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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 Mom issues (74)


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 End of Surface Things

This morning I awoke to the news, posted on Facebook, that my mother had died.

I suppose I'm too raw to be writing this, but here I go. Earlier when the tears I've begrudged myself since childhood burst forth, the thought occured to me that, of all my siblings, my grief is doubled. I must grieve the loss of someone who gave me life, and then grieve for the love she never gave me.

For all the decades since my early childhood, our family has survived on lies and distortions, on public nicities and filthy things swept under the carpet. For the first time since my 7th year I stand here, emotionally raw, and not caring who knows. No more surface niciites, is what I tell myself. Let the truth explode and fall where it may.

I know there are those who will assume I have no feelings about my mother's death because we were estranged for over 10 years. If anything, that estrangement makes the fact of her death nearly unbearable. No chance of resolution now. No more questions and half-truth answers. I'm set free by her death, yes, in some ways. In more ways than I'm sure I'm able to realize just now I am never to experience full freedom from the bondage of being the unloved daughter. How could I be? It's a testament to the primal need in all of us to bond with the one who gives us life that, in not having that bond, we suffer beyond human expression. 

I'm not taking phone calls nor answering texts. I can't. If I speak of this, the death of my mother, I will not be able to keep myself together enough to get through the next minute. Even as I pull away, avoiding those who mean well, I think how stupid it is that I feel I must tend to my wounds alone, like an animal in the forest. But it's how I've gotten through my life, and too late to begin learning new ways now. Or too soon.

I would not have wanted my mother's death in exchange for my freedom. No part of me wished for her to die from the excruciating pain of colon cancer. Earlier I went on FB and posted a photo of me, when I was about 2, with my mother. I wrote her name and her date of birth and date of death, and then: RIP.

I felt I could do that much to honor her: acknowledge publicly her death.

Behind and next to and inside of everything I think is the whispered question, But why couldn't she love me?





Full Measure

I didn't give much thought to accepting the set of metal measuring cups Sissyface was getting rid of as she sorted through kitchen items, preparatory to moving.

Days later something nagged at me, and finally I texted her, "Are these the original measuring cups from Brightwood Street?"

"Yes!" she texted back, stirring within me a tornado of emotions.

When the stepfather napped, we were all to be quiet. Tip toeing around became second nature to me, and a bane to my existence.

The measuring cups were kept hanging from a metal rack inside a cabinet door. Whenever I opened that door to put things away after our evening meal, I had to be sure to open it slowly and cover the cups with one hand so they wouldn't bang against the wood and awaken the fury of my stepfather.

If he was away on a trucking trip and my mother was in the garage beating Doreen to near unconsciousness, I welcomed the noise of those measuring cups clanging against the cupboard door, and would sometimes open and shut the door harder than necessary in an attempt to drown out my step-sister's whimpering.

I'm not sure why I do this, why I accept things from my childhood which I know can only hurt me beyond words. I think this is a way to test myself. Can I see and touch these cups without flinching? What about the reels and reels of home movies I might also inherit? Can I see them in their metal canisters and not think of what they contain of my childhood? Will I be a stronger person for not wincing with shame and anger? Will I win this strange silent battle with my mother if none of this makes me cry? Oh! Am I so much like Doreen, then, with this not wanting my mother to succeed in reducing me to a weeping, blubbering mess?

I thought of how my mother's contempt for Doreen was so apparent, not only in the severity of the beatings but also in her general at-arm's-length attitude toward her. I thought, well I didn't fare so much better myself, but atleast my mother didn't show contempt for me. And then it hit me: what was her refusal to do anything about seeing her hubby molesting me if not absolute contempt for me and my welfare?

Yes, I have the measuring cups here within easy reach. It would be taking it too far to hang them inside a cupboard, so I won't be doing that. After all I'm not attempting to replicate my childhood, simply to understand it as best I can. What I want to do, what I hope to accomplish eventually is to take full measure of my character with as much honesty as I can muster.

Have I clung with tenacity to my childhood dreams which made it possible to survive the unthinkable?

Have I exceeded my mother's set of priorities, choosing a life focused on the heart of things rather than on outward appearances and financial security?

These are questions I love to mull over. They are much more answerable than the other kinds of questions I can't help but ask myself such as, Why doesn't my mother love me?

I will take stock of myself, and where I see that I fall short of measuring up to the person I choose to be I will make an effort to change. I will own those parts of me I'm not too fond of, and allow myself room to grow and experience and change.







