Friday, March 30, 2007

For Strong Women

Someone shared this on another board and I had to put it here.

For Strong Women - by Marge Piercy

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren't you feminine, why aren't you soft,
why aren't you quiet, why aren't you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined not be done.
She is pushing up on the bottom of a lead coffin lid.
She is trying to raise a manhole cover with her head, s
he is trying to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding inside.

A strong woman is a woman making herself strong every morning
while her teeth loosen and her back throbs.
Every baby, a tooth, midwives used to say, and now every battle a scar.
A strong woman is a mass of scar tissue that aches when it rains
and wounds that bleed when you bump them
and memories that get up in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love like oxygen
or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves strongly
and weeps strongly and is strongly, terrified and has strong needs.
A strong woman is strong in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf suckling her young.
Strength is not in her, but she enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving her equally for the strength and for the weakness from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,f lowing through us.
Strong is what we make each other.
Until we are all strong together,a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

Those last 2 sentences are so true. You all make me strong.

Going Away for a Bit

Tomorrow my sister and her crew come down for a long visit. My mom hasn't seen my sister or her kids in 1 year. Or my husband, daugther and I for almost 4 months. So she is coming down for 1 day to visit. Anyway, that means my computer time will be limited and I may not post for several days.
I am glad it is Friday. It has been a rough morning thus far. Very panicky. I broke my 7 day no SI streak last night. Have already had one xanax this morning and still not doing great. Not feeling real well either. Unfortunately I have appointments scattered throughout the day so I'm here for the duration. Hoping to catch a nap or something between some of the appointments.
I can see progress in this journey. There are many more bright spots and they do last a tiny bit longer now. But the black holes keep coming back and dragging me down. Seems like they are still stronger. It is difficult for me to hold onto the good times. Difficult to climb out of the pit of bad times. But even with 2 steps forward, 1 step back, I'm making progress - slowly but surely.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Triggers - Puberty and Dentists (graphic)

*Warning - graphic - and males might want to think twice about reading this*

First, thank you to all who were sending me calming vibes, prayers and good wishes this afternoon. I survived my oral surgeon appointment. Everything looks good and the loose part I was concerned about is no problem. Best of all I don't need to go back until the orthodontist is completed with his part and I'm ready to have the screws removed (more about that trigger later)

I talked with other survivors and turns out that the "odd" triggers (well, I thought they were odd) aren't all that uncommon.

First was a trigger I connected with earlier this week. I never connected the dots. When I finally did, it was a "duh" moment. Someone on another forum mentioned suffering from panic attacks during her period - sharp pains as well. I've always had vicious cycles. I've not been on birth control in a few years and just chalked the worsening symptoms up to that. But I never thought that some of what I was feeling was panic related or that my panic could be making things (especially the nausea) worse.

First, I remember getting my period in 6th grade - the year my parents separated and we moved to an apartment with Mom and her then-boyfriend (later husband/abuser/Toilet). The cramps were really bad. My mom would dole out the medicine - 2 pills every 4 hours. This was before my ibuprofen overdose attempt, so I am not sure why she was so controlling with the medication then. Mom was not sympathetic. She had always had cramps and just told me it was normal and to "learn to deal with it." She did let me have a heating pad. On the other hand, he ("Toilet") was very understanding and sympathetic. He would rub my feet. He would also rub my stomach/abdominal area. It actually helped. I had forgotten this until recently. Had a flashback when I used one of those thermocare wrap things earlier this week. Now I know why the cramps cause flashbacks and nausea.

The one trigger I didn't connect with until I read it on an online forum. I'm not sure how far I'll get in writing this because even thinking about it is triggering. But I'm hoping that getting it out there can help. My mom was very controlling with certain things -- odd because she was so uncaring/laid back about other things. When I was in 6th grade, I wanted to start shaving my legs. I remember asking my mom and she was very reluctant. But she finally consented after I tried to "teach myself" (not a good idea - LOL). I was given a lesson - very awkward - and handed a pink disposable razor and soap. Mom didn't believe in wasting money on shaving cream. I was only allowed to shave 1x a week. I have no idea why - she never did have a good answer for that rule. When I got my period, my mom never mentioned tampons at first. Just pads. I was told to take newspaper to wrap them up with and put them in the trashcan. I hated it. Felt like I was wearing a diaper - felt dirty. My mom is not a person who is overly concerned with hygiene. Money is a concern though. I'm not sure if it was a "you're wasting things" issue or what - but Mom would examine the trash can and tell me I was changing pads too often. When my sister and I were old enough to babysit and earn our own money, we would buy our own supplies - brand name shampoo, good razors, shaving cream, deodorant that worked, pads and tampons. It's funny now, because we are both ones that cut coupons and try to save money but neither of us skimp in these areas. Not one little bit.

When I was a bit older - after the physical touching part of the abuse - my dad wanted to go to the beach on one of his visitation weekends. I mentioned not being able to swim and Dad, in a very embarrassed voice, told me that there were ways to "deal with that" and to talk to Mom. So I asked mom, and for the first time, was told about tampons. Have used them ever since.

Earlier this week, I started my period. It was after my wonderful weekend and I thought maybe the panicky feeling was just a natural result of coming down off that spiritual high. I started getting triggery but never connected it to my period -- until I read some of these comments on another board today --- "I can't use tampons because I become too tense when putting them in and taking them out, it is physical agony for me, so pads/towels are my only option, which means the issue of blood between my legs remains there for the week." "i cant wear tampons, i tried once and spent half an hour throwing up and having flashbacks before i realised what was causing it." " Yes, I am triggered by my period as well.And I definitely can't use tampons, I can't even stand to try them."

That is it - it's not the blood, except for the fact that I hate using pads and feeling unclean/dirty. But it's the tampons - putting them in and taking them out to be blunt and exact about it. I remember my grandmother buying the non-applicator type for my sister and I one summer. That totally freaked me out - now I know why. I now understand why I always seem to cut my nails and file them short right before my period. That explains the sharp pains I get.

Enough about that................can't take any more right now.

About the dentist trigger - My mom didn't take me to the doctor or dentist growing up unless we were just dying. She was fearful of doctors/dentists and projected those fears onto us as well. Dentists are really tough for me. I've not ever found a female dentist, and certainly not one in my area who can handle my jaw issues. Having to sit in a chair reclined totally back in that helpless, turtle on my back feeling - and then to have a male hovering over my face ...... This jaw doctor tends to be more triggery than some others. First, they stick me in a room where my back is to the door. Nice view of the outdoors - but I still don't like having the door to my back. Then his assistant doesn't stand nearby where I can catch her out of the corner of my eye. So as far as I can see, there's just me on my back with this guy hovering over me. I took my xanax on the drive over. Then picked up my DD. She thinks it is fun to go with Mommy and ride the chair back and forth. Having her there is a distraction. The assistants spoil her - today they took her to the break room and plied her with cookies. I let her sit on my lap and then I can hold on to her while the Dr. looks at me. It keeps me grounded. So anyway, today was okay - I survived.

When I came home, I had a headache from the jaw stuff and from being slightly panicky so I decided to lie down until DH needed to leave to go play basketball with the guys. I slept HARD for about an hour. Very groggy when I woke up and am hoping I can sleep tonight.

