Friday, October 23, 2009

Not gone.....

Just wanted to let all know that I am not gone. I just have limited access to the internet until I can figure out why my web browsers keep crashing every time I try to use them. (I use a Mac, by the way, and the browers are Firefox and Safari.)

When I get this figured out, I will be back....but it has been 3 weeks and counting......

Sunday, July 5, 2009

You have no right....

Hmmm..... this one has been brewing for a while. In essence, it is simply this foundational belief that I have no right to sympathy or comfort. Why? Because if someone hurts me, it is my own fault for being weak or stupid or niave...

This concept has controlled a lot of my interactions in the past in ways I wasn't aware of. It has only been the last couple of months - through therapy both in a professional setting and with a friend - that I have even been able to pin it down enough to put it into wards. To many of you, it may sound patently ridiculous. But I have realized that this is a concept that was trained into me from the very beginning.

I was talking to a friend about it a couple of months ago, right after it first came out in words in therapy. As I was talking, it was almost as if my mouth was saying things my conscious mind didn't know.... I said, "This concept that I don't have the right to feel pain and ask for help - sympathy - comfort - goes back to when I was 2 and my mother said...." And at that moment, my mind shut down like a steel door slamming shut and I realized that I had almost seen something I've been trying to get a handle on for a while - what, exactly, it was that happened when I was 2 1/2. My mind is not ready to let me see that, but what I did get was a sense that whatever it was, my mother was aware of it and told me to essentially get over it, it was not a big deal... it was somehow my fault.... And I can get no further with that at the moment.

But as I have thought about it, there are other incidents. I remember when was 3 I found this stuffed gray cat lying somewhere. My mom let me keep it, but made sure I knew how gross it was to take a used toy you found laying around. She washed it.... And I named it Graytor. And I took him with me everywhere. It was almost like having a pet. :-) My mom has a picture of me sitting on the curb outside my aunt's house in Denver reading a Mad Magazine and the cat tucked under my arm - I was 3. Fast forward a couple of years. Still toting this cat around. And it is time for me to start school. I remember mom warning me to leave the cat at home. Warning that if I took it to school, I would lose it or it would get stolen. Warning me how horrible I would feel if that happened. But I never went anywhere without that cat. So, to school we went. And at recess, playing on the playground - there was this huge stump. It was the size of a table - at least to us little 5 year olds. And I left my cat lying on that stump at the end of recess. And even now, I can't explain how I forgot about it. But I didn't realize that I had left it on the playground until I got home and it wasn't there. I begged mom to take me back to the school. She told me that there was no way it was still going to be there, but she consented to take me so that I could be sure. And sure enough, it was gone. I was devastated. And I'm not sure what made me feel worse: the fact that it was gone or the fact that it was my own careless stupidity that caused it to be gone. And there was no sympathy or comfort. Only the stark fact that she had warned me and I should have listened.

There are many little incidents.

When I was 4, I gave my piggy bank to the neighbor boy in exchange for some toy (can't remember what). My mom was very up set. She made the boy give it back and told me I was naive and easily taken advantage of and needed to smarten up. I was 4! (I didn't get my piggy bank back - she kept it.)

If I cried, I was spoiled. She used to say that when I would go and spend a few days with either of my grandparents, it would take her two weeks to "straighten me out" after they had "spoiled me."

When I was in trouble, I was sent to my room (after being whipped with a belt) and told that I had to stay there and think about what I had done and not to come out until I was prepared to tell mommy I was sorry for hurting her. This started when I was 2 years old.

In a letter that I came across a few months ago that she had written when I was about 5, she writes about me getting in trouble and that she gave me a whipping with a belt and sent me to my room. She then wrote that the person the letter was to should not worry as it didn't do any damage as I only shed a couple of small tears. Yeah. I learned early not to let them see me cry any more than I could help.

When I was 8, my grandmother died and when my mom caught me crying in bed one night, she asked me what I was crying about. I told her I missed grandma. She frowned and told me to get over it.

When I was 13, my favorite teacher accidentally killed himself. No sympthay. Why should I be upset, I didn't know him that well.....

