August 8, 2012

Freak - Part 2: The Knight in Shining Armor


Hi all,

Last week I introduced you to Rebecca O'Donnell, author of Freak: The True Story of an Insecurity Addict and a Beyond Survivor. Here is Part 2 of her story. Enjoy!

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Insecurity addicts develop strange phobias.
  After years of my husband making jokes about my fat ass and dumpy body, I developed real image issues.  They were already tentatively in place; my father used to make fun of my appearance as well.  But it was the fourteen years of being married to a man who'd been raised in a family of size zeroes that solidified the damage.  At first, I lost an enormous amount of weight to please him, but after he still complained about my fat when I weighed 113 pounds at almost six feet in height, I just gave up and slid into the world of liquid diets and heart wrenching angst, cramming down a secret candy bar or two when he wasn't looking.  I grew to hate my body so desperately, especially as it began to get sick after my second child was born (after a series of miscarriages before and after), that I started covering portions of my face when I put on makeup  or brushed my teeth.  I couldn't bear the full brunt of that despised countenance.

Fast forward a couple of years.  I was divorced, still screwed up, with patches of re-emerging traumatic memory from my childhood that were ghastly to absorb...on top of everything else that was going on in my life.  "Trauma unlocks trauma," my therapist had warned, and since my teenage son was in rehab and his gang was angry with me for taking their pet white boy away, I was definitely in trauma.  But I'd begun a series of self-love exercises to combat my own insecurity addiction, and here I was, completely forgetting about my childhood gang rape and cigarettes being put out against my skull, because something miraculous and totally unexpected had happened.

I was looking at my own face in the mirror.  Mouth full of tooth paste,  deer-in-headlights stare, arm frozen in mid air.  A plop of minty foam fell into the sink and I jerked, blinking my eyes.  I couldn't stop staring at that face.  Ugly, yes, but an entire face.  Not unbearable any longer.  After six months of telling myself "I love you," knowing it was a big lie, something had finally changed.  The disgusting had become simply ugly.  Progress.  Impossible, fantastic, incredible progress.

I love romance.  Movies, books, stories, anything at all to do with true love.  As a teenager, I dreamed of a hero, a knight in shining armor who'd swoop down and rescue me from hell.  He would be strong, brave, kind and nurturing.  He'd love me despite my many faults and under that love, I would bloom.  Become the creature I was always meant to be.  That's what was missing.  A hero to save me.
Those past years went by.  Adolescence melted into young adulthood.  Because of my lousy sense of worth, I chose loved ones poorly.  First a brute as my first husband, then a cold, vicious sadist as my second.  I thought if I showered enough love and patience on them, they'd reciprocate.  Both my husbands had been abused as kids; my second one severely.  If I could endure his cruelty, I would get through to him.  I would heal him and he'd find his own kindness and through it, his love for me.  Then we could at last be soulmates and it would be my turn to heal; my turn to be helped.

One of the problems with cruelty is the fact that it, too, is addictive.  My mates loved to harm me.  They got off on it; it filled a need for them.  My pain gave them a fix.  I knew this.  I was stupid, yes, broken and bleeding, sure, but I still knew the truth.  But instead of turning away, instead of leaving, that made me cling even tighter to my monster.  I left the first one.  It would be ridiculous to not try really, really hard with this second husband.  Friends and family were already teasing me for being divorced once.  I didn't want to be a quitter on something as important as love and marriage.  Pride, fear and insecurity kept me in my place: a miserable whipped dog in a Mobius loop, rising and falling forever.  Self hatred held me down, disgusted by my own indecisions and cowardice.

And then, tooth paste fell into the sink and my life changed forever.  I started to notice a difference in myself, a confidence I'd never had before.  I began to like Rebecca O'Donnell.  Who'd have thought it?  Who could possibly have imagined that this thing, this person I am now, was ever the suicidal, self-mutilating train wreck of the past.   

After years of reading self-help books, listening to good advice, outwardly following it to the letter but inwardly ignoring it all, I'd bumbled and stumbled my way into a happy life.  And all with a few flowery words that nothing, not even my own contemptuous voice, could silence.  Tiny words.  Monumental phrases.  A life changed without even knowing it was happening.  We're very good at fooling ourselves.  We're very good at hiding our wounds from the world.  They see sadness, perhaps, and a victim, but we don't allow them to see us as the abuser.  Friends grind their teeth in frustration, baffled as to why we do this to ourselves, why we stay with our monsters and vicious mates.  We hide it because the truth is too terrible to share.  If they knew what we really were, they'd leave us.  So we joke and quibble and dribble our pain in sympathy-inducing measurements, terrified that they'll see us the way we see ourselves.  And then they'd leave.  After that, only our abusers would be left: us and whatever rotten relationship we were in.  But love truly is the answer.  I've become my own soulmate, my own knight in shining armor.  And I will always have my sword at the ready, and my arms for embracing that poor, slowly healing, screwed up kid inside of me.

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Check in next week for the conclusion to Rebecca's story!!

Connect with Rebecca on Twitter or Facebook and find her book on Amazon.

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