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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 Healing (70)

Friday
May032013

Like Sunshine Through a Broken Window

 

When I came across the quote in this graphic, my heart fluttered with the joy of recognition. Of course! Sunlight shines through broken glass, doesn't it? Makes no difference to the sun's rays if the window is clean, begrimed or broken, the sun will make its way through.

I've written much about my attempts to accept my brokenness because I ponder and puzzle over it so much.

I'm not denying my brokenness, as I did for so many decades. I'm not even upset about it. It's more like I'm striving to find purpose in it so I can relax in being who I am, shards and all.

Does sunshine shine through me? Oh I've often thought it couldn't and hasn't since I was a child. How could anything good result from such fracturing? These kinds of thoughts are indicative of the black and white thinking learned in the school of legalism. If I'm broken, it follows that I'm good for nothing. Maybe my life can still amount to something, maybe I've something to contribute to the good of others--IF I manage to scrounge up all the stray bits of myself and glue them back together into some semblance of normality.

Or what about this: maybe I'm fine just the way I am. Maybe there is no goal to be reached, just a journey to be continued. Not a striving after perfection after all, but an amble through my days as I discover in little ways who and what I've become as the result of my childhood. Not so I can fix it, but for the purpose of reveling in my unique selves: flawed, fearful, angry, but also hopeful, possessing a childlike wonder and a strength that saw me through my childhood wilderness, and is equal to anything else the world throws my way.

I want my life to be...like sunshine through a broken window.

Thursday
Apr182013

The Audacity of Forgiveness

Back in the 80's, when my stepdad was dying of bone cancer, I received a call from my mother one evening. She said he wanted to apologize to me, but to not feel obligated to offer forgiveness unless I really meant it.

When he got on the phone he was crying hysterically. Whether or not I realized it at the time, I know now that when we had this last conversation he was in excruciating pain. He died a few weeks later.

His apology was faltering, due to the extremity of his crying. At that moment in time my heart went out to him. I simply didn't have it within me to hate this man who had stolen my virginity, nor to use his feeble condition as an opportunity to get my revenge. The things I could have said! Oh, the torment I could have inflicted which still would have been mild compared to the 8 years that he forced himself on me. Well, I couldn't. Not only couldn't but it didn't even occur to me at the time.

It would be years down the road before I even remembered having this conversation with my abuser. When I did, I felt that I'd betrayed myself somehow. But now, I'm not so sure.

Isn't it true that a huge part of forgiveness is a willingness to forgive as opposed to harboring bitterness? It's not all emotion--surely our wills play a dominant role in the matter. When I reconsider my words to him (which I don't recall precisely, only that they extended forgiveness), something new occurs to me. I really did forgive him.

My journey of healing hadn't even begun way back in the 80's. My goodness, I would be close to 50 before I made much progress in the direction of recovery. But when I spoke forgiveness into the ear of my tormentor, it was authentic.

What's tripped me up is confusing the act of forgiveness with the necessary ongoing work of healing. I'm still dealing on a daily basis with the aftermath of what he did to me, but that doesn't negate the initial act of offering mercy to my stepdad on his deathbed.

I can't resist comparing The King of the Mountain's heartwrenching apology with the primly formal note from my mother several years ago. There was passion and angst in my abuser's plea for forgiveness. My mother's apology left me cold, and feeling somehow insulted. What made the difference? I think the fact that she's never been convinced that she really did anything wrong. How easy for her to put it all on my stepdad. There were clearly no tears shed when she wrote me the note, contrasted with his agonized cries.

In the wake of realizing I did indeed forgive him is a little current of excitement. I really am capable of forgiveness! My heart isn't cold and forbidding like my mother's, but open to the possibilities of extending grace where least deserved.

What will it take me to forgive her? Possibly more time than I'll have in this life. Though I was determined a couple of years ago to extend her forgiveness, I soon realized I just wasn't there yet. Not ready, and who knows when I will be. The wound created by her cold passivity and non-protection apparently goes deeper even than the 8 years of sexual abuse inflicted upon me by her hubby.

