Kate (www.kate1975.wordpress.com) wrote a post about child sexual abuse as an adult. This weekend it will be 16 years since my father last sexually abused me.

*Sexual Trigger*

The first weekend in July in 1994 I was 28 years old and my parents drove to my home, unexpectedly, with a rented truck and my aunt and uncle and emptied out my home and said I had to move in with them. I don’t know exactly why or at least I don’t remember. That night in the Holiday Inn motel my 2 year-old son was sleeping next to me when I felt something on my leg. It was 2:45am and my father was in my bed, had pulled back the covers and pulled up my nightshirt. He was molesting me and I think would have done worse if I hadn’t woken up. I said “No more.”, pulled down my night shirt, and put the covers back on me.

I didn’t say “No more” like an empowered you-can’t-do-that-to-me-anymore woman. I said it, and meant it, as a very tired, betrayed, fed up, hopeless, single mother, depressed, just-leave-me-alone woman.

I feel embarrassed that it happened and that I didn’t have enough self confidence to protect the toddler next to me, much less myself. I realize I was still, or had reverted back to, a sexually abused child frame of mind.

My son doesn’t know that his grandfather did that to me while he was lying next to me. Someday I would like to tell him, though.

It took me several months and three therapists and a psychiatrist to finally find someone who could help me. As Kate wrote, it’s difficult to find information or insight for people who are sexually abused well into adulthood. However I did, but it still took 14 years to really get on the right track therapeutically.

So, Kate got me thinking, and I feel it’s an important issue to think about, and I’m very glad she brought it up.

Advertisements

Last night I had a very graphic dream about something my mother did which was sexually abusive and as a child never understood.Then this morning I received the following email from my her:

“Dear Lisa,

I want to start by saying that I know that you are angry at us for something we have done and I want to say that what ever it was , we are sorry and we really do love you very much and pray that some day you will forgive us.

I want you to know that your dad is ill and in the hospital. I just got home from the emergency room and he is being admitted. He is diagnosed with pancreatitis and they are doing an MRI tomorrow and calling in the GI doctors and pancreatic surgeon to evaluate the MRI tomorrow. At this time we do not know what it is, but with his history of cancer we are concerned. I will let you know what is going on.

Love Mom”

After hubby and I read it two things occurred to us:

1. She wants me to confront her so she can try and be penitent so I will forgive them, and

2. She realizes that my dad may not be around for much longer and she will be alone and it’s starting to scare her, so she needs to try and connect with me (and maybe my drug-addict sister) to take care of her.

I just wanted to note that she did not give the name of a hospital, a phone number or anything. That’s what she does, though. She leaves out pertinent information to make you go to her and then makes you do things for her while she soaks up the drama.

Several years ago hubby and I knew what we would say when she comes asking for help – “We’re sure you’ll find a nice retirement home.”. It’s not our problem, it’s not our responsibility.

Thinking about my dad dying didn’t make me angry or depressed. Rather, I felt relief, hope and freedom. It just washed over and inside me. He hasn’t tried to contact me in months which is nice. If he is dying and wishes to see me I won’t go. I expect there may be phone calls from relatives, but it’s none of their business and I’m happy to tell them so.

I feel hopeful after reading other blogs and how they reacted to their father’s deaths. We’ll be okay and we’ll feel safer and that’s always a good thing.

It has been difficult finding my voice, but it was behind the couch the whole time. (c’mon…laugh…it was cute…)

Hubby and I made a decision last year about how to end contact with my parents. We chose to do it step-by-step and thus far it is working. We also knew that my parents would work very hard to regain some control over me and that it would be difficult to ride through in the short term. I told him that they would, at least through their words, play a pseudo-legal game as a threat, even if they just hint at it. And so they have already. It’s just their game, and it is only words from desperate people, and we’re handling it okay. They like to threaten (even if it’s a subtle threat) and manipulate. They’re special that way.

A few therapy sessions ago my therapist said that we could consider legal avenues if we feel it necessary and I would have her support.

So anyway…I know many people don’t agree with the way we are handling this, but we feel it is the best way at this time. We know how my parents think and so far have been ahead of their games, remained safe and in control, and have support. Those issues alone are so very important. Had we suddenly ended contact it would have created far more complicated problems. Situations are different and this is working best for our situation.

