First Things First
Getting Down to Basics
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Ponder This

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


Check out this article about the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena, including a list of organizations which strongly oppose this sick trend, and have implemented various means of helping women who have been sexually victimized.


Were you raised by a narcissist? Chances are you were if you suffered any form of childhood abuse. The Little Red Survivor website is filled with excellent articles examining the many faces of narcissism.


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 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!








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What Lies Beneath

I'm going to write this the best I can but it won't be enough.

For most of my life I've been fighting the darkness, not only in the sense of not wanting it to consume or destroy me, but I've mostly been fighting to keep it hidden inside me where it belongs. That's been my life's agenda, though I didn't realize this until very recently.

When a dear friend told me (in response to my asking) why she had a such an enthusiastic response to a bit of my writing, she told me that it didn't have the singsong quality to it typical of much of what I write. She said the writing in question was raw and didn't attempt to muffle my pain, and every word wasn't perfectly manicured. Perfectly manicured. That resonated: my mother was always perfectly manicured. My stepdad (my abuser) got manicures. Our lawn was always perfectly manicured.

I asked for this person's opinion because I value it, but her response broad sided me. I didn't know much of my writing was written in singsong. Did I even know I tend to muffle my pain? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I try to find something, any small thing, in every post that is of a positive nature. But I thought that was in contrast to the raw and the ugly, not in place of it.

I'm so glad I took the plunge. I'm so glad I asked for my friend's perspective on my writing because her assessment was the dash of cold water in the face I so needed.

Do I muffle my pain? Yes, I can see that I do. I muffle everything. Why wouldn't I when I've lived for decades believing I don't have the right to my own feelings and thoughts, much less responses to abuse?

I smooth everything over. When I was a teen being raped repeatedly by an older man, I drove my pain underground, did my best to forget it. What was the point in telling anyone? I didn't believe it would make any difference at all except to make me the painful center of attention I didn't want. I didn't ask for it and I didn't want it.

I never told my father what this man was doing to me. I never told him of the abusive relationships that followed. I smiled and nodded, I lived my life in singsong, truth be told. I did. I do. And now that I know it I can see beneath the surface (varnished like the deceptively beautiful hardwood floors of the House of Incest from childhood) to the rottenness that lies beneath.

I've been surrounded since a young age by alters who each play a role in my extensive denial. Yes, they are me but they're not really me, they're separate from me. So if one of them holds my body memories captive and I need those memories back, I feel that something has been stolen and held hostage. It's like all these different parts of my body and soul, parts which were torn to pieces and parceled out, are strewn about between these parts and nobody asked me, is it okay if I take this? Can I keep this? Did I create these parts to help me survive? I'm told I did. I don't remember doing so, which leaves me feeling as if these strangers just crept into my psyche, moved in lock, stock and barrel without permission or invitation, and went to work on me like a bunch of vultures. Who said they could keep all these things or that I wouldn't some day want them back?

Something's stirring deep within, an unrest rippling through my system. Or through me? Them or me? Me or them?

What lies beneath is anything but a mirror image of the singsong life I try so painstakingly to portray to those in my 3D world. It is painstaking, it's exhausting and unfulfilling and there is no one to pat me on the back, or say nice job, or to even acknowledge that I do everything within my power every day of my life to hold myself together so there isn't some ugly explosion.

What lies beneath is what I need to explore.  Because it is ugly and as raw as any old, festering wound that has never healed I need to do some deep sea diving. These are my depths, they belong to me.

Ultimately they belong to me.





















The Hard Center of Abuse

During my childhood years, I lived in the tension between my disillushionment and near hatred for the 'burbs and my love for all of the normal kid stuff I managed to pad my life with around the hard center of abuse at the heart of my family. I ran through those streets, or skipped, ambled or rode my bike, as someone to whom they belonged: and in a sense I felt they did. Hadn't I earned the right--the need--to tear through the neighborhood, let loose after another grueling act of sexual violence?