Therapy Funnies - A Patient's Guide to Keeping your Therapist on his/her Toes

A little light-hearted humor for today. These had me on the floor laughing -

Things to do in your Therapy Sessions -

  • Insist that one of your other personalities paid last month's bill.
  • Lie under the couch - if your T doesn't have a couch, lie on the floor and be the couch.
  • When the ER personnel ask you if you know where you are - say, "Why? Don't you? If you don't know where I am, I want to go somewhere else."
  • Tell the T the only reason you are there is because the "voices" told you to come.
  • Get a very long sheet of paper and roll it up in a scroll format. Tell your T it is a list of things you do not want to discuss.
  • Bring popcorn and soda. Tell them that for the rate you're paying, you expect to be entertained.
  • Keep looking in your purse or pocket and asking, "Are you okay in there?"
  • Sit cross-legged on the floor chanting "prozac, zoloft, xanax, klonopin, vicodin, these are a few of my favorite things."
  • Reply to everything your T says with "Well, that's what YOU think."
  • Repeat the following conversation dozen times: "Do you hear that?" "What?" "Never mind, it's gone now."
  • Ask your T for an extra seat for your "imaginary friend."
  • Screw up your face, look puzzled, and ask "You mean that's not normal?" and watch them backpeddle.
  • Speak only in the third person, e.g., T says "How are you today?" answer "Smith is doing well today, how is _T's name_ doing?"
  • When the shrink asks you how you are? say, "I don't know how am I?" or "for what I'm paying you, shouldn't you be the one figuring that out?"
  • Get some kind of lollie or candy, similar to that of your medication, (or any prescription med bottle), as long as they can't read exactly what it is; and put the candy in your real medication container or substitute. Then everytime you T asks something hard or stressful, say 'oooh no, here we go again' and reach for the "meds" and pop another one.
  • play the mirror game...repeat everything your T says. "How are you today" "How are YOU today" "Did you have a good week" "Did YOU have a good week" "This is not about me, it's about you" "This is NOT about ME, it's about YOU"
  • Ask your T mysterious questions, and scribble their answers in a notebook.
  • When you get to a lull in the conversation and just stare really hard, then ask "so, are we playing the silent game again?" - "who is winning?"
  • Take your note pad and pen and get all excited and at the end of the session show them a picture of your t that resembles a farm yard animal and demand to see theirs because they sit drawing every week and you never see theirs.
  • Walk into the room before the T does and sit in the chair he/she normally occupies.
  • Stare directly into their eyes. If they blink, jump out, yelling "yes! I win, I win!" and start laughing hysterically. If you blink, make a noise of frustration, shake your head and start staring again.
  • Bring a book and read for the session. Whenever they say something, look annoyed and say, "I'm not paying you to interrupt me."
  • When your T says that it's time to finish now, pretend to cry or have a temper tantrum 'screaming 'OOWWWW! 5 more minutes!!'
  • Jump and flick the light switch on/off in the middle of your T's sentences.
  • slowly walk toward your T while staring intently at his left ear, as you get closer tell him/her to "shhhhh" when he asks what you are doing reply "I am listening to the voices in YOUR head, and boy are YOU messed up"
  • Close your eyes whenever you talk. Look in the direction of your T, just keep your eyes closed. Open them to listen.
  • Ask "And how does that make you feel?" when your T suggests something.
  • Bring a book (pictures books will do nicely). Whenever your T asks you something, look in the book before you answer. Don't let your T see what's inside.
  • get them to give you a penny for your thoughts everytime you answer a question, but give them back two cents every time you volunteer information. Try to earn back the cost of therapy.
  • Scream when they sit down. Burst into tears and tell them that they killed Fufu, your invisible puppy.
  • when your T tells you they can read faces put a paper bag over your head.
  • Insist the session occur by writing back and forth. When they ask why say, "The walls have ears."
  • When your T says she can "see it in your eyes," pull out a pair of sunglasses and put them on.

(I'm going to have to try the last one!!!)

And to finish off with a quote - "You go to a psychiatrist when you're slightly cracked and keep going until you're completely broke."

Control - A Tough Morning

I have a 3 year old. Now, people talk about the terrible 2s. But no one tells you that 3 is worse. Tantrums at 2 are a lot about frustration over not being able to communicate. Tantrums at 3 are over control - toddlers wanting to be in control.
My 3 year old comes by her temper naturally. I had one as did my father. Yesterday, my DD threw a horrible fit when I picked her up from daycare. All because I wouldn't let her cut in line to get a drink from the water fountain. I managed to get her strapped into her carseat and she screamed the entire 20 minute drive to church. Then like a flip of a light switch, calmed own, and in a normal tone of voice said, "Mommy look at that truck." Things were fine after that.
This morning I thought DD was in a good morning when she woke up. I asked her to get dressed. She did not. I asked her again. She sat there. I told her that if she did not get herself dressed that I would get her dressed. So I did that and she threw a huge fit -- kicking, screaming, hitting and even biting. I held on to her and put her clothes on her. She was still hitting me. So I spanked her - not one of my finest moments. Just one swat on the butt. It did not phase her at all.
So I sat her on the floor in my lap, wrapped my legs and arms around her so she couldn't hit or kick me or bite me - or herself. I told her I would let her up when she calmed down and could tell me "mommy and daddy are the boss. [her name] is not the boss." She screamed and threw a fit for 45 minutes. At first I was a little mad and very determined that I was the Mommy and I was going to win this battle - had to, so that she would know who was in charge. I knew that I wasn't hurting her physically.
After about 15 minutes I guess (time seemed to move pretty slowly), there seemed to be a slowing down of the screaming. I tried to talk to her calmly - tell her what she needed to say, brush her now sweaty hair out of her phase. She tried to bite my finger and with her loosened hand, whacked me in the face. More screaming ensued.
At this point, I am praying for strength and the resolve to keep doing this. I know it is what I need to do. I know that I am the Mommy and she needs to learn and respect that. I know she is not in physical pain, even if she doesn't like what I'm doing. She really isn't struggling to get free as much as she is struggling to hurt me or herself.
I started having a panic attack. Flashing back to the time when I was about 7 and threw a huge temper tantrum. My mom held me down until I stopped throwing one too. Difference was that Mom did it out of meanness, I think. I wasn't hurting myself or anyone - she just wanted me to stop. With my DD, I didn't care if she screamed or flailed - it's okay for her to get out her feelings that way at her age. But I was not going to tolerate kicking or hitting herself or me. She needed to know I was in charge. I remember my father taking a picture of me when I was 7 and being held down by my mother. I remember him making fun of me and teasing me. I have that picture. I hate that picture. I don't remember my mom/dad doing anything after my tantrum was done except telling me never to do it again and sending me away (to my room I think).
I was praying a lot this morning. I wanted to let go. Didn't think I could do it anymore. Hold my little girl like that. I really just wanted to hug her (although she wouldn't have allowed it at that moment). But I felt like God wanted me to hang in there. So I did. After a LONG time, she said "Mommy and Daddy are the boss." Still wouldn't say "[her name] is not the boss." She needed to go potty and I found myself in a dilemma there. But of course I let her up to go. Afterwards, she jumped straight into my arms, gave me a huge hug and wanted to snuggle. So we did for awhile. I just held her and rocked her and comforted her. Reminded her that she had to obey Mommy and Daddy because we love her and want to keep her safe. She was fine after that - and we went to daycare.
After dropping her off, I had my prayer time and was trying to figure out what it was I needed to learn from this morning. I wasn't holding DD down to hurt her. I was doing it to break the idea in her mind that she is "in charge." To let her know that Mommy and Daddy are in charge. I know she didn't like it - but she had to, with kicking, screaming and heeling, secede that control to us. I think that is what God wants us (me) to do sometimes. He'll hold us through the pain, screaming, kicking, flailing and biting, until we give up and acknowledge his control. And like I did, I bet HE wonders how long we will continue to struggle until we turn and snuggle into His arms.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Positive Affirmations

All right all you readers and lurkers. Time to come out of hiding. Post your comment. Tell 5 good things about yourself or good things you have accomplished here lately. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. If you want/need to remain anonymous, go right ahead. But I want to hear from you. And it will do you some good. So 1, 2, 3 GO.

1. I have a good sense of humor, and it seems to be coming out more lately.
2. I have been 5 days SI - free (yeah) and was able to wear shorts to the gym today (yeah).
3. I mustered up enough courage to write my mom and write her back.
4. Someone on my online group last night told me that something I wrote was a huge inspiration to her. That made my evening. I'm glad that, even though I feel messed up and confused, I can help someone else out.
5. I have managed to put dealing with "it" long enough to enjoy, truly enjoy, spending time with friends, my husband and my daughter over the past few days. Not stuff it down and ignore it. But not feeling like it is consuming my every waking moment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Talitha kum!