This is the email we received last weekend:

> To: “Lisa”
> Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2011 1:17:32 PM
> Subject: VISITATION RIGHTS
>
>
> As grandparents, we hereby insist that you pick a day, Saturday or Sunday, between now and March 31st, to allow us to visit with your family.  If you’re lucky, we may bring a ‘token’ for you, as a recognition of your birth.
>
> Please consider, and reply at your earliest.
>
> Dad

My response:

> April 3rd or April 10th is best for us. No need to bring a ‘token’ for anything, we’re fine.

And then:

>Hi honey,

>We will see you on April 3rd, what time is good for you? We will not bring any ‘token’, we are just bringing the birthday presents we got you, so if you do not get a card on your birthday, please do not think we forgot. We would not forget your birthday Let us know a good time.>Love you, Mom

I don’t acknowledge my parent’s birthdays and my mom recently had one. That’s what her condescending little jab is about. The subject “VISITATION RIGHTS” is a pseudo-legal threat from them. Writing the words out is supposed to slip into my subconscious and bend me to their will. I’m serious. That’s how they think. As if they’re spies or something.

My therapist agrees with our approach and the way I am keeping boundaries and control.

An important realization over the past week is the fact that my parents gaslighted me. By constantly telling me, as well as family and friends, I am a liar and a faker and threatening me besides made it impossible to accept the belief in my own existence. If what I went through happened, and yet I’m being barraged with “You’re always making things up.”, “You never tell the truth.”, “No one can ever trust what you say.”, “Stop faking it. You’re not really hurt.”, it’s no surprise I can’t tell what is real. One incident in particular stands out. My parents took the day off work to meet with my 2nd grade teacher and tell her how I constantly lie, so anything I may have told her is unbelieveable. I don’t remember what I told my teacher, just the meeting. Accepting this truth also brought with it sensations of being choked and dry heaves. No anxiety though, and only a single thought of self-harming.

No one else in my life has not believed me or told me to shut up and stop lying. No one else has questioned what I believed happened in any circumstance. My parents constantly played these head games to the point where I question my own exsitence.

It is such a relief to understand this. I feel like “Yay! I’m not totally nuts, just broken!”. Broken I think I can work with. Being insane means “Why bother?” to me.

For the most part, life sucks, but it’s workable. I’m not in my happy space yet and these understandings and other crap are extremely tiring. I don’t know if this is a good post, but I am curious if anyone else went through something similar with their parents. I am also very nervous about what the next phase of healing will be like. Today I feel like I took a big step forward and banished some of my negative ways of thinking. Ways of thinking that were not even mine to begin with.

 

The new Thanksgiving plan (for anyone who reads my blog) was terrific, and everyone is invited here for next year. Bring your own sleeping bags, though. 😉

The past week or so has been an exercise in coping. Most of it was in preparation for my abusers visit to my home yesterday. It was their standard visit – some Sunday, from 1-3pm. It has been five months since I have spoken to them, and nine months (I think) since they visited my home, although occasionally emails were exchanged. I expected this visit to be a major triggering event, so we established boundaries, physical and what-not. Over the weekend my husband and I composed an email that would end all verbal and physical contact with them, but still allow some contact with the kids (they have no contact with them anyway) because we knew that my parents would invoke their Grandparents Rights just to be assholes.

I emailed Tai and asked her to read over the email because she had recently ended contact with her mother and I really needed some input (She was awesome, as usual.). It should be easy to do this, but it’s not, and I want to be careful and cover all my bases. Here is the draft of the email I wrote. I haven’t sent it yet:

*After many months of personal deliberation and years of therapy I have decided that in order to heal myself and make the best out of my life I am ending all verbal and physical contact with the two of you, as well as the rest of my family. The damage you have done to body and psyche has made it extremely difficult to simply find my way through life, much less succeed the way I wish to. Ending any and all relationships with you will help me move through my troubled self and regain what is left. I no longer need you in my life, and I no longer want you in my life in any capacity.

I know this decision will not come as a complete surprise to the two of you, so don’t pretend it does. I have wasted enough of my life simply patching up what the two of you have done, and I must move on. I feel no responsibility towards you or any family member, and I have no regrets making this decision. It is the best, most positive decision I can ever make. This is my personal decision that I have reached alone for my own health and well-being.

I don’t care if or how you choose to explain my decision to anyone. I don’t care how you feel about my decision. I don’t care about you, and I am choosing you out of my life.

I invite you to maintain contact with my children but I fully expect you to respect and abide by my decisions.

In good conscience I am returning the Christmas gifts you gave me so there are no false pretenses.

You may write to my email address, but do not expect any immediate response.

