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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Apr202014

Never Much of a Mother

I haven't watched the movie Prince of Tides in many years, but one scene I've never forgotten is when the childrens' mother, sick of her hubby's bullying of her and her three kids, stirs dog food in with his meal. Watching it gave me a jolt of satisfaction, deepened by his oblivious delight in the doggy meal. I nearly stood up and cheered!

When I see something of this nature depicting a woman's rebellion at the abuse of her children, my heart skips a beat. The thing is, I can't begin to imagine my own mother playing that role. And it's not that she was a simpering, scaredy-cat, though if she had been her lack of action would have been more understandable. As it is I don't know what to call her particular brand of passivity.

If my mom wasn't afraid of my step-dad, her passivity was a choice wasn't it? I mean, she deliberately didn't rebel, not openly anyway. I'm sure she harbored her share of rebellious thoughts, but she never acted on any of them. I can't recall even one instance of her doing so.

She wasn't afraid of the man who bullied us all. Was she in collusion with him? I know that she laughed along with him when he mocked me, but I guess I've always thought she felt like she had to. But what if I'm looking at it wrong? It could be she laughed because she held me in as much disdain as he did.

Yesterday I spoke to the brother I haven't had contact with since my father died in 1999. He's the black sheep no one in the family has anything to do with. I've had to think this through long and hard, this getting in touch with him after all this time. For reasons I won't go into here, I've kept my distance from him all this time. And for other reasons, mainly because I so miss him, I've decided to reconnect. Seems like every few years there's some stray family member I'm reconnecting with! Such is the fallout of child abuse.

Anyway, my brother clearly misses our father as much as I do. When he began talking about our mother, he said, "I hate to say it, but you know she never was much of a mother."

She never was much of a mother. No, I agreed, she sure wasn't.

Odd how stating something so simply frees me somehow, so much more than when I go in circles trying to figure her out.

I'll never know what makes my mother tick. I'll never understand all I'd like to comprehend of my childhood. Perhaps it can be enough for me, at least for now, to simply state the obvious:

She never was much of a mother.

 

Tuesday
Apr152014

Paradise Lost

Adam and Eve lost paradise. They didn't get the Garden of Eden back, though I bet they mourned its loss for the rest of their days.

I was thinking today in terms of how my world was broken---how I was broken---at the age of 7. My life took on a nightmarish quality which most of my readers will understand without my faltering attempts at an explanation. That's good because, even though I'm going to try once more, I've yet to come up with the right words with which to describe what I'm referring to.

For one thing, it's that sense that everything has been ruined forever. That overwhelming utter disappointment in realizing life is not what you once thought it was: it's pretty much the exact opposite.

It's finding the snake in the garden, the bad spitting in the face of good, death thumbing its nose at life.

Whatever it is, this new quality which had overtaken my entire world was relentless. Because of it I could no longer see things in the same light, and couldn't really even trust what I saw with my own eyes. I'd learned life was more like living in a house filled with fun house mirrors than it was living in a reasonable world where everything made sense, and people naturally loved one another.

I've lived my life from sheer stubbornness. I haven't wanted the dark side, or whatever you choose to call it, to win. I've awakened pretty much every morning of my life angry that there is yet another day I have to slog my way through. I've kept watch, always, thinking something might turn my world back rightside up, some unexpected turn of events that will put everything back in balance.

It hasn't happened and I've figured out now that it isn't going to. I'm going to continue plucking little joys, like sweet flowers, here and there along the way whereever I am fortunate enough to find them. I'm going to continue lamenting that nothing brings me a sense of security. Even though I know by now not to expect to feel secure in this world, I'm still going to lament not being able to do so. I've a sneaking hunch that even those first 7 years of my existence were not filled with the sense of security I lament losing: I just thought they were.

I'm going to continue contributing what I can to the well-being of my sons and grandkids, and anyone around me, because I want to and because I don't know what else I can do to in some way counteract the darkness.

I'll allow myself to cry sometimes, but mostly I won't. I'll aim at forging straight ahead into the night, into the terrifying loneliness that overwhelms me at odd moments, and I'll do what I can here and there to make little differences to the quality of someone else's life.