So many times, growing up, someone would hurt me - and my mom's response was always to tell me that I must have provoked them or I just needed to toughen up...

Is it any wonder, when my cousin began sexually abusing me, that I didn't tell anyone? I still struggle with the concept that it was my fault for letting him do it...

I still struggle with the idea that I do not deserve any sympathy or help because whatever the damage is - whatever the reason for the pain - it was my own fault and I should just buck up and move on and take my consequences like a good little girl.

Hmm.... today marks one year since I have seen my mom. And the pain is still just as deep as it was then. And there is still some guilt at not seeing or talking to her. And yet, to go back to the place where she actively controls my

I guess there is still a lot of confusion and pain here. And that should probably not be a surprise.

And you know....hmm.... forgiveness. That is an interesting topic for me - toward my mom, my dad... and toward my cousin, and all those others who sexually used me. I have thought about it and I really do not want any of them to go to hell. But I don't want to have to be around them, either. And I think that is one of the ways that the church is messed up in it's doctrine of forgive and forget. That is humanly impossible. And it is the height of stupid arrogance to tell someone who has been abused to forgive and forget - something they cannot possibly do (how do you forget?) and then tell them that unless they do, God will not forgive them and they will be in trouble with God. That is called a crazy making - telling someone they will be in trouble if they don't do what they cannot do.

Anyway, I think I have begun to just ramble, so .....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just Get Over It...

Hmm... this may be a tough one to write. It may come out angry and fair warning, if you have been abused, there may be triggers. It's something that has sort of been forming in me the last couple of days. This is directed at family.... church family... biological family... and all those who would tell a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to "just get over it." Do you comprehend what it is you are asking?

Okay, I would ask you this. Would you go up to a war veteran who lost their legs in battle and tell them to "just get over it?"  Would you tell a woman who has just had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer to "just get over it?"  Would you go up to a father whose only son was murdered and tell him to "just get over it?" Some of you may, at this point, be getting a little uncomfortable or even annoyed - how dare I compare what I went through to that. Well, that is part of the point... how dare you make a judgment on what I went through without talking to me about it.

In all of the examples above, there is no "getting over it." There is only learning to live with it - healing enough that you can continue to live. Get over it? How? It is the same with childhood sexual abuse. I think one of the biggest things people miss about this issue, including many victims, is that if you are a victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you have lost something - something that can never be regained.

What have we survivors lost?

Well, for starters , our childhood innocence. This is something that, for me, went away when I was 2 years old. That childlike innocence that allows you to trust the people around you not to hurt you is ripped away. And once it is gone, it cannot be restored. I can never regain that place where I didn't know betrayal and confusion. And how do you even put into words what it is to have NOT had that as a child? And how the HELL do you "just get over" that? My childhood was warped - twisted - dark - frightening - desperate - and I can't "just get over it." I didn't get to be just a little kid. The wounds from it can heal (and I am working on that) and I can learn to live with the scars that will forever remain (and I am working on that, too). But it is something that will always be a part of who I am. I can't get rid of it (I tried!) and I can't "just get over it."

What else have we lost? Well, our ability to trust - our ability to function normally. For me, it is pretty severe - more than I had ever allowed myself to see. Hmm... I am 46 years old and I have never had a boyfriend - never been on a date. And I am thinking about going to a chiropractor (a friend has recommended him and I have met him and I WANT to go). But I will need her to go with me because I am afraid. Even as I type this, tears are forming, because just thinking about letting this man - a DOCTOR, for crying out loud - touch me is causing mild panic - just from the thought of it, not the actual doing it. 

That is another thing. The panic - the fear. To feel - and walk through - the feelings of panic that rise up every time I go out the door. I have dealt with that for so long that I had gotten to the place where I thought it was normal and hardly noticed it anymore. But it is NOT normal to feel fear every time you leave your house. I have rarely let it stop me from going somewhere, but it is always there. To feel panic every time a man is nice to me is not normal. The ability to have a normal relationship is another thing that is lost. My friend and my therapist tell me I will be able to, eventually. We'll see....