Most Sincerely,

Lisa*

This email wasn’t sent because the creatures that came to my home yesterday were old, bitter, feeble, sick, powerless, ugly, beaten, and no threat. I maintained my boundaries, did not offer them food or drink, did not allow them to go anywhere else but my kitchen, did not laugh or respond to anything they said, maintained eye contact, did not start any conversation at all, offered no information about myself, hubby, or the kids, etc.. Towards the end my father offered me an envelope of cash and I told him that I didn’t want his money, and that really embarrassed him (I haven’t accepted any money from them in years. I even mail it back to them if they try to put it in a card.). I wouldn’t touch them when they left and I held the door and ushered them out. At no time did they ask why I haven’t called, or when I would stop down to their house (I haven’t been there in over a year.). Even on their way out the door there was no, “Be sure to call me!”, or, “I’ll talk to you soon!”.

I was so busy doing those things that my husband said they looked very nervous and scared. He told me, “You were completely in charge and they knew it and it scared the shit out of them! That was great!”. So, now I’m wondering if sending that email is necessary at this point. It felt so good to do what I did and not be triggered, not feel guilty, and not feel like I had to justify anything. The idea of watching them wither away mired in their own shit, knowing I’m safe and in control and have the support of my husband is enough for now I think. I’m saving that email, though, until I really need it.

I would appreciate any thoughts about how I handled this. I honestly don’t feel like I chickened out. Rather, it was empowering to be in control and not be triggered, or spend the rest of the afternoon hiding under the covers. I feel good. I feel stronger. I hope this lasts for a few days, but I know I could crumble if there is an internal backlash. Ending all contact was so important a couple of days ago, but it doesn’t feel as important now. Has anyone had a similar experience? Should I have ended all contact anyway?

I’ve written about my hatred for my mother before, but that stupid article I read yesterday morning kept bringing up memories of her negligence, and it was hard to stop the flow. My mother is an RN, but you’d never guess it from the way she parents. I have many memories of calling one of my aunts (who are also RNs) for medical advice because I knew my mother would either lie or do nothing.

During my first semester in college I caught mono from the girl across the hall. I was carried to the infirmary, taken to the hospital, and then had to wait a day before my mother told anyone that I was sick. Then my dad drove the six hours to get me. No medicine was given because they didn’t have parental permission and it wasn’t a life-threatening condition. I did end up with a 105 fever, my liver swelling so you could see it popping out of my belly, and mono-hepatitis. I can’t donate blood because of that.

My mother decided to make a salad and only fed my father and myself. It was made with raw meat and I became sick right away. I was very ill, couldn’t work or go to school, and no one else knew I was sick until my aunt (also an RN) visited. She threw me in the back seat and drove me to the hospital, all the while trying to figure out why my mother hadn’t done that sooner. In only a few days I’d lost 12 pounds and then spent several days in the hospital healing up. The entire incident was blamed on me.

Those are the two incidents that often play out when I think of mom. Dozens of other times she wouldn’t clean cuts, give me basic medicine (unless it was rectally), or feed me.

That is her medical negligence. Her psychological, verbal, and emotional abuse are on par with dad’s sexual abuse. It’s hard to believe I’m here. I think I’m doing okay writing about it. My coffee cup hasn’t been thrown across the room and I have no urge to self-injure. Those are good things. There is internal turmoil, though, and I’ll deal with that when I’m done writing.

We were watching a “Dirty Jobs” DVD last night and one of the episodes talked about how a red oak’s roots will push through rocks to root, grow over one hundred feet tall, and live for hundreds of years. Eventually I would like to see myself as strong and durable as a red oak, living when few else could survive, and providing warmth and building material for others. Weird metaphor, but I like it, and maybe someday I’ll believe it.

Monday I remembered what they said when they hurt me in college. I already had the flashbacks a few weeks ago, and the details have been filling in ever since. I saw the common room, the curtains, and their faces. Nothing.

Tuesday afternoon I drove past the house where he started the sexual abuse and saw that it had been torn down and a small parking lot was in its place. Nothing.

Later that afternoon I had a flashback. I remembered where I was, what happened, and why I know so much about ceilings and ductwork. I heard the voice, felt the pain and the confusion. Nothing.

I can’t bridge the memory with the emotions. It still seems like it happened to someone else, but intellectually I know it was me.

