The body heals before the brain.

 

     

     Get over it, my mom told me at age 16.   I was so depressed, I was trying to stuff the pain and memories down, but it was coming out everywhere. There is healing, there is life after abuse, I believe it in my life and I also want other survivors to believe it about their lives too.  For those who haven’t suffered childhood sexual abuse, here is a little of what it’s like, so maybe you understand a little bit more.  I know this is uncomfortable to talk about, or read about, but it is so important for everyone to be able to talk about it.  You never know who this has touched, and I am sure in your life somewhere you know someone who has been affected by this.  

     Abuse tells us lies, many, many lies, and those of us who were abused over time had constant lies fed to our brains.  I believe it is a combination of many things that affect our brains when we are being abused that leads us to these constant lies being played over and over again.  Until we (most of the time with the help of others) stop the “loop” of lies and replace it with the truth, those lies won’t go away.   It’s the whole picture that we need to think about. 

     So, for example look at the first time I was molested.  At my grandparents house, my family was in the kitchen in the next room, in fact I was in my grandfather’s lap and could see most of my family laughing and eating at the table with my grandmother.  I had been playing and was happy and relaxed, then he came in the room and told me to come, sit in his lap, so I crawled into his lap.  He really tightened his grip on me, and I tensed up and tried to pull away.  Right there my brain switches gears, I went into a totally different physical state before he molested me.  My brain was like,” what is going on? why is he holding me so tight?”  Then he touched me,  no one had ever touched me there, like that and again, something switched in my brain that something was very wrong and I didn’t want it to be happening.  My body was reacting in a panic mode, and my brain was trying to make sense of what was happening, and I was trying to scream and at the same time, I was frozen.  Fight? I tried to pull away but he was too strong, I was pinned in his lap.  Then as if more couldn’t happen, he whispered in my ear he knew I liked what he was doing.  Wait. What? He said he would stop if I didn’t like it and I could make him stop.   I was frozen because in a split second all these things happened and my brain couldn’t process it, and on top of that, he is telling me I like it because I wasn’t making him stop. Too much to process and my almost five year old brain didn’t know how to process what was happening.  I wasn’t prepared for this, how can someone prepare for this?  One minute I was just playing on the floor, and then BAM! my grandfathers hand down my shorts.  Can you imagine all the “firing synapses”  going on in my brain?  The lies had just been planted,  I liked it, and I could stop it if I wanted.  This was the first time I ever questioned myself, did I like it? No, but why didn’t he stop? Because I didn’t make him…..?  How do I make him? Was there some magic word?, some magic gesture?  Maybe he won’t do it again…Oh, but he did…every time I went to visit. I became confused at this “new” horrible thing he was doing to me every time I saw him.  I still couldn’t process what was happening, why did he do what he did? Why did he say I could stop it?  Why did he keep telling me over and over I liked it? I was so confused.  Hence the reason when I told my mom, I was actually asking the question, “Why does grandpa always put his hands down my pants and touch me here every time we go out to the farm?”  I was looking for answers,  but I didn’t get any.  In fact nothing happened, he didn’t stop, he kept on doing more and more. He was out of control and for years I was left alone, swept under the rug, to endure all his shit, and in my small brain the synapses were making pathways over and over again and it wasn’t good.

     For years my life was chaotic, and of course this chaos totally messed with my brain, HE was messing with my brain,   I was brainwashed.  So, why do people just expect someone who goes through all this at such a young age to be just fine when the abuse stops?  The answer is, they didn’t go through it, so they aren’t really going to understand how after 10, 20, 30 etc. years later we still can’t “get over it”.  It’s not like our brains take a vacation during the time of abuse, then afterwards no matter after how long, we just pick up where our abuse ends.  It doesn’t work that way, my brain by now had pathways that were made by years of abuse.  Coping skills were developed and they worked for me.  Was it ideal?  No. I’m talking major skills that was just to help me deal with the everyday.  If you haven’t had to go through it, it is very hard to wrap your head around it.

     Silence.  It was NEVER mentioned, until around age 15 I started having problems with MAJOR DEPRESSION, I had my first bout with insomnia.  I had depression all along but it was so much worse now, when I did get a little bit of sleep, I had horrible nightmares.  I was so afraid to sleep. I knew why, but I didn’t have any one to talk to, and when everything finally did come out, it wasn’t the rush to get me help, loving, compassionate response I needed or wanted.  It was pretty awful, so years of not getting the help I needed and all that time I was making poor decisions, trying to be “normal” and continuing to use the coping skills, (which was my normal), I learned at ages 5-11 during severe sexual abuse.   Until, I had a major trigger in my thirties and everything came crashing down around me.  That took a long time and by then I was in an abusive marriage with kids trying to be the best wife and mom.

     So, you see, the ability to just “get over” what happened isn’t there, it isn’t in my brain. I truly don’t even know how I would do that.  I missed out on so much learning at home, school, and church.  I was a highly dissociative kid who grew into a highly dissociative adult, and my brain will still use those old pathways, unless I work on making new healthy pathways.  I’m still battling trying to change my thinking, my reactions, my coping skills, my actions etc., after years and years of therapy, it’s possible but a lot of hard work on my part.  There is so much more to discuss here, so consider this part one, and other parts are coming in the near future.  Think about this, and really try to put yourself, your younger self in those chaotic situations and think, could you just get over it?  I seriously doubt it.   

