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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
Oct112013

She Says it Like it's a Bad Thing

So what do you think, is my writing too lyrical?

That was the critique I received on a few sample pages (taken from this blog) that I showed to a published writer.

I'm not real sure what too lyrical means. The lack of details was mentioned; I suppose I need to be more graphic in my portrayal of what I went through as a kid, and what I wrestle with today. I can see that there's a certain vagueness when writing about my childhood. I suspect that often that has more to do with DID than anything else. Then too, I'm not and never have been the most logically minded person. My thoughts do tend to wander all over the place. WDylan gets me.hen I try to rein them in my words become stiff with rigidity, and I lose interest in whatever it was I had in mind to say.

One problem with chronicling my childhood is that the majority of my readers are also survivors. I try to use words honestly without unecessarily triggering anyone reading my blog who is fragile and not up to hearing details. And honestly, if you've been through this kind of abuse you don't need details: you know what it's like to have sex forced on you on an adult's timetable.

 

So, lyrical or not? It's hard to be objective about one's own writing. My immediate response to the critique was to snatch the pages back with an indignant, "How dare you!" Perhaps I should have challenged the offender to a duel or, at the very least, slapped her check smartly with a glove. But ah no, that's a whole different era. See how my thoughts meander though?

I've had over a week to ponder this charge or summation or whatever you want to call it of writing lyrically. Right now I'm leaning towards a more subdued response, something along the line of, "So what?" This is not meant in a sarcastic or snotty way. What I really mean is, "Maybe my writing is too lyrical because that's just me, writing how I naturally write."

Some won't care for this kind of writing, and that's okay. They'll find other writers whose words speak to them.

If my work is too lyrical it's possibly the result of all my life trying to rise about the filthy cesspools of abuse and it's aftermath, and find some beauty in the world which deserves my attention.

Too lyrical. I'm not sure if I should be flattered or insulted, but I'm going to choose neither. I'm going to keep writing as I've always done, as the words come to me naturally.

Now that the critique is behind me it occurs to me it could have been really harsh, as in, "What?! You call yourself a writer? This is garbage!"

Lyrical doesn't seem so bad to me. Of course when you add the word "too" in front of it, well that's where the trouble begins. I need to find a way to get rid of that "too" without compromising who I am as a female, a survivor, a human and a writer.

Sunday
Jul282013

A Stifled Grief

This passage from Coleridge's Dejection resonates with me:

 

"A grief without a pang, void, dark and drear,

A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief

which finds no natural outlet, no relief

In word, or sigh, or tear."

 

As an abused child I was forever stifling my grief which, as this poetry excerpt expresses, had no natural outlet. My emotional terrain was a dead-end, a cul-de-sac of withered feelings, thoughts and longings which never saw the light of day.

Drowsiness overtook me whenever I had a break from my many household responsibilities, a lassitude of spirit which left me sleepy with muted sorrow. My mental and emotional languor sapped my physical energy; everything life required of me (everything my abusers required of me) drained me, making the slightest physical exertion seem as if I were walking uphill in cement shoes.

Sometimes--not always, but sometimes--naming the nebulous feelings I experienced during those dreary childhood years helps to solidify them: to give substance and, thus, value to those very feelings I couldn't show to the world.

I sit on my bed thinking on these things, asking myself what I felt immediately following the rending of our family, and the establishment of The King of the Mountain's cruel domain.

I make a mental list, slowly:

  • coldness
  • despair
  • sense of oppression
  • emptiness
  • drowsiness
  • fear of what lay around the next corner
  • desolation
  • the unfamiliar sense of not mattering to anyone

The last item on this list is hard to admit to. Does anyone want to admit to not having value to anyone? This was a new and painful experience for me. I couldn't have, at the time, expressed that uncomfortable feeling had anyone asked for such a description. There were no words with which to do so. I have the advantage now of looking back and seeing some things as they were, but back then I was a confused, traumatized child who had no vocabulary for the evil which had stolen me away from those I loved best.