Full Circle


I watch my father's bowlegged walk back to his car, alone. Snow falls like a soft scolding, dusting his bare head and the shoulders of his coat as he reaches in his pocket for the keys. My knees dig into the scratchy couch fabric as my intense gaze out our living room window wills him back inside, willing him to burst through our front door and scoop me into his arms and carry me, as if I'm delicate from swooning for want of him, out into the snow the snow the snow.

Headlights burn into the gauzy night,  burn a bleak light on the white humpbacked bushes bracketing our front walk. As the windshield wipers jerk to life and his car begins to back out of our graveled drive, my heart lurches. There are no words to call him back. There will be no words with which to woo him back to me and I, little and drooping against the couch, my skin hot with sorrow, am ignorant of the fact that I won't see him again for 7 long years.


Late one night when the house has been hushed for hours, Willie Ray sneaks into my room.   I awaken with a start to his hands undressing me; he doesn't need to hiss at me to be quiet, I already know better than to cry out.

My body thrums with fear; I squeeze my eyes against the sight of him bending over me, his face flushed with desire. When I am naked he tells me to get up. As I do, he grabs the sheet from my bed, drapes it over me, and scoops me up in his arms. Without a word we begin an unholy journey. He carries me through the kitchen,  mother's meticulously clean domain, where I see by the teapot wall clock that it is just after 3 am. How odd everything looks to me in the dead of the night, being carried naked through its modern banality. The window over the sink is but a blur as Willie Ray nudges open the playroom door with his shoulder. Our destination is the laundry room off of the garage. There I am plopped down on top of the washing machine whose surface is so cold it shocks me through the thin sheet.

A variety of odors assaults my nose as I sit hunched on the washing machine, closing my eyes to whatever comes next. At the squeak of the playroom door opening, Willie Ray swears softly and snaps off the light before hurrying into the garage, leaving the laundry room door open a crack.

Through the open slit of the door I  see him standing casually in the middle of the garage while  Mom says, "What in the world are you doing out here at 3 am?"  

With hands in his pockets, Willie Ray gazes up at the ceiling. "I was  thinking I could build some kind of shelving for storage up there."

"Well for heaven's sake, that can wait. Let's get back to bed."  

They move from my line of vision; I hear the shuffle of her slippers, a loud whispered contrast to  the smack of his hard soled shoes on the concrete floor. In my mind's eye I follow them all the way to the door. When the light goes out I give a hiccup of a sob. Darkness looms like another presence, pushing up against me from every side like a taunting bully. The only sound  is my heartbeat pounding in my ears, as thunderous as the summertime sound of metal skates up and down Brightwood Street.

In the soupy darkness my hand flies to my knee scab, like anxiety to a worry stone, seeking its puckered comfort. My stiff fingers read its bumpy landscape like another kind of Braille. My naked body begins to shiver, a mini earthquake that starts at my tailbone and works it way all the way up my body until my teeth chatter. Am I trembling from the cold, or from the growing realization that Willie Ray may come back to finish what he started? Whether or not he does, in the meantime here I am trapped inside the laundry room, dark as a pocket,  with its smells of bleach, detergent and wet diapers, picking at my knee scab.


Do all journeys eventually come to an end?

This is what it is. It's not that I think I'm still that little girl, stuck in that laundry room, terrified of  the dark and what awaited me if I lingered there, or what awaited me if I tried sneaking back inside.

It's not that I think I'm still the broken-hearted 7 year old who watched her daddy walk to his car in the snow, his headlights intruding on my sorrow.

I know I am in the here and now.  It's not a matter of grounding myself, of reminding my parts that it's now 2014 and we're safe, all safe. But in a very real sense I am that little girl, hunched naked, picking at her scab. I am the one on the scratchy couch, limp with loss.

I haven't been able to make a home for myself here, in this apartment. I'm out of do-overs. I've lost my touch, or more accurately my motivation.

This isn't my home, I lost that decades ago and there is no going back in time and regaining anything.

Home wasn't a place, home was my father.

Home was the safety and comfort of his presence. I get that now. When he was lost to me I lost all ability to ever feel at home anywhere.

I've tried over the years. I've made each home as cosy as possible, but when night falls and I'm alone again, and I really might as well still be that naked little girl hunched over the washing machine waiting to be raped, well who am I kidding. This is not a home; none of the places I've moved to with regularity have truly been home, it was all make believe because, really, what else was I to do?

I am not healed. My sorrow is still raw, my wound gaping.  I've come full circle, after having spent decades thinking I was out-running my childhood.

None of us want sympathy or validation or anything of the sort, it's just that I knew if I didn't write this out something bad would follow. It always does.


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.