Fake it ’till you make it….that’s what I did.

“Fake it ’till you make it.” was the advice I got from my mom when I was 9 years old.  I remember I had started watching a made for TV movie, and didn’t know it was about child sex abuse.  It was around 1979 and stuff like that was just not on TV, so I had no idea what it was about until I started watching it.  I will never forget the feeling I had sitting on the couch, my dad in the room reading the paper, not paying attention, and my brother sitting on the floor reading a fishing magazine, not paying attention to me on the couch, paralyzed and shaking.  My mom walked in the room and said,” What’s wrong with you?”  I started crying and she came over and took my arm and walked with me to my room.  I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t catch my breath.  “Does this have something to do with your grandfather?”   Shaking, I shook my head yes.  “Well, sometimes you have to fake it ’till you make it” she said.  I was already, “faking” it, the best I could.  It was one of many, many coping skills.  I had a lot of them, and still do today,  Some are obvious, some you won’t know until I tell you.  That’s the point, to get by un-detected, un-noticed, alone.

Coping skills are skills developed to get through stressful situations. We all have coping skills, smoking, drinking, drugs, over-eating, self-harm and for some of us dissociation. There are as many coping skills as there are people because everybody has what works for them.  I remember mine started when my grandfather started touching me I would hold my breath. When he walked anywhere near me I would try to be like a rabbit and sit still and not move hoping he wouldn’t see me and go away.  It never worked but I kept trying and then I would be able to just stare at something in the room and separate myself from that little girl who was being touched and groped and molested.  In my mind we were twins, alike in every way but when I would see my grandfather I started focusing and slowing down my breathing and then I would be next to my “twin”, and she was the one being touched. By around age 6 I was already starting to fracture. Over and over this was me faking it, and making it. It became so helpful and I was getting so good at it, by the time he was raping me around age 7 I was an expert in dissociation.

Dissociation is the disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected. In psychiatric terms its the separation of normally related mental processes, resulting in one group functioning independently from the rest, leading in extreme cases to disorders such as dissociative identity disorder.  Faking it, that is what I did every time he touched and raped me, or whispered in my ear I could stop it if I really wanted to. I faked it while being raped at gun point. I faked it when he would have other men pay to have sex with me, and do things to me their wives wouldn’t do. I faked it when he had groups of men meet at the barn and pass me around so that everyone had a turn. Sometimes, it was to chaotic for me to focus and dissociate before things got too bad, so I took the abuse and my mind would numb my whole body while the “other’s” of me would be safe. So, I faked it until I had more than one me. Life was too hard, too overwhelming, to chaotic for one little girl to handle on her own. So, I “faked it” until I fractured completely. I have several “others of me” to help me live this life.

But, faking it isn’t what I want to do with my life.  I want to be genuine and not fake it anymore.  The problem I am working on is the “others” of me which are extreme versions of the parts of me that make me one person are still with me.  Wow, that’s a mouthful, but its truth. I’m trying to become one, to silence the voices inside.  I faked it until I made it, but at what cost? I paid the price, not my abuser. By those words fake it until you make it,  my mom was saying to me, let him do to you whatever he wants, and you just fake it till he is done with you, or he dies.  He finally died, two years later. I guess I made it.  I’m still dealing with my coping skills of dissociation, and the dissociative identity disorder.  Some days are better than other days, but I’m not giving up. I’m tired of faking it, so here is the new me, (yes, the “others” are still here) and now you know, this is a huge revelation for me, and to not fake it feels so scary, will people judge me and think I’m a freak, will they think I’m crazy, will they think I just want attention?  Whatever.  I can’t control other people, but I don’t have to fake it anymore, and that feels good.

Why I have trouble writing, but still write anyway.

There are two tips on being a successful blogger and they are,  blog regularly and don’t give up writing.  I believe I have stuck with the second tip, the first one, not so much.  I have trouble writing for several reasons.  Most are related to lack of concentration because of complex PTSD, MS, or other various reasons. Here are two reasons I struggle with a lot:

In June of this year, 2017, morethanabused.com will be 4 years old!  Wow, for me to be so transparent I am surprised it has lasted this long.  I have started and stopped more things in my life than I really want to admit, (diets included).  I am especially excited I still have this blog after almost 4 years because its topic is the childhood abuse I survived.   I don’t write for fame that’s for sure, but I do continue to write.  What is my motive?  I want people to know that a family can look so good on the outside and inside be a hot mess even abusive, and we don’t need to sweep that under the rug.  I write because people need to know that when the abuse is “over”, it’s not really “over” the after effects of abuse can last a lifetime.  I write for those who survived abuse to show them they aren’t alone.  I write because I am more than the abuse I suffered for years and I want others to know the truth, they are too.