And then there is the pain - the anger - that you are not allowed to feel, not allowed to show - so you stuff it down deep. And your ability to see yourself as normal - as valuable - as not "damaged goods" or "tainted" or "spoiled" or "ruined." The church places such a strong emphasis on being a virgin. So did my family, for that matter (ha!). How is a 7 year old girl supposed to cope with that information - that demand - when that is something that has already been taken away from her?

Part of the process of healing requires recognizing what was lost, where the damage is. It requires being allowed to acknowledge what was lost and being allowed to mourn that loss.

Hmm.... I am reaching the limit of what I can process right now, so this will have to do. But those of you in churches - and families - please, please, do NOT tell someone who has been sexually abused as a child (or as an adult, for that matter) to "just get over it." It is, quite literally, like driving a dagger into their heart, emotionally. It adds to the damage....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hey, I'm Still here....

Hey all. Man, has it been a while since I posted anything. Life has been .... busy. There has been so much going on since I posted in January. I don't even know where to start. Bleah.

I really want to start with tonight, I guess. A strange thing happened. Today was my day off. I had nothing planned except that I would clean my bathroom and do some laundry. Hmm.... The bathroom didn't get cleaned. I just couldn't get motivated. Then, around 11:00 PM, after watching a movie, I decided that although I could get by a couple more days without doing laundry, I was motivated to at least do that now. Okay. I got my dirty clothes together and grabbed the laundry soap and some quarters and to the laundry room I went. 

The laundry room is right next to my apartment. It couldn't be closer without being in my apartment. The door to the laundry room was mostly shut. Unusual. Sometimes, when people do laundry early in the morning, they shut the door to muffle the sound so it won't bother anyone, but there was no washer or dryer running. Hmmm.... so I pushed the door open and turned the light on....

And there was someone sleeping under the clothes folding table. It's more of a bench, really. He was all tucked in with his head on his pack and his skateboard under his arm. And he looked like he was between 25 and 30. And he was very apologetic. He said he was sorry, but it was just so cold outside. Yeah, it's May, but we had a nasty storm come through today - raining and hail all day. It is chilly out. And it's the strangest thing. He said he would leave if I wanted him to. I thought about it for a second and told him no, I'd wait and do my laundry tomorrow. He said that I could go ahead and do it now, it wouldn't bother him. I said no, that's okay, and closed the door and went back to my apartment. 

And then the logic kicked in and I asked myself what the hell I was doing. I should call the cops. There is a strange man sleeping in my laundry room not 15 feet from my door. But I am not afraid of him (mostly) and I don't know if that is good or bad. I don't feel inclined to do anything else for him. Just not turn him out (or in).

Hmm... and I think most of the people I know would think me foolish. I'm not so sure I'm not. But in the moment, there was no 'scary vibe' coming from him. I have experienced that and I can't explain. I just know that I could not chase him out tonight. As I closed the door on him, he said thank you, you're beautiful. Hmm.... He did not have the appearance of someone on drugs and he was not drunk. I don't know what his story is. But for some reason, I could not tell him to leave. It was not fear of him. It was compassion for him - I think. I don't know.

I know there are friends who will read this and wonder what the hell I'm doing. I don't know. I am sitting here typing this and he is sleeping on the floor in the laundry room not more than 25 feet from me. And my door is locked and I will probably sleep in my clothes tonight... and I'm not sure what to think. I have no desire for him to be thrown out and yet my mind wonders if I have the right to make that decision for the other 30 some tenants in this building. I don't know. The thought crossed my mind to call the cops, but I can't seem to justify that. I've been too close to being in that position myself, maybe, to want to do that to someone else...

So.... I will go to bed here in a little bit. And do my laundry in the morning.... I have asked Papa if he is safe or if I need to call the cops. No answer except that there is no fear or uneasiness....

Hmm... strange.....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Hmm... I find myself tonight hurting yet again. Or really, still. It has not been gone for some time, just closer to the surface and less close - waves. I guess it has always been this way. At least, I don't remember when it wasn't. 

Hmm... my friend tells me that the foundation my life was built on was bad. That it is being demolished and rebuilt. I would agree... but... I am tired. And sad. And scared. 

