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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. 

 

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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Entries in Childhood abuse (56)

Wednesday
Sep282016

So You've Decided to Heal

Dear Brave Soul,

Don't laugh, I call you this because, even though I don't know you, I know the amount of courage it took you to face up to the fact that you need to heal. And then from there to decide, okay, I want to do this. I want to heal. You've perhaps come to the conclusion, as I did years ago, that time itself does nothing but age you. It doesn't heal, it simply moves you physically further from the season of your abusive childhood, offering you no healing properties in the process.

And so here you stand (or slump, or lie facedown on the floor, whimpering) with a steadily growing conviction (that you need healing) morphing into a coherent resolution (I want to begin the healing process). The good news is, you've taken the first step which will set all kinds of things in motion. The bad news is, you've taken the first step which will set all kinds of things in motion.

Your decision to begin a journey of recovery from your traumatic childhood is going to stir up all the memories you've been trying to shut out for years, or decades. You will wonder why you ever thought dealing with your childhood was such a great idea. No one told you it would be this painful! What's the point, anyhow, if all you have to look forward to is more pain?

The point is that by facing and confronting the memories your pain will begin to be manageable. Some days it won't seem like it because some days you will feel raw, and everything around you will feel like salt in your open wounds. But not every day will be like this. Like everyone else, you will have your good days and your bad days. Some days and weeks it will seem as if your entire universe revolves around your healing, and you're right because it does, at least initially. In the beginning of the journey you're about to embark on, you will necessarily have to focus on you and everything that made you who you are. You can't accomplish this without looking back from where you've come. It's unavoidable. But you won't have to live simultaneously in the present and the past forever, at least not to such an extreme as is required in your early season of healing. 

Life will seem not to change much, perhaps for a long while. You must expect this so that you can be tender with yourself (or, if you're a multiple, your selves). You must believe, even in the face of no such tangible evidence, that one day you're going to come into your own. You mustn't crack a whip over your own head in a frenzy to force yourself to arrive there before you're ready. Your abuser did that when he introduced you to sexuality on his timetable. You mustn't continue what he started. Forcing yourself to move faster than you are able to along your journey of recovery and healing will stall you out. Healing takes time; it can't be rushed or forced. 

You will have nights when every cunning demon in the universe seems to be whispering your name in your ear like a contemptuous taunt, nights when sleep is like an offended friend who has turned his back on you in disgust, and refuses to return. Nights when you recall with clarity every detail of your abuser: the color of his hair, the pores of his sweaty face, his favorite brand of aftershave which you can smell again there in the night, alone. You will convince yourself that this is all you have to look forward to for the rest of your life: these night time horror fests when bits and pieces of your childhood come up like vomit, and you powerless to stop it.

In spite of this, you mustn't allow yourself to give up your resolution to recover. Though this resolution may not seem like much, it's the strongest thing you own. No one can snatch it from you, it can only be freely surrendered. You may relapse and throw in the towel on an especially hard day, but don't let that rob you of your future. There is a certain rhythm to this process of recovery. You might take one step forward and then fall back five, but that's okay, it's just part of the process and not to be taken as a permanent failure. You're not a failure, no matter how often you stumble. You are stronger than you think: you've already survived the worst thing that ever happened to you!

I've been dealing with my own recovery for close to 15 years, and I can honestly say I never thought I'd be where I am today. And yet there are moments when I despair of ever being totally free of my past. Though it doesn't loom over me in the way it once did, I must face the fact that we can only choose how to deal with our childhoods. We are never quite free of them, though the hold they've had on us can be loosened to such an extent that we can live without remembering the brunt of the abuse every minute of every day. Once we've got some mileage under us along the road of recovery we can choose what to focus on. We can choose, and make little adjustments along the way, because, well, because why not? We're in charge of our lives now!

Some days I just sense that I need to address certain issues. For me that usually means I need to deal with my DID system, something I don't like to do. But for every day like that there are many, many more where I barely think of what was done to me in the first place that made my many personalities necessary in order to survive.