I did and I do forgive him. With sincerity of heart I hope he made his peace with God before he left this earth. I just hope that somewhere in this sad tale there is some component of hope, of new life, of grace.

 

Wednesday
Apr102013

Making Paths

I find myself frisking my memories in search of hidden emotions of sorrow and shame. What may appear on the surface to be a safe enough memory often is anything but.

One example is the shining memory of the blue Schwinn my father bought me for my 8th birthday. How I loved that bike, and all the more so because of the giver. But lying beneath this pleasant scenario of entering my front yard after school one afternoon to see it unexpectedly awaiting me is the remembrance of the fact that it would be another 7 years before my father reentered my life.

When something from the past beckons, I move cautiously through the memory banks of my mind, gingerly, as if to avoid stepping barefoot on glass. I want to luxuriate in some memories; I want to hold them in my mind's eye and feel the deliciousness of them wash over me like a refreshing summer rain. But I can't run into them headlong. I must sidle up to them, examining them from every angle for the least sign of contamination. Will the inspection of this or that particular occurrence bring more pain than joy? Sadly, most of them do. And when they do I turn away in despair, sick at heart to leave the revisiting of good times lying amongst the rubble of the painful, the ugly, the shameful.

I frisk my memories in the manner of one frisking a suspicious houseguest for the good silver before their leave-taking, knowing that my suspicions will prove to be well-founded. I frisk them expecting to be pricked and bled by cutting misery, or stung by the venomous poison of pure evil, unadulterated by the passing of decades.

The caution I exercise is, for me at least, one of the most disheartening after effects of sexual abuse. This is why to those who will say (or have said to me) "just get over it, that happened a long time ago," I can only stare blankly, appalled by their ignorance.

When every memory is suffused with the agony of abuse, you can't simply get over it. Time doesn't erase the memory. If one is lucky time may turn it into a dull throbbing pain, but it never really goes away.

I find myself outraged when time and again an ugly memory ruins what should have been the happy remembrance of things past. The hand reaching out to me in violation, the tongue shoved down my little girl throat: oh, will I never be free of these? Will the recollection of pleasant summer days spent as a kid of 8 or 10 or 12 never be disentangled from those moments I froze at my abuser's sudden touch, accosting me at every turn behind my mother's back?

I would sing myselves a lullaby, but sorrow thickens my throat (as did my abuser's tongue) so that I can't speak clearly, let alone croon a soothing melody.

This year I turn 60. I don't want to discourage anyone away from seeking a journey of healing. Things can get better, things have gotten better for me. But not everything, not all the way through, and never will healing be completed in my lifetime.

I'm not sorry to have chosen this path of healing and recovery. Truly it may have saved my life. But saved it for what? If I'm not to be free of the pain of remembering, well, look at this. Maybe like Humpty-Dumpty I can't be put back together again, but does that mean that my life, my pain, my tomorrows have no value?

I hate that I'll never be whole.

I hate what was done to me, and what I know is being done to children everywhere, every second of every wearisome day.

I hate that my childhood was blighted by abuse and thus destroyed.

Every day when I awaken I'm still broken. I begin my day the same as the one before: the gingerly walk through old sorrows, for they are as much with me as the grandkids I watch full time. My steps and thoughts falter, I'm unsure of myself, I hate myself, I hate life. But gradually as the day unwinds I find little things to soothe my troubled mind. They find me, gracing me with a moment's respite from the weariness of being my redheaded-stepchild self.

And so, on and on it goes. I frisk my memories, I move with caution as if I have dynamite strapped to my chest which may explode at any moment. Some little thing offers an oasis of sorts, and I cling to it for dear life.

Look at me. I'm still here, still breathing, still trying. Still, despite the odds against me, more optimistic than not.

There's something about the journey on this “Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking." - Mahado curving pathway ahead that has the power at times to excite me. Not everyday, not as often as I'd like. But I'm getting somewhere, is the thing. I'm getting somewhere and, yes, I realize there isn't a destination per se at which I'll one day arrive, sorrow free. Or if there is a finish line, I'll cross it for sure, as stubborn as the need for survival has made me. No doubt I'll cross it limping and bleeding, and I won't be much different once I've made that last step. I'll still be hurting and wounded, but there will be a nice twist: I'll have validated every part living inside of me, and the little girl I once was who deserved that brand new blue Schwinn, and the ability to revel in its memory unmolested by intruding sorrow.

