“This is not how I am,
I have become comfortably numb”
—“Comfortably Numb,” Pink Floyd—
It's 4a.m., and I’m wide awake just staring at my bedroom walls. My eyes have adjusted to the darkness but my heart races in anticipation of my sheer fear of the unknown that the darkness can bring. How much longer until the Aleve PM kicks in? I realize it’s just another day in my life that ended in downing another bottle of wine and smoking another pack of cigarettes. I can’t help but think to myself, “What the fuck am I doing? Where am I going with all of this self-sabotaging behavior?” I’m too afraid to even ask where I will end up at this current pace of life.
I’m a divorced woman in the sexual prime of my life. I should be thriving right about now. Yet today, like so many days, I feel as though I don’t thrive at all—hell, I’m barely surviving. I’m quite sure it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I set goals and accomplished them. That is, until my demons took over. I have four amazing kids, and I know I should be a better mother. I should forget the absolute shit-show of a childhood I endured, but sometimes those memories rear their ugly heads, and my conscious mind has led me to yet another deep abyss, and I’m struggling to get out of this one. Again. My mind won’t stop, and I know for a fact that all this emotional turmoil is taking control of me and my decision-making. I simply can’t take any more of these horrid decisions I continue to make. I have got to get control of my emotional mind, still covered up as my inner child.
This daily analysis comes with the territory. I was sexually molested as a child back in the days when nobody talked about. It’s not like today, when the “#metoo” movement has taken over. Now, we talk about it ad nauseam. I can only wonder if we are becoming immune to it. Just turn on the television or open any news app on your smart phone. It’s on there, yet, we tend to turn down the volume or simply switch the channel. Every damn day another child is abused, kidnapped, hurt, or killed. I don’t even like the word, “molest.” In Spanish, “molestar” means “to bother.” Believe me, it is WAY more than just bothering some- one. Just once, I wish we didn’t sugarcoat the dismal facts. “And in other news, another child was sexually molested.” How about, “In other news, a child was forced to get on all fours while her step-father ejaculated all over her.” I can see the heads turning now as the reporter shares the grisly details. Yeah right. That’s not going to happen anytime soon. Nobody wants to hear the gruesome details, yet children live it every fucking day. Including me. It still haunts me to this day. Maybe not the abuse I endured but just knowing it’s happening in so many other homes.
If my life were just about surviving the sexual abuse I endured, I know I could take on that challenge; unfortunately, it’s so much more. I am a fighter by nature, but I still feel like I’m constantly being beaten down—so I head for the bottle. Again. And Again. And Again.
So much pain to numb and so little time to do it. I can feel the pain all the way up to the point when I start numbing myself. My soul is continually tested by the roller coaster I’m unable to get off. I find myself asking, “When do I get off this thrill ride?” I rode the merry-go-round for years in my marriage before exiting that ride and getting on the roller coaster. What was I thinking? This ride sucks, and it makes me sick. Sure, I thoroughly enjoy the highs, but the lows . . . ? The last thing I needed was another therapist to label me bipolar and start throwing yet another prescription for more white pills to stabilize my moods and dry up my vagina. I know he is just doing his job, but I’m already an addict. I don’t need any more addictions. So, why take away my ability to enjoy sex, the one thing that gives me peace, just to make my moods more stable? I’m guessing the good doctor was trying to avoid the lows I experienced that would send my mind to suicidal thoughts. Yes. I said suicide, and that alone frightens me. Why do these thoughts even run through my head? How much longer will these thoughts even cross my mind? I can’t take the crying, the drinking, the smoking, and the inevitable suicidal thoughts anymore. These episodes make for really bad days and even worse nights.
Days passed and, again, I sat in the darkness, reeling through another day of unbearable pain. My oldest son came into my bedroom, sat next to me, and just let me put my head on his shoulder. Sobbing. I was unable to talk. He laid there next to me, comforting me. How was this sixteen-year-old boy able to comfort me and listen to me cry, saying, “Mom, it’ll be okay?” How can he show me so much love in such a tender moment, but I can’t love myself ? All I can think about is what a fucking mess I’ve made of myself. So much hate, so much pain, so little love for myself. I felt so alone in this nightmare. I’m trying to keep my soul in check and nothing seems to be working for me.
Another night of hitting rock bottom, but another morning of hope. Hitting rock bottom became one of my many talents. However, getting up time and again also became a valuable skill—one I’d come to treasure much later on. If you choose to come on one of my downward spirals with me, I promise you it won’t be fun, especially when the dreaded hangover sets in.
Welcome to the darkness that encompassed my soul for so many years. Something broke in me when my parents couldn’t or wouldn’t validate, believe, or listen to me when I cried out to them for help. With an absent father, from whom I felt the constant sting of rejection, and a mother who had zero feelings for my pain and insisted I forgive her husband for sexually abusing me, I am perfectly positioned to have more issues than Vogue. Of course, Mother thought I should forgive him because, after all, she had. It was the right thing to do, and that’s what is expected of us.
REALLY? No. Not for the girl who had a penis shoved down her throat at the age of eight and God shoved down her throat for years before that. Forgive an abuser all you want, but she should have kicked his ass to the curb. That would’ve been the right thing to do. As a mother myself, I know how counter intuitive it is not to feel called to fiercely protect your children. Children should always feel loved and protected, yet my mother’s fear of being alone far superseded everything in her life. Her need for a man in her life trumped her need to be a good mother. Clearly, her need for a man to take her to dinner and make her feel special was a top priority. Nothing beats a great steak on a Friday night when you have a pedophile for a husband. What a tragic message for a mother to send to a child. “You are not important. Our needs come before yours. Mine and his. Period.”