I know the violence was in my stepdad, not in the 'burbs themselves, but I couldn't make that delination back then. To me it was all a tumbled mess, and I equated my neighborhood with wicked acts, with hesitant footsteps home and my face burning with shame from another insult lobbed my way.

I blamed the 'burbs for my misery, as I could not blame my stepdad or mother who fed me and kept a roof over my head. I couldn't even afford to acknowledge that they were the true culprits in my daily anguish. But the 'burbs couldn't defend themselves from my accuations, they were the background unfolding in streets and avenues and cul-de-sacs; in driveways and sidewalks, and patios bright white in the noonday sun.

I awoke summer mornings with the varnished hardwood of my bedroom floor glowing like warm honey, winking what seemed to be good will, and promises of good things to come. But the glow didn't last long; it hit me always where I was, that I was not safe (though I couldn't say why), and that there was something major missing which, once again, left me with a big hole in my heart. (Did I even know that that hole was due to being wrenched away from my dad and brothers? Did I allow myself to acknowledge that?) Wearily, I pulled myself out of bed and braced myself to face another day. Wistfulness permeated me with longings I dare not quite think of in too much detail. I wanted....oh, I wanted for this new day to not be like all the others which started with so much promise and ended so horribly. I wanted it to be a long, sweet day of sun and bike riding, of lollygagging with friends, and finding time to read, and not being bugged by any adult for any reason.

I couldn't think of this new day ahead of me without my heart drooping as I went about dressing for the day (hurriedly, in case he barged in on me), absentmindedly grabbing my nearest pair of cut-offs, already suspecting with dull alarm that I'd once again misplaced my skate key.

There wasn't any way to hold on to those first fleeting moments of hopefulness which greeted me each morning before my spirits sank; no method for cupping them safely in my hands and keeping the rest of the day (always a downward slide) at bay. I had no control over how the day unraveled. The best I could do was to plunge into my activities with fierce energy, thrusting myself into games of jumprope or hopscotch, or fast bike riding, until I was slowed down and brought to a halt by my mother's voice calling me home, beckoning me back from the safety of those streets.

I find it ironic that I felt safer on those streets than I ever did within the four walls of my home. Outside meant freedom from grasping hands, and unspeakable acts. The worst I had to fear outside was a skinned knee, or some pushy kid trying to boss me around. But these things meant nothing to me: I lived with a terrorist. The scrapes and bruises, both physical and emotional, held little power over me.

My childhood became a matter of zigging and zagging, dodging what dangers I could while grabbing anything I stumbled upon that made my life bearable: a book, a new friend, or the the lovely honey shade of my bedroom hardwood floor before my sleepy self was set in motion once more.




The Artist Formerly Known as M

My 7 year old granddaughter, Maddy, never ceases to amaze me. She possesses a self-assurance I don't think I've experienced at any age.

We were talking about how high my bed is, and how it can be hard to climb into. She said that when I got older she'd probably have to help me climb up.

"Only by then you'll be so old I'll probably be calling you Grandma," she said.

"Nana," I corrected.

"No, I think when you're that old I'll call you Grandma. And I'll say, Come on, Grandma, I have things to do. But I wonder," she said, pausing to ponder where her thoughts were leading her, "what I'll be busy doing, like when I'm 15 or older."

I asked what she wanted to be when she grew up and she got an indulgent smile on her face, as if speaking to someone who wasn't quite all there.

"An artist," she said.

"You could finish high school and then go on to art college," I suggested. Maddy scrunched up her face and said, "You silly, Nana. I'm already an artist."

"Oh I know that," I assured her, "but you could learn more techniques and--"

"I'm already an artist," she said, and that was that.

Later, on my drive home, I got to thinking how she isn't so unlike my 7 year old self as I might have thought. It was at that age that I wrote my first short story and knew, just as Maddy knows without doubt about her artist self, that I was born to write.

I haven't exactly overflowed with confidence in other areas of life. It's not that I'm always so confident about my writing either, but I've never wavered in my belief that I'm a writer, and that's something altogether different.

