What is the best way to keep torture and abuse secret? Convince the victim that she won’t be trusted because she doesn’t perceive anything clearly anyway. Teach her from the very beginning that she sees things upside down and inside out, and scramble her brain so that she can’t ever trust her eyes or her ears or her skin or her heart. In addition to not trusting herself, teach her to trust no one but the abusers. Teach her that everyone else is bad, especially people who try to reach out to her. They are up to no good. They can’t be up to any good if they want to befriend her. She’s an untrustworthy piece of trash. Then she will be glued to you for the rest of her life, because you tell her what is up and what is down, and she can’t trust anyone else.
Wait. This sounds like a cult. Or my life.
Why can’t I trust my experience? Why can’t I believe what others tell me? Why can’t I believe all of the signs right in front of my face? When will I ever be able to really experience reality? How does one go about un-brainwashing herself? My therapist said today that of all of the horrible, unthinkable things done to me, the brainwashing was the most horrific. I can see how that could be true. It undermines and unearths every encounter and every experience that I face today. The doubt and distrust of my own experience are so intertwined into the core of who I am that I have no idea how I could ever really validate my life.
How can I acknowledge even what is empirically validated in my medical history: The things that have tests and doctors’ notes to prove that they actually occurred? I may or may not have broken my hip during college, and the doctor claimed that the break was obvious on the x-ray, that there was bone dying, and that I had to go into surgery immediately. I was and still am somewhat confident that I managed to do a Jedi-mind trick on him, causing him to see a break that wasn’t there. After almost twenty years of having a consistent diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, I remain convinced that I tricked doctors and therapists into believing that I had a condition that I really did not have. In the face of layers and layers of evidence of abuse, I cannot reconcile myself with the events that haunt my waking and sleeping moments. I cannot believe that they are true. I can’t believe anything about myself, not even the things that seem unequivocally unquestionable.
With this in mind, how can I even begin to consider my internal, subjective experience legitimate? How can I validate my emotions, beliefs, and interactions with God? How can I nurture my heart and mind through prayer and reflection if I can’t find my way up, down, left, or right on a legitimate map? I feel horribly, irrevocably stuck.
I do know that God claims to perform miracles, and I may or may not have experienced quite a few of those miracles in my life. Thus, I can ask Him to heal my mind that feels like it is caving in on its own existence.
Lord, don’t allow my brain to implode with this self-doubt, self-hate, and total distrust of everything and everyone. Please let me learn how to believe you first, and then help me to believe myself. Please show me the world in its truest colors and re-write my narrative through your lens of truth, grace, and love. I know that you created me. We can start there. I think also that you love me and can redeem me. So please, plow the soil my mind and my memories and plant your word and your truth. I believe that only a supernatural power such as yours can restore such a deeply broken sense of self. I am ready. Lets begin.