Thursday, May 31, 2007

Losing my Grip on Reality

What a day - things started getting intense last night. Had a pretty rough panic attack. But took the xanax. Did as much deep breathing as possible with a three year old demanding I play the part of "Copper" in Fox in the Hound. Managed to resist SI-ing by giving up and going to bed early. Slept okay.

Woke up this morning. Urge is still here but was running late so just got out of house quickly. Drive to work and am slowing down for a light when BUMP - a car hits me from behind. It wasn't bad. Very minor. Got out and looked things over. I think the other driver wasn't sure if he had really hit me or if the sound he heard was his brakes - you know that sound they make when you jam them. Anyway, no damage to either car, so went on to work.

I got to work and was trying to look at my To Do list to see what needed to be done today. I remembered a conversation with my husband from last night when he wanted me to do something. He came in when I was trying to do my deep breathing and said "I need you to look this up for me." It came off kind of demanding and I didn't react real well. After we got our daughter to bed, we talked. He apologized for his tone and I apologized for my reaction. So all was well. Until this morning....

In the past, I have had to over-analyze every little thing. If Husband said something just the slightest bit snappy (like last night), I would play out the various responses in my head - from saying nothing to leaving the house in a huff. The next day I would have trouble remembering what really happened versus what I just "made up" in my head. I just chalked it up to the fact that my brain was always so busy over-analyzing.

Well that has gotten a bit better with this new medication and my brain seems less "busy" now. Last night, I don't remember analyzing things in my head. But right now I can't for sure say whether I looked the info up or whether that was in my head. I hate to ask him - he'd think I was crazy. (edited to add - hubby called and I casually asked if he had gotten the golf reservations. He said he'd call later. So apparently I did look it up and give it to him). I had to look it up in the history of my computer. It's there. So I did look up the info. It still doesn't seem "real" though. If I were in a court of law, I could not swear on the Bible that I had done it, even though I have proof that I did. I have no "feeling" about having done it. This is driving me nuts. I feel like I'm losing my grip on reality. Is this normal? What the hell is happening to me?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One Big Happy (Connected) Part

Okay so I wrote out my story on here this week and last. When I wrote my story I was actually there. Before, I remembered things but it was in a detached way. Dissociative I guess. This time when I wrote, I did the "shut my eyes and type" trick but I was there. I could see, hear, feel, smell things. It was horrible. On another site, I've seen it called "body memories." I don't know how I typed. I know I took breaks. I know I got sick at one point. I know I lost time. I have no doubt I wrote what I wrote. I remember writing parts. And I know when I typed it, that there were parts that were more clear than ever. Sort of like new memories. But now, in the present, I can't connect with that. I'm not sure how to explain it.

I tried to explain it to my therapist too and couldn't really. When I used to think about (and try to talk about) what happened, it was in a third-person detached way. I could intellectually remember what happened for the most part, but couldn't connect with the emotional part of it. When I was writing this out on here last week, I was connected fully. (too fully if you ask me). But now, again it's like it is someone else. It's as if I can't remain connected to it emotionally. Maybe it is supposed to be that way. Maybe it's a protective mechanism.

I was blog hopping while eating lunch at my desk today. Just cruising around to see what was out there. Got to looking back at some of my old posts on my blog too. Uh oh. I don't remember writing some of them. I mean I know I wrote them. And what is in them is true. But I'm not connected to having written them. I have no "real" sense or feeling that I wrote them, just some inner knowledge that I did. (I don't know if this making any sense whatsoever). I read one post and just about gagged. I can't believe I wrote something so detailed and graphic and just ick. I want to delete it so bad. But I committed when starting this blogging thing to not do that. So I'll just hope it remains buried in my past posts.

When I post and write things, sometimes it gets pretty intense. Sometimes I have to shut my eyes and type (like with My Story). But I'm here writing it and typing it - present in the moment. Then I go back and read it, and while I know I wrote it, it is as if someone else wrote it. I feel no connection - no emotion about what I wrote. Well, not exactly true. Sometimes what I wrote makes me want to throw up. But that's the only emotion I really feel.

So WHY is this bothering me? One is this whole lack of connection between my mind and my emotions. I hate having fuzzy parts. I think maybe (okay, probably not) I could learn to accept fuzziness with past memories. But when current memories (like writing out my story) become fuzzy, it really bothers me. I mean I have what I wrote on here and my blog to know that I wrote it out. I can read it and remember it as being true. But I can't connect with the person who wrote it. It's like there is the "coping, detached" me and the me who experiences emotions.

I just want to feel whole again. Connected. All one big happy (connected) part. Is that too much to ask?

Confrontations - My Story cont (part 8)

To link back to prior Parts (1-7) of My Story click Here

Confronting Mom
I remember bits and pieces of conversations with my mom after the initial disclosure. I remember helping to load items onto the lunch truck she and Toilet were operating. We were having a discussion. I was 15 years old and pregnant and she was telling me what I had to do. At times she made me seem like I had a choice. But then there was the overriding threat (a reoccurring theme) that any other choice would result in my Dad finding out. Then Mom said something about giving me a little bit of time to recover but after that I needed to move on. She said, "You need to get over this. Not like the abuse that you keep holding onto. You need to learn to let go and forget about things."

What horrible advice. Not to mention that her statement is a direct acknowledgment that she knew, 3 years later, that the abuse still bothered me. Yet she did nothing and offered no help.

Later I was in highschool. I believe it was my junior year. I was taking a psychology course and thought that the field of psychology sounded interesting. I had done something wrong and was getting one of Mom's "famous 2 hour lectures." I would zone off during her lectures and became a pro at nodding in the appropriate spots. This time I started debating back with her (perhaps the spark that set my ultimate career path in motion?). She said something about me "making her" do something or feel something. I told her that she had a "choice" about what to do. She started yelling about things not being a choice and I yelled back that she had always had choices but just chose not to use them wisely. She slapped me -- across the face. I considered slapping her back. But didn't.

There was another attempt by me to talk to Mom about the abuse and why she didn't react differently. The details of this conversation are very sketchy. I can't remember exactly what she said but it was something about how she was mad at me. She couldn't understand why her husband preferred me over her. She thought of me as the "other woman."

Confronting Toilet
I don't remember how or why the conversation took place. I can not remember the events preceding the conversation or the events subsequent to the conversation. It is the only conversation I remember having with Toilet about what happened. I remember we were standing on the upper half of our split level staircase. He was coming up the stairs and I was going down. He was a few steps below me and so we were almost eye-level. He looked right at me and in that tone of his, said something about the fact that he was the adult and should have stopped things, but then said to me, "You wanted it. You liked it. You kept coming back for more." He said the blame wasn't all his. I accepted his truth for a very long time, and still do on most days...........

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Georgia Rule - the Movie

I went to see the movie "Georgia Rule" - my sister called and said I had to go see it because it portrayed our family so accurately. I went by myself (not such a good idea). The producers did a good job handling the subject but it was still tough to watch.

(warning - movie spoiler) Jane Fonda is the grandma, Georgia, who lives in a small, predominantly Morman town. Felicity Huffman is the mother, Lilly and Lindsay Lohan plays daughter, Rachel. Rachel graduated highschool early and is set to go to college in the fall. However, she has been doing drugs and acting out for years - lying too about her drug use and other things. When Rachel wrecks her car, it is the last straw. Lilly drags Rachel back to her hometown and dumps Rachel on Grandma.

Lilly and Georgia had a falling out after Lilly's father (Georgia's husband) died. Rachel has only ever seen Grandma one time in her life. Since Lilly can't handle Rachel, she dumps Rachel on Grandma for the summer. Rachel, stuck in an extremely small Idaho town for the summer, immediately tests the boundaries. Grandma is a bit strict with her "Georgia Rule(s)" and Rachel rebels. Rachel flirts with everyone, including a local Morman boy and her "old enough to be her father, used to date her mother" boss. Very flirtatious and very promiscuous.

