Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bill Zeller's suicide note

Bill Zeller’s suicide note provides painful and tragic testimony to the long-lasting, soul-searing destruction of sexual abuse. He was a “brilliant” 27-year-old doctoral student, but he wasn’t able to escape the “darkness” that haunted him from having been molested and raped as a child. He never spoke about it until the note he posted on Facebook just before he hanged himself. Below, I have reprinted Zeller’s note in its entirety . . . because that’s what he requested.

Based on Zeller’s words, the abuse and the “darkness” of its aftermath seems, in some way, linked to the “fundamentalist Christian” faith of his parents. It’s a faith in which, as Zeller describes it, good people are doomed to Hell while “child molesters go to Heaven, as long as they were ‘saved.’” His parents went to a Bible church, which of course isn’t the same as a Baptist church, but it’s not so very different either.


Zeller’s note should be mandatory reading for the many religious leaders, including many Baptist leaders, and for many in the pews as well,
who have repeatedly dismissed and minimized the pain of those who suffered such abuse, and who have attacked and smeared those who sought to report abuse.

Bill Zeller’s note:

"I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I'll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it's true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning. I considered not writing any of this because of how personal it is, but I like tying up loose ends and don't want people to wonder why I did this. Since I've never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely draw the wrong conclusions.

"My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. In kindergarten I couldn't use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally, but now it's less of a physical impediment than a daily reminder of what was done to me.

"This darkness followed me as I grew up. I remember spending hours playing with legos, having my world consist of me and a box of cold, plastic blocks. Just waiting for everything to end. It's the same thing I do now, but instead of legos it's surfing the web or reading or listening to a baseball game. Most of my life has been spent feeling dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up.

"At times growing up I would feel inconsolable rage, but I never connected this to what happened until puberty. I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time by doing things that required intense concentration, but it would always come back. Programming appealed to me for this reason. I was never particularly fond of computers or mathematically inclined, but the temporary peace it would provide was like a drug. But the darkness always returned and built up something like a tolerance, because programming has become less and less of a refuge.

"The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I'm trapped in a contimated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can't concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I'm exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.

"Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I wake up sweaty and furious. I'm reminded every morning of what was done to me and the control it has over my life.

"I've never been able to stop thinking about what happened to me and this hampered my social interactions. I would be angry and lost in thought and then be interrupted by someone saying "Hi" or making small talk, unable to understand why I seemed cold and distant. I walked around, viewing the outside world from a distant portal behind my eyes, unable to perform normal human niceties. I wondered what it would be like to take to other people without what happened constantly on my mind, and I wondered if other people had similar experiences that they were better able to mask.

"Alcohol was also something that let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later, though, and it was always angry that I managed to escape and it made me pay. Many of the irresponsible things I did were the result of the darkness. Obviously I'm responsible for every decision and action, including this one, but there are reasons why things happen the way they do.

"Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but it was better than facing my existence honestly. I haven't touched alcohol or any other drug in over seven months (and no drugs or alcohol will be involved when I do this) and this has forced me to evaluate my life in an honest and clear way. There's no future here. The darkness will always be with me.

"I used to think if I solved some problem or achieved some goal, maybe he would leave. It was comforting to identify tangible issues as the source of my problems instead of something that I'll never be able to change. I thought that if I got into to a good college, or a good grad school, or lost weight, or went to the gym nearly every day for a year, or created programs that millions of people used, or spent a summer or California or New York or published papers that I was proud of, then maybe I would feel some peace and not be constantly haunted and unhappy. But nothing I did made a dent in how depressed I was on a daily basis and nothing was in any way fulfilling. I'm not sure why I ever thought that would change anything.

"I didn't realize how deep a hold he had on me and my life until my first relationship. I stupidly assumed that no matter how the darkness affected me personally, my romantic relationships would somehow be separated and protected. Growing up I viewed my future relationships as a possible escape from this thing that haunts me every day, but I began to realize how entangled it was with every aspect of my life and how it is never going to release me. Instead of being an escape, relationships and romantic contact with other people only intensified everything about him that I couldn't stand. I will never be able to have a relationship in which he is not the focus, affecting every aspect of my romantic interactions.

