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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 family dysfunction (22)


Loneliness and Needs

I'm lonely.

Because this is so the subject of loneliness has been on my mind recently. Before I explore the nuances of loneliness, I want to figure out something that's bothered me for quite some time.

For years my son who has brain injuries has been visiting me on the weekends. Sometimes I take him to Subway because that's what he's craving for lunch. He sells one of his video games, and then uses the money to buy lunch for himself, and one of his brothers.

I've watched as time after time he's come out of Subway carrying two sandwiches, one for him and one for his brother. There have been times I would have loved a sandwich too, though Subway isn't my favorite place to eat. But I've been hungry enough to where even one of their sandwiches sounds good.

One day, as I watched T and his brother wolfing down their sandwiches, I couldn't hold back.

"Why do you always get your brother a sandwich?" I asked.

T said, "Because he's my brother and I don't want him to go hungry."

He went back to eating while I mulled that over.

"Okay, that makes sense, but what about me?"

"What about you?"

"What if I'm hungry too!"

This came out of me in a rush of hot words, indignant on my own behalf. How could he ignore my needs time after time, and see only his brother's?

"Oh," he said, "I didn't think of that. Do you want half of mine?"

Instantly I felt guilty for making him feel bad, for that wasn't my intention. I wasn't even sure what I meant to say to him, but surely something beyond the simple assertion that I might be hungry too.

I've given all of this a lot of thought because it's created a lot of confusion mentally, and emotionally. On one hand I know that T loves me dearly. He wouldn't deliberately do something that would make me feel bad. And yet . . . how do I reconcile his love for me with the way in which he consistently overlooks my needs?

As I ponder the subject of needs I am instantly focused on my childhood, for surely in that land of trauma and sorrow I was taught that my needs--if they existed at all--were selfish and insignificant. It wasn't made clear to me what to do with the needs that I couldn't help feeling, except that I was not to burden others with them. I wasn't to speak of them or assert them in any manner. I was to demur, always, to my stepfather, then my mother, and then my younger siblings. I was low man on the totem pole, and if any of my needs that went beyond a roof over my head and food on the table were met, it was always a fluke.

Light dawned on me as I considered all of this. As a child I became an expert at erasing myself. I existed to serve others, and it's clear to me that this extended years later to my years spent raising 5 sons. I didn't spoil them, but I also didn't make clear to them that even their mother has needs that should be considered. How could I? I'd forgotten myself that this was so.

T never offered to buy me lunch because I've come across all his life as being self-sufficient. He's not selfish, he simply didn't have any way of knowing that I wanted to be included in his generosity.

So what has my loneliness got to do with any of this? Suddenly it is so very clear to me that it's a sign that a huge need isn't being met. Because I'm such an expert at hiding my needs that even one of my sons doesn't recognize that I too might like a sandwich, my need for human companionship has simmered on the back burner, as ignored as a redheaded stepchild.

I feel a lack of emotional connection most when I experience something--the reading of an emotionally stimulating novel, or watching an uplifting movie--and there is no one to discuss it with afterwards. The necessity of stifling my needs has created a degree of solitude I believe to be unhealthy. I've always enjoyed my own company, but when taken to an excess being solitary begins to wither the affections and heart.

I've felt something was off for quite some time; it feels rather silly to say it's simply that I'm lonely! I wonder how bad loneliness must get before it turns into a kind of soul rot?

I think a first step for me is to be more vocal with my needs when they arise, and when appropriate. There is nothing wrong with letting my son know that I'd like to be in the loop too. I don't really have to wait until indignation compels an angry outburst. I can speak the truth calmly in a non-confrontational manner.

What a delicious realization! I not only have the freedom (if only I'll take it) to express my needs, but I can do so without making others somehow to blame for those needs not being met sooner. I can speak up on my own behalf--and it doesn't have to be in the abusive manner of my childhood abuser.



The Girl I Used to Be

When something stirs up my memory, reminding me of that period of time just before I began having kids, most of what I recall is depressing. The truth is, I've rather blurry memories of those times, and it's just as well. I was young (16), living across the country from my family with no friends, and the person I chose to begin a family with hurt me in nearly every conceivable way.

Sometimes it doesn't seem possible I even existed back then. Possibly I didn't for the memories are so ethereal at best. I get a sense of loneliness, for instance but not what I may have done to try to staunch it, or I remember the color of one room of our apartment, but not whether we had curtains at the windows, or matching living room furniture, or even if I bothered hanging things on the walls. I couldn't imagine now living without my familiar things, but I draw a blank when attempting to bring back a sense of what things I chose to have around me then. I know I was in the dark about my DID, but even so I must have felt the need for something to ground me. What could it have been, though? Was I merely a shell, existing without feelings about much of anything?

