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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)

Friday
Jun202014

Full Circle

I.


I watch my father's bowlegged walk back to his car, alone. Snow falls like a soft scolding, dusting his bare head and the shoulders of his coat as he reaches in his pocket for the keys. My knees dig into the scratchy couch fabric as my intense gaze out our living room window wills him back inside, willing him to burst through our front door and scoop me into his arms and carry me, as if I'm delicate from swooning for want of him, out into the snow the snow the snow.

Headlights burn into the gauzy night,  burn a bleak light on the white humpbacked bushes bracketing our front walk. As the windshield wipers jerk to life and his car begins to back out of our graveled drive, my heart lurches. There are no words to call him back. There will be no words with which to woo him back to me and I, little and drooping against the couch, my skin hot with sorrow, am ignorant of the fact that I won't see him again for 7 long years.


II.


Late one night when the house has been hushed for hours, Willie Ray sneaks into my room.   I awaken with a start to his hands undressing me; he doesn't need to hiss at me to be quiet, I already know better than to cry out.

My body thrums with fear; I squeeze my eyes against the sight of him bending over me, his face flushed with desire. When I am naked he tells me to get up. As I do, he grabs the sheet from my bed, drapes it over me, and scoops me up in his arms. Without a word we begin an unholy journey. He carries me through the kitchen,  mother's meticulously clean domain, where I see by the teapot wall clock that it is just after 3 am. How odd everything looks to me in the dead of the night, being carried naked through its modern banality. The window over the sink is but a blur as Willie Ray nudges open the playroom door with his shoulder. Our destination is the laundry room off of the garage. There I am plopped down on top of the washing machine whose surface is so cold it shocks me through the thin sheet.

A variety of odors assaults my nose as I sit hunched on the washing machine, closing my eyes to whatever comes next. At the squeak of the playroom door opening, Willie Ray swears softly and snaps off the light before hurrying into the garage, leaving the laundry room door open a crack.

Through the open slit of the door I  see him standing casually in the middle of the garage while  Mom says, "What in the world are you doing out here at 3 am?"  

With hands in his pockets, Willie Ray gazes up at the ceiling. "I was  thinking I could build some kind of shelving for storage up there."

"Well for heaven's sake, that can wait. Let's get back to bed."  

They move from my line of vision; I hear the shuffle of her slippers, a loud whispered contrast to  the smack of his hard soled shoes on the concrete floor. In my mind's eye I follow them all the way to the door. When the light goes out I give a hiccup of a sob. Darkness looms like another presence, pushing up against me from every side like a taunting bully. The only sound  is my heartbeat pounding in my ears, as thunderous as the summertime sound of metal skates up and down Brightwood Street.

In the soupy darkness my hand flies to my knee scab, like anxiety to a worry stone, seeking its puckered comfort. My stiff fingers read its bumpy landscape like another kind of Braille. My naked body begins to shiver, a mini earthquake that starts at my tailbone and works it way all the way up my body until my teeth chatter. Am I trembling from the cold, or from the growing realization that Willie Ray may come back to finish what he started? Whether or not he does, in the meantime here I am trapped inside the laundry room, dark as a pocket,  with its smells of bleach, detergent and wet diapers, picking at my knee scab.


III.


Do all journeys eventually come to an end?

This is what it is. It's not that I think I'm still that little girl, stuck in that laundry room, terrified of  the dark and what awaited me if I lingered there, or what awaited me if I tried sneaking back inside.

It's not that I think I'm still the broken-hearted 7 year old who watched her daddy walk to his car in the snow, his headlights intruding on my sorrow.

I know I am in the here and now.  It's not a matter of grounding myself, of reminding my parts that it's now 2014 and we're safe, all safe. But in a very real sense I am that little girl, hunched naked, picking at her scab. I am the one on the scratchy couch, limp with loss.

I haven't been able to make a home for myself here, in this apartment. I'm out of do-overs. I've lost my touch, or more accurately my motivation.

This isn't my home, I lost that decades ago and there is no going back in time and regaining anything.

Home wasn't a place, home was my father.

Home was the safety and comfort of his presence. I get that now. When he was lost to me I lost all ability to ever feel at home anywhere.

I've tried over the years. I've made each home as cosy as possible, but when night falls and I'm alone again, and I really might as well still be that naked little girl hunched over the washing machine waiting to be raped, well who am I kidding. This is not a home; none of the places I've moved to with regularity have truly been home, it was all make believe because, really, what else was I to do?

I am not healed. My sorrow is still raw, my wound gaping.  I've come full circle, after having spent decades thinking I was out-running my childhood.

None of us want sympathy or validation or anything of the sort, it's just that I knew if I didn't write this out something bad would follow. It always does.

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.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Mar122014

Not So Unbroken

D. was the infant sister two years before Sissyface came along. She was the newborn, and I the 10 year old who cringed everytime my mother pushed her basinet all the way through the house, to shut her in the second bathroom, in the dark, to cry her little heart out.

Hearing just a couple days ago that she was coming to town, I realized with surprise that we hadn't seen one another in nearly 25 years. How was that possible?