In a heated moment, Rachel blurts out to her employer (friend/surrogate dad) that her step-father started sleeping with her at age 12. Then when this person tells Grandma and Grandma confronts Lilly, everything hits the fan. Lilly confronts StepDad who naturally denies everything. Then Lilly drives from California back to Georgia's house to confront Rachel. Lilly is sure that Rachel is lying. But Georgia believes Rachel. Torn between the two versions of the truth, Lilly reverts to her old coping mechanism of drinking. Seeing this and wanting to protect her mother, Rachel recants - sort of. She yells at her Mom, something along the lines of "Yes Mom it was a lie, a like when he stuck his tongue down my throat and a lie when he slept with me." It's obvious to the viewer that Rachel is not lying. But wanting to believe the "safer" version, Lilly accepts the recantation. Later Rachel reveals that it started when she was 12, stopped briefly when she was 14 and a boy friend threatened to kill him. Then resumed when StepDad told her she'd have to "earn" her car. Turns out Rachel's latest car wreck is an attempt to revoke that "bondage" that came along with the car.

Rachel has always protected Mom and knows Mom signed a prenup and will end up on the streets if there is a divorce. StepDad has also threatened Rachel. And Rachel knows her recent actions (drug use and lying) don't make her the most believable.

Lilly goes back and forth with believing her daughter, Rachel and believing her husband. Georgia never waivers in her belief of Rachel's initial report. Rachel tries to seduce the young Morman boy and he gives in. She yells something about "wanting him to say no." Then Rachel turns her sights on her father figure/employer. He does say No. She says to him, "Thank you for saying 'No'." And in that moment you realize that Rachel just wanted to be valued for more than her sex appeal.

In the end, Rachel confronts StepDad. She tells him that if he is good to her Mom, that Rachel won't tell. Rachel sticks by her recantation and Mom drives off with StepDad. On the drive, StepDad sticks his foot in his mouth and in a pivotal moment, Lilly abandons him for her daughter.

Overall the movie was pretty good. In a way I'm glad Hollywood is addressing these issues. They did a halfway decent job. I knew what the movie would be about. But others in the theater did not. I watched some of the older couples in the theaters. At first they were shocked at Rachel's actions and promiscuity and then I could see their expressions change as they realized WHY she was acting that way. Maybe, just maybe, people will start to understand.

Some of the movie was hard to watch. My Sister was right. It really did depict our family. Down to the fact that the abuse started at age 12 and was by a step-father. Also the words that were spoken. When there is the confrontation between Rachel and Lilly, Rachel tries to express her hurt by detailing what happened. Lilly retaliates by basically accusing Rachel of "stealing her man." Boy did that ring true in my life. I remember (hazily) a conversation where my mother told me she felt as if I were the "other woman."

Then there was the scene at the end when StepDad is yelling, "She wanted it. She seduced me." Those are the words Toilet told me and my mother as well. Only those words didn't trigger the same reaction in my Mom as they did in Lilly. Because in the end, Lilly stands by her daughter.

The movie trailers portray it as a story about how "family ties don't break." Well, they do sometimes. I am a living example.

(I really hope Lindsay Lohan's latest escapades in the press won't detract from the serious message in the film)

For another blogger's perspective on the movie - see Thinking Girl's post.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

I watched a lot of Memorial Day tributes this weekend. This one, Happy Memorial Day Video by Lizzie Palmer, a 15 year old girl, was the most profound.

Lord, please protect our fighting men and women and those serving our country wherever they may be. Please bless,comfort and strengthen their friends and family who are here supporting them. Amen.

Stop Coming to Me to Solve your Problems

I am struggling so much right now that I find it amazing that people can not tell just by looking at me. I forgot to RSVP to a bridal shower until this past weekend. Then I got in the car Saturday and realized that I had missed it entirely. That is absolutely unlike me - me with my palm pilot, color-coordinated calendar and reminder notes everywhere. When I RSVP-ed late (by email) the host was so understanding and reassuring that it was fine and she'd see me there. Then I forgot to go. I ran into her today at the store and she blew it off like it was no big deal. I'm not so good at reading people and I couldn't tell if she was really irritated or if it really was not a big deal.

Not too long ago, a colleague wanted to pass a matter on to me. His client was needing a divorce from his promiscuous wife. Turns out the Wife had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her own father. Father died and Wife finally disclosed the abuse to her Husband. Then went on a drunken spree and became very promiscuous, engaging in several affairs. I didn't so much blame Husband for needing his space, and for his desire to keep their children safe until Wife could heal and get back on her feet. But Husband wanted to use Wife's past, as well as her current behaviour, in court. I refused. The fact that she is too drunk to care for her own children - sure that's an argument I can make. The fact that she is somehow unfit because of her childhood ---- sorry, buddy you are on your own there.

I had a phone message last night from a church member. At my church I drafted the Children's Protection Policies which require that any person working with our children and youth be background checked and be a member for at least six months. I'm pretty outspoken about making sure our kids are safe. In my line of work, I deal with, and advocate for, abused children all the time. The church member who called knows this. A very good friend of his was in a bind. Apparently, this person (I'll call him X), had inherited some money a few months ago upon the death of X's mother. X was estranged from his first wife (now deceased) and two daughters, one of which (I'll call her D) lives here in town with her boyfriend and is into the "goth" scene. Church friend tells me all of this and then says "I've know X since we were toddlers and I don't believe this or that he would ever harm anyone at all." I should have hung up there, but I continued listening. I was in the car on the way to lunch with my husband and daughter. Out to have a good family time.

Church friend went on to say that D and her boyfriend didn't have any money and he suspects they want some of X's inheritance. D called X the other night and "made some accusations." I skirted the issue some and finally put on my "work mask" and asked Church Friend exactly what the accusations were. I was hoping for nice, generic descriptions like "sexual assault," "fondle," or "inappropriate touch." Nope. I got the whole story. I actually cut him off midway through. Referred him to another attorney who handles criminal matters. Told him I didnt' handle criminal, which isn't exactly true, because I have before. Told him that I wouldn't handle that type of civil case either - which isn't really true. I would, but only on the other side of it.

Now I don't know if this guy did anything or not. Maybe it is a ploy by D and her boyfriend to get some money. I don't really know X at all except to have seen him visit the church sometimes. I know that everyone that knows X seems to like him. Frankly the first time I met him, I got the "creepy man" vibe but then was kicking myself for feeling that way about someone I didn't know.

I hung up the phone having referred Church Friend to someone who could be of more benefit to X. Truth is, I could have handled the situation from a purely work-related perspective. I have before. But not today. Not now. Not in my current state of mind. And frankly I didn't want to help.

When I hung up the phone, my husband had heard enough of my side of the conversation (despite my attempts to maintain some sort of privilege even though there wasn't technically any requirement to do so). Husband was upset that I was so upset, and that he had been the one to remind me to call Church Friend back.

I guess it just surprises me when things like the above happen. I'm amazed that people can't tell, just by looking at me, what I've experienced. I feel so messed up inside that I find it hard to fathom that people can't tell just by looking at me. I feel like I am wearing this huge scarlet letter across my forehead that tells everyone I'm a victim. I post on abuse survivor sites and I don't ever in any shape or form judge any of them. So why do I judge myself - why do I find it hard to see myself as a victim? See myself as anything other than dirty, ashamed, guilty? Why do I find myself amazed when people come to me for help, when they want to associate with me or spend time with me? When my husband tells me I'm attractive?