The Coledridge poem goes on to say:

 

"Late, late yestreen I saw the new Moon,

with the old Moon in her arms;

And I fear, I fear, my Master dear! We shall have a deadly storm."


Oh yes; a new moon had risen and we were in for a mostly deadly storm. I remember the storm in bits and pieces. I saw it rend my world apart. My twig self was swept up in the ferocity of the storm, swept along helplessly as everything and everyone I once treasured was torn limb from limb from me, from me.

I thought today, What if I were to relax my grip on my emotions and begin to let them out? What if? Do I dare?

I haven't, not really, for all these decades. Let them out, experience them, say, "This is how it was and how I feel about how it was. Regardless of how my mother and others may try to revise history, this is the real thing."

I'm no further along with all this than I was, say 5 years ago, because any progress is painfully slow. I must give myself permission in dribs and drabs to uncover the hideous mess I hide so deep inside of me. Caretaker of such grief, I hoard it to me. It must not take on the distorted proportions of a circus sideshow freak--but isn't that what it is, what's it's been all along? I thought, oh I thought all this time that I was the freak, but maybe it's the soured, rank sorrow I've kept squirreled away that is freakish.

A stifled grief. Unshed tears. The New Moon with the Old Moon in its arms. A drowsy sense of desolation: and no outlet, except for what I write here, which is not half the truth, not the whole story nor even a smidgen.

An outlet is what I truly need, and more than I've allowed myself here in this blog where I intended, at its inception, to write truth.

But first before I write it I must feel it.




 

 

 

Saturday
Jul202013

The Challenge of Ordinary Days

 

Growing up with abuse, I learned how to survive the unthinkable. My life became a never-ending battle of endurance: I was David with his sling and pebbles living among the boasting, swaggering Goliaths and, though my heart often quailed with fear, I stood up to the challenges presented by living among savage giants.

These days my life is lived much less intensely and frantically. Problems pop up from time to time, and I’m never free of the aftermath of my frantic childhood. But most of my days are quite ordinary in the sense that I don’t have much drama to contend with; when something unpleasant does arise, I’m more equipped to deal with my little tribulations than I was as a child. I’m discovering that living through the ordinary days which now make up the lion’s share of my life is a challenge in and of itself. Used to the constant fear of what new ordeal awaits me around each corner, and of having to defend myself as best I can, these low-key days are in some ways harder to bear.

Who am I when not contending with inexpressible abuse and sorrows? Is it really okay for me to simply be? I suspect my life lacks purpose because it is no longer lived in constant fear. As my days float by I experience a sense of unreality, as if I’m not really engaged in living at all, but merely watching my life from a distance as a curious spectator. I want to emerge from the trance of childhood and get my hands dirty and my feet wet and muddy from  living in a place of wild abandonment and joy, but I pull back, fearful. Fearful of being punished for my audacity in enjoying anything. Fearful that if I relax and let myself simply be I will dishonor that younger self who didn’t have such luxuries.

There must be some irony in this, in the fact that I’ve come to a place I’ve longed to be in for decades—but can’t unwind enough to fully enjoy it. What did the warriors of old do with themselves when there were no more wars to be fought, or they were simply too old for the fight and hung up their swords and shields? Did they languish in inactivity, lamenting the absence of enemies to be fought and slain? I wonder if they replayed in their imaginations, over and over again, the scenes of their most vivid, dangerous battles, relishing the courage and triumphs of a lifetime. How to replace the old with the new, how to settle for living in peace when war is all one has ever known?

A strange complaint, this, that I should now have to deal with peace! It shames me to admit to my misgivings and sense of discomfort when, for several years, I’ve done nothing much beyond complaining about life’s tribulations and my weariness in facing yet one more!

I suspect there is more to my present day life than I’ve realized. Courage comes in many forms; perhaps I’ve simply failed to recognize the courage it takes for me to face these quieter days. David slew Goliath and was greatly praised, but his greater moments were spent tending sheep in the hills and writing the Psalms which have, down through the ages, comforted and strengthened those who, like me, have needed their steadfast, honest encouragement. And, I remind myself, many of his Psalms were lamentations written when his faith and courage flagged and he felt all raggedy, felt too much the reality and pressures of being human.

