Tag Archives: child abuse

All I Ever Wanted Was an Apology, and Someone to Care…

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Father’s Day has always been such a mixed bag for me.  My birth father was gone by the time I was a year old.  My mom met and married my step-father when I was three, and he adopted my older brother and me  shortly after.  She married him because she thought he would be a good father to us.

When I was seven, I can remember a day when we had plans to go to the county fair in the evening.  We were told to do our homework at daycare, so we would be ready.  On the drive home from daycare, my step-dad asked if we had done our homework.  I replied, “Some of it”, which apparently he heard as “None of it” and backhanded me in the face.  I remember spankings that happened like this: he would get enraged, I would try to run, he would grab my hand and literally hold me up by one arm beating me.

Those memories pale in comparison to “our little secret”. My earliest memories of being molested, I can pin down based on the house we lived in.  I was around 8.  I have no doubt that he planned to continue until he finally raped me, he pretty much promised me it would happen one day. But circumstances changed, and my mother was suddenly home during the day, and it all ended.  Those 2 years forever changed me and my world.

When I was 12, my birth father showed up on our doorstep drunk, wanting to see “his kids”.  I could smell the alcohol oozing out of his pores, and I thought he looked like a homeless man.  But he brought me a book of poetry, later I found a long poem he wrote about my mother tucked away in it.  It was never about giving me a gift, it was about him still wanting my mother to be his. After he left, my step-father made a call and had him arrested on his way out of town for DUI, then had him released with a promise to never return.  He never did.

When I was 14, I told my cousin about the molestation.  That started a shitstorm at home.  My mother thought I was just being an angsty teen, and believed her husband over me.  The therapist they took me to had to report, so we ended up in court where the judge decided I was in no danger living with my abuser.  I tend to believe his occupation of police officer had something to do with that.  So once again, my worst fears had come true.  I spoke my truth and no one believed me. No one protected me. Then everyone pretended none of it ever happened.  It was decades before I spoke my truth again.

In those decades, my mom and step-dad finally divorced when he cheated on her.  As my legal father, he continued over the years to press a relationship with me. Never admitting, never apologizing, always pretending… I have a brother 9 years younger than me.  I was supposed to pretend for his sake. He was too young…it was his father… always one reason after another.  Never a thought to the damage done to me, continuing to be done by hiding and pretending.  I went down some pretty predictable paths (in hindsight): teenage pregnancy, depression, dysfunctional relationships, more depression, suicide attempt, alcohol abuse, eventually drug addiction.

See, you can’t expect a child who experiences things like this to just carry on.  They don’t have the tools to know how to deal with their feelings.  When your entire little world around you is telling you that something didn’t happen and you know it did, where do you go from there? When you tell your truth and no one listens…you learn that your voice does not count.  But that truth is still inside you, eating away at your soul, taking over the voice in your head, telling you you are nothing.  All I ever wanted was an apology, and to feel like someone cared.

It took me traveling a long, hard road to understand that no one would ever apologize.  If I was letting him stay in my life with the hopes of one day receiving that apology, it was NEVER going to happen.  When my daughter was born, I’d had enough.  I decided that the day that he offered to let my 2-year-old daughter spend a weekend with him and his new wife anytime.  I pushed him to a safe distance, and when that wasn’t good enough for him he chose to tell people who had been my family all my life that I was a drug addict(left out the recovering part)  and who knows what else.  But that’s ok.

You see, my daughter has the most wonderful father.  Through him, I learned what a father’s love really looks like.  I am so grateful to know my daughter will NEVER have to deal with the things I did.  Today when Father’s Day rolls around, I celebrate this.

I no longer need an apology.  I no longer need to feel that someone cares.  I care.  That is all I ever need now, to know that I am worthy of caring about myself.  I finally decided that I was worth cutting him off completely.  I have my voice, and no one will ever take that from me again.  This is my truth, and if someone can’t handle my truth then that is their problem. I don’t write this for pity, for attention, or even for revenge. This is me, caring for me.

 

another good post by Danielle Paradis:  http://m.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/it-happened-to-me-i-took-the-advice-to-call-my-father-before-it-was-too-late-and-he-told-me-about-how-cocaine-makes-him-horny

 

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The Slow Thaw…

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     One day about 2 years ago, I sat down to try to figure out how on earth I was going to lead a group of middle school girls when I felt like I had been such a failure at that age myself. This was not an active choice that I made, wanting to make a difference in the life of girls. This group had suddenly found themselves without a leader and seeing that they were at the age that girls tend to drop out of activities like this, I volunteered. So I sat down one day and in between checking Facebook and google, I began to find words like girl-empowerment, self-esteem, body image, and media literacy. I started to fall down the rabbit hole of the issues that girls today face and realize that my own daughter was only a few years away from the age of these girls. My eyes started to open on the subject. But more importantly, a slow thaw had started that I had no idea would change my life.

