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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thoughts you should keep to yourself.

I was abused as a child. I have no memory of my childhood. I do have all the signs and symptoms of someone who was abused. Others have circumstantially validated it.

Why in the world would I write about this?

One of the signs was being afraid of touch. If I dated in high school it rarely went past the first date. As soon as an arm went around me or worse still I saw a kiss coming, I was as fast as an eel in making my getaway. I had no idea why I froze at the moment of a hug or something more. I wanted to date, but had no idea how to do it: how do you have a relationship when your body tells the other person, don't you dare touch me?

I was not aware of my reaction until I was doing CAROUSEL in a dinner theater. I am not a dancer but as a member of the chorus we did choreography.

At one point the women stood at the lip of the stage. The men stood behind us. We sang and did some moves, I do not remember what - but this part I vividly recall. Your male partner lifted you up and then brought you back down. All the other men did just that. My partner, Lou, a very strong guy, went a step further. He literally threw me into the air and then caught me. Every show I knew it was coming, and I trusted that he would be there, safely bringing me back down to the stage.

After one show Lou was standing next to me. He put his hand around my waist. To my surprise he quickly removed it. "Everytime I touch you, you flinch." I could let him physically catch me when it was a public show. Privately, I recoiled at the merest attempt at a touch. Until he said it I was completely unaware I did that.

Trigeminal neuralgia pain is usually triggered by touch. Mine definitely was. I do not know if it is true for every disease but for those in chronic pain the question is often asked "What did I do to deserve this?" "Is the pain related to something psychological?" It is a normal question since most pain patients are often disbelieved, told "It is all in your head." I was told that. The depth of the pain told me differently.

It took about a year or more to find the doctor who told me my birthmark, the one on half of my forehead, exactly where the pain was, was a sign of a birth defect. Most birthmarks do not change color. Any time I was joyous, angry, embarrassed: almost any highly charged emotional state, it turned bright red. That was because of the blood vessels that fed it. And a sign of all the dozens, if not more, extra blood vessels in my brain. They were the cause of my trigeminal neuralgia.

No question why I have it. I have a birth defect, one that I can see. But then I think, I am afraid of touch, and now I have tn which forces me to be afaid of touch. In the early days, if the thought came on a relatively good day I thought how ironic I do not like to be touched and now I have this. On a bad day, even knowing the anatomical reason for my pain, I wondered was it something I did? I know it is not. It is mere coincidence that these 2 things: being afraid of touch and being afraid of touch, happened to me.

I want to get over the fear of touch. At my age most people would have had corrective life circumstances. For me, the pain came before I could experience touch from someone trustworthy. Even though the touch induced trigeminal neuralgia pain is gone, the fear is still there - I think this is true for everyone who has some kind of problem that is set off by something specific. Does the fear ever go away? Maybe not, but I think when life shows you that the fear is no longer valid it subsides, fading into the background.

My TN touch pain fear resides farther and farther in the background. My experience, my corrective life experience, shows me the touch pain is gone. I just wish I had, or can have, the corrective experience(s) that teaches life itself is safe. I am way out of my teenage years. I hope it is not too late.


  1. Lee,

    Your body may have created a way for your mind to deal with the abuse by giving you the pain. I don't know and I'm surely not a doctor, but it just seems so strange that you developed TN, which makes you afraid of being touched because of the pain. I'm not saying it's in your head or psychological. I'm just wondering if it was your body's way of protecting you from what you thought was a "fight or flight" situation.

    I too was abused as a child and have no memories of it. I had one experience that made me realize what had happened and it was shrugged off by the adults in my life as no big deal. The only way I have found that I can deal with this successfully is through therapy. Through counseling, I have been able to allow my husband to touch me again, although sometimes it is still a struggle.

    I don't know if this is something you can get over, but seeing a counselor and trying to get at those memories might help.


  2. I am sorry for your experience. It is great that you were able to find a good counselor and have a supportive hubby.
    You actually make my point. In my case the birth defect made it virtually impossible I would not have tn, it is my good luck that it waited as long as it did to start but on it's face (no pun) tn makes psychological-story sense.
    Thanks. (I will go check out your blog too.)