And I don't have much interest in theological discussions right now. I'm sure that maybe that will come back at some point... or maybe the burning issue for me is one of the most foundational theological, philosophical and metaphysical issues that there is.

Does God really love me? Hmm... the immediate answer to that question in my mind is two answers overlapping: "yes" and "I don't know." 

Okay, you all get to watch me process a little. Writing it out seems to help.

So, the issue is more, I think, that I don't know what love is, or rather, what God loving me is supposed to look like. My previous post was an internal dialogue, a tape, that runs in my head often. Although it was amplified and reinforced by the church, the voices speaking are my parents - mostly (but not completely) my mom. I don't know how to tell if He loves me. I know that sounds stupid. But in my mind, punishment for not doing it right the first time, or making a mistake, or just (sometimes) having fun, is what I expect.

Another phrase I hear in my head is, "You made this mess. You clean it up. And don't expect any help."

Hmm... last week, I got a call from a collection agency. They are going to start taking a big chunk out of my checks starting next week unless I give them money I don't have by Friday. This is for an OLD defaulted student loan. That I owe. By myself. I made the mess. And I have not been able to clean it up in almost 20 years. And I don't even know if it is okay to ask Him for help. Tough love, right?

My friend says that is what the Blood and the Grace are for - covering mistakes. But I expect angry when I ask for help. I expect a lecture followed by why help is not available. Hmm... I expect to be told I am doing it wrong and until I humble myself and admit that I am willful and stubborn and lazy and selfish, I will not receive help - and even then, I will have to pay the consequences of my actions.

And part of me knows this is bullshit. But part of me doesn't. So I am conflicted and scared and don't know what love looks like from Papa. Not sure if He's got His hand out or a belt. And I sometimes feel like I just need someone - God - to tell me what to do so I can do it and be safe. Which is how I ended up in an abusive church. 

And I would like to know what to expect when I am told by someone that they love me. Because I don't. And that is a foundational issue. And it is not their fault. That is, it is not my friends' fault that I don't know what to expect.

But with God... I have been told that even when a child is raped, God ordained it to bring good from it. I can't reconcile Love with that. Bluntly, if God ordained what happened to me as a child for some 'greater good,' I am not okay with that. Can I see where because of what happened, there are good things in my life now that would not have been there otherwise? Yes! Can I see where, because of what I went through, I was able to help someone else? Yes! And I am glad. It gave birth to a friendship like none I have ever had and saved someone very dear to me from becoming just another statistic. And these things are so worth it.

BUT... to say God planned it, or even said, "I'm going to let this happen so I can use it down the road." Hmm... that is like saying, "I'm going to let you be hurt so I can help someone else later." How does that work for the one being hurt?

I am fine if it is like this: world broken, bad things happen because of fucked up people making fucked up choices. God takes mess and works good out of it.

But the problem is, I don't know if it is like that or... Man fucked up. God uses man to work His own ends and prove His way is best. Some hurt in process. Collateral damage.

If it is the latter....... 

And I don't know... and I have asked Him to show me. And I am sad and tired... and it comes in waves. 

And yet, on a level very deep, I know He is good. I have always known. I just don't know how to translate that into something my soul can take refuge in.... I don't know how to believe in love...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just Quit Being...

I'm damaged.
No you're not.
Yes, I'm damaged. It hurts.
Well, it's your own fault.
It's your own fault. You damaged yourself.
I damaged myself? 
By thinking about it and dwelling on it.
Um, no... that's not what damaged me....
Yes, it is.
No. Someone else damaged me. I am not the one who put their your-know-what where it didn't belong.
Well (frowning).... but continuing to dwell on that is what damaged you.
Well, fine. But now it's time to stop.
Stop what?
Being damaged.
Stop being damaged?
Yes. Fine, you were damaged. Now, stop.
Stop? How do I stop?
You just heal, then you stop being damaged.
Just heal? How do I heal?
By not thinking about it.
Not thinking about it?
Yes. Stop thinking about it. Then you will heal and quit being damaged.
I can't stop thinking about it.
You don't want to stop thinking about it.
If you wanted to, you would just stop thinking about it. Then you would quit damaging yourself.
Okay, but....
Um...I will quit thinking about it...
I will quit being damaged...
I will quit being damaged....
About time, too.
I will quit being...
That's enough. Leave it alone, now.
It still hurts.
Well.... you just aren't trying hard enough.
You don't really want it.
You don't care how you make others feel.
I'm sorry.
You make your own problems.
I'm sorry.
Don't expect others to help you fix your own stupid stuff.
No, I'm sorry.
I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Good Article

