The Silence That Kills

The silence demanded from a child after she is sexually attacked by someone within the family system is where the most harm comes, not from the sexual attacks. A child can recuperate from those with love, help and protection from any further attacks.

It is the silence most children are forced to bear to keep the family safe from shame which kills, figuratively and literally. The family’s shame is too great, greater than the survival of the child. This mistaken belief, that all must be kept quiet to keep the family’s name and unit together needs to radically change to save our children.

Society would not approve, and that must reverse. We as a society must face that this crime occurs and occurs at an alarming rate within families; one of every four girls and one in every six boys.

Forced into silence at an early age, containing horrors that traumatize, a child grows into adulthood mute only knowing how to please others. She is sensitized to the feelings of others not knowing her own or even if she has a right to have them.

It is a constant effort to go down deep and access what is really there because it is still very much a mystery to me. I remind myself daily that I have the freedom and the right to have my own thoughts, views and feelings.

I could have healed and moved on from the sexual attacks when a child. My belief is that an entire family can heal and move on. But only if the attacks are brought to light along with one(s) committing them.

The child should never be alone with the attacker again. All in the family have the freedom to talk about it and to show anger toward the attacker but compassion for the child. Family and individual therapy must be provided.

Compassion for the child must supersede all else. Others are taught to love her even more and protect her from further damage. Then they are taught to work to forgive the attacker(s) but to never forget and always remain vigilant. 

It was the silence demanded that took away everything I had. My body was taken, and from that I could recuperate, it was the silence that took everything else.

Note: I name all childhood sexual abuse as attacks even though the crimes are usually committed manipulatively and quietly. Each one is a heinous, serious assault on a child’s mind, body and spirit.

Becoming Visible

photo by patricia

Stevie, my one younger brother, emails rarely and does so in group form adding my name to the list with the other three remaining siblings including Tom. It has always bothered me as Tom is the worst offender due to the psychological abuse suffered after his crime which has never stopped even throughout adulthood. Family members seem used to his covert comments about me. 

An email came yesterday, innocent enough. Though I love to hear from Stevie, being in a list with Tom causes my inner core to fracture. It takes the rest of the day to feel restored. In the night after waking in the dark, sleep would not return. It is time to let Stevie know that including me in his group email causes pain and why.

I have been inclined to keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t want to add pain to Stevie’s life after the loss of his daughter four years ago. Becoming visible is very hard— crossing the taboo line that sexual abuse draws.  I dare to cross it, over, and over again. I must. If I don’t stand up for myself, who will? And Stevie is an adult who can handle hearing my preference and why. 

Hi Stevie,

I’d like to be left off emails that include Tom. It brings up a lot of bad memories that interfere with sleeping. He is the worst offender of all four due to the way I was treated all the years after he sexually abused me. I was only 9 when he crept up in the night and committed the crime. He was home from college. You were on the other end of the couch as we had been allowed to fall asleep watching the Christmas tree.

The way he treated me since that shattering moment harmed me more than all I have endured and suffered. He caused great damage that could not resolve because he never apologized or took responsibility. Even in middle age sitting at my table right here, he made remarks to you about how dumb I was when buying this house.

I sat as if invisible while he made the usual sly, cutting remarks and no one thought anything about it. It seemed OK to belittle me. And that is what he has done, albeit slyly, since I was a child… snickered cruel remarks that made me look bad.  

He is not safe for me. He has never shown sorrow for his crime or actions. To be in a group email that includes him causes deep pain as if I still don’t exist because all I went through is not being acknowledged.

Thank you Stevie,

Patricia

Complex Trauma

This is very much worth listening to, all 51 minutes. Thank you Broken Blue Sky and GettingRealwithPTSD for sharing this. Although reblogged this morning, I updated it twice making it hard to access. So I’m posting it again to ensure its availability to readers. 

There are portions where her faith is referred to but all spiritual beliefs could be put in place of her beliefs for the short duration she speaks of it. For instance in referring to he for god, I interject she, and envision my mother earth angel who feels much safer and trustworthy.

Diane Langberg is amazingly compassionate and knowledgeable. It is the first time I’ve heard Complex PTSD explained so succinctly. 

The second part of the lecture is available at the you tube site where this takes you. 

 

The Courage to Live

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FEAR

I have lived a life-time of fear since age 8 invading every moment in one way or another. Forced to grow up within a male population called brothers who attacked in the night, or even during the broad light of day, made fear a constant companion. Even though Chet, Dan, and Pete are dead, and the most evil, Tom, still lives spreading his poison, I live in fear at the easiest upset. 

It is hard not to resent what they did. Living with low esteem added to continual fear of people, and the inability to speak up for myself, eroded my natural abilities and has been debilitating.

Yet I persevere. I can get over what they did to my body. But what they did to my trust, shattered beyond repair, what they took from ever feeling safe with touch and loving sex with my husband, the betrayals of each attack, and this list goes on… these I can heal from or after time have learned to live and accept as the damage done.

But fear? Anxiety? Jumping at every loud sound, or medical people working on my body in any way sending me in panic for days, even months after? These are just some of the life-long effects I resent living with that were caused by these tormentors.

These challenges erode my courage, weakening me, and in the wee hours of the morning tend to make me wonder how I can continue to cope; especially since an aging body needs many more medical interventions to keep functioning.

It pisses me off. I’d like to put my real name on my blog and use real names for who did what when. Not to get even, but to stand up and say NO. No this is not alright. NO, it is not alright to silence me out of your own shame and fear of how it will make you look.

Yet the anonymity of the freedom to talk openly without hurting anyone offers a resource I cherish, as if this outlet is a replacement for therapy. Expression of honest feelings, which aren’t right or wrong but just there, is a freeing experience. Dumping it all and feeling heard and acknowledged is a human need as crucial as air.

I do not want to give that up. So even though I could put my name on my blog, I chose not to. Not out of fear, (I don’t think so) but out of my own need to talk freely when and how I like; and for the first time ever in my life.

Taught to be pleasing, to live with and love the criminals who attacked me masked as ‘brothers,’ makes it a challenge to discover who I really am even now. I continue to search for ‘her’ going below the surface of the ‘nice’ girl my mother manipulated and trained me to be.

Mom’s need reined, that of ensuring the fallacy of an upstanding family was on show, but at the expense of her daughter. I acquiesced because I craved her love to the very end unable to provide a moments warmth for myself and needing what little she had to give.

The book erupted out of me after her death 8 years ago. It was finally safe to speak of her sons. All that had been suppressed arose; the joys, the traumas, the black tarry secrets of others, and the wonders that sustained me. 

Yet I am left with challenges I resent. It makes me turn resentment into fortitude, grasping courage like an old tree rooting it deeper, transforming the bitter truths into beauty. This I will do, or try to day after day. 

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COMPASSION

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I am doing so much better. I had entered a period where my body revolted against the bad care. Though blood tests didn’t show it, my body knew. I was developing diabetes and was handling a metabolic storm. Will you fight your way out or continue on with dis-ease, both in body and mind?

I fight. I fight to be healthy and to care for myself. It does not come naturally. Or…extra weight is my way of protecting myself and has been since age 8. I could lose it without even trying when I felt safe (infrequent), but when threatened gained it quickly. It happened automatically, instinctually. It happened at 16 when a boyfriend did more than kiss. It worked, as the pounds came he found another.

Walking till I felt ill reminded me to go easy. Resting in-between ten laps is usually a better option. But I am walking every day and eating far less, plus eating in a way that is good for body organs to work properly; high fiber, no sugar or very little of it, not eating after 4 PM at the latest except yogurt, and choosing to experiment with meatless meals except white chicken or fish. It is fun to search recipes, experiment and implement a healthy eating plan, and it takes time, thought and care.

But akin to Edgar Allen Poe, winter takes my mood down. I don’t wake excited about the day, more like with a bit of dread. Not a good feeling, but I chalk it up to shorter days but envision the pool, sunshine and green grass to counteract the dreary outlook along with continual pep talks. We are on the other side of winter as the sun comes in the windows more and kisses me good-bye later in the day before setting

Sleep comes in a regular pattern, getting 7 ½ hours most nights, sometimes more. That seems to have a good deal to do with not eating past 4pm. Ding! Reminders toll repeatedly … self-care.

I work on it…a lot. What do I need, what do I want, what is best for my spirit and body? Gentler thoughts. Meditation is something I need. The simplest of solutions to everyday problems rise up quietly. The flurry that exists within me quiets, solidifies and centers as the half-hour ends. And exercise, the body needs to move.

But do not overdo. The one at the helm tends to whip at my psych mercilessly. Tamping the excessive harshness is an ongoing process. No, pushing oneself to march round after round in the thick snow is not helpful if after coming inside I feel unwell for the next hour or two. Be kinder. Though possible and doable it does not come naturally.

And why would it? Taught to be silent, pleasing and nice while growing up in a house with my nighttime monsters taught me I was unworthy and it taught me terror. Terror with no mouth. Learning this about myself has helped me take away the whips, chains and clubs, or subdue them somewhat when I work at it.

Stop beating up on the child now adult who cannot speak up, or to do so must blow the other up with her venom held back till she explodes. That was the rage I lived; holding it all in, until I didn’t, then look out. My solution now seems to come from a quiet, solitary life where I can feel at peace most days, not because I’ve learned to deal people better but because I deal with them less.

So I plod along the path of snow, my boots making a crunching muffled sound, with no need to hurry or push because doing so will only cause injury. Stopping, looking up as the sun bursts through the clouds, breathing in the crisp icy air, my lungs expand fully.

Pausing after the incline, feeling the heart pump a satisfying pace, I picture the blood circulating oxygen to all the right places and continue on. When coming out of deep thought to the present I observe bunny hops, deer tracks as one must have run across the meadow, see that along the hedgerow places where squirrels burrowed in the snow for nuts, and near the feeder many delicate imprints of bird’s feet. Try to be present, yet my mind drifts off as the laps go on.

I am leaning to understand and accept how and why my voice was taken and not beat myself up for the invisible threads still sewn in my lips. An internal world rich with depth, kindness and wisdom exists, burgeoning with pulsing life despite the silencing, and most likely because of it, a world below that is all mine.

A gentler, kinder life unfolds. I feel compassion for her- the little girl, and for myself now, the grown women with graying hair.

 

ANEW

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“Want one?” Samuel asks sipping his expensive brandy while I’m busy cooking tenderloins and shrimp.

“No!” I exclaim, I like drinking too much to drink and my body does not tolerate it.

We aren’t painting the town this New Year’s Eve. I suggested having another couple over but he chose to keep it simple and quiet and I agreed. Maybe we are introverts and that’s OK. We both had difficult upbringings and desire peace, a hard place to be at and stay. 

After our meal we settled into our perspective comfy chairs and he picked out Terminator 2. I went in to bed to bed before it over. That is our New Year’s Eve and I loved it. I am happy my body seems in a better place.

Thursday I had such a scare I actually let my son turn around on his way to work in the city and drive to our house to take my glucose reading. I had become so dizzy I could not stand or look anywhere but at a spot on the floor. On the way there he said try to drink some milk and if you can, a piece of toast with peanut butter. 

By the time he arrived I was already feeling better. Tests later that day after seeing the doctor proved negative for any problems with diabetes. I hadn’t eaten for three hours after getting up. It had happened before feeling woozy after forgoing breakfast too long. My poor overweight body is telling me something even if the tests don’t show it. Get the weight off or you will develop Type 2 Diabetes…I know it, I feel it. 

I was so scared during the episode my heart beat out of my chest. I clung to a teddy bear and when my son arrived he did not seem to mind. He is such a kind, gentle soul and makes a great medic, something he does in his spare time. 

It is time to stop pretending to take care of myself and really do it. I was sent to a new doctor because mine had overbooked herself and sent the overflow to him. I instantly liked him when he looked me right in the eye. I felt seen. Tears arose.

She did me a great favor sending me to him. I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for in a doctor for a long, long time… miracle upon miracle, capability and compassion. 

Good health and peace in the New Year…

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The Beauty of You

snowflake

The aloneness of abuse may be one of the hardest. It is not a ‘lonely’ like others, it is a scratching and clawing on internal walls aching for relief, making one’s spirit wanting to split from the body and it’s feelings.

Run. Get away from the feeling but where do I go? I lean on others and thankfully that got me through for many years until it was time to stop. With nowhere else to go but into the pain I ventured with curiosity and patience as it all came up, the sadness, pain and joy.

It was all there locked below. And I couldn’t know me or find me because I had been locked down as a child, surrendered to the will of the ‘family’ who was ashamed of their own who would do such things. So silence the child because no one should know of our shame. So she shall be ashamed. It is what will keep her silent.

It is also what will keep her from herself with no real friend because she is not her own. She is alone. It looks like she is in a family, but she is alone adrift from even herself.

And will she ever find ‘her’? Will she ever stop the harsh judging her family cast upon her that she then took upon herself? Will she ever love? Will she ever feel warmth, kindness, openness and safety? Will peace enter within where she is jailed and set her free?

snowflak

Dedicated to Alice