Possible, I had to admit to myself, because this is not someone I've ever been close to, nor felt comfortable with. In fact, the lack of connection is due to that sense of discomfort in her company. When I was in my early 30's we hung out together infrequently, and D. never failed to ridicule me in front of whoever else was around.

Not unlike her father, my abuser.

Tonight after spending time with this sister I barely know, I feel like there's something I should do, some act of contrition like repentance. One look at her told me more than I wanted to know. This was someone broken and sad, someone who--from what Sissyface has told me--has never wanted to deal with her childhood.

And look at her, I kept thinking. Look at how subdued she is compared to her former outgoing self. She gave me a huge hug, a hug when years ago she would never have touched me or shown the least affection.

We sat down on the couch together and she immediately asked if I was still writing. When I said yes, she wanted to know what kinds of things I write, but we got interrupted and I didn't have a chance to answer. She wanted to know how I spent my time; she seemed capable now of seeing me. Perhaps for the first time since we both left childhood behind us, she could see a person when she looked my way rather than just an opportunity to make others laugh at my expense.

It's an odd thing to see a sister after so much time. She's lost too much weight; she's fought certain battles, her voice doesn't even seem to belong to her. I see in her mannerisms bits and pieces of the mother I try constantly to forget about.

I fussed and fretted about this visit, so afraid she would find something in my appearance to scoff at. I'm older and heavier, there's no denying it. I determined to expect the worst, to take it with good grace and then never see her again.

I used to beg my mother to let me hold D. so she would stop screaming, but she wouldn't let me. Now she seems like a frail shell of her former self. I could scoop her up and carry her around with me, tuck her into my bed beneath my electric blanket, and serve her bowls of chicken soup made by hand, and with love.

I could brush the hair out of her eyes, bring her tissues for random tears, and read to her from a worn copy of The Velveteen Rabbit.

What did it cost me in that old House of Incest to hear my new sister screaming for hours, and to see no compassionate adult come to her rescue? Did I have to harden my heart a little towards her, so I could bear it?

Illinois, 24 years ago. We were living within about half an hour of one another. She invited me out to lunch one day and asked me, abruptly, as I took a bite of my sandwich, "When you left home when you were 15, why did you leave the rest of us kids there? Why didn't you rescue us from the abuse?"

Stalling, I chewed slowly on my sandwich. My thoughts were all over the place; I felt mostly confusion. Did I know they were being abused? How could I know that and do nothing?

Relief flooded me when I realized I hadn't known, nor even so much as suspected that my stepdad was also abusing them. I clearly recalled feeling that the reason he singled me out for abuse was because I wasn't his own flesh and blood. I began to tell this to D., but she'd already lost interest in my answer. One look at the closed expression on her face told me that we would probably never ever have even that much of a conversation about our childhoods again.

I wonder now, has it all caught up with her? Have the nightmares started? Does she suffer from abreactions, from PTSD?

I think everyone lives better than I ever do. I mean that in the sense of, I think everyone else has life all figured out, and they're on top of things. As I fumble along, they stride confidently without missing a step. If they ever had childhood issues to deal with, they've long since dealt with them and resolved them. This is how I imagine others live, especially those I'm related to. I thought I would have to sit through a painful few hours with an arrogant, snide sister, then go home to lick my wounds. I thought I'd take one look at her and hate her for being so together, so sophisticated, so unbroken.

She's not unbroken, she's hurting. Her eyes are haunted and I detected a nervousness about her. I've never known her before to come across as nervous and unsure of herself. Was she afraid of how I would respond to her? It seems laughable to me that she would care what I think of her, that I would have any kind of power over her.

No, she's not unbroken. She's lost, she's frail, she needs something. She's a stumble-bum, just like me.

 

 

 

Sunday
Jan262014

Sneak Peeks

My sorrow spans over 5 decades. Why then--why now--this sudden searing pain, or the nebulous memories which float just out of reach when I close my eyes to sleep?

There in that house to which my mother brought me the atmosphere reeked of . . . of what? I can nearly feel its substance as if I were there right now, rather than my 7 year old self. Didn't it wrap itself about me like a grimy cloak I couldn't rid myself of?

That atmosphere haunts me. Arrogance, yes. A sense of entitlement. What else? What, I can't help wondering, must my mother have been feeling? A heady sense of freedom after having broken free of her 10 year marriage to my dad? Perhaps even a sense of glee, giddily shared with my stepdad, her partner in crime. Did they exult in having wrested everything from my father: his marriage, his kids, his furniture? I wonder if they exulted like two cats who had caught the canary, and if it's that what so clutched at my little heart. Did I pull back, inwardly at least, with repugnance?

The air was warm then, spring I think. It smelt clear and clean. My mother wore a perfectly coiffed hairdo, and jaunty clothes she hadn't owned when she was with my father. Last year when I viewed those old home movies, filmed during the immediate aftermath of my mother's defection from her marriage, I blinked at my mother's non-remembered beauty. I'd forgotten it, perhaps because her not so beautiful acts towards me overshadowed everything.

