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!
















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.


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.





A Not So Small Act of Generosity


Earlier today I ran into a neighbor in the parking lot who was about to load a desk into his van. He was taking it to The Salvation Army, but asked if I wanted it. Did I ever! Okay, I admit it's not so much that I need a desk. It's not even that I really have room for another one. Or that I use the one I already own for its intended purpose. In fact, I find it next to impossible to anchor myself to a chair long enough to sit still at a desk and get anything done.

But still. My writer's soul finds it difficult turning down anything that has the potential to encourage the act of creativity. And it was free! Getting something new for my bedroom made my day, and haven't I been due for some little blessing?

Oh lately I've been so rattled. It doesn't help that cable keeps playing Christmas movies. Lots of them. What's up with that? I come across one and actually have to glance out my window to see that it's still summer, or check the date on my computer just to make sure. I'm so easily disoriented that it wouldn't be hard for someone to convince me it's the wrong season. It isn't right to have all those sappy, made-for-cable Christmas movies on during the summer months. It's just wrong. Is the person responsible for the movie line up so sick of his job that he just sticks anything on there?

Part of my problem with feeling rattled is that I haven't seen my grandkids in a few weeks. That's enough to throw me off right there. I find myself making up reasons to go out and run little errands, just so I don't disintegrate into a smelly, crusty old hermit who becomes paranoid of everything and everyone outside these four walls.

But I wanted a respite, is what I tell myself. My body is getting old, I needed a break from picking them up from school every day. Well, now I have it. Like most things, it's a mixture of pros and cons. I get to stay home as much as I want, but I don't get to see the girls. (I don't mean that I couldn't drive over and visit sometime, of course I can. It's hard to find the right time, as busy as they are now with camp and everything else.) There is nowhere I have to be at any certain time, but I fight sleepiness every afternoon, barely able to rouse myself enough to get up and do something.

But back to the desk and the miracle of it. See, I don't need much for my spirit to be lightened. An unexpected gift of a used desk is enough to do it. The hutch top contains partitions just perfect for my many notebooks and journals, and all the delicious little misc. items one should have in a proper desk. My life is far from what I'd like it to be, but I have this desk now that I didn't have even a few hours ago. Oh, I know it's nothing special. It's got its share of scratches -- but it pleases me!

I want to be flexible enough to change my course and direction when life throws me curve balls. I want to zig and zag when needed, and jump hurdles with a whoop and a holler, or at least a much needed exhalation of relief. I've been dealing with so many dark, heavy issues lately that it's seemed as if nothing could bring me closer to the light. Nothing appealed to me and there was nothing my soul desired, for I've been sick at heart. But then the desk was presented to me, and I took it, and something was reignited in my soul. A smidgen of hope? The reminder that "this too shall pass"? I don't know, maybe my warped perspective underwent a minor readjustment. Constant pain of any kind can cause us to lose all objectivity. What I've been dealing with is so piercing I'm still uncertain if I'll get through it. But this gift . . .

Am I making too much of secondhand generosity? After all my neighbor was just going to donate it anyway, it's not like he had me specifically in mind. Well, I don't think so. I think I was meant to have this desk, and to receive it just at that particular moment in time when my level of hope had sunk to an all-time low.

Isn't it crazy how the smallest act of generosity can make so much difference for someone? I hope I bear this in mind when I've the impulse to do a kindness for someone, then tempted not to follow through. None of us know the depth of sorrow others trudge along with, not to mention bouts of fear and depression. Like most folks these days, I don't have much I can give money wise, but little acts of kindness are not dependent on that anyway.







And Everything in Between

Yesterday I recovered a ton of photos I'd had on my old computer. While going through them I came across ones taken of my old apartment.

Oh, what squalor that place was in when I moved in! I wonder how many hours I spent scrubbing, painting and washing walls and windows. How determined I was to make the place not just habitable, but cozy as well. A labor of love, then, well worth every ache and pain.

As I pored over the old photos, my heart yearned to be back in that coziness. I'd forgotten certain details, such as how I'd loved my kitchen curtains against the newly painted walls, or the cabinet Sissyface gave me for the living room and which I left behind when I moved because I didn't think there'd be room for it.

There, in that small one bedroom, is where I colored with Maddy and Anna, or built things with them out of Legos. Maddy was forever leaving little surprises for me in my mail slot next to the front door: a rock she'd found on her way in, a half eaten cookie, or a grape.

How many meals we ate together there as a family: the girls and their parents, and Sissyface, and sometimes my granddaughter, Izzy, and her family too. Though this memory brings no comfort, it was there in my little home that I hid away whenever my mother came to town, and stayed with Sissyface. How well I remember hiding inside during a snowfall, all too aware that most of my family was one row over, enjoying Christmas dinner with my mother, my abuser.

