Thank you. I believe you. Your posts yesterday and today make me feel better - like you really believe what I did was okay. I do know that what really matters is how I feel about it, and I know I should not base my feelings on anyone else's - but I have been (from what you and Linda tell me), basing so much on what I learned growing up and what I thought was correct, that I don't really have a personal basis for beliefs about this stuff yet. I need some reliable guidance. Plus, as you pointed out, even without any childhood issues re: responsibility, I would most likely feel responsible anyway, because of the nature of this, right? Also, I think that the reactions of the friend I told first - several months after it happened, the reaction of the people at the clinic when I did go to get checked out, and the reaction of my parents when they were told (along with the fact that I know very well what they would think and say), has reaffirmed my inclinations towards taking responsibility.
It is hard for me to reconcile remembering and "seeing" myself do these things - and not blame myself. I can't see it totally in context. Because of how things happened - because I did participate, it is hard to see past what I did to determine whether it was reasonable under the circumstances, you know? And I always learned that it doesn't matter what anybody else is doing or has done - I am still responsible for what I do, and must face the consequences. I'm just not sure what consequences I am or should be facing - like what part of all this and the way I feel and the way I have screwed up my life is the consequence for what I chose to do during the incident, what I did afterwards, for not reporting it, and for what I have chosen since then. I don't know what parts of this (the aftermath, I guess you'd say, although seriously delayed) is the price for what I did/didn't do, and what part just is, if any. I'm not saying I deserved that to happen because of my choices - it was already happening. Yes - my choices during it had some instant consequences - but I will never know if they were good or bad. In doing what I did, I guess I expected, at the time, for that to result in better consequences than what I would otherwise face. I don't know if it worked or not - things could have been better and things could have been worse. But I have to assume that my instincts were correct. Even if they weren't, and I misread things, I didn't have time to mull any of it over at the time - and my instincts were what they were. I don't think, now, that if I hadn't done/said what they told me to, it would have been very likely at all that they would have just let me go. Remembering the intensity of all that did happen, and learning what I have about sexual sadists, etc. from you and Linda, I think the mean one would have found something else degrading or painful for me - that he needed that. In any event - what I don't know is how much of this stuff now and the stuff since the incident is the consequence of what I chose to do/say/not do. ??? I know I have to pay the consequences for anything I do. There are always consequences - good or bad. I just don't know if all of this is from consequences to my actions or theirs, or a combination. I know some of these things are direct consequences of my own choices/actions/reactions. But even though they royally suck, I don't know if these are actually good or bad consequences. If the alternative was to bleed to death or something like that - then these are good consequences, comparatively. But if the alternative was for me to maintain at least a bit of dignity by not saying and doing what they wanted, and then they just did it anyway, without my help or encouragement or participation, then these things I am going through now are bad consequences, comparatively. Do you see what I'm saying? Problem is - there is no way I can know. And as you said (or implied), my instincts may have been logical, and I need to trust them. However, the problem with that is that my instincts now - how I feel instantly when I think about some of these things - are telling me I am a loser, and that, no matter what the circumstances, nobody except a whore would have done/said what I did.
I don't know .....
But I do truly appreciate (and believe) what you said.
I am still tempted to watch the videos or go to those sites - or to those sites I looked up before (that were just supposedly rape videos, but didn't say anything about tearing, screaming, crying, etc. [I kind of got that the first ones were probably fake - just actors, and I don't know about the second]) But I think I can keep myself from doing it, just as I did already, and just as I avoided the temptation of cutting myself. I just really feel like it's a way to punish myself, and even though I don't feel like if I watched and it hurt me and I was upset - that it would atone for anything at all (or even that I really have to atone, I guess I'm thinking now), but I am so angry and need to hurt someone or punish someone (probably don't really need to - I guess I just want to) and I am the only person available for the punishment that had anything to do with it. Like maybe if I hurt myself, it will be like punishing them, too? Or maybe it's not even that complex - maybe I just want to unleash some anger and it seems that those videos would allow that? I know it seems illogical - but I feel like if I get anger out, it makes little difference if it is directed at or hurts myself. I can't hurt someone else that had nothing to do with this. I can't hurt them. I feel like this is the kind of anger that requires it be directed at someone and taken out on someone - not something. I don't think it is the kind of thing that screaming into a pillow or beating on a couch or shooting my BB gun at inanimate things is going to help. It feels pretty intense and I want to get rid of it because it scares me. But the only way it seems I can do that is by purposely harming myself - and, frankly, exposing myself to those sites seems more damaging than doing something physical to myself.
Okay .... I am rambling. I will stop. Just all these things racing through my head, and all these feelings. I do feel like I've made some progress in the guilt area. The shame thing - I don't know if it will ever go away. Maybe I didn't deserve what happened, but I can't imagine ever remembering what I did and said and even just what they did - and the position I was in, and the things they did which should be most private things, and other things they did which basically mutilated my most private areas and caused so much pain - without feeling ashamed and humiliated and embarrassed. Try to think for a second what I have told you about what they did and I did and said - the details. Try to imagine it was you - regardless of the circumstances, I think you would feel massive shame, wouldn't you?