I attended a Christian women's conference this weekend. One of the speakers was Michelle McKinney Hammond. She was phenomenal. She spoke about the passage from Mark 5:21 et seq where a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years (imagine 12 years of your period!) pushes through a crowed to touch the hem of Jesus's garment, and is immediately healed. Jesus tells the woman, "Daughter, your faith has made you well." In the same passage, Jesus comes upon a commotion and is told that the people are wailing because a 12 year old little girl has died. Jesus remarks, "Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep." These two passages seem disjointed at first, but Michelle (I'll take the liberty of calling her by her first name!) pointed out the similarities and the lessons to be learned.

Both of these females were seriously ill and at the point of death. They were in a situation only Jesus could handle. The woman had seen many physicians and none could heal her. She must have been anemic at this point. History tells us that menstruating women were "unclean" and during this point of their cycle, forced to live apart and not interact in society. It must have taken great courage for this woman to enter into the crowd and push through the throngs of people to touch Jesus's robe.

Consider the number TWELVE - The woman had suffered health issues (bleeding) for 12 years. The girl was 12 years old (probably hitting puberty and about to start menstruating herself). We have our periods 12 months out of the year. Michelle taught that the number 12 represents government and being locked into a system. What was locked into these female systems? What is locked into yours?

God does not promise life will be all easy street and roses. He says there will be tribulations. But he will see us through - not snatch us out of - these struggles.
This woman was losing iron - very weak. Yet she found the strength to persevere and press on to find Jesus. She was "unclean" and not supposed to be in public yet she fought the system and went to Jesus. She pressed through the crowd, and with faith, touched the hem of Jesus's garment. Verse 28 tells us, "For she thought, 'If I just touch His garments, I will get well.'" She was immediately healed and her healing is credited to her faith (v. 34).

Jairus’s daughter had no strength. She was unable to come to Jesus for healing. In fact, she had died. But Jesus tells those around to "not be afraid." Jesus goes to the dead girl. Meets her where she lay.

The crowed says that Jairus's daughter is "dead." Jesus disagrees and says she is "just sleeping." He heals her. Wakes her up from her "sleep" and brings her back to life.

Michelle taught us to "get real and acknowledge our issues." Jesus can not fix what we won’t admit; can’t forgive what we can’t confess; if you want to pretend everything is "okay" then He will often pretend with you. When you are done pretending you need to either get up and go to Jesus, or Die. Your choice.

Many of us have had something precious taken from us. We have had our trust in mankind broken. We superimpose that on others, including God. We need to reach down deep inside, find the faith of the Woman, and go find God. We need to (v. 36) not be afraid any longer but "only believe."

If we can't do that, then we need to give up and die - let Jesus come to us where we are. Some of us think we are dead already. But Jesus will come to us, if we let Him, and show us that we are not dead -- only sleeping. He will wake us and bring us back to life.