And her amusement at my insinuation that she could become what she knows she already is? I get that. Over the years I've run into individuals who, upon reading my writing for the first time, have made comments such as, "Oh, you should be a writer!" Some sarcastic part of me always wants to come back with, "Wow, why didn't I think of that?!"

Maddy loves to write and illustrate books, and sometimes ropes me into sharing her creative process. She knows I'm a writer or, at least, that I say I am but I don't think it has much meaning to her just yet. Right now she's all about discovering the depths of her own artistic self, and I think that's a wonderful place for her to be.


Jean and Johnny

Books have contributed mightily to my sanity. Where would I be without them? As a child the opening of each new book was for me an act bordering on the sacred. To what heights would this as yet unexplored story take me?

Traumatized, I turned for solace to the illuminating world of fiction. Perhaps my voracious appetite for the written word was a form of self-soothing. When lost in the pages of a book, the world around me ceased to exist. Quite often my mother would insist I get my nose out of a book and go do something else, and then--oh what torture to have to put the book down in the middle of a chapter!

Recently I came across (and purchased) a copy of one of my all time favorite childhood books, Jean and Johnny, by Beverly Cleary. This hardback is a school library discard, and resembles the copy I remember checking out of my grade school library over and over again. I've got a paperback copy, but it doesn't include the original illustrations by Joe and Beth Krush. As any truehearted bookworm knows, illustrations can make or break a book. When I was learning to love books I inhaled them whole: paper, print, illustrations, dog-eared corners and all. And I memorized, without meaning to, the drawings that leant charm and life to each story.

I hold the old familiar book in my hands and study the illustrations as my heart sighs in contentment. About 6 months ago I decided that every month I'm going to allow myself to buy something inexpensive online. I've pretty much got it down to a science: I know what used bookstores offer free shipping, or where to buy a couple skeins of yarn (which my local Joann's doesn't carry) at a reasonable price. The only rule I've burdened myself with over these purchases is that there is to be no guilt. I need to do some little thing for myself on a regular basis. I need to gift my parts with these little treasures that bring them an incredible degree of pleasure.

Oh I love my new book! I flip through the pages glancing at the illustrations and I'm a funny little kid again with a terrible desire to be older and wiser. I don't know how to navigate through life, and interacting with others is often confusing. But then I read some of Jean and Johnny and I'm comforted by the little faux paus Jean makes as she tries so desperately to get the popular Johnny Chessler to notice her. Or the strain her new obsession puts on her friendship with Elaine, her ever loyal best friend. Jean is so human in her yearnings to be singled out and made to feel like someone special that all her clumsy stumblings are homey and familiar, and therefore endearing.

What is also endearing to me is the memory of my little girl self seeking truth and normality within the pages of whatever books I could get my hands on. I wanted desperately to live the simple life of a child, and not be weighed down with adult issues I couldn't even understand.

I wanted to be like Jean, who forgot to line up the plaid on the skirt she made in home-ec, so that the skirt look crooked.

I wanted to be like Elaine whose biggest source of misery was her height.

Even the domestic struggles of Jean's parents touched me, for they were such mundane struggles. Her mother longed to win one of the contests she frequently entered so that she could afford to replace their shabby furniture. Her father, a mailman, wanted sunny weather and a lack of angry dogs on his daily route.

And so I take another well-loved journey through these pages, breathing it all in with as much excitement as if I hadn't read this story hundreds of times over the decades since my little girl self first discovered the wonder of Beverly Cleary.




Things That DIDN'T Please Me Recently

Coming home to find the french doors to my dining room swarming with flying ants (on the inside) . . . having my internet service disrupted over a measly $35 . . . another anxious drive to ER on behalf of a loved one . . . discovering that my car isn't steering right, it sort of wants to slide when I turn corners . . . several nights in a row of not nearly enough sleep . . . getting hopelessly lost on the freeway (this is why I seldom drive them) . . . the sneaking hunch that my growing depression is going to consume me.