     The thaw started the day that I read this post, by Melissa Atkins Wardy, on her blog PigTail Pals: Waking Up Full of Awesome. When I read this post, something changed in me. This was no longer just about how to deal with these girls one day a week, but about seeing how deeply affected my life was still by things that happened to me as a child.

Do you still have it? The awesome.

Did someone take it from you?

Did you let them?

Did you hand it over, because someone told you weren’t beautiful enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough?

Why the hell would you listen to them?

Did you consider they might be full of shit?” 

These words struck me as a description of so many encounters in my childhood that had held power over me for far too long. They dug deep inside of me and gave me the insight that perhaps what I’d been dealing with all along was a case of missing awesome. I KNOW I had it once, but somewhere along the years it had disappeared. At 38 years old, I still felt like a fraud in my own body. I felt like that pretender who didn’t fit in anywhere, that no one truly knew me as an entire person, flaws and all. I’d done a great job of compartmentalizing my life so that people only knew what I wanted them to know, and no two people knew the same exact parts of me. All I knew was that reading this, and following Melissa’s blog, made me WANT my awesome back for the first time in a very long time. 

     So I joined this community of people who wanted better in life for the girls in their life. It eventually also included issues dealing with boys. A funny thing happened along the way. In seeking to empower girls, I was learning to empower myself. I found feminism. I found my voice, and began to be more comfortable using it. My love for other people started to flow out of me, and I eventually even started paying attention to political issues for the first time in my life. I was truly in a state of awakening for the first time in my life. And yet… there were still times that I felt like an incredible fraud. I met this amazing community of women, became friends with some very talented bloggers. It made me feel good to have people to discuss and learn things with, but deep inside there was still a voice that told me that some secrets keep me apart from these women. As nice and supportive as they were, they still didn’t know ME. Because I still kept some secrets inside. 

     Except…slowly during this slow thaw, bits of me started sneaking out along the way. I told one truth to one person, and she still wanted to know me. So I continued in this manner, leaking out tiny bits of my truth along the way. Learning that maybe other people weren’t as likely to judge me as I judge myself. Seeing these brave women laying themselves out there in their blogs and even withstanding some of the nasty comments that inevitably occur on blogs. They told their truths and they were still standing. People still liked them and wanted to know them. They gave me hope that I could do the same. Not the blogging part, just the honesty thing. Oh, and I made friends. These weren’t just amazing women, but they seemed to like me as a person. That has been hard for me in my adult life. 

     Then yesterday, after having a rough emotional night before, one of these women posted a link that sent me to the Momastery Facebook page. When I got there, I saw that the writer on that site had a TED talk, so I decided to watch it. The thaw that had been happening over the past 2 years suddenly turned into a swollen dam that burst and left me crying for hours and exhausted. When I was done, there was just clarity.  

“Now what they don’t tell you about getting sober, about peeling off your capes, is that it gets a hell of a lot worse before it gets better. Getting sober is like recovering from frostbite. It’s all of those feelings that you’ve numbed for so long, now they’re THERE and they’re present. And at first it just feels kind of tingly and uncomfortable, but then those feeling start to feel like daggers….” -Glennon Doyle Melton

     So I am now on a new journey, a delayed one if you must. See, I have been a recovering drug addict for 8 years. But being clean does not equal recovering. So I will say I have been clean for 8 years. I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was a pregnant teenager who gave birth at 17 and placed my child for adoption in hopes of a better life for him. I battled depression throughout college and self-medicated with binge drinking and sex. I somehow made it through college and became a nurse and a mother, and eventually ended up taking drugs of almost any kind, still trying to numb the deep hole in my heart. I only got clean because I got caught, and sat for 6 years paralyzed by all of these things. Until the thaw began…

     Now, 2 years later, the dam has burst and I can’t hold it back any longer. I have reached the point that it is more painful to remain still than it is to move forward. So, I am moving forward knowing that I am surrounded by some of the most amazing women who support me and like me, flaws and all. More importantly, I am moving forward knowing that these things may be my past, but they do not have to be my future.