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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.


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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 Forgiveness (6)


Memorial Day

Over the years I've posted about the pain of being alone while the rest of my family was at my sister's, enjoying a holiday visit with my mother, who was in town.

Today, as 3 of my sons left together to attend my mother's memorial service, I remembered. Remembered the shame of being the odd man out. Because that's what I was, right? Even if it might be said I did it to myself by not choosing reconciliation, still, it hurt to be the one left behind. Left behind, left out, left.

Yesterday, my brother, who has discussed our childhood with me endless times, shamed me for my decision to not attend the service. I was astounded that he even thought I'd consider going. He told me he was disappointed, and he didn't need to say it for me to know what he meant was, "I'm disappointed . . . in you."

I held my tongue. More than anything I held my tongue because I had gotten no sleep the night before, and was punch drunk. But as we ended the call, anger burned hot. What I would normally experience as hurt had turned into something else. I knew in that moment that, had I not been nearly woozy from lack of sleep, I would have told him exactly what I felt. My mom not even in the ground yet, and already I experienced this newfound sense of freedom to say exactly what I mean.

Oh, the tippy-toeing around I've done over the years! The decades I've spent protecting her!

When I consider that she is no longer living (an odd thought, to be sure), I realize the stupidity of having allowed myself to be under her thumb for so long. Even years after our estrangement, I felt under her thumb. I carried with me everywhere I went her condemning presence, her annoyance with me which was expressed by the lifting of her brows or the shuttering of her eyelids. The barely audible sigh or gasp to let me know I'd done something she thought stupid. And now she is nowhere, capable of nothing. Whatever her power or spell over me seems to have dissapated the moment I heard of her death.

Yes, I've been too nice all along, afraid to hurt the feelings of the woman who consorted with a monster in my destruction. What a waste of years, of time and energy. But could I have done it differently? No, I don't think so. Because of who I am this is how I needed to do things. This servitude to her opinion of me has brought me all the comfort of a hair shirt, but it was the only way I knew to live my life.

I never thought that the death of my mother would be a rebirth for me! I never expected it, but here it is: a gift I didn't even know I wanted. I've rattled the chains shackling me from time to time, but there was no passion behind the action because I never truly thought I would be free.

This is a memorial day I'd do well to never forget. On this day every year I hope I'll pause to remember the delicious sense of freedom that became mine today. It grieves me that my mother had to die before this could happen...but I'm not indulging in false guilt over it. One thing I'm noticing more every day is that since her death, I feel more kindly towards my mother. What I couldn't do while she still lived I may yet accomplish. I may be able to forgive.





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.



I Forgive?

With a jolt of shock (mingled with a twinge of wistfulness) I realize it's been 4 years since I decided to forgive my mother.

I haven't done so. Not really.

At the time of my decision I thought forgiveness was a matter of the will, that all I had to do was decide or choose to forgive, and it would be a done deal.

Silly of me, I think now. Of course the will is involved, but so are the emotions. And the many alters living inside of me who must each deal, in their own unique ways, with the question of forgiveness. I've a tendency to be insensitive to their needs; it helps me stay in denial about my DID if I just ignore their existence.

But they do exist. Therefore, forgiving my mother is not all up to me.

I'm re-posting the following, something I published here on my blog 4 years ago. I'm mostly re-posting it for me and my system. Some of us need to read this again. Some of my readers are fairly new to my blog and may have missed this the first time around.

This is what was in my heart 4 years ago when I first decided to forgive my mother. A tall order full of good intentions:


I forgive that your capable hands never caressed my child's face, exploring with delight the wonders of its unique contours.

I forgive that in trying so hard to hide from me your resentment at my existence, you succeeded only in making it all the more painfully obvious.

I forgive that your insecurities as a female drove you to rely on men who were not reliable, and that this reliance became a sort of god to you, even at great danger to the well-being of your children.