These are great tips for successful blogging,  but what keeps me from writing? Why do I go months between post? Fear and guilt, they come as a pair for me.  I fear that some people in my family are going to find out I am writing and WHAT  I’m writing about, and I feel guilty, not for speaking the truth, but that I will hurt my family in doing so.   I understand, it doesn’t look good, our dirty laundry is out there waving around for all to see.  They might wonder why I am trying to make our family look so bad?  Why do I want to tell the world all our bad stuff, and tell about my family’s brokenness?  Because we are all broken and if no one talks about it then we can’t heal from it, and yes, I mean me.  I need healing, I need to face what happened to me, I need to name it so I can heal from it.  But, truthfully, there’s more beyond that, I can help others who have gone through similar abuse and that is why I write.  That is why I choose to “air our dirty laundry”.  What happened to me was swept under the rug long enough, it is time I step up and say, this happened and I am going to help someone else who has gone through the same thing.  People need help, people need to know that what they are experiencing, no matter how big or small, they aren’t alone.  The hell that survivors go through, the after-effects of abuse are so overwhelming, it is so helpful to know there is someone out in the world who understands.  That someone is me and I want everyone to know they can get help and they aren’t alone.

Guilt is the second reason I have a hard time writing. I feel guilty for exposing our family and the abuse that took place, and I want to say that my family has good people. It is hard to tell the truth about the abuse I survived because I feel like I need to protect people when I really shouldn’t.  I feel like a bad person, and that is an after-effect of the abuse I suffered and so many other people have the same problem.  While I was being abused, my grandfather would say things like I had to do what he wanted or he would just go get my sister.  I felt like I had to protect her, it was up to me to keep him from hurting her.  Also, when I was older and I would try to get help, through counseling or talking to a teacher, looking for some sort of help, my mom would tell me I was hurting my dad.  She would tell me I was hurting my dad by talking about the abuse, it was all put on my shoulders not to talk about it.  I mean, I never want to hurt anyone, so I thought I had to be silent all while dying inside.

I am learning we are all broken.  I am trying to name the truth and deal with the truth, and that isn’t easy to do when you grow up learning how to pretending everything was great when it wasn’t.  My grandfather was broken, he was evil in his brokenness, others in my family were manipulated by him and had their own brokenness.  Either way it doesn’t give anyone an excuse, or a “free pass”, but it is a realistic explanation that can lead to realistic expectations.  Realistic expectations is a part of healing, and one that is most useful.  I get hurt over and over because of unrealistic expectations I have from people and family members.  I am learning how to see their brokenness, how it limits them and how I can find what I need somewhere else.  That will in turn help me heal my brokenness too.  Hopefully one day I will break through my issues with fear and guilt and the writing will come easier for me.

So, I write for truth, for survivors, for healing and genuine brokenness.  I write to be strengthened by the fact that my grandfather did his best to be the worst, and it hasn’t stopped me. It’s come close to ending me,  I have lived through hell and back and I’m still here.  So, I write.

 

Four ways I am changing my victim mentality.

This is my third post on victim mentality, I thought I would write about what I am actually doing to bring about healing and change.  I look at it as the undoing of years and years of severe abuse.  Working on things like this gives me hope of more healing and helping someone else.  These are in no particular order but I do believe each one is important.

  1. Be aware of (your) self and know what is going on. Try to be in the “present” and work on slowing down your thinking, and good self talk is crucial.  If something happens, tell yourself, “I am not being abused. I do have choices and options.”  Then think about what those choices and options are.  Next, keep going from there, choose the option you think is best and go with it, or check your decision out with a trusted person (I do that a lot).
  2. Get to know other people and their stories.  I don’t just mean stories of abuse, but get to know others. When I am in church, sometimes I sit and look around and recall to my self tragedies certain individuals have gone through, or families that have gone through tragedy.  I don’t do this in judgement but to remind myself bad things happen to others all the time.  Getting to know how other people handle adversity in their lives is very helpful.  With social media we only see the good things people want us to see, but getting to know others and their stories is helping me stay above the slimy pit when bad things happen to me.  I’m not happy about others misfortunes, but I guess I can think to myself, there are countless stories here and I am just one of them.  Also, sharing the good and the bad with others and praying for them gives me a sense of being needed and wanted.
  3. Know God and have a relationship with him. Do your best to have the best relationship with him.  When you do this and really get to know him you will hopefully realize he doesn’t pick favorites.  I still struggle with this, but as I keep working on our relationship I understand a little more and what I don’t understand I am learning to wait patiently for the answers. The biggest question I try not to ask is why me Lord ?  I know bad things happen because there is sin in the world.  There isn’t any 100% guarantee we will always be safe, but God gave us parents and people in our lives to protect us when we are little.  Why do some kids get great protection with great families and people in their lives, and others of us don’t?  Why didn’t I get rescued? Why did the people in my life look the other way and allow the abuse to happen? These are very difficult answers for me to look for, but the bottom line is God loves all of us, and he hates evil.  As I search for answers, I am also striving to put God in my life more and more everyday, and have a relationship with him.  At the end of it all, what really matters is giving God the glory.  You might think, I am not going to give God anything because he let me be abused.  Well, God sacrificed Jesus to keep us out of eternal damnation in hell, not hell on earth.  I have to find a way to stay out of the pit of hell my grandfather dug for me and threw me in, and left me there to climb out of, and I believe God will give me the strength to do that.
  4. Last but maybe this should really be first, don’t give up.  This has been the reason I have been able to come this far.  I try to keep working on finding things like my voice, joy, peace, comfort…… and I’m learning how to use my voice when I find it, I am learning about things like anxiety, depression, coping etc….. to know how to take care of myself.  It has been so difficult, and yes I have been so bad off that several times in my life I have been suicidal.  I realized that if I killed myself, I would be abandoning my kids, and that didn’t make me any different than my parents who abandoned me and didn’t protect me, so I decided to not give up. That was around 10 years ago.   I have been through a lot since then and have wanted to give up, but I reached deep down and stuck it out.  I have survived hell on earth and I will keep surviving, and keep on living my life to make it the best I can.