I really don't want anyone to know about my past - about the abuse, or my present - about the SI, panic, flashbacks. I'm afraid of what they'll think. Scared of losing my job, my family and everything that I hold close and dear. Afraid others will see me as I see myself. The other part wants people to know. So they will exercise a little more caution around me. So I won't be the one they call when their "friends" need a little help. So they won't make certain jokes around me. So they will turn off certain shows when I am over. Guess it's a huge catch-22.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Calling for a Time Out

I am feeling again. Two years ago I would have given my right hand to feel emotions again. Now the old adage rings true -- be careful what you wish for. I know that this healing is a process - a very LONG process, it seems.

I started out being very numb. I wore a mask appropriate to the situation. If I were "supposed to be" happy, I acted happy. Plastered a smile across my face. The only real emotion I could experience was anger - sometimes. And very infrequently - joy, and then usually with respect to my daughter. I decided that wasn't a good way to live life. The anger was hurting my marriage as well.

The good 'ol PTSD kicked in and I started being triggered more and more. I was remembering things that had been forgotten for so long. It was a real struggle. I overcame that hurdle and the anxiety kicked in. Panic attack after panic attack. It was interfering with my entire life. All I could feel was anxiety and panic. The new medication helped with that. Things were calm again. It wasn't numbness, per se. But a feeling of floating a bit. I felt relief and as if life had finally slowed down to a manageable level. Even the jaw surgery, work stress and other things weren't terrible. I was able to cope. I wanted time to stop and figure out this life without panic attacks for awhile.

Now the emotions have kicked in. Before I had time to adjust, I was overwhelmed by this whole "feeling" thing. I haven't felt emotions - unexpected, unplanned, spontaneous emotions, for as long as I can remember. In fact, I really can't remember it. Sometimes it's good - like laughing with friends last night. But then it can flip, like a light switch, and I'm angry or sad. I don't know how to "feel" emotions or to react. It's very overwhelming. And my coping skills....well, they aren't the most healthy.

I wish this was a sports game and I could call for a Time Out. I just need a break for awhile. And I'm trying hard not to stress about what is around the next corner waiting to jump on me in this seemingly never ending road to recovery.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

After Writing my Story - After the Silence

I survived writing it all down, and have resisted the huge urge to delete it all, close down my blog and drift into oblivion. I've mentioned "After Silence," the forum I visit and post on. I've read other posters' stories and what they've written about how it made them feel, as well as some of the comments y'all have written on my posts here. Apparently, while it sucks now, it will get better. I'm waiting for that feeling.

The hardest thing was writing this out first person. I have written out what happened before and used the first person words "I, me, mine." But it was as if I was writing about someone else and describing what had happened to someone else. This time was different. I never had a moment where I wasn't writing about me. And I was there. Re-living it.

I've heard people use the term "body memories" but didn't really understand what they meant. Body Memories are flashbacks where you do not just see what happened. Rather, you actually re-live it. See, hear, and Feel what happened. It's the feeling part that sucks. I wrote much of part 4 of my story with my eyes closed. Luckily I'm a fairly decent typist (and this blog site has spell-check!) I remembered some details that I haven't remembered before. I also was there. Prior to this, in my memories, flashbacks and even with EMDR, I was watching it happen. I was dissociated, floating in space over my right shoulder, watching. In writing this out, I was there. Actually present and there. The new perspective made me remember things - smells, sights, sounds, etc. Some of it was so clear. I know without a doubt that were you to put 5 car dashboards in front of me, that I could identify the one from my car - by sight and touch and smell. It was that real.

I absolutely love the title of the forum "After Silence." After all, that is where we need to live - in a world AFTER the silence. I think I took the first step over there. The first step off the raft or over the mid-point of the tightrope or off the fence - the step toward staying in the "after" realm. It was horribly long and painful to get here. I'm not sure how I know, but I do know that the pain is going to be worth it.

My task for today is to resist SI-ing. On the one hand, Husband has my Daughter at his folks and I have the entire house to myself. On the other hand, I am here alone with my thoughts, memories and free reign to SI. So I think I'll go run some errands and get out for awhile. Grocery shopping can even be enjoyable without a toddler tugging on your sleeve saying "Mommy I want that."

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Story - Part 7 - After Silence

For Links to prior parts, see Part Six (below).

After Silence
After Silence is an online board for victims of sexual abuse and rape. It has been a lifeline for me, along with my SASF group (you know who you are), my Therapist and my Blogging Friends (especially Tina, Lynn, Jewellybeano and Austin).

This is the first time I've ever written this out in detail. I had some pretty rough flashbacks last night. I was typing this with my eyes closed and remember details I didn't want to remember. Much, much, much thanks to those of you on After Silence Chat last night who talked me through it - sadeyes, Peace4Denise and Windy - I could never have made it through last night without you. And No I didn't work up the courage to call my T (thanks for your encouragement - you know I did try). But she did find me online and I think we'll meet up this afternoon.

I feel vulnerable having posted all this. Despite getting absolutely nothing but support here. I still feel a sense of shame, but less than I did before.

And there is some PROGRESS -- Last night I was dizzy, got sick, and was very panicky and shaky. But a part of me remained in control too. I was able to cry (well okay it was bawling) but I was actually able to let it out and express emotion. I beat my pillow. Cried out to God. It felt ...different...but okay. This morning I had a relapse and did SI but it wasn't horrible - not like it would have been last night.
Thank you for all your support and love.

My Story - Part 6 - The Healing

Prior parts here - Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five.

First Attempt at Getting Help
I thought I was healed. I thought becoming a Christian had healed me. I thought I was done dealing with it all. My Sister's first child was a boy. Mom and her had reconciled to the point where Mom could visit. Mom was not to talk about Toilet in any way.

Mom and Toilet moved 1 state away from me about the time I got married. My Sister got pregnant again and had a girl. Shortly thereafter she suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. At first everyone assumed it was post-partum depression. Sister knew otherwise. Having a baby girl had triggered all her unresolved issues. That started her on her healing process and I have to say (proudly) that she had come a LONG way.

When I mentioned a few years later thinking of having children, Sister encouraged me to to get counseling and deal with my issues first. Having seen what she had been through, I thought it wasn't a bad idea. I did have some concerns about Toilet being around a child of mine. I was still visiting Mom (and him) sporadically.

The first counselor I tried had an office not to far from my work. My Husband went with me. We walked in and there was no one in there. Soon this woman came out, handed me forms and left. We sat there awhile. Same woman came out, took us back and went over insurance. I assumed she was the billing clerk/receptionist. Turns out she was the therapist. We talked about an overview of what I was looking for. She got all excited looking and talked about hypnosis to regain my memories and bringing Mom in to confront her and doing an "intervention." I totally freaked and left. A few months later I decided to try again. Found a counselor who was a Christian and did about 6 months with her. She gave me books to read and we'd discuss them. We mainly worked on boundaries. And she tried to make me see that I wasn't alone.

I got pregnant. A few weeks after I told my Mom, I got a call at work. It was Toilet. He said, "Just wanted to let you know I'm in the area." I freaked - I had been thinking hard about what relationship I wanted my child to have with this person. Toilet didn't want to meet - just thought it was cool he was driving by. Mom called later and said something about Toilet being a "grandpa." I freaked again. I told Mom that I didn't consider him safe to be around children and wanted no further contact. She said "okay." In one later call (about 1 week later) she said "I have something to say and then I don't want to discuss this issue again. She said that I didn't have to worry about Toilet ever contacting me. He didn't want to. He and Mom were hurt that we had this "close" relationship for years and he had been so "good" to me and now I was cutting him off." I was pissed but had guilt feelings too.

Things were good after that. Wonderful pregnancy and beautiful little girl. In the hospital the first night, Husband and I were praying over her. I remember wondering how anyone could hurt a child. I had such a bond and I knew already that if anyone touched her, I'd kill them.

A little over one year ago, my Husband and I were having the same arguments over and over. I thought marriage counseling would help. I finally convinced him to go. It was good. We dealt with a lot of things and our relationship improved. But I mentioned my childhood but said I was "fine" with it.

Not too much later, there was an Oprah show with Terri Hatcher on it. Lots of talk on a website I post on about another sexual abuse news story. The debate got heated and some feelings hurt. I started a Yahoo Group with about 12 of us who were victims of sexual abuse and we started talking. I also began having horrible panic attacks and determined I needed help. So Hubby insisted I call our therapist. I did and now I've been seeing her individually ever since.

It's been a very tough year. The panic attacks and anxiety became overwhelming. The SI became much, much worse. I remembered more, talked about more and dealt with more over the last year than I have in the prior 18 years. There are times when I wanted to give up. There are times when I wonder if it is worth it. But I think, maybe, just maybe, I am catching a glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel. So I'm continuing my journey toward that light, plodding along, one step at a time.

My Story - Part 5 - The Aftermath

To read the other parts, see here - Part One, Part Two, Part Three, & Part Four.

I can't believe I'm considering writing more after last night. It took it's toll on me. But I don't want to leave the ugly part sitting out there. I want you to know the ending. Well, the ending will actually be in Part 6 - that's the good part. Really, there is a good part in all this. I promise.

Telling Mom
Again, timelines are really foggy. My Sister says that when she hit age 12, I warned her to be careful. Toilet got as far as the wet kisses and inappropriate tickling (I didn't write about that part because, while I vaguely remember some of that, it's not clear enough to write about). However, he didn't touch her further than that. Good thing, because I would have had to kill him if he had.

At some point there was an argument between Toilet and me. Perhaps Sister and Mom were involved too. I had forgotten this part for a long time, but Sister remembers it clearly and has filled in some blanks. We were all sitting at the kitchen table. Mom said something about respecting or minding Toilet. In a fit of rage, I blurted out "If you knew what he had done to me, you wouldn't say that." I then ran downstairs to my bedroom and collapsed on my bed. I was there a LONG time before Mom came downstairs. Sister says there was more to that conversation. I don't remember any more - she says that Mom looked at her and asked if she "had anything to add." Sister had seen that Mom didn't react to what I had said (again I have no memory of this) and had seen the rage on Mom's eye so she said "no." Sister told me recently that she has felt guilty about that for years -- guilty for not supporting me.

I do remember Mom coming downstairs. She said something about Toilet having denied everything and then finally admitting. To this day I don't recall what specifically I told my Mom or what he admitted to. I often wonder if Mom only believed me after he admitted things. So I have no idea the extent of what she thinks happened. I think Mom was going to think about things or something. I remember a conversation later. I was given two choices - I could tell in which case Dad would probably try for custody and I'd have to go live with him. He was a good parent in some ways, but I knew without a doubt, that while he was a decent weekend father, he wouldn't handle being a full-time father. I knew the drinking and violence would continue (later facts from my sister would prove my intuition right). The other choice was to stay. Stay in the house and Mom would make Toilet go to counseling. I "chose" to stay. It really wasn't spoken of again.

I later learned that Toilet got 2 sessions of counseling. Mom said something to me later (I don't remember when) about it being due to his increased drinking and some issues Toilet had with his children. (his children had stopped visiting at that point. My Sister years later, ran into one of them, and learned that similar things had happened to them).

The "Faking It" Years
If I wrote out everything that happened, it would take forever. So I'll hit the highlights. And fill in some of this stuff later.

I became the "good girl" ....somewhat. I was an excellent student. I knew my ticket out of there was a scholarship to a school far, far away. Toilet never touched me again. The exposure, inappropriate comments, etc continued. Mom knew - she saw and Sister & I told her - but that wasn't a big deal to her. In high school I began acting out a bit. I drank some, had an older boyfriend, was a bit promiscuous, got pregnant at 15, had an abortion (spare me the "pro life" comments on this please), got sent away to my grandmothers for a summer, snuck out at night, and lied to cover up weekends spent with a boyfriend.

I was sent away one summer to stay with my father's mom in New Hampshire. Mom and I were fighting horribly at that time. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got away from my family for an entire summer. I hated leaving my sister there though.

Sister moved out the summer before my senior year in high school. She went to live with Dad. We partied hard that summer. Dad had dumped his girlfriend and was gone a lot. I got my license at the end of the summer. We drank every weekend. Ran around in the neighborhood and were wild. I dumped my long-term boyfriend that summer and started dating Sister's friends. They thought I was great because I was an "older woman."

I started my senior year in highschool and Dad called one evening and wanted me to come meet someone. It was an odd conversation. I went over and he introduced me to his "fiance." I had never met this woman. I met her and her 4 children. They married and Amy was moved over to her house. It was cool at first. She had a horse farm and I loved horses. But Dad's Wife (DW) was odd. She had two distinct personalities. One day she was our best friend. Another she was wicked witch. One time I brought a guy over and she started talking about she and Dad's sex life and quizzing me about mine.

One weekend Sister was visiting my Mom. We got a call from Dad and DW screaming. They had found Sister's birth control pills. I had bought them for her. I drove Sister back to Dad's and went down to talk to him. I told him about what DW had been saying and that I wasn't comfortable with it. He agreed it was inappropriate. We heard screaming from 2 floors up and went up. DW was screaming at my Sister who was screaming back. In moments, DW was throwing my sister's stuff off the balcony and telling her she was a bitch, whore and slut and to get out. I tried to diffuse the situation and she called me a slut and a whore too. I started to yell back and Dad came after me. To this day, I don't know where I found the strength. But I stood up straight, looked him in the eye, and said "go ahead and hit me. You'll regret it." He stopped and told us to "get the hell out of his house." We did. I haven't seen him much since.

So Sister moved back into our house. She did get to bring her dog. She started her freshman year, second semester in my high school. I made plans to go 500 miles away to college. Sister was dating a guy at that time and he was keeping an eye on her, so to speak. I left for college, after a bad experience dating "Dave"

I was a wild child my first year in college. Partied hard on the weekends. Tried marijuana for the first time, although I'm proud to say that I limited my drug experimentation to that particular plant! Ended up with alcohol poisoning my freshman year after one particularly lovely night. Went home at the end of the summer not sure what to expect.

I decided that since, at college, I had become a new person, I would continue that charade at home. I pretended everything was fine. Faked a pretty good relationship with Mom and Toilet. My sister had hit the rebellious stage at this point. I've written about her boyfriend before, so I'll just summarize here. Her boyfriend died that summer of alcohol poisoning. Burying him was the hardest experience. Leaving my sister at home alone and going back to college was the worst thing I have ever been through.

In February of my sophomore year I was attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I accepted Christ and life changed. I thought everything was "over" and I was "cured." I got a call a few months later that my sister had attempted suicide. She wasn't talking to anyone. I started dating a very nice Christian guy and then went home for the summer.

Next school year Sister and I were distant. Looking back I can see where my Mom kept us apart. Called me when Sister wasn't home and other things where we didn't get to talk often. I found out that Sister had pressed charges against Toilet. Actually she had mentioned something off the cuff to a school counselor (she was seeing one after her suicide attempt) about Toilet exposing himself. It was reported. Charges were brought and he was convicted of lewd conduct. I was never called or knew much about it until it was all over. Toilet had to move out and wear an ankle bracelet - he was on house arrest.

I went to visit him at his apartment. I remember napping on his bed while Mom and he watched TV. I remember thinking "What the hell am I doing?" Sister and I never talked about it. He moved back home later.