 

Monday
Feb112013

Regaining my Perspective

I watched my childhood home movies again this weekend, for a friend of mine wants to view them and I thought I could give her an idea of what portions are likely to contain footage of me. (A lesson in futility; there is no rhyme or reason to the order of the scenes in these movies. She'll have to muddle through them as I did.)

By now I pretty much know the movies by heart. They're familiar. I may not know in what order the scenes appear, but I know the dresses I wore, and how the sun brought out the highlights in my reddening hair, and the emotional landscape evoked by the movies.

This time I watched them half-heartedly, with an air of detachment. I wasn't watching them for myself, so I didn't feel the need to view every little detail and obsess. What struck me afterwards was how each time I see these home movies my perception becomes stronger, more defined.

What I mean is this. I grew up in a household where it was okay to rape children, as long as the bills got paid and my mother didn't have to work outside of the home. Children instinctively know that incest is wrong. This is part of what makes such horrors nearly unendurable: the knowledge that what is happening is an atrocity of such massive proportions that one doesn't dare put it into words.

My mother took us to church every week and politely looked the other way when her hubby indulged his lusts. That's how I see it. I can't prove it, but in my gut it feels like the truth. It feels to me that she had to have known or suspected something. My bedroom was right next to the master bedroom, for crying out loud.

My stepfather, apart from his sexual perversions, was the misfit of the family. I think we all knew this, I think even the neighbors sensed he wasn't quite right. My mother was refined, we kids less so-- but certainly more than him lounging around in his baggy undies, greasy hair and repulsive snits. To me it seemed she never bothered cajoling him into joining us for church because she knew he was beyond redemption. He seemed to me like a carnival show freak, or at the very least someone or something you wouldn't want tagging after you into the sanctuary. He was an embarrassment.

I seemed to have a foot in both worlds: one in my mother's more refined atmosphere where one didn't say words like 'butt' and 'poop' and 'fart.' The other was planted in the polluted atmosphere of my stepdad's world, not planted willingly by any means, but there all the same. What despair I experienced every single day as I sought in the privacy of my mind to find the proper phrase to express the impossibility of living simultaneously in both worlds. I dreaded the world created by my abuser, for obvious reasons. But I equally dreaded the muted emotional environment in which my mother moved and had her being, for there was something just as off there. It wasn't obvious like it was with the other world, but there was a perpetual sense of things not being how she tried to portray them.

My abuser was his evil self, no apologies. He was immature, greedy, cruel, perverted and narcissistic. We all knew this. My mother, on the other hand, was an enigma. Soft-spoken, refined, well-mannered. She rarely raised her voice, she never swore. There was the religious thing going on, too. That alone should have elevated her above the rank of my stepdad. Did it? Looking back now through the eyes of my adult self I think not. I think church attendance was something which made her feel respectable. Perhaps made her feel smug when comparing herself with her hubby. He never bothered to darken the doorway of a church, but just look at how faithfully she took 5 kids to church week after week!

What I started to say about perspective is that all the doubts I had as a kid about the authenticity of our family are confirmed by watching these movies. One of the things destroyed by my stepdad's actions, and my mother's lack of response to them, was my sense of perspective. I knew what he did to me was wrong, but . . .  but my mother wasn't outraged. She didn't take charge, kick butt, call the cops, etc. She did nothing. This was the true beginning of my doubting my own senses, my own logic, my own perceptions. If it didn't seem like such a big deal to my refined, church-going mother then maybe I was making a mountain out of a molehill.

I rather like having these movies around. I feel stronger every time I view them. I feel more myself, more that self I used to be, and you know, I rather like that little girl. I've a great admiration for her. I'm sure I've said it before on this blog, but when I grow up I want to be just like her.

