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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)

Monday
Sep052011

Cycle of Shame

My mother was seven when her five year old brother died from complications resulting from an ear infection. The complication was that their mother made no effort to get him to a doctor in time to treat the infection before it spread to his brain.

Depending on which version of the story one believes (Sissyface and I have both heard different accounts), my grandmother was either too lazy or too drunk to be bothered with caring for her children. Neighbors, who knew that the little boy was running a high fever, badgered her to get him to a doctor. This all took place against the backdrop of the Great Depression; my grandfather worked two jobs to try to keep food on the table. I imagine he entrusted the care of their sick son to his wife, never dreaming she would ignore the high fever, or fail to be moved by the blood trickling out of the little boy's ear.

My grandmother would lie in bed (drunk or not) all day, jumping up and getting dressed only minutes before her husband was due home. He couldn't have known what went on in his absence. I want to excuse him in this matter, but the truth is that I never knew my grandfather all that well. For all I know he could have been as apathetic as my grandmother.

One day during this time period my mother was walking down their street and a neighbor lady asked her what her mother was doing--lying in bed? My mother's quick reply was, "Oh no, she's cooking supper for us."

I can guess at the scorn heaped upon the family by disapproving neighbors, and I don't have to wonder if it seeped into my mother's little soul, wounding her spirit.

On a recent visit to Sissyface my mother (who is experiencing the early stages of dementia) kept repeating, "I had a very unloving mother."

All of her life my mother has worried about "what the neighbors will think." This concern has been the driving force of her life. I don't think I understood its origins until Sissyface and I discussed Mom's visit, and how she kept bringing up that terrible time during her childhood.

Early in life she learned the shame of belonging to a family which didn't do things the "right" way, and as a result of that shame she also learned how to dissemble in order to preserve some facade of normality.  After her brother died, and her little sister was old enough to walk, my grandmother locked both girls out of the house each day, as soon as their father left for his two jobs, and left the care and protection of the youngest child to my mother.

The roots of shame go deeper than any of us can fathom, molding one's outlook on life as well as one's sense of self-worth. In my mother's case I believe it's safe to conclude that she came out of that childhood with no true sense of worth. As I write these words I pull back from the urge to excuse all of her wrongs against her own children based on the shame instilled in her by a mostly absentee father, and a mother who hadn't a nurturing bone in her body. I pull away because I, the redheaded stepchild for so many years, chose a different route with my own children. I chose to nurture them rather than see them as burdens.

Did I as a young mother possess an inner strength my mother simply lacked? Is it as simple as that and, if so, does that mean that she couldn't help being such a non-nurturing, non-protecting mother? What role does choice play in the ways in which we choose to deal with the aftermath of childhood abuse and trauma?

I can't help wondering if my mother could have done better, and simply chose not to.

Let's say she really couldn't have done any better, given the circumstances of her own upbringing. Even so couldn't there have come a time in the decades since she was raising her brood that she began to see the damage she inflicted? Does being an unloved child preclude all clarity in later years? If that were the case, though, I wouldn't have any clarity myself.

The cycle of shame doesn't run down on its own, it must be brought to a halt by someone. Someone not willing to take the easy way out of past generations. Someone who won't settle for their kids having the same miserable childhood they themselves stumbled through.

I don't know, but I hope I'm that someone. I hope some decisions of mine have created a better quality of life for future generations, and better equipped my sons to be the kind of loving, nurturing and protecting parents every child needs and deserves.

 

 

Tuesday
Apr262011

The Fraternity of Survivors

Who do I write my poetry for? Well, mostly for myself. Primarily for me. But because so much of it gets published on Redbubble and sometimes here on my blog, I obviously have an audience. And so it's more accurate to say that I write poetry for myself and for abuse survivors everywhere. (Not that I see myself as some kind of crusader, or think that my voice speaks for all those struggling with the same issues of recovering from childhood abuse.)

I don't know if I like using the word audience in reference to those who read my work. Maybe readers would be more to the point. Because the majority of what I write focuses on abuse and its aftermath, I sure don't want to think of it as being a form of entertainment for anyone! Through my poetry I share the journey from the status of my redheaded stepchild self all the way to the person I am today, the one who sits at the computer and tries, however fumblingly, to express the inexpressible so that others will hear my horror story and in the hearing, some difference will be made for the future of some little child. Perhaps an inner child who hasn't begun to heal, or for some real life boy or girl who can't speak for themselves. I don't know. I don't know if anything I write makes a difference but I have to believe it does. And in the process of writing this post I'm discovering that even as I write primarily to express my pain and anger, giving myself permission to do so as I go along, I am at the same time giving that same permission to anyone reading my words who has never been told that it's okay to tell.

