First Things First
Getting Down to Basics
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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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In Which I Make My Escape (Part 2)

He wasn't a murderer  during the period of time that the rapes took place (not that I know of, anyway.) He and his wife hired me to babysit their small children during my 15th year, the year I moved in with my dad and brothers. Though a bit rough around the edges and full of quirks, I never would have pegged Gary* for a rapist, let alone a murderer.

This was proving to be quite a tumultuous year for me in many ways. I fell in love with my first real boyfriend, while at the same time enjoying more freedom than I'd ever experienced before. Whether he simply didn't know how to deal with a daughter, or was afraid to run me off with too many rules, Dad simply let me do as I pleased. This meant being saddled with the freedom of an adult. At first, like any typical teenager, I reveled in living my own life without answering to anyone. What became a serious problem was that, having just spent 8 years of my life with no decision making power ( and being severely abused on top of that), I had no sense of self or of my own power. I didn't know how to resist peer pressure, or even that it was something to be resisted. For the first time in my life I was free to do what I chose to do and, much like the proverbial kid in the candy store, I grabbed at everything that came my way.

There seemed no reason to turn down LSD when it was offered, and so I didn't. The same went for drinking, dating a 25 year old, divorced Vietnam vet, or staying out all night or weekend without calling home. Once I started at the top of this slippery slope to destruction, there was nothing to hold me back. No one kept tabs on me, really, except for one of my brothers who protected me as best he could from my self-destructive ways.** But he worked full time and couldn't babysit me around the clock. In any case, we hung out with different crowds; he was so responsible and straight that I wouldn't have told him anything anyway.

When I started babysitting that summer, it was more out of boredom than anything. Gary and his little family lived about an hour away, out in the boonies. Friday evenings he'd pick me up after he got off of work, and break the speed limit all the way home, just because he could. Other times he offered me pop which had more than the usual additives, and I'd start hallucinating long before he pulled his truck into the woods. There, in the middle of nowhere, where he could have killed and dismembered me and my body parts probably wouldn't have turned up for a long while, he raped me repeatedly. This happened on several occasions and, thankfully the memories are a big blur.

Whatever he gave me was powerful enough to strip me of all but a smidgen of awareness of his heinous crimes against my body. I seemed to have been wrapped up in a huge ball of wool, with the tiniest of holes where my eyes should be. There is no audio memory of these incidents; everything seemed to take place in slow motion, with no sound.

When finally we arrived at his home, my sense of time was totally shot. Glancing at the clock only confused me. I sensed that we had spent hours and hours in the woods, but the homey little clock on their kitchen wall revealed that we were only an hour or so later than usual--something he lied glibly about to his wife, blaming traffic.

Why I kept going back to babysit I can't explain. The druggings and raping were bad enough, but even more frightening was the time he burst into the living room with a loaded pistol. I was on the couch with his kids, the youngest in my lap, and he pointed the gun right at my head.

"Bet you think I can't shoot this without missing your head, huh."

Everything inside of me froze. I hoped he couldn't read the panic on my face, and was careful to keep my voice even and low. "Of course you can," I assured him, believing no such thing. I'd seen him do enough fool hardy things while driving to know that the worst thing anyone could say to him was I bet you can't do such and such.

Clearly expecting resistance and looking for an excuse to fire the gun, he said, "Oh, you don't think I'll pull the trigger, do you?"

I tried to shrug nonchalantly while surreptitiously tightening my hold on the little one in my lap. "I think you will if you want to."

Bang! The bullet whizzed close enough to my right temple for me to feel its path. The rest is another blur. I don't know if his wife heard the shot and came running into the room, or if his kids freaked out and it snapped him back from that crazy place in his head. This may have been the last time I agreed to babysit. I hope it was. I hope I had enough sense not to go back after that. What I do know is that within the next 6 months he would murder his wife, shooting her twice in the head, outside of her parents' home. That he would be sentenced to life, escape after many years, and rape a 13 year old girl.

The reality of my 15th-16th year was not a pretty one. On another occasion, a boyfriend set me up to be raped by his ex-foster father. This time I fought back with all my might for nearly an hour, kicking, scratching and gouging the ugly monkeyish man forcing himself on me with his wife and child sleeping in the next room.

Stranded there for the night (by my pretending-to-be-passed-out boyfriend), I didn't dare allow myself to sleep. By morning my eyes were dry and burning, and I had a good case of the shakes. I called up a friend to come get me, and climbed gingerly into his car feeling as if every bone in my body had been broken. When I arrived home I smiled at Dad, making some humorous remark, not even once thinking that I could confide in him, that just maybe he would seek justice on my behalf if only I'd let him.

This year proved to be a transitional period of sorts. I would go from it's horrors (most of which can't be written), to the extreme of hiding in legalistic religion in a hopeless attempt to earn God's approval. In the meantime, before hitting that extreme, I kept my mouth shut, not knowing that people reported such crimes or, rather, it was more like I didn't understand that any crimes had been committed against me. Sad to think that I had been so desensitized to abuse that when it kept happening long after leaving that house of incest, I didn't recognize it for what it was. But of course not! It felt familiar. Turning to a safe adult for help and protection didn't.