"Relationships always started out fine and I'd be able to ignore him for a few weeks. But as we got closer emotionally the darkness would return and every night it'd be me, her and the darkness in a black and gruesome threesome. He would surround me and penetrate me and the more we did the more intense it became. It made me hate being touched, because as long as we were separated I could view her like an outsider viewing something good and kind and untainted. Once we touched, the darkness would envelope her too and take her over and the evil inside me would surround her. I always felt like I was infecting anyone I was with.

"Relationships didn't work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn't help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. I convinced myself that it wasn't the darkness at all, but rather my orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn't feel "right". The fact that the darkness affected sexual matters most intensely made this idea make some sense and I convinced myself of this for a number of years, starting in college after my first relationship ended. I told people I was gay (at Trinity, not at Princeton), even though I wasn't attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. Because if being gay wasn't the answer, then what was? People thought I was avoiding my orientation, but I was actually avoiding the truth, which is that while I'm straight, I will never be content with anyone. I know now that the darkness will never leave.

"Last spring I met someone who was unlike anyone else I'd ever met. Someone who showed me just how well two people could get along and how much I could care about another human being. Someone I know I could be with and love for the rest of my life, if I weren't so fucked up. Amazingly, she liked me. She liked the shell of the man the darkness had left behind. But it didn't matter because I couldn't be alone with her. It was never just the two of us, it was always the three of us: her, me and the darkness. The closer we got, the more intensely I'd feel the darkness, like some evil mirror of my emotions. All the closeness we had and I loved was complemented by agony that I couldn't stand, from him. I realized that I would never be able to give her, or anyone, all of me or only me. She could never have me without the darkness and evil inside me. I could never have just her, without the darkness being a part of all of our interactions. I will never be able to be at peace or content or in a healthy relationship. I realized the futility of the romantic part of my life. If I had never met her, I would have realized this as soon as I met someone else who I meshed similarly well with. It's likely that things wouldn't have worked out with her and we would have broken up (with our relationship ending, like the majority of relationships do) even if I didn't have this problem, since we only dated for a short time. But I will face exactly the same problems with the darkness with anyone else. Despite my hopes, love and compatability is not enough. Nothing is enough. There's no way I can fix this or even push the darkness down far enough to make a relationship or any type of intimacy feasible.

"So I watched as things fell apart between us. I had put an explicit time limit on our relationship, since I knew it couldn't last because of the darkness and didn't want to hold her back, and this caused a variety of problems. She was put in an unnatural situation that she never should have been a part of. It must have been very hard for her, not knowing what was actually going on with me, but this is not something I've ever been able to talk about with anyone. Losing her was very hard for me as well. Not because of her (I got over our relationship relatively quickly), but because of the realization that I would never have another relationship and because it signified the last true, exclusive personal connection I could ever have. This wasn't apparent to other people, because I could never talk about the real reasons for my sadness. I was very sad in the summer and fall, but it was not because of her, it was because I will never escape the darkness with anyone. She was so loving and kind to me and gave me everything I could have asked for under the circumstances. I'll never forget how much happiness she brought me in those briefs moments when I could ignore the darkness. I had originally planned to kill myself last winter but never got around to it. (Parts of this letter were written over a year ago, other parts days before doing this.) It was wrong of me to involve myself in her life if this were a possibility and I should have just left her alone, even though we only dated for a few months and things ended a long time ago. She's just one more person in a long list of people I've hurt.

"I could spend pages talking about the other relationships I've had that were ruined because of my problems and my confusion related to the darkness. I've hurt so many great people because of who I am and my inability to experience what needs to be experienced. All I can say is that I tried to be honest with people about what I thought was true.

"I've spent my life hurting people. Today will be the last time.

"I've told different people a lot of things, but I've never told anyone about what happened to me, ever, for obvious reasons. It took me a while to realize that no matter how close you are to someone or how much they claim to love you, people simply cannot keep secrets. I learned this a few years ago when I thought I was gay and told people. The more harmful the secret, the juicier the gossip and the more likely you are to be betrayed. People don't care about their word or what they've promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don't blame anyone in particular, I guess it's just how people are. Even if I felt like this is something I could have shared, I have no interest in being part of a friendship or relationship where the other person views me as the damaged and contaminated person that I am. So even if I were able to trust someone, I probably would not have told them about what happened to me. At this point I simply don't care who knows.

"I feel an evil inside me. An evil that makes me want to end life. I need to stop this. I need to make sure I don't kill someone, which is not something that can be easily undone. I don't know if this is related to what happened to me or something different. I recognize the irony of killing myself to prevent myself from killing someone else, but this decision should indicate what I'm capable of.