I have been working a lot on changing my victim mentality and it is working for me.  I am working on not alienating my friends because no matter how much they love me, they can only take so much.  I used to always think I want to be “normal”.  Well, there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to people, but there is annoying, and I have learned if I expect my friends to always rescue me from my victim mentality, they won’t be my friends very long.  I will be the annoying “friend” that they don’t want to be around, and I really don’t want to be that friend.  In fact that isn’t a friend, that is just a needy person who looks for everyone around her to do all the work to make her life better.   It’s my life and my responsibility to save myself from my own victim mentality.

 

Victim hood. Part II

So, I shared with you about how my life of victim hood began and has had its part in my life, a huge part.  I mean, I had been a victim for a very long time.  I can’t deny it, the facts are there.  You might think after so much abuse, that when it ended I would be great and I would heal and that’s the end of it, not so much.  Yes, that certainly is the goal, but it doesn’t happen over night.

It takes time and patience to heal the deep, severe wounds, also, it takes a brave soul to really look   deep within to find patterns and to change them.  It is devastating what prolonged abuse does to a person, especially during the early developmental years of childhood.  Everyday I deal with the after effects of the abuse, either in PTSD, or intrusive memories, or by the unhealthy coping skills I developed, such as the one I am currently working now, on self-sabotage.

There are patterns we learn and develop as we grow and age, and being able to see and hold on long enough to examine the how’s and why’s of what we do is important.  I really struggle with this because I usually go beyond self examination to self hatred and unhealthy and vicious self deprecation (one of the many patterns learned from my grandfather), and that isn’t productive at all. So, I have done a lot of work and keep working to keep myself in check and  be productive and examine myself in a way that is honest and helpful.  It has taken years of therapy for me to get this far, sometimes I find myself down in that pit of hell, and I know I have to make my way out, yet again.  That path is so worn and slippery, but I am more skilled at getting out, and when I do the air is sweeter every time.

The trick to getting out of the pit is to keep trying to do a little more everyday, and to change what you can.  I have to tell myself over and over, sometimes, several times a day, I am not being abused and I do have choices.  When I live with the victim mentality I get pulled down in that pit very quickly when things go wrong because I see things as happening to me, not just happening.  I tend to go straight back to the place of no choices, or options, and that  takes me back to helplessness.  So, when things go wrong, I have to stop myself and ask myself,” is this abuse?”, ” do I have choices here?”, if no then why not, if yes, what are my choices?

Abuse and the after effects want to take me to the darkness and keep me there.  God doesn’t want us there let alone living there.  Yes, it stinks this happened to me, and it stinks more that as a now 46 year old woman I still deal with it everyday.  I have the choice now, how I am going to live. As my favorite t-shirt says, Sometimes I battle with my demons, sometimes we just cuddle.  Either way, I have the choice I like to think most days as hard as it is, my demons and I do battle!

Help! I was a victim now I can’t get up!!!!

Ha, Ha, did you see what I did there?   When I write my articles,  I am not sure who I want to address, trauma victims, or those who have never been traumatized in this way.  So, I try to do both.  I try to speak to other hurting souls out there and let them know they aren’t alone, I understand what they are going through, and there is help out there if they seek it out, and how my personal journey on my healing road is going.  I write to non-trauma souls to say, trauma survivors live in a whole other world, and we are not freaks, there is usually a reason why we act the way we act, and here are some explanations…. to try to give some insight into our world.  I didn’t go to school to learn this, I live it and I am an expert on some of these things, unfortunately. So, here it is part 1, life lived as a victim…….

As you may or may not know, I was first victimized at age 4, almost 5.  It ended when I was around 11.  I was of course really messed up and still lived like a victim, I didn’t know any other way. What does that look like?  I didn’t LIVE my life, things HAPPENED to me.  I didn’t tell boys no, I didn’t stand up for myself when I was made fun of.  Word got around and boys learned they could do anything they wanted to me, and to them I “LET” them do things because in their minds, “I LIKED IT”, because I didn’t tell them no. This included things in school like standing in line, they would unhook my bra, they would try to feel my breasts, or in the hallway they would grab my butt.  I never said, “If you value that hand, you will stop touching me.” In my mind there was no choice, men touching me sexually, rape, and gang rape wasn’t my choice and my grandfather groomed me to believe that was all there was, that was all I was good for.  I thought that the boys liked me, and that’s why they touched me like they did, or that for them to like me I had to let them do whatever they wanted.  As I got further into my teenage years, I didn’t realize that I could use sex as a tool to get what I wanted, it never even crossed my mind I could use sex. A lot of abuse victims learn how to control others because that was what they learned from their abuse, but I had to be so submissive for so long, all I knew was submit.  I was never allowed the choice do you want to be beat, tortured and raped or not, and the one time I ran away, I paid the price dearly.  I was so desperate to be liked, no, loved that I would do ANYHING, but at the same time wanting them to stop because I always felt awful and dirty and I hated myself.  I know of two women who at some point in their abuse came to the conclusion their abuser would not harm them any more, and they kept their distance and didn’t let their abusers touch them again. I am in awe of them, and wish I had been able to do the same thing.

