It’s been three weeks since I spoke on the phone with my brother, Kevin – the brother who physically, emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abused me for years as a child and teenager. It was the first time we have spoken in twenty-seven years. He called my folks on Christmas day. My mother, who has Alzheimer’s Disease and doesn’t remember the abuse, handed the phone to me. After a few emails back and forth, which he initiated and in which he apologized, I felt I could handle speaking with him.
At first, I felt a level a relief and release, like a burden had been lifted from my soul. I felt that some healing had taken place for the both of us for I know that he has carries his own burden of guilt and shame for the horrible things he did to me. I could hear it in his voice as he made his amends over the phone. He told me that he looks forward to the day when he can tell me how sorry he is in person. I told him that I forgave him a long time ago, but he said he needs to earn my forgiveness. I told him I need to keep strong boundaries as we move toward healing the wounds of our past. He understood and agreed.
Anyway, the day after Christmas, I slept all day. I couldn’t get out of bed except to feed my cat, Zeke. I have been in a funk ever since. There have been moments when I have been able to accomplish things, like chiropractic appointments, grocery shopping, and coffee with a friend. I’ve been able to read a little and watch an occasional movie. Other than that, I have spent most of my time lying on the couch listening to my favorite Pandora Solo Piano station; I find the music quite soothing.
My eating and nutrition these past few weeks has been terrible. I’ve been living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal, and popcorn – for the most part. I have been able to muster the energy to cook and occasional chicken breast with a side dish. I’ve also binged on pastry twice; once on half a cheesecake, which I ate in one sitting. I took off the cover, grabbed a fork, and dug into it. I didn’t enjoy it after the first few bites, but I kept on eating, to the point of feeling ill. I also did this with a small cake. I didn’t purge, thankfully. I’ve somehow managed to heal that part of my emotional binge eating. When I binge, it’s like I am punishing myself with food.
I told my friends and therapist that I was “in a funk.” It didn’t feel like full-blown depression. I have been exhausted, both physically and mentally, but I didn’t feel depressed emotionally. I told my therapist that I hadn’t been triggered by speaking with my brother. I didn’t feel anxious, angry, or sad. I thought that I felt nothing. My therapist suggested that I was feeling a whole range of emotions below the surface – my psyche’s way of processing decades of pain and connecting with my abuser.
My funk is slowly lifting. I have a little more energy and I’m eating a little bit better. I don’t know if I will ever feel an actual release of my buried emotions. I’ve always thought that I would need to have the emotions surface and flow through me in order to process and release them. Maybe that will still happen. Maybe it’s not necessary. Perhaps my psyche is doing all the work below the surface. Perhaps I’ll be freed from the emotional and psychological burden that I’ve carried for so long without having to re-experience the pain from the trauma. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones. Time will tell. Healing will take place in its own way and in its own time. I will try to stay out of the way and let it happen – without anticipation and without judgment.
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