I forgive that we did not laugh together, or murmur in awe as we watched the first snowfall of summer, or relished together a righteously wicked thunderstorm.

I forgive that your eyes didn't light up when I entered a room, that you felt no joy in the fact of my unique existence.

I forgive that you closed to me your heart, your emotions, your mind and that, having done so, I was robbed of so many opportunities to share with you my little troubles and cares.

I forgive that you never managed to see beyond my usefulness around the house to my artistic and loving spirit.

I forgive that you never cherished my sense of humor, nor valued its influence on our pinched, dour household.

I forgive that you never spoke to me of the changes of puberty, much less had the sex talk with me.

I forgive that (for reasons I will never understand) you robbed me of 8 years with my beloved father and older brothers.

I forgive that your voice never spoke my name as if it were a blessing.

I forgive that because of your great need to remain in denial, you chose to see your hubby's violations of me as my 'stealing him' away from you.

I forgive that you sent my brother off to live with relatives because the stepdad beat him up all the time, rather than sending his abuser away.

I forgive that I lay in bed nights silently crying myself to sleep, knowing with certainty (in the way that all children know these things) that you would not ever come in to console me, or express the least interest in why I was crying should you happen upon me doing so.

I forgive that you broke my father's heart when you left him so suddenly for a man who had nothing to offer you except money.

I forgive that you exposed your children to a legalistic religion; I understand now that you weren't capable of any kind of a relationship with God, and that this was the best you could do in giving our lives some sort of spiritual structure.

I forgive your passivity, which taught me that to be female meant to be apathetic, down-trodden and trampled upon.

I forgive you for never inquiring about my writing dreams, or offering me any kind of encouragement.

I forgive that you visited my brothers behind my back all those years, and that when I found out about it years later, the first thing out of your mouth was a lie.

I forgive that every time the stepdad mocked me in his cruel, caustic fashion, you were right there laughing with him.

I forgive that you punished me when you saw my oldest brother molesting me.

I forgive that you never once asked me if I missed my dad and brothers.

I forgive that after walking in on your hubby molesting me, you never once, during the next 5 years that I lived under your roof, asked if he was still bothering me.

I forgive that you used to heartlessly put my infant sister in her bassinette in a pitch-black bathroom, and let her cry for hours.

I forgive that you beat my stepsister senseless; I forgive that for decades afterwards you boasted of how hard you beat her.

I forgive that when I came to you to ask if I could get my first bra, you shamed me.

I forgive that you never praised me for being such a well-behaved, helpful daughter.

I forgive that in order to survive the abuses of my childhood molestations and rapings, I had to multiply into many selves.

I forgive that my life has been barren of the mother-daughter relationship we could have had, and which I sorely needed in order to grow into a secure, healthy woman.

I forgive that you will never know the real me because you've never wanted to know more than my surface self.

I forgive that because of your lack of nurturing and protecting me, my sons grew up with a mother with mental and emotional woundedness.

And finally, I forgive all that I've not thought to add to this list; I know there probably is not time enough in this world to remember every crime against my little girl self. For all these things which came so easily to my mind, and those wounds which, perhaps, have yet to surface, I freely forgive you.




An Apology Revisited

Shortly after my son's motorcycle accident two years ago, I received a handwritten note of apology from my mother (what timing!) There was within the sparse sentences of her note no real depth of emotion, nothing which I could grasp and use as a tool to aid in my emotional healing.

Last week this note of apology came up in a conversation with Sissyface. Obviously not realizing this was news to me, my sister commented on the role she played in the creation of the note.

"Mom wanted to apologize to you for your childhood," she said, "but didn't know where to begin, so I offered to help."

Should it bother me that the only apology from my mother was ghost-written by my sister? I find it difficult, always, to know what are legitimate offenses. Am I being unreasonably indignant about the whole thing? I can't help but feel--now that I know the truth of the note's origins--that it was even more lacking in integrity and sincerity than I'd originally thought.