Life as a victim, is a hard life (understatement of the year). There is so much I didn’t learn as a kid that I am learning about now in my 40’s through a lot of therapy, re-parenting at times, if you will.  I got married when I was 22. I thought finally I will have a better life. I wanted a great marriage, love, honor, cherish, the whole package.  I tried to be a good Christian wife.  I didn’t see the red flags, and when my marriage started being a repeat of some of the abuse I had growing up I coped in the only ways I knew how. Again, I was a victim, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.  I stayed in the marriage for over 20 years, trying everything I knew to be better, but I wasn’t standing up to him saying you are not going to keep treating me this way, or I won’t stand for what you are doing…. there were things I didn’t  realize were abuse because I grew up believing I had to take everything he dished out.  When I opened my eyes to all the abuse I was so scared, I needed to get my kids out of the abuse I let them endure because I didn’t know what to do or where to go, or that any one would believe me,  I was too scared to do anything.  When you are a victim, and are living like a victim, decisions are impossible and carrying out actions are paralyzing.   I was stuck, the only thing I knew was submission.  I constantly asked people what I should do, their opinions, their ideas, and doubted myself the whole way.  I know I wore out close friendships because I was unable to make a decision, even when the clear decision was staring me in the face, I had to have help moving on with what I needed to do.  It was so painful, but probably just as painful for others to watch.  I did get out of the marriage and am able to breathe healthy air and provide a non-abusive healthier environment for the kids.

This is just the beginning of the end of me living like a victim.  I will write more on living in victim hood and then progress on to survivor hood, and then real living.  It’s going to be great!

Anticipation

Anticipation, the waiting, the not knowing what is going to happen next, how bad it will be, and when it is going to happen.  As I write this post a friend of mine is at the courthouse at a sentence hearing for someone she knows (not related), who was convicted of sexual abuse of his daughter,(she is there in support of the victim, not the abuser).  The anticipation.  I think I know a little about what the abuser may be feeling now.  His time is upon him, the sentencing is supposed to start in six minutes. The anticipation, the fear.  His freedom, gone.  The freedom to choose what he wants and what he does not want, gone, the same sentence he put upon his own daughter, the same sentence I was given at the age of four, by my grandfather.  We love our freedom, our ability to choose what we want.  When I was being sexually abused I didn’t have freedom.  As a child,who was being raped by the age of seven, I had no choice, no say in the matter, that was my sentence.   The longer the abuse went on, the worse it became, and the anticipation of when it was going to happen, and how bad it was going to be also grew worse, it became my prison. I would get that sick feeling, in my stomach, I would shake, and feel weak.  I am thinking he is feeling the same way, probably he will try to hide his feelings, but he knows what is coming and it is extremely hard to hide that fear. I remember my grandfather used to say to me he could smell my fear, and I knew he could, I am sure those inmates will be able to smell this person’s fear a mile away.  They say that child abusers are cowards, to prey upon innocent children, so he will not hold up well at all.

It’s been thirty minutes since the hearing was to start.  I wonder now if he has said his last goodbye’s. Hugged anyone who was there for him.  I wonder if he is now wearing an orange jumpsuit?  I wonder if he feels like he has a huge target on his back that says, “FRESH MEAT, COME AND GET IT”?  I wonder how long he will have to anticipate what’s coming, until he gets the same treatment he gave his daughter?  Rape and no voice.

Forty five minutes since the hearing was to start.  I wonder is he sorry for the pain he caused everyone in his life?  I wonder if he is sorry he was caught, or truly sorry for what he did?  I wonder if he could make his choices all over and change his actions would he do it different, or the same?  I wonder if he is sick with weakness or full of resolve that he did nothing wrong?  I wonder if he is thinking about God?  Is he praying now, or does he think God hates him?   It is no secret that I have struggled with issues of my abuse, abuse in general, and God.  I have so much more to learn, and I have so much more to heal.  I have come a long way, but have such a long way to go.

One hour since the hearing was to start.  I wonder if he is getting ready to get on a bus that is going to take him to prison?  Maybe he is sitting on the bus right now feeling like he is going to throw up, maybe the panic is setting in.  I don’t know this person, but I know he is afraid, and he should be, I know its true about what they say happens to child abusers in prison.  I am sure he knows what is going to happen, he just doesn’t know when or where.  The anticipation.  I can feel the same feeling now as I write, just like it was when I was a kid in the car riding out to my grandparents house. Panic. Trying to come up with a plan and not being able to think of a complete sentence.  Trying to busy my hands so no one would see them shaking and ask me what was wrong.  Weakness, wanting to throw up, sweating.  I don’t have any sympathy for this person.  Like I said, I don’t know him but I know his daughter.  I know that her voice was finally heard and that is great.  She will see justice served and I am so happy for her, it is a gift.  For the person who abused her, all I can say is, “it’s” coming, all that is left now is the anticipation.

 

What my life was like as a kid while being sexually abused.