Sometimes we need to be the woman - get up and persevere. Take that risk; go that extra step; and reach out to touch Jesus. Other times we need to let our little girl die, in order that we might live again.

~~~~~ I was 12 when the physical touching part of the sexual abuse began. That little girl part of me needs to die so that the woman part of me can rise up, awaken, and go seek out Jesus. Jesus takes the little girl by the hand and commands her to rise up, saying "Talitha kum!" (which translated means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!").

So I say to all of you, holding out a hand, "Talitha kum!"

Monday, March 26, 2007

Whore House

"I didn't know you were running a whore house, Mom."

This was something a friend posted on another site. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Waves of panic washed over me. I rode the waves. When things subsided, I thought about this statement. A lot.
My childhood home was a lot like a whorehouse. Plenty of foul language. Thick clouds of cigarette smoke. The clinking of alcohol glasses. The bar in the basement, complete with bar stools and a mirror behind the bar rimmed in twinkling lights. The X-rated movies. The pornographic magazines lying around. The sex toys in the night stands. The parading around half-dressed. Sexual comments, innuendos and jokes.
My mom commented on the abuse one time, saying, "How do you think I felt -- knowing that my husband preferred my daughter to me?" I think she meant that she felt betrayed and jealous. She should have felt disgust and loathing toward her husband. Instead of toward her daughter. Mom chose her husband (then-boyfriend) over her children. She later said she couldn't afford to leave him. So basically she "sold" my sister and I to her boyfriend/husband, in order to live the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. Nice, mom. Guess that makes you the madame?

A response from Mom

On March 15th, I posted about my letter to Mom. It has been 11 days and I finally got a response from her.

A little background - Mom lives with Toilet (the abuser). So obviously my Sister and I do not visit her at her house.. My sister is 8 hours away. But we see each other at least 4x a year. Usually we travel to her house 1-2 times; she comes here 1-2 times and we go to the beach (or somewhere) during the summer. I live 2 1/2 hours from my mom. I see her maybe 4x a year. Her days off are Wed-Thurs so I see her for 1/2 day Wed (she can't possibly get here before noon) and she leaves Thurs early morning (because she just has to get home and get ready for work on Friday). Mom hasn't travelled to my sister's house to visit since October 2005. She saw my sister and kids for 1/2 day last year when my sister was here for Easter. Used her 1 week vacation in 2006 to spend time with her husband (abuser) that she LIVES WITH instead of seeing her kids/grandkids that she NEVER SEES.

So my sister is coming on Saturday. We talked to Mom about switching her days off (a huge fiasco) and coming Tuesday - Wed to visit. So she is supposed to come see me/my DD (first time since January) and my sister/kids (first time in 1 year). She'll arrive mid-morning (10-11 am) on Tues and leave Wed (by lunch at the latest).

My DD remembers "Grandma" just a tiny bit. If I push it. My sister's youngest (age 4) doesn't remember her at all. My sister's middle daughter can remember her but doesn't really care about seeing her. My sister's oldest doesn't like her. My sister and I have invited her because we feel guilty if we don't do it. Because she's our mother and we feel obligated. Because there is some small part of us that still cares about her.

So anyway, I wrote that email to my mother 11 days ago. Today I got her response - I am so looking forward to seeing you all next week. I thought I ought to write and make sure that the plans haven't changed, before I finalize Tues and Wed as my days off next week. Also if there is anything I need to bring. Love and hugs, Mom.

First of all, Mom already finalized changing her days off. She told my sister that on Sat when my Sister talked to her. So that is not the real reason for her email. Mom didn't address anything I brought up in my email - not even a "got your email but I'm not going to respond" type thing. She's ignoring it.

What Mom wants is me to respond back to her lickety split by making me think she needs to be re-invited ASAP because of work. She just wants reassurance that she is still invited. To put me in the hot seat. I don't know how to respond and am contemplating various ones -

  • Do nothing. See if she shows up. Force her to call or email or ask again.
  • Respond back with one line "have you received my other email?"
  • Respond back "I'll respond to your email if you respond to my last one."
  • Respond back "your engraved invitation has not been rescinded. Come when you want; bring what you want."
  • Tell her "you know what; 2 of the kids have no memory of who you are. One doesn't remember enough to care and the other doesn't like you. Your daughters want a morphed/changed mom, a real mom, and since you're not capable of that, why don't you just stay home."
  • Tell her that this isn't about her. We're tired of making everything about her and convenient for her. She can make her own arrangements to see her kids/grandkids if she wants. We're tired of doing it.

Of course I'll probably just write back and say "I assumed you were still coming since I'd not heard otherwise. Let me know when to expect you."

Why can't I have a normal family?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A wonderful weekend

My girls' weekend away was truly wonderful. Five mothers who got to eat two meals out at a restaurant without cutting up food, telling anyone to sit down and eat, and eat our own food hot. It was so nice. We slept in our own beds with no toddlers/children to wake us. The speakers at the conference were wonderful. The music was phenomenal. The fellowship with friends was great. I'll post over the next few weeks more in detail about the lessons I learned but feel the need to write down some points before the flee my brain.
  • You need to find the original person that God intended you to be -- not what the world had shaped you into. Be authentic.
  • When bad things happen and you ask how God can allow it - step back and remember what you know about God. He is faithful, trustworthy, loving. There is some work that can only be done in the darkest of circumstances.
  • You would never hear your child cry out for snuggles or ask to be held, and ignore them. God won't do that to us either. God knows that as women, we need to not just know Him, but to FEEL Him too.
  • There are times when things will drain you. You need to get real and acknowledge your struggles. Jesus can't fix what you won't admit.
  • Sometimes - often - God's blessings are found in life's interruptions. That was the case this weekend. We were running late and getting lost all weekend - but every single detour was a blessing and well worth the extra time.

It was a great weekend and I feel so refreshed internally but worried too, that I'll lose this feeling. I think faith is sometimes like a gas tank. Mine was on empty and I feel filled up now. I know that I'll burn some as I travel on down life's roads, but I'm thankful God puts people and circumstances in my life to fill me up.

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's Friday

It's finally Friday. I'm in a happy mood at the moment. Going to enjoy it and not over-think it. LOL. The sun is shining, birds are singing outside my windows and trees are blooming. And in 3 hours I will be driving (way too) fast down the highway, with the windows open, radio up load, and a wonderful friend in the passenger seat. Girl's trip starts soon. Five of us are hitting the road for a Women's Bible Conference and I can not wait. My car's gas tank is on full, but my spiritual tank is running low, so I'm hoping for a "filler er up" this weekend. Blessings for all (and if you see a silver bullet passing by you on the highway with 2 crazy women laughing and singing loudly to some funky song - just wave - that's me!)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wise Words from a Very Wise Friend

I LOVE having friends that refuse to let me wallow in self-pity. That hug me when I'm down, and give me a swift kick in the pants when I need to get up! I have such friends in my online group. One wrote me a response to my "days, hours, minutes" post from yesterday. She gave her permission for me to post parts of it here.

"Well, first of all, let me give you some different numbers to look at:
3 Years - 1095 Days - 26,280 Hours - 1,576,800 Minutes - That's where you started.

1 Year - 365 Days - 8,760 Hours - 525,600 Minutes - That's what is already behind you.

Instead of dates and timelines, I think you should consider your goals, one at a time and focus on those, as well as the things you have accomplished. You went back to counseling. You started this group which has helped you and other women. You started a blog and are touching other people. You told your story. You've remembered things that were repressed. You've written and shared things that were tucked away for years. You have a more realistic, albeit strained, relationship with your mother. You've confronted her and even took her to J's with you. You have admitted, and are taking steps to minimize, your pinning.

I know you are reading this and saying "Well, what good has all that done me? I'm struggling in my marriage, my career, my faith and everything else in my life." I know you are. But I think that is just part of the process. It gets worse before it gets better. And you can't face the horrible, old stuff without feeling like this about it. Think of it as the foundation of a building. Let's say we're building a house.....there was this serene, scenic wooded lot. And we came in with bulldozers and backhoes and ripped it to shreds. Trees knocked over with their roots up in the air, piles of dirt and mud, holes, boulders. Blech. Ugly. Why would anyone upset such a peaceful plot of land? Then, there is huge hole in the ground and it's filled with concrete. Not very pretty....but a foundation has been laid. Then day by day, you watch it take shape. The frame goes up, walls go up, it's enclosed. They add doors, windows, siding. The land is cleared out and new grass planted then begins to grow. Flowers and trees are added and before long, it's new and it's beautiful in a whole different way."

Thank you Friend for writing this to me. You are so right. So I think I'm past the uprooting part of building (most of it) and probably to the point where I am laying a foundation. You, of course, have an open invitation to watch the building process and visit my house when it is finished.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Do I Want to Know the Number?

Someone asked me - "If your worst days are numbered, would you do all that you could to reach the end of them? I think the bad days are numbered.We only have so long [that we have to] deal with our abuse.I think we can make a choice.I know it is hard.I think as long as we are moving forward we will make it.There will be bad times, they will end.I think the gap between the bad days will get bigger."

My first response was - I want to know the number. I want to know how long. I want to know how many bad days. Or do I? If the number is too big, I'm not sure I could handle it. I might throw in the towel now.