"I didn't care for her first draft," Sissyface continued, "nor her second or third."

My sister took journalism in high school, and many writing courses in college. She used to be a teacher and, in fact, taught a few writing classes. In essence, this note was written by a professional.

Maybe it's just me, but when I think of true, gut-wrenching remorse what comes to mind is a wild passion to set crooked things straight, once and for all. What comes to mind is an effusive abundance of words, whether spoken or written, not a few measly sentences in perfect penmanship. What doesn't come to mind is the cowardly act of not expressing remorse in one's own words. I would say that the knowledge that my mom didn't even write her own apology cheapens it, distracts from its value, if I'd ever been moved by it in the first place. Perhaps what failed to move me was more than the lack of enough words to make the whole thing credible. Maybe what I subconsciously felt to be so off-putting is the fact that I was receiving second-hand emotion: revised, with all the life spit shined right out of it.

Doesn't it figure, though? My mother never could be much bothered with me and my needs. Doesn't it just figure she'd take the easy route even in this one area in which she should have been most painstaking? Dried tears on the note card, her usual meticulous handwriting a scribbled mess as evidence of her angst--oh these I see now were some of the missing elements which rendered the note a farce. Add to that the fact that it was ghost-written, and huh, there you go: possibly her most insulting act towards me yet.

(I wanted her to bleed a little over this, wanted the apology to cost her something.)


Monday Morning Musings

I've just remembered that I had every intention of sending my mom a note to tell her I've forgiven her. I'm not sure when or why I changed my mind, but I know I have. Last night I was thinking this through, and it hit me that I no longer wish to do this. Forgiveness is one thing, I just don't feel inclined to communicate my forgiveness to her. Is that wrong?

Bad enough she's coming to town next month, staying once more with Sissyface. Bad enough I'll once again have to curtail my comings and goings so I don't run into her. I'm feeling rebellious, plain and simple. A bit annoyed that she's been "on her death bed" for nearly ten years now, but still she flies out here once or twice a year. There's a creeping little fear that if I send her such a note she'll try to make contact with me this time while she's next door. Huh-uh.

Earlier this morning I read someone's blog where they mentioned looking up their childhood home on Google Street Address. Oh, what a good idea! So of course I typed in my old address and there it was: house of incest, looking mighty ugly and worn--as ugly and worn and puckered as I felt living inside its walls.  My old best friend's house, across the street, looks exactly as it did back in the early sixties. Somewhere deep inside I felt a huge sigh.

I feel the need to apologize to my childhood self. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry, is what I'd like to say. Sorry you were so driven by adult responsibilities which never should have been placed on your shoulders. Sorry I didn't scream bloody murder on your behalf, find someone to listen and pour out the wretched details of your wretched life. I'm sorry you were so lost and dazed, and when you looked for rescue there was none. Sorry that you were the keeper of foul secrets, and that the effort to keep those secrets from vomiting themselves out in all their putridness choked your ability to speak without guile.

What I want is for that house of incest to have been what it wasn't, a home full of warmth and safety. All I want is that when someone walking by glanced through our living room window what they saw (the family gathered around the evening TV) was just that: a normal family enjoying an evening of TV entertainment. No undercurrents of sexual perversions and sour tempers. No behind-the-back raising of an eyebrow, accompanied by a lascivious grin. All the children healthy and content, safely tucked into this suburban fortress of love. My mother gambled everything to get us there (the destruction of her and my stepdad's marriages, for starters), you'd think it only fair that she'd be left holding the winning hand.

I've forgiven my mother the best I know how. Maybe it's not enough. Maybe my ability to forgive the crimes against me is crippled by the enormity of the crimes themselves. Whatever the case, I'm not inclined to engage in any form of communication with her. I don't think it matters; I don't think she would see my written note of forgiveness as any kind of a gift.

Pearls before swine, I remind myself. Keep your pearls to yourself, Beauty.