"So I've realized I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.

"I'm just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there's nothing I can do to escape it. I don't know any other existence. I don't know what life feels like where I'm apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn't understand and can't connect with.

"I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontimated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.

"There's no point in identifying who molested me, so I'm just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.

"You may wonder why I didn't just talk to a professional about this. I've seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I'm positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn't help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we'd hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it's her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molestor (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the "friends" who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I'd be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they're based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrepect for their word and the privacy of others.

"People say suicide is selfish. I think it's selfish to ask people to continue living painful and miserable lives, just so you possibly won't feel sad for a week or two. Suicide may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it's also a permanent solution to a ~23 year-old problem that grows more intense and overwhelming every day.

"Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do, and maybe I'm just not a strong person, but I really did try to deal with this. I've tried to deal with this every day for the last 23 years and I just can't fucking take it anymore.

"I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. I wonder who I'd be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great.

"I'm prepared for death. I'm prepared for the pain and I am ready to no longer exist. Thanks to the strictness of New Jersey gun laws this will probably be much more painful than it needs to be, but what can you do. My only fear at this point is messing something up and surviving.
---

"I'd also like to address my family, if you can call them that. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them, in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way. The world will be a better place when they're dead -- one with less hatred and intolerance.
If you're unfamiliar with the situation, my parents are fundamentalist Christians who kicked me out of their house and cut me off financially when I was 19 because I refused to attend seven hours of church a week.

"They live in a black and white reality they've constructed for themselves. They partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love. They don't understand that good and decent people exist all around us, "saved" or not, and that evil and cruel people occupy a large percentage of their church. They take advantage of people looking for hope by teaching them to practice the same hatred they practice.

"A random example:
'I am personally convinced that if a Muslim truly believes and obeys the Koran, he will be a terrorist.' - George Zeller, August 24, 2010.

"If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors go to Heaven (as long as they were "saved" at some point), that's your choice, but it's fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.

"Their church was always more important than the members of their family and they happily sacrificed whatever necessary in order to satisfy their contrived beliefs about who they should be.

"I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me. A house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around. Parents who tell an eight year old that his grandmother is going to Hell because she's Catholic. Parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it's tiring.

"Since being kicked out, I've interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what's been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it's not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen.

"I wrote the above a while ago, and I do feel like that much of the time. At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best. One reason I put this off for so long is because I know how much pain it will cause her. She has been sad since she found out I wasn't "saved", since she believes I'm going to Hell, which is not a sadness for which I am responsible. That was never going to change, and presumably she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul. Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her. Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn't deserve to live. All I know is that I can't deal with this pain any longer and I'm am truly sorry I couldn't wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I've wished that I'd be hit by a bus or die while saving a baby from drowning so my death might be more acceptable, but I was never so lucky.
---

"To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far.

"I'm sorry for the pain this causes. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can't understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me."

Bill Zeller
---

"Please save this letter and repost it if gets deleted. I don't want people to wonder why I did this. I disseminated it more widely than I might have otherwise because I'm worried that my family might try to restrict access to it. I don't mind if this letter is made public. In fact, I'd prefer it be made public to people being unable to read it and drawing their own conclusions.

"Feel free to republish this letter, but only if it is reproduced in its entirety."

15 comments:

Valarie said...

Incredibly sad on so many levels. There was no one he felt safe with. He didn't realize there were other people living with the darkness that could have at least affirmed him....maybe he wouldn't have felt so alone. He carried all the shame and hate around...alone. He said things about himself that sound so "text book" of what was probably said about him by his family members. This is heart breaking.

David said...

I just finished reading his note on another site and came here to mail you a link to it, but I see you've already read it.

So much in this letter that abuse victims can relate to.

He doesn't say who the male abuser is, but when he gets to how much he hates his fundamentalist parents, it's pretty clear.

Reading this note was very emotional. There are a number of sites where friends of his are posting, saying he was a thoughtful and kind guy, a genius, a hard worker, brilliant, and no one had any idea about any of this.

Christa Brown said...

In one of the articles, one of his Princeton colleagues spoke of how brilliant he was and talked about how there was "a disconnect" between how they all saw him and how he saw himself. Obviously, he was infinitely more than the darkness that envelopped him, and yet such is the nature of these wounds that, so often, people are blocked from seeing the reality of their own luminous selves.