One person asked a survivor who seems much further along in her recovery, how long it took to get "there." Which prompted a discussion of what "there" was. We all decided that "there" is when you're not requiring constant upping and downing of meds and dosages. When you're not using "bad" coping mechanisms. When you can think of the abuse, acknowledge it happened, acknowledge it affected you, but not freak out and cry for days over those thoughts and acknowledgements. When you can go for time periods withOUT thinking of the abuse. I also wanted to know (along with another) how long it took to be able to verbalize things - to say it out loud. Because to me (us), that is part of getting "there."

The answers ranged. One girl said SIX years - but she took some time off. It seems like several people did the start/stop thing. I've done that too. Did some therapy about 4-5 years ago. That helped me be strong enough to cut off contact with Toilet. But I didn't really deal with anything much. I do feel like I am dealing with stuff now (albeit reluctantly and slowly sometimes). So however long this process is, I'm about 1 year into it.

For those that have gotten into therapy and pretty much stuck with it, the average seems to be THREE YEARS. 3 years of working, slowly, plodding along, to get "There." That means I have 2 years left. That is 730 days. That is 17, 520 hours. That is 1,051,200 minutes. On days like today, when I'm crawling along one minute at a time, that seems like a really long time.

So do I want to know the number? I'm not sure. If it's small, then yes. Tell me how long and how many bad days, hours, minutes to expect. If it's large, then it is probably not a good idea for me to the number. I don't think I could handle it.

Holding on

114 days, 23 hours, 15 minutes - I will be at the beach. I just finished reserving our vacation house for our July week at the beach. I want to be there NOW. Basking in the sun with no worries. Sleeping late, watching the sun set over the water, napping during the day, lying out in the sun and enjoying myself. I don't think I can last that long - 114 days is a long time. I did hit the tanning bed today and experienced the warm "sun" for 18 minutes. It made me feel just a tiny bit better - well that and the xanax, pepsi and ibuprofen cocktail I had upon my return!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Out Loud = Scares Me

On other forums, when I've had to write out "what happened," I did a nice general intro with nice "safe" words like "fondle" and "expose" with a slightly less safe word "masturbate" on occasion. Other people get WAY detailed in their posts. I admire their ability to write it out like that.

I am trying to work on my ability to verbalize what happened. At one time, months ago I remember trying to write things out in a more detailed format.
So anyway I dug through things and found it. I remember writing it. I remember really struggling with it. I remember it taking a long time - maybe days. I don't remember what it says. It's like reading a stranger's words. I mean what it says is familiar because it's my story. But it's not like it's me - I don't talk like that. I can't talk like that. I don't use those words. I can't write those words. I must have at one time - I mean they are there. I think (again fuzzy) I wrote them without really looking at the screen much. And I think at one time I was able to read through most of it - maybe all.

So, I had this bright idea that I would shut myself in my bedroom (did that), close the door (did that), turn radio up (did that) and very quietly whisper it - read it in a whisper. Or at least mouth the words without any sound.

Nope - the not really remembering it and it feeling all third-person like totally threw me. What's up with that? I don't want to dwell on that feeling to long. That's scary feeling. I hate that - when I do/write something and then it doesn't feel "real" to me. Freaks me out.

So anyway, I tried to just read it figuring I'd go back and try to at least mouth or whisper the words. Like maybe I could say the out loud alone to me first. Good gosh no way. I couldn't even read through it. It's like certain words are in BIG HUGE FONT LEAPING OFF THE PAGE AT ME. Why the backslide? How come I can't even read it any more. How the hell am I supposed to work up to saying this out loud if I am not moving forward on this.

I keep flipping between screens trying to at least read it. I HATE THIS. I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT. Why the hell can't I just DO IT? What is so hard about this? I hate being so weak. Why do I let it have so much power over me - him still have power over me. I hate that.

damnittoallhell this sucks.

Mom Rant

I participate in some survivor groups online. In one, there is a place for "secondary survivors" to seek advice and support. I think that is a great idea. When I am struggling with figuring out how to broach a topic/subject with DH, I'll sometimes look there to see how other spouses of abused wives have coped and reacted. Or seek advice on how to word something or how DH might react to something.
In any event, a woman recently posted there looking for advice with a situation. I had to do a double take to make sure she really wasn't my mother. Her daughter experienced the exact same things at the hands of her step-father as I did. Mom gave the daughter the "choice" of what to do. Then complained some about her daughter mis-behaving. I had to back out of the thread quickly. Too many triggers there.
Others responded quickly. Seems there are a lot of us there that have suffered abuse at the hands of a father or step-father and whose mothers ignored all the signs or just did nothing despite knowing. It was comforting to know there are others out there like me -- sad to see how many. I think it was probably cathartic to some to express their anger toward this Mother. And I think the mother needed to hear it.
The Mother's response was eye-opening too. She came looking for help - a step in the right direction. She got attacked, but I have to give her credit for hanging in there. She read all the posts, and I think, began to see just how damaging this "one time event - not a big deal thing - just a 'yuck' thing" (her words) could be. To see that even though he (her husband) acknowledged what he did and promised not to do it, that he was dangerous. And that her daughter's acting out was probably more than just typical teenage stuff. And that her daughter's wishy-washyness about wanting and not wanting a relationship with her step-father is normal.
As us survivors defended the daughter's actions, I think some of us began to see that our own actions, thoughts and beliefs were normal - not atypical. It's funny how you can defend this girl you've never met and yet, find it so hard to believe the same things about yourself.
And it was eye-opening to get the mom's perspective. She's deeply hurt. The man she loves has betrayed her. She doesn't understand how she can both love and hate this man at the same time. She's confused at her daughter's change from wanting the family to stick together and saying she loves her stepfather to hating him. Mom doesn't know where to go for help or what to do. She's concerned about her younger son, who loves his father and would be deeply upset at losing him. Yet she wants him protected too.
I can sympathize with the mom. I know she is in a difficult situation. But what all of us who responded stressed to her is that she is the MOM. That means her daughter comes first. Mom needs her own therapy and help. She needs to see that this "one time - not real serious" act of touching IS serious and will affect her daughter forever. We tried to give her some advice and places to turn to for help. Mom needs to find someone (other than her daughter) to lean on. Mom needs to be the one making the decisions. And her daughter definitely needs counseling.
In the end, Mom and her husband are separating. Everyone is getting counseling. Mom is selling all she has to start over with her daughter and son - apart from her husband. She's making the hard choices - but the right choices.
Us survivors are appreciative to see one mother do the right thing - even if it was a bit delayed. I thanked her, on behalf of her daughter.

So of course, given my own emails and battles with my mom, I couldn't help but think about this in terms of my own situation. On the one hand, I understand a bit more about the struggles my mom faced. I still don't agree with or support her decisions. As a mom I now know that giving birth doesn't instantly infuse you with all the answers on what to do in every situation. I'm sure Mom was confused and hurt and angry. But I also understand as a mom, that it is her JOB to find the answers. To get help. To do all she can to protect her daughters. She failed there. And continues to fail as she lives with her husband. It makes me sad - and mad.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lessons from a 3 year old

My DD and I have some of the most profound conversations during our car rides to daycare. That is when we say our morning prayers. And - if we are organized enough - discuss the devotional we read that morning. More often than not, we're praying in between bites of breakfast we are eating in the car as we have, once again, rushed out the door late!
This morning we were in pretty decent shape. So while DD was eating leftover St. Patty's Day cupcakes for breakfast (someone pass the "bad mommy" award this way!), we did our Bible reading. She's been studying dinosours in daycare and asking a lot of questions about the earth, sun and moon. So I thought we'd do some Genesis reading this week. It took longer than I thought because she was full of questions. But we did muddle through Chapter 1.
As we got in the car, we said our prayers. I always have to stifle a laugh when she prays, "help God and Jesus not to cough and get sick." She also thanked God for the sun and the moon, and the light and dark - but "God made it light too early - I was sleepyhead this morning - not want to get up." Hmm, wonder if that prayer works for grown ups too!!!
We talked about God creating man and woman - male and female and that put us on the subject of who were boys and girls. I think this must be a new topic at daycare because lately DD points people out and says "that's a boy" and "that's a girl." We'll just gloss over the time she LOUDLY proclaimed in Target - "Mommy - that's a boy/girl. I not tell. Sounds like boy. But long hair like girl" -- Oops.
In any event, when we pray, I always pray for DD's future husband. DD asks this morning, "Mommy, why I have a future husband?" Boy did that open a can of worms. I explained that she would grow up someday and she might want to marry. If she did, God would pick out a very special boy for her. Then they'd have a wedding. I reminded her of the pictures of Daddy's and I's wedding. She said "the ones before I was born." I said "yes" and told her that after her wedding, maybe she and her husband would have babies too. She fires back a series of questions - what if I want to marry a girl? Boys are yucky sometimes. What if I want to have a baby first? I want a baby sister - can I have one of those? How come husbands come before babies? Why husbands not have the babies (I personally would like to know that too)?
In between rapid fire prayers to God for answers, I was laughing. And extremely thankful that the drive to daycare is only but so long. Now I have all day to think up answers to her questions. Course she'll have new ones for me this evening. I find her inquisitive nature astonishing. I find the task of providing her with the correct answers and guiding her development overwhelming and an awesome task. I am grateful for the extraordinary women in my life to whom I can turn to for answers and guidance.
I don't remember conversations like this with my mother. I do remember the "where do babies come from" book - complete with illustrations. It was scientific. No mention of the whys or morality in it all. I do remember the "what's happening to my body" book - from school. Again scientific. I remember playing wedding will my barbies - all about the ceremony. Nothing about he morality or meaning of it all. I intend my DD to know the details. I want her to dream and fantasize about her wedding day - not so much about the colors and dresses, but about the meaning of it all too........sniff......but not too soon. I'm not ready for her to grow up quite yet. I still have a lot to learn from my little theologian 3 year old.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

No matter how you felt during the abuse or feel now, you are
not responsible for the abuse. Even if you felt some
pleasure or enjoyment; or you wanted some
aspects to continue; or you were sexually attracted to the
abuser; or you sought the abuser out,
the abuser is always responsible for the abuse
and not the child. Think about it this way: if a child sought
you out for sexual stimulation, would you do it?
(from Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out - 3/11/07 -
What an idiotic question - if a child sought me out for sexual stimulation, would I do it? NO WAY. (GAG) Horrors of all horrors. The thought makes me nauseous. (BTW - if a child ever really does do this, please get the child to a therapist/doctor quickly). Not ever, never ever. Not if they begged. No matter what or how they asked. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
So given my emphatic answer above, why do I beat myself up for going with Toilet on car rides when I "knew" what might/would happen? Okay assume for a moment, and this is horribly, terribly difficult for me, but let's just assume that I got in the car, knowing what would happen and wanting it to happen or even requesting it (not the case BTW). A NORMAL sane person would say NO. Actually, a normal, sane person would get me (the child) to a doctor/therapist forthwith to determine why a child would ask such a thing, or even know about such a thing, or think such a thing is okay. They sure as hell wouldn't acquiesce -or worse yet, initiate it, be responsible for it, make the child think the child was at fault.
So why do I continue to blame myself for riding in the car with someone I should have been able to trust? Blame myself for not stopping it when it was really his job to say NO? Twist myself into thinking that because I knew it might happen if I got in the car, and because I got in the car anyway, that I must have "asked for it" or "wanted it"?
Yet another example of my mind being able to make perfect sense of such a simple concept - yet my heart refusing to accept it.

All Advice is Not Created Equal

My husband came home irritated this week. It turns out he had been called into a work meeting, along with several colleagues. He and one co-worker don't get along very well. I think that it is simply because they have entirely different personalities and temperaments. However, because they conflict with each other, they have both been labelled troublemakers. This other gentleman accused DH of not knowing what he was doing, of rushing through jobs and of only being concerned with the amount of money he makes, rather than the quality of job he does. I know that is wrong. DH was very upset over these remarks. I gave him a hug and told him not to concern himself with what others think of him - DD & I know better. His family knows better. His true friends know better. Who cares what others think?

ON THE OTHER HAND - Earlier this week, I was in the company of four of my female colleagues. One joked that the way she had gotten this obtuse, insufferable male colleague to be quiet when he was in one of his raging tirades, was to look him straight in the eye and say, "{Name} just be quiet, you know you are just raging because you think I'm hot and you want to sleep with me." He was dumb-founded. She said his mouth literally fell open and he has never raged at her again. All of us laughed and I joked that maybe I ought to try it. The other women in the room said "You, no way. You could never pull that off." It made me realize that other people don't see me as I see myself. They don't see a big "Dirty" label on my forehead. They don't see me for my past drinking or promiscuity. They don't know about my past history of having a foul mouth. They don't see the baggage of guilt and shame that I carry around. Instead others see me, and I know I have a reputation of, being a hard-worker, intelligent, of good character and morals, not a party animal, clean-mouthed, professional and woman. Hmm. Maybe I need to start seeing myself as others see me, and believing in myself what others believe.

It goes to show you that all advice is not created equal.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I think I'm in Shock - Carnival against Sexual violence

One of my posts from here was accepted for publication. I'm in shock and very humbled. Please check out all the posts from the Carnival Against Sexual Violence here - There are many, many inspiring posts there. This post especially spoke to me - Actually, it threw me into an absolute panic - but I know it is one I need to read again, more in-depth (and then tattoo it across my forehead and read it every day until it sinks in).

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In honor of St. Patty's Day, I'll post in GREEN !

The Ugly -
  • The 2 incidents of SI yesterday
  • The panic attacks which got quite bad
  • Thinking I saw Toilet in a car that I passed and running off the road and almost hitting a tree in response

The Bad -

  • The email from my mother
  • Waiting for a response to the email (see below) that I sent to my mother late last night and the panic attacks I'm having while I relate

The Good -
  • a much-needed and perfectly time invitation for a coffee break
  • coming home and receiving a much-needed and great response from DH who supported me and then took over while I napped for 2 hours.
  • Snuggles with DD before bed and reading her bedtime stories
  • A reminder from a friend that DD will never know the pain that I know toward my mother.
  • Sending ~an~ email to my mom in response - not the first ugly one, not the second revised one, but a third one. One that I feel comfortable sending.
  • My morning devotion from Heb 13:5 which reminds me that "never will [He} forsake [me], never will [He] forsake [me]." And the message which told me to never interpret my numbness as God's absence - that there is no chorus (or droning head noises during panic attacks, or tingling feelings during panic attacks, or dissociation so deep) that God cannot be heard ..... IF we but listen. I'm going to try to listen more.

The Awesome -

  • The Girls' Night Out scrapbooking planned for tonight
  • The manicure, pedicure and massage I have scheduled for tomorrow.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My Response to Mom

I probably won't send this - and certainly not in this format - but I'm mad and this seems like a constructive way to release my feelings - maybe.

Dear Mom,
Your last email said "Hi. Just wondering how you are doing. Haven't talked to you for awhile, and I worry about you. Hope everything is okay, and getting better. Love and hugs, Mom"

How am I? Do you really want to know? You worry about me? Why? Is it because you sense something is "not okay" -- is that why you "hope [things are] getting better."

How dare you ask how I am? How about this - how are you? Oh I are still living with HIM - the man I call Toilet. Well, that should give you clue #1 about how I am. I am how I am because you chose and still choose to live with your child abusing boyfriend (that you later married) and pretend that's an okay/normal thing.

Haven't talked to me in awhile - duh, because our conversations are limited. I can only hear so much about your work. And you don't have any other life outside of your husband - and since we don't talk about him....well that leaves conversations stilted. Oh, and there is that whole therapy issue too. Since you blame all of my 'problems' on counseling, I don't talk to you about that either. And since that is 2 hours of my week and lots of other hours working on things, that doesn't leave me a whole lot to talk about with you. Cause you sure as hell don't want to hear about my daily panic attacks, the amount of xanax I'm on; the fact that DH & I are having fights over my "issues"; the fact that not only did I not get a work bonus last year, but I'll be damn lucky not to get fired this year because of my "issues." The fact that I have 24 fresh new marks on my leg because of your damn post. Nah - you think I ought to just "get over it" and "move on." Because after all, it is not the abuse that is causing all this pain - it's my inability to let it go, put it behind, leave it in the past where it belongs.

You worry about me? Where was your worry when I was 12 and your husband's new play toy? Where were you when I was 13 and told you what your husband did? Where where you when I was 14-20 and trying to drown out my memories in alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and other troubling behaviors?

Hope everything is okay - yeah "okay" would be an improvement over how things have been lately. "getting better" - if it gets worse, I'm in big trouble.

"Love and hugs" - save it for yourself - you need it.

Damnitoallhell again

I had an out of office event this morning. Got done and started to drive back. My lower/mid back along the side has been hurting since yesterday. Not sure if I pulled something working out or if it is one of my infamous kidney infections getting ready to rear it's ugly head. Probably a kidney infection given that it is Thursday - because it won't get real bad until about Saturday evening. And because I've been drinking WAY too much caffeine and not enough water. I know better than that.
So anyway, driving back from my meeting with the windows open and good music on. Can't go as fast as I want because there is a state trooper in front of me. So I had to follow him and he was only going 73 (in a 65)! Couldn't decide what to do about lunch. Started getting panicky - no idea why. So I went to the local sub shop, picked up a sandwich and, knowing my office is quiet at lunch, came back here to check in with online groups, eat my lunch and relax in the quiet.
Of course, given that it is 2007 and no one's life is complete without email, I need to check my messages. Last Friday was the IM conversation with Mom. On Sunday, I found out from my sister that mom is (1) convinced I'm exagerating everything; (2) convinced I'm making too big of a deal out of things and need to just "get over it"; (3) should quit therapy because, after all, if I wasn't thinking/talking about these things, it would just all go away, and (4) is mad because our relationship has changed. Two days ago I sent out a "hi, how are you, general update" type email to all the family, including Mom. Today I get an email back - just from her -

