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.

The Vital Truth

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If the adults around the child sexually abused turn toward her at the time of the attack(s), allowing expression, offering love, protection and sympathy, the child can move forward without the strictures of self-blame.

In most cases, or the majority of them, because it is a family member who has attacked the child, the shame of the family silences the child. In their silence, and shaming her to remain silent, she takes it in. Shame becomes part of her. Her personality is formed around that black boulder embedded deeply in her psyche… and there to stay.

As an adult I can go to therapy and hear the words, “you are not bad.” So intellectually that fact is known, but not felt. In my core I learned otherwise. Shame is the bedrock of my being.

“I am bad, it is my fault, because of me this thing happened…” always my first response in every situation even those that have nothing to do with me. I will find a way back to what I could have done that would have prevented a negative outcome.

Raymond, a previous therapist, called it ‘personalization.’ I call it a life-long albatross to lift up daily and throw out.. A child can survive the attacks. It is what comes after that kills. No intervention comes.

A child can heal and move forward if helps comes. Everyone in the family can. 

The attacks in childhood leave me with a lifetime of work challenging that very damaging concept.

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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STEADY

008 (2)photos by Patricia, my garden- courtesy of Mother Nature….

You are an inferior citizen, person, child. That was the message given when expected to contain such vile, unwanted, and confusing sexual attacks on my body. Do not speak of it. And since I was born a child to speak up with strength, silencing me took a good deal of shaming.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” she would say if I spoke up about anything. I am Mom, I am. But not anymore. 

“Stupid,” she’d admonish. It took till middle age before relinquishing the idea that I was stupid.  Raymond, my psychiatrist at the time, mentioned the A’s earned in preparation for nursing school which begrudgingly awakened awareness of my intelligence. That was undeniable proof.

Whatever tactic needed was used to keep the shameful secret. Those manipulations were also readily employed by siblings whether they were the perpetrator or not. Families do not speak of such things.

My wish is that they would and doing so is the first and most monumental step in providing the desperate help needed for all within the family system. So many issues have come out of closet and so should this. Intervention at the time childhood sexual abuse occurs helps greatly reduce a hellish life for both child and perpetrator.

Being an older model means much tuning up. Taking care of myself takes time and it also takes being in my body to notice what it needs. I work throughout the day reminding myself, it is OK to take care of yourself. It’s perplexing to need that much affirmation over and over, having to repeatedly give myself permission and believe it. Yet the basis of how my personality was formed is explanation enough.

You are bad, unworthy, unlovable, and not capable. These are the messages which cement a child’s personality when no one comes to her aide after she has been sexually abused and attacked by those she once loved and trusted. The negatives embed themselves like granite.

Others give themselves love and self-care automatically. Others who have not been broken into many pieces strewn about. I gather the parts like fireflies but one escapes here, another there.

Progress is made. Meditation brings a feeling of wholeness and groundedness. Sticking with it day after day, week after week, and year after year brings results. Less anxiety. I can be around others in peace. Not always, or with everyone, or for too long a period depending on who it is, but a great relief than for most of my life.

Do your meditation. Ingest the foods that make your body work right. Drink 64 oz. of water. Do the pelvic exercises three times a day that tighten appropriate muscles. (Kegel’s) And though these can be done anywhere and anytime by most, I need quietness to concentrate on the right muscles. Walk the 20 minutes, more if you can. Rest. A life of living constantly on edge has worn out the adrenals and a lot of rest is needed. Keep thoughts steady trying not to allow them to go to the negative as they tend to do. If you feel down or bored don’t try to change it, just be with it. Keep sleep routines and stick to them.

This is my work, satisfying work because the results help form a person healthy, happy and whole.

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TRAUMA BRAIN

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(ornament from Cory when he shopped in a little European village at Christmas time while living in London)

Cindy’s exuberance brings smiles to our faces. Samuel says, “Can we bottle it?” as she crawls around on the floor meowing. Pretending to be a kitty she jumps up next me curling into a little ball like Molly. Such joy we are exposed to daily!