During therapy today we talked about that bridge and how I will eventually get there. I could feel the emotions trying to surface, but another voice broke in and said, “No time for that. We have to go to Gander Mountain and the grocery store after this. You can’t go there as a mess.”. I told her about that voice and she feels (so do I) that I’m protecting my kids more than myself. I don’t want them to see me broken. We agreed that until the kids start school again it may be very difficult to make that connection.

Now I’m home and it feels like a battle is raging inside. Some want to scream, some want to forget, and some are wondering what we are going to do with the ground beef for dinner. Cooking Mommy is winning.

A Bit About the Visit

July 6, 2010

I understand that many people no longer have contact with their abusers and do not understand why other people continue to interact with them. I have ended contact with everyone but those who started it all – my primary abusers. It is a very complicated relationship, but over the past two years I have been severing the ties. One of the reasons is that if I suddenly ended everything they would be here, at my house every chance they got, and most likely pursuing legal action to get grandparent visitation rights, and the last thing I want is them alone with my children. That is just one reason, and if it works for me so be it. It’s taking a little longer for me to end contact, causing a little more instability internally, but it’s the way hubby and I are doing it for now.

There are a few things I wanted to write about their visit here the other day. I do not go to their house and having them here on my home ground with boundaries in place and support from hubby was good. I do not engage them in conversation, offer them food or drink, or make them feel welcome. I am not rude, either. I’m just kind of “there”.

My mother was diagnosed manic-depressive in the early 70’s. If you wish to read more about her and how I feel you can find some entries here:

https://roseroars.wordpress.com/tag/mother/

As far as my father goes, I’m not ready to write about what he has done to me. I have a great deal of trouble telling my therapist and often write events on paper and just hand it to her.

The visit went a little like this:

*they bought me clothes in size XXL and I wear a L. They know that.

*they gave me food which was undercooked, and a sour-cream based dip that had been in a 90-degree trunk for over an hour, tried to get me to eat it and I just set it aside and threw it away later

*they gave the kids gifts that were old and broken and clothes that do not fit them

*they kept bringing conversations back to my son and how wonderful he is. (He is a terrific kid, don’t get me wrong.) He is apparently the perfect son they couldn’t have.

*brought me half-dead flowers

That’s just a little of it, and she usually brings those sorts of things so it was not new. The conversation was very fakey-fakey and forced. I believe by the time they left that they understand I am finished with them. At least I hope so.

That’s all I can write for now.

Ramblings, Part 2B

July 5, 2010

A couple of months ago I left two books on one of our bookshelves in the hopes that my husband would catch a glimpse of them – The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook and Got Parts?. I was nervous about telling him my DID diagnosis and I thought I’d be oh, so subtle about getting around to telling him. It turns out that he not only saw the books, he also took a peek. The past week he has been calling me different names jokingly. If he can’t find what he’s looking for he says something like “Maybe it was Gloria who put it away.”, or something similar. We finally talked about it for a short time last night, and although he doesn’t believe I have DID (which is why I was reluctant to tell him) he does believe I have mixed episode rapid cycling bipolar disorder. He does understand my abusive background, and he is supportive of me (even when he is behaving like an ass), and I can count on him when things get bad. He does feel I am extremely dissociative, just not to a DID degree. I knew he wouldn’t agree and I can’t tell him exactly what’s going on inside, and that does hurt. Maybe he will see it differently in the future.

The abusers were at my house yesterday and they brought me things which I promptly threw away after they left. It was very fakey-fakey and pointless, but when they left I felt okay and did not have a meltdown. I made sure that all the younger parts I could round up were in a super-safe place and not aware of what was happening and that made such a difference. You could see in the abusers faces that they knew I was finished with them and that was a relief. Hubby was also there the whole time, but at the end of the day we were exhausted.

I complain about hubby a lot. He is an asshole, very self-centered, and has been abusive in the past (sometimes we marry what we know). On the flip side he is supportive, he loves me and his children, and he would kill for us. It’s confusing. I wish I could confide about my DID in him. There is only my therapist to talk to about that and I often feel lost without someone else to confide in about that. Too bad there isn’t a Buy-A-Friend store nearby……

Recently I started making  jewelry again and I’ve been using broken pieces along with the good pieces since that is how I feel. I’m  also using necklaces or bracelets that have broken and incorporating them into jewelry, too. It’s no big deal, I just like stringing things together and wire-wrapping, and thought that would be a neat theme to play with. Plus, with children, there are often broken things around to work with. Hmm….that may a good project for the kids, turning our broken jewelry into new things…… This is what I did yesterday – the earrings are made from broken necklaces, and the bracelet is made from some broken clear quartz and green flourite and pieces that I couldn’t use in other projects:

I was also thinking, since I am having great difficulty with any other kind of child art therapy, that I may make a blanket out of scrap yarn. A bunch of leftover pieces put together into one. I wonder if I can’t do the coloring, children’s crafts, etc., because I never did as a child so I have no clue. I don’t know.