The odd thing about not remembering my environment is that I've always had near total recall of places I've lived. The smallest details have stuck with me, but not from this particular season of time, which lasted about 6 years.

My niece recently posted this photo of me on FB. That's my future hubby's hand on my shoulder; he's been cut out of the photo. I can't imagine that anyone but I would have done that. I must have cut him out and then sent her mother the picture.

I haven't seen this photo since it was first developed. What a shock to see me as I looked then! What I do remember is having no fixed opinions about anything, or if I did they were tucked out of sight where they wouldn't offend. I didn't rock boats, I didn't insist I be treated with respect. As bad as this sounds I felt like a thing. I took up space in the world, that couldn't be helped. I moved and breathed and quietly did whatever I had to do so that my movements wouldn't be offensive. I didn't believe I had any right to assert myself in any manner, and so I didn't.

Well, what struck me first about this photo (aside from the fact that it was taken so long ago that I didn't have any kids yet) is the fact of how happy I look. I know I wasn't. But look at me, standing there smiling, posing with my future hubby in his brother and sister-inlaw's kitchen where so often I babysat for them because they needed someone, but couldn't afford to pay anyone.

This is where we used to hang out even when I wasn't babysitting, the home we visited where fried potatoes were made often, evoking deep longings within. I'm not sure what those frying taters symbolized for me, but they sure made me emotional. Those are just about the only emotions I remember from that era, emotions of a keen homesickness, of longings to belong somewhere and feeling that I never would. The desire for a family of my own, and the love and protection of a man who would make up to me for every bit of pain life had so far dealt me.

The girl in the photo: what a long, hard journey she's had of it! How strange to think that she couldn't have known what lay ahead: for example, that she would give birth to 5 sons, and go through many marriages before she figured out she couldn't handle being with a man. And multiple personalities? Most days she wasn't sure she had even one! She sure couldn't have looked ahead into the future and seen the beautiful grandkids she'd end up with, or see that she would eventually adjust so well to not having a man in her life that she actually preferred being single.

I don't know who she is. She is me, but she's not. She's the one who interacted with the outside world, at least for a time. I don't know if she's still me, or if she in time was replaced with another. I just don't know. But I like her. I like her, and I feel for her for having experienced  that well of loneliness, that sense of being hollow and not having even one thing worth sharing with another human being.

I just like her.



Emerging from Broken

This is the kind of Mother's Day I enjoy: nothing much going on, lying around resting for my next 5 days of babysitting. A big pot of chicken soup on the stove, and popsicles in the freezer for later. I'm sure I'm expected to mention cake somewhere in this post but, nope, I haven't even thought of it. I think that's only because I got carried away last week and got my son a too big birthday cake, and ended up with much more than even I could (or should) eat. So I can't take credit for not wanting cake on this holiday, but still.

I was on Facebook a bit ago and saw that Sissyface had posted a photo My motherof our mother, taken the year she got together with my stepdad. How disconcerting to have that kind of picture pop up when you least expect it! I didn't even have any feelings or reactions associated with it, for it seemed I was viewing the photo of a stranger.

When does the strangeness end? When can I see a photo of my mother and not inwardly cringe, or feel as if I've never seen her before in my life?

It's odd to me the things I do know about her. I know she had a little brother who died when he was 5 from complications stemming from an ear infection. I know that she still has a crush on her high school sweetheart, and that years ago she would call him and hang up if his wife answered, not realizing they probably had Caller ID.

I know that my mother was mocked as a child for being clumsy. Her older brother would always look out for her when they were teens, making sure no boys messed with her. I know she has thick ankles and good posture, and used to have a bleeding ulcer.

My mother loves Scrabble and the guitar recordings of Chet Atkins. I've forgotten her favorite color and author. I don't know if she has a fear of heights, though that just seems like one of those things most people would know about their mother.

But what I don't know exceeds the little I've held onto. I don't know what kind of student she was, if she ever dyed or bleached her hair, if she ever sighed wistfully wishing she were taller, or shorter. I don't know what pets she had while growing up (or if she grew up in a household where pets weren't allowed).

Who was my mother's childhood best friend? Was there someone she could tell any secret to? Did she ever wish upon a star? I wonder what books she read as a child, and if she was afraid of the dark.

There are so many things that make up just one human being; it's a bit staggering when you think about it. There are many blanks in my sketchy knowledge of my mother's life, but I suppose the blanks which bother me most are those having to do with her mothering skills.

