So with my T I'd begun the earliest stages of this re-integration role-play. It turned out to be more involved than I'd expected: not only is there grown me talking to 8yo me, there's vice-versa, and then at both ages / mentalities I'm supposed to talk to the perp. We've basically done test runs: what to expect, if it's ok to "break character," how long it might take, etc. She also introduced me to the props - proxy stuffed animals - that I'd be addressing. I honestly expected to laugh upon seeing them but they looked strangely somber and dark. It reminded me of a Chuck Palahniuk short story about a CPR training dummy that the lifeguard cadets used as a fuckdoll instead - "these things shouldn't exist for this purpose, the whole thing is damaged and sad." Compare with the Teddy bears in hospital gift shops: hairless chemo bear, body cast bear, breathing mask bear. Their false-knitted smiles broadcast the children's damage.
I suggested changing things up a bit because there was something that meant a lot to me that I KNEW I would never be able to do in front of a T or anybody else. I described it to her and she agreed.
The attack left me cold. Not metaphorically, actually cold: soaked wet, naked, fully exposed for who knows how long, I have no memory of getting dressed... the memory of cold, of exposure, is painfully viscerally strong.
I mentioned earlier I asked my mom to give me a certain artifact. When I was 9 she went on a knitting "kick" and made blankets for every member of the family. Mine was based around my favorite superhero - Astroboy. This might seem dated but actually there was an Astroboy "revival" comicbook in 1987-89 and I loved it. I wanted to be Astroboy, except when I wanted to be his friend and super-sidekick with powers and a secret identity of my own. So mom knitted this awesome blanket of Astroboy flying, even got the contrails from his boot jets just right. I was the coolest nerd ever, I slept with that blanket for years.
(Yes, T thinks it is incredibly significant that my hero was a kid. I can only speculate on what she'd think of the rather graphic and grotesque violence heaped upon that kid - abused and abandoned by his creator/father, whippings, electroshock, dismemberment, detonation, and being parasitized by a freaky evil spider that tortured him. He was a robot, he could deal with it. I'm a bit more nonplussed by how I had Astroboy posters up in my room through my late teens, as he's basically a little boy in boots and a speedo - that's his costume, I didn't invent the thing. When mom made the blanket she deliberately made his chest door hatch dark red instead of whiteboy-skintone, making him look less human and less unclothed, I think to remove some of the NAMBLish undertones. As an adult, some of the comic book covers now strike me as... questionable.)
So before, during, and after the attack I was sickly freezing, and there I was with my superhero blanket I'd asked for like a year later. And T and I agreed it might "mean something" if I, well, tried to warm up my younger, victimized self.
This would also have the secondary benefit of allowing me to imagine wrapping that revolting creature up in the blanket to conceal it and not actually looking at it. No WAY was I gonna trot out my childhood security blanket in front of another living soul, so T made some suggestions and it became, you could say, a homework assignment.
I took my son's largest doll: a 4-ft Elmo. Yes, I know about Kevin Clash, but nothing else humanoid was the right size. I could have opened my Transformers crates and dug Fortress Maximus out of the bubblewrap, but he's heavy, rigid, and sharp-cornered. No, it would have to be Psychically Comfort Me Elmo.
Don't know if this is good or bad but... I didn't hold up long. I felt that huge doll wrapped up in my childhood blanket and let the old cold sink in. Remembered the cold. Remembered my warm blanket. Gave it a hug, tight. Lots of shit happened then. I think I needed it. I massively self-triggered and just turned into a bawling snotty mess. I had to warm up. It had been the last pain I'd consciously felt, that naked soggy-footed bitter cold. I could understand being cold, a child being cold and needing to warm up. The assault was over the human event horizon but I could understand and focus on warming up someone who was shivering scared and cold.
-It wasn't your fault
-He shouldn't have done it
-He was a bad man
-I know it hurt; he shouldn't have hurt you; you didn't deserve it
-I told mommy and daddy (not "mom and dad")
-They still love you
-I love you
-Don't try to talk
-Don't be scared
-This will warm you up
-I'm sorry nobody helped you
-I'm sorry nobody knew
-I'm sorry I never told, thought I could deal
-I'm sorry I hated you
-I'm sorry I called you horrible things
-It's not really you. He did that to you, he turned you into it
-You're a good boy and I love you
With me descending quite rapidly into an out of control hysterical fit, the above tete-a-tete took something like 40 minutes; you can take ample repetition as a given too.
I still couldn't bring myself to look that thing in the face. And note that while it was ongoing I treated it as human, as myself, now hours later and in a different medium I'm using inanimate terminology. It's just how I write it, would be forced and impossible to seek out and change every use. Actually during, "it" was a "he / you / me." I could identify and sympathize when choosing to directly confront and comfort it; after the fact, viewed more clinically, more distantly, well, you see the words. There was other stuff I said that I just can't write down here, the implied binary nature is too pronounced and bizarre. It had a powerful effect while it was happening; hours later is too far out of context.
I cleaned myself up but felt raw and unstable and volatile and very edgy much of the rest of the day - like a huge pimple had been ripped open and all the blood-tinged lymph was oozing out to cool.
Hours later, I feel... different. I won't say I feel particularly better but I feel different. This is exactly what happened when I first disclosed to my emergency psychiatrist, and that ended up having a huge positive impact.... months and months later.
I'll do whatever I have to do. I have to feel better from this. And since I've addressed the problems in my marriage and job, that leaves the abuse itself as the last, worst enemy. It's like I'm being cued up to fight it and my T has faith in me. I have to keep going.
Not that I'm at all eager to have even a remotely similar meltdown in front of her. "Matt talks to the rapist" is going to be.... not exactly what I conceive as being possible.
But I have to try, I guess.
"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of Heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny