Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Paying The Toll - to the Troll Under the Bridge

Ever have a night where things just come together? That was my night last night. All of a sudden all the triggers that I just knew "bothered me" had explanations.
My husband will sometimes do things that trigger panic attacks in me. I've discussed with him my known triggers - coming up behind me, blocking my entrance/exit, and chomping food. If I ask him to stop doing something in the moment, he will almost always stop, albeit sometimes with an eye roll or sigh. Yet, he often repeats the conduct, unless I can give him some explanation as to an abuse-related reason to stop. Just telling him "it bothers me" is not enough. If I do tell him, "Well it reminds me of when Toilet does this," he gets irritated - he's not the abuser. He does, I feel, deserve an explanation as to why he can't do certain things. But sometimes I don't have one because I don't know why it bothers me. And other times I don't feel it is "good enough."

Toilet would always pressure me when I said, "no or stop." It made me feel stupid when he would discount my words. It was the same feeling I had when I would say "No" to the teenage boys - they'd push back and I'd acquiesce.

Me - Don't do that. stop
Him - I'm just rubbing your back. Doesn't it feel good? Just relax (gag word). You are over-reacting.

I'd end up on the defensive, convinced I was over-reacting. And thus began my lifetime of doubting my instincts, reactions and emotions.

Last night I was asleep. Halfway through my pregnancy now, I sleep on my side, often with my back to my Husband. He will come up and curl up behind me. If he asks (and half the time he does) I'll either say okay, if it is a good day; not now, if it is a bad day; or often just turn around to face him and we can cuddle, pray and talk that way. However, sometimes he wants to snuggle in the middle of the night. Lately he won't stay on his side of the bed, despite my big pregnancy pillow in the middle.

Last night at about 2 am, I wake up and he is snuggled up behind me, pressing in against me. As he falls further into sleep, he becomes dead weight, trapping me beneath him and causing me to fall forward. I lost patience and I snap, "get off of me." I get up and go to the bathroom, come back to bed, and try to go back to sleep.

BAM - I am in the midst of a flashback, complete with body memories, reliving and re-experiencing it all.

In my House of Horrors, there is a split-level floor plan, with a split stair way in the center. My room is downstairs. The half-bathroom down there doesn't work. Upstairs is the kitchen and living room at one end. Down the long, narrow hall is the remaining bedrooms and bathroom.

As a child, Sister and I hug and kiss our parents goodnight. My father always had a mustache and beard, as did Toilet. Dad's doesn't bother me. Toilet's annoys me - his is long and scraggly and he doesn't keep it trimmed. Toilet has no teeth. He won't wear his dentures and his gums smack all the time (reason why gum/teeth/lip smacking trigger me). His kisses are always wet and gross. He holds me too tight too. If he is sitting down, he looks down my shirt/nightgown. If he is standing up, he wants to hug me too tight.

When I go down the hall to the bathroom, I come out and he is there, waiting. He says he is waiting in line. But I know he's outside the door, peeking in the cracks and listening. I know when I walk out, he will be there in the doorway. He will have on his maroon robe with gold trim, nothing underneath. It will be open. He'll rub the sleep out of his eyes, pretending to be too asleep to notice. Pretending he just wandered out of the bedroom to come to use the bathroom. He'll make a half-assed effort to pull the robe closed. Then he'll stand in my way - not backing up, forcing me to squeeze by him and brush up against him. I alter my showers, my bathroom schedule - but his weird truck-driving schedule make it impossible to find any safe time. And his bedroom is right next to the bathroom so he always knows when I'm in there. Begging doesn't convince them to fix the half bath downstairs near my room. (reason why I can't stand being cornered in any room, having to brush or squeeze by a person, and especially being cornered in the bathroom)

Toilet loves to catch me with my arms full. Coming up the stairs especially. Full of laundry, books, school things. I can't protect myself. On the stairs I have a fear of falling. There was no railing (now my manic insistence that Husband fix our basement railing makes sense). In the kitchen, my hands are full of food or dishes. I turn around and he is there - staring at me with that awful, no teeth, slobbering grin. He knows my depth-perception issues cause problems on stairs especially. So he confronts me there, brushing past me, making me off balance so I grab for anything and he is the only thing there. He wants to have conversations, "how was your day" while standing on the stairway or in the doorway - when I'm off-kilter. When I can't think straight. The stairway is where that awful conversation took place. The one where he told me it was my fault and I liked it/wanted it. Where I, in my off-balanced state, said nothing, thus affirming his accusations in his mind (and mine). I can't think and I can't get away.

I remember the day I came out of the bathroom. I was going to borrow my Sister's clothes. I didn't know he was home. He came home unexpectedly. I run, towel around me, across hall, into Sister's room and slam door. He is trying to get in. We are screaming. Slamming the door. Weight against it. He's pushing back and screaming. We are trying to lock the door. We stay there, hysterical. Mom comes home and lectures us about overreacting. He just wanted us to know he was home and ask us something. He "didn't know I was getting dressed." Whatever! (reason why I can't stand Husband following me from room to room, standing in doorway, talking to me)

My husband likes a hug and a kiss when the second one of us comes home at night. He jokes about how all the girls he's ever danced with tell him he holds them too tight. Yet he still does it. He knows I don't like being held down or held tight. Yet he does it. I get annoyed and do the sideways hug. He gets annoyed, "Can't I have a hug from my wife?" I feel the sense of shame and guilt. Yet, my hands are full and I can't get away. When I'm blocked in the doorway, with hands still full, I don't want a hug. I freeze. Now I understand why.

I spent my life paying the troll under the bridge - paying a toll to get by. It's time for that troll to die. Now to figure out my plan of execution.

(sorry for the 1st person -- 3rd person point of view switches. That's how my flashbacks happen and it's easier to write them that way)

Monday, April 28, 2008

House of Horrors - a news story

I don't typically post news stories here, but this one was so beyond horrifying, I felt the need to call attention to the plight of this family. (warning - child abuse allegations - may trigger). I don't understand how on earth a mother can fail to be aware of the horrors being perpetuated in her own basement. Thank God these children and their mother are now free - although I can't imagine that they will ever fully recover.

Abandon Me....

I feel like I have this sign tattooed across my forehead. With a subtitle that says, "the two year mark is the perfect time to do it." I hate the two year mark in anything. It's never been a good time for me.