What would it be like, I can't help but wonder, if she'd ever held me gently when I was little. It's not that I recall her being rough with me, that's not it. I don't remember her even holding me. What would her voice have sounded like to me, her only daughter at the time, if she'd sung me gently to sleep? Would the beauty of it have brought tears to my eyes? Would my sleep have been more deep and even if she sung me a lullabye? She has a good voice, but I don't think she ever used it to soothe me to sleep.

If my mother's eyes had ever shone with love for me, wouldn't that have been something? If when I entered a room she instinctively reached out for me because she longed to touch me, inhale my unique scent, make me laugh, or embrace me in her arms, wouldn't that have completed my world?

I'm wistful today but not despairing. I've managed to come to a certain degree of peace about all this. Oh, there are times, and there will most likely always be, when I am unaccountably stabbed by the random thought of how my mother never loved me. For those moments, or perhaps even for an entire day or evening, I'll be devastated, mournful. But I'll come out of it. I know I'll emerge from it because I always have before. It's something I've always done before: emerge from broken.






On the Road Again

After reading one of my older blog posts the other day something nagged at me. What was it about the post that troubled me?

Nothing earth shaking, as it turns out. It was simply that I'd written that my abuser, my stepdad, who was a truck driver, was absent 2 days a week.

2 days a week? That doesn't even make sense to me. He was supporting a wife and 5 kids; how could he have done that working only a couple days a week?

Looking back at those childhood years I realize that it's much more likely that he was home 2 days a week. I've discovered this error wasn't limited to this one blog post; I've been making this statement infrequently ever since I began blogging 7 years ago.

I'm not sure what it means that my memory is faulty in this area. Perhaps it indicates that when he was home it seemed he was everywhere at once; lurking around corners, dogging my steps, showing up unexpectedly when least expected. No wonder it seems as if he was home most of the time! Apparently the 5 days he spent on the road wasn't a long enough span of time for me to relax, let down my hyper-vigilance.

How I must have anticipated his going back to work after those couple of days at home. No doubt I didn't dare allow myself to even think how eager I was for him to return to work. I can imagine how I guarded myself from that anticipation, fearing I would jinx something by allowing myself to focus on such thoughts. Maybe if I longed too fervently for him to be gone that very longing would result in the loss of his job, or a reduction in hours worked, and I'd be stuck with him all the more.

I'm not sure what mind games I played, what mental hoops I jumped through on a regular basis in order to deal with the overriding dread of those 48 hours when he would be a fixture in our family circle, lying on the couch in his saggy undies,  so at ease with his dictatorship--so confident of the power he wielded over all of us--that he had only to lie there and bark out his orders, with no fear of insubordination.

I cringe at the rememberance of his dreaded days off. I may have wrongly remembered how often they occurred, but one thing I've never forgotten is the oppression of being exposed to my abuser's cruelties and whims for 48 straight hours, until he was once more off the couch, back on the clock and on the road again.








Any Sense at All

The relationship losses: that's what bothers me the most. Well not the most, maybe, but living in the aftermath of abuse, I think frequently of how many people I've lost along the way because I was too broken to be in healthy relationships.

I've a brother I haven't had contact with since our father died 14 years ago. He's broken, so am I. Possibly he's more broken than I am, even if I'm the one with DID. Recently he send me a FB friend request and I accepted. I'm not sure why; or I should say, I know why I did. He's my brother and I miss and love him. But wariness creeps in, remembering that he hasn't always been such a nice brother. Has he mellowed? I wonder if he's fought and overcome any of his inner demons. Is he safe to be around, is what I mean.

When I lived every day of the 8 years of childhood abuse I learned that it was ok to be mistreated. It was ok if people abused me, any old which way, because I deserved it. I wasn't sure why I did, but obviously I did. The proof was in the pudding.

When I find myself close to someone abusive, I fall into that old victim mode. I freeze up, I shut down--though on the surface I give no clues to how I'm shriveling up inside. I learned the victim role well, didn't I? I had to. It was either learn to wear a facade or not survive. So I'm thinking of this brother, wondering what to do with him. I long to have him back in my life. I used to adore him when we were little. Only a year younger than he, I followed him around with total adoration. I won't be doing that this time around, even if he has mellowed. But maybe there could be some in-between space, some sibling love that doesn't include a heavy dose of denial and idolatry.

It's the broken relationships I lament. Not individually; that would take too long and be way too painful for where I'm at right now in my life. But some day. Some day maybe I can take each lost person and mourn them, one by one, and soothe myself with the blessing of having known them even for awhile in my and their lost and broken state.

It's not the mourning I mind, though I hardly know where to start. It's the loss itself, if that makes any sense, any sense at all.