But back to the whole issue of speaking out on behalf of other survivors. Though I don't pretend (or aspire) to being a spokesperson on the subject of abuse, I know that every time I share my own personal pain and experiences I am speaking too for those who have no voice. This isn't deliberate--it comes with the territory of the particular mental/emotional pain associated with sexual abuse. Those of us who survived it belong to a fraternity of sorts. We didn't join up for it; our abusers initiated our lifetime membership in this exclusive club. Because there are many of us, none can speak of our pain and truths without it affecting the others. In some way, however intangibly, your tale of woe affects me. What I say and what I write about my truth has a bearing on your life, and your kids' or grandkids' lives. That's the wonderful thing about finally finding our voices and daring to speak out! Truth and justice have no less of an effect on lives than do perversion and abuse.

Are there any keywords, subjects or phrases regarding abuse and/or its long aftermath that needs to be explored more indepth, I can't help but wonder.  Which aspects of abuse have been overshadowed by those which are of a more overt nature? I tend to write about the obvious--but what of the not so obvious lying deep beneath the surface, perhaps even buried for decades? Will it ever be excavated and brought to the light of day?

I'd love to get some feedback on this. Anything to encourage myself as well as others to spill the beans about the particular hell of this horrific epidemic which has infiltrated our nation.

Tuesday
Mar012011

Those Who Tried to Love Me

Those of us struggling to overcome the pain of an abusive childhood eventually come to the realization that our losses are nearly unfathomable. While I can readily reel off the typical losses, such as loss of innocence, loss of trust, etc. it's taken me decades to see that my entire life has been saturated with the pain of losses, both big and small.

For instance, I haven't given much thought to how my own issues have affected those around me, whether it be siblings, friends or a husband. While I can't help but trace many of my sons' problems back to my ineptness as a mother (for I was so broken, how could my childhood not have had a profound affect on them?), I've seldom realized just how difficult it must have been for others who have tried to love me. Loved me, maybe, but beyond a certain point they simply couldn't go the distance despite vows of eternal love and/or friendship.

Those I've lost not because I chose to end our relationship in order to protect myself, but because they decided it was too much for them to be involved in my life--how can I possibly count such losses? Would they have hung in there with me if I had myself more together or if there was only one me living in a constant state of chaos? How much does my DID play into this, and if it's a big factor in whether or not someone desires to share my life, what can I do about it?

I'm sad today because I know that I've lost many people I wouldn't have parted ways with if only . . . if only my childhood had gone differently. I know it's no good wishing things had gone differently, but there it is. I know that had I been loved and valued as a child, there would be people in my life today who have instead chosen to part company with me. And the ones I left behind? Men, mostly. Maybe I would have been capable of loving one of them, until death do us part, had I not been robbed of my virginity, robbed of myself so many decades ago.

Today I'm going to honor my need to feel this deep sadness. Is this a kind of mourning? Am I exhibiting signs of grief? I don't know, but whatever it is I feel the desire to go with the feeling, no shame attached. I've loved and lost, and that's something worth not only writing about, but feeling to the core of my soul.

 

 

Monday
Feb142011

Don't ask, Don't tell

My family of origin was certainly ahead of its time. Long before President's Clinton Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the US military*, we had our own little version locked snugly in place. What it consisted of was a mother who didn't ask the questions she should have been asking (especially after discovering her hubby's favorite hobby), and a houseful of children who were threatened and told, "Don't Tell!"

I don't mean to keep harping on my mother's recent letter, but snippets of it keep coming back to me, and every time they do my perspective changes a bit. More than ever I'm determined to use my writing voice to speak out against (dare I say "rage against") the abuses which devastated my childhood. When I ponder the book of poetry I had published a few months ago, I see each poem as a unique facet of a rough diamond. Each facet describes a different aspect, or face, of abuse. For instance, Holy Ground expresses the incongruity of my mother's faithful church attendance against the backdrop of her failure to tend to, and protect, the little ones God had placed in her keeping. In After the Storm I explored what it was like being a witness to my stepdad's violence against my brother. The fact that such an ugly explosion of rage could shatter our family, but never be discussed; the fact that we could even sit around the dinner table, pick up our forks, and chew our food as if nothing had happened, is astounding (and most distressing!)

I tried to convey in my little poem Debut how it felt to be the daughter of a mother who had always shown me a degree of dislike and rejection. Someone once told me that in order for her to have not protected me when she knew of the abuse, there must have been some dynamic going on long before that. I think he was right. I think that--for whatever reason--I was always the pebble in my mother's shoe. With What You Have Taken I stubbornly stated my stance that although my stepdad had stolen from me what he could, he wasn't able to strip me of my most valuable possession: my authentic self.

While I didn't write these poems intending for them to be a unit, or to be these separate facets of the rough diamond I mentioned earlier, that's indeed what they've become. Viewed as a whole they also become a window into the interior of childhood abuse. This is the face of abuse, my poems cry out. Here are its colors and soul-stealing dirges, here its raw textures of bruised and broken skin, and blood, sweat and tears.