No (in response to Austin's comment on the first part of this little tale), I didn't tell my dad anything. Not about Gary or other horrors, and certainly not about my stepdad. I can only think my reticence was due to 8 years of being threatened with this and that if I spilled the beans. That, combined with the fact that my mother didn't protect me when she found out, set me up for a lifetime of bearing my abuses and sorrows and nightmares alone.

About 6 years ago I discovered that my dad, several years before his death, found out about my stepdad's abuses. My brother told me this, and of Dad's absolute rage that such abuse had taken place without his knowledge, without his having had the chance to come to my rescue. Why did I think, as a teenager, that he wouldn't have rescued and protected me from all the stepdads and Garys of the world? I really don't know. I just flashed on this long forgotten memory: not long after moving in with dad, I went to the movies with him and my brothers. This was in the late 60's when a lot of really bad hippie movies were being made. We didn't know anything about this movie; it turned out to be about a bunch of drop-outs and hippies who decided to experiment with drugs. The whole thing was rather silly. There was one scene which should have disturbed me, but I don't think I blinked an eye.

A foolish teenaged girl decides to do drugs with a houseful of guys and gets ganged raped. I remember Dad's rage after the movie, how upset he was that he'd brought me to see something like that. I don't know if I'd ever seen him as visibly angry as when he said, "If anyone ever did that to you I'd tear them to pieces with my bare hands!"

And there it is, at least part of the reason I didn't tell. I'd seen the fire in  Dad's eyes and knew that, unlike my mother, he wouldn't sit passively by knowing that someone had defiled his daughter. And I just couldn't bear the thought of contaminating him with the foulness of being me.


(*Name has been changed)

(**There were 2 guys Dad actually forbid me to see during this year, though of course I did anyway.)







In Which I Make My Escape

I was fifteen when I left my stepdad's house forever. For 8 years I'd held on to the fantasy of my real father arriving on the scene to vindicate and rescue me from my abuser's clutches. Suddenly, half a year before my 15th birthday, I was unaccountably granted permission to resume contact with my dad and brothers. During this 6 months, something which had been festering inside of me for the past 8 years flamed into a rock hard certainty: I was leaving my prison, my house of incest, for good.

With the wild abandon of one whose freedom lies within view and who has no intention of ever looking back, I parceled out most of my keepsakes and other belongings to my younger siblings. What did I want with these relics from my shameful incarceration in that incestuous home? What prisoner, upon an anticipated release, desires to hang on to mementos of his private hell? And so I divested myself of every unnecessary weight, nearly giddy with relief. My writings, my cow's skull, my collection of Barbie and Ken dolls and paraphernalia--of what use were they to me now, striking out on this new adventure I thought of vaguely as the rest of my life.

 An irritating truth about fantasies is that they rarely live up to our expectations. While I lay in bed nights dreaming of just how my dad would rescue me, he was dealing with his own personal demons and stresses. At loose ends ever since the decimation of his little family 8 years before (and in truth, he'd been at loose ends ever since his stint in WWII), there is no way he could have lived up to my Knight in Shining Armor imaginings. Though he still remained my Knight--for the tight bond we'd shared for the first 7 years of my life was forever etched on my heart-- his armor was dull, if not downright rusty.

 I fled the scene of my childhood tortures, leaving behind walls and ceilings and furniture and nooks and crannies as the only witnesses to my perpetual shame. I fled with little more than the clothes on my back, for I knew that to drag my feet, or to look back with any kind of regret at leaving would result in a fate worse than Lot's wife. I fled with a sense of having escaped with my life by the skin of my teeth . Joyfully I fled, joyfully I slept once again beneath my father's safe roof: no midnight molestations here! The very rooms of our small apartment oozed safety to me, for they were occupied by the male members of my family who would not let anyone desecrate me.

Deep into the night I could hear the rumble of my dad and brother's voices from the living room, feel their masculine laughter envelop me like a warm blanket. I was the odd man out here, so to speak, the only female in a household which for 8 years had housed only males. Some nights we stayed up late talking, sharing old memories. But to my frustration, many of our memories didn't match. Most of theirs had been formed during the years of my absence; my heart ached hearing about their financial difficulties, about the donut shop Dad had bought and lost, of tooth aches endured because there was no money for dental emergencies. My heart ached, as much for myself as for their tribulations, for I ached to have been excluded from these struggles. I couldn't share the intimacy which often results from shared hardships. I couldn't even remember half of the stories they recounted from the early years when I was still a part of the family unit, for being the youngest of the family had the disadvantage of not always being aware of the myriad nuances of daily family life.

 My poor, well meaning Knight found himself a bit befuddled at suddenly having a teenaged daughter on his hands. He didn't quite know what to do with me. He showed me affection (and oh, the bliss of pure affection untainted by lust), but beyond that, seemed quite stumped. Though neither of us knew it at the time, we both suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We both suffered from our 8 year separation as well. So much had been lost to us, forever, and we stumbled around clumsily, not sure how to regain the footing of our original relationship. How effortless and pleasant had that relationship been in the days of my early shining childhood! And now I stood before him half-grown, with secrets I couldn't divulge, secrets which had fractured my mind and taken me to places inexpressible.

