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I was seven. He was a monster. That monster was my brother.

It’s both a blessing and a curse how your mind helps you remember and helps you forget.

How can you not remember? To live beside someone, in the same house, like nothing ever happened.

I was 22 and eight months pregnant when I did remember. I ran into him at a family wedding (my hubby’s family, not mine) in a hotel bar, in a small rural town. We were not close. We were a large family, with multiple divorces. It had probably been 10 years since I’d seen him. We chatted. We caught up. All’s good, right?

Things started to change. I was angry. Remembering things so painful, that they could actually break my brain. The most beautiful time of my life was marred by these memories. Did my stress during pregnancy affect my child? My child, who grew up to have severe mental health issues. Did my anger during her infancy damage her? These memories too, haunt me.

I told. I told my husband. He was supportive. I told my parents. They were detached, indifferent and unresponsive. That’s it. All over. I told. It would all get better. Right?

Wrong. I’m not proud of who I was. I wasn’t a good mother. That makes me sad. I have two beautiful children who deserved better. Could I have given them better? No. I was the best I could be with who I was at that point. I love my girls. I tried to make them perfect. They were perfectly dressed, perfectly clean, perfect manners. The perfect I never was. I was broken.

Fast forward 12 years and my husband and I are going to marriage counselling at the request of my not “perfect” daughter. She was not my version of perfect, she was perfectly her.

Relationships for me have always been a struggle. My marriage was no different. However, not halfway through the first session with my husband, I realized I needed to see a therapist for myself.

She knew, the minute I walked through her office door, she knew.

I’ve gone to many hours of therapy. I’ve confronted my abuser. I have PTSD, ADHD, Social Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and probably a few other letters. I have planned to kill myself. On a daily basis, I don’t want to be here. I just want the pain to go away. I’d never do it. I know I won’t. After losing my dad five years ago I knew I could never intentionally inflict that pain on anyone.

I distance myself from my friends. I am the queen of excuses and cancelling plans. I want someone to talk to. But really, who wants to talk about “This”? We are supposed to open up, help break the stigma. Very idealistic.

I just want to feel normal. To be able to have a job, friends, be able to carry on a conversation. I keep trying new meds, different foods, and new therapy techniques. Next week I start EMDR Therapy.

* Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

I have high hopes. I will keep you posted!

Sheri Gray

* https://emdrcanada.org