Ordinary Evil: Memoir of a Buried Life
Clawing to the Surface
by Alethea Marina Nova (all rights reserved)
When the tears ended, I looked in the bathroom mirror. I studied the reflection of the woman who had just remembered her father having sex with her as a child. Thirty years had passed through my face in a few short hours. My skin was pale and my expression vacant. My hair seemed darker with shades of gray, never seen before.
I looked around my home and it appeared dirty and disgusting to me —yet it was clean and everything put away. I felt shaky, weak, and the constricted feeling in my chest had returned. The urge to urinate persisted the rest of the day, and I couldn’t shake my still unexplained fear of death.
The following days and nights were hazy. I felt nervous upon waking, but at the same time, sluggish and fatigued. My bladder made me miserable, I felt a sore throat and a shingles outbreak coming on, and the pathological hunger refused to cease.
The memories of my father dry-humping me on me had been asleep far too long in my subconscious, and I really had to fight from being drawn back into my pattern of pushing away anything uncomfortable or painful. As an adult, I had been conditioned by my mother to only accept information about my father which created the image of a “good man” or “hard worker.” This unspoken rule had been instilled and kept alive by my mother and it caused me to question my memories. Not because they were not true, but because I did not want them to be.
It seemed impossible to have mentally blocked childhood incest from my mind. I spent days vacillating. One moment I trusted my memories and in the next, I challenged them, and had intense gratitude that my therapist had interpreted the dream of having sex with my father as not being a memory of actually having sex with him. If she had not done this, then I would have considered the actual memory of having sex with my father, as being implanted in my mind with dream interpretation.
Knowing the memory was true, became the most difficult thing I had ever been forced to come to terms with, but the most brutal times were still ahead of me and the hardest work yet to be done.
In the following weeks, my fear of dying became completely overwhelming. When I went to bed at night I regressed to child-like behavior and lay awake, afraid to move, while clutching a little stuffed bear I had kept since childhood. The bear had become a security blanket. I fell asleep with him in my arms and woke with him by my side. I even wondered if my little bear had once witnessed what my father had done to me.
I had in a sense, become a child again. The little girl inside me was attempting to gain life and trying to surface. Until that moment, she had died somewhere along the way, or had withdrawn into a safe hibernation, but now she had awakened and she wanted protection and love. Most of all she desired to be heard, but a deep and powerful fear held back her little voice.
A few weeks later, during a therapy regression, I found myself as a child walking down the hallway of my childhood home. In that moment my mind switched from remembering in the mind of a child, to recalling the scene from the grown woman I had become.
In the regression, I peered into my childhood bedroom and saw myself as a young girl lying face down on the bed trying to hide under the covers. I saw myself pretending to be asleep while my father was getting ready to take advantage of my need for love, but as a grown woman, I could now rescue the child.
In the memory, I saw my father coming down the hallway, so I visualized pushing my father aside, ran to my childhood bed, and gently pulled the little girl out. I put her safely behind me and protected her with my body.
Mentally going in as an adult to rescue myself as the child allowed me to take back the power my father held over me. After mentally confronting my perpetrator, a large part of the emotional weight had been lifted and many of my physical symptoms disappeared. Yet I remained perplexed as to why the crushing tightness in my chest and the fear of death lingered.
A few days later, I was resting on my bed when a flash of a knife appeared. The dimness of the stormy day caused the shimmer of sharp metal to pierce the room, and just as quickly, the flash was gone. I had no understanding what the knife meant but my therapist had me focus on the knife in the next therapy session.
This regression began slowly. My mind did not want to enter my childhood home. I circled warily around it, afraid to get too close. At first my mind went to the backyard, and then around the side of the house to the service porch door. After a minute or two I went inside and felt immediately drawn to the hallway closet. After staring at the closet for a moment, the memory swept me off to another part of the house where I found myself hiding in the corner of my bedroom closet.
The memories quickly picked up speed as my father appeared in the room wearing his street clothes, not his police uniform. Instantaneously, the scene changed to me lying face up on the bed, fully clothed, with my father’s huge body holding me down. It felt as though my father could have easily crushed my chest with his body weight, but the knife he held to my throat overpowered all other pain. He told me, “Do what I say, or I’ll kill you!”
I lay frozen in terror as my father pressed his body down harder on me. Then, as if the memory was not shocking enough, I saw my mother standing at the bedroom door watching my father on top of me. I searched her face for clues and would like to have seen fear, but what I saw was satisfaction.
As my mother walked away, unwilling to help me, I felt the ugly pit in my stomach where her abandonment had wedged itself. My mother saw the knife and she knew what my father was doing with it. Until that moment I thought maybe she had suspected abuse but that she could never prove anything. Prior to this memory, I had convinced myself that my mother must have been unaware of the incest, but the dreams and visions of my mother in her chair, always reading a book, finally made sense. This image was symbolic of my mother willingly allowing the incest to continue right under her nose.
By recalling my mother’s total disregard for me as a human being, the first real rage welled up inside of me, and I found myself screaming out the hatred that I had bottled up for thirty years. I shook, cried, and moaned.
When no more words could be said, I felt as though I had been run over by an eighteen wheel big rig. My mangled body lay on the bed in the fetal position and I wept softly. My therapist told me to feel a white healing light come down upon me and to feel it surround and embrace me. The light began to illuminate and heal thirty years worth of grieving left undone.
My fear of an untimely death now made perfect sense. The terror that my life would be taken at any moment had been rooted in my father’s use of a weapon to threaten my existence. He may even have used his police knife. This could be why his police belt and the hall closet frequently entered my regressions. Nevertheless, my reality as a child was to lay awake each night wondering if my father would be entering my room, if my mother would ever come to stop him, or if I would violently die at the hands of my perpetrator.
Yet, a part of me still didn’t want to believe any of it. The denial remained intrusive because I had spent so many years remembering the father I wanted to remember —the man I loved so much that I almost worshiped him.
“Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; not amid joy.” – Felicia Hemans
Following the memories of incest and being threatened with death, I noticed something serendipitous about my father’s high school picture. In spite of my memories, the photo had remained in my living room and was sitting on a table near the Christmas tree. Several times since the memories of incest first emerged I had pushed the photo face down. Later I would feel better and prop it up again.
After moving a small lamp to a new location in the living room, I turned it on and immediately noticed that the new position of the lamp resulted in a line split right down the middle of the photograph. Half of my father’s face was lit up, and the other half was a dark shadow. The two sides of my father had been exposed; the one I had chosen to remember most of my life, and the twisted side that my inner child had blocked out.
A major part of me desperately desired to cry out my truth, but to tell was to die. My father made certain that I was to keep quiet, under penalty of death; but I also knew I would never completely heal if I didn’t disclose what I had remembered.
Over a period of weeks, the denial dissipated and euphoria replaced a number of physical symptoms, including the crushing chest pain. The exhilaration stemmed from the self-awareness that truth brings. Although the hunger and fatigue remained, the healing of the other symptoms resulted from the memories coming into consciousness instead of being stuck in my physical body. Until I had been ready to consciously process the memories, the somatic pain and suffering was the only way my soul could expel the unresolved emotional and physical trauma, which had been forced to remain hidden from my conscious mind for more than thirty years.
The storyboard of my physical suffering began to display what I could not see clearly before. The acne on the inside of my upper thighs near my vagina had been related to being sexually abused by my father. The enormous pressure in my chest had originated with the weight of my father’s body being too much for a small girl. The pustules from the shingles virus appearing only on one part of my neck also made perfect sense. My father held the knife to that side of my throat. These symptoms were a cry for help from my subconscious mind, and now that I heard those cries, they began to disappear.
I could now comprehend why the words, “Do what I say, or I’ll kill you!” had come into my sleep years earlier —it was my father’s voice, making its way through time and space.
My problems with rage and panic attacks now seemed so logical, and it became obvious why I wet the bed until I was nine years-old. It all became excruciatingly and abundantly clear why I blocked my entire childhood, and that the illness had forced my conscious mind to wake up from its self-medication of denial.
With the exception of my therapist, I still hadn’t revealed my memories to another soul. When I ran into Linda, a compassionate neighbor and friend, I felt it was time to enable my transformation. I decided to defy my father’s threats, and I knew she would be the person to tell.
Linda seemed happy to see me, and when she asked how I was doing, my emotions couldn’t be restrained. I cried as I revealed my secret…and I did not die.
Exposing the truth did not kill me. Instead, Linda held me as if she knew exactly what I was going through. She gently told me she was sorry, and that she had a feeling that I would be just fine.
That night, the hunger stabbed at my gut and throat because I had dared to disclose the incest to a non-family member. Telling the secret to Linda dynamically mocked my father’s death threats but it would be a tremendous action towards healing. My next step would be to speak openly about the incest with my sisters, and one day, to my mother.
In my next therapy regression, I recalled sitting on my wood chair in Catholic school. The memory was so vivid that I recalled the seat feeling as smooth as glass after being worn down through the years. I looked down at my standard saddle shoes, white button-up shirt, and plaid skirt. On the outside I looked like just another student, but on the inside, I felt incredibly different. The other children were learning, whispering, and giggling, but not me. I was staring off into space. My therapist interrupted my memory to ask why I felt so abnormal.
“Because my father is doing bad things to me.”
The regression reaffirmed that the incest created my separation from the world. Desperately out of place, I was not a child and not an adult.
I ended the regression by telling my father that he caused me deep confusion, and thwarted what a child is supposed to feel about their bodies and about life. Then I pictured myself going to Mother Superior to tell her about my father. I told her that she should require instruction for the teachers and nuns on how to recognize a victim of child sexual abuse. I imagined her calling the police and sending them to my house to take my father to prison.
As I came out of the regression I cried for the child I once was –the child who tried desperately to be just like everyone else, but that would never be possible. She had been taught how to be different by her father. The incest was the only way she knew how to gain attention, affection, and love. My father falsely taught the child in me that male sexual attention equaled love. I felt as if I was ‘daddy’s little girl.’
This was the first time in my life that I allowed myself to realize why my self-worth always centered on the number of men who looked at me. I had an obsessive need for male attention, and in any way I could get it. I dressed scantily in high school, and as an adult, I wore even less clothing. My outfits consisted of short skirts, mid-drift tops, and no underwear underneath dresses. In the summer I wore cut-off shorts with my buttocks hanging out, and no bra. It made me sick to finally comprehend that I measured my value by the sexual attention I received.
In grade-school, and again in high school, I used to allow the boys to touch me between my legs during class. At the time, I had accepted this behavior as a natural part of me. Yet, no matter how often I allowed boys to touch my vagina, or how many men I attracted as an adult, when the sexual intoxication wore off, nothing but emptiness replaced it.
Chapter Five: Letters to My Sisters, coming soon…
© 2016 Alethea Marina-Nova. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.