The Shame of Sexually Intrusive Thoughts and Bullying People Into Forgiveness

I think it all came to a head when I was 16. In hindsight I had always had intrusive thoughts, but they didn't bother me like what was to come when I hit Year 11. I remember watching a documentary called 'Designer Vaginas' on Channel 4 , well, I caught 5min of it when I began to feel uncomfortable with the thought of people having their labias cut off and what have you.


The next day I went to school and all I could see were vaginas in my head over and over and over again. I was in shock. What was happening to me? From then on I began to see images of people naked, carrying out sexual acts, cannibalism...It was so disturbing that I was crippled with fear and shame. What did this say about me? What was going on? I began to wake up EVERY morning with anxiety, I diagnosed myself as being "crazy" and cried all the time. I thought about reasons all day long every day as to why this was happening to me. I would agree with one explanation, be fine for a couple of hours and then anxiety would hit again. What if this meant that I was a sexual pervert or even a child molester?! Then it would start again, the ENDLESS cycle of intrusive thoughts, of murder, of sex of cannibalism. I felt like I was dying. I decided many times that it was best to die and tried to take my life on more than one occasion.


I went to the doctor and she gave me anti-psychotics. I went to the psychiatrist and he gave me the same. I was unable to fully explain what was going on for fear of being labelled a potential threat to society, of being evil and perverted. It was only about six years later that I realised that no, I wasn't Schizophrenic (and a whole host of other mental disorders). What I had was OCD. A form of OCD which caused me to have sexually unwanted thoughts, amongst others, and dwell on what they said about me, which in turn made them stronger and much worse. This realisation led me to go back to a psychologist and receive another diagnosis. This time it was the correct one.

It was still something I managed to keep from those around me, dishing out a little here and there. I was, and still am, to some degree ashamed. My thoughts are much more "under control" than they used to be and I don't feel as bad about them. I do still have bouts of anxiety and depression about them, but I also speak about it more and have been to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy twice, read books and forums about OCD. I try to not let it define me as a person and although hard, CBT and "self therapy" has helped where it could. It's still a learning process. CBT allowed me to realise that all of my life I was afraid of being a bad person. I was afraid of not being perfect, not wearing the right clothes and no one being at my funeral when I did die by suicide or natural causes.

When I was younger my mother had a way of making me feel bad. You weren't a good enough child if you didn't go to the shop four times in a row for her, if at 8 you were too tired to cook the whole family dinner, if you didn't wash everybody's plates, if you dared to raise your hands up to your face whenever she was hitting you...she also believed in witchcraft and wizardry...not the good kind either. She believed that everything bad in her life was the result of someone "back home" or in London casting spells on her. That's the culture, I'm guessing, that she grew up in. Nothing ever happened that wasn't the result of a "friend" who had now gained super powers and tried to ruin your life in order to make themselves great. As a result, I was always aware of being bad, of not being good enough, of never being good enough. I was emotionally bullied at primary school and emotionally and physically bullied at home. People would comment on my shoes that were two sizes up, they would talk about how much more prettier than me they were, they would hide from me in the playground, they would go out on the weekends to the park and each other's houses without me, they spread rumours about me that had me ostracised from my classmates for what felt like forever. Then I would go home every Friday and cry about how uncool I was. I remember being 7/8 and wanting to jump from the fourth floor of my building. I remember hoping that one day when my mum beat me that I would die so that she would feel bad. She was controlling, manipulative and unhinged. My dad on the other hand was a different type of abuser. The type that would sometimes dish out physical punishment, leave the family for two years, insult my mother in front of me, have affairs and try to assert his authority by beating me, my mum and my siblings. I grew up in a frantic, anxiety ridden house devoid of responsibility. I now know that my mum has mental health issues of her own. They came to a head when the children were removed from her care. I was too old to go, but the house was much quieter after...

Some people will see my mum's illness as a way to understand yet not excuse her and possibly even forgive. I cannot fully do that. I have tried this and it has not fully helped me, though some understanding has (contrary to popular belief, they are not the same thing). You know why? Because it doesn't rewrite my childhood, it doesn't mean that she has actually changed, it doesn't excuse that she made unhealthy choices and had seven children that she clearly could not handle. Also, I believe that part of her mental illness stems not only from any trauma she had as a child, but the trauma she dished out on us too.  She takes hardly any responsibility for her actions, then and now. She has not learned from her mistakes regarding her children, she still believes in witches and wizards and she's a danger to me and my siblings mental health. If you want to be depressed, call my mum. She's great at helping you out in that department. Sometimes, she sucks out all the joy in the room. She will turn a positive into a negative, she will fill the air with poison and yet, there are times when I still care about her. I don't really know if I love her. I think that I feel obliged to.


Perfection demanded that I forgive and I have accepted that I am not ready for that, and that I don't mind. I hate forgiveness quotes because they make it seem easy and just so. I'm not saying that you should not forgive, but don't let anyone force you into forgiving them or anyone else. Forgive after you have done the work on yourself. Forgive when you know what it is you are forgiving. If forgiveness comes and you want to embrace it, do it. But don't feel like shit because you haven't forgiven your abuser yet. Life doesn't work out to be easy like that and it's okay. Don't let someone telling you to forgive undermine how you feel. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you cannot talk about the thing that caused you pain again. For me, the pressure of forgiveness can make me feel worse and take me to a place of feeling bad again.

Right now, I'm working on me and I don't mind. No one will ever love me like me and I have got to do the best for me without it taking me back to childhood feelings of inadequacy. As for my mental health? I attend an eating disorder support group, I'm going to begin CBT again, I now blog about mental health and I don't always pick up my mum's calls despite her trying to make me feel bad about it. This does not mean that I don't give her money, buy her presents or laugh with her. It just means that for now, I'm putting myself first...and that's a hard, but great thing to do.






User Comments

Great story. Stay strong, stick at the CBT, and keep putting yourself first!


That was a remarkable story. I'm so glad that you were able to pull yourself up and soldier on after all of that! You have my absolute best wishes for the future.


well done for putting yourself first, really glad you could get through all that.