Getting Down to Basics
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This area is reserved for the tidbits I know hope will be of interest to my readers. Check back often for regular updates. 

 

It's been a long time coming---7 years to be exact---but finally email notifications for new BD posts is available. Sign up today and never again miss another scintillating, moving post. You know you want to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kate Is Rising has an excellent Survivors Resources page which directs you to numerous websites dealing with issues of abuse, healing and recovery. Please bear in mind that the information on these pages may be triggering.

 

 

There's lots of good stuff at the Dissociation Blog Showcase, including a list of 180 blogs dealing with some aspect of this disorder. 

 

 

On the Overcoming Sexual Abuse site there's an article entitled, "It's Not About You Mom" which I could have written myself. I bet many of my readers could say the same!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Jul312014

Glad to Be Where I Am Now

I'd been married and divorced twice when our paths crossed. He was one of the few single young men at the church I attended, a newcomer. When I first noticed him there was nothing particularly interesting about his appearance, nothing about his personae which created a desire to make his acquaintance. The fact is, he came across as boring. Boring and incredibly rigid.

But I was alone with five little ones, and struggling mightily every single day to not drown in the ocean of confusion and sorrow that had become my world. I missed having a man's companionship. Probably I never admitted even to myself how overwhelming it could be trying to be everything my sons needed.

When M. began speaking to me infrequently, my heart quickened. In an instant I forgot all about his uptight ways and that his hair was too short, his clothes too perfectly ironed. A man was befriending me, and I was too lonely to pick and choose. I hate the realization that he could have been anyone, but let's face it, that's the truth.

M. and I began dating in a rather restrained fashion. I guess you could call it dating. Much of the time we took the kids with us, out for pizza or some other treat usually unknown to me and the kids. When I left them with Sissyface for the evening, and it was just M. and I, awkwardness made my mind go blank. It didn't help that he was so serious about everything. If I asked a question he'd screw up his face in concentration and stare past me at the wall while he collected his thoughts.

The main thing I want never to forget--not that I'm likely to ever date again, but still--is that I thought by going out with this man and accepting his marriage proposal when it came half a year later, I'd score major points with God. I did think that, I really did. I thought because we were both believers, members of the same denomination, God would smile down at me, relieved that after all the nonsense of my past relationships I'd finally found the one He'd created me to be with forever.

My heart aches for who I was back then. Did I really think God wanted me to align myself with someone whose company nearly bored me to tears? To someone who shamed me and the kids, usually without having to say a word,  for watching TV and eating meat?

Did I really think God didn't care about how all of that affected me?

Evidently that's exactly what I thought. I was doing my duty, you see, and I had been taught well to do what I was told without murmuring or question. When M. seemed to drop into my life out of nowhere, well didn't that mean that God wanted us together? And if M. was so disapproving of me and my clan didn't it mean God was too? Two against one. Two males against one female. Well, I knew complaint wasn't the way to go. Submission is what would turn a duty compelled relationship into a source of joy.

Except that it didn't.

Instead, I fumbled along growing increasingly miserable as we inched our way closer to the day of our wedding.

Nothing about him attracted me, inside or out. Though he was very clean his scalp always smelled sour. He was too thin, his eyes too small. He was not the kind of person I could imagine sharing passion with, any kind of passion. He was much too calm, logical and no-nonsense for that. I was willing though to sacrifice the rest of my life to him if it meant that by doing so I'd arrive at a place of security with God.

Ugh, this brings up too much ugly stuff. My mom stayed with my stepdad for financial security. What difference does it make what form of security I was seeking? The fact is I was denying the both of us any kind of future happiness because of it. And I wasn't being honest with him. I know I never said to him, "Look, I'll marry you, but only because I think I'll score big points with God if I do."

As it turned out, I couldn't bring myself to marry him. I think he began realizing that a few months after I did. I don't remember any huge dramatic scene, just a gradual awareness between us that it wasn't going to happen.

