First Things First
Getting Down to Basics
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Ponder This

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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Circa 1965

When I was a kid I belonged to our church's youth organization, Pathfinders. This was like a merging of Boy Scouts/Girls Scouts, with lots of religious instruction thrown in. I had a love/hate relationship with Pathfinders. On the one hand, going on the many camping trips and outings they provided was a great way to get out of the house, sometimes for an entire weekend, and away from my stepdad's greedy hands. The downside, though, was that as freakish as I felt every day at school, I felt even more like a misfit when in the company of my peers who all came from such normal families.

My friend, Suz, didn't come from a normal family either. Or not normal in the church's context of "we don't eat meat, spend money on Sabbath, wear jewelry, dance, play cards, wear make-up, or go to movies." Suz's family was composed of your ordinary, everyday sinner. No hypocrisy there, as there was in my home where the king of the mountain made us attend church every week while he hogged the couch in his undies, watching TV. I happened to know that watching TV on the Sabbath was a huge no-no, but apparently he didn't care. He was willing to risk extra time in hell for doing so, and who was I to try to talk him out of it?

As far as I could tell, Suz didn't suffer guilt because of coming from a family of pagans. She could spend money on the Sabbath without batting an eye, but I couldn't. I had the good grace to feel deep guilt, even on those ocassions when the king of the mountain experienced a bout of selective amnesia and gave permission for me to desecrate the holy day by spending money. Usually, this was due to the fact that he was out of the cigarettes he needed for his filthy, going-to-hell-for-habit, which was another no-no I refrained from pointing out. To do so would have caused me to forfeit the rare treat of a Sabbath outing to the store, and as guilty as these outings made me feel, I wasn't so holy I'd risk him changing his mind.

At Pathfinders, Suz and I went through bouts of rebellion. I think it was being shoved together with so many goody-two-shoes that was our undoing. Something about their homemade clothes and clunky shoes brought out the worst in us. At the beginning of each meeting our Pathfinder leader, Mr. X, blew his whistle for us to line up at attention. (I could use his real name, but what if he reads this and sues me? I know the church doesn't believe in lawsuits, but what if he's a relapsed Adventist and wants to get back at me for what I'm about to write?) Something about the formality of this little routine, coupled with Mr. X's obvious uptightness (evidenced by his sweaty brow and hair trigger temper), cracked us up every time. There we stood, Suz and I, shoulders back, flat chests out, in our forest green uniforms with their standard middle of the knee hem, and something inside of us (sin, probably) burst into bloom.

We couldn't risk turning our heads to exhange glances, so we'd learned to peek at each other out of the corner of our eyes, waiting for just the perfect moment to play with Mr. X's mind. When he was still halfway down the line, one of us began making a sound much like air slowly leaking from a tire, by barely pursing our lips together. We practiced all the time--at her house, at mine, on the bus--for riling Mr. X was truly the highlight of our week. We got so good at it that he could be standing just a few kids away, demanding in that high voice he got whenever his patience was being tried to knock it off, and not have a clue as to who was making that irritating sound. We never got caught, much to our immense pride and satisfaction.

Mr. X lived with Mrs. X and their many offspring on the other side of my family's property. Our backyards were neatly delienated by a chain link fence. From the vantage point of my fort, I observed him puttering around his yard on Sundays, putting things to rights, expressing the same tsk-tsking manner that so amused Suz at I at Pathfinder meetings. Sometimes, watching him through slitted eyes (I loved to do this sometimes, for it made everything slightly out of focus), I couldn't help but wonder what made him the way he was. Not just his fusiness, exactly, but why was he so involved in the church? Why, when my own stepdad, teetering as he did so close to the brink of hell, never darkened its doors?

I suspect what I was trying to puzzle out in my 10, 12, 13 year old mind was: how come men seemed to come in only two categories: monsters or geeks? My own biological father was neither, he belonged in a class all by himself. But I thought of him as seldom as possible, preferring to focus on the few men (a science teacher, my best friend's dad, Mr. X) in my narrow universe. What made someone like my stepdad so mean and hateful? Why did he treat everyone like something nasty he'd stepped in, and couldn't scrape off the bottom of his shoe? Why was Mr. X so  ineffectual? No one seemed to take him seriously, not even his wife. I'd observed her smiling indulgently in an absent minded way when he got all wound up about nothing. That smile said plain as day he's just a child, really, so I'll just smile and nod.