I'd watched the movie and wondered at the coy looks she sent my stepdad. Her manner towards him reminded me of a woman who has done wrong in a big way but is determined to deflect the attention of others away from that wrong through the venue of her feminine charms. Was she trying to convince my stepdad of her innocence, when he was as guilty as she? Her children, then? But we weren't taken in by her flirtatious manner (surely a sight to behold!), nor by her expensive outfits and mock carefree manner. She was off, the situation was off somehow, and we knew it.

I close my eyes to nap and a small groan escapes me.

I've only been able to recall those days through a grainy type of mist, thankfully, for the mist has shielded me from seeing more than my heart can take. Now it seems as though for a split second here and there I glimpse the scenes with all my senses engaged: the smell of the clean spring air, the sun glinting off of my mother's red hair; the stepdad's abrasive laugh, the crunch of our graveled drive beneath my sneakered feet and--fast forwarding--the touch of snowdrops on my nose and the non-taste of them on my tongue.

It's ok, I tell myself, to admit how much damage you suffered. It's ok to tell the truth of it, to allow yourself to feel  what you remember of it, to allow your body its memories and your emotions theirs as well.

It's ok to see your gaping wound and admit it's never healed. It's ok.

Do I dissociate to avoid the full brunt of these weighty memories, or is it the memories themselves which cause the dissociation? Are my alters working for or against me? Are they as traumatized as I am and, if so, is that why I can only catch sneak peeks at what my life had withered away to back there in that slug infested house of shame?

Tuesday
Jan142014

Here in This House of Pain

While reading a new (to me) blog about--what else--DID, something triggered memories of that bittersweet 60's suburb into which I was thrust, or transplanted, as a 9 year old.

I wanted to love my new home and neighborhood, I longed to revel in having come up in the world, which really meant, as poor as we'd been under my father's negligible provision, that what we didn't have was no longer a primary topic of conversation.

We had plenty now. Plenty of food, plenty of room to move about our spacious home, a generous backyard and oh, yes, plenty of money to cover all the bills.

As I started to say, I wanted to love this new, updated version of my life. There were moments when, fickle to myself, cheating on myself so to speak, I turned traitor and allowed myself to be grateful our living room wall to wall was such a pretty color, and that my mother, now that she had extra spending money with which to decorate as she pleased, turned out to have an excellent eye for line and color. Our home was just so. There were no scuffed surfaces, warped cupboard doors or linoleum so threadbare that you couldn't even tell if there was supposed to be some kind of pattern.

And the order pleased me, secretly. A little bit I allowed myself to come off my high horse long enough to begrudgingly admit (to myself) that it wasn't so bad having our first sliding glass door which led to our first ever patio, which in turn led to our first fenced-in yard.

Was I being a little Judas Iscariot to my father if the way the sun streamed through my bedroom window mid-morning pleased me? The fact that I loved how the varnished hardwood floor of my room felt against my bare feet may not have meant I had the blackest of all hearts, full of greed and treachery, but it sure felt so.

I spent years doing this awkward dance of allowing our home and its environs, and its creature comforts, to court me, only to pull away suddenly into some private place deep within where I lived within another house of sorts: the house of pain containing the shrine constructed to not ever forget my beloved father, and two brothers.

My house of pain asked nothing of me. It was a retreat when I needed retreating, as often I did. Because it asked nothing of me except, perhaps, that I see and feel and remember, it felt safe.

I saw within its recesses that surfaces could not be trusted. The homes I'd lived in with my mother and father (before he became an outcast) were one rental home after another where nothing matched, floors sloped, walls were crooked and something was always breaking down. Yet love shone its best self all around those drafty rooms, turning them into a place where I too shone best. And now here, here in suburbia where some things of a purely surface nature pleased me, well here the only things that shined were the spiffy new appliances. As tucked in neat and warm as we were each night, far from the mean streets of poverty with all its resultant cares, we--adults and children alike--withered, our spirits growing listless with the kind of spiritual rot that happens when things do all the shining.

The necessity for doing my clumsy little dance toward the spiffy and modern, before plunging back down into my house of pain, was one more burden I learned to carry silently throughout my days and nights, season after season. I didn't know, as I do now, that the house of pain was really a home for my alters. I hadn't met them yet; I thought I was alone in trying to keep some kind of balance between the new and the old, the loved and the merely tolerated. Oh my heart, how I secretly grieved and moaned in that old house, how I lamented and keened and wailed until the time came, and it wasn't long in coming, when the emotion seemed to have died right out of me, just poof! and it was gone. Gone? Dispersed among many, maybe. But gone to me, never to be mine again, never again to be the keeper of my own sorrow and shame and cutting loneliness.

And now I am old, or so the world would have me believe, and though the house of pain has been renovated once or twice, it is still a den of darkness and of all things we don't mention in polite society. And I am wondering whose sorrow, whose shame, whose rage do I keep putting on like an old garment, only to find it doesn't fit before I throw it from me as if it's a writhing snake?