I’ve rambled on enough. May your day be pleasant and banal!

Tomorrow the abusers are stopping by. I have not actually spoken to them in 3&1/2 months, but have sent curt e-mails to them. Everything is very structured – the time they will be here, where they will be, where my husband will be, and the time they will leave. I’m not very worried or concerned, but I am expecting the catholic guilt-trip my mother likes to use, and the “your grandmother will be dead soon” speech. I know what I would like to say, but I won’t because it would cause more problems and I’m not going to deal with that right now. I’m not worried about them coming here, either. I just don’t care. I’ve written them off, they know it, and they will behave like they are drowning and I need to save them. The visit will be chock-full of what my duties and responsibilities should be, eyes averting when the truth sneaks in, forced laughter, fakey smiles, etc., and trying to get me to make promises about whatever. It’s been played out this way for over 20 years. In the past I’ve given in and paid dearly for it, even to the point of being sexually abused again when I was 28 years old.

I think they really understand that they have no power over me anymore and this visit may be a desperate grasp at getting some of that power back. That’s okay. I feel ambivalent and apathetic now but it could be a rough few days after they leave.

So, I’ll pop the Xanax before they arrive,  make sure hubby is nearby, fake smile my way through it, and say things like “Perhaps”, “Maybe”, and most importantly, “No.”. I no longer even need to practice that last response anymore and that feels good.

Sewing lessons

May 10, 2010

Recently I began taking sewing lessons and it’s very weird. One moment it comes very easily and I have memories of doing it years and years ago. At other times it is extremely triggering and I cry, throw a fit, and shred fabric and thread and throw scissors, etc.. My mother was very good at sewing and she made a lot of my clothes from birth to about nine years old. However, she would never teach me how to sew. She never actually taught me anything, except what not to do as a parent.

It seems like I used a sewing machine in the past, but an old-fashioned one on a wooden sewing table. I have a few memory glimpses of that. When I sew I feel good because I know if I need something (like the ever-important PSP cover with pockets to hold games, or super-secure MP3 player protector) I can make it myself. It’s the same with crochet, knitting, spinning, cooking, etc.. I really need to know how things originate and see if I can learn to do it myself.

Does anyone else feel compelled to do that?

Last week my therapist told me to basically “back-off” from trying to figure everything out and relax for a bit. She said there is no rush, I will not heal any faster, and my brain needs a break. I told her I’ve always felt the need to know everything, and I remarked that I’m dying to know what the pictures are that she has wrapped up in her office. If someone put a box in front of me I would go nuts wondering what is inside, and whatever it may be it would be great. Big, little, whatever. It’s the “finding out” that is exciting and I need that.

My mother never taught me anything. I have always wondered why she wouldn’t teach me how to be a woman, draw (she was originally an art major), do my hair, cook, sew, wash clothes, converse, interact socially, etc.. How come I was not worth the time and energy to be taught how to be a functional human being? When I think about it lately, I know I’m well-rounded because I have done absolutely everything myself.

I remember watching my mother laugh at me when I made mistakes because I had no idea what to do. She let me walk out of the house with terrible hair because at 10 years old I didn’t know how to use a curling iron properly, and she never showed me. She liked to demean me in front of her friends and I wonder if that ever made her friends uncomfortable. At this point in her life all of those “friends” she had don’t speak with her anymore. The same is true with my father. People have deserted them and that is the only justice I will ever have.

Last night I was crying because I am having trouble figuring out how my PSP cover should be secured. Buttons, a zipper, velcro….. That led to a “I can’t do anything”, “I’m so stupid”, “What is wrong with me” tirade. My husband was nearby and he made me sit down, spoke softly, and helped me calm down. I didn’t sleep last night, and I sexually self-injured, and I feel beaten and broken. The dreams I had before I got out of bed around 1am were in a concentration camp and I could smell people dying around me and I knew I was next. That will be fun to interpret!

I think I will weave a ribbon through the PSP cover and tie it (I just thought of that as I was typing). That would be pretty. I really want to sew well. Maybe it will be good therapy in the end.