Over all if you were to spot me in a crowd you wouldn’t know that I was horribly abused as a kid, you would not see the hell I lived through. You wouldn’t see the terror I experienced when I was at the tender ages of five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten years old.  You wouldn’t know I carried burdens so heavy it was more than I could handle so I had to cope in very unusual ways.  You would never guess that as a child I would smile and do regular kid stuff all the while living in fear knowing the next time I saw my grandfather he would rape, beat and do other unspeakable things to me, and involve others in abusing me as well.  I was already leading a double life that started at the age of five, think about that for a minute, really think about it, a double life, the life people saw and one that was disgusting, painful, and violently sexual.   There are experiences that  abuse survivors endure, and suffer through that those who were not abused don’t know about, and therefore don’t even think about, things they can’t even imagine.

It starts out as a secret.  Don’t tell your mom and dad you showed me your private parts, don’t tell your parents you let me touch you down there, if you want to stop me you would so you must like this, you can stop me if you want, this is our secret, how do you think they will react if you tell them what you did?, don’t tell your mother, don’t tell your father, if you tell them you touched me like that you will get in trouble so don’t tell anyone, this is what grown ups do but don’t talk about, I am teaching you how to be a woman, if you tell anyone about this I will kill your family, I will kill you if you speak about this (all of this was told to me at some point)…… it goes on and on.  I know this is something that has been exposed, and I think that most people know that pedophiles say these kinds of things, “grooming” its called, but what I think people don’t do is really let themselves think about what this does to a child.  As children our brain can not process what is happening to us and the affects can last a lifetime.  If the parents find out what is happening and take the right course of action the odds that the child will grow up healthy are so much more in their favor than those kids whose parents don’t find out,  and if the parents find out and sweep it under the rug and ignore it… the affects can be even more devastating.  I want to give you some insight on what it is like living life while being sexually abused.

In my last post I told about the time I was nine and my whole family was at my grandparents farm.  My grandfather took me back to the barn where he was going to rape me.  I knew what was coming and I jumped off the tractor and took off running.  He didn’t get to me that night, but that’s when I started having major anxiety and stomach problems.  I knew the next time I was at the farm, there would be hell to pay, and there was.  The abuse was increased to a whole new level and it was disgusting, he started prostituting me to other men, and things got very violent. He raped me with a loaded shotgun, he would hold a loaded gun to my head, he would rape me with foreign objects, I was gagged and tied down and sodomized on a regular basis.  He tortured me (and did things to me I have only told my therapist, and may never be able to tell anyone else).  At one point, I wished for the days when he “just” raped me.  At the time this stuff was going on, I just started in third grade and was expected to read three books a month and do a book report on all three of them every month for school, I was to do homework and take test, have friends, and go to church and play, I was expected to be normal when my life wasn’t normal, it was hell. I have a sister who is ten years older than me, we shared a room and we each had a bed, but they were pushed together.  I would get so scared at night that I would have her stretch out her arm and hold my hand so I could go to sleep.  She went away to college when I was nine, so I was all alone and started having a lot of problems sleeping at night.  I remember having a lot of problems with anxiety which led to stomach problems.  I was prescribed phenobarbital on  different occasions, and I had some other physical problems as well.  I seemed so happy, but I was scared, alone, and depressed.  My double life.

I was talking to another abuse survivor about this topic and she bravely gave me permission to write about her experience.  She said,” I was so scared in school, I wouldn’t talk.”  Her teachers would get mad at her and think she was being defiant, so she would be sent to the principal’s office.  One time the principal pulled her pants down and spanked her because she was too scared to talk!  Think about this, really let yourself walk in her shoes.  Apparently it didn’t cross anyone’s mind to inquire as to why she wasn’t talking.  She was being sexually abused and then punished on top of it because she was too scared to open her mouth!

The purpose of this post is to get people thinking about the lives that abused children live.  The hell they go through, day in and day out, with the stress of trying to grow up and do things other kids do, and learn the same things as other kids while someone is hurting them sexually, physically, emotionally, psychologically.   I loved to ride my bike, but there were so many times where it was too painful to ride because of what I endured the day or days before.  I was always worried about covering myself up and making sure no one saw marks on me so they wouldn’t ask because I was so scared of what would happen. I mean I was threatened with the death of my family and my own death.  I had to protect my family.  There is so much in life I missed, all because I was so focused on the abuse that was happening and trying to figure out how to make it stop. So,  I am having to learn a lot of  what I missed as a kid in my life now, things I should have learned about, relationships and just life in general.  My life was not “normal” or healthy, and so my development was not “normal” or healthy.  I developed coping strategies to help me function while all this was happening in my life.  A way to be raped and tortured on the weekend, go to church on Sunday, smile and sit in the pew (also not easy to do when you are in pain) and be a good girl, go to school on Monday with homework (mostly done), smile, talk with friends etc…it served me well then, but not now and I am learning how to deal with it.   While most kids are learning how to resolve issues with their friends, I was trying to think about where I was going to hide next time we went to the farm, or how many layers of clothes I would put on to keep him off me, or what was going to happen next time…  Do you see what I have been trying to say?  There is so much to consider and the age of the child and the length of the abuse and severity plays a role also.  Child abuse is a factor in how a child sees, trust or not trust, feels, experience and ultimately “lives” life and grows up to be an adult.

So I hope this helps. I hope it helps my voice to be heard, and to let you know a little bit of how I became the me I am today so when I reveal more the next post I might not be judged, but understood.  I hope it helps me to be a voice for others who were abused as children and are still dealing with it today.  Lastly, I hope it helps others who don’t know what it is really like to stop and take a step or two in our shoes, to help them know why this isn’t something we forget, or simply get over. That underneath our smiles and laughter lives a wounded child who wants love and compassion like everybody else.