I returned to college and Sister moved out and left home. She went to stay with my Dad's ex-girlfriend who took her in and cared for her. Later she got her own place. She struggled for awhile - was raped by a guy she went on a date with, was into drugs pretty heavily, etc. But she settled down, got pregnant and got married. Today, she is a Christian, married to a wonderful guy and has three gorgeous children. She is truly a Survivor. She still struggles on occasion. But she has really come far in her healing process.

I continued to play the "happy family game." Since Dad was out of my life, I began referring to Toilet and Mom as "My parents." I wanted to desperately to have a normal family. Toilet went to my high school graduation, my college graduation and my law school graduation. My sister didn't come - because he was invited. My Sister didn't attend my wedding either. Because I chose to have Toilet escort me down the aisle and give me away. I have a lot of guilt over those choices.

I'd like to say Toilet was "cured" but he wasn't. When I was engaged, a friend and I flew home for a bridal shower. Mom was working and Friend and I were sitting on the couch watching a movie. Toilet was on the chair. I looked over and his hands were down his pants playing. I was stunned. I waited up until Mom came home, took her downstairs and yelled. She cried and said "what do you want me to do about it?" I told her it wasn't like we could call the police because what he did was probably not illegal give we were all adults. I went back upstairs. I heard them yelling. The next morning Friend asked what the commotion was. Mom told me that Toilet says he just had "jock itch" and was scratching.

I let that man walk me down the aisle and he is in all my wedding pictures. He, instead of my sister.

I met my husband and after having a bad experience with the guy I dated 2 years in college who couldn't handle "my past", I was really up front with Husband. We visited Mom and Toilet but I didn't go alone very much at all. Toilet behaved himself in front of Husband. Guess he knew better..........

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Story - Part 4 - the Sexual Abuse

For the preceding parts - see Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

I've been posting my story on After Silence as I post it here. I've gotten comments both here and there that have been so touching. Not one single person has judged me. People have related, complimented my writing and congratulated me on surviving. What a difference from when I told as a child. It is only through their (your) supportive reaction that I have the strength to try to write Part Four. That and I have a compelling need to get this over with.

The Touching
I've never forgotten that I was abused. The details were sketchy for a long time. For many years I forgot one of the three major "events" but now, ironically, I can't remember which one I forgot.

Toilet had long hair and a long beard. Very hippy-like. Except he was balding on top. His weight fluctuated up and down. But he lifted weights and was always strong. His hands always seemed greasy and dirty and calloused.

Mom always gave us a kiss and a hug goodnight. Dad did too. We didn't get much other affection than that. Not a whole lot of snuggling that I remember. Actually now that I think about it, I can only remember kissing and hugging my dad before bed and when we would leave at the end of the weekend. My mom would sometimes say "I need a hug" but I can't remember any snuggling - even when I was a child.

I would kiss Toilet before bed and give him a hug too. He didn't have teeth. He wore dentures. When he would chew gum, he would make this chomping/smacking sound. It was icky and the sound of gum chomping to this day will trigger me. Toilet didn't like wearing his dentures. He would leave them in a cup by the sink - just to gross us out. When he would give us a kiss, he would lick his lips first and the kisses were always wet and sloppy and gross. Over time the kisses became wetter and sometimes I thought I surprised him by kissing him goodnight because I'd catch him with his mouth partly open. I didn't realize it was on purpose.

The Basement
Our house was a split level. When you walked in the front door you faced a set of stairs. You could go up or down. Up was the living room, kitchen, bathroom and 3 bedrooms - mom/toilet's room, my Sister's room and a guest room. Downstairs was a storage room, the laundry area, the rec room with bar and my bedroom. There was a half bath down there too.

In the summers, we practically lived in the basement. It was cool down there. Mom and Toilet were drinking a lot that summer. I say "that summer" but I really can't remember if was the summer before or after 7th grade. I was either going on 11 or 12. As you walked down the stairs, there was a square cut out in the wall divided by vertical banister posts. If you positioned yourself right upstairs, you could see into the rec area downstairs. We'd often yell between the floors for someone to bring us something from the kitchen downstairs, or vice versa.

The bar was pretty cool, or so I thought then. It was dark brown wood with twinkling lights and beer signs. I was the only girl I know that had a "real" bar in their basement with a beer keg (beer meister) and everything. The keg would get replaced probably every weekend or so. Sister and I learned how to fill the pitchers just right, without any foam - or head, as they called it. We were called beer "wenches" and thought it was funny.

In front of the bar were three black vinyl bar stools. The high back kind. Sister and I would sit on them and spin around, making ourselves dizzy. One summer evening I was downstairs with Mom and Toilet. I think it was evening. I think I was wearing purple cotton shorts with a purple top. I can't remember if I was wearing a bra or not - but I seem to think not, although I can't imagine why I wouldn't have been.

Toilet was great at cracking backs. He would pop my mom's back and then rub it. She worked on her feet all the time and needed it done quite often. Sometimes he would pop mine too. He also had a way of picking you up and squeezing you real tight or kind of shaking you down his front that would pop it. I can still pop my back easily to this day - but I do it myself by twisting.

That evening I somehow ended up with my back facing away from him. He was sitting behind me and I was between his legs - our barstools were really close. I don't know where the backs of the stools were but they weren't in between us. He started off rubbing my shoulders and back. Then it was as if his hands were suddenly around front. I think maybe I do remember having a bra on and him reaching underneath. It felt strange - I was so confused but it didn't exactly feel bad but I didn't know what was going on. Mom was upstairs and there was a noise and he jumped back and stopped what he was doing. I sat there in shock. Then I guess he realized Mom wasn't coming down. Maybe I leaned back (Oh god why would I have done that) and he started again. And then we did hear Mom and I think he said something like "don't tell your Mom about this" or something to that effect. I went to my room. I don't remember anything else.

okay I'm still breathing, albeit jaggedly so I'll try the next section. Even though the room is spinning. Deep breath. I don't remember which came first - the car or the bedroom or if the bedroom was in between the car incidents.

The Car
We had a huge cream colored old station wagon. Sister and I called it the banana boat. It had tan/brown colored interior and reeked of cigarette smoke. When the beer keg would run out, a new one had to be obtained from the liquor store. The station wagon was taken because it was easier to lift the keg in and out of the wagon than in and out of the only other vehicle - a pick up truck. It was easier to get the keg when two people would roll/spin it on it's edge. However, Toilet was capable of getting it himself.

I went with him one time - not sure if whose suggestion it was, if anyones. I sat in the front seat. It was a long bench seat. He drove with one hand - his left hand. Years of practice of needing his right hand free to swing open the bus door or shift the tractor trailer gears. Details are fuzzy. I want to remember them if they are what I want them to be. I don't want to remember if they are not. I don't want to think of my acquiescing or even worse, cooperating, in any way.

I ended up closer to him - maybe in the middle of the seat. Not sure whether I was seatbelted, or the shoulder part was behind me, or what. I had shorts on. His hands reached either up or down my shorts. I can't remember. I didn't know what he was doing. I felt a prodding hand and fingers and it didn't feel good. His fingers were inside my clothes and rubbing and it hurt. I can picture his grungy greasy fingers and dirty nails and I was disgusted knowing they were next to my skin.

This happened more than once. I don't know how many times. I don't know why I continued to get in the car with him and go. I don't think I was forced - so why did I go. I knew it would happen again. When it did, he was so happy and I was his good little girl who got gum and treats. And Mom was happy because he was happy.

I don't think it was the first time. I think it was the second or a later time. That time he pushed his fingers inside. It hurt. His nails scratched me and it hurt. He said something. I don't know what and I don't want to remember. The car and bedroom incidents get mixed up in my head. I think he said "move closer or this way or that way" and I think I did. I think he asked, "doesn't that feel good" and I think I nodded. Why did I do that? He would take a break sometime if we stopped at a light or he needed both hands. It hurt. His nails scraped and he'd leer at my face and the Noises my body would make. He would do it again.