Perhaps I’m beginning to discover what it means to be human. I once was a victim who didn’t know how to, or lacked the opportunity to be human. Now it seems I’ve got all the time in the world to learn what escaped me during the wilderness wanderings of my childhood:  how to simply be, and make no apology for doing so.



Friday
Jul052013

I Am Here, I Am There

What would make me happy? I don't ask myself this question often. I know the reason for this is that I grew up with the skewed idea that it was bad to focus on my own happiness. Asking it now seems a bit ridiculous--isn't it too late in the day for such considerations?

I think about happiness and instantly am filled with wistful longings. Something stirs within me, some aching sorrow which briefly dares to hope before being silenced once more. Is this life nothing but sorrow, loss and deprivation? Images of a tainted childhood surface just long enough for me to recoil from them. I'm not that child anymore, I needn't be consumed by such things. This is true, but already my heart is sinking at the equally true thought that I won't be free of those images, not ever.

This is a hard post to write because I don't know how to express what I'm getting at. I'm not simply bewailing my fate. I'm not writing from a sense of entitlement, demanding from life that I get my slice of the pie of happiness. In fact if I could drown out the insistent voice of my deepest sorrows, I would be content. Happiness is over rated, I'd be fine with being free of sorrow's steady dirge. Maybe it's not so much that I long for happiness but that I long to not have every cotton pickin' thing in life ruined by sorrow's insistent lament.

I want to be free to experience life without this constant sense of my joys and pleasures being muffled or suffocated before I've a chance to fully enjoy them. I want to admire a clear blue sky and let that be it, with no undertones of the sky was blue and clear like that the first time my abuser touched me. Why can't I smell ripe blackberries, inhaling the delicious sweetness of them, without being instantly reminded of the wild blackberries which grew in the backyard of my childhood home the year my step dad became King of the Mountain?

Things which hold no menace become menacing to me because of childhood associations. A whiff of after shave, the bloom of a new red rose, the smell of something good on the stove. I am here, I am there. I am both an adult woman in her 50's and a child of 7. I am a nana and I am a redheaded stepchild. My freckled legs are thin as twigs, my legs are flabby with encroaching old age. My small hands lovingly caress my brand new Barbie, my older hands caress the soft skin of a grandchild. My young self recoils at an intruding touch, my older self recoils at the memory of the hot hand searing my child's skin. My 7 year old self cries secretly in the night, my 55 year old self cries secretly in the night. I'm never free of my younger self and she is never free of me, the me who is living in the now and longing desperately to break free of all association with her. I don't want her memories, her fears, her taintedness.

What would make me happy? I think I've figured it out:  to be free of all ties with those who reside within, pulling me down with them into the murky waters of misery which constitute my past. I don't want to drown, I don't want to so much as visit that place. And yet it is alluring, wooing me with the coaxing voice of all things familiar.

 

 

Monday
Jun242013

Dear Me at 11:

Time to dust off that blog post you've always felt didn't receive quite the reception you'd hoped for, and recycle it. Yep, it's time to go green. Go ahead, pick one you'd like to republish and share it with the rest of us! Here's my pick, for all sorts of reasons.

 

Dear Me at 11,

This is a pivotal year for you, the year during which your mother discovers she's married a pedophile. The past 5 years have been overstuffed with heartache, shame and disappointments. But this year you will experience a sorrow unlike any other.

If I could sound a forewarning, something along the lines of, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" (only in this case it would be more like, "Your mother is going to discover your secret, but nothing will change!"), it wouldn't be of much help. No child could believe on the evidence of mere words alone that one's own mother could fail so miserably at her role of Protector and Nurturer. I close my eyes against the memory, against the stricken look which will mar your features, and that heart-wrenching moment in all of eternity when you empty yourself of all feeling and solemnly vow, "I'll have to take care of myself from now on. No one else will, ever." It doesn't occur to you to turn to the God of your childhood with this sorrow, for He is the oldest adult in existence, and you see clearly now that all adults will always stand together, against you. (Besides, how could you befoul His ears with this? Oh, unholy, unholy!)