 I had won my freedom from my stepdad's perversions, never guessing that I was still very much emotionally and psychologically his victim. Moving from that dreary household was merely the first necessary step in a lifetime struggle to reclaim myself, it wasn't the whole journey. Many more abuses and sufferings awaited me, how could it be otherwise? I was operating from the mindset of my own deep sense of shame and worthlessness, and these would prove to be stronger than my father's love for me, and his efforts to understand and deal with a very troubled teen.




Dissociation and Denial

"Coming home from movie tonight driving through dense fog, there was a concrete building of some sort, I could barely make it out. Way up high a blue light shone through a tiny distorted window. This spooked me. Once home (we were lost in the fog for quite a while) I went into the garage for a smoke. Nothing seemed real. The back of my neck tingled, then everything shifted and suddenly seemed too real, almost like I was in my body completely which never seems to happen.


I thought I would black out, so put out the smoke and went upstairs to my room. Tried to write some e-mails, atrocious spelling, thank goodness for spell checker. Headache and neck still tingling. An odd smell in my nostrils. Something about that abandoned looking building in the fog sent me somewhere; what is it about some atmospheres or colors or lack of…of something tangible that causes me to dissociate so? A memory trying to surface maybe, but I’m not ready. Not now.


My entire head now hurts, it’s so heavy. This is curious, switching isn’t usually so noticeable to me. Everyone here at home is sleeping; I wouldn’t tell them anyway, it’s not something you can casually share. TV on in background, some inane hairdressing show. Tonight at the movies I had to constantly bite the inside of my mouth to keep from roaring with laughter as didn’t know it was going to be a musical, and I can’t stand them. Well they make me laugh uncontrollably. Didn’t want to offend my friend who brought me. What if everyone went around breaking out into dramatic song whenever they felt like it? What kind of world would that be? And how come when that happens in a musical no one cracks up, they just take it all in with a straight face? No one says, "Hey you idiot, stop bellowing in my face. You got something to say, say it  like everyone else."


This is not helping. I’m not distracting myself from anything. I wanted to write this down, I want to remember how this felt because tonight as always I asked my friend if she really thinks I’m a multiple. I see her and feel compelled to ask this every time. She finds this amusing. I keep trying to trip her up, but her answer never changes. No matter what I say she isn’t the least taken by surprise. She has never once hesitated and said, “Oh, well now that you told me that it changes everything. Now I know you’re not a multiple, you just want attention.”


Now that I think about it, how odd that my step dad’s actions from like 4 decades ago could cause me, today, to call myself a multiple. Isn’t that a bit farfetched? Doesn’t it seem most unlikely that I would have those 2 bizarre things happen to me? 1) sexual abuse 2) becoming a multiple. Talk about dramatic, I don’t see how one person has so much over the top stuff happen, so maybe the DID thing is questionable after all. I think I would have known it much sooner, at any rate.


Outside my open window a dog barks. It’s always hot up here. I don’t mind, just keep the window open. There is something to dread about tomorrow but I can’t think what, and don’t really want to obsess bout it anyhow. I should just go to bed, I’m never afraid of the dark. But tonight may be an exception. That blue light high up in the window, barely discernable through the fog. How eerie, and how odd was that. A strong, nauseating smell of onions half the way home too. Better not forget that, it adds to the whole surreal experience and I think I decided already to remember it. I don’t know why I wanted to. (Maybe for the story I’m working on?)"


(I wrote the above last night while in the grip of strong dissociation. Usually my parts switch back and forth pretty effortlessly, but last night was different---totally bizarre. I found myself very freaked out and the only thing I could think to do was to record the experience.)




Come Back, Jenny




(Come back, Jenny, and we'll do some artwork together.)





Beverly Cleary Gives Advice

Sometimes I'll have a dream so particularly meaningful that I jot it down. Yesterday I came across my scribblings about a dream I'd had about 6 months ago, and totally forgotten about. I find it especially meaningful as I labor away at my memoirs:

I ran inside a house to retrieve a file folder of my writings and discovered Beverly Cleary (my favorite kids' author) sitting indian style in the middle of the floor, holding the folder in her lap.  I gasped, and she motioned for me to sit down across from her.  As I did so, she reached for my hand and held it while she opened the folder.

Right on top was an old black and white of me when I was about 3.  "That's me when I was little," I said, and she nodded as if to say, I know, I know.

She removed the photo, and went through the papers underneath, setting aside the bottom most papers which were fiction.  She scooped up the rest, which was the unfinished manuscript of Beautiful Dreamer, and as she began reading it her whole face lit up.

"I keep trying fiction," I explained, my hand inside of hers hot with embarrassment, "but I keep going back to my memoir.  I can't seem to stay away from it."

She looked joyfully into my eyes, and leaning forward said with intensity, "Oh, always go with what's in your heart, with what's begging to be written. Go with your heart!"

(I know, it's such a short simple dream, but I cherish it nonetheless.)


(Thanks, Beverly!)