When we would get home, he would stop.

I've just got to get this finished now. If I can hold on just a tiny bit longer. I can do this. I just have to stay with it. Disociating would be so much easier right now.

The Bedroom
We would watch movies in Mom/Toilet's room sometimes. I don't remember why. Sometimes the VCR in the family room was broken. Mom kept one in her room so she could tape her soap operas. We were all in there - Mom, Toilet, Sister and I. Mom and Amy were on the bed. Toilet and I were on the floor. They had a cream colored bedspread with brown vines and green leaves. I remember every detail of that bedspread.

Mom was lying on her stomach facing the TV with her side to me. Sister was sitting up, further away, but she could see me. Toilet was on the floor, on his side with his back to their dresser. I was in front of him, on my side. We were all facing the TV. I don't remember what was on TV.

He reached his hand underneath my shorts from behind. He snuggled up behind me. I can feel his warm breath and wet mouth on my ear. To this day I can't handle anyone near my ear or whispering in my ear or coming up behind me or snuggling from behind. He was doing what he did in the car. And whispering. He said, "you're so wet." And I hated myself. Mom moved and got up. I know she went outside - I think to smoke. Toilet jumped and followed her - he may have gone into the bathroom first. When he jumped, it hurt me. Sister looked at me and asked me "what was he doing?" I said, "nothing" and she walked out. My memory blanks after that.

I will have to write the Telling and Aftereffects and bring it up to current date later. Now I need to go throw up.

My Story - Part 3 - Non-Touching Abuse

Part One and Part Two are in prior posts.

In Part Four, I'm going to have to get into the actual touching part, and I'm wanting to put that off a bit. In addition I realized that there are a few things I left off. And the non-touching abuse was just as bad and continued far longer, so it definitely warrants attention. So here is Part Three.

Apartment (cont.).

We lived in the apartment for one year. During that year I started my period for the first time. I had horrible cramps - bad enough to keep me curled up on the couch for days. Mom had always had vicious cycles so she told me it was "normal" and offered ibuprofen with a tiny bit of sympathy. One day I was having a particularly rough time and lying on the couch with a hot heating pad, kind of rubbing my lower abdominal area. Toilet came over and started rubbing it for me.

It made me feel uncomfortable but I didn't say anything. (see this Post for more on this)

Sometime that year, my sister mentioned something disturbing to me. She had left to get on the school bus, but realized she had forgotten something in the apartment. She went back and used her key to get in. Apparently Toilet had woken up and was walking around the apartment naked. Now he and Mom's room/bathroom were at the opposite end of the house than anything else. So no cause for him to be in that end of the house without clothing. Sister said he made some excuse and she just dismissed it. Although she did mention it to me.

At the end of 6th grade we moved into a house and switched schools again. It was okay with me - I hated that school anyway and didn't have any friends there.

This is where my time line gets really fuzzy. I hate not being able to narrow down a particular date or event or time.

In any event, sometime after we moved, life became crazy. My Dad had moved too. He found a girlfriend and she moved in with him. They had a house nearby and Sister and I visited alternating weekends. Dad's house was in our old school district and so we had friends over there too.

Toilet as the Protector

I ~think~ (best as I can recall) that this happened before the touching. Dad was still drinking quite a bit. I had a friend stay the night at his house.

(deleting rambling paragraphs wherein I try to sort out timetable because it drives me absolutely bonkers that I can't figure out when things happened or whether one event happened before or after another - drives me to a panic attack).

Dad was drinking and drove Sister, friend and I home. Dropped friend off. Then took Sister and I home. Somehow Mom and Toilet knew. They came outside and a fight ensued. I don't remember details. But Toilet hit Dad's car with a baseball bat. He was protecting Sister and I. He made me feel safe. It was amazing to have someone stand up for me. This incident stood out in my mind later when I was forced to choose between Dad the drunk, violent one and Toilet the evil sex monster.

Toilet - the Good Side

(wondering why I find myself compelled to put the good stuff first. I know some of it didn't happen chronologically here. A long time ago I didn't want to remember the bad stuff because it made me feel guilty for continuing a relationship with Toilet and my Mom. On the other hand, I feel compelled to post the good stuff so that I feel like I have an "excuse" for letting the abuse go on and not saying anything -- as if to say "see, he wasn't totally an awful person.")

My mom worked odd shifts. She managed a convenience store. Toilet worked as a public transportation bus driver and then a long distance truck driver. Well, except that they both ran this lunch truck delivery service together for about 1-2 years. But in any event, they worked odd hours. My Sister and I were pretty much on our own. We cooked our own meals and took care of ourselves. If we wanted to go anywhere or do anything, we arranged it ourselves. Toilet was pretty good about offering rides places. He was also less strict on what we ate and would let us have the "forbidden" foods and drinks, like Pepsi.

On one occasion I started smoking. I was in middle school at the time. My friend, Sister and I would swipe half-smoked (or whole, when we could) cigarettes and go out in the woods and smoke them. My Mom, who smoked, caught us and decided to get creative with the punishment. She grounded me two weeks and required me to write a 2,000 word essay on smoking. I was a stubborn creature and refused, on principal grounds, to accept the punishment. I stayed in my room for two weeks. My mom informed me that I would continue to be grounded until I had written the essay. I let her know, in no uncertain terms, that unless she was there to babysit me, that I would do what I wanted and that I was not writing the essay. In effect, my mom was "grounded" too. She knew that as soon as she left the house, I would be off at a friends, watching TV or in the pool. She was miserable after 3 days. Toilet came downstairs with a magazine article and told me that he didn't agree with my mom punishing me. He begged me to copy the article and just write something so he could get her out of the house. He tried to intercede on my behalf. In the end, I wrote a "fictional" story about a hypocritical mom who punishes her child for smoking when the mom, herself, smoked too.

The Non-Touching Abuse

I don't remember the first time it happened. Neither my sister nor I can remember it happening in the apartment. But looking back, it just seemed such a way of life. In fact, Sister & I weren't so sure it wasn't "normal." We didn't realize that other families didn't live this way.

When Toilet moved in, Mom became very 'free-spirited.' I was allowed to read her Harlequin romance novels -- the ones she started reading all of a sudden. Dad was not happy and I learned not to bring those to his house. Mom let us listen to any music we wanted. Dad confiscated my Too Live Crew tape because it was too lewd and he didn't think the cover picture was appropraite. Mom let us watch cable TV and any show we wanted. Dad banned Night Court at his house because it was "obscene." Talk about a dichotomy split. It was no wonder these people separated.

Dad was very private. He was never so embarrassed as the time he had to talk to me about buying "feminine products." He would never think to walk out of the bathroom other than fully dressed. In fact, he did not consider it appropriate for Sister or I to walk from the bathroom across the hall to our bedroom, in a towel. At Dad's house, all phone conversations were from the hallway - no phone in our room. No boys were allowed in our bedroom at all. We had to be accountable for where we were and who we were with at all times. Dad was strict on what we ate. We had to have family meals and eat healthy foods. We were required to spend time as a family. For all his anger problems and drinking problems, Dad (in those years) was a pretty decent parent - at least on an alternating weekend basis.

