I've worked on issues resulting from my sexual abuse as a child and rape as a young adult for years, and it's still the hardest thing for me to talk about. Last night I went back to "The Courage to Heal" workbook, which I've completed a couple of times in the past. I tend to think that the physical and emotional abuse I suffered as a child did more to shape the f**ked up adult I've become. But I'm acutely aware of the impact this part of my history has on my inability to fully trust my partner, or anyone else for that matter. I've forgiven my abusers, but even if I survive, I don't think I'll ever be able to fully process the sexual abuse. This is the first time I'm telling my story of childhood sexual abuse to anyone other than my therapist and partner (other than a really bad group therapy experience years ago, but that story is for another time). I apologize in advance for the long post, but there is some back-story that I think is important to understand the events themselves. When I was 2, my biological mother had her first severe paranoid schizophrenic episode. My dad filed for divorce when she ran to the top of their apartment building with me in her arms and in a standoff with police, threatened to jump and kill us both. My dad divorced her, fought like hell to get custody of me, and won (which was unheard of in the early 70's), but my mother was granted unsupervised visitation on Sundays. Throughout my childhood, I visited my mother in all sorts of institutions, halfway houses, group homes and homeless squatter situations. Between the ages of 5-7, there were several instances of sexual abuse by my biological mother. It was always framed as a very loving thing that mommies do with their children, and for years I thought that this was what all mommies did. And for a child whose mother (and later, whose stepmother) expressed zero motherly nurturing, I had nothing else to compare it to. Around the time my dad remarried, Sunday visitations stopped, as did the sexual abuse. Then, when I was 11 or 12 (the last time I saw her), there was one last episode. At that age, I was old enough to know that something was very wrong, and my shame encouraged me to shove it all down and ignore it for many years. Meanwhile, from the ages of 7-17, I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire of an extremely physically, mentally and emotionally abusive life with my Dad's new wife (again, a story for another time). In my early 20's, after turning to loads of drugs, many suicide attempts and other risky behaviors (which led to a rape and another very close call) to cope, I finally went into therapy. For a very long time, I hated my mother for what she'd done to me. Because of her schizophrenia, I thought that if she wasn't fully in control of what she did to me (which I now believe was the case), then I must have been in control, which meant that it was my fault (I've always struggled with gray areas). It wasn't until a few years ago that I finally understood and believed that neither one of us had full control (although as an adult, she certainly had more than little me). I've finally forgiven her (and myself), and after many years of no contact (for most of which I had no idea where she even was), I sent her a letter that without going into specifics, told her so. Still, I know that for my own peace of mind, I can't allow her into my life, and I'm OK with that. I also struggled (OK... still struggle) with the fact that my dad allowed these things to happen to me. When the sexual abuse was going on, I have no recollection whatsoever of my mother ever telling me not to tell, or even acting like any of it was a secret. Because of how close my dad and I were before he remarried, and because I remember innocently sharing things with other friends (including my step-sister) when I was little (before I understood it wasn't "normal"), I have a hard time believing that I never said anything about it to him. A few years ago, after re-establishing contact with him, I told him that a family member had sexually abused me, and while he didn't seem surprised, he also didn't ask who the abuser was and insisted that he had no idea. Of course, I've also forgiven him. I think that after fighting for custody of me (which I am very grateful for), he just simply had no fight left for me. WHEW! Sorry again to ramble. It's a little scary to share this, but opening up is really helping me get through this latest crisis (knock-wood). So grateful to have a safe place to do this.