As you head out into the first steps of your oh-so-brave journey, with nothing more than your wobbly resolve to guide you, hear my blessing over you from one overcomer to another:

May you find the footprints of those who have gone before you to help guide your way, and encourage you in the heat of the day and the cold of the night.

May you gift yourself with all the time in the world you need for your journey, remembering it is the journey itself that brings the healing you so yearn for, for there is no destination at which you will magically arrive.

May you allow yourself to be the intelligent, sensitive person you've always been beneath the heavy, dreary weight of trauma and abuse.

May you find like-minded souls for friendship, nurturing and as a source of encouragement along the way.

And, may you some day find yourself on the other side of your worst struggles and fears, standing strong as you cheer others on, away from the past of their victimization into their true place under the sun.

All my best,

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Dec132014

Can't Buy Me Love

Money is so difficult for me to write about. Everyone needs it, just like food and water. In fact in order to have food and water to live, one must have money.

I've explored this subject off and on during my years of blogging, always tracing my discomfort with money issues back to my childhood. This is right, I believe. Just about anything that distresses me can be traced back to that era. But have I truly gotten to the bottom of why money is so emotionally hard for me to deal with?

It's that time of the year again when gifts are exchanged, regardless of one's financial status. I love giving gifts. I used to love Christmas, but, again, I find it has become a burden.

Is it because I'm on a fixed income that Christmas has become such a chore? I've assumed so; certainly having to scrape by doesn't do much for the Christmas spirit.

But is that all  there is to this?

I want to think this through carefully, methodically even, and once and for all pinpoint the heart of my trouble. I'm fed up with having this hanging over me all the time. I hate money; I've assumed I hate it because I never have enough of it, but I wonder. There have been times when I've come into a small windfall, and I didn't enjoy spending it any more than I enjoy spending what I scrape together each month for bills and food.

What is it about money that I identify with in such a basic, and negative way?

My father was poor his entire life. Does that have anything to do with it? My father always scraped by. He never had money in a savings account to fall back on. He scrimped just like I do, barely making ends meet.

My father, during the first 7 years of my existence, was my entire world. Did my sensitive spirit so identify with him that I need, in some twisted fashion, to be wedded to poverty as a means of staying connected to him? Do I think in some dark, narrow hallway of my mind that if I ever became financially stable it would be tantamount to being disloyal to him?

For me money evokes sadness, anxiety, fear, anger and depression. Whether I have it or not, this is what it evokes in me. My first emotion upon touching money is deep sadness. It makes me want to weep. It panics me.

My mother sold me to her hubby for financial security. Of course that's a huge part of this. I used to think it was all of it. I'm not certain of anything now. I doubt it's going to turn out to be that uncomplicated. I think it's that, and a whole bunch of stuff about my dad all squished together.

I hate that I hate money. In a world where one needs it to survive, it's an inconvenience to hate it. Having to deal with this on an ongoing basis is one more source of stress that zaps my little bit of energy.

The other day as I was thinking of getting my memoir published, I realized that my initial feelings of euphoria about being the author of a published book would be nearly instantly replaced with feelings of absolute devastation. It will make me feel like I want to die. Because I sold out, because I capitalized on my sufferings? Maybe. Probably.

The Beatles had it right when they sang, "Can't buy me love . . ." I don't trust the cold, hard nature of money. I don't trust what some people are willing to do for it, what they're willing to sacrifice, even sometimes the well-being of their own children.

I wrote all of the above before Christmas and just now discovered this post. I'm not sure what conclusion, if any, it might have led to. I have nothing to add to it; I'm not agonizing over money at the moment but I will. It's what I always do.

 

Friday
Nov142014

Before Night Closes In

I keep thinking I'll blog again, telling myself several times during the week, "Remember this so you can write about it." But the moment passes, and when I consider it in retrospect it appears too frail, too thin, too hollow.