She brought a full bag of Christmas stickers and we work on the little table constructing scenes. I dust off the old camera because the newer one doesn’t do justice to close-ups. My urge this past summer to investigate flowers and gardens sprites all but dissolved. But this old camera makes the kids eyes glow red like children zombies.

I’ve had this cheap-o camera for about 14 years and never learned how to adjust the date, time or anything else except macro mode. Samuel hears my lament about glowing eyes and looks at it.

“Have you ever used the Portrait setting?” he asks after a moment. 

“NO!” I exclaim. The camera has 14 settings, but I have used only normal and macro. How do others do these minuscule tasks so calmly? Such fine tuning causes me great anxiety and a feeling of being greatly overwhelmed. Bigger obstacles impede the ability to complete finer complicated tasks. I call it Trauma Brain.

As peace settles and neurons mend I’m able to travel into new worlds of exploration and abilities. It is rewarding, full-filling and exciting. Today I set the date and time. I did it! And found a long lost friend that feels like an extension of myself and my hand. 

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FINDING MY VOICE

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Since May and my dealings with Seth and the periodontist, I lost my way, my voice and me. The inability to speak up to the periodontist, going through with a surgery I didn’t feel was right nor had been explained properly had a lot to do with the confusion and loss over Seth and his wrath that I wrote a book. He rejected me for months after I sent a link to my book by never responding to my emails until I confronted him about it.

I felt WRONG and BAD because I dared send him a link to my book, taking it all on my shoulders, blaming myself as I’m accustomed to doing since childhood. ‘They’ still would prefer that and use every leverage so that I abide. Abandonment is number #1. Learning not to abandon myself saves me and strengthens me. 

Seth’s protestations, what he kept saying and coming back to “But you didn’t want me to have a relationship with Tom!”

I deflected, never wanting to directly be caught up in his shit or bad mouthing Tom. But I should have, and head-on…

Tom didn’t suck your vagina when you were 8 years old.

And years ago when Mom would often try to cajole me into becoming closer to Tom, telling me how special, enjoyable and funny he is, I could have simply said that. Instead of leaving her apartment abruptly with so much stuffed inside me I felt I might explode, I could have simply said the truth no one wants to hear, “Mom, he didn’t suck your vagina when you were eight years old.”

Simple. That is enough. Of course I don’t have a relationship with Tom. And why would I want to have one with anyone who cleaves to him? Including you Seth. My relationship with Seth feels over but with love, because I feel love, and Tom has cost me that.

I tried going back to a newsy note and he responded but it felt so hollow, so wrong. He needs to pretend that my real life doesn’t exist. I need to be whole and cannot pretend, though I tried. I could dwell on what feels like a fact that Tom took Seth, along with Don. Because Don cleaved to Tom during my Mother’s decline and I cannot or will not move past that either.

I wondered all summer where I went. Where was the person who fought her whole life for a life? I felt like a slowly turning merry-go-round; indecisive, overly tolerant, without a voice, or a stand. I realized this at Walmart yesterday where I stood up to the giant to insist on a refund.

Every time in the past when a confrontation took place my anger or rage came too, and each interaction spun me into the stratosphere of adrenaline soaked fury then deep sadness. No tolerance existed for being taken advantage of, and why should it?

Never again. Yet clerks were not my abusers. Nor Adele, but I needed to say a big NO to her and her antics. cleaning off the grime of unethical behavior. No one else needs to agree because not everybody will, but I know what I need and what is right for me once I clear out the clutter.

Yesterday after the elderly gruff man said, “No, you cannot return on-line items unless they are a Walmart item,” I felt very unsatisfied, not raging but irate and said so evenly in a calm yet pointed and firm voice.

I moved my cart back down the isles wondering, Is it worth getting a manager and getting all worked up, or just let it go and try to return it through the mail getting burned on the shipping and wasting all that time on the phone with more people who really won’t help?

My cart almost bumped into a pow-wow of managers and we had a little talk. I was able to be upright, powerful yet graceful…assertive not aggressive, nor full of rage. The manager took me to the desk and refunded the $34 and I thanked him. And it may seem a little thing, a refund—

I found me and the fire kindling within. I have a fire for life and no one has put it out, dampened it yes, not extinguished.