 

 

Tuesday
Feb052013

Our Precious Selves

I feel the fragility of my 4 year old granddaughter's wrist, see how teeny her body is, and I think: how could anyone abuse someone that little?

I see the relieved smile on her sister's face when I shrug at some blunder she's made--maybe spilling her milk, for instance--and think, how could anyone scream at a child or hit them for being their beautiful clumsy selves?

Some nights I think I hear a child crying. There are 3 kids in this house (ages 4, 6 and 10.) A normal amount of crying goes on, but sometimes when I know for a fact they're all sleeping I still imagine I hear a child crying. Is it the wind? I go to the window, see there is no wind; not a leaf is stirring on the trees which haven't been totally denuded by winter.

Did I dream the sound? Oh but I hadn't fallen asleep yet. What then? Perhaps someone inside of me is crying, or maybe I have the uncanny ability to hear from great distances the sounds of children crying themselves to sleep.

I look at myself in the mirror, at this aging nana-self I don't recognize yet know only too well (and for whom I feel a twinge of admiration for the comfy-cozy look of her), and I think about my little child self. Reflect on what it meant to be her back then, back in 60's suburbia. I wonder how I made it through, how she made it through so much heartbreak and sorrow and eroding disappointment.

At night I lie in bed and discover after awhile that I'm holding my breath. For what? What am I waiting for? Why do I feel as though I tippy-toe through life, afraid to not be careful with each step lest a misstep cause a shift in the earth's  center, setting off an avalanche of disaster. Why? Oh I know why don't I? More to the point, why wouldn't I feel this way?

Sometimes this world will break your heart. You will sigh deep in your spirit over seemingly nothing, but your spirit knows what's what. You will feel at odd moments an overwhelming desire to weep, but you won't know why. You will see a lopsided baby grin and your heart will do a cartwheel of joy, even as a part of you cringes at the thought of what could happen to that baby, to any baby anytime, anywhere.

You will glance out the window at the grey, drizzling sky, and feel a tug of homesickness for some cosmos you once knew, some order in your universe you barely recall, so young were you back then. Or perhaps even your earliest memories are of pure chaos, chaos and evil. You will long for something you've never had, and rue the certainty that you will never find it. Others might, others sometimes do, but that hasn't been your experience.

You will pace at night, trying to outstep your inner demons. You will glare at yourself in the mirror, as if you are the enemy. You will doodle your heart's most treasured dream while having a casual phone conversation, then fiercely scribble it illegible the moment you get off the phone.

You will ping-pong between joy and despair, or maybe numbness and despair.

You will hate your life most of the time, but there are moments you'll reconsider that hatred. Maybe there is good even amongst the bleak and the sorrow and the pain. Maybe. You will stumble across a blog in which the author talks about her own battles with depression and feelings of unworthiness. Her honesty will touch you deeply: how does anyone have the audacity to talk about such things so openly? Your heart will race at the prospect of having struck gold. Here is something, some kind of manna with  which you can feed your starving soul.

You will return to the blog over and over again because it does something to you each time you do.

Sometimes we can help others just by telling the truth. Imagine, if our abusers could wound us so deeply not just by their actions against us, but also  by what those actions taught us about our worth, well can't the opposite be true? Can't the truth go just as deep?

Every time a child is abused, a lie is being perpetuated. Every child deserves love and tenderness. That's a fact.

I didn't deserve the burden of abuse with which I was inflicted as a helpless child. Neither did you. The lies we were fed deformed our self-images, and to make matters worse, in most cases we had no one or nothing to counteract the lies. Nothing to swing the balance back in our favor.

Worthless, is what we heard (even if that word was never spoken.)

Worthy, is how I now contradict that lie. Worthy of love and tenderness and protection and joy at the miracle of one's unique self.

Worthy, is what we all need to accept about ourselves. And we are getting there. Some of us are sprinters, some are plodders, some haven't quite decided to even begin their journey of healing. The choice is ours to turn from the lies of childhood. We must do so deliberately. We must be as deliberate about reclaiming the truth as our abusers were about their systematic destruction of our precious selves.