It's true that I've lamented not being able to get cozy here in my current home. I suppose all along I've known, on some level, that a big part of it is simply that I'm cut off from most of my family, having moved farther away. There are no more family dinners or get-togethers, and now that school is out for the summer I don't see Maddy and Anna. Often during the day I must rouse myself from the lethargy that overtakes me as I sit by the hour, mostly doing things online.

Earlier tonight their daddy sent me a message on Facebook. The gist of it was telling me how much he appreciates all I've done for him and the girls, and to let me know that I'm the bomb.

That's it, that's what I needed right about now. Everyone likes their efforts to be appreciated but, beyond that, I just needed that  personal connection. My life is different now, that's all. Not better or worse, just different. To some degree it's what I wanted: a cessation from the necessity of picking the girls up from school every day. I can't help but smile at my awkward attempts to transition from yesterday to today. What a klutz I am! I bet I think that if I completely let go of that little era of my life, it would be the same as saying it didn't matter.

The time will come when memories of my old apartment will be just that, memories. Not yearnings to revert back to those days, but gratitude for having lived through them. And they weren't all so great; let me remember that when it hurts my heart to think of those days: they weren't all so great.

Today my heart was so touched by the unexpected gift of my son's appreciation. Let me keep in mind as I stumble along that this is what life is about, unexpected bits of joy intermingled with lethargy and homesickness, and everything in between.


Truth Enough (for now)

My mother didn't marry an abuser. She married a rapist.

She didn't merely hold me at arm's length, she displayed contempt for me.

She didn't refuse to explain why I could no longer see my dad because she thought I was too young to understand. She didn't explain because she didn't care what not knowing did to me.

My mother didn't send my oldest brother to live with our grandmother because she wanted to protect him from my stepfather's fists. She sent him away because his presence was a threat to the new life she'd cobbled together out of the misery of others.

It wasn't a shock to my mother when she stumbled into the living room late one night to find her hubby molesting me. Her angry reaction was not aimed at the deed (which I believe she already knew about), but at being forced to see it for herself, and question what kind of mother she was to allow her daughter to be mauled.

When I was forced to take on my rapist's name, it was my mother's way of exerting fuller control over me. It wasn't so that all the kids in the family would have the same last name (as she asserted years later). My kids don't all have the same last name, and it's not that big of a deal. She forced his name on me because she felt that she owned me.

The time I ran into their bedroom, unthinkingly, and saw my stepdad naked and my mother screamed at him to use his belt on me:  what was that but a manifestation of the contempt she always felt towards me, but usually kept better hidden,  like a neatly folded garment tucked beneath the careful layers of her outer refinement?

Now I'm thinking, this is my sorrow. It belongs to me. Unlike my flesh, it is all mine. I didn't want it, buy it, barter for it, but yet here it is, still,  after all these years. Others have shamed me for feeling it so long after the events which created it have faded into history. I let them. I let them tell me how to feel because I had no idea what I was allowed to feel. Didn't I need permission to feel? No one was giving me permission to experience my shame, so I buried it as best I could like the dead, detestable thing I wanted it to be.

"Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction."

Didn't my mother ever read that verse?

My shame wasn't detestable! I've had it backwards all along. My mother's easy acceptance of my rapist's perversions? That was detestable. She brought it into our home and into into our daily lives. Not only did she not regard it as vile or detest it, she encouraged it by coughing politely, and looking the other way while he made room for it. How nimbly she stepped aside as he erected his shrine to pedophilia, avoiding all eye contact with me lest she see something reproachful in my eyes.

I waited. All those years while waiting for my father to rescue me, I also waited to discover the key to my mother and stepfather's acceptance. I gave them canine like obedience, thinking to earn their love and acceptance through such means. Looking for clues, I missed what was all too obvious: there was no key; there was no key because their world was not big enough to embrace me. It had shrunken down to an insulated universe of two. I only had walk-on appearances as needed. The world of those who prey on children is necessarily narrow and confined, for there are too many secrets to guard to risk much exposure to the rest of society. The sense of odd man out I felt from the first moment I witnessed my mother and stepdad together? Turns out my instincts were spot on.

The most staggering truth I've uncovered is that my sorrow doesn't have to be shame producing. No wonder I've been able to express it only in tidbits here and there: I was so busy trying desperately to keep it submerged beneath the surface. What if someone saw? What if someone saw my sorrow and thought I was an idiot?

Something has been wrong with me for at least a year. Something stalking my footsteps and causing me to want to weep forever. That something now has a name: sorrow.

I've bitten it back, swallowed it down, put a placid smile on my face so my sorrow wouldn't offend anyone. I didn't want it to come between me and Sissyface. I didn't want my sons to get more than a glimpse and . . . and what? Feel sorry for me, I suppose.

I no longer know who to trust. I sure can't trust my own warped perceptions of how my life has played out. I'm discovering how often I've been wrong about things. I'm like the main character in a mystery movie who doesn't know her friends from her enemies. At times it seems I distrust everyone but those I really should distrust.

My mother didn't marry an abuser. She married a rapist.

Yes. That's truth enough for now . . .