Danni Moss, over at Because It Matters, has written a really good article about why children don't tell when they are being abused. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Window Into The Mind Of One Abused...

Hmm... I have been reading some journals I wrote in around a year ago. It has been interesting. One in particular I wanted to share. It will give some insight, maybe, to what abuse does to the mental processes. 

I am open to comments on what you guys see in this. It is essentially an entry that turns into a written prayer and I think it is pretty revealing of the damage done. It was written about one year after I walked away from the church I was a leader at... I am not in the same mental space now - mostly - sometimes....

"Hmm... fears: that I'll end up acting like my mother - being like my mother... that no matter what I do, I will never be right and I should not relax - feel safe - because it will be taken away... ... Papa, I'm having a hard time seeing out of this one - I don't see the future anymore. I don't see my purpose anymore. I don't see the way up from here. There is a lot of emotional pressure and I don't know, even, if it is self-inflicted or what it is. Papa, I'm only human. I am not strong. I wish I was. I know Your Word says I am strong in You and the power of Your might. But I don't feel it. Papa, I can't live like this. Remember when I tried to die twenty years ago and I said I was sorry? I still am. I am so tired. I know. I'm supposed to just relax and trust you. I want to. I don't seem to know how to relax - how to trust. I know we're supposed to be thankful for the life we've been given. And I am thankful for the life Jesus gave. But I look at this pain... Jesus, how? How do I be thankful for being abused? It hurts and I don't see any prospect for relief. I don't seem to be getting better. My aunt and my friend say I am better, but I don't feel any better and I don't see any prospects in that direction. So what am I doing? Going through the motions of living. Waves of pain interspersed with patches of coldness. I just want to rest, but I don't seem to be able to. 

Okay. You said it's okay that I don't know how to do this. 'You've never walked through not being abandoned before. You're not being abandoned.' Okay. I'm not being abandoned and I don't know what that looks like to recognize it. Hmm... the implication is that up until now, I have been abandoned and that that is not my twisted imagination...

You know, we all need something to look forward to... small and big things. Achievable goals. Hmm... THAT brings a rise in the anxiety level. Hmm...

Yes, I know that all who are Christ's have a wonderful eternity to look forward to, but if that is the only thing I have to look forward to, then let's get on with it. Hmm... we need tangible things IN THIS LIFE to look forward to, or there is no joy, no hope - no life. Jesus, you said that You came to give us life and more abundant life - show me how to do that. I don't believe that requires ceasing to care about other people. That flies in the face of everything You taught. So... help me see how to do this. Help me heal. Help me not give up. Thank You."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Even Odder Space - Update...

Hmm... wow, a month since I posted. I guess I don't have much I know how or am comfortable putting into words right now.

Images that I grew up being taught were evil thoughts that needed to be resisted are turning out to be very early memories...

I experienced, over Christmas break, what it might mean to be part of a loving family. God, that is hard to say without feeling guilty - I mean, my family is loving (twitch)........ sigh.

I am in an emotional/spiritual/mental state of limbo... I'm not sure what is happening or what is next. Just putting one foot in front of the other... go to work, come home, cry... or play a video game or watch a movie to distract my mind from the pain, sleep (sort of), get up, repeat...

Feeling very alienated and alone and disconnected. Need more good friends. Don't have the emotional reserves to build that... my emotions - anger, sadness - are bubbling just under the surface (or not, as the moment may be) and I am not sure how to handle them...

Well, that's the update, such as it is. I have been assured that I am making progress, even if it doesn't feel like it. *shrug*