I think part of my needling Mr. X at Pathfinders stemmed from the fact that I could, safely. He wasn't going to beat me up or do unthinkable things to me. Here was a man who was not a bully. I bet he believed in all the church rules from the top of his balding head to the soles of his nerdy shoes, believed heart and soul. And so did I. Beneath my amusement at his intensity was a grudging respect, for we had this in common: we both wanted to please God. But that didn't stop me from continuing my little rebellions during Pathfinders, or even during church services.

Maybe I was trying to find out if God was safe, too.








Why I Wish I'd Kept My First Short Story

The purest writing I've ever done was my first short story, "A Horse for Jenny", written at the age of seven in the white-hot pain of losing my dad to the land of divorce.

I call this writing pure because I had not yet learned the fine art of equivocation to further my own self interests; I did, though, know instinctively--in the way that writers have always known such things--how to dissemble in the written word, for fiction must always be a lie told in order to illustrate a greater truth. And so I wrote a moving story about a girl my age who, more than anything in the world, yearned for a horse for her birthday, an obvious sublimation of my own searing desire to have what I could never have again: my dad and brothers returned to me whole and safe, and along with them, my authentic self, and the world right side up once more.

In my story Jenny, inevitably, did not get a horse. Her parents couldn't afford one, any more than mine could afford what it would have cost them to attempt staying together "for the sake of the kids."

That I turned to the writing of fiction to express my deepest heartache moves me in an inexplicable way. The artist in me emerged in the crucible of suffering and this I had in common with my dad, that we had both suffered severely. (Of his torments I was dimly aware, linking them in my limited childish imagination with a love for booze, and something to do with the war.) While he expressed his artistic self in charcoal, oils, and pen and ink, I chose the medium of writing-- if one can be said to choose an art form which sprang so spontaneously to life of its own volition when I needed it most.



My Backyard Fort . . .



. . . was a thing of beauty, though constructed of ordinary wood.  I loved its  simplicity; there was nothing about its simple lines that drew attention to itself, or which  distracted me from the thoughts I hoarded there, like a secret cache of jewels, while escaping my family's madness.

Perhaps beautiful only to me, my fort and I weathered the seasons, sharing an intimacy on which I would come to depend during the wilderness years of my truncated childhood.  During the summer months, it became my best ally; when inclement weather kept me from it, I often gazed at it through my bedroom window, silently yearning to return to my suburban writing retreat.

Within the solitude and safety of its womb, I wrote my first stories, wept my frustrations, and breathed much more freely than ever I could within the confining walls of my family's modern home.

Loneliness, of the sort which can't easily be dispelled by the mere presence of another, drove me to the sanctuary of my fort.  Heartbreak compelled me to seek it as a refuge to which I could return time and again, without reproach, or fear of over staying my welcome.  The forces of evil hounding my every step propelled me high up into the safety of its walls, and a bit of me died every time I left its warm planks, never knowing how long until our next tryst.

 Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone.  And it  has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.

(Paul Johannes Tillich)


Word Doodles

When I've nothing else to write, this is what I resort to: word doodles. The following poems (if they can be classified as poems) were written for the lack of anything better to do:


Curl up like a fur ball,
your boneless fluff
a rug for my feet.

Maybe the sound I hear
when I close your covers
is you, laughing up your sleeve at my seriousness.

Metal Chair
Who needs this reminder
of school assemblies:
cold metal on tender bottoms?

When I was little
joy was digging through a grownup's purse,
sifting its contents for clues to my own femaleness.

How can I take you seriously
when one of you
is forever losing its mate?


No Laughter Here

This is one of those times I wish fervently I could afford a therapist. Someone to help me sort out my tangled thoughts regarding a very difficult situation I'm dealing with. There are no easy solutions no matter which way I turn; everything points to a Dead End.


My usual method of coping isn't of much use now. That method includes tactics such as masking my pain with humor (but my personality who is the resident comedian is missing in action, so forget that one), angrily telling myself to buck up and quit being a crybaby (which serves only to increase my stress level), or attempting to hide from my pain with busy work--but even that is out of the question. My level of physical energy decreases the more my stress level increases, so  here I sit in stunned silence, hardly knowing what day it is, nor why I should care.

Anything affecting me so deeply has the unfortunate side effect of catapulting me emotionally back into the abusive era of my childhood. The pain and sense of helplessness are not so very different. And all I can think is, have I really just gone full circle? Have I made no progress in the decades since my sour childhood?

Life today is cruel and unforgiving and I, at its mercy, am caught up in its fury like a twig in a storm.



(No laughter here.)