Hi. Just wondering how you are doing. Haven't talked to you for
awhile, and I worry about you. Hope everything is okay,
and getting better. Love and hugs, Mom

(insert silent scream here)
  • "wondering how I'm doing" - ASK ME. She doesn't ever ask. I think she's afraid of the answer. Part of me is quite tempted to just tell her. A "dear mom, life is crappy, all your fault, love me" type letter.
  • "haven't talked to you for awhile" - we talked 1 1/2 weeks ago; IM-ed one week ago. I emailed you (okay, a group email) this week. How about responding?
  • "I worry about you" - Why would that be? Why the worry all of a sudden? Where was the worry when I was 12?
  • "Hope everything is okay and getting better" - getting better? Oh, you mean you DO have a clue that life isn't peachy keen over here.....hmm, how about addressing THAT once in awhile.

UGH. Throwing wadded up paper around my office just isn't all that effective in releasing anger.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Road Less Travelled

This is a play on words - instead of taking the road "less" travelled, I think I'm wandering around in the wilderness (maybe like the Israelites in the Bible) in circles, taking the same path over and over and over again. I am tired of re-visiting the same issues over and over again. I’m tired of never feeling like I fully deal with an issue or topic.
My "favorite" topics to re-visit are (1) Control; (2) Guilt/Shame; and (3) Verbalization. In a way, these issues are all intertwined. In many ways I feel like the guilt allows me to hold onto control. To remain who I’ve been for so long. I’m scared of what the non-guilty me looks like. Will I become bitter? Mad? Vengeful? Seek retaliation? I don’t want to become this angry, bitter person. To me, becoming a bitter, angry person gives control to Toilet and allows him to shape who I’ve become. But there are some things wrong with that statement - (1) he and what he has done HAS already shaped who I’ve become. It’s up to me to decide what parts of who I’ve become are okay, and what parts need to be rejected and re-shaped. (2) It’s okay to be angry about what happened - I need to get over my fear of anger - expressed in an "appropriate" way.

It’s as if I say that I’m the innocent one and he’s the guilty one, then he is "responsible" for what happened. I’ve learned (s...l...o...w...l...y) to accept that he is EVIL - that what he did is EVIL. And I know he is responsible for what happened - but I don’t like the fact that the thought leads me to conclude that he was "in charge." (1) because I don’t want him to have been in charge - it makes him too powerful. And to think of him (now) as a powerful person is really scary (.................break time for panic attack here..................) And (2) if he wasn’t in control/charge then who was? I prefer to think of it as me. Because otherwise it has to be God. And therein lies the "why didn’t God do anything" questions that I’ve wrestled with for so long, and know that there is no good answer, but still feel anger over.

I know who I am with the guilt. I don’t know who I am without it. That’s scary. Guilt keeps my mouth shut. If there is no guilt, am I going to be come some advocate, someone who bears this big label "hey, sexual abuse survivor here" - I’m not really looking for that, and at this point, can not handle it. One of the reasons I don’t like some of what I read online is because there is somewhat of a suggestion that once you are "recovered," you have an obligation to speak out, not hide it, help others. I don’t mind helping others - I just don’t want to be known, or to have others know, I was abused. Some of it is the guilt feelings. Other feelings, I think, are more legitimate - I’ll be seen as biased, unable to be objective, in certain work-related areas. People will be hesitant to contact me about certain matters or be as open in discussing them with me - for fear I can’t handle it.

For some reason I feel a strong connection between my inability to verbalize things and my feelings of guilt/shame. I feel like I can’t verbalize things because certain words have power - the power to make me feel dirty, guilty, shameful. If I can get over that, conquer that, and say it outloud, then I think, in a way, I will have released those bad feelings. So it’s something I think I need to do. Even though it scares me to no end. Even though I find myself unable to do it. Again, I find myself STUCK.

Jesus as our Protector

I was having my quiet time this morning and reading my Max Lucado devotional calendar. Today's verse was Romans 8:34 (the message version) - "The One who died for in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us." That caught my attention - I've always wanted an older brother who would stick up for me.
It went on to say "Jesus is praying for us...Jesus has spoken and Satan has listened. The devil may land a punch or two. He may even win a few rounds, but he never wins the fight. Why? Because Jesus takes up for you -- Jesus at this very moment is protecting you...And God will 'never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you through it.'"

Hmm - maybe my limit is set too high. Maybe I need to lower my limits of tolerance, ask for help sooner, start climbing out of the pit before I hit absolute rock bottom. Now there is a novel concept.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yikes - people are reading this

One of the things I've enjoyed most about checking out the "blog world" is finding other people who are going through, or who have gone through, something similar to me. I enjoy finding out what inspires others. I often will post what they wrote here and then spin-off into my own thoughts.

Well, apparently people actually are reading my blog too. Who would have thought anyone would find something I had to say very interesting? I checked the email account I have set up with this blog and had emails from total strangers saying they had read my blog (Hi everyone !). How humbling and amazing. I tend to think of myself as being such a mess - I can't imagine anyone actually learning something, or finding something valuable in what I ramble about. How amazing. It gives me warm fuzzies deep down inside - something I haven't experienced in a long time. So THANK YOU to everyone who (1) reads this and (2) emailed me. It really made my day.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dealing with it - as long as it doesn't affect anyone else

(language disclaimer)
DH was a bear all last week. Just quiet - playing Nascar (playstation) every waking moment. Not saying anything about spending time together. Not trying to snuggle/cuddle. I asked if anything was wrong and then gave him space. And it was a busy week for us both and a hard one for me. I've learned over the years that it's best not to push him - it will come out. Well it all came out last night all right.
Last week (tuesday I think? or maybe earlier) I came home and told DH I really wanted to give up. I was tired of struggling with all this and I was ready to just call it quits and go back to the way it had been before I started messing around in my past. He said all the right things. I think I posted about some of them. I was surprised actually that given the choice, he would choose to keep going forward than go back. Because I know things haven't been easy on him. Apparantly, that conversation scared him pretty bad - but did he say anything? Nope - just stewed over it.
Yesterday (Sunday), we go to church. Typical Sunday panic attack day. I come home, get DD fed (while DH changes clothes), get her down to bed and tell her that if she doesn't want to nap, she needs to stay on her bed with books. She's good with that. DH wants to take his gun back to the gun shop (it's misfiring and he HAS to do it ASAP because heaven forbid he wait more than one day to deal with that situation). So I lay in our room, dozing, but keeping an ear out for DD. DH comes home and says he's going to play Playstation. I ask him if he minds listening for DD so I can truly doze off and he says no problem. He wakes me up as he's needing to leave for cantata rehearsal. I take DD to mall (I wanted to go to park, but she wanted to go to the mall). Come home, fix her dinner, then fix a chicken pot pie and mashed potatoes for us to heat up for tonight. Then I clean/scrub the entire house while DD "helps" and plays playdough at table. DH comes home, plops down on couch and watches nascar. He did play playdough some too - after making himself a sandwich and messing up my kitchen. He also did help fold 1 load of the laundry I dumped in the chair where he was sitting (he wasn't sitting there when I did it).
So I clean the whole house. He watches TV. I tell Caleigh to go put her jammies on and she says she wants to do it in the living room. I say fine. Does DH help? Nope, watches TV. I put DD to bed. I then shower and come out to the living room. Nascar is over so I flip on Amazing race. Matthew comes out and is huffy. I'm on the computer. He makes snide comments about the "faggots" on the show - a term I despise. And other nasty comments. So I know he is itching for a fight.
He says - "what made you decide to clean the whole house?" in an accusatory tone and then says "it looks nice." I told him it was filthy. He gets defensive - I did clean the kitchen (he swept it once) and vacuum (once) in the past 2 weeks. I just told him it was nasty and so I cleaned it.
So AR gets over and he says "what is this?" and I tell him I'm watching "Cold Case" now. He makes fun of the male dancer on the show the entire time. Then he asks if I'm mad because he didn't clean. I told him no - although I had wondered how long and how nasty the house would get before he felt the need to clean it. I told him that I always make an effort to pick up extra "chores" when he is busy with church stuff or even out hunting and doing his thing. I would appreciate him doing the same. So he's ill because he thinks he's done enough.
So Cold Case gets over and I'm going to watch Without a Trace. Now we have 2 TVs in our house. But I was hooked up to dial up on the computer in the living room - where his playstation is. So he pouts and I swear he stomped his foot and says "well what am I supposed to do? I'll just go to bed even though I'm not tired." I told him that he'd played playstation already and watched the race and that I wanted to watch my shows (honestly I only watch TV on Sundays and Thursdays AND he's not at home on Thursdays). He's huffy because he says he only watched 1 1/2 hours of the race and that I'm just mad he didn't help clean - not true. Help would have been nice but really I was working off frustration and didn't mind cleaning.
So I think I tossed the remote at him - probably a bit harder than usual - but I didn't chuck it at his head and told him to watch whatever the hell he wanted. He asks me what my problem is and I tell him that I'm just trying to relax. He says - you had all day yesterday afternoon to relax. I remind him that I did run errands for us and get groceries. He says "then you scrapbooked." I explained that it was more of a "therapy type scrapbook thing and not all that fun." He says, "WISH I HAD THAT TO USE AS AN EXCUSE. YOU ARE ALWAYS USING THAT AS AN EXCUSE." I was pissed. Beyond pissed. I gripped the computer with both hands so I wouldn't throw it at his head, looked straight at him and said, "DH, Fuck you."