Anonymous said...

" People don't care about their word or what they've promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don't blame anyone in particular, I guess it's just how people are."

I know exactly what this young man felt. At its core, TRUST is lost when abuse enters the frame. Trust today and trust tomorrow. Trust in every way.

Sadly, in the end, Bill could not trust any person and, even more, he could not trust himself and that has led him to his final act.

I am affected by reading this. I relate so well with many areas of the writer's anguish.

I am always looking for hope and yet, maybe it is an illusion. I often feel as though I am just doing my time here until my time is over. Bill's description of "being hit by a bus" or "saving a baby from drowning" hits home for me as I have thought much the same over the years.

I have thought about suicide many times over and yet, because I truly don't know how God feels about it, I truly don't know if I will get to Heaven as a suicide victim. If I was convinced that Heaven is my destination, either way, I would have ended it all years ago.

Thus, I am still trying to live. I am still trying to fight the good fight. I am losing but I am trying. I can take life or leave life. I suppose this is my lot in life.

My God have mercy on Bill Zellers.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Anonymous: Your letter saddens me because someone took what didn't belong to them. You. Your life. It's why I wrote on the topic and why Christa Brown's work is so important.

As I read your comment I felt pain shoot right through me because no matter what we do we can never give you back the part of your life called living. Living in joy, happiness, living as an innocent boy who is now a man. That saddens me and angers me beyond what I am able to convey here. I pray that we as Christians, that my denomination which is Southern Baptist, feels your pain and begins to make the necessary changes so that no other child has to experience what you and Bill Zeller among thousands of others have experienced in the one place that should be safest of all. The church.

Christa Brown said...

"TRUST is lost when abuse enters the frame. Trust today and trust tomorrow. Trust in every way."

You summed it up perfectly, Anon, and I am so sorry that this is something you relate to.

I imagine that every abuse survivor out there will probably weep on reading Bill Zeller's note.

I don't think the memories, pain or rot of it all ever really leave completely (and even when we think they do, they still manage to come back and blind-side us yet again, don't they?) -- but I do think that many survivors can often become better capable of placing the rot into a bigger context and of anticipating the stench and learning to move around it.

Anon: As long as you are "still trying to fight the good fight," you aren't "losing" . . . you're fighting. And however bloody your fight may make you, you ARE a fighter.

Anonymous said...

This is why predators have to be outed and tracked down This is why every single person who knows or suspects but does not report it is guilty.

A Child's life is changed forever because of the act of an evil selfish adult

Anonymous said...

A post on the story link,

"I agree with taylor... "is it true, or the ruminations of a troubled mind, a false memory"?

We don't know if this troubled young man's allegations are based in reality, or delusional.

Either way, it is certainly irresponsible for anonymous posters to accuse this poor young man's father."

... with attitudes like this, is it any wonder.....


The same attitude that Steve Gaines has around Bellevue Baptist church.

Remember the key is "forgiven" , the rest just have to "live" with it.

the rest are going to He((

Anonymous said...

As one who has been abused by clergy actually at different points in my life, I do weep for this gentleman as my abuse started within a very dysfunctional family. However, all of us who have known this darkness also know we can read this and be drawn to it. Drawn to the darkness that we so easily identify with, drawn to the evil that we feel about ourselves, the darkness within relationships that is omnipresent, and many other things. Upon reading this, we must be more determined to be drawn to and pulled out of this and move toward a position of strength. Somehow we cannot let go of that, and find our feelings so that we can let them out. We need to do this so that there are less letters to be written with the deep sadness and trouble in this. We, as adults, cannot change what has happened in our childhood. But we need to choose hope and strength, somehow, any way that we can grab on to the lifeline of hope, we must choose it. We can respond by simply hanging on during the dark days of this awful presence in our lives. We can reach out, find people, find help, but reach in also.....deep within ourselves and try and then try some more, fighting ferociously to be a real person and not let this name who we are or who we become.

Joel Rutledge said...

I will try to be brief, but there are three points I would like to make, in response to Bill's letter. First, although Bill was certain that it was impossible, it was NOT impossible for him to have been helped. What he describes is simply PTSD, of an admittedly unusually severe and toxic sort. Understanding of the effects of trauma is only coming about very recently, and the treatments for it have not been available, long. But there are hundreds of people walking around who suffered in every way as extremely as Bill did, but who by grace found good (capable, committed, campassionate) professionals to help them overcome the darkness.

