Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I am a fifty-two year old woman who has suddenly developed terrible flashbacks, triggered by an old photograph. Since I found this photo, I have had night terrors and day fears and I am terribly depressed. My whole life has been a journey in turmoil and disappointments – I have three unsuccessful marriages, dysfunctional children and now this.
I don’t leave my house for fear I will have a panic attack in middle of a store. I don’t answer the phone because I am afraid that the voice I will hear at the other end will belong to the person whose face haunts me for nine months now. I quit my job before they could fire me, which I knew would happen because of my erratic behavior.
I am so alone and afraid and I am suffering beyond words. I don’t trust myself to talk to anyone about this. It has taken every ounce of strength for me to construct this letter and I am not enclosing any identifying information.
In my most rational moments, I realize that all this should be in the past, that what this demon did to me happened when I was a young child. However, pieces of it are coming back to me and I afraid that if I keep it to myself, it will lead me down a road of total destruction. And yet, I am so afraid to speak of it, even though my tormentor is no longer in this world. I can still feel his breath on my neck and hear his voice in the darkness.
Please help me! I yearn for peace in this life.
My heart goes out to you. From what you have described, it would seem that you were horrifically abused as a child by someone close to you, someone whom you trusted. And that to survive, both physically and emotionally, you did what many sexually abused children do, bury the memories so deep that it seems as if it never happened.
But it did. And that abuse colors every aspect of a children’s journey into adulthood leading to dysfunctional behavior, failed marriages and anti-social episodes. Sometimes, the abuse resurfaces, triggered by an event, a photo or even a smell and proceeds to turn the victims world upside down.
Let me tell you, as firmly as I can: You are not to blame for what happened to you. Please remember that.
The road to the peace you seek is a hard one, and the first step is looking for professional help in the way of psychological/psychiatric counseling. Hiding away is not the answer. The ghosts will keep coming back, until with guidance and support, you are given the tools by which to understand, accept and banish them. From your description this may take some time, so be patient as you find someone you can trust and open up to.
Reaching out for help means you are ready to confront your demons. A better life waits for you.
I wish you hatzlacha and stand ready to assist in any way that you may need.