How a caretaker reacts and deals with a child who has been sexually abused has the potential to cause much more destruction than the abuse. In my case that caretaker was my mother. She quieted me by using my own shame.

From the very first touch sexually by a trusted brother that I loved wholly and looked up to, I felt intense confusion. It made me feel bad. Even that young I knew it was terribly wrong. My interpretation was that I was wrong, shameful and abhorrent. As it continued my body reacted with pleasure, as a body is meant to do. That shamed me further and solidified my badness, being wrong, dirty, even unfit to live.

My mother took advantage of my shame, shaming me further into silence so I would keep the family secret inside myself. She had a favorite taunt when my true nature came out which is one that speaks honestly, “You should be ashamed of yourself!”

I am Mom, I am. You were thorough.

I kept quiet until 7 years ago after she died. A chapter each week erupted out of me. That I held such vomit in for so long is hard to believe possible. Out it came week after week. It should have come out at the age of eight.

Mother, you should have sat in my bedroom, not to scold me, but to listen. You could have saved me Mother. You chose not to. You chose to protect your brood at the expense of your daughter. That is not love.

Keeping it in took a lot of food. Later alcohol, and food. But food remains the biggest escape. The more I come back into my body, the more I am able to feel food fullness. For most it is natural to be in one’s body. For me it is not.

I have fleeting moments of connection. Those moments are powerful. I’m learning to distinguish the physical feelings of fullness after eating from the other empty places where food is used unsuccessfully to fill. 

23 thoughts on “SECRETS

  1. I can relate completely about the food. But in my family, it was my father who made us all keep “the secret.” Healing and recovery is often slow painful work, but so worth it. I’m still working on feeling comfortable in my body. Thank you for writing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I understand and empathise with this so much. Im so sorry that little you was ever treated and made to feel like that. When I told my Mother in my 20s when my first born was 6 months old, “she said are you joking!”
    If we had the validation from our family of listening of who had violated us and loving heart and ears to show how profoundly sorry they were for our suffering and robbed innocence, maybe just maybe we could learn to live with ourselves alot easier.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I am so angry at all our mom’s out there who just let it happen. I am so sorry. I think her screaming at him, kicking him out of my room and calling the police would have been nice. Then she could have held me and cried and told me she would watch over me to make sure it never happened again. What would have been a reaction you would have liked, Patricia?

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  4. I read that when family members do something shameful to us and don’t take responsibility, we take on the shame they should feel. We internalize it. That kind of resonated with me. Your mother should’ve been ashamed. Your brothers. That’s why they won’t read the book. It would be unbearable for them to take responsibility. Yeah…as if denial ever changed history.

    I wish your mother would come through from the Other Side and send you a sign that she acknowledges what she did, it was wrong and she is so very sorry.

    I have been outside my body for most of my life. I was in my head, but below the neck–no way. It is hard now to be in the body. That is so cool you have these moments, however fleeting. You can feel the fullness. Progress!

    I remember walking home from the chiropractor’s a couple summer’s ago and I’ll never forget feeling my hips for the first time. It was an indescribably great feeling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, quite amazing, what others take for granted and day to day are breakthroughs no matter how rare and elusive.
      As we held hands the day before her death we both let the other off the hook. I knew finally that she did suffer from her mistakes spending a lot of her adult life trying to make it up to me, and was truly sorry. And I was sorry I could never forgive her up to that moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really struggle with the culture of denial my family has so carefully cultivated. I struggle with knowing the family name and image was more important than the safety of innocent children. Sometimes I just feel sick to my stomach knowing they could have stopped him, but instead they made it easier for him. I’m so sorry your mother didn’t protect you. You deserved that protection. As did we all.

    I also find it hard to stay present with my body. I am hopeful that as I heal I will get better at it. It sounds like you are making good progress a little at a time. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I expel a deep sigh in the knowing of the depth of betrayal. I am sorry you know it too.
      I am making progress slowly. In the shower just now it came to me, this wonder of the body and how it has protected me.
      The disconnect protected me, and even does so now. I’m very sensitive to outside stimulus. My body continues with the disconnect as protection. So progress a little at a time might be just right.
      Thank you so much for sharing…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Mother, you should have sat in my bedroom, not to scold me, but to listen. You could have saved me Mother. You chose not to. You chose to protect your brood at the expense of your daughter. That is not love.”

    Mine too. It’s heartbreaking. I turn to food. I am completely disconnected. But trying to find my way out. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sorry you had to endure it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You wrote the story of my seven year old self.
    He’s still alive and even preaches in churches. Everyone knows he is not quite right, but no one will protect the female children he has access to. I am not my brother’s only victim. I don’t think my family believes and understands that when a 14 year old steals the innocence of a 7 year old, he needs to be punished. When he does the same to his own children, he needs to be in prison.
    When I was the only victim, I thought he had changed and it was a one person victim… maybe extreme and abusive curiosity. I did everything to reduce the cognitive dissonance in my own mind.

    I am expected to be silent and keep the peace… in other words, shut up!


    1. I never feared that siblings abused others after their teenage years and do not believe they did. To know it’s still going on would be intolerable adding to the burden of pain greatly.
      It sounds like you have alerted those that you can though the information met deaf ears. So caring for yourself and your own healing is paramount.


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