When I was little, my best friend was S. We were best friends through kindergarten. But since we weren't in the same class, I became friends with D too. D taught me how to talk "Jersey style" and lose that northern twang. Orange (the color) and orange (the fruit) were not to be pronounced the same way. And there were "R's" in certain words that needed to be pronounced. We were best friends for two years. Then she stopped talking to me all of a sudden. I wasn't cool enough. We never had a fight or a disagreement, or talked about it. She just stopped hanging out with me on the playground.

I became friends with M after that. We lived about 5 miles apart and I was allowed to ride my bike to her house (what parent lets their second grader ride on a main road? but that's another rant). We played together all the time. Then one day, two years after the start of our friendship, I went out to the playground and she and some other girls were doing headstands up against the bricks. I couldn't do that. After that M told me to stop following her around and we weren't friends anymore.
After that we moved to a new town. This was the same year my parents divorced and I lost all my friends. I became "THE" child to pick on in 6th grade. Not only was I the new kid, but I didn't wear the brand-name clothes. I had gotten a "little orphan annie" perm and pink glasses - I was not cool. In 6th grade I lost the home I had grown up in, lost having my father live with me on a daily basis and lost my pets. My mother moved her boyfriend (Toilet) in with us. I lost having my own bedroom, now forced to share. In sum, everything that had ever been constant was taken away.
My father repeatedly promised that he would never be like my mother - he would never let a girlfriend interfere in our relationship. That was the truth for a long time. Even when his long-time girlfriend moved in, we were consulted. He still did things with just my sister and I. However, things changed later, when he met his new wife and in a short span of a few months, kicked my sister out of the house and disowned both of us.
My first long-term dating relationship lasted just shy of two years. My second long-term dating relationship lasted just shy of two years. With my husband, I married him just over two years after we met. If the wedding plans hadn't been finalized, I'm not sure what would have happened.
I have several friendships that have lasted two years. Maybe there is some study somewhere that says that it takes about two years to get to know someone. After that period, I'm not "good enough" anymore and people leave. I can't figure it out. Very few of these relationships have ended with a huge fight, disagreement or some other particular event/circumstance I can point to.
I can't figure out why I was always the un-cool kid - even before the House of Horrors. Even now I don't have a lot of close friends. I have a few that have reached out. Husband and I went to dinner with two other couples this past weekend. Now it's my turn to reciprocate. But I find myself not doing it. One person mentioned going to a consignment sale together - but I never called her back. I have such a fear of being rejected now, that I don't put myself in situations where it can happen. I worry too much about what others think. I refuse to be vulnerable because I'm convinced it is just greater impetus to prompt abandonment.
I need to figure out what vibes I send out that causes the abandonment and how to overcome it. How to be objective and determine when the blame is mine and when it is on someone else. And how not to push back against someone who wants a closer relationship. Sounds like a perfect T-topic.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wonderful Thoughts from a Blogging Buddy

Austin commented on my prior post about spanking. It was one of those comments that made me teary eyed and as if I had just been enveloped in a great big, safe bear hug. Thanks Austin ! It was exactly what I needed to hear.

This is what she wrote -
I have to give it to you though, for being able to see the difference between discipline and beating. This says to me you have more of a balanced view of raising your child than you realize. You also immediately jumped to your child's rescue...that's the mark of a good parent right there. She can be spanked but not in a certain way. You set a boundary for your child. This can be done to this extent after that it's not acceptable. I say the fears you have are real and valid but the successes and strengths need a bit of light too. You came to your daughters emotional rescue. You said what should have been said to you, "You can't do this to my daughter." Good for you. Issues involved yes, but still an inspiring moment for those who never had a mom say "No, you can't do this to my child."

I hadn't looked at that way. For all my fears that I am my mother's daughter and there is some deep-seeded something that will cause me to act like her, I haven't done it. Not when my Daughter was conceived and I cut off contact with Toilet at the first thought of him being a "grandfather." And not now. I was able to tell my husband "No" and he respected that. Kudos to both of us. Me for standing up to my husband (unlike my Mom) and he for respecting it.

Yeah for me. And a huge thanks to Austin for pointing this out. I needed it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Preschool Pandemonium and Spanking

(DISCLAIMER - I do not want to turn this into a spanking v. not spanking debate and all such comments will be deleted).

This week we had a night of Preschool Pandemonium. My 4-year old mistakenly thought she was in charge. She defied my husband and I at every corner. We thought we were doing a pretty good job of staying on the same page, all the while trying to clean the house. However, the little bugger did get a "one up" on us over dinner and successfully manipulated her way into having pudding instead of her pork, potatoes and carrots. After that, she was unstoppable.

After she refused to stop throwing water out of the tub, I quickly washed her and insisted she help me clean her room. She wanted to play instead. She refused to get dressed. I counted her to 3, put her in time out. Raised my voice. DH heard, and knowing I was at my wits end and exhausted, came in and used the "Daddy Voice" - that deep gruff, "Do NOT disrespect your mother, get your clothes on now" tone.

I went in the other room, content to let him handle it. All that lifting her out of the tub and cleaning had done a number on me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see DH come in and grab the wooden spoon and head back to her room. I call out, "do not spank her on her bare bottom."

Not convinced he would listen, I walked in to see daughter, still refusing to put on clothes and hence naked, face down and him trying to keep her still so he can spank her.

{{{ Blank out }}}

I know my husband was trying to do the "right" thing and not leave the disciplining up to me (something we worked on in counseling). I know he didn't give a second thought to her being naked, just the fact that she wasn't listening, was being overly defiant, disrespectful and unruly.

I remember my father threatening, "I'm going to pull your pants down right here in front of everyone and spank you." I don't think he ever did? I don't remember him disciplining me much. I remember him going off in tirades. But not spanking. My Sister and Mom say he did. They said he got out of hand a few times. Mom claims that is why she left - because he threw me up against a wall. I don't remember that.

I have few clear memories about my Dad. There's some sort of barrier there that prevents me from thinking clearly about it. I am not sure why. Not sure I want to know.

I do know that I have an aversion to spanking naked bottoms. I'm going to talk to DH about it. To me it seems degrading and humiliating. I know he didn't mean it that way. Heck, she's 4 year old without a single notion of there being some need in refraining from running around completely naked, even in front of Daddy (as well it should be in normal households).

Times like these make me mad. Mad that I have to spend hours worrying about balancing the need to discipline my child against the fear that I'm going to trigger myself in doing it. Mad that I can't just raise my child "normally" because of all my fears. Mad that I have to spend so much time in thought over what I do and how I do it. Damnittoallhell.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Contradictions - Which Way Should I Go?

  • With the tags, memes and other ruminations, I am often asked to describe myself. I find that difficult, as I am a web of contradictions. My inner self can't seem to figure out if it wants to curve left or keep right. For example -

* I enjoy trying new things. I always say I'll try most anything once. I love trying new food. I once went to a friend's baby shower. Her family is from India and the ethnic food was so much fun to taste. I enjoy white water rafting and other adventurous things. YET - on the other hand, I get upset at change. I have my rituals and my schedules. This morning I walked into my office to find the computer upgrades had once again made my computer look different. My toolbars are in different places. My mouse pad has disappeared. Last night my 4-year old helped put away the groceries. Nothing is in it's usual place. Things like this drive me bonkers. I get very uptight and anxious. I have to put things back together and in order as quickly as possible.

* I like surprises. I love it when my husband, albeit rarely, surprises me with a date or excursion. I enjoy getting presents that are unexpected or unknown. I enjoy surprise parties, as long as there is no jumping out on me. YET - I hate being startled. I don't like the unknown. I will not play Hide and Seek. I fear being snuck up on, or approached when I am unaware.

* I am an outgoing, social person. I can handle myself well in social settings. I know how to use the correct utensils. I know how to introduce myself and converse about mundane, socially acceptable topics. I enjoy meeting new people. YET - I don't engage on a deep level. I don't enjoy personal discussions or in-depth personal/emotional topics. When in social situations, there is a part of me that is ever-alert and distant.

* I speak and write quite well. I do both for a living. I know how to speak properly, use big words, impress others with my vocabulary and elocution. I can stand up in front of a crowd of many and speak with ease. I debate well. In school I was the master of standing up at a moment's notice and speaking on any given topic. YET - if you ask me to talk about myself, I grasp for words. I stutter. I get my words mixed up and in the wrong order. I can't think of words, concepts or thoughts. My mind goes blank.

* I enjoy being out of control. Sometimes I crave it. I have to watch my alcohol or medication intake because there is a part of me that loves that out of control, buzzed, high feeling. YET, I get antsy and anxious about being out of control. I can not stand it, except under the influence of some impairing substance. So much so, that while one part of me will self-medicate to induce that hazy bliss, another part self-injures to stay in control.

* I stand up for others. YET I don't stand up for myself. I am the Queen of saying "okay" or "whatever" when it's really not.

* I am laid back about house cleaning and general upkeep stuff around the house. YET, periodically I go into spasms of uncontrollable anxiety when it all gets to be too much. I rush around like a crazy woman, yelling at anyone in sight about how things are a mess.

* I have no decorator/designer sense whatsoever. And really no desire to do that kind of stuff. YET the fact that my landscaping is non-existent, I have no flowers planted, my walls are bland and I have no floor coverings or neat knick-knacks, drives me bonkers. I buy things and then they sit in boxes for a long time.

I think I'm just a mass mess of mixed up muck. (say that 5x fast)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kahless tagged me with a 6 word memoir. She was tagged by DJ.

Being the analytical type, I first had to look up "memoir" to see what I should do. It appears that a memoir is informal, dealing with public matters, first person, and not chronological. (see wikipedia). So with that in mind -

My memoir, in 6 words is - serene on outside, crazy on inside.

(like Kahless, my picture is my avatar)

Here are the rules -

1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog; include a visual illustration if you’d like
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

And I tag -
DM at Heart to Heart
Austin at the People Behind my Eyes


Kahless also fessed up that she turns FORTY this week. All birthdays should be celebrated, but especially decade milestones!

Happy Birthday Kahless !!!!!!! Let's all sing together -
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Kahless, Happy Birthday to you.

Monday Mayhem - Random Muttering

There is nothing like a Monday morning after vacation. I left early on Wednesday. My assistant was also out Thursday and Friday. So I came back to 100 emails, twenty voice mails and a pile of snail mail. I also have to leave the office in one hour for a mediation. I'll just plug through things one at a time.

This morning was incredibly tough. My daughter cried, wanting to go back to her cousins' house. Despite the fighting and bickering between the cousins, she really enjoys being there. She picked up some new phrases from arguing with her 5 year old cousin, including "I'm right and you're wrong, so there." She is covered with bruised knees and skinned up elbows and shins from trying to do "big girl" stuff like skateboard, go down the sliding board head first and run around their house like a wild banshee. But she had a great time.

On Friday we went to the circus. It was my first time too. Sister and I gave each of the kids $10 to spend as they wanted, hoping to avoid the "can I have this and that?" whining. The cheapest thing to buy was $12 - yikes! So that was a bust. Since I had promised my daughter something, I ended up forking out $24 for some light-up princess wand thing. Not to mention the $30 on food. However, the show was amazing. Daughter sat on my lap enthralled. She loved the trapeze artists and the acrobats. All the kids giggled hysterically at the elephant show - especially the part where they pooped and the "extras" had to run out with big shovels.

My husband rented "Walk Hard" - spoof on Walk the Line. It was a little over the top. Then Sister and I went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall - very funny. But since WHEN do they show full frontal male nudity? When it happened in the rented movie, it was totally for laughs - gratuitous and specifically to shock and laugh. Sister and I found it gross and my husband laughed nervously. When we went to the theater, Sister leaned over and said, "wonder if we'll see any naked men on the screen?" -- totally joking. And then it happened. She punched my shoulder (what she does when something is hysterically funny) and we both died laughing. It was totally nasty. The people around us were cracking up at our "eww gross" comments. Really I saw enough of that in my house growing up - I don't need to see it on the screen. Men might find naked women on screen interesting to look at. I find naked men on screen disgusting. I did manage to avoid a major anxiety attack though. Over all, the movie was funny and my shoulder is black and blue from all the punches.

On Saturday one of my online friends and I finally met. After two years. It was a blast. So much fun to see her in real life. I only wish we could have hung out longer.

Had some interesting conversations with my Sister. Will have to post about those later.

Aside from my husband doing his typical vacation "I'll dress and feed myself - you take care of Daughter" routine, all was well. BIL was not around, so there was less male v. female division and no big arguments.

I'll get around to checking blogs soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Knowing Then What I Know Now, Would I Still Do It? (part 2)

(part 1 here)

Would I have done it? Started down this road? I have never really thought about this. I always thought that I didn't have a choice. The anxiety and panic attacks that drove me to seek counseling were beyond my coping ability. Really, I probably could have stuffed them a bit longer – lived in my world of denial for some more years. Looking back, it is a good thing that I didn't see any other option but to get help. If I had stopped to think about things, I probably would have gotten stuck in that thought process and not ever have gone forward. As it was, I started out reluctantly, thinking that I had no other choice.

Objectively, I’m probably a healthier person. I’m more in touch with reality. I feel a whole range of emotions and no longer live in numb. I live a more balanced work-home life. I don’t really feel healthier though. I am certainly better than I was when IN the process. But I don’t necessarily feel better than I did before the process.

Before this process, I worked really hard and I was good at it. I was the superstar. I did it all, and quite well (ignore, for a moment, the cost to me, because at that point I didn’t realize there was a cost to me). I faked happiness and other emotions quite well. My husband didn’t know the difference. I lived less in the here-and-now of life’s reality. I accomplished more. I think people like the “old me” better. I know my husband does. I know work does. I think they would rather I have continued down that path. However, I’m not so sure how long I could have done it. Honestly if I could have continued doing that indefinitely, I probably would have just done that, and not have started this process. Life in the land of denial was not all that bad. The problem is that you can’t live there forever (perhaps, unfortunately). And when reality started creeping in, my choice was to move forward or get shoved back.

If the choice is between living in the state I was in when reality started creeping in OR moving forward in the recovery process, I’d have to choose moving forward. Huddled on the bathroom floor, sick from panic attacks, or stuck in the land of comatose living, for the rest of my life is simply not an option.

If the choice is between going back to the pre-healing, life was good even if I was faking it time, OR proceeding forward, I might choose to fake it. I wasn’t quite happy, but I wasn’t quite sad/depressed either. Or maybe denial was just stronger than my realization. I know that everyone around me was happier. And having grown up with a mother that sacrificed NOTHING for her family, I am the first to throw myself on the train tracks for my husband or child. So living in denial/numbness for their sake is a no-brainer. I’d do it in a heartbeat.

My husband, daughter and I are off – an 8 hour car drive. Lots of time, while daughter naps (cross my fingers) to ask my husband about this subject. I’m curious to get his thoughts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Knowing Then What I Know Now, Would I Still Do It? (part 1)

I had T today - first time in 2 weeks. (and I made it 2 wks - go me!) She asked me a very interesting question. I went from "maybe" to "yes" to "I don't know." I decided it was a question worth pondering some more.

Q - If you knew then what you know now, and what it would entail, would you still do it? In other words, would I still choose to start down the road of recovery?

Part of me says "yes" - the part that recognizes the healing that has come out of this process, and the positives that healing has brought. But all "butterfly analogies" aside, the healing has come at a price.

My next thought was that I wish I had done it earlier. Assuming for a minute, that all of this struggle was necessary (and I'll concede for a moment that it may have been), then I wish I had done it at a time when I didn't have my career, a husband and a daughter to also be demanding my attention. T pointed out that my daughter may have been a necessary part of the process. She said that many times victims won't find the push to begin the process until they become mothers. I know that was true with my sister. She actually didn't start things until she had her daughter (second child, first girl). At Sister’s encouragement, I tried to work through things prior to being a mom, but it just didn't "take." I was able to cut off contact with Toilet upon becoming pregnant - definitely a positive outcome of that first attempt. However, it wasn't until I was a mother myself, and felt that surge of mothering instinct, and not again until my daughter, at age two, began really developing her personality, that I was compelled into starting the healing process again.

So assuming the timing was then or never, would I have started down this road, if I had known what lay ahead? If I had known the impact on my marriage, the medications I would have to take, the self-injury that would flare up again much worse than before?

Before I could even begin to contemplate that answer, I had to figure out what this block was in my head. The block that was preventing me from really thinking about that answer. It took me several hours to figure it out. But when it came, it came on strong. Ready?

I FELT MAD, PISSED OFF, IRATE, ENRAGED, TICKED OFF, FURIOUS, INCENSED, RESENTFUL, SEEING RED, ANGRY, FUMING, INDIGNANT, AND VEXED. Why? Because, damnittoallhell, I should not have had to go through this two year (and continuing) process at all. Ever. How’s that for expressing anger?

It took me a little while to figure out what that strange feeling was. And then a bit longer to allow myself to feel it. Then I had to figure out what to do with it. So I am here, writing it out. It’s late and I’m not really into throwing things or screaming – that might wake up my Daughter. At this point I’m just pleased to recognize it.

I am pissed off that I have spent a ton of money, time and energy dealing with this shit. I should not have had too. And because I’m slightly anal, here is my calculation –

Counseling – avg 1 session a week for 2 years – multiplied by my copay = $4,160

Time off work – avg 150 hours (low estimate) missed over 2 years – multiplied by my billing rate = $18,200

Medications – avg $100 a month – multiplied by 2 years = $6,000

Doctor’s appointments – avg 10 over 2 years multiplied by 2 years = $600

Total - $28,960

This does not include my jaw surgery, which was caused, in large part by my tendency to clench my jaw – cost over $30,000.

This does not include missed bonuses – avg $40,000

Does not include cosmetic surgery that would be required to repair scarring damage to legs.

This does not include sleepless nights, damage to marriage relationship, damage to friendships, damage to relationship with daughter, missed opportunities or pain and suffering.

I almost want to send them a bill. Just to make a point. I feel like I’ve lost two years of my life. Where the primary focus has been on healing – not on living. I don’t know how you ever get that back.

This is the point at which my anger denigrates into utterly filth language and is no longer productive. (add learning to deal with anger without an overwhelming need to have it be productive to my list of things to deal with). So…I’ll stop….for now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Conversations with my 4 year Old

My pre-schooler has become akin to having a third leg. I feel like I run life as a 3-legged race. She's quite clingy lately. I think that the move, new bed and bedroom, transition to new daycare class, transition to new church class, and thoughts of being a big sister, are taking their toll. I've been trying to spend extra time with her. Today I had a dental cleaning (yuck) so instead of taking her to daycare early, I told her she could go with me and then go to school late. She was quite excited. Last week I picked her up early and took her to my ob appt. I also let her come into my office one morning last week and dropped her at school later, on my way to court. She enjoys things like that. She is super excited about tomorrow being her last day of school this week - we are leaving for a trip to my Sister's. She is also excited about being spoiled by her Aunt and visiting with her cousins.

In spending some extra time with her, we've hit on some interesting conversations. Had to share a few sweet and funny ones.

DD (Dear Daughter) - Mommy what does it mean to forgive someone?

Me - it means that when someone hurts you and says they are sorry, you are okay with releasing them from feeling bad (not exactly true in some cases, but the best I could do at the moment).


DD - How do you do that?

Me - well sometimes they'll ask you. Sometimes you offer it. Is there something you are especially thinking of?

DD - YES (shouted). Daddy pinched my neck when he put my seatbelt on. He said, "sorry." He needs to ask 'giveness.

Me - Oh, I see. You can talk to him about that when he gets home.


DD - Mommy, will you read to me about Noah?

Me - Sure....reading "And God told Noah...."

DD - Mommy where is God?

Me - in heaven.

DD - NO Mommy. Where is God in this picture? Is that him?

Me - No honey that is Noah. God is in the cloud in this picture. We can't really see God. We don't really know what he looks like.

DD - He looks like Jesus.

Me - He does?

DD - Yep. Just like I look like my Daddy.

Me - What do you think Jesus looks like?
DD - like the picture I colored of him on the 'frigerator.

Me - Oh, I bet Jesus likes having purple hair !!


At the check-out counter of Walmart last week ---

DD - my mommy is growing my baby. It's in her belly.

Cashier - oh really. That's exciting. You're going to be a big sister.

DD - yep. And it's a girl.

Cashier - how neat. I bet you're ready for that baby to come out and play.

DD - Yep and when it comes out, it will drink out of Mommy's moo-moos (yes she thinks I'm akin to a cow - and yes I've taught her the "real" words - repeatedly - to no avail). But I can't do that anymore. I did that when I was a baby but now I'm a big girl.

Cashier - ah yes, do you want paper or plastic with that?


Dental asst - you can have a new toothbrush too if you want?
DD - Yeah. I want that one. It is Shrek
Asst - you like Shrek?
DD - Yes. He farts in the movie. And we saw Nim and the seal farts too. My daddy farts sometimes. And Mommy sprays air stuff and
Me - DAUGHTER! that's enough.
Asst - laughing hysterically............

(PS - some of you have asked if the pictures on here are ever of me or my family. Afraid not. I'm too paranoid about remaining anonymous to post pictures of myself or my family. Hence the fake names or labels such as Husband, Sister.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Morning Madness

I have trouble being angry. I had a bad temper growing up. My father did (does) have a bad temper. After my parents separated, I began displaying some angry outbursts. Looking back I know that was a normal reaction to my world being turned upside down. However, my mother's comment was "you're just like your father." Or other similar comments. Barbed comments. I didn't want to be like my father. So I pushed my anger deep down inside.

Later, I learned that expressing anger in my House of Horrors didn't do me any good. It just resulted in my being laughed at or teased. And so it became that I stuffed anger - and soon it became an automatic stifling. I was the victim of much teasing in middle school and high school. I laughed it off - laughing at my own expense. Made fun of myself. I did not react back in anger, and if asked, would have denied being angry about it.

In a recent T session, I mentioned a threat of malpractice to T. She asked how I felt about it and I told her I was annoyed. She looked at me intensely and said, "Come on, weren't you just a little bit angry?" I answered, "Yes" not because I was, but because I knew I was supposed to be. Recognizing that it was okay to be angry in that situation was progress.

I do feel little snippets of anger now and again. Last week I was annoyed with my husband's continual waking me up when I am trying to sleep. Then I was angry when he ignored me all evening, but wanted to have a serious talk at 11:30 pm when I was trying to sleep. Today I was annoyed at a message I received from a co-worker. He's always trying to one-up me. I'm seriously pissed off at an ex-client who called the senior partner about a rinky-dink bill I sent her (mad that the partner erased the bill, until I heard that he told her to stick it somewhere and never call this firm again!) I'm irritated with another client who repeatedly tells me he's just "talking loud" and "not really yelling." Next time I'm going to tell him to "quit talking loud too." I'm annoyed that morning sickness has flared up again, and that I can't remember if I took the phenegren - or just thought about it. (I could take another 1/2 except that if I've already taken one, I'll be found drooling on my desk shortly.) I'm irritated that my body hasn't whipped itself back into shape after I've been working out for 3 weeks. I'm annoyed my husband's fear of flying is making me undertake two long drives in the next two months. I'm annoyed that my husband can't be reassuring and let me be the one who worries and falls apart once in awhile. (now that one deserves more analysis). I'm mad that I drank too much liquid and was up every 10 minutes until 1 am going to the bathroom. I'm annoyed that everything healthy I "should" eat makes me nauseous, but pizza and other carbs settle just fine. I'm annoyed at the hairdresser who didn't listen and cut my layers too short, so now my hair won't stay in a ponytail. I'm irritated that my cleaning frenzy to avoid SI-type objects means that all my safety pins were thrown out and I now need one to pin my gaping dress. I'm irritated at having to sleep on my side and not being able to get comfy. I'm ticked at my husband for not putting a ceiling fan in already - it's getting hot. And if the weather doesn't decide if it is spring or winter, I'll scream.

So now that I've successfully managed to pinpoint sources of irritation and anger without suppressing it, I have to figure out what to do about it? Something that works for me, doesn't cause the guilty "you're just like your father" feelings and that sort of thing. I also need to figure out degrees of annoyance - what things should be really annoying and what should be less annoying.

I used to run and exercise, but (1) that became compulsive and (2) I can't really do that pregnant. I used to SI but that wasn't such a good option. Punching a bag or hitting something never really worked well for me. Writing works sometimes. I like to break things, but that gets expensive. I also like to throw things. Maybe I need one of those basketball hoops to hang on my office door. I can wad up paper and throw it in there. (yawn) all thoughts of anything requiring exertion is tiring right now. Wonder if napping alleviates anger?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Through the Years - 2 1/2 to 4

I was an only child until age 2 1/2. Then my little sister was born. I have been told over and over about picking her up from the hospital. Apparently the nurse was carrying my Sister out, while my mother was in the wheelchair. The nurse said my sister was so cute that she thought she'd just keep the baby. I stomped my foot and said, "You give that baby back to my Mommy right now!" Guess I was the protector from the beginning.
My earliest memory is of driving Sister home from the hospital. I was in the middle of the front seat, with the baby on Mom's lap. We stopped for a train and I insisted that Mom hold Sister up to see.
We lived in NH until I was age 4. Dad's family lived close and there are pictures of my celebrating birthdays with a cousin whose birthday is just a few days later. My sister was a much calmer baby. My mother is known to say that if she had my sister first, she would have gone crazy with me. However, she thought all babies cried as much as me and it wasn't until she had my sister that she learned it wasn't always true.
I went to pre-school for part of my 4th year. I had a "boyfriend" and his name was "Todd." I have pictures of us together. I remember big party when I left pre-school to move.
At age four, my father was transferred. We moved to NJ where I spent the rest of my childhood. We moved in during a big snow storm. As the oldest, I was allowed to choose which room I wanted. With a child's mind, I chose the orange room with the huge window. I didn't realize that I would later regret that decision since it was much smaller and didn't have a big closet. My Sister got the front bedroom with green carpet and the huge closet.
I remember being looked at funny for our accents. Mom from Ohio had one type of accent. Dad from the North had the Boston accent. And I had a mix of both. Then we moved to Jersey which had a language all its own. We settled in and I was tested for kindergarten readiness. Kindergarten in NJ was required and was half-day. Because my birthday is fall, I was going to start at age 4. I tested into first grade (an early reader) but because I was already starting school at such an early age, my parents made the wise decision to keep me in kindergarten.
One of my favorite pictures is of my new friend/neighbor and I waiting for the school bus in our brand new dresses. Thus began my school days. Mom did not work. I remember special lunches with Mom on school days. Usually tuna fish. I was allowed to eat my lunch and snack in front of the TV where we watched soaps. My Sister must have been napping.
That about wraps up my pre-school days.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Quick Baby Update

I had an OB appt yesterday. My husband met me there. I left work early to run a few errands before my appointment. I finished early and decided to pick up my Daughter from school. She considers it a real treat to be picked up early on Fridays.

The appointment went great. My daughter was amazed by all she saw. She asked lots of questions about the baby pictures. Will "my baby" have hair? Will "my baby" be all wrinkly? The midwife found the heartrate with no problem. Measuring 138 - 141. Lower heartrates typically mean boy.......I didn't gain any weight this time (yeah). We scheduled our ultrasound for 3 weeks away. My daughter asked the midwife, "how are you going to get the baby out of my mommy's belly to see it?" We all laughed. She still insists the baby is a girl. We'll see.

So seventeen weeks today. The midwife says that what I'm feeling is probably movement and I should definitely feel something in the next week or two. I'm excited about that. Pregnancy sickness is pretty manageable - as long as I remember to eat. It's bad if I wait too long. I have a refill on my prescription for the long car ride next week. Now to work on getting some energy back. The good thing about depression was that I didn't care that I had no energy. Now, I can tell the lexapro has kicked in - I'm more upbeat, less jumpy and less irritable. However, now the tiredness is annoying. I changed my vitamins to increase my iron and I hope to be able to eat some more red meat too.

Next big update in 3 weeks.........

Friday, April 11, 2008

Through the Years (1 - 2 1/2)

Allow me to reminisce. I thought this would be a good exercise. I'll go back and take a year of my life and see what I remember - or was told.

I was born in the mid-1970s. My family lived in NH. My father was in sales and my mother stayed home. We had one car. My parents had given each other animals as wedding presents. My mother gave my father a cat. It was all black and was Manx (no tail) so they named it Spooky. My father gave my mother a Samoyed dog. She named it Keesia. Later Kessia was bred and Shasta was born. Both the dog and the cat had litters just before I was born. So our house was quite busy.

I was a fussy baby. There are lots of pictures of me - my room had lime green carpet. Our couch was green plaid. My mother had long, straight hair and wore hippy clothes - most of them she sewed herself. My father had longish hair. Apparently I liked to sleep sprawled out on his chest - there are lots of pictures of me like that. I liked to cry a lot too. Plenty of tear-filled pictures. My mother says I was colicky.

We lived in a subdivision my grandfather built. The street we lived on was named after my father. Right around the corner lived my parents' best friends. They adopted a little girl about the same time I was born and we "played" together.

My baby book says I flew out to see my mother's parents at nine months of age. I got a pair of silver wings and visited the cockpit. Stories I've heard tell me that my father and mother liked the wacky weed and grew a patch in a garden amongst vegetable plants. My parents had a roommate for awhile. Then my uncle moved in - dad's oldest brother. He used our mailing address - until the FBI came around. Apparently, Uncle B liked to not only smoke the wacky weed, but sell it and other drugs too. After several visits from the FBI, Uncle B stopped living there and my parents stopped growing their own pot.

I reached my milestones on time. I survived being transported in a car without airbags and without a car seat. My mom says she would put me in a laundry basket on the seat next to her. Apparently I liked to sleep in the laundry basket so much that I would find it, crawl in, and take my naps there.

All in all, life was pretty good.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Benefit of Struggling

How many of you have called out to God, or any higher power, or a person to help? Wondered why on earth someone didn't come along and rescue you from the House of Hell? Wanted to smack the person who told you to "forget about it and move on."

Well.....Have you ever heard the story about a man who tried to help a butterfly?

A man found a cocoon of Butterfly. There was a small opening in the cocoon - he sat and watched the Butterfly for several hours as the Butterfly struggled to force the body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. It just seemed to be stuck. Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the Butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The Butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the Butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the little Butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the Butterfly to get through the tiny opening was the way of forcing fluid from the body of the Butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the Butterfly of a struggle, he deprived the Butterfly of health.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.

I can not say that I am grateful for my childhood. I do not think I will ever be in that position, nor is it something I am trying to achieve. But I am reaching a point of acceptance. Accepting that I can not go back, wave a magic wand and make things different. Accepting that my childhood WILL affect me now. I can't just ignore the impact. I'm also learning that there are some things about having struggled that are good. I am better at my job because of my experiences. I fight harder. I understand a bit better. I am a more protective mother. I value my time with my daughter more than I might otherwise. I think (sometimes I overthink) through the consequences of my words and actions, especially as they relate to my family.

Sometimes struggles have their good points. Like the butterfly I did tone some muscles and gain strength through this process. In all of the reflecting on the evil of the past, sometimes I forget that some good has come out of it. However, it is important that WE, the survivors, take the credit for the good (none is due our abusers, of course). We are the ones who struggled and survived.

Sometimes it is helpful to take a break from looking back at all the pain, and instead focus on your characteristics of strength - the strength that came through the struggles.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Home Run - Sister Scores Again

(prior post here)

My mother's next email to my sister was this - (my thoughts in red)

I just ordered a couple books for [nephew]'s birthday. I had them sent to your house. They won't be wrapped tho. Not sure exactly when they will come either. So if they come too early, you could put them away. (I have to let you know I sent them. I'm too lazy to go to the store and pick something out and mail it. You'll need to wrap them for me.) Have you heard any more from [your husband]? How's he doing? (Is he still exaggerating or faking it?) Talked to Enola tonight. She seems to be feeling better. (Have to rub it in that I've talked to her - have you?) She'd mentioned that [your husband] had been to Iraq before during Desert Storm. Guess I didn't know where all he'd been before. (How come I didn't know this? You never share anything with me.) It's cold and rainy and dreary! Tell the kids I said hello, and if any of them ever feels like writing me a letter, I'd love it!! (hint hint. I need some stuff to hang on my walls. Never mind that Toilet lives in this house and will see it.) Love and hugs, Mom

This is what my sister wrote back.

Hey mom, I can see you are trying to make better the comment that you made :) I am not mad that you said it, It could possible be true, but given the situation that Husband is in over there I don't feel like it is fair to judge.......The part that did make me a upset for a moment was the fact that you said "Toilet said...." I get he is your husband but I don't really care about what he has to say about [my husband]. He is your son in law and you can say what you want to Toilet, but Toilet is of no relation to me or my husband. And I know you probably talk about it with Toilet but I don't need to know about that. I don't want you to think that I am mad I wasn't going to bring it up but I could tell by your last 2 emails that you were trying to "make good" and defend your comment.

I'm always amazed (and impressed) at how my Sister attacks a situation head on. Sure she may call me and cry and ask for help and sink a bit in the miry clay. But (unlike me) she doesn't stay there long. She drags herself out and addresses the incident.

I learn a lot by watching my baby sister. Maybe someday I'll grow up to be just like her!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Who are You Talking to?

I was hoping I had more time. But this morning I was caught. As I drove my daughter (age 4) to school, she asked to listen to her purple CD. I thought the agony of listening to a preschool choir sing "The Gospel Train's a'coming" was better than having to think up princess stories for 20 minutes, so I stuck it in. Then I lost myself in my thoughts.

"Mommy, who are you talking to?"

Oops. Caught. My propensity for talking to my "imaginary friend" in the passenger seat had been revealed. There was no convincing my daughter that I had been singing. "Ah I was just talking to myself."

"What ya talking about?"

"I was talking about all I had to do today,." I explained.

"You can talk to me, Mommy," she said.

I remember being known as the strange one growing up. The girl with her head in the clouds. One day I was walking home from the school bus, just chatting away about my day with whatever person I had conjured up to be my friend for that day. When I got into the house, my sister was concerned. So concerned she didn't even make fun of me. She was convinced I was seeing things. I tried to blow it off as just talking to myself. But she pointed out that I had been looking up at some imaginary person, gesturing, pointing, and talking and laughing. Oops.

Another time I got caught pretending again. This time I was talking to a boyfriend. I had a boyfriend at that time. But I was so concerned that I would do something wrong. So I would practice conversations. Toilet caught me then. He just made fun of me.

It happens all the time. This morning, after being caught by my daughter, I was waiting for the elevator in my office lobby. Just chatting away as if someone were there. Not out loud. But my lips may have been moving. I was probably gesturing. Someone else walked in and looked around with a puzzled look on their face. I just smiled faintly and hopped in the elevator.

I don't think I'm really crazy. I KNOW that no one is there. So what if I find it easier to talk with imaginary people than real people? As a child it was safer. They wouldn't tell my secrets. I could tell them all about my day without worrying about being judged. They listened. I could be real with them and not worry about keeping stories straight.

On the other hand, I don't want to be the "crazy mother." So I'll have to work on curbing my tendencies around my daughter. I don't want her to be embarrassed to be seen with me - at least not yet.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Work Hates Me

I have come to the conclusion that work - and computers - hate me. One month ago it was new paint. The smell of wallpaper being removed, coupled with morning sickness was not good.

Then we moved on to pulling up carpet and replacing carpet. If wallpaper and paint were bad, carpet glue was worse. Morning sickness started subsiding and the powers that be decided another tactic was in order. Hammering. Specifically installing hardwood floors. And some idiot who picked out the hardwoods failed to realize this is a professional office where women wear high heels. Heels that are now leaving divots in the new floors - which will have to be replaced with hardwoods designed to withstand such pressure. (I might have to stop stomping my feet too!)

Remodeling is done. Now we move onto computer issues. First my home computer dies. I have superb service with Dell who walks me through my hardrive re-installation.

I lost several pictures and documents. That will teach me to back up things. After managing to keep my cursing to a dull roar so as not to teach my preschooler any more 4-letter words, I got everything up and running. Had to call tech support to help with the wireless. Before, I had to go down to the router, connect it all up, get hooked up, then I could "move about the cabin freely." The tech had me click one little tiny box. Voila !!!

I can now turn the computer on and be instantly connected, wirelessly, to the internet. Yeah. At least some good came of this mess.

On Thursday last week, we got a new Microsoft Outlook. I can't find a darn thing. It's all moved around. My legal assistant can't find my calendar on her computer. I'm double booked everywhere. Email is down so we are back to paging, yelling down the hall, and taking handwritten phone messages. I never thought to screen my assistant for spelling and penmanship. Isn't that what spell-check and fonts are for?

On Friday I was informed that at noon there would be no Outlook and no internet. That meant I couldn't call anyone since all my contacts are on my computer. I couldn't do legal research. Worst of all I couldn't IM with my friend who keeps me sane and entertained when I'm supposed to be working. And no blogging either! What is a girl to do?

I did what anyone would do. I removed the human error component and went home.

I came back to the office today to find written instructions on using my new system. "We have the MX record changed so our internet mail comes directly into our server and not to a host anymore. But you will also need to check your OWA to access your mail that comes directly into the new server. On Friday after we move your PST to the new server then everything should be back at one place in outlook and your OWA should completely match your Outlook. " Blah blah what? In English please!

I think I'm leaving. Yes it is an hour early for my court hearing. But the computer is safer this way.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bad Unusual Dream

I had a bad dream last night. My husband, daughter and I had wandered into a cold, dark cave and had been kidnapped. There was this little furball, who morphed between being kind of cute and very scary. He had sharp teeth. He liked to bite and chew and would start with your arm or leg and eat it slowly. It was a slow, painful death. I protected my daughter by covering her. I also tried to convince the monster to stop biting. I would grab it's mouth and squeeze - much like I had when training my puppy not to bite. But the wildness could not be tamed.

Then the scene switched and we were in a house type place. I had decided to sacrifice myself and had made a deal. My husband and daughter would be let go, in return for my letting the monster devour me. There was another person there - part monster-part human. An older figure. This older monster was not approving of the other monster's addiction to eating humans, but was not going to interfere either. It had a "don't see, don't know" attitude. I convinced the younger monster to let me consume medication - anything found. So that ideally I would be comatose before the monster started chewing on my flesh. The monster was okay with that idea, but was concerned that the older figure not find out. The older figure would be mad. We snuck into the medicine cabinet and I took what I could find. Then went through my pockets and took that too. I started fading. Kissed my daughter and husband goodbye. Then turned myself over to the monster.

I think the little monster represents Toilet. At times he was a father-like figure, prone to bouts of kindness, even against my mother, who I'm sure is the older monster, lurking in the background. My attempts to tame the younger monster are like my attempts to appease Toilet - to be the "good child." My desire to take the medication and become "comatose" is akin to my zoning out during the abuse - if I numb out enough, it won't be that bad. My mother (the older monster) is watching in the background. And my daughter and husband represent my eternal desire to protect others from Toilet, including my sister, even if it meant sacrificing myself.

Now dream - go away! Today was day to sleep in.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Why I Jumped

I was looking for another book and the title of this one, lying right next to it, caught my eye. I picked it up last night and started reading. I could not put it down. The sub-title is "My true Story of Postpartum Depression, Dramatic Rescue & Return to Hope." I read all 239 pages last night.

This is the true story of Tina Zahn, whose story was featured on the evening news just a fear years ago. She drove to the top of a bridge, jumped off, and was caught - by her wrist, by a police officer. She survived and tells her tale.

Her story is my story (well except that I didn't quite (almost, but not quite) make it to the jumping off the bridge part). She was molested by her father, who she later discovers is her step-father. Her mother walks in and does nothing, except blame her daughter. Counseling is sought and promises made that it will never happen again. But it does. Tina is told to "let go" and "put it behind her." Her mother is my mother - same words, thoughts and actions.

In her recovery, Tina has to let go of the "fantasy mom" - a process I struggled with. she realizes her mother "is never going to be the mother [she] longed for." Tina realizes that in her mother's mind, Tina had been the "other woman" - no matter that she had never wanted it, had died a small death every time he touched her. Tina had to "close the door on that fantasy, grieve its loss, and leave the crumpled dream in God's hands." (I remember hearing my mother tell me that a part of her was jealous and saw me as the other woman - contributing greatly to my feeling of being 'dirty').

Tina talks about the illusion presented to the world - of a well-adjusted, loving family. Of having to give up that illusion and stare the truth smack in the eyes.

Tina goes through high school and college like I did. Studying hard and determined to succeed. She has her promiscuous phase with the same outcomes and repercussions I faced. She is driven. Determined to be the perfect woman. She marries and is convinced that her past is behind her. When the depression escalates, her husband is dumb-founded. Where did the driven woman, have it all together, wife that he married go?

From medications to hospitalization to giving birth to a child which results in a battle with post-partum depression. Tina describes her struggles and details her journey with painstaking honesty. I could not put the book down.

She survives in the end. But it is not a "happily ever after" story. She is careful to say that she has reached a place of survival. But she knows she will slip down into the ditch again.

In the end she says, "What I wanted more than anything in my life was to be accepted for who I was and loved unconditionally. But before I could believe that anyone loved me, I had to learn that I was worthy of love. I tried behaving in ways I thought people wanted me to behave. I tried to be compliant, submissive, obedient, and "good." I didn't' speak up or speak out. I held on to secrets until they choked the life out of me. but all the while, I hated hiding behind a mask, knowing that I wasn't letting anyone see the real me for fear of more rejection......Depression is a liar. It will tell you whatever it can to keep you embroiled in the darkness. but there is joy in the light. There is hope in the future. And there is someone loving you every step of the way."

I have to recommend this book. My library had it and it is on Amazon too.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Blog Against Sexual Violence Day

Blog Against Sexual Violence Day

Hosted by Abyss2hope as part of the Day to End Sexual Violence.

Marj at Survivors Can Thrive joins in with a great post on her blog.

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

This month's focus is on Sexual Violence in the Workplace. While I don't practice in the area of employment law, I do have some basic knowledge about sexual violence in the workplace. As a domestic attorney and a board member for our local battered women's shelter, I get a lot of questions from my corporate clients about helping and protecting employees in abusive situations. The good news is that employers are becoming more aware of this issue and more proactive. Why should employers care?

Health care costs for domestic violence total $4.1 billion dollars each year, with employers typically paying a portion of the costs. For women, homicide was the second leading cause of death on the job in 2003. An estimated one million women are stalked each year in the U.S.,13 and about one-fourth of them report missing work as a result of the stalking, missing an average of eleven days. (In the UK - The impact of domestic violence goes much wider than the victim, with a cost of approximately £3billion pounds per year for UK employers due to lost economic output. It is shocking that one in four women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime and one woman is killed every two to three days.)

Those statistics are staggering. I was personally and professionally confronted by this issue recently. I received a call from an old friend late one evening. He and his wife had just been blessed months earlier with a new child. His wife was returning to work part-time and their self-owned business was finally picking up. He had mentioned last time we had met, that he finally had hope that his business would prosper and he would be able to financially care for his employees and family.

That night he called in tears. There had been a shooting at his place of business. A husband, despite the domestic violence restraining order against him, and despite being out on bond for assaulting his wife, came to the business, shot his wife-employee and then himself. All of this occurred in the business and in front of the other employees.

My friend was devastated. He and his wife (the victim's sister) are now raising two additional children. The wife has been forced to quit work in order to care for the four youngsters, and because daycare for three non-school-aged children is more than she can reasonably earn. The company lost several employees due to the incident. Business was closed for several weeks. I'm not sure this small family-owned business will survive. I know my friend and his wife will never live the same life.

My message is this - Be Aware of what is going on around you. Don't take lightly any incidents of violence in the workplace.

More information here