Second, sexual abuse is certainly the flagship of the abuse fleet, but survivors of other kinds of abuse (or trauma from other sources), such as violent physical abuse or even intense emotional abuse, can manifest the same kinds of things that Bill describes. There are countless suicides that could be credited to this, but who left no record to educate us. We owe Bill a debt of gratitude for the window of insight he offered us. Others will be helped, because of his courage and eloquence.

Finally, I would like to note that Baptists, or other Christians of any variety, do not have the market cornered on abuse and attrocities. Say rather that even religion is not proof positive against evil and the darkness--the connection with the power of the spirit must exceed the scope of religion alone, if it is to suffice to guide a person or a family to the light.

I am a trauma survivor and a behavioral health professional, working in addictions treatment, and I can attest without reservation that abuse, of all kinds, and especially sexual abuse, accounts for vastly more of the addiction and mental and emotional illness than most people ever realize.

Lynn said...

This makes me very sad. I think it is a good thing that Bill told the world. It seems to me that abuse victims are expected to somehow deal with that plus be very polite about not causing any discomfort when others have to hear about the abuse.

Why should victims have to suffer in silence?

Debbie Kaufman said...

Joel: I agree with you that Southern Baptists nor any other organization does not have the corner 'market' but we Southern Baptists are a large organization who has the resources to make sure that it does not happen on our watch or in our churches. We just refuse to do so.

Christa Brown said...

"Southern Baptists are a large organization who has the resources . . . We just refuse to do so."

Yes. Nowadays, Southern Baptists are doing far less than other major faith groups in this country to safeguard against sexual abuse committed by ministers. It's tragic because, as Debbie says, they clearly have the power to do a great deal more, and they simply refuse.

The denomination's failure to even provide a safe place where survivors can report abuse committed by clergy (for cases that cannot be criminally prosecuted, which is most) also means that many survivors are absolutely savaged by the faith community when they do attempt to talk about it. I've had many survivors say to me something like this: "I thought no one could ever do anything worse to me than what the minister did to me when I was a kid . . . and then I tried to report it."

It literally breaks my heart that Southern Baptists refuse to set up a system that might at least help to spare abuse survivors from these additional wounds. How I wish that Baptist officials could understand the enormous harm that they are doing by refusing to hear the voices of the wounded.

Valarie said...

Joel,
Thank you for your post. Christa and Debbie responded with some of the thoughts I had while reading your points.
There was one other thing that stuck out for me. When is PTSD ever "simple" or "simply PTSD"??
I don't know if his PTSD was "unusually severe and toxic sort" either.
What is "usual" and isn't all PTSD of the toxic sort??
It feels disrespectful and worse to try and "box" just what PTSD should be. We are all wired differently and the response and support we get after trauma and abuse is so very crucial to the path of healing. As a behavior health professional, I think that's an important point to remember.

SAT said...

I was abused throughout my childhood in a fundamentalist family, and as a young adult worked therapy very hard. I re-parented myself, still hold the image of a little boy inside who when he gets very sad, I can comfort and help. I hold these images all the time. I say that because there are ways, there are people who you can help even when you don't believe it is possible. It is like in the movies you are told to step off the cliff and you see nothing but the chasm, but when you take the step, behold some magic. Something there, and you are supported. Every time I see that in a movie, I feel the hope. The magic of recovery.

The hatred, I understand that too, and cannot yet get over the feelings of hatred I have for what and who did what they did to me. I learned not to turn it in, but still it is there and strong and I can remember so many things for which I cannot fully let go. How lonely I was, being robbed of a full childhood, the feeling of isolation. He calls it the darkness, I called it the hand at my throat. I personified the same way. And to see someone who causes so much pain, so cruel, so evil, to be smiling and treated with respect, to be successful. And you know it is all a front, and you know what they are thinking and what they are capable of, the monster you know hidden from the world. I just can never get my head around that. Why? How can they be?

But even with the hatred, I have learned to let it go in ways that are not destructive to myself or others. My feelings of loss, anxiety, fear, anger can be held and dissipated, I can be close to others I can smile, I can laugh. The therapy did work, it did, for many many years. Please know there is hope, there is a way. I wish I had met the man who wrote this letter.