Oh, and isn't it true that the whole time we were "courting" I felt as if I and the kids didn't deserve him? That he was looking down on us for our inability to do things right, or for the kids' rowdiness or my wicked, wicked worldly ways such as watching TV and going to the movies?

Wasn't it, when you get right down to it, not unlike my early years when my mother kept herself aloof from the rest of the family, looking down on us as if Dad and we kids were from another planet? She didn't really voice her protestations, she simply kept stepping farther and farther away from us until she wasn't there anymore.

Kind of like M. He didn't approve of us, it was obvious in his expressions and in the careful tone of voice he used always, even when someone else would have exploded. What a trial my sons and I must have been, messing up his neat, orderly life with all our dysfunctions! The more he pulled back the more I did the same with the end result that we had little to say to one another by the time we knew we'd reached the end of the road. If we couldn't speak openly about what we were both struggling with, it followed that we couldn't even speak about life's mundane concerns.

I know my value now much more than I did back then. I know the God I love better, and it appalls me to think that I blamed Him for my getting stuck with someone so unsuitable.

Back then I wouldn't have believed it if someone had told me the time would come when I'd be without a man in my life for nearly 20 years. Yet here I am, and oh isn't it wonderful no longer feeling the compulsion to be in a relationship I don't, deep down, even desire?

 

 

 

Sunday
Jul272014

A Bit of Grace

Sometimes I want a time out so I can take a break from life, and then a do-over once I figure out what it is I need to change.

I feel like I grew up with no female role model. There was my mother, of course, or was there? She was there but not there, not in any substantial way. Sometimes I can't quite work through what it is that's missing or twisted inside of me. Maybe it's my perspective that's twisted; well, of course it's my perspective. But why? I mean is it all askew because of abuse, or because my mother never really connected with me and therefore everything I learned from her had such a ephemeral quality about it?

Did the pounding my body took time and again form me into a new self with no history, no roots, no memories, a mere wraith hovering with no form or weight?

I do feel weightless, not physically but pretty much in every other way. My words don't carry much weight. I mean them to but they don't.

When I was with my brother yesterday he wanted me to do something with the box of donuts we'd bought on the way home, and I misunderstood. As I began to do put the box where I thought he wanted it he said, "Stop it. I hate when you do that." I asked what he meant and he said, "I hate when you act stupid."

Later, it hit me what he'd said. I know I have problems with short term memory. Menopause doesn't help much. Aside from that I'm sure just being with him after so many years, in such close proximity to someone so like my father, had to have been triggering. I imagine I did bumble here and there during our time together. What someone else might consider endearing he found annoying.

I wasn't acting. I wasn't pretending.

But I'm not really saying what I mean. This has nothing to do with my brother. At least I don't think it does. But don't I have the right to be who I am, even when who I am bumbles or forgets? Is a female only important for a certain period of time, like until she begins to age and lose her looks, and then what? Does she then become unimportant and a source of annoyance? Why can't I fumble sometimes? My brother practically stuttered a couple of times but it didn't bother me, nor did I assume he was acting dumb. Is it just females who get accused of that? By men? I'm not a feminist per se, so it's not about all that.

I grew up without any--what do I call it? Female boundaries? That's not exactly what I mean. Female guidelines then?

My mother never said things like, "It's okay to speak your mind, even if you disagree with a boy. Girls are allowed to have their own opinions." Well now, how could she considering how she effaced herself and waited on my step dad like he was royalty in saggy undies?

She never said, "Here is the kind of woman I've decided to become, but you can choose differently."

Well, of course she didn't. I'm not sure my mother had anything figured out. Maybe she winged it every day of her life. Or maybe not. Maybe she knew exactly what she was doing, even right down to keeping me at arm's length. Must daughters always be potential rivals? I remember her telling me, with no inflection in her voice, that when she would invite a boy over her mother would have charmed him, and begun dancing with him in their living room before my mother could even come downstairs to greet him.