Wow. All this thinking and feeling takes a lot out of me. :)
I read the blog -- If you sent the link to me before, I missed it, because I hadn't read it.
One of the things it said in there was that feelings of shame do not equate to guilt. But in the blog, they talk about it as kind of the same thing, as they do in a lot of things I have read. I think the two are totally different. I can be ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated without being guilty or feeling guilty. That's what I meant when the other day I said I was making progress on the guilt issue, but maybe not the shame. I do think that I am becoming more and more able to recognize that it was not my fault that it happened, that the specific things that they did were not my fault, and that even though I chose to do and say certain things, it didn't make it my fault, because I did what I could under the circumstances and made the best choice possible with what I had - or what I believed to be the best choice possible, and frankly, I had only bad things to choose between. Also, even my choices afterwards - I do feel responsible for the girls who may have come after me, because I didn't even try to stop them or report them. However, I also can see that my reporting does not necessarily equate to their being caught or punished or even identified. I also recognize that I would likely have suffered a lot more afterwards had I reported it, since it would have meant I had to face it then, less equipped, my parents would have had to know and that would have been very bad for me, my plans would have been screwed up (law school, etc.), and can you imagine if I had gone to the ER or something immediately - all the stuff they would have had to do, considering I'm sure these things do not usually heal on their own (I was just fortunate)? I would have had to have stitches, exams, people looking and touching and talking. I can barely handle thinking about it now.
HOWEVER, even recognizing these things, I still am ashamed to remember the things I said and did, the fact I didn't do the right thing afterwards. I am ashamed at what these guys could do to me. I am ashamed that they have their marks on me, probably forever. I am ashamed that I had sex with them - forced or not - just that we had sex. I'm ashamed of swallowing his urine and I am ashamed of giving him oral sex and I am very ashamed of the anal sex and also what that did to me physically. Heck, I feel ashamed that I was partially undressed. I am ashamed that I ever had to tell anyone these things and that I have to share the details just so some day I may be able to function normally. It is humiliating and embarrassing. I am ashamed and embarrassed and humiliated that I am still upset about it and have such problems dealing with it. And I am ashamed that I was so dumb to think that the only effect from that all these years was nightmares.
I am mortified by these things and incredibly ashamed - even though I am getting to the point where I am accepting that it was their fault, not mine. There is a difference between guilt and shame. I understand what you have said and Linda and Dr. M have said as far as trying to accept that it was not my fault and to not take responsibility for the things they did. And I AM doing better in that regard, don't you think? But how do I get rid of the shame? I am always going to be humiliated and embarrassed by what happened. I can't imagine not being ashamed. It is shameful. It's not like I can learn to be proud of what happened. Who would be? If I ever get to the point where I proudly share these humiliating and shameful details with anyone more than therapists or a closest friend., I hope someone shoots me. Nobody would feel proud of that. So - how is the shame part even fixable/changeable??
Shay,It sounds like you have made great progress on dealing with your guilt. You did do the best you could with some very bad choices, the only ones you had. And you acted to preserve your life the best way you knew how. You are not to blame for what those guys did. They are the guilty ones.When dealing with the shame, it is a separate issue from the guilt. The guilt is about fault, the shame is about what you feel as a result of the psychological force that the attackers put on you to make you do things you did not want to do. They made you feel powerless. They took away your rights to your own body and made you do things you did not choose to do. And in order to do that, the weapon they used was to dehumanize you. Making you feel the shame that they should be feeling, or maybe do feel and just can't cope with. By putting you down and controlling you, they hoped to make themselves feel powerful. In working through the shame, you first have to decide that you want to face it and deal with it. That seems like an obvious step if you are already saying that you want to work on it, but it helps to be sure about it. The next one is to allow yourself time to explore why you feel ashamed and how it relates to what you went through. Shame is a deep emotion that is in response to something horrible that you suffered, making you feel as if it was your doing and not the people who did it to you. It takes time to explore that and work through the pain. Working on shame also requires learning what you can about it so you know what helps you and what does not. In your case, it may help to read about other survivors to see how they handled their shame. Here are some resources to help you get started:http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.com/2006/10/as-you-work-toward-emotional-healing.html"The feeling of shame is so intense for rape victims that many never tell anyone what happened to them....Despite more than two decades in change of social attitudes about rape, I still found it difficult not to feel ashamed when others reacted to me with embarrassment or discomfort. And this feeling of shame silenced me...Rape shame is hard to escape"Nancy V. Raine"After Silence: Rape and my Journey Back"- A highly recommended bookhttp://www.pandys.org/escapinghades/guiltshame.htmlLetters To Survivors: Words of Comfort for Women Recovering from Rape by Matt AtkinsonIt's good to start here and see what you feel after you explore some of your feelings about shame. You are never going to be proud of what happened. And I agree with you, that is unrealistic to expect from anyone. But after you work this through, you will be able to put the shame where it belongs, on those guys and not on yourself. Just as you did with the guilt.Kate