Mom was different. She routinely left the bathroom door open at all times. Walked from her bedroom into her bathroom without clothes. Could not understand why I got so upset when Toilet would play games. Toilet liked to shut the hot water off when I was in the shower -- or just shut the main water valve off altogether. I had to get out of the shower, yell and scream, walk out in the hall in a towel and throw a fit. He thought it was funny. I did not. At mom's house, we had phones in our room and a TV that my sister and I took turns having in our bedroom. My bedroom was downstairs - the rest of the bedrooms were upstairs. I had to leave a note saying where I was, but otherwise did what I wanted. At Mom's house I told her what I was doing - never asked permission. We never ate family meals, and if we did, it was hamburger helper in front of the television. For years the kitchen table held junk or huge puzzles Mom was working on. We had extended cable and no shows or channels were banned. Mom and Toilet's collection of xxx videos were on the night stand in their bedroom in open sight.

Toilet encouraged my mom's openness. When Sister and I would object, he would berate us for being embarrased - it was "just a human body." He talked often about vacationing at a nudist colony. When they later bought property out of state in a rural area and talked about building, he said there would be no clothing requirement. For awhile we went hiking on weekends. One time I turned around to catch him taking pictures of my Mom flashing him. He called me a 'prude' for objecting. Mom said nothing.

On weekends, Mom and Toilet liked to go to the Farmers' Market - a nearby indoor/outdoor flea market. One time Sister and I agreed or were drug along with Toilet. He stopped by the magazine stand. Sister and I were down at one end looking at Teen Beat and Teen magazine. He called us over and wanted to know which porn magazine we thought Mom would like best. Then when we got home, he told us how embarrased he was. He showed us the full spread of the magazine. Apparently the title "men - something" was supposed to denote a magazine for men who prefer men --- not pictures of men for women. In other words, the magazine he thought he purchased for my mother was a magazine for homosexual men. I think Sister and I laughed - what else were we going to do. Again, Mom said nothing.

Toilet hated clothes. We had little money and often our air conditioning unit would break. Even when it did work, we couldn't afford to have it running too much. Toilet walked around in maroon shiny shorts with gold trim. The 70s style short shorts. Nothing else. Or else he wore a maroon bathrobe - the kind that just ties around your waist. Nothing else. To this day, I refuse to allow my husband to wear bathrobes, and hate to be in the presence of any male in a bathrobe, no matter what they are wearing underneath. I'm also not particularly fond of the color maroon on men.

I can't remember there ever being a first time - it seemed to always be happening. Toilet would sit cross-legged or one leg propped up on the couch or chair. He would hang out of his shorts or bathrobe. Other than the porno magazines and my baby cousin, I had never seen a naked man before. I found myself ashamed and curious at the same time. Compelled to look, yet disgusted. I confirmed with my Sister that I wasn't seeing things. My mom was in the same room when this would happen. Often we were all watching TV. Other times Toilet would walk out of the shower or bathroom with his bathrobe on, but hanging open and then say something like "oh sorry, didn't realize any one was around." Mom never said anything.

Once he determined that nothing would be said, Toilet progressed to fondling himself in the open. It was a non-stop, continuous thing. The comments started then too - inappropriate comments to my sister and I. Comments about things he and Mom did or things he saw. Comments about women on TV. Comments about me developing and that I was "built just like my mom." Mom and he started drinking more about this time too and most of the "family time" was spent downstairs in our basement rec room. There was a full bar down there, complete with beer keg. One day I was in my room reading one of Mom's harlequin romance novels. I ran across a word I had never seen before. Mom always encouraged us to read for context clues and, if that failed, to look the word up in the dictionary. It wasn't in there. So I went out and asked my mom what it meant. I didn't say it correctly. Toilet finally figured out I was asking what "masturbate" meant. He laughed hysterically and gave me a crude and detailed definition. I was so red with embarrassment. But at least now I had a name for what he was doing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sometimes Protection Requires Rejection

On my "After Silence" board last night, we had a topic chat. A guest speaker came into the chat room and talked with a group of us. The speaker was Dr. Patti Feuereisen, author of "Invisible Girls - the Truth about Sexual Abuse" She talked about the topic of Mother's Rejection. (Her book is sold at Barnes & Noble and on and her website is Girl Thrive. It was an extremely interesting conversation.

The statement of Dr. Patti's that I most identified with was this - "Rejecting a relationship that is not healthy is a good lesson to teach your children. Sometimes protecting a child means rejecting a parent."

I've struggled awhile with the relationship between myself and my mother, as well as the relationship I allow my mother to have with my daughter. The contact is limited and there are rules. Mom is not to mention her husband. She comes here to visit - I do not go to her house. Mom is not left alone with my daughter either. After all a mother who thinks "sexual touching is no big deal" isn't to be trusted with my little girl.

That statement hit me on two different levels. First, my mother never taught me that lesson. She rejected the relationship with my father because he was physically abusive. That was a good lesson to teach me. She protected my sister and I by leaving my father. Although she still let him have extensive contact with my sister and I. And I never remember her talking about domestic violence or telling me that it was not to be tolerated. Never remember her warning me not to let a boyfriend or any man physically assault me. I really think Mom's leaving my father was more about stopping the abuse toward her, rather than an incident she remembers (I do not) wherein she says my dad went way overboard in disciplining me and threw me up against a wall. I'm not saying that she should have tolerated abuse of any kind - I just think that her trying to say leaving Dad was for my benefit is a crock. It was really about her. Besides, it is evident she was dating her boyfriend (future husband AKA Toilet) before the separation.

On another level, that statement strikes me too. It makes me wonder if continuing a relationship with my mom is going to be detrimental to my child -- if it is going to send mixed signals. My relationship with mom is definitely not normal, and I'm pretty sure it's not all that healthy. I wonder if rejecting a relationship with Mom is protecting my daughter - teaching her that she needs to value herself above family "duty and obligation."

I honestly can not say that I love my mother. I love the "Idea" of having a mother. On good days I've accepted that my mother will never be a real mother. On bad days I cry for that loss. I continue to see my mother out of obligation. And out of some deranged idea and glimmer of hope that she might, someday, morph into a halfway decent human being. I don't want my daughter thinking that is a good idea. I don't want my daughter maintaining relationships solely out of some misguided sense of family duty and obligation.

I stayed with my mother and at her house partly to protect my sister and partly because I felt responsible for my mother (and partly because I had nowhere else - I thought - to go). Now, I am trying to decide if I should change my way of thinking and terminate all contact with her. I can't imagine explaining to my daughter WHY I still have contact with my mom. There really isn't a good reason.

I cut off all ties with my abuser because I could not imagine explaining to my daughter why I had any contact with him (nor the thought of him touching my daughter at all). Why should my mother be any different? Why possible benefit will my daughter gain from a relationship with a woman who stood by the very man who molested her own daughters? Really I do it because of a sense of obligation and guilt --- and I do not want my daughter learning that lesson.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why Harm the Skin

Check out this blog article at Imaginif's Blog I've copied the last two paragraphs here -

Survivors of childhood abuse (both physical and sexual abuse) hide their emotional, physical and spiritual pain within the layers of their skin. Layer after layer the skin conceals feelings of shame, guilt, mistrust, worthlessness and low self-esteem. These feelings can manifest into self-harm, psychiatric disorders, relationship failure, crime, youth suicide, homelessness, alcohol and drug usage, prostitution and domestic violence. Self-harm often being the optimum choice for survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse. The process of ‘cutting’ the skin offers the individual the opportunity to display and demonstrate the internal messages and emotional pain that they are experiencing to the outside world.

When we speak of childhood abuse (both physical and sexual), we know that body boundaries have been crossed, emotions have been altered and voices have been silenced. The child can no longer control their own body and what little power they had prior to the abuse has been taken away. When power, control and an emotional voice have been taken away from the individual, ‘cutting’ (self-harm) the skin provides the child and/or adult the power to control the release of their own pain whether that be emotional or spiritual pain. Finally, ‘cutting’ the skin gives survivors of childhood abuse a voice.