My mother was so clumsy growing up that her family jokingly called her Grace. I can picture this; I can picture her coming downstairs, perhaps stumbling over her own feet in their heavy saddle shoes, and seeing her mother dancing her boyfriend around the living room: my grandmother who never lacked words, and certainly was full of her own opinions. My grandmother who quite possibly never taught my mother anything about being female except that you can't trust even your own mother with your man.

Did my mother just assume I'd be her rival, I wonder?

I do wonder what is means, truly, to be female, but probably beyond that what I'm really trying to get to is that I've no idea how to be human. I don't know why I'm here, I don't know what my life means, what its purpose could possibly be. I assumed many things for many decades, and now I flat out don't know.

There is one certainty that has solidified within me during the many years of my blogging, the certainty that I don't have to understand everything. And more than that, I don't have to figure anything out right this minute. It's okay to carry uncertainties within me for however long it takes to begin comprehending the elusive. Or to never comprehend some things. No one figures everything out, not even those blessed souls who grew up without abuse.

I love when I remind myself of these things, for then I can take a step back, rein in my hasty, strident self, and gift myself with a bit of grace.

I don't know everything I need to know, but I know enough for this day.

Probably tomorrow I won't know much more, but I bet I'll go through some changes and a growth spurt over the next several years--and for now I can live with that.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Jul262014

He Said He Said

Earlier today I had lunch and went to a movie with the brother I haven't seen in 15 years. For reasons I won't go into here, I've kept my distance from him. But I've missed him. Both of my brothers are so much like our dad that it's a bit eerie. The same laugh, same hilarious expressions, mannerisms and humor.

I told my brother I needed to ask him something about our childhood. He said, "I know all kinds of things about our childhood. What do you want to ask?"

I told him I didn't understand why Dad simply allowed my mom to take me away from him. He wasn't one to allow himself to get pushed around; why wouldn't he have fought her on it?

He told me that it was the court's ruling that I be returned to Mom.

I said, "There was a hearing?"

He said, "Yep, and we were all there. I think the judge thought you should go with Mom because you were a girl."

This brought me to my next question. "What about visitation though? I would think any judge would have decreed that Dad be allowed visitation rights."

He didn't have an answer to that. But when I mentioned our other brother telling me that Mom had infrequently visited them over the years,  he vigorously shook his head.

"No, what's he talking about?" he scoffed, "that never happened."

"I've often wondered why Dad would allow her to come see you guys and not insist she bring me along."

"That would have really angered him," he said, "but no, Mom never visited during those years."

Hmm. So here I am now caught between these two versions of the past. I don't believe either one is lying. I think that memory can sometimes play tricks on us, especially concerning things that caused great emotional turmoil.

My one brother remembers how Mom always refused to come inside during her visits, even though Dad offered to leave so she could have privacy. He remembers Dad telling him and my other brother to not forget to send Mom a Mother's Day card.

I never, during those years, saw any letters or cards from them to Mom. Different family members checked the mail of course, but surely during nearly 8 years I would have seen some written communication from my brothers if there had been any.

When I was 14 my mother told me one evening to come with her. I followed her out to the car, and once she'd backed out of the driveway she informed me that she'd run into my dad the other day, and was taking me to see him.

That first meeting after so many years is mostly a blur, but I do recall that she wouldn't come inside. She had me tell my brothers to come outside and see her while I visited with my dad. Possibly this is one visit that my brother is thinking of. There may have been a few others before Mom took me to see Dad. If she unexpectedly ran into him after so many years, it makes sense she might have wanted to see where he lived, and what their situation was before bringing me along. Maybe she visited several times before bringing me and, again, that's why my brother has the sense that she visited over the years.

Deep inside I know none of this matters. I mean it does, but in another way it doesn't because whatever happened has long since been over, and there's no changing it. The thing is I have many inside of me who are not so easily mollified. They have a deep yearning to know as much of that time period as possible.