Yesterday in my car at my granddaughters' school, I sat gazing out at the deserted playground. A brisk wind stirred up leaves and stray bits of paper, and bark dust (which I've always hated because the first time I saw bark dust was after moving to our new house on Brightwood Street).

The slides and swings and play structures looked cold to the touch. I shivered at all that coldness. When I was in grade school I ran and climbed and swung through the playground at school, recklessly and with anger pushing me, shoving my face into the cold air of late autumn or early winter. My coat always hung open, my hands stung with cold. I didn't care. I pushed my little body as hard as I could in an effort to fortify myself against what awaited me . . . at home.

Sitting in my car slightly shivering, I took in everything. The flock of birds which suddenly swept across the sky as if practicing for a professionally choreographed dance number, their flight effortless looking, graceful, gorgeous. No stragglers spoiled the beauty of their flight; they were all perfectly in sync. I watched them fan out then come together with easy precision, and then it was over and they flew back to wherever they'd come from.

The wind blew the swings, giving the illusion that they contained invisible children, pumping their legs fiercely. This led to the thought that I was an invisible child, or at least visible only by a very few: my friends mostly, and the occasional teacher like Mr. Hansen who used to wink at me and call me Blue Eyes. Though come to think of it, he was probably a pedophile which is why he could see me.

But the scene before me is telling me something and I ignore thoughts of my invisibility so as to narrow my focus and capture the nebulous thoughts which suddenly drive me crazy, like an itch I can't scratch. I may not find the source of that itch, but knowing me I'll scratch myself raw in search of it.

The sky is hazy and smoke rises from a distant chimney. A chain link fences separates the playground from the backyards of several homes. I wonder how anyone could like living so close to a school. I see a man enter one of the backyards and wonder about him. Did he move there because he wanted to be close to a school full of kids? I discard the thought, I won't go there, not now. Not now when I'm trying to break through the protective gauze that seems to enshroud my thinking and perception abilities whenever I'm about to feel something about my childhood.

The concrete, the swirling leaves, the metal poles denuded of their tether balls. What does any of it mean? To me. What does any of it mean to me? I see symbolism everywhere. I can't help it; especially where children are concerned everything has some underground meaning. Not always sinister, but I can't afford to take things at face value.

Suddenly a knot of children bursts through the back door of the building, exploding on the playground in a riot of color and noise. They run for the swings and the merry-go-round, the older ones wandering off by themselves to taunt one another or dare each other to do stupid things.

A boy bounces a ball and runs out to the parking lot to retrieve it when it goes too far. Immediately a male teacher yells at him, calls him over and scolds him for a good minute or so. I can see the kid squirm under the teacher's condemnation, and I inwardly squirm with him.

Enough, I tell the teacher silently, let him go. He stopped hearing you about 45 seconds ago.

Released at last, the boy wanders off, his former excitement deflated. He shuffles his feet, head down, keeps to himself while all about him kids scream and laugh and act like little savages while they can, before they are commanded back inside.

How many of them are being abused at home, is what I wonder. I don't want to. I don't want to have to think this everytime I see a group of kids. But I can't help it. It's instinctive with me to wonder this. How many others besides me were being abused back in the early sixties? Did any of them fare better than I?

My concentration is lost to me now, broken by the little boy's scolding and the thought of the kinds of homes some of them will return to later that afternoon. I may never know if the scene before me held some secret it was about to unfold. I'm used to this, used to feeling on the brink of some great or small epiphany which will reveal something withheld from me for decades, and then the fading away as the protective gauze falls back into place. Once more I am left looking at a scene which holds nothing of interest, just some kids I don't know, and dancing leaves which stir within no well-thumbed memories or unrealized longings.

My granddaughters will run out to my car, grinning, hair wild in the wind, their glasses smudged and their backpacks slung carelessly over their vulnerable shoulders. They'll climb into the backseat, excited to tell me the news of the day, quibbling with one another, vying for my attention. My focus now is on driving the five minutes to their home, getting us there safely before night closes in and we are lost forever, out in the cold.

Saturday
Oct112014

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Jun232014

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 . . .