When you live in a House of Secrets the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is strictly enforced; it has to be in order for all the ugly, smelly things to be kept under the carpet where they belong. With my mother's last communication to me comes the accumulation of decades of secret keeping reaching its bursting point. I won't be keeping any more secrets, or covering up for anyone else. Let what they have done stand for what it is, and leave me be; I'm impatient to immerse myself in the next poem or story, knowing that my one little voice can uncover and dislodge (for someone, somewhere) mountains of disgusting, hidden things.

 

 

* I'm using this phrase loosely to describe the secrecy of a home where child abuse is kept hidden and unvoiced. My use of this slogan is in no way intended to be a slur on anyone in the service of our country.

 

Sunday
Jan302011

This would be deliciously suspenseful only in the movies...

I went to Sissyface's today because I owe her a cleaning session (meaning she's already paid me for it), but the same thing happened as it did last weekend: we never got around to actually doing any cleaning. This time though it was because I asked a couple of childhood related questions, which got that particular ball rolling in a direction we couldn't get away from for about 3 hours.

The first thing I learned during our conversation? That recently my mother contacted her at work, asking for my address. Sissyface, who understandably doesn't like to be put into the middle of things, told her that she didn't feel comfortable giving out that information. Long story short, my mother is mailing her a letter to give to me regarding some things she "needs to say."

My mind is reeling with possibilities. What would my mother, nearing the age of 80, suddenly feel the need to say to me? If it's an apology I do hope it's more heartfelt than the measly one I received a couple of years ago. Is there some missing puzzle piece to my childhood which she finally wants to supply me with? I tell myself not to get my hopes up. Not only is she old, with a bad memory, but with all the intricate cover-ups and lies she's perpetuated for decades, I wonder if she even knows the truth herself at this point. But if I could choose to have her answer one thing it would be: why was I kept from my dad and brothers for 7 years? Was it to punish my dad, or me? Was it because she knew from the get-go that my stepdad was a pedophile, and she didn't want to risk my spilling the beans? Was it simply apathy towards me that drove her to ignore my need to interact with my own flesh and blood? This is all I want from her, the explanation I don't imagine I'll ever get.

It could be my mother has her own set of recriminations she's never allowed herself to voice. Perhaps as she enters her twilight years she feels a sort of devil-may-care recklessness, not caring if the writing of these recriminations cause me more mental and emotional anguish. I don't suppose she's ever cared much about how things have affected me. And then another possibility is simply that her conscience is once again bothering her, and she wants me to absolve her of all guilt.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile can probably guess I'm not about to tell my sister to burn the letter, I don't care what's in it, my mother can go to hell. Nope, that's not gonna happen. I've too much curiosity to not read it, and a tiny flicker of hope that there might be something in there that will make some kind of difference to me in my ongoing journey of recovery.

I learned that when my sister was about 3 my mother let her wander around the neighborhood at will. There was a bachelor living across the street, who my mom and stepdad didn't like, but somehow it was ok for Sissyface to spend hours alone with him in his home. He would sometimes wrap her up in the blankie she brought along, and carry her out to his camper in back and feed her raw sunflower seeds. (Worth noting: my mother walked in on her hubby molesting me when she was pregnant with Sissyface, at which time she accused him of also having abused my stepsister, Doreen, in like fashion. This means she knew she'd married a pedophile (assuming she didn't already know it); she knew that some men couldn't be trusted alone with children--yet my sister was allowed to spend hours alone with a grown man!)

When I was living at home and had to use the second bathroom (off the playroom) to get ready for school, my stepdad often burst in on me and molested me. I learned today that when my two younger sisters were about 6 and 8 (I had long ago moved out), Mom decided to use the playroom as their bedroom. They hated it; they begged her not to move them, but of course she did. Sissyface told me that they always considered that bathroom to be haunted, and avoided using it as much as possible. Also, during this period of time when one of them had to go into the hallway off of the living room to use the main bathroom, the other always went along for protection for they were scared to pass by the master bedroom.

When my stepdad was dying of bone cancer and decided to kill himself, he made my teenaged brother bring him his gun, which my brother at first kept refusing to do. Finally he gave in, tears streaming down his face, but also brought him a Bible. (Of course he never went through with the suicide.)

The rest of what I learned today is rather a blur. I can't hardly think of anything but the letter which should be arriving in the next few days. I dread it more than words can tell: even my mother's handwriting is enough to throw me off balance for a week. But I need it. I need the letter, regardless of its contents, for it will probably be the last communication from my mother. And that makes whatever it contains all the more potent. Will this be the time she bares her soul and tells the truth? Will it be so full of resentment and hatred that I will know, at last, and without any more doubt, that she never did ever love or want me?

It's nearly February (the hardest month for me), which means I'll be receiving the letter in the month I most hate (which only incidentally is the month of my mother's birth date.) I wonder, just wonder (mind you), and I'm not hinting at all, but for once couldn't one of my parts take over for me? I mean really, completely take over so that I'm absent for about a week?

Crud. I'm burnt.