I won't be a do-gooder or saint, or however you'd describe it. Truth be told I'll be doing these things as much for myself as for anyone else. By demonstrating little acts of kindness I'll be making it possible for me to keep on keeping on. I need to fight the darkness in the only way I know how so that it won't swallow me whole. My protest against it is to stir myself into action for the sake of someone who needs something I can give. I can't give much. I can smile, I can mend torn stuffed animals and laugh with my grandkids. I can speak softly to those who are hurting, I can share humor with those who need a good laugh. None of this seems like much but it has to be enough. Apparently it has to be enough for me, because if it's not I'm left with nothing but that old, ugly gaping darkness that has hounded my footsteps for 53 years.

No one regains the Garden. Lost paradise is just that: a bittersweetly remembered dream at best, or the sense of something we were supposed to have in this life (for we've heard rumors) but have never found.

Someone once said it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I suppose I've been doing a bit of both. I hate that the darkness exists; what else can I do but light a candle in the face of it?

I used to think I was working towards something....towards, I suspect, getting back what was lost. Did I think if I didn't complain and did my best to be a light that it would end in an abracadabra of sorts, that would spin everything back into place? I think I must have thought exactly that, or something a lot like it.

There is a kind of relief in finally being able to realize how off my thinking has been on this subject. The relief of, it doesn't depend on me after all. Nothing I do or say is going to bring about some gigantic cosmic shift that will bring us back to the paradise we were created to enjoy. I think there is value in life and that it matters how we live, and how we treat others. But I don't think anything I say or do has the wand-like ability to make everything okay for anyone. And that's what I've been trying to do, to make everything okay.

Everything is not okay and I'm beginning to think maybe I accept that. And in accepting that, perhaps I will enjoy a certain degree of emotional and mental freedom I haven't known since my own personal Eden imploded.

 

 

 

Sunday
Apr132014

This Little Light of Mine

The other day I took Maddy and Anna to Walmart and bought them each a summer outfit. Nothing fancy or expensive, but they were thrilled just the same, especially Maddy.

"You're awesome, Nana," she said as we headed off to pay for the outfits. When I laughed she said, "No. Nana: I mean you. Are. Awesome!"

When we got back to their place she discovered the shorts were too small. I told her I'd exchange them for a bigger size, but since it was Friday I wouldn't be able to get them to her until I saw her again on Monday.

Naturally the first thing she asked when I picked them up from school on Monday was, "Did you exchange the shorts, Nana?"

I told her yes, and she said, "I knew it! I knew you would, you always do what you say. You never lie to me!"

Ah, sweet words indeed.

I remember being lied to as a child, whether in words or in more subtle ways--even by withholding the words of explanation I needed in order to understand my ever shifting, troubling world.

I remember being promised things that never materilaized.

It strikes me that it's not that I'm such an upstanding nana, it's more than I haven't forgotten a child's pain of being let down time and again.

On another occassion, Anna asks me to sew up a hole in her little stuffed cow. I take it home with me, and bring it the next day, surgery completed. She tells me, "Nana, you're the best," and Maddy marvels that I always have just what is needed to fix anything. I do believe she thinks I have some kind of magical bag of tricks from which I excavate just the right thing to fix whatever needs mending.

If only their troubles would always remain small and manageable: clothing to be exchanged for a different size, a stuffed animal to be stitched into wholeness.

If only they would always need me, in some fashion, to help them navigate their way through all of life's little disappointments. Not everything can be fixed with thread and needle; I won't be able to shield them from all of life's ups and downs. With the way in which this world has grown so cold, I will be satisfied if I manage to be no more to them than the occassional calm in the storm of their lives, pointing them always to the One who loves them best and is truly their Rock.

This nana business can be complicated and exhausting, but rarely dull. It's challenging, a source of constant humor and blessing, and more than I could have ever thought I deserved to experience in this lifetime.

Tuesday
Apr082014

Second Nature

I don't always feel strong, in fact I seldom do. But I know I must be to have survived my childhood, and the confused, lost years beyond it.

Where do any of us find strength when life batters and we hate waking up to a new day? Where we look for strength speaks volumes to who we are beneath the outward facades we show to the world as we interact with those around us.

 

Friendships

Sometimes when I'm especially sad, and whether or not I know the source of that sadness, I allow my memories of my childhood friend, Bec, to surface. There she is again in my mind's eye: tall, and thin as a toothpick, a friendly smile making up for the mouthful of metal she so hated.

