my turn

This summer has gone down in the record books for not only being ridiculously hot, but for being a serious kick in the teeth to survivors of sexual abuse, rape, and domestic violence. 

It's bad enough to be raped. "Bad enough" doesn't even come kind of close to what it is to be raped. "Bad enough" is forty-nine billion galaxies away from the pain of rape, just stick with me here. It's pain enough to endure, and then to be subject to the discussions of scores of white rich men who know nothing of rape, and THEN to listen, cod-faced and nauseated, as those unraped, unrelatable, unkind lawmakers put my experiences into the category of Legitimate Rapes Because I Did Not Get Pregnant?

Oh, he didn't mean that! Bless your hearts, you victims

Really? Bless *YOUR* heart. And I mean that in the most Southern Belle Way possible.

I know that this whole topic has been baked, boiled, fried, hashed and re-hashed. I also know that as a survivor, it is important to find your voice, and to use it to speak the truth when it is time for you to speak the truth. Today, it is my turn. Your turn might not be until six weeks or twelve years or three decades from today, but whenever it is, you will speak truth. You might not be a survivor; perhaps you love someone who is a survivor, maybe your neighbor's nephew is a survivor, maybe you don't even know who in your life is a survivor; it could be that the person you love did not survive the abuse. Even so, you may discover that it is your turn to speak up for those of us who are not ready or able to use our voices.

Today it is my turn.

Truth: Nobody asks for, or deserves to be raped.
Truth: Just because I did not get pregnant does not make my rapes more or less legitimate than anybody else's.
Truth: Just because I did not get pregnant does not make my abusers any less responsible.
Truth: There is death after abuse.  But...
Truth: There is life after abuse. There is beauty, hope and laughter.

I was abused as a child and raped as an adult. There is no person on earth who can change that for me, and yet I live. True story.


the word beloved
etched forever
so i remember
whenever i look down
that i am.



He hugged me hard. He said, "I missed you so much."

I could not escape that moment; his crushing invasion. I was leaning on the end of a pew at my brother's wedding. Everyone was watching, holding their breath, wondering if I would follow my alcoholic upbringing and pretend the past nine years never happened.

I was sick to my stomach.

That is the moment I started to remember.

I imagine that one day I will be grateful for that moment because one day I will be set free from this shame and filth and hurt. I imagine that one day I will be so grateful for this process.

But today is not that day.


the gerbil wheel of crazy thinking

There is a family-oriented educational experience my children attend during the school year, and it has finally ended and OHMYGOD am I ever glad. It is so exhausting and I struggle to decide if the exhausting is worth the reward.

Sometimes we visit with friends afterward at their home, and my darlings can barely contain themselves when they are waiting to play. To say they are in their glory does not even scratch the surface of how happy they are together.

I learned to believe some really awful things about myself, growing up as I did. I am always surprised when someone thinks I'm alright, flabbergasted to discover I'm liked, and I just flat-out don't believe that I'm truly loved.

I must drive my husband bonkers.

(See? There I go...)

My friend, the mother of my children's friends, has other lovely friends, some that I am having the pleasure of getting to know. (More crazy: I am petrified of meeting new people.) The past two time we have had plans to get together, she invited one of those other lovely friends.

My self-doubt (self-loathing, distrust, etc.) started whispering in my ear. It was quiet at first.

Oh, look, someone else is here, I bet she would rather spend time with HER than YOU. 

She is so NICE. You are such a pain in the ass, and you drink SO MUCH COFFEE. Why can't you just drink tea when you are with her? 

What a lovely, soft-spoken, genuinely normal woman. Why would either of them want to talk to you? What do you possibly have to offer either of them? You should just go home. 

Three never works, just let them be two and everything will be so much better. 

I bet she invited another person over to be a buffer. She knows you'll be much quieter and more reserved if someone new is around, and she just doesn't want to deal with you.

And it just gets louder and louder and faster and faster in my head until I'm just sick about the whole situation. I know, someplace deep in my head, that this is really ridiculous, and I don't actually believe any of those things about my friend. She is kind and lovely, and I know that if something were amiss, she would tell me. Also, I have talked to her about this brand of crazy that I have going on, because I really value our friendship and I hope she understands that there's a difference between my whacked reality and what really is. And also? THAT I KNOW THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO.

I expect my relationships to fail. I hope that they won't, but that expectation of failure is so pervasive in every facet of my life. I am always waiting for failure to hit. I work so hard to beat failure, to outsmart it, to run faster, perform better, do more. In my nightmares, I trip and fall and I always let someone down. I let myself down, I let my husband and children down, I turn my friends away.

My therapist is having me read a book about healing from sexual abuse as a child; I'm digesting the Denial and Acceptance section. For healing to occur, I have to accept that this really happened to me. I am spinning on this gerbil wheel. I have no proof, excepting my crazy, my broken, my guilty, my nightmares-  and who's to say that those things didn't band together to create this in my head?

But. I can smell things where nothing is. I react badly. I remember how certain things feel. My stomach ties up in knots and I hate myself and my poor husband just wants to have a sex life and I just want to curl up in a ball.

I don't ever think about killing myself. I imagine evaporating or slowly fading from view; what would that look like? Usually, in my imagination, nobody notices, everyone goes on about their business, carrying on.  Even my children. They seem fine, but their eyes become hollow and it scares the fuck out of me.

Would anyone miss me? Have I done anything worthwhile?


scrubbing things

I washed a lot of dishes today. What an exercise in embracing futility. I did just fine for a while; I was contemplative, and found my inner zen goddess while standing still and scrubbing. And scrubbing. And scrubbing.