I found that bolded part so true. I started SI because I felt numb and needed to feel something. But then it turned into SI-ing because I was feeling too much. Too much panic or too much anxiety or too much pain. Cutting is my way of talking. Of crying out for help and "talking" about the pain. It's about ME controlling how the emotion is addressed. Instead of bottling it all up inside or having someone else choose for me.

However, there is a Catch-22 there. Because while I say SI-ing is a way of communicating and asking for help with the pain, it is a secret cry. Because I don't let anyone know I do it. No one sees it (except rarely). And I don't talk about it unless I have too.

I'm working on having more of an actual voice. An out loud voice and talking to people - as opposed to SI. It's a hard habit to break. After years of being told "don't talk about it," "Forget about it," "get over it already," and "why are you bringing that up again," I'm conditioned to stay silent.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Story - Setting the Stage (part 2)

For part 1 - see my 5/8/07 post here

The Apartment
When I left off we were living in the apartment. It was the middle of the summer and I was going to start 6th grade soon. My Sister and I visited with Dad Tuesday and Thursday evenings and alternating weekends. It was a lot of back and forth. Mom was working full-time and Toilet worked odd hours driving a public transportation bus. So Sister and I were home alone a lot. To explore our new neighborhood.

I started school and hated it. I had gone to school with people I knew my entire life and now I was in a new place. We were in a townhome/apartment in a decent section of town. However, it seemed like everyone else had more money than my family. I didn't wear the right clothes, shop at the right places or anything. I developed faster than most girls. The guys stared at my chest and laughed. The girls ignored me. In every class, there are those 4-5 kids who are the outcasts. The ones who band all together and hang out only because no one else with join them. I was one of "those kids" in 6th grade. I had horrible, terrible acne. I was picked on terribly for that. Mom decided a new hairstyle would be good so she permed my hair. I looked like Little orphan annie - not a flattering style. To top it all off, I required glasses that year. Talk about nerd.

My Dad started dating on occasion. He also joined a camping organization for single parents. We would camp 1 weekend a month April - October. It was pretty cool and I met a lot of great friends. It also allowed for a lot of freedom. Dad pretty much sat by the campfire and drank himself into oblivion. Sister and I had free rein to do as we pleased. All the kids there were products of broken homes and divorced parents. So we commiserated together. Dad would alternate between going hours without caring where we were or what we were doing, and hounding us to "keep in touch" and "check in." We never could tell what was expected. Soon I learned to ask to sleep at my friend's campfire. Three of us girls would sleep on lawn chairs around the fire at her site. Once her mom fell asleep, as evidenced by the LOUD snoring, we would sneak off and explore. We'd meet up with some of the guys and just giggle. That was back when I wasn't too sure what guys were all about and they were still a big mystery.

I knew where babies come from. Mom had read me that book. In 6th grade you also get the "what is happening to your body" lecture. Mom had told me the basics too. But no one explained what really happens - the emotional side. The hormonal feelings that go along with it. I could go from happy to weeping in mere minutes. Mom and I alternated between best friends and worst enemies. She used me as a sounding board and a go-between for her and my Dad. Dad was really upset that Mom moved in with Toilet and he was angry and always complaining about that too. So all Sister and I heard were negative things about the other parent.

It was weird having this "stranger" live with us. And sleep in my mother's room. It presented all sorts of conflicts. I felt weird walking around in my pajamas anymore. My dad was...well my dad and it was okay with him. But Toilet - he wasn't my dad. Getting up and going to the bathroom in the middle of the night posed problems - did I have to put on shorts, or could I go in just my long Tshirt and underwear?

Things were awkward with Mom too. I have a distinct memory of wanting to shave my legs. I begged and she finally relented - but only after I tried it myself first. Note - never "push" the razor down your bare, dry leg. Ouch. So mom told me to draw bathwater and she would show me. She was beet red and so embarrassed which made me embarrassed. So she showed me how to shave with soap and water. We never did get to use shaving cream in our house - or good razors either. That was wasteful. I remember sitting in the tub - bareazzed naked and mom beet red and asking her, "Ah how far do you shave up?" and her stuttering response about "some men liking women to shave higher than others." What the heck? I wasn't shaving my legs for some "man" - I was doing it for me.

Toilet slowly began exerting his authority. There was a dishwasher in the apartment but we had to wash dishes by hand. That continued on until we moved. If one dish was dirty, we had to re-wash the entire load. He had this "thing" about washing dishes. I didn't so much mind washing dishes - we had always been taught to do chores and help out. I just hated him standing over us, gleefully waiting for us to make a mistake. He got so much enjoyment out of tormenting us and swiping his hand across the counter and raking the entire stack back in the sink. He would laugh - cackle really. This evil sound. Even the thought of it sends shivers down my spine. Mom just said nothing.

At first Dad told us that Toilet was not to discipline us and that we did not have to listen to him. Later, Dad told us that Toilet was an adult and we had to treat him with respect - as we did with all adults. I'm not sure when the conversations took place exactly, but I remember it being confusing.

Toilet alternated between wanting to be your best friend and wanting to be The Authority Figure. With the dishes, he was Authority. When it came to giving out gum or treats, he was Friend. Sister and I battled with him lots. When he would try to tell us what to do, we'd yell at him. I remember Dad telling us that in the property division, Mom got to keep the TV and VCR because she had us. So Sister and I thought they were ours. When we'd get mad at Toilet, we'd tell him that he couldn't watch them - they were ours. Then he'd say, well you can't watch them either because I pay the electric bill. You'd have thought we were all 5 year olds the way we fought. Mom did nothing.

Mom changed a whole lot after the divorce. She had been somewhat conservative, listened to "oldies" music and didn't curse that I heard. When Toilet moved in, she started listening to all country music, wearing tank tops and short shorts, and cursing. Toilet cursed up a storm. Sister and I picked up on it and nothing was said - as long as we didn't curse at them, we could pretty much say what we wanted.

Mom has always been very large chested. When I developed so early, I was terrified I'd grow as big as her. Toilet made comments to her all the time. Mom always called them "boobs." He called them "titties" Yuck. Mom dressed more skimpily now and I was so embarrassed to have her around my friends. Course I didn't have many, so it worked out okay.

In the apartment, I started becoming the "little mom." Mom was working all the time and I had to do more. Get lunches packed. Get self up in morning. Get Sister a snack and watch her after school. For the first time, Mom didn't check my homework or sit down with me while I worked on it. She never asked if I had any either. I remember forgetting about a school poetry project and staying up all night working on it. Mom went to bed.

It seemed as though Mom became a whole new person. I wasn't sure who she was anymore. One day, Toilet and Mom went out. Sister and I decided to go through Mom's dresser. I have no idea why. We found pornographic magazines that we went through. I had never, to my knowledge anyway, seen a totally naked grown man. Sister and I were dumbfounded. We also found toys. A...ah..."battery operated boyfriend". It was very real looking. I wasn't sure it wasn't real - but I couldn't figure out how that was possible. I was shocked. I couldn't figure why on earth anyone would have one of those or what on earth you would do with it. Anyway, we thought we put everything back. But later after they came home, there were raised voices from their room. Mom yelled at me for going through her stuff. Apparently we had left the drawer somewhat open. Mom said absolutely nothing about what had been in the drawer. Or maybe she asked what I saw and I said, "nothing." (one of those fuzzy memory moments). Toilet caught me in the hall and snidely said, "Did you learn anything" with that leering (GAG) grin. I decided to be a smartazz and remarked, "yeah, I didn't know men had hair between their legs, like girls." He totally shut up and just smiled. That smile haunts me. I think that was the turning point. The point at which he began to look at me differently. The point at which I became something "not so innocent" in his eyes. I've always wondered what would have happened if I hadn't made such a smart-alec remark. A remark he liked.........