Decades would pass before I came to realize that I’m a destructive person. Mostly emotionally, and, yes, you guessed it, toward men. Hell, I even tried sex with women, which for me turned out to be a disaster. I learned a new term from my therapist. I suffer from love and sometimes sex addiction, which means I have a propensity to use sex to fulfill me physically and emotionally, even though what I really need and crave is love. Yes, that’s a real thing, even if you can’t say it without laughing, it’s okay. Finally. I can neatly put myself in a box with a label. Surely, now that I know what my actual problem is, I can go fix it. I was up and down like a roller- coaster over the years, fighting with myself internally because I knew I was a good person, but I didn’t quite believe I was a good person.
I learned at a young age that affection and intimacy happen in the bedroom. So, I continued on my never-ending search for a man, a bed partner—anyone to help ease the pain. After all, I was used to pain. I’d become accustomed to it because I had to. Inevitably, I’d end up choosing the same “type” of men, over and over again, and more painful lessons would ensue. So, I found myself saying “thank you” to all the men I’d chosen to assist me in continuing my pain. I was looking for love and faced rejection. After years and years of searching for that “special someone,” I thought I might have found him.
Yeah, right. He was not the one. None of them were.
So I moved on, and as each man entered the picture I would think to myself, “This one’s ‘The One’, Wanda. Hang in there! You’ll be loved soon.” “He” would be full of compliments, and I’d bounce along on a euphoric high. “I’m madly in love with you,” he would say in the first few weeks.
But then he would drop the nuclear bomb: “I’m not in love with you after all. I was just experiencing an endorphin rush, you know, an Oxytocin high from all the great sex.” Wait, WHAT? Who says that?
Finally, one very special man entered my life and rocked my world. I knew without a doubt this man could very possibly be the one I’d been waiting for. He was perfect. Good looking, athletic, intelligent, good father, great in bed, good sense of family—and he made me laugh. This man gets me, I would think to myself. I’m in so deep, I don’t know if I could survive this one if it fails. But with this much passion, comes all the implosions, too. On again, off again, on again, off again. Yet another emotional roller coaster comes to life.
I was drinking more and more to numb the pain and overthink- ing to quiet the voices in my head. My emotions were all over the place, and I was trying harder than ever to control them, but at this point, I didn’t see how I possibly could. I couldn’t numb the pain of being rejected all over again. The drinking was out of control, but I couldn’t let myself revert to drugs. I had fallen in love and was trapped in this unbearable emotional pain. Pain. Numbness. Pain. Numbness. Surely, as you’ve been reading this, you’ve recognized the sad, pathetic, and tragic pattern here.
Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances and some really, really bad parenting, I considered ending 100 percent of a life that was only ten percent shit. How could that even be possible? Our minds are so powerful. I knew I would never commit suicide. I adored my children and my life overall; but I knew I needed a release, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. I had so much anger over my parents and the abuse I endured, but in all of my attempts at years and years of therapy and talking, it still sat on my soul like an anvil.
At the end of the day, all of it made me numb. We are a product of our parents, and I was sure as hell on my way to being just what they created. If they wouldn’t care enough about me to make things right, I had no choice but to figure it out on my own.
Thank God I was able to shut down my brain and fall asleep. Just like clock work, the sun did rise again for me. It just happened to be “Suicide Awareness Week.” That same week, I saw a post on Facebook—one of the best quotes I have ever read: “Suicide doesn’t take away the pain. It gives it to someone else.” I’m not sure who said that, but I was meant to see it the next morning on Facebook. I ended that night in my emotional mind, but I woke up to my wise mind. Seeing that statement on Facebook shook me to my core.
Luckily, I have a lot of friends, a really good therapist, and several friends who could probably charge me because they take on the role of therapist for me so often. Nobody said life was easy. Oh, sure—we can make it look easy. We can paper our Facebook walls and Instagram feeds with all the glossy pictures of the fabulous lives we’re leading. We’ve all heard, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” but I actually mastered it. We can appear to have everything going for us and still find ourselves staring down the bottom of an empty bottle, or worse, down the barrel of a gun. Fortunately, I don’t own a gun and don’t have a garage, but anyone can just down a bottle of Tylenol and end it all. How many times have you had thoughts about tempting fate? Simply ending it all.
I have four kids. Yes, four human beings I brought into this world. It’s as though happiness skipped over my empty soul and entered their little bodies. I would never knowingly trans- fer my pain to them. That’s not fair to them and ending my life would merely give my pain to them. So fucking selfish, but the choices I’ve made over the past few years have only compounded that pain. Ninety percent of my life is good. No, it’s great. But that last ten percent—that ten percent is sheer hell. That ten percent is the foundation my parents gave me, the foundation that assured me I wasn’t important and my well-being didn’t matter.
I had to do something about that ten percent ruining my life. I had to change my mindset and learn to love myself. How the hell does anyone learn to love herself in her mid forties when it hadn’t been done the prior four decades? So, I headed to sex and love addiction rehab in Northern California at Five Sisters Ranch. Yes, there is rehab for sex and love addiction. Yes, it’s a real issue that needs addressing before it kills you.
You can buy the book at www.wandameans.com or on Amazon.
I'll send you a signed copy if you order on my personal website.