Hi everyone. I joined the site a few days ago and after reading some of the posts of other 'first-timers' I finally felt I was ready to write something. Forgive me if I ramble. I feel like a spectator of life, as if everyone around me is in the parade and I'm left standing on the sidewalk watching all of them pass me by. Picture, if you will, the floats in my parade. There are no floral tributes. The floats in my parade are, instead, what I call 'life events', those things that normal people encounter in the course of a lifetime: graduating from high school, attending college, having a career, getting married, having children, purchasing a home, etc. As a spectator I have watched nearly all of these things happen to and for others but have experienced very few, if any, of them myself. It's not like I haven't tried. I've always wanted to be like others. Problem was, I would start out fine but eventually, things always fell apart. After fifty years, I don't trust trying anymore. I was sexually abused by my mother's husband, the father of my three younger brothers. My mother is still married to him. He began sexually abusing me at the age of six. When he moved on to my sisters, the abuse he directed at me became more psychological and emotional than sexual. My mother's transformation at the hands of this man was the most puzzling. She went from never finishing a glass of beer to a full-on alcoholic in the span of a few years. Drunk most of the time, she was in no position to defend me. At varying points I told her of the abuse. Her exact words during one of these confessions: "I am not losing my husband because of you." I don't know if my sisters ever ventured to tell her anything or not. I can only speak for myself. The loss of my mother's love was papable. She went from caring and doting on her first six children to tolerating us. The attention she'd given us became firmly focused on her husband and his children. After he came along and after the birth of his three sons, my mother seemed a shell of the person we'd known before. I have always felt that losing her, and her love, left me ill prepared to face the world somehow, as if her love was the armor and the confidence that I sorely needed but lacked. I finished high school and attended college, but aside from that, I lacked the confidence to seek a career, settling instead for various jobs. My mother offered no help to me or the other five, but did all she could for his three - Two of them attended college and with her help were able to finish. I was the only one of the six to attend college and graduate. She offered me no financial help and was not present for my commencement. As I said, I wanted a career, a husband, children, a home, all of those things that normal people had but I lacked the confidence to seek. Just a year ago, I met a wonderful gentleman. He isn't my first foray into the world of romance. There were others; not many but they all dumped me with nary a backwards glance. My last attempt at a relationship was fifteen years ago. Since that time I have sat quietly and watched as my siblings married, had more children, buried spouses and remarried. They are part of the parade. I, as always, am on the sidewalk watching. The gentleman I have met is wonderful to me and is attentive. I have shared with him the pain of being sexually abused as a child. He has tried as much as possible to help me. Still, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop or the bottom to fall out of the whole thing. Nothing as good as him has ever happened to me, so I am apprehensive that he will stay around. While I can acknowledge that it is a chance to join 'the parade of life' and to stop being a spectator, experience tells me that putting forth any effort will bring me nothing. I fear that he will wake up one day, very soon, and begin to question his choice to date a fat, ugly, nobody. When that happens, I will go back to being that spectator, only then I'll move a little further away from the curb and back, into the shadows. I envision a corner not penetrated by light where I can safely watch without being seen. Has anyone else ever felt the same way?