Running away and coming home.

When I was a kid I fantasized about running away, I would think about it a lot, but I had one problem, I had no place to go.  I was trapped and I was terrified. So, I pretended.  I pretended I was running away and people would find me, ok, total transparency here, I would think about characters on TV who I thought were the most compassionate and I pretended they would find me and move me in with them and stay with me all the time keeping me safe.  The characters I thought about the most were Hawkeye, BJ, and Sidney, the characters from MASH.  How truly embarrassing and sad.  Running away was rebellious, it was scary, and bold, and something I knew I would never do… until the day I did. Now, this running away is different than you are thinking about.  I wasn’t running away from home, but I ran away from HIM, my grandfather!!!!  This wasn’t something I planned at all!  It was completely spontaneous, and impetuous, bold, rebellious, and scary at the same time, and I have never done anything like this in my life since then either.

I was around the age of nine, and all of us were out at the farm.  We were there for dinner, and while my mom and grandmother were preparing dinner, the rest of us were outside. It was a late summer evening and I was playing in the dirt, when suddenly, I heard my brothers yelling the bull got out.  I jumped up, because, well its a bull and I was scared it would chase me.  My dad and my brothers went to try to get the bull back in its pen while my sister was standing at the fence watching and laughing.  I remember my grandfather pulling up on a tractor and telling me to get on and me standing there shaking my head no, and him telling me if I didn’t get up on the tractor he would go get my sister.  I knew what he wanted to do to me, and I didn’t want him to do that to her, I needed to protect her because what he did to me hurt and I didn’t want him to do that to her.  There was so much chaos going on at the time, no one noticed me climbing on the tractor and us pulling away.  I remember that bumpy tractor ride, he didn’t say a word to me.  I was sitting on the metal part above the wheel watching the tall grass falling and leaving a path behind the tractor.  We pulled up to the back side of the barn, and he turned the tractor off,  I was scared and shaking, and sick to my stomach.  I was wondering about that  bull and if they had gotten it back inside its pen…”what are you waiting for bitch? Get the hell off and get into the barn, we don’t have all night.” I froze, I don’t know what came over me when suddenly, I heard a voice say, “Run!” “Run Away!” “NOW bitch!” the voice screamed. I moved.  I jumped down and hit the ground running.  I remember him yelling at me, then hearing the tractor start up, but mostly I remember the tall grass whipping my legs as I was running, as if the grass was already punishing me for running away. I ran so hard, I  thought I was going to get all tangled up in the tall grass and fall flat on my face. Running faster than I had ever run before, I knew he was close behind me and there was hell to pay, if not now it would be later.  He didn’t catch up to me that evening, I don’t remember dinner or what happened after I got back to the house but I do know he didn’t get me that night, and after that night was when I first started to have a lot of problems with anxiety.

Running away that evening changed everything, changed my life for the worse, when I ran something inside him snapped.  I struggle so much with this, my therapist tells me that little girl who ran away had moxie.  In all honesty I like hearing that, but I have always hated that little girl, I struggle with hating her now, it is something I am still working on very much. You can not imagine the horror that followed in the years to come, that night I unleashed even more of his demons. By this time I had been groomed, and controlled by him for over four years, obeying his every command, then all of a sudden I ran away, and in doing so taking his control and power with me.

So, why this story, what is the relevance to my life today? I have been running away all my life, but what have I been running to, fantasies?  I can easily tell you what I have been running away from, I have been running away from the horrible pain this has caused in my life.  I have been running away from myself, and the bad choices I have made as a result of this horrid childhood.  Above all I have been running away from God.  It bothers me I wasn’t able to run to my mom or dad.  There was no protection for me there, but who do I run to now?  The answer is clear, God.  God is the one I need to be running to with my arms open wide and tears streaming down my face, into His arms.   It is so hard for me to write these words, I had to protect myself, nothing was being done to protect me, no one to run to.  I have spent a lifetime with a closed heart and opening it up now is not an easy thing. It doesn’t have to be easy, but I want to do this and I feel it in my heart this is where I belong. My belief all these years has been that God won’t protect me, won’t love me if I go to him, but slowly I am changing my belief.  God doesn’t protect us from evil here on earth, but He does love us and I am learning more about Him, so I will know without a doubt I can run to Him and He will hold me tight in His arms.  You know there are stories all over this earth where people go through horrible things, and that strengthens their love for God, this is what I want, and this is what I am working towards.  I am making myself say the words, I love you God, and not just saying it, but trying to feel it, and believe it.  I wish it was easy, but I know it will become easier more and more each day, and for me to open my heart bit by bit to accept His love for me.  Actively seeking God by spiritual guidance, and talking with God, and being truthful to Him and myself more and more isn’t running away, but coming home.

 

Why I can’t just “get over it”.

