Last week, Pam shared a piece of her story with us in her guest post “To be Objectified is to be Dehumanized” This week Pam shares the next stage of her recovery on the subject of human Objectification. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. ~ Darlene Ouimet
When the Bubble Popped: My Recovery from Abuse by Pam Witzemann
My sister says that it wasn’t rape. She says that statutory rape laws are “controversial” and for that reason, she doesn’t believe that what happened to me at 16 was statutory rape or any kind of sexual abuse. She believes this because many young men become involved with teenage girls. In her opinion, the man who victimized me was merely a victim of the sexual revolution and I was rebellious. I said that since she doesn’t acknowledge the law, that leaves only opinion and my opinion is as good as hers. Actually, I said, I believe the laws were written for a good reason. I told her that when a young girl (me) was given lots of alcohol and drugs by a grown man who then proceeded to have sex with her in front of other grown men without her knowing, it was criminal. Of course, she didn’t know this because just like the rest of my family of origin, she never asked. However, it never stopped her from using this humiliating and painful time in my life as a means to move me this way and that.
Recently I received a letter from my sister written with the purpose of manipulation. I really have no idea of her true opinion. You see, I set a boundary for my parents. I told them that if they wanted to have a relationship with me then they had to treat me with respect and acknowledge that as a teen, I was a victim of statutory rape. They also were legally negligent when they knew and did nothing to stop it. My love is unconditional but relationship with me is not. My sister was seeking to remove this new boundary so that things could go back to the way they have always been.
My sister’s letter hurt but she has lost her magic ability to control and direct me. She has lost that power because now, I know the tricks. I’m aware of the tactics. First comes the “I love you” which really means, “are you still tied to me by your heart?” (She knows that I am, for I am a loving person) The next step is to confuse the facts. The more personal, painful facts are the best. Pain causes much useful confusion. Then her judgment comes, her proclamation from God with the warning of the dangerous path I’ve chosen, and then the instructions for how I ought to better lead my life. She grew up inside the same bubble of distortion created my father’s manipulation, lies, neglect, and psychological and emotional abuse that I grew up in. Inside that bubble, we were both taught that we were a part of our father. When we pleased him, we were told that we were like him. When we displeased him, we were like our mother. My sister, brother, and I all naturally wanted to be like our dad and never, ever like our mom. My sister pleased my parents more often, so she was most like my dad. Even though I was much like my mom, I was to try and be more like my sister. My sister grew up to be queen of this world. She became very good at my father’s magic craft of manipulation, even better than he. However, this magic no longer has any power over me. The truth has broken the spell that kept me bound inside the bubble of distortion and under its deadly influence.
The power of the lie is fear. Fear immobilizes and confuses. When a lie is believed, it has the power to kill. I was taught many lies and, as a child, I believed them all. My mind and heart were twisted with them. My spiritual eyes and ears, blinded and stopped by them. Living according to those lies brought me a life of abuse and self abuse. I knew no truth and those lies, compounded by the lies of other abusers in my life, brought me very near to death. By the age of 19, I was shattered, sick of mind, spirit, and my body was emaciated and broken. I found myself at the bottom of a metaphorical deep well with no hope and nothing to grasp hold of to pull myself out. I did have the strength to look up and that is when I saw Jesus and understood who He was. I believed and came alive spiritually to God. I was changed in that I had become a spiritual being as well as one made of flesh and blood. I was not magically transformed into a new person who had no problems. I was still, Pam. I was not instantaneously made perfect but I had a new tool. I had received the will to overcome and I began my climb to the top.
My climb has been long and slow. Many times, I have fallen back into that dark hole and had to start all over again. However, in Jesus (not in Christianity or in church but in the person of Jesus) I found truth, a new way to live, and life.
The first part of my transformation from a life lived by lies to a life lived by truth was mostly outward. I had many deadly habits of self destruction that had to go. At that point in time, I couldn’t say no to others to protect myself but I could say no for God. Even though I still suffered from the objectification that colored my childhood, I could serve God and find my value in serving Him. I found the strength to give up my drugs. Not in one fell swoop but as a process through which I learned many things about myself and the way that I related to others.
My husband also came into my life and through him; I learned about unconditional love. I learned what it looks like, feels like, and experienced its power to heal. I, still thinking that in order to be loved that there must be something that I must do to earn it, would ask him why he loved me. He would say, “Just because” or “Because you’re mine” and for a long time, I would be frustrated but then I grew to understand that true love exists with no precondition. He was patient with me through the symptoms of PTSD that we had no name for or the money with which to find out. I would fly into rages and he would patiently say, “I don’t know who you’re so angry with. I didn’t do that to you” and I would have to stop and think of whom it was truly, that I was raging at. He moved me far out into the country because I was too terrified by life in the city. While we still lived in the city, he put up with me borrowing his clothes to wear out alone as I sought protection in being disguised as a boy. He came home every night and never took trips alone because he knew I was too terrified to be alone at night. He did extra errands in town when I was overwhelmed with depression or just too terrified to go out among all those people, not knowing what one of them might do to me next. He put up with my hyper-vigilance as I sought to take control of the uncontrollable. He loved me even though I was sick with what was then an unnamed illness (diagnosed 20 years later as Hepatitis C) that left me fatigued, weak, and not able to do all that other women my age were capable of. He continued to love me when I was misdiagnosed as bi-polar; as I became a fat, psychotropic drug consuming, crazed zombie for eight years. He has loved me through the confrontation of my past and my family that has lasted for the last five years. Through all of it, my husband’s love has never failed. In his face, I see love; in his face, I see God. He does not rule over me but he has given himself unconditionally for me. In this, I am very blessed.
Five years ago, I realized that I had been sexually abused as a teenager. I realized that I was not a whore, as the lie I had been taught said, but that I was a child used by a series of pedophiles. Everything inside of me flipped as my view of myself and the people in my life completely changed. When I quit taking responsibility for those abuses that were not mine, I was also able to quit thinking of myself as responsible to fix all the problems of the people that I loved. I quit trying to control the uncontrollable. This was my first boundary. It led me to confront my family with the truth of what happened to me and that confrontation has helped me to see the areas in which I still needed to set boundaries. That process continues and with each new discovery and each new boundary, I become stronger. I understand my life now, my own behavior, and the behavior of my original family. Everything makes sense. I still serve God, but with the new understanding of my own individuation and with the knowledge that God has created me with my own inherent value. My service to Him is now a choice made out of love and not out of the need for value or for protection from the manipulators/abusers who threatened me as a valueless person.
Though I am not young, this is a new beginning for me. This is the beginning of living my life fully in truth. The bubble of lies, fear, and deception no longer exists for me. It has popped and what remains are the true facts of who I am, what I have been, and the possibilities of what I can become. The Truth has made me free.
Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is now 54 years old. She has been married for 33 years, raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for about twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years.
The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing. Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing
Related post ~ Missing Self Esteem begins in Childhood