There are some things that just refuse to be scrubbed away.

I ignored all of the eating behind me, the clank and clatter of silverware on the newly dirtied plates and bowls. A mug bounces across the floor, but only after it has been filled with milk.  Never before.  Isn't that just the way it goes.

There can be no mess where there is an absence of medium.

I envy people sometimes who do not cook. It must be so wonderfully easy to throw fish sticks on a tray and to consider ketchup a vegetable. Sometimes I wish I could eat trash like that and feel okay afterward. It would be so much easier.

Tonight's dinner was a bit much, I freely admit that. I had a gallon of milk going south, and some spinach that was not far behind the milk. I made ricotta cheese instead of feeding the milk to the drain, and made a baked pasta dish with the cheese, spinach, and sausage. It was lovely; it was too much.

I wish I had a gauge that had more measurements on it than "just good enough, I suppose" and "epic fail". My perception of myself is so skewed. It makes me wonder if my perception of everything is skewed as well.

Skew, askew, skewer, skewed. 


crazy eights

My parents owned a cabin in the mountains.  It was amazing;  the most enormous stone fireplace I had ever seen, an oldy-old-school stove, hardwood floors, beadboard walls, no insulation, tall ceilings, spider-infused bathroom.  I loved it.

My father and I drove there during Spring Break of my senior year of college.  We burned up trees that had fallen during that winter's ice storm.  We drank horrible coffee from a can.  We stayed up late playing cards.

One of those card games stands out, not just among the other games, but like a scar on my brain.  We weren't talking about anything in particular; I don't even recall which game we were playing, Crazy 8's, maybe?  

It crept in like a fog, swirling around my feet, circling my knees, causing my heart to race.  And not a good kind of racing, the dear Jesus, what is this? get me out of here kind of racing.  I shifted in my seat, wickedly uncomfortable by the overwhelming sex of the room.

At that moment in my life, I had slept with my fiance, and since the time he was no longer mine, I had been with nobody.  I didn't want to be with anybody.  

I had never been in a room where the air was thick with sex and lust and want and something truly vile; I had no idea.


there are things I do not know.

I wonder how young I was when the abuse began. I wonder if I was abused in foster care, or if my adopted parents started in on me. 


The first time I remember completely losing my shit as an adult was when my oldest child was an infant, not older than six months. I was a complete disaster, crying, depressed, total postpartum depression case. I packed up all my clothes, left my kid with someone who was not insane, and drove away. I was really, really going to never come back, but in my confusion, I could not decide where to go, so eventually I went home.


 I did a lot of babysitting when I was a teenager. The easy money outweighed the nagging voice in my head that told me to make babies cry so that I could comfort them so they would love me. At the time, I realized how horribly fucked up that is --that was-- and I never did anything to them. I couldn't imagine hurting someone on purpose. Who DOES that? 

One of the kids I watched was about three years old. She would hide behind the couch with a container of Vaseline and touch herself. I wondered how she knew to do that, and who was touching her. I am horrified that I was too frightened to say anything to her mother. I hear she grew up to be a pretty promiscuous young lady. That makes my heart hurt. 


I wonder if I will ever tell my family about the abuse. I think I will probably not. My therapist gave me a book to read, and the checklist to help determine who is (or is not) a good candidate to tell, and nobody -not my mother, not my brothers- is someone I trust, or cares about my feelings, or fits any of the other criteria. 

So why are they still in my life? GOOD. QUESTION. Can I please be unadopted? I would rather have nobody than have Mother and Michael. I suppose I could keep my younger brother, as he does not actively seek to be a brutal person. I get that Michael is broken, too, I suspect that he is a victim as well. I know that both my brothers were kicked and beaten. I remember being glad it was them and not me. Every time,I would think of helping them, but if I got involved it would have been worse. I feel guilty not for not helping, but for being glad I wasn't getting beaten.


it's getting crowded in here

The flashes of memories have been less flash and more streaming lately. For months now, I close my eyes and I smell and I taste and I sense. 

But still no feeling.

It's always the no feeling that sits beside me in the passenger seat; it sits and watches me pretend to drive but truth be told I am a passenger, too.  I'm stuck like a piece of lost luggage, travelling around and around on the baggage claim track, the one that nobody claims.

It was my father. He is the one. He tasted and took and claimed and ruined. I'm disappointed, mostly, but I know that my disappointment will crack and splinter and when it does...When it does, it will not be pretty. I'm really afraid of how angry I am, and honestly, I have no idea how to even begin to describe what that feels like. I'm terrified of what that will feel like.

I think I have always known, somewhere far in the furthest hiding spots in my mind, that he was my abuser. It is difficult to explain or provide an analogy to describe the moment that I remembered. The memory arrived. It was delivered gently to me, an envelope on a silver platter rather than with a sledge hammer. I slipped my finger under the seal, untucked the card, and there it was. 

And just as I have always known who hurt me, I am pretty certain that I have always had feelings. They must be there. My body aches constantly, I have a truly bizarre amount of ulcers; my migraine headaches are crippling. I was sharing some of my story with a friend last week and was overcome with a raging fever, sweating, clammy skin, and chills; I spent the next 24 hours vomiting. I had been fine minutes before the conversation, and even now as I sit here and type, my temples are throbbing and my stomach is churning. My body wants to be rid of more than thirty years of not-yet-experienced emotion.

I am chipping away at me, and I wonder what I will find.