There is Bec, my Bec's across-the-street house.true blue friend, sticking closer to me than a brother. I lean into the memory of her sauntering next to me on a hot's summer day as we take our time walking to the store, attempting to slow down her stride to match that of my much shorter legs. The long and the short of it, that was us. In Bec I found many of the aspects of the relationship I'd once enjoyed with my father: the ready humor, friendly affection and an obvious delight in my company. No one could really replace what I'd lost with my father, but having Bec in my daily life made the loss bearable.

And so I wander down memory lane, relishing the remembrance of everything that made my friendship with Bec so special. It's not just the activities we engaged in that my mind focuses on; it's more the sense of having been visible to someone, and as such named and loved. Here was someone in my life who didn't scoff at me, flinch at the reality of my existence, or simply ignore me. There is great strength in being loved, even when the source of that love has long faded. Having been loved once proves to me that I am loveable. And I really need to remember that and hold it close to me when life brings me to my knees.

 

Grounding Techniques

There are some things that I turn to when I get that panicky feeling of being swallowed whole by the demands and trials of life, or when I feel as if I'm greatly disoriented. I think the weaker I feel the worse I feel about myself. Feeling weak is a helpless feeling, and feeling helpless . . . well, that's what I was in the hands of my childhood abuser. It's essential for me at times like this to find a means of grounding myself to my present reality. Grounding helps me not only stay present in the present, but it's also a means of recovering my misplaced strength.

There are many grounding techniques I use, often, I suspect, without even realizing what I'm doing. Reading or writing anything helps immensely, because on a very basic level I am more than anything a devoted reader and writer. Anything I enjoy creatively is bound to bring me back to my present day self. Knitting--the clickety-clack of the needles, the feel of the soft yarn, the neat, uniform stitches evolving into a pleasing pattern--is something I turn to when I need to distract myself from the fear that I'm helpless, out of control and/or flat out stupid. (Much of what saps my emotional strength and leaves me feeling so pitiful--and groundless-- at times is those old childhood feelings of stupidity).

Cooking up a pot of chicken soup or baking a cake takes my mind off of its worries, and helps settle my thoughts into something more manageable. And there's the added resultant benefit of the enjoyable food scents which emanate from my kitchen. I find that even the delightful cooking smells help to ground me.

Housework, while not something I usually consider to be a source of creativity, will sometimes do it. Setting things to rights, bringing order out of chaos, nudges me forward, away from my despairing thoughts and the feeling of beings so fragile and weak, and makes it possible to affect my surroundings in a way that lets me see that I exist: I am moving, changing things, making choices, going forward. And more than anything when I get stuck feeling like such a weakling, what I need is that sense of forward motion. Forward, away from the negative that threatens to swallow me like quicksand. Away from the childhood chaos and sorrow and abuse which set in motion the living in this world as a victim.

Whatever the grounding technique, as long as it distracts me from the downward spiral of my overwhelming thoughts and emotions, I can then get back on track long enough to get over that hump, and go on to better things. I suspect that I indulge in many crafts for just that reason.

 

Back to My Roots

In the beginning, I was raised to love God.

In the beginning, I was loved and because of that, I knew how to love.

Once upon a time I knew simplicity: the scent of the carnations growing at the side of our house, the masculine laughter of my dad and brothers, the lovely hymns we sang at church with great gusto.

These are what I go back to, what I return to, time and again when I don't think I can take one more step in this world. Some times I don't want to take that next step. It seems too hard, and pointless. Sometimes I question the wisdom of continuing to believe that it will all be okay some day, when it seems obvious that life is made up of sorrow, and then more sorrow.

But then I remember these other things, the things that preceded the sorrow. And in remembering there is strength. If I am so impacted by memories of cruel abuses, surely I can be impacted in another way by pondering the good I've known and experienced.

And so I ponder the good, the bad, the ugly, and deliberately sweep aside the bad and the ugly. There are times I must do this; I can't be forever obsessing about the evil in my life. I turn my back on it to embrace the other: the hopeful, the moments of joy and contentment. Those times, however shortlived they may have been, when I absolutely knew who I was and who I was meant to be in this world.

If I've possessed strength before, well it's most likely still there, hidden underground just waiting to be tapped into.

If I've gotten through one or a hundred or five hundred tribulations, I bet I can get through whatever is facing me now.

These things I know, that I have known strength, that I have loved and been loved, and that ultimately, in spite of the bad days when everything is painted black and this doesn't seem possible, everything really will be okay. In the meantime, I must hold myself responsible to seek out these and other sources of strength when needed, so I am no longer a victim to circumstances.

