If you're looking for running advice, poke around in the archives. Today I am giving a personal update.
Running-only people gone?
Reporting on the sex thing I referred to a while ago.
I will come clean: I have never told anyone the extent of my problems with the above. I've hinted, said some things to some very close friends & my husband, but never the whole story. Let's just say it's about as bad as it could be - as in, panic attacks at the very thought of ANY physical contact - FOR YEARS. I have been so ashamed of this I can't tell you. Why? I don't know. I guess it's because I felt like a fraud: how can I be a strong, has-it-all-together, feminist woman with a healthy marriage when this rotten piece is in my core? Because if it's not my husband (and trust me, it isn't), it's ME, right?
The other thing I have never told anyone is the extent of the abuse and trauma I went through as a kid. Again, I've told people bits and pieces, but I haven't wanted to even think about the worst of it, much less talk about it.
And connecting those two things? Didn't even occur to me until relatively recently. Why such emotional stupidity? Because I so desperately wanted to have overcome the latter that the thought that I maybe hadn't made it impossible to connect the dots. It didn't seem to bother me for so very long that I really believed it never would again.
I started to kick around the idea of therapy some months ago but made only token steps toward it.
This is where the exchange student comes in. She's a high schooler in my son's school whose original host placement wasn't working out. The stated reason for needing to switch families - an hour's commute to school each way - sounded plausible, but when I met her I could tell that something else was very wrong. What else could we do? We took her into our (rather small, one full bath) house, and it's been pretty great. She is funny, astute, enthusiastic, and cheerful.
But. Within a week the real story came out: she had been experiencing some similar things to what I had gone through. Nice, right? Welcome to America, teenager all alone who doesn't speak much English! Let's prey on you! So there was a pretty intense time during which I got to plunge into the subject much more than I had ever done. She felt very guilty about telling anyone about it - didn't want to get anyone in trouble, etc. So I told her that something similar had happened to me and I hadn't told, and I now very much wish I had. She asked me if and how it still affected me, and it was like a knife to the gut. I didn't give her details - didn't think that would be appropriate - but I did tell her that it affects me personally, and that although I am totally against the death penalty and pro-gun control and very good at controlling anger, if I were in a room with a gun and this person today I'm pretty sure I would shoot him. "Do you think there's any way you could help all that now?" she asked, and I said, shamefacedly, "Probably."
Within a couple weeks my husband and I were sitting with a therapist who specializes in such things (in the setting of marriage counseling), and after a few questions he was like, first, I have never in my whole career heard a husband say such supportive things (told you!), and second, PTSD much?
I came out of that first session feeling like I'd accidentally grabbed a Brillo pad instead of a loofah, and I was in a fog of pain and anxiety for days. I wasn't sure I'd be able to go back, but I also felt like there was no putting this back in the box.
The next time and the next were not quite as bad, but it is hard to go through my days with it so much on my mind. Not just the events (though that too, believe me), but the guilt, guilt, guilt that seeps into everything. (If you have had something like this happen, that guilt makes sense; if not, it's really hard to explain.) Running helps, just as it does everything, and I'm working on self-compassion, but geez, this gets old fast.
I filled my psychiatrist in (I mostly see him for med management), and after pointing out that I had told him my sex life was okay ("I know! I lied!") he actually chuckled a bit (in a good way) and said, "This exchange student may be the best thing that ever happened to you."