How steadfastly you stick to your vow! This is hard, serious work, this looking after yourself. You've been doing it for 5 years already without even realizing it. Now that the vow has been made, you chastise yourself for every little stirring weakness, or the dreams which won't quite die a dignified death. Dreams, you know instinctively, are not safe. They make you weak and vulnerable. And so you begin shutting them out of your heart, refusing them admittance. You once dreamed your real father would find you, rescue you from The House of Incest? Not any more. You once dreamed that someone would tell your mother what was being done to you in secret corners, and that she would rise up in holy wrath and smite your enemy? Never again. That dream shattered beyond repair when she told you in a flat voice, "We could send him to prison, but we would have to sell our home and go on welfare."

My heart weeps for you, for the stoicism you wrap about your little self like a threadbare garment. For the nights you can't help but cry yourself to sleep, face muffled in pillow so no one will hear and rebuke you for your tears. You've promised yourself you wouldn't cry, yet there are times when it's your only means of falling asleep.

Oh, you don't even know that you are many, that inside of you resides an underground world of your own making. You won't know this for decades, but never mind. It's enough for now that these others are there for you, making it possible for you to function at all.

From my vantage point of 53 years, I want to tell you that you will get through this. You will live on to experience love and to bring 5 sons into the world. Oh, how you fall in love with them heart and soul in that instant when you first look into their sweet newborn faces! Amazing that you could feel such love, but you do. This is one thing you do right. You will live on to do many things right, but you won't realize it at the time, as accustomed as you are to thinking the worst of yourself.

You will write. That's one dream your mother's indifference and your stepdad's perversions couldn't quite murder. You'll be thrilled to know that you will continue writing, if fitfully, throughout the rest of your lifetime. Sometimes you will write funny stories and poems to make your friends laugh. Sometimes you will pen moving letters which are capable of bringing grown men (including your abuser) to tears. You will write things no one will see, words which have been percolating inside of you for a lifetime. You will never be comfortable writing down the truth about yourself, for your stepdad's tauntings about your writing will always be reverberating inside your head. But as the years go by, it will get easier. You will rediscover your own unique writing voice.

You will make new friends who refute the lies about yourself which you learned by rote in that dreary land of childhood. They will root for you, seeing what you can't see in yourself.

Though you feel with dead certainty that the torment of abuse will last until Kingdom Come, thankfully this is not really the case. Your torments will cease. You will leave that house of incest. And though you will reunite with your real father, making this escape possible, you will be your own rescuer. You have strengths you don't even suspect, and a stubbornness which has refused to give in to defeat. You don't even know how strong you are! There are inner depths you can't fathom, from which you will mine a steely resolve and stubborn refusal to lay down and die.

The time will come, though now it seems like a tale told out of school, when you will divorce yourself from your mother. With the best of intentions, you will hang on to your relationship with her for decades, assuming this to be your duty. But the time will come, I'm telling you, when you will rise up against her continued mistreatment of you as she never rose up on your behalf against your abuser's criminal misconduct.

You will live to laugh and dream; you will hold your grand babies in your arms and croon them to sleep, or coax them into sweet smiles. You will pick yourself up again and again, and have the utter audacity to keep on keeping on. You will close your ears to the dire predictions of your accusers, of those who wish nothing good for you and who take pleasure in your downfall. You will savor the little things in life, knowing their true value. You will dance to your own music, and relish the company of those who delight in your well being.

You will discover that an open (but discerning) heart is more to be valued than the stoicism at which you've become so adept. Yes, you will dare to get up each morning with nothing but the dinky mustard seed of faith wedged in your heart. Others will ask, "How do you do it?" You will shake your head, wondering that yourself. You will despair of life, you will embrace it; you will mourn lost dreams; you will find new ones. You will sorrow for your murdered childhood; you will invest in the well-being of your grandchildren. You will sigh. You will sing. You will dare to disturb the universe.

You will.