As time goes by I plan to ask my brother more about those days. I don't feel as driven as I've been in the past to ferret out all the details even if my parts are pushing for that, but if he can fill in any gaps in my memory that would be great. For now it's just good to reunite with another family member from whom I was estranged for so long.

It's crazy sad how great are the repercussions of child abuse. So great that I am just now reuniting with the brother I used to follow around with total adoration. Sometimes it's easy to forget that my brothers suffered too. Maybe not in the same ways I did, but they lost their mother and sister, and those losses must have wounded them deeply.

I used to think there was a way to patch up the past, if only I could find it. I know better now. There is no patchwork that can change what has happened. The best I can hope for is to live each day as grounded as possible, being as engaged in my life and the lives of my loved ones as I can. The best I can do is to not allow the past to so overshadow today that I let the darkness win.

 

 

Tuesday
Jul222014

Things That Pleased Me Recently

Winning a $40 gift certificate for a local book store . . . waking up to rain . . . finishing the first draft of a children's story . . . after nearly a year of waiting, finally being able to put all my boxed up things back into my storage unit out back . . . working on Christmas projects . . . reading an Edith Wharton novel for the first time . . . receiving a new manuscript for beta reading . . . being blessed with true-blue friends.

Sunday
Jul132014

A Midsummer's Day Dream

What a rarity this kind of day has become: one of those deliciously languid days when nothing is required of me. It's one of those dreamy kind of days when nothing seems quite real, and fears and depression seem like tales told out of school.

I neglected to check my mail for a couple of days, so when I got around to doing so was delighted to find the used paperback I'd ordered last week. This is another gem by Elizabeth Taylor the British writer, not to be confused with the actress of the same name. She writes the kind of intelligent (for lack of a better word) novels that I seem to need to devour in order to retain my sanity. I haven't read this one before and am already halfway through it; I love everything about it and am loath to come to an end.

As a bonus, a passage in the novel struck me in such a way that it illuminated a memory with my father, which I hastily jotted down for inclusion in my memoir. And so it goes. Life feeds fiction, fiction feeds life, and I am most happily caught in the middle between the two.

We had a bit of a storm earlier, complete with lightning and thunder

A dear friend texted me that she'd bought a cute little lamp to go on my newly acquired desk.

When I walked into the bathroom a bit ago I saw in the mirror that half of my bangs stood straight out like they were saluting. Now, how did that happen? I laughed out loud at how silly I looked, then noticed that the bloating around my middle has receded considerably since I quit taking Estrogen about a week ago. I hadn't meant to quit taking it, I ran out and didn't have a chance to deal with it. After several days I realized I wasn't experiencing the usual ill effects of going without it so I thought, what the heck? I gave up smoking, I think I'll kick this habit too. I've been on it way too long anyway (over ten years.)

Despite the heat, I sometimes pick up my knitting needles and work on a square for the patchwork afghan that will be a Christmas gift. Earlier I recorded that old Hitchcock favorite of mine, Dial M for Murder, and hope to get to it before too long.

I'm beginning to see a pattern emerge. My coping skills are at their best when I can manage to fit more than one source of pleasure at a time into my day. A bit of reading, some knitting, and writing and I'm more than content. Of course it helps that there is no new crisis to deal with at the moment. But when there is, I hope I can remember that I do need to maintain some kind of balance so that my whole world doesn't revolve around the crisis. I think this is a failing of mine: I get tunnel vision when trouble descends, and then the things I normally turn to for comfort or pleasure become meaningless. As if I don't deserve to enjoy them while I have something so huge to deal with? I don't know, I only know that I want to live with awareness, with all my senses and my entire heart and mind engaged.

Now it's time to get off the internet and get ready for bed. This includes turning on an old movie or favorite show that's been recorded, during which I will fall asleep within the first half an hour.  I don't mind one bit, it's my favorite method of falling asleep . . .g'night everyone.