who likes to look scary was keen for some piercings as was Jade, an older more sexual version of Cassie. Over a series of several days, Jade went back to get more and more piercings. That feeling of skin breaking, that intense pain, it turned her on. The pain of the needle ripping through her ears triggered a sudden memory for me; Jade released her memory of rape to the rest of the mind. When the sexual abuse moved beyond feeling good to feeling overwhelming and then terrifying and then painful, Jade was created to hold the pain and to convince herself she enjoyed it.
After the memory came the flashbacks. I would find myself flopped back on the couch at home my mind splitting into two. Suddenly I was little Jane, frozen, confused, unable to feel my body but aware of some distant pain stabbing me over and over. It reminds me of the time I woke up during dental surgery and all I could see was a cloth over my face and but I was unable to speak or make sense of the talking I could hear or see any of the people in the room.
As little Jane lay there in this flashback, she could sense Jade was where ever the body was that little Jane could no longer feel. Jade was there with the silent laughter and screams of a lunatic seeing and feeling what the rest of me couldn’t bear. For it was in these moments that not only my body was split open but so was my mind.
How could you do this to me, Daddy? I never had to ask that question until now because Jade soaked up those images and feelings – the utter horror and absurdity of a father engaging in such things with his own very young daughter. Jade was there to cushion us from the insanity.
This was also the week that we realised that Jade had been drip-feeding her memories to us for years. Despite what I preferred do in real life when it comes to sex, when I was alone, I always found myself drawn to sexual fantasies and stories that seemed so out of character; dominating men, young petite nymphomaniacs who begged to be penetrated and who screamed in delight when it happened, degrading sexual positions, large penises, sex in risky and inappropriate places, painful penetration, lust, but always between adults and always consensual. Suddenly it all made sense, my sexual fantasies were nothing more than what happened to me but changed ever so slightly so as to no longer be about rape.
In fact Jade doesn’t believe she was raped or at least she won’t admit to it. She doesn’t see him as HER father, though she knows he is mine. She doesn’t even know what sex is, not really. She only knows that men are exciting and can make her body feel intense things. Sometimes I picture Jade as an almost Harley Quinn type person. But when Jade is in the body she doesn’t see herself that way. She feels youthful and sexy, she’s friendly and flirty or so she would be if Faith ever let her out of the deep recesses of my mind where she’s been locked up. As I became aware of Jade’s existence I looked back on my life and realised she had so rarely inhabited the body outside of those times of abuse. She had certainly never attended therapy, that was until this session late in March.
Unfortunately for me, Jade is so blasé about things she didn’t bother to take many notes of the session and I only have a very vague memory of what it felt like to be Jade. I know she is confident in ways I am not. She doesn’t feel any particular attachment to Psychologist J but she found it easy to sit opposite him and look him in the eye. She felt relaxed in her body and didn’t feel the need to clutch a cushion to her body like shield as all the other parts of me do. She wasn’t at all bothered that he was a man, if anything that made him more appealing because Jade believes that other women dislike her or see her as a whore – a belief I assume she took on from how my mother treated me when she found my father violating me. The conversation was relaxed and flowed well with both Jade and Psychologist J smiling and laughing at times.
“Are you …Jade?” he asks.
“Yes,” says Jade sensing Faith’s anger that Jade has gotten access to the body.
“Well you’re welcome here and you can tell me anything you like. Do you know who I am?”
“Yes. I know your name and what you look like and what I’m supposed to talk about,” Jade replies meaning that she knows what Faith wants her to say. “Faith isn’t here because she will feel too much shame.”
Jade asks Psychologist J why he had asked in a previous session why we had any fantasies and did he mean sexual ones?
J replies, “Fantasies can sometimes indicate what a person is longing for without realising it and I wasn’t specifically referring to sexual ones.”
“Oh ok,” says Jade. “I think Jane answered that question by saying she doesn’t have any fantasies but that’s not true.” Jane then casually describes her sexual fantasies in detail not at all concerned that this might cause Faith or me huge amounts of shame later.
She says to J that I, Jane am almost like an empty vessel confused about who I am until one of “us” pops into my body. Jade also explains how Cassie, Faith and herself have different roles during sex in that for sex to be possible for me and my husband, I have to switch in and out of parts as each part can tolerate certain things while fearing other things. She tells J it feels exhausting for me to manage all the parts just to be able to be intimate with my husband.
“I don’t like Dr K,” says Jade later in the session. “If she met me she would hate me and be scared of me because she knows I will just take her husband if the opportunity came.”
Jade talks about how she would dress if she had constant access to the body.
“I wouldn’t be concerned if I was dressing in a way that was sexy or revealing but I just want to dress feminine really. Faith would dress scary and repulsive if she could. And Cassie would just dress like a child in bright colours. And then Jane…well she just dresses to feel safe; however she can to blend in and not be noticed.”
There is also some more talk of Faith.
“Faith’s a party pooper. I’m not intimidated by her even though she can control me to some extent. Faith should really lighten up, you know?She doesn’t approve of how I behave. She wants me to stay away from people because people aren’t safe. But she shouldn’t judge me, she’s so rude to people. If you enjoy something then it’s not scary. We just have different ways of handling the same thing.”
Jade can sense that Faith blames Cassie and her for the abuse happening, that their willingness to engage with the father was somehow consenting to sexual abuse and that her enjoyment of how some of it felt was the reason he did more and worse things. While Faith sees men as dangerous, Jade feels no fear. She thinks that no one can hurt her if she enjoys being hurt.
When Jade eventually left the body sometime after the session, with her went the pleasant invigorating feelings and in rushed an intense icky feeling like I had just done something sexually disgusting. I wondered if I had just internalised how my father felt going from a lustful high to then realising he had done something sickeningly depraved.
While these last weeks of March and early April left me gasping for air, I can’t help but marvel at the way my brain has kept me sane; how all these parts were created and necessary to split the experience into something more tolerable. While Jade carries the physical pain and insane feelings of rape, she is naive and is unable to understand that what has happened is bad. And while Jade knows she was penetrated with a penis, she doesn’t understand that her total lack of consent or that children can’t ever consent and thus doesn’t feel raped. And the parts that DO know it was rape and do know it was the father, they don’t properly recall it happening to them. And still other parts to carry the rage and disgust and betrayal. Then another part to carry the terror and horror. Then parts are needed to delete what the other parts recall; a collective not even fully aware of each other and thus working in isolation to hide their fragments of the experience from the other parts.
While I have always heard voices in my head, and just assumed everyone had them and everyone ignored them as I did, now I am realising they are children, versions of me who saved my life. Parts I am slowly and often with great fear, learning to love and thank and welcome home.