Sometimes I wallow. Sometimes the temptation to lie around and indulge in self-pity is more than I can resist.  I find as time goes on that I am less prone to wallow, and this is mostly due, I think, to having decided somewhere along the line that I want to be an overcomer. Toward that end I hope that I will continue to seek out my inner strength when needed, and do it consistently enough so that it will become a good habit, or like second nature.

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Mar302014

A Hard Question

Throughout my 8 years of blogging I've tried to express myself honestly, as honestly as possible. There have been some instances where I felt myself pulling away from something I needed to say, probably out of fear of the kinds of responses I dreaded.

Today I was thinking about my childhood abuses and traumas in a way that is likely to be rejected, and/or met with anger from some who would vehemently disagree with the turn of my thoughts. But I feel the need to explore this line of thinking a bit more. I want to do it here so, if ever I want to, I can come back and read what I've written.

So here's what I've been pondering. In thinking not just of my own sexual abuse, but that of countless others down through the ages, I wondered if--as I've heard some say--we end up with the parents we need. The parents we need to raise us and guide us into the grown ups we eventually become.

Decades ago I met someone who became irate as we were discussing my childhood.

"Shut up, woman!" he ranted. "You can't complain: you got the parents you chose!"

I wouldn't go that far. I don't believe that we are able to choose our future parents, and I don't feel inclined to get into a whole discussion about past lives, etc. For the purposes of this post I want to assume we have this one life that we are born into. And my question is, do we end up with the parents we have for a reason? Is it all happenstance, a roll of the dice, or did I have my funny, artistic father and aloof and passive mother because there was something I needed to inherit from each of them? Though I balk at the thought of needing anything from my mother, or her having anything worth contributing to the sum total of who I became, I can't help but wonder if things turned out exactly as they were meant to.

To say that is to imply that I was meant to be tormented as a child for years and years. It's to insinuate that I needed to be broken, to bear within me a heart broken from having lost my loved ones. Did I need for these things to happen? Couldn't I have become who I am by some other means?

I struggle with this, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has these questions.

If I conclude that I was meant to have my specific parents, and all that that implies (for part of the implication is surely that I somehow would need my mother to ruin our family and bring my stepfather into my life), does it also mean there is no blame to be assigned for anything?

If there was a pathway marked out for me before the beginning of time, would I have ended up on it through some other means, or was sexual abuse the only door through which I could enter into my personal journey?

What of my abusers, I wonder. Are they still just as guilty as ever even if my journey through life was meant to take me through that particular wilderness of sorrow?

I think sometimes that if I hadn't experienced the depths of fear, sorrow and shame which have been my lot I would not have been able to reach out to some who have expressed to me that my words, written or spoken, have been such an encouragement to them. The fact is, I'm who I am today mainly because of the trauma of my childhood.

If I was meant to have my particular set of parents then it follows that my sons were meant to have me as their mother. And in order for me to be who they needed me to be, I had to take the route through life which in fact I did take.  The sum total of who I am: the bumblings, the weaknesses, fears, mistakes, stubbornessess, etc. were the good and bad qualities which would somehow impact my sons' lives a certain way.

I am still responsible, it would seem, for everything I've done. That only seems right. I can't imagine that I am to be immune from all accountability, yet my parents aren't, or their parents before them. We are all either responsible or no one is.

I find this subject at turns intriguing, frustrating, and to some extent sorrow producing. There have been times I've fervently wished I had been given a different mother. When I see a loving, gentle mother who is fully engaged in her life, and the lives of her children, something within stirs with wistfulness. When I hear someone describe her mother as her best friend, I find it at first laughable, comic even, until it isn't. Until the pain of not having that hits me hard. When someone who has lost a beloved mother expresses how much she is missed, I have no reference point for that. I can't even compare it to losing my dad because a mother is not a father. There is a difference in the roles they play in our lives, and in how we respond to and interact with them.

So. Did I end up with the parents I was meant to have? Or do we each just scrape along as best we can with what we're given, and some of us are blessed and got really good parents, but some had the cards stacked against them from day one? I had 7 years as the apple of my father's eye, but so many kids never even had that. Why? My younger siblings never had a loving father. They had the same abuses I did, but they weren't preceded by years of being absolutely adored.

I am still far from concluding anything regarding this subject. I suppose in the end it doesn't matter either way, for my life has gone the way it's gone and nothing can be changed.

Still, I can't help but wonder . . .