After I calmed down, I asked him if that is really how he feels - that I use the abuse as an excuse. He has made comments before about my "napping all the time" and "must be nice to take 40 minute showers" and comments to DD that "mommy is sick." He said he does think I use it as an excuse. I told him that it hurt that he thought I was that kind of person. Here I was struggling with not wanting to give up, because I was tired of all these needing naps, etc. and he says he doesn't want me too - but then he gets made when I need some extra support or time away.
So I numb out at this point - contemplate leaving for awhile. But the panic attacks are starting and so I just sit there. He tries to turn the conversation on attacking me - that I need to get over him wanting to take DD to his parents (I explained that it wasn't his parents - it was that I wanted him to want to spend some time with his daughter - not dump her on his folks and go out hunting/shooting with his dad). That I don't appreciate all he does (I told him repeatedly this week that I appreciated his helping out more with running, meals and not being upset the few times I've met with J late). He keeps trying to divert back to the usual (safe) argument.
I turn it back to the original one.
I ask him if he really thinks I am dishonest enought to "fake" needing time when I really don't. He says yes. Why? Because I told him when we married that I had dealt with it and was fine - I had this "normal looking" relationship with my mom and Toilet - and apparantly I was lying. So now he wonders just how honest I'm being with everything. (That fucking bastard!) He thinks I'm using dealing with all of this as an excuse to get time alone and avoid my responsibilities. He says - you know like when you get sick and milk it out longer to get more sympathy? NO YOU BIG JERK - I don't know. I didn't have that luxury growing up. He points out all the "sick" time I've taken - ONE day with my 24 hour bug (where I ended up working from home); THREE days with jaw surgery, and ONE day with the braces. NONE related to dealing with the abuse - well one a really long time ago (9 months ago maybe).
So here it is - he wants me to not quit and give up - yet he's not willing to give me the time and space to do it.
He wants me to not hide my feelings and needs - yet he'll throw them up in my face when I admit them.
He wants me to be open and honest with him about my fears, wants, needs, struggles - yet he throws them back in my face.
He asked me what he could do to help and I made him a list of things he could do - just re-wording of phrases and a list of things that trigger (i.e playing with his feet). Well, he thinks he has a "right" to do that in his own house - I agree, but pointed out that it does make me panicky. Tough - that's my problem. He shouldn't have to give that up because some bastard abused me.
I gave up and went to bed. I really planned on throwing his pillow at him and telling him to sleep on the couch. But I didn't. He wanted to talk some more. He said that he apologized for the way things came out - but those were his feelings. He's frustrated too. I've told him that if he needs time away or whatever or if there is anything I can do to make this easier on him, to tell me. He's not said anything about needing anything. I told him that I wasn't sure I could fight any more and that I thought DD and he might be better off without me. He did say he wanted me to keep fighting and that "that bastard is not going to win." He doesn't understand - I'm not fighting Toilet any more - not really. I'm fighting ME - what I've allowed the abuse to do to ME.
Anyway after enough rambling, I've decided -
1. No way in hell am I telling him about the pinning.
2. I've got to tone it down at home and not be running in and taking 5-10 minutes to nap or 40 minute showers.
3. I need to keep struggling - but only if it doesn't inconvenience DH.
4. I sure as hell am not going to be as open with him about my strugglees.
He said he was most pissed because I don't tell him what is going on. No freaking wonder when you throw it back in my face.
Anyway, it's morning and I'm still pissed. Why is it that everyone in my life wants me to (1) forget about it and get over it (mom); or (2) work through it, but don't inconvenience me and don't use it as an excuse (DH).
Why does everyone pretend to want me to get help and become the "real me" but then not support me, but rather attack me, when I do?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Powerful Analogy - Repairing the Car

Someone posted this analogy on a board I post on. I found it so appropriate - (I took out the personal details she posted) -

Picture this normal scenario...You're going about your normal business and you reverse your car out of a parking space like you do every other day, but this day you hit a lamp post. So you do what most people do, you're embarrassed and you drive on. But it's not running right, it's pulling to one side and making a knocking noise. You can ignore it (be in denial) for only so long. But eventually it's going to bug you enough that you have to take it to a mechanic.

So you take it to the mechanic, and although you can see what's wrong with it (it pulls and rattles) and you can drive to compensate for those, the mechanic still has to take parts off the car to find the broken part. As the parts come off she finds more damage you couldn't see, and didn't realize. Well now you have 2 choices, you can go back into denial and drive on with the pulling to one side and the rattling, or you can fix them and put the car right.

That's a bit like healing from rape and sexual assault in that at the moment we are attacked we are usually going about our usual business. And it's a huge shock, like hitting a lamp post. So very many of us say to ourselves, we'll be OK, we can function, we'll just ignore and forget and we'll compensate for it by adjusting our driving (adjusting our lifestyle). But one day you'll feel like, I don't want to compensate for the rattle and the pull anymore I want to be free and have my life as I choose it. That's when you check into therapy (like the mechanic) and then you usually find things you didn't know where there too.

So you discover all these things that need to be dealt with. Issues you had either ignored, hadn't realized were connected to the abuse, or didn't even realize you had. So you are like, "nooo, I don't wanna do this" but you know you can't keep running with things rattling and pulling to one side, so you go on, even though it's hard. As a result you get slowly closer to being WHO YOU WANT TO BE, not just WHO YOU HAD TO be to survive.So you can be in denial if you want to, and that's OK if it's what you choose because how you feel is up to you. But it's not going to make it go away no matter how good you are at stuffing it back down and compensating for it. So the bottom line is, you have the right to choose however you want to live and that's OK but in order to really heal you have to be honest that you're not OK to start with.

I know I'm not OK - not at all - I just don't know where to go from here.

Why can't I ???

Why can't I just --
  • say, "I could really use some help with this."
  • say, "what you are doing is bothering me."
  • say, "I'm not having a good day. This would really help me...."
  • say, "I need _______."
  • know what I need.
  • know what I want.
  • know what I'm feeling.
  • Verbalize what I'm feeling.
  • express what I need without feeling like I have to have some serious reason for having a need.
  • relax without feeling panicked.
  • take a breather without having to sleep or having a panic attack.
  • enjoy being by myself.
  • like myself.
  • cry when I need to cry.

I woke up this morning panicked. Nothing unusual about that - typical Sunday morning church panic. Yesterday, an online friend shared something her therapist said about her pre-church panic attacks. Her therapist says that she noticed this friend has PAs when friend senses a loss of power (another word for control for me). Her therapist said that the panic attacks are completely appropriate since she felt she was "checking [her] real self at the door in order to pretend to be what [she] felt [she] needed to be fit in."

OMG - that is so me. I feel like a fraud in church. I'm a trustee; head up committees; teach children; a totally active member. But I don't "feel" church like I know I should. I enter the doors as if people can see inside me and see how dirty I feel inside - and that if they do, they will kick me out. So in the church situation, I think it is panic at being "found out" for who I really am, rather than the person I pretend to be in order to fit in.

I think that statement though, applies more than just to church. I am fine, panic-wise, when I'm with others, busy, active, doing something. It's the minute I get alone though that I have the bad thoughts and panic. It's as if the "fake mask" slips off and I struggle with slipping back into the "real" me and I don't know who that is, and what I do know, I don't like.

Church was tough. Sunday school was about making time for God. Having a quiet time to connect with God. Taking a break from the stresses of real life. Then church was deacon ordination which meant it lasted longer. I had to leave for a break but the bathroom was busy too. Came home and slept but not without bad dreams. Then DH had things to do so it was just DD and me. We went to the mall and she played while I picked up some things I want. I tried to enjoy driving in the sun with the warm air and windows down. But my thoughts - the bad thoughts- kept creeping in. Came home and put my nervous energy to good use - cleaned every nook and cranny of my house. DH came home and just sat there watching me.

Our house was filthy. I've avoided doing anything but the bare necessities for 3 weeks now. Usually when DH goes away for "his" time, I try to clean the house, so he can come home relaxed without having to run around crazy. He knows this and has commented on it. I've even mentioned that I would appreciate the same courtesy. When that didn't work, I just quit doing anything. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, everything. I wondered if he'd get disgusted enough to do it. Nope. So I started cleaning tonight thinking maybe he'd notice and pitch in. Nope. He asks, "why were you in the mood for cleaning tonight?" I told him that the house was a filthy mess. He starts arguing with me about all that he has done over the past weeks and how it wasn't that bad. Making excuses. On the good side, the super-cleaning did wear off some of my nervous energy.

DH is unhappy with his job. Talking about finding another but doesn't want to lose his senority, vacation, etc. Can't make his mind. I don't expect him too. He can't make up his mind about anything. He's constantly asking what he should do - should I go to bed? play nascar? do this - do that. It's like he is the 3 year old in the house.

Recently I've mentioned wanting to run away - to just get away from it all. Now I'm not so sure that is a good idea. I don't think being by myself is smart or safe right now. I am looking forward to my girls weekend in 2 weeks - relaxing, but not alone. I think that will be good for me. I hope it will be. I hope I can hang in until then.