“Well…Get Over It.”  That is what my mom told me when I was sixteen.  I remember she came into my room and during our conversation asked me what was wrong with me, and I said I didn’t know, I was just so depressed.  She asked if it had anything to do with my grandfather, and I said yes, it has everything to do with him. (This was a question she had asked me several times in my life, concerning my behavior.)  She looked down at the floor and then to my surprise said, “did he rape you?” (Wow, this was the first time(and only time to date) she had ever inquired about what he did to me at all! Maybe,  we were getting somewhere, maybe I’ll finally get some help!) “Yes! and a lot more!” I said definitively.   I started to feel “it” coming up from inside me, clamoring to get out of me, the pain, the evil, the darkness.  I needed that release, from the chains of years of abuse and torture and abandonment.  I needed her to hold me and tell me it wasn’t my fault, it was going to be ok  and to say she was going to get me some help… but, she looked at me and said, “Well…get over it!”  I was lost. Still chained, I fell deeper and deeper into my pit of hell, the pit of despair where I lived. Those words cut me so deep, today it is still an open wound.  I am trying to heal from that moment in time, it all lasted about ten minutes, but to this day still plays over and over in my mind.  Now, lets get honest with ourselves, have you ever thought to yourself, “this (event, trauma,etc..) happened years and years ago, why can’t I /they just get over it?”  I mean, I ask that question about myself several times a week, “what is wrong with me? why can’t I just get over this? It was so long ago…”  Have you ever thought, “why do I / they want to stay in the past, just move on already.”  Have you ever asked yourself,” why can’t I /they get past this? I mean the abuse was so long ago, I/they  are not  kids anymore”.

Well, lets look at a few things that might help put it into perspective.  Trust.  Trust issues are HUGE with sex abuse survivors. Usually the predator is someone you trusted, or are supposed to trust, someone your parents trust, or other adults trust, so there is a huge smearing of trust.  All of a sudden as a kid you don’t know who to trust, or how to trust. When you go to the place you are being abused you can’t trust those around to protect you because well, they brought you there, or everyone’s heads are turned, and if you go someplace new, you don’t know what the chances are of you being abused there or not.  It puts you on “high anxiety alert”, constant hyper-vigilance.  You can’t even trust time.  You don’t know when it’s going to happen again, so you are constantly on guard, and unfortunately that is exhausting and almost impossible to do, so chances are you are going to be caught off guard sometime and it will happen at a time or place when you thought you could trust it was safe. It instills a fear in you of just about everything.  I remember when I turned 8, and we had a family birthday get-together for my brother and I at our house.  I thought I would be safe because well, it was my birthday and we were at MY  house.  Nope.  I wasn’t safe, I went into the bathroom before we went outside to play, and he came in after me.  He said he was giving himself a birthday present, then he gaged and raped me, over the tub.  I don’t remember playing outside, but I had a strawberry cake.  So, that smearing of trust stays with you, so I advise anyone to get help to deal with it because actually, it is always in the back of your mind and comes out at the strangest times, and with people who you should trust, friends, spouse, family…

Another thing is, abuse turns you into a liar when you really don’t want to be one, it is  another smearing.  Smearing of the truth.  You have to lie to keep it secret, and you have to lie to protect your abuser, not that you want to do that but you may be threatened, or your family may be threatened.  What a burden to carry, I mean really.  Suddenly it becomes their word against yours, and who is going to believe a little kid over an adult?   My grandfather threatened to do to my sister what he was doing to me if I didn’t comply.  I thought I had to protect her, so I complied, but that meant lying, if not to other people, at least I had to lie to myself.  I thought I was protecting her, when actually, I was protecting him!!!  I knew that I was protecting him, but I was in a horrible position, I didn’t know what to do.  I was just trying to survive.  I lied when my parents told me to hug and kiss them (my grandparents) goodbye.  I would hug them and kiss their cheek and tell them I loved them.  I didn’t.  I lied to my parents when I acted like I liked going to the farm, because I thought if I acted like I liked them they would like me, another lie. When my grandfather lied to my brother and told him that the dog that was at their farm was hit and killed by a car, I lied also because my grandfather killed that dog with a shotgun in front of me, because I told him I was going to tell on him for hurting me. Lying isn’t something I struggle with at all, but to survive it’s what I was forced to do.  It’s hard to “get over” all that.

So, that may be enough to understand why myself, and other survivors of sexual abuse can’t “get over it”, but there certainly is another aspect that is so important for me to talk about.  Sex abuse is intimate, close, a personal bodily invasion, whether it is rape or touching of the private parts outside of clothes, or if it is showing of pornographic pictures, or taking pornographic pictures.  The senses are being violated and a person just simply doesn’t “get over it”.  I remember feeling him standing behind me, me in the barn naked wearing the very dog collar of the dog he shot in front of me to remind me I was his bitch now, him bending down breathing on my neck, telling me what he was going to do to me, me so scared and shaking so bad, sometimes even loosing control of my bladder, this happening over and over for years. Me at such young ages when I should be playing like the other kids, being whipped and beaten in a barn with no one around to help me. Feeling him touch me, smelling him (cigars and dirt) on me, hearing him breathe with excitement on me, tasting him (disgusting, makes me gag even now writing about it).  All of my senses have been violated over and over and over.  When I grew up, I told you I was raped as an adult, again, my senses violated, my body violated.  My brain violated.  My body healed, I have scars, I have bodily reminders which I will tell you about later, and I have horrible, terrible, awful, graphic, intrusive memories.  No matter how hard I try to forget, I can’t.  I am trying so hard everyday to make better choices, and I am choosing to heal from the abuse, I just don’t think I will ever “get over it.”