I have a fantastic husband. I couldn’t ask for better. He is like me in his values and priorities. He is different from me in nationality, native language, talents, skills and obsessive interests. His differences are part of what make him interesting to me. He is patient and flexible and loving.
I’ve told him that I experienced sexual abuse as a child and finally, a few months ago, explained how much it’s affected me. His immediate reaction was to spend a day or two online to learn more about how childhood sexual abuse affects people in adulthood. He immediately said to me that he knew it wasn’t my fault, that he absolutely didn’t think it made me dirty or twisted as I feared (and sometimes still fear). He said he was here to listen to me whenever I wanted, but no pressure if I wasn’t ready. Perfect. I shared a few of my blog posts with him, but I haven’t given him the name of my blog or let him read most posts.
Most importantly, I haven’t been able to tell him that my father abused me.
In therapy yesterday, E. asked me why I wasn’t telling him. “What’s holding you back?”
I wasn’t sure at first. “Maybe I’m afraid he’ll be really mad at my dad. And, I don’t know, that could make figuring out how to help my dad even more complicated.”
“Are you afraid he’ll say something to your dad? Or hurt him?” she asked me.
“Um, no, not really. Definitely not hurt him; he’s not the type. And he won’t say anything if I ask him not to. I know his priority is to make things okay for me.”
Silence for a few moments.
“I guess really I am embarrassed,” I went on, awkwardly, “I guess I am ashamed.”
Naturally this led to a repeat of the conversation we’ve had before–more than once–about who should be ashamed, the abuser or the child. (Correct answer: the abuser!) I agree with this intellectually. Sometimes I even agree emotionally. But still I felt ashamed even at the thought of telling my husband.
“You might consider about telling him,” E suggested. “I think it could be good for you. From what I know of him, mostly through you, I feel pretty sure he would believe you. And he would agree that you don’t need to feel ashamed. I think that could strengthen your own sense that you don’t need to feel shame.”
It was only after I left the therapy session that I realized part of my shame is the fear of being wrong about the whole thing, about having somehow made it all up. And what would that say about me? I’m sick, disgusting. I’m a terrible person. Then how could he love me?
Evidently my friend Doubt isn’t staying fully away even though I extended her vacation. I though I was doing well believing the girl, but I don’t seem to believe her enough to tell my husband about what happened to her.
(Side note to the girl: I’m sorry, little one, that a part of me can’t fully banish Doubt. Just remember that many parts of me DO believe you. Forgive me for feeling torn sometimes.)
Sometimes as I write my posts, I start to figure out what I want to do about the issue I’m struggling with. I think that may be happening tonight. Here’s what I think I want to do:
I want to stick with my resolve to intentionally and compassionately believe the girl through the end of the month.
Then in September, I want to invite Doubt to a therapy session. I want to work with her a bit, with a lot of help from E.
Only when I feel more comfortable in my relationship with Doubt do I want to plan plan how I might tell my husband.
So that’s my plan, for the moment anyway. My husband can wait another month or two. He still loves me, knowing I haven’t told him the full story. I’m very lucky in that way.
P.S. I used to have a photo of him posted where